Honda CR-V Hybrid Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Good: impressive real-world economy, spacious cabin, helpful driver assistance tech Bad: no 7-seat option, no spare wheel, trails Rav4 in CO2 terms Price: from £30,130
Honda was once a pioneer and leading proponent of hybrid cars – as witness the space-age, two-seater Insight that first arrived 20 years ago. But over the past few years it seemed that the Japanese company had given up on the fuel-saving technology.
Citroen C5 Aircross Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Good: great comfort, adjustable rear seats, big boot Bad: engine noise, unremarkable fuel economy Price: from £23,225
Some might call it a crossover, but the term softroader is probably a better fit for Citroen’s new C5 Aircross. Cushioned suspension and squishy seats were high on the list of design goals for the car, forming part of the French company’s Advanced Comfort strategy. If you’ve grown weary of being rattled about by sports suspension, rubber-band tyres, concrete springs and bucket seats, you might warm to a more welcoming, sofa-inspired alternative. Or so Citroen hopes.
US startup Rivian Automotive made quite a splash when its R1T electric pickup truck and R1S electric off-roader debuted at the Los Angeles motor show in November. Much like another EV startup – Bollinger Motors with its B1 electric SUV – Rivian has created a vehicle with strong appeal among a swathe of people unlikely to ever be lured into a Nissan Leaf.
We spoke to Jeff Hammoud, Rivian’s vice president of design, about the two new electric vehicles.
Kia Sportage 48V Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Good: reduced CO2 rating, company-car tax savings, smooth stop-start Bad: no space for a spare wheel, not cheap Price: from £29,995; the version tested costs £35,545
I’m not sure why the term “mild” became popular to describe less ambitious varieties of hybrid car, but it’s a good word to describe the Kia Sportage 48V. It has been given a modest upgrade in terms of electrical technology and has gained a reasonable amount of benefit in return. It’s not going to offend anyone – except for those who won’t like the fact that it’s still basically a diesel-powered, automatic, mid-sized crossover, of course.
Kia Ceed Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Good: Long warranty, quiet cabin, plenty of kit Bad: Anonymous looks, disappointing fuel economy Price: from £18,295 – the version reviewed costs £25,750
Kia’s sensible Ceed first appeared in 2006, along with a not very sensible name. Cee-apostrophe-d always seemed like a particularly daft thing to call such an unfussy car, so the more straightforward spelling that arrives along with the new third-generation car is more than welcome.
Considerably less silly than the old spelling was the seven-year warranty that arrived with the first generation Ceed, a level of cover that continues to provide a very strong incentive to choose the Korean car over a Ford Focus or Renault Mégane.
Robert Bollinger is the founder and CEO of Bollinger Motors – the New York-based startup that is developing a tough, fully electric off-roader. Last month he took time out to tell GreenMotor about the progress he and his team of engineers have made since the boxy but brilliant B1 design was first revealed last summer.
Volvo V60 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Good: safe, stylish, big boot, lovely comfy cabin Bad: no storage cleverness, not all safety kit is standard Price: from £31,810 – the model tested starts at £40,860
The Volvo V60 is by no means the prettiest car ever built, but it must surely be in the running for the best looking estate to date. Viewed from the side, especially, it has the kind of form that makes you want to unfold a camp chair, sit down by the roadside, and admire it like a sculpture in a gallery.
Mercedes A-Class Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Good: Smoother ride, classy interior, clever MBUX infotainment Bad: Not remotely cheap, many MBUX features cost extra Price: from £25,800
I can only assume that a small army of German stonemasons must have been made redundant as a result of the new fourth-generation Mercedes A-Class. The previous edition provided the kind of ride that must surely have involved suspension components chiselled from solid blocks of granite. Happily for those of us not employed in the rock crafting business, the new A-Class appears to have acquired flexible springs and dampers, cushioning the jolts between the road and your bottom.