The essential 6 new cars August 2022

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Nissan ariya essential hero

The brand-new Jeep costs twice as much as the perfectly decent Dacia Jogger. But is it any good? Motoring expert Paul Horrell takes a view

Your expert: Paul Horrell’s been testing cars for 34 years and remains as keen as ever to put (almost) any new launch through its paces.

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) often work as a gateway to full EVs – having a petrol or diesel engine as back-up gives many EV-curious drivers the confidence to dip a toe in the water by using electric power on shorter journeys. 

PHEVs have a smaller battery than full-electric models, but it’s enough to propel them between 20 and 50 miles. After that, or when you ask for the power of both drives combined, the engine kicks in. On long journeys, a petrol stop remains quicker than recharging an EV. 

However, PHEVs are an expensive, clunky waste of time unless you recharge whenever you can. If you commute, say, 20 miles and plug in overnight, you’ll go all week using no petrol at all, and pay a much smaller price per mile for the electricity. You’d then match the quoted WLTP economy figure. In that official test, only a small proportion of it is run with the engine on. So the car gets great figures for fuel and CO₂, much to the delight of company-car buyers who will pay little tax accordingly.

Electric crossover – Nissan Ariya

From £41,845

Nissan Ariya

Battery-electric cars keep tumbling onto the market, and many of them are biggish crossovers. So the Ariya doesn’t lack for rivals. Still, at least it has pedigree: Nissan, with the Leaf, made electric cars trustworthy and reliable. The Ariya does the electric stuff well, a big step ahead from the Leaf, with far quicker charging and a motor that’s comparatively efficient at motorway speed. The test car had the smaller of two battery choices – the bigger will go well beyond the psychologically important 300 miles on the WLTP test. For an EV this big, it feels pretty agile through bends and roundabouts. But the big draw is the cabin design. It’s roomy, airy and elegantly simple. Many of the switches are back-illuminated through matt wood veneer – much nicer than shiny black plastic blobs. 

Spec Advance
Price £41,845
Engine Electric motor
Power & torque 217hp
0–62mph 7.5 seconds 
Top speed 100mph
Range 223 miles 
CO₂ 0g/km

Seven-seater – Dacia Jogger

From £15,345

Dacia jogger

If you can’t see why cars need to be so expensive, Dacia is for you. The £15k Jogger will carry five adults and two kids. Its style is modern, the cabin doesn’t feel particularly austere, and the engine is up to date. It connects your phone and conditions your air. Where’s the catch? 

A lot of logistic expense is saved by cutting the number of versions and options. Dacia, a Renault subsidiary, builds it at a low-cost plant in Romania. Also, the Jogger doesn’t have all the latest driver-assistance and electronic safety aids. But then neither will the (well-)used car that’s the only alternative at this price. Anyway, it’s decently civilised to drive, comfortable and extremely versatile. OK, the boot is tiny when you have all the seats occupied, but the tested version has a roof rack.

Spec Extreme SE TCE 110
Price £17,745
Engine 999cc 3cyl petrol turbo, FWD, 6-speed manual
Power & torque 109hp, 200Nm 
0–62mph 11.2 seconds
Top speed 114mph
Fuel economy 47.1mpg   
CO₂ 132g/km 

Large hatchback – Citroën C5 X 

From £26,970

citroen c5 x

Big hatchbacks are going out of fashion but they’re useful, so Citroën added some tweaks in the hope of keeping this one relevant. The C5 X has an elongated tail for estate-like space, and raised springs for the elevation of a crossover. 

But its suspension is far more supple than most crossovers, contributing to a comfy, relaxed manner over lumpy urban and rural roads. Unlike old, big Citroëns, it avoids heave and lean in corners. And economy is decent. The interior is roomy, stylish and well-made, and the screen and control set-up is straightforward. 

There’s no diesel version. Company Car buyers will want the low-tax plug-in hybrid, but its theoretical economy advantage comes to fruition only on short trips. Instead, the cheapest engine is enough and has auto as standard.

Spec Shine plus puretech 130
Price £30,460
Engine 1199cc 3cyl petrol turbo, FWD, 8-speed automatic
Power & torque 129hp, 230Nm
0–62mph 10.4 seconds
Top speed 130mph
Fuel economy 47.1mpg   
CO₂ 136g/km 

Crossover – Vauxhall Grandland

From £25,810

vauxhall grandland

The Grandland has just had a facelift, with big results. The simplified front end is modern and distinctive, and inside, the screen systems now have competitive abilities while remaining pretty easy to use. I tested the plug-in hybrid version, which is more sensibly priced than before. 

The extent of cross-pollination in today’s cars means it’s exactly the same as the PHEV engine and motor in the Citroen C5 X, so see left for its behaviour. As to the rest of it, the Grandland remains a roomy and good value family car. The suspension feels a little jiggly when on your own at low speed. Still, give it some work by loading it up a bit, or heading out of town at higher speed, and the ride and handling turn out to be nicely calibrated for the job.

Spec GS line plug-in ybrid-e
Price £33,820
Engine 1599cc 4cyl petrol turbo hybrid, FWD, 8-speed automatic
Power & torque 225hp, 360Nm
0–62mph 8.9 seconds
Top speed 140mph
Fuel economy 192mpg
CO₂ 31g/km

Pickup – Toyota Hilux Doublecab

From £33,485

toyota hilux doublecab

Need to tow and haul big stuff? The Hilux can carry a tonne, or tow three and a half, albeit not both at once. Its ruggedness is the stuff of legend. The engine will drag you up a cliff face, and long-travel 4x4 suspension conquers apparently impassable terrain. The Hilux laughs at pulling your horsebox out of a muddy field, or your big boat up the slipway. I tested the Invincible X, the new top version. UK buyers want the equipment of a fancy SUV, so it’s leather-trimmed and stuffed with plenty of gadgetry. It’s pretty quiet, too. But don’t be fooled: it’s a work truck at its core, with lumbering manners and sluggish responses. Still, adapt your driving style, slow down, and you too can feel invincible.

Spec Invincible X Auto
Price £44,835
Engine 2755cc 4cyl diesel turbo, 4WD, 6-speed automatic
Power & torque 201hp, 500Nm
0–62mph 10.7 seconds
Top speed 109mph
Fuel economy 29.25mpg
CO₂ 251.5g/km 

Mid-size SUV – Jeep Compass

From £30,705

Jeep compass

The Compass is one of the few SUVs of this size that are available with an off-road spec – but the majority that Jeep sell are like the version I tested: front-drive. Even so, it retains at least a scintilla of the look, feel and ruggedness of what it means to be a Jeep. In this facelifted form, they’ve made big efforts with the dashboard and interior. Just as well, as the old one was behind. Now it’s up to class standards, and the excellent screen systems benefit from being written by Americans in English, not by Germans and translated. Rear space remains well up to the needs of a family with full-size kids. The new little pure-petrol engine and manual transmission do an OK job for daily use. The steering and ride feel European, not American. But then it’s built in Italy.

Spec 1.3 GSE T4 Night Eagle
Price £30,705
Engine 1332cc 4cyl turbo, FWD, 6-speed manual
Power & torque 130hp, 270Nm
0–62mph 10.3 seconds
Top speed 119mph
Fuel economy 41.58mpg
CO₂ 155.5g/km 

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