Welcome back to your weekly wrap up of car news and reviews, where we find all the best stories of the week and condense them down into one easy read
After taking a few weeks off while I looked after my newborn baby girl, the weekly wrap has now returned to the homepage – and it was a big week of ‘firsts’ for a number of manufacturers.
It’s also been a big week for hybrid SUVs with the new-generation Nissan X-Trail making an important first showing and we got our hands on the Corolla Cross for the first time. And if fully electric is more your preference Mercedes-Benz has launched the new EQE SUV with an impressive list of features.
So without further ado, let’s jump into the news and reviews that mattered the most this week.
Similar in terms of both size and price to Australia’s most popular SUV, the Toyota RAV4, the Corolla Cross is shaping up to be an incredibly popular vehicle in Australia.
Deputy editor Curt Dupriez took the helm of the new small SUV and came away impressed with its sensible levels of practicality and the frugal hybrid powertrain, which claims consumption as low as 4.3L/100km in FWD hybrid guise.
Also impressive is Toyota’s implementation of a 10.5-inch touchscreen that offers wireless Apple CarPlay plus there is a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display in the higher GXL and Atmos grades, which works well, too.
Sadly the Corolla Cross is less affordable in the higher grades as we would like it to be, with an asking price of $49,050 for the flagship Atmos AWD hybrid getting deep into the territory of a larger top-spec RAV4 hybrid.
With GR Sport variants of the Hilux, Yaris Cross, C-HR and Land Cruiser 300 Series already in circulation it was of little surprise to see that Toyota Europe would soon be adopting this new grade in its RAV4 line-up.
Armed with a more dynamic suspension tune and GR Sport-branded looks inside and out, the RAV4 certainly looks the part – though the hybrid powertrain is expected to produce the same 160kW as the regular models.
Toyota includes 19-inch alloy wheels, along with GR Sport-branded steering wheel, suede seats and floor mats to complete the package. It’s likely to come to Australia but there has been no official confirmation as of yet.
Hybrid SUVs are all the rage in Australia – and all over the world in fact – but the new-generation Nissan X-Trail with its ‘E-Power’ hybrid system is determined to do things a bit differently.
It’s armed with an AWD hybrid system that uses its clever ‘variable compression’ 1.5-litre turbocharged three-pot engine as a generator that feeds electric power to a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive system producing an impressive 157kW of power.
In practice, it provides a character similar to a fully-electric vehicle, with our assessment finding that the petrol engine was extremely hushed, making for a comfortable, quick and pleasant drive.
Despite the sophistication of this drivetrain, fuel efficiency was relatively high at 7.0L/100km, a fair whack off Nissan’s claim of 6.1L and there’s daylight between this and a RAV4 which claims – and often achieves – 4.7-4.8L in our experience.
Nissan will only offer the E-Power system in the top-spec Ti and Ti-L grades, priced at $54,190 and $57,190 respectively – which isn’t cheap – but you do get a long list of features such as 12.3-inch screens and the top-grade nets Nappa leather seat material.
If you want a seven-seat, fully-electric SUV your options the Mercedes-Benz EQB 250 looks to be a good option. Priced from $90,700 before on-roads, the EQB offers lots of practicality, luxury and a fairly flexible 371km of range
Editor Tom Baker has published his long-term review of ‘his’ fully-loaded Polestar 2 after spending six months on the road together. While he generally came away impressed, this Swedish-designed and Chinese-built liftback is not without its faults. Read or watch our review here.
Journalist Zak Adkins has been thrown the keys to his first long-termer, a Kia Picanto GT, which he quickly put to task on a trip up to Bathurst to see if this sweet little hatch can live up to its performance claims.
We’ve now had a drive in a fully-fledged production version of the Hyundai Ioniq 6 sedan and we came away impressed with the driving range and comfortable ride of this fully-electric sedan but some of the interior materials leave much to be desired.
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