The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

Volvo XC40 (2020) T5 Hybrid Review

The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes
The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the new Volvo XC40 T5 hybrid!

This week on Changing Lanes we test the new Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid. Volvo’s compact SUV has been a great success for Volvo and is now the bestselling model in the Volvo range in Ireland since it launched here in 2018. A former Irish Car of the Year winner, the Volvo XC40 has established itself as formidable competition in the premium compact SUV segment.

Launched with petrol and diesel engines, Volvo continues the Swedish brand’s journey to electrification with the arrival of plug-in hybrid technology to the tune of the new Volvo XC40 T5. Volvo already sells plug-in hybrids in other models in the range, including SUVs, so this is a continuation of a similar theme. While an all-electric XC40 is expected in 2021.

What's so special about the Volvo XC40 T5?

In the T5 ‘Twin Engine’, this compact SUV model uses a three cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine supported by a battery and electric motor to reduce emissions and give the XC40 the capacity to drive on pure electric power for a short range. This is ideal for city dwellers with short commutes and ability to charge their car between journeys.

The T5 is not only the first hybrid powertrain in the XC40, it’s also the first to be engineered for use in Volvo's CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform and uses a front-wheel drive layout. The powertrain is supported by a new seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission, featured for the first time in a new-generation Volvo model.

While the Volvo XC40 range kicks off from about €38,297, buyers will pay from about €47,700, including grants and VRT relief, for this ability to embrace a modern plug-in hybrid powertrain in their new Volvo SUV.

The Volvo XC40 is the bestselling Volvo in Ireland
The Volvo XC40 is the bestselling Volvo in Ireland

So what do you get for your money?

Power output is an impressive 262 hp, while CO2 emissions are just 48 g CO2 meaning buyers will pay €170 per year at the moment in motor tax. A 10.7 kWh lithium-ion battery on board means that the new XC40 T5 can be driven on electric power only for a range of up to 46 km.

The Volvo XC40 is a fine piece of design. The Recharge branding appears for the first time on the C pillar to indicate the electrified powertrain underneath and there is a recharging outlet positioned under a flap on the front wing.

Inside, the Volvo XC40 is still a masterclass in design in its segment. The layout is simple and stylish, while the quality is just superb. The car comes equipped with digital instrument panel and portrait style infotainment system and it still feels modern, with smartphone connectivity available. Passengers are well accommodated for with large footwells in the rear, while there is also a good-sized boot with 460 litres making it an ideal fashionable family car.

The interior of the Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro
The interior of the Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro

Driving the Volvo XC40 T5

On the road, the XC40 T5 is a dream to drive. Its hybrid powertrain means it runs super silently whether in town or on the motorway. The power delivery is smooth and urgent, with a pleasant kick when you press the accelerator. It’s 262 hp after all! Handling is positive though under hard braking you will feel the weight of the vehicle. Though the electric motor is helping particularly at low speeds in town, where it is most efficient, on the open road you call more on the engine. While the onus is on drivers to charge up to improve the efficiency of the vehicle, without charging regularly I achieved an average fuel consumption of 6.9 litres per 100 km.

The T5 is available in a range of trim levels including R-Design and Inscription with Pro editions of each. Our test car was a beautiful Inscription Pro that comes with luxurious features such as 19” alloys, leather upholstery, heated front seats, ambient lighting, powered tailgate and a show-stopping Orrefors Crystal glass gear selector.

The XC40 plug in hybrid can be driven on pure electric power up to about 46 km.
The XC40 plug in hybrid can be driven on pure electric power up to about 46 km.

So did you like it?

The Volvo XC40 is a proper premium SUV, nothing has changed when you add a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It’s impressively refined and covers the road smoothly and comfortably, leaving little to disagree with.

It is a pricey vehicle, and plug-in hybrids are still not for everyone. Yet economy returns are promising and charging after each journey will make a lot more sense.

The cabin is comfortable and well appointed with a good use of space. The plug-in hybrid technology hasn’t put the XC40 at a disadvantage when it comes to providing the space and practicality required of the compact SUV segment.

Volvo is pushing electrification strongly in their range, giving buyers more options and settling one’s conscious of driving an SUV in the city. With hybrid power and the ability to drive on electricity only, it feels like the right thing to do for urban dwellers. But if you are not quite sold on hybrid for your motoring needs, the XC40 is still a very good SUV with plenty to discover across the range.

New Volvo XC40 T5 available from about €47,700 after grants and VRT relief
New Volvo XC40 T5 available from about €47,700 after grants and VRT relief

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro
Price: 
€50,100 after grants and VRT relief
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
262 hp
Torque: 425 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.3 seconds
Top speed: 205 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 2.4 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 55 g/km
Motor Tax:  €170 per year


The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid

Hyundai Kona Hybrid (2020) Review

The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid
The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Hyundai Kona Hybrid.

Hyundai hit the jackpot when they launched the new Kona back in 2017. Riding on a wave of success with the popular Tucson family SUV, the Korean brand took a grip on the compact crossover class with the Kona and hasn’t let go since. It’s slipped quietly into a top 5 position as one of Ireland's bestselling cars and trounced all upon the competition.

So what's so special about the Hyundai Kona?

The Hyundai Kona offers buyers an on-trend compact car with rugged crossover-inspired styling and stance. But aside from aesthetics, it also offers buyers impressive choice. In what is still unusual for the compact crossover class, the Kona is now available in Ireland as a hybrid, electric vehicle or with a simple combustion engine (petrol or diesel).

The Hyundai Kona Electric has been a favourite at Changing Lanes since we drove it in 2019. We were impressed with how well the electric powertrain blended with the charismatic crossover and a range in excess of 400 km made range anxiety a thing of the past.

Now in 2020 the Hyundai Kona Hybrid comes to market with a 1.6-litre petrol electric powertrain that means emissions are rated at just 101 g/km. Fuel consumption is quoted by the manufacturer as 5.0 l/100km under WLTP. With the Kona Hybrid, buyers who require a traditional fuel powered car can now reconcile their conscious with a more fuel efficient hybrid.

The new Kona Hybrid goes on sale from €29,050, using a 6-speed automatic gearbox to deliver power to the front wheels. For reference, the Hyundai Kona 1.0-litre petrol manual goes on sale from €21,400, while the diesel range starts from €23,400. At the top of the range, the Hyundai Kona Electric retails from €39,300 including grants and VRT relief.

The Kona Hybrid is cheap to run with lower emissions
The Kona Hybrid is cheap to run with lower emissions

What's new for the 2020 Hyundai Kona Hybrid?

Hybrids are all the rage at the moment. The Kona Hybrid packs this technology into an already successful compact. On the outside a discreet hybrid logo at the rear and new 18" alloy wheels differentiate it from the rest of the combustion engined Kona range. Yet the Kona's rugged good looks are retained, along with distinct front end lighting, robust plastic cladding around the sills, bumpers and wheel arches, and two tone colour combinations.

The Kona Hybrid still rides a little bit higher than a standard hatchback, but drives pretty much like the latter - part of its appeal. It's also a practical vehicle, though being compact by dimensions means that legroom can get tight in the back for taller passengers. Boot space hasn't been impacted and it remains akin to any family hatchback with 361 litres and a flat loading sill.

The interior of the 2020 Hyundai Kona Hybrid
The interior of the 2020 Hyundai Kona Hybrid

Inside the Kona Hybrid

The Hyundai Kona Hybrid has an identical interior to the rest of the Kona combustion engine range. Everything is simple and logically laid out, with a few additional interfaces to relay information to the driver about the hybrid system and power flow between engine, battery and electric motor.

Hard plastics do feature a lot, though the Hybrid does get its own dedicated interior colour pack to add interest to what is otherwise a relatively subdued affair. There are white accents around the air vent surrounds and gear shift bezel, as well as glossy black accents on the door handles and steering wheel.

There is a good level of standard equipment: 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, climate control, electronic parking brake, cruise control, rear view camera and wireless phone charger.

Kona Hybrid on sale in Ireland priced from €29,050
Kona Hybrid on sale in Ireland priced from €29,050

Driving it

On the road the Kona takes off in near silence, benefiting from that electrical assistance from the hybrid powertrain. The dual clutch automatic gearbox makes driving in town easy, while the Kona is naturally agile in that environment. It also performs well on larger roads despite its compact proportions, with decent levels of comfort and refinement.

The hybrid powertrain itself uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, 1.56 kWh battery and 32 kW motor to deliver a maximum hybrid system power of 141 hp and 265 Nm to the front wheels. The bias in the transmission is to efficiency so it would be foolish to expect exciting performance from this car. But buyers should be more interested in how they can save fuel using the Kona Hybrid and drive in an eco-friendly manner. In that regard the hybrid does deliver and with a patient right foot, we achieved average fuel consumption of 5.4 litres per 100 km. Motor tax for this model is currently just €190 per year.

Hyundai is a brand keen to try new things and embrace trends in the motor industry. In many ways, they are one of the driving forces behind innovation in the motor industry right now, offering alternative technologies to more people, while creating stylish, practical vehicles that sit comfortably among consumers.

At Changing Lanes, we adore the Kona Electric yet the nature of the technology and powerful 64 kWh battery means the price tag still puts it out of reach of buyers of small crossovers.

At the entry into the range, the 1.0-litre petrol Kona will satisfy the needs of many compact crossover buyers at very competitive pricing.

The Kona Hybrid offers cheaper running costs yet the price positioning opens the field to more competition from the family crossover/SUV segment that may see it overlooked for more spacious vehicles. Yet the Kona Hybrid is undeniably an efficient vehicle using the latest hybrid technology, and we look forward to seeing it evolve into 2021.

Once of the few hybrid compact crossovers on the market, the Kona is a stylish and fuel efficient way to travel
Once of the few hybrid compact crossovers on the market, the Kona is a stylish and fuel efficient way to travel

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Kona Hybrid with 2 tone roof
Price: 
€29,650
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
141 hp
Torque: 265 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.6 seconds
Top speed: 160 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 101 g/km
Motor Tax:  €190 per year


The 2020 Toyota C-HR on test for Changing Lanes!

Toyota C-HR (2020) Review

The 2020 Toyota C-HR on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2020 Toyota C-HR on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2020 Toyota C-HR.

The Toyota C-HR marked a turning point for the Toyota brand when it was first launched back in 2016. The coupé crossover heralded the arrival of a new generation of Toyota cars built upon the TNGA platform, with more dynamism and style.

The C-HR was a dramatic departure in styling for the brand, and continues to command attention on Irish roads. Now it’s the turn of the 2020 model, mildly facelifted for this model year and also introducing some new features and powertrain options.

The  Toyota C-HR has been a huge success in Ireland and is now the Japanese brand’s 2nd bestselling model in Ireland after the new Toyota Corolla. Priced from €30,370, the C-HR has moved up a gear in 2020 and is now exclusively sold as a hybrid.

However Toyota has also widened the range with the arrival of a new 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain. It offers even more performance than the 1.8-litre hybrid version that helped the C-HR to establish itself in Ireland over the last four years.

The C-HR is now available with a 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with more power and performance
The C-HR is now available with a 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with more power and performance

What's new for the Toyota C-HR in 2020?

The C-HR’s dramatic coupe-like styling and crossover stance remain a stand out feature. For 2020 there is new LED technology in the headlights and rear lights, with the daytime running lights (DRLs) and indicators combined into one frontal projector emitting a single smooth line above the main beam. At the rear, the new combi lamps are connected by a new gloss black spoiler.

There are four trim levels – Luna, Sport, Luna Sport and Sol – with varying levels of bling applied to the car depending on trim level, from different alloy wheel designs to the bi tone roof option. My test car was the Launch Edition finished in exclusive metallic orange and shod with black, 10 spoke 18” alloy wheels.

Inside, Toyota has trimmed the interior with some new fabrics and materials for the 2020 model year. However the cabin remains stylish and contemporary with an intriguing diamond motif theme throughout. It appears in for example the shape of the control buttons for the media system, and even as an embedded pattern in the roof of the car.

The interior of the 2020 Toyota C-HR
The interior of the 2020 Toyota C-HR

Behind the wheel of the C-HR

The driving position in the C-HR is very comfortable, with plenty of adjustment in the seat. There is some elevation to it though overall the driver feels very snug and cosseted in the seat, like a hatchback, as opposed to feeling perched upon the vehicle.

Apple Car Play and Android Auto are now available and there is a large touchscreen as standard. Material quality is good inside with our Launch Edition model getting some black perforated leather trim with diamond pattern and dark brown upper dashboard area.

Other equipment highlights include Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety equipment including traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor, JBL premium sound system, dual zone climate control, cruise control, ambient lights, parking camera and heated front seats.

The C-HR will seat five with reasonable space for rear occupants. The beautiful coupe style on the outside means that the rear can be quite dark for passengers but there is competitive legroom. A powered tailgate is available and the boot has a capacity of 377 litres.

The 2020 Toyota C-HR is available from €30,370
The 2020 Toyota C-HR is available from €30,370

Tell us about the hybrid

The 1.8-litre hybrid (122hp) is now joined by a higher powered 2.0-litre hybrid with 184hp in the 2020 Toyota C-HR. Fuel consumption is quoted as low as 4.8 litres per 100 km in the entry level 1.8-litre hybrid C-HR. On test, we drove the Launch Edition sold exclusively with the more performance oriented 2.0-litre hybrid.

On the road the Toyota C-HR 2.0-litre hybrid feels robust and well balanced in terms of power and its delivery through a CVT automatic gearbox. Refinement has been improved with less interruption from the CVT gearbox to ensure a smooth, calm and quiet presence in the cabin. At low speeds in town for example or when parking, the electrical assistance kicks in ensuring that overall, we returned an impressive 5.5 litres per 100 km on our test drive.

Toyota has made some dynamic upgrades for 2020 include a modified EPS tuning for improved steering feel. The 2.0-litre hybrid also gets a new suspension design that improves ride comfort while retaining the Toyota C-HR’s handling capabilities. All variants also feature an upgraded Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH) pack to further reduce cabin noise.

As a result the C-HR is comfortable to drive on the road and one of the brand’s most premium vehicles in terms of behaviour. It’s competent on the road and in this class of vehicle it feels responsive and agile in terms of controls and how it responds to driver inputs.

Toyota has considerable experience in hybrid and it shows in the C-HR
Toyota has considerable experience in hybrid and it shows in the C-HR

Did you like it?

The Toyota brand's strong presence in Ireland means the C-HR has established itself quickly in the market as an alternative to the familiar family SUV pack. There are more practical crossovers available in this price range but the C-HR is one of the most premium feeling models in the Toyota range, with design and style going some way to justify its positioning in the market. Add in an ultra trendy hybrid powertrain that genuinely delivers good return on economy and you can understand this car's appeal.

The Launch Edition 2.0-litre hybrid has a hefty price tag (€38,515) but there is better value to be had elsewhere in the range, with the C-HR coming well-equipped from entry.

The 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain will suit most motorists, but at Changing Lanes we did enjoy the power and refinement of the C-HR 2.0-litre hybrid. The addition of Apple Car Play and Android Auto is a welcome technology update and the C-HR's cabin still looks stylish and contemporary in 2020 against the competition.

It's very easy to see the appeal of the C-HR from behind the wheel and we enjoyed our time spent with the car. As more hybrids come to market, the sophistication of the hybrid powertrain and Toyota's experience in this area shines through.

Toyota C-HR is a stylish and efficient crossover
Toyota C-HR is a stylish and efficient crossover

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota C-HR Launch Edition
Price: 
€38,515
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 190 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 119 g/km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year


The new Kia XCeed PHEV on test for Changing Lanes

Kia XCeed Plug-In Hybrid (2020) Review

The new Kia XCeed PHEV on test for Changing Lanes
The new Kia XCeed PHEV on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the 2020 Kia XCeed.

Earlier in the year we tested the Kia XCeed diesel; now it’s the turn of the hybrid.

The Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid (PHEV) comes to market with fashionable crossover style and an equally on trend hybrid powertrain. It’s a stylish piece of design for the compact segment but how successful is the hybrid powertrain?

Kia has astounded us over the last few years with a range of exciting and innovative models that puts them ahead of some even more established brands.

The Korean brand has not only stepped up quality and design but has also been an enthusiastic adopter of electrification into their range. The brand already sells two popular electric vehicles in Ireland, the Kia e-Niro and the Kia e-Soul, Irish Car of the Year 2020.

Fashionable crossover style for the new XCeed
Fashionable crossover style for the new XCeed

What's so special about the Kia XCeed Plug-In Hybrid?

Hybrid is also a key feature of the range, debuting here in the Niro range back in 2016 and now extending to the XCeed range and next Kia Sorento.

The brand has had great success in Ireland with its SUVs like the Sportage and moved into the crossover market with the Stonic and now the XCeed. A derivative of the Ceed is a good place to start for the XCeed and it inherits the same underpinnings and interior with some modifications. The XCeed in my opinion is the most desirable of the range with its crossover-style makeover.

The XCeed PHEV has a new closed ‘tiger-nose’ grille to aid aerodynamic efficiency and the charging port is integrated into the left front wing. In Ireland it retails from €28,350 including grants and VRT relief. It is available in just one high specification. Standard equipment includes 18” alloy wheels, dual zone automatic air con, 8” touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, rear privacy glass, rain sensing wipers, lane keep assist and forward collision avoidance.

Inside the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV
Inside the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV

Inside the Kia XCeed PHEV

Inside, the XCeed PHEV is comfortable with a well-laid out cabin and good finish. There are some new features for the plug-in hybrid including a charging indicator on top of the dashboard to signal visually to the driver the state of the battery (charging or fully charged).The instrument cluster also displays remaining charge levels, anticipated electric-only range and the flow of energy between the battery pack, engine and electric motor. The ‘Driver Only’ heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system is a handy feature to reduce the draw on battery energy from the ventilation system.

There is good space inside the vehicle for a compact with decent legroom in the rear. The Ceed model line-up was engineered from the start to accommodate new hybrid powertrains so the battery pack doesn't interfere with passenger space. The 8.9 kWh battery pack is located alongside the 37-litre fuel tank beneath the rear bench. However the boot is on the shallow side with luggage capacity in the hybrid down to 291 litres, less than the pure combustion engine versions.

How does the hybrid work?

The 2020 Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor and 8.9 kWh battery pack to produce 141 hp and 265 Nm of torque. There is a pure electric range quoted up to 54 km by the brand, though in real world driving this will be a little less. But it does allow buyers to experiment with driving an electric vehicle and means that short commutes or errands can be run on battery power alone, with little dip into that petrol tank. It can take less than 3 hours to charge the battery to full capacity.

Luggage capacity in the new XCeed hybrid
Luggage capacity in the new XCeed hybrid

Kia says that the XCeed Plug-in Hybrid has been engineered exclusively for European roads, with European buyers in mind. The ride and handling characteristics have been tuned for dynamism and driver engagement, with some special tweaks to suspension and steering over the diesel and petrol XCeed range.

The powertrain is paired with a six-speed double-clutch transmission, while regenerative braking technology also comes as standard to recuperate energy typically lost during coasting or braking.

Driving the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV

On the road the Kia XCeed PHEV impressed for its smooth, refined drive. Handling is quite neutral so the car behaves predictably on the road but there isn't much dynamic spirit to it. There are two modes to switch between – Sport and Eco - and both are worth acquainting yourself with.

In Eco mode there is a bias towards efficiency with a duller throttle feel ensuring you optimise your fuel economy. To that end we averaged between 5.0 and 5.5 litres per 100 kms across mixed roads - urban, rural and motorway. That is an impressive return and motor tax is just €170 per year, accounting for the reduced CO2 emissions from the hybrid powertrain.

When you need more throttle response and quick acceleration, for example when overtaking or joining the motorway, the Sport mode is a must.

Kia has invested to bring plug-in hybrid technology to the compact class, and the brand is offering buyers in Ireland an attractive package of price, equipment and fuel sipping hybrid technology in the compact class.

The XCeed occupies a sweet spot of the market right now with styling that is right on point for current trends for crossovers. Adding hybrid to that creates a very appealing prospect. While the hybrid carries a small premium over the entry level petrol XCeed, in return I think buyers will be impressed with the fuel economy and refinement of the vehicle.

The Kia XCeed PHEV offers buyers a fuel sipping hybrid crossover
The Kia XCeed PHEV offers buyers a fuel sipping hybrid crossover

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid
Price: 
€28,350
Engine: 1.6 litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
141 hp
Torque: 265 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.8 seconds
Top speed: 225 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 109 g/km
Motor Tax:  €170 per year


The new Toyota Corolla GR Sport is now on sale in Ireland

Toyota Corolla GR Sport (2020) Review

The new Toyota Corolla GR Sport is now on sale in Ireland
The new Toyota Corolla GR Sport is now on sale in Ireland

Caroline drives the new Toyota Corolla GR Sport!

2019 saw the arrival of the all-new Toyota Corolla to Ireland. The Corolla’s arrival was heralded by three new derivatives – hatchback, estate and saloon – with hybrid a key part of the brand’s mission in the compact segment.

The new Corolla has been an indisputable success in Ireland and is the 2020 Continental Tyres Irish Medium Car of the Year.

What’s so great about the new Toyota Corolla?

Well there are three distinct models all with fuel sipping hybrid powertrains built upon Toyota’s more agile and dynamic TNGA platform. All feature modern interior design and there are even optional two tone paint finishes that take even more years off the Corolla. This car has never looked better. Now Toyota sees even more potential with this car, introducing a sportier hybrid powertrain and new GR Sport trim level, exclusive to the Corolla Hatchback.

It’s wonderful to watch the Corolla explore its new, more fashionable position in the market. It's even better to experience this car from the driver’s seat. I couldn’t quite believe that I was picking up a sporty Corolla. For too long Corolla stood for sensible, reliable transport. But it was hardly a car that you really, really desired to drive, over say a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf. Now all that has changed.

Toyota has big plans, not least a rumoured full on Corolla GR performance hatchback in the next few years, a follow up to the rapturous Yaris GR. The GR Sport is a trim level where you get sportier visual updates to the car inspired by high performance models. To recap GR stands for the wonderfully named Toyota performance division ‘Gazoo Racing’. The Corolla GR Sport is just the second model to join the European GR Sport line-up following the introduction of the Yaris GR Sport in 2019.

The GR Sport gives a sporty makeover to the Corolla, Ireland's bestselling car
The GR Sport gives a sporty makeover to the Corolla, Ireland's bestselling car

What features does the Corolla GR Sport get?

The Corolla Hatchback range starts from €26,390 in Ireland and now exclusively uses a petrol electric hybrid powertrain. There are two hybrid powertrains to choose from - the 1.8-litre with 122 hp that we tested last year in the Corolla Hatchback - and the more powerful 2.0-litre hybrid with 184 hp tested here in GR Sport specification. This top of the range model has a list price of €35,053. The GR Sport trim level is also available with the 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain. It retails from €32,485 in this configuration.

The GR Sport makeover looks really good on the Corolla. It’s a handsome hatchback anyway but sporty features look genuinely comfortable here. The Toyota Gazoo Racing influence comes in distinctive styling elements like a new honeycomb mesh pattern front grille with piano black surrounds, lower skirts, and sills. At the rear there is a silver insert in the lower bumper, creating the look of twin tailpipes and a diffuser. A black roof comes as standard matched to a choice of five body colours. Wheels are 18” black alloy with a contrasting bright machined finish to the tips of each spoke and red GR centre caps. There is also rear privacy glass and bi-LED headlights. The finishing touches are black backgrounds for the Toyota emblems on the bonnet and boot lid, and official GR badging.

What's it like inside?

Inside the GR Sport has a few bespoke features too. There are lots of soft touch black panel finishes. Red stitching on the gear selector, steering wheel and seats adds a nice contrast. The seats have a sports design with fabric in the centre and leather-effect bolsters. They are comfortable and supportive. The GR Sport also benefits from the same interior technology as the rest of the Corolla range. Infotainment is controlled via a touchscreen that can connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity has just been added to the 2020 Corolla range too.

The interior of the 2020 Toyota Corolla GR Sport
The interior of the 2020 Toyota Corolla GR Sport

There's a new seven-inch colour TFT multi-information screen. Other standard features include Toyota Safety Sense, smart entry, rear privacy glass, automatic wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and power-adjustable door mirrors with an auto-folding function.

The Corolla Hatchback will seat five however the Touring Sports (estate) and Saloon have more legroom because of a longer wheelbase. The rear legroom in the hatchback is on the small side for this class of vehicle, especially if there is a tall driver and front seat passenger! Boot space in the 2.0-litre hybrid models is also slightly compromised because the car’s battery is positioned under the boot floor. The standard Corolla Hatchback has 361 litres of boot space, however the 2.0-litre hybrid has less at 313 litres.

On the road in the 2020 Toyota Corolla GR Sport!

Driving the new Corolla GR Sport was an opportunity to experience the brand’s new 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain. There’s more power and torque than in the standard 1.8-litre version. It has been engineered to be more responsive and fun to drive. This is all while still retaining a low emission hybrid powertrain.

Immediately the hybrid engine impressed me. It feels faster, more robust, smoother and more mature in drive. Power delivery is on the pedal responsive and with 184 hp, the Corolla 2.0-litre can really take off. The Corolla is a much improved car dynamically. I enjoyed the more powerful set-up in this car with smoother CVT automatic operation. Paddle shift gear changes are also possible. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 7.1 litres per 100 km, while motor tax is just €180 per year.

My verdict on this car is two fold as I’m essentially reviewing two things – the GR Sport spec additions and the 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain.

Last year I performed a number of test drives with the Corolla 1.8 litre and for many people this engine will suffice. It is the one to go for if you are genuinely looking for a fuel sipping car to save on fuel costs as time and time again it returned great economy for me. The 2.0-litre hybrid is more powerful and fun to drive. It feels like a more grown up affair yet fuel consumption does suffer a bit with the more performance bias of the design.

The Toyota Corolla GR Sport explores Corolla's sporty new character
The Toyota Corolla GR Sport explores Corolla's sporty new character

I think the GR Sport is a wonderful addition to the range. I adore the sporty look of this Corolla.

Corolla has grown up and got some street cred. The GR Sport explores the Corolla’s cool new character even more!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla GR Sport 2.0-litre Hybrid
Price: 
€35,053 (from €26,390)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 190 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP): 
5.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP):
120 g/km
Motor Tax: €180 per year


Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!

2020 Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 First Drive Review

Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!
Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is the Opel brand’s first plug-in hybrid. It will arrive in Ireland later in February as the new, all wheel drive, range topper of the Grandland X mid-size family SUV range. Caroline travelled with Opel Ireland to the Black Forest, Germany, to test drive it.

Styling

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is a standard, friendly-looking family SUV, except for one key differentiating feature – the black bonnet that is exclusive to the Hybrid4. While this reviewer is a fan, Opel Ireland thinks it’s a risky move so dealer stock will be monotone only (the black bonnet will be available by special order). There’s a Hybrid4 badge at the rear and an extra flap housing the socket to charge the battery on board.

Interior

The new plug-in hybrid variant carries the same interior as the rest of the Grandland X range, except for a few new buttons and screens to control and monitor the hybrid system. The Grandland X cabin is quite sombre and conservative, but well-built with the latest technology features including the 8" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 can drive like an electric vehicle for up to 59 km
The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 can drive like an electric vehicle for up to 59 km

Practicality

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is a mid-size family SUV with seating for five and competitive rear seating space for this class of vehicle. The battery has been placed under the rear seats and there has been little intrusion to the space in the vehicle as a consequence of the electrified powertrain. Charging cables can be stored in a special compartment under the boot floor and the boot is still competitively sized.

Engines

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors to produce an overall system output of 300 hp and 520 Nm of torque, making it the most powerful model in the Grandland X range. An eight speed automatic gearbox comes as standard.

There will also be a front wheel drive only Opel Grandland X Hybrid available from March with 225 hp.

CO2 emissions are as low as 29 g/km.

On the road

The Opel Grandland X starts in electric mode and has a pure electric range of up to 59 km. The driver can select easily between four driving modes on start up: Electric, Hybrid, Sport and AWD.

Once leaving the confines of Basel Airport, I slipped the Grandland X into hybrid mode. In this mode, the car intelligently selects how much electric assistance to give. Over the first leg of my test drive over motorway and then smaller, fast flowing roads through the Black Forest, my average fuel consumption was an economical 4.6/100km.

Opel engineers encourage owners to plug their new Grandland X Hybrid in every day because the best economy is returned from the car when the battery is kept topped up, as common with all plug-in hybrids. For drivers who travel a short commute comfortably within the 59 km, it would be possible to run the car on electricity only, dipping into the fuel tank rarely. Of course there is never fear of range anxiety because you always have the back up of the petrol engine.

Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 has all wheel drive for extra reassurance in challenging road conditions
Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 has all wheel drive for extra reassurance in challenging road conditions

On the return leg of the journey back to the airport, my battery power ran low as we did not charge at our lunch stop. Average fuel consumption was 6.3l/100km over a 100 km journey that included high speed Autobahn driving.

I dipped into Sport mode during my test drive and it turns the Opel Grandland X into a different animal. This performance biased mode gives the driver instant feedback through the pedals. However, this is not a sports SUV, the Opel Grandland X won’t hustle around corners like a hot hatch but it’s a pleasant pop of power in an otherwise demure SUV.

Charging

The battery can be fully charged in around two hours with a 7.4 kW wallbox or about seven hours using a three point plug at home.

Equipment

In Ireland the new Grandland X Hybrid 4 will be available in the high spec Elite trim. Equipment includes 19" alloy wheels, 8" colour touchscreen, leather seat trim, power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, panoramic glass roof, front parking sensors, driver drowsiness system, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane assist and side blind spot alert.

Pricing

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite will go on sale in Ireland priced from €47,415. The Grandland X Hybrid (front wheel drive) will go on sale from €36,645 for the entry SC, €39,245 for the SRi and €41,745 for the Elite. All prices quoted here are inclusive of Government grants and incentives amounting to €7,500 for plug-in hybrids.

The interior of the new Grandland X Hybrid4
The interior of the new Grandland X Hybrid4

Rivals

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid and Hybrid4 will compete against sister brand Peugeot’s 3008 Hybrid4 and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Summary

The new Grandland X Hybrid4 is a pioneering new product for the Opel brand. Along with the new Corsa-e, these models spearhead the brand’s move to electrification that will see the brand’s entire product portfolio with a battery electric vehicle or hybrid by 2024.

The Grandland X is currently available with diesel and petrol engines, and the Hybrid4 marks a new departure, now offering another option for buyers seeking to move to a lower emissions vehicle.

With the standard Grandland X range kicking off at €28,995, the Hybrid4 carries a significant investment. And though huge savings can be made on running costs, some strategy regarding charging at home and at your destination is needed in order to truly see the benefits of a PHEV.

The hybrid system itself is impressive, as are the performance figures for a standard mid size family SUV. But it’s the green credentials of the Opel Grandland X, not the sporty ones, which should truly inspire buyers to own one.

The Grandland X Hybrid4 is available from €47,415
The Grandland X Hybrid4 is available from €47,415 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd


The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate Review

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Caroline drives the Ford Mondeo Hybrid.

Ford has been slow to adopt an electrification strategy but the reveal of the new Mustang Mach-E is a strong sign of commitment to EV technology from the global car brand. Surprisingly it’s the brand’s Mondeo that has seen the best efforts yet at cutting emissions and providing customers with more trendy alternatives to diesel.

The problem with that strategy is while hybrid might be sexy, the Mondeo is not! It’s a practical car but showing its age. In these times where change in the car industry is occurring so quickly, there is little mercy to be shown to the Mondeo.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid debuted in Ireland in 2018 and the hybrid estate model I had on test is new for 2019.

The Mondeo now has more than a whiff of old school about it – the styling hasn’t changed much over the last 5 years or even ten years – but it does major on classic big car qualities like comfort and refinement. Now with a hybrid option, it offers low mileage, frequent urban users a more fuel efficient solution in a big car.

The interior of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate
The interior of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Inside the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

On first impressions, the interior of the car is very dull and dated but there is an attractive enough colour display for the driver with useful information about the hybrid system. The SYNC 3 infotainment system also features and is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

In Ireland, the Ford Mondeo Hybrid is sold as a Titanium or Vignale model and goes on sale priced from €35,247. Standard equipment on my Titanium model included cruise control, traffic sign recognition, dual zone climate control, parking sensors, rear view camera, lane keeping aid, roof rails and 16” alloys.

This car is huge inside and super comfortable making it easier to forgive its shortcomings. It’s not cutting edge but it’s a fantastic car to drive very day, one that never disappoints. I did many miles in this car and it was an absolute pleasure. The estate is super practical, but the battery gives an unusual shape to the boot floor.

Boot volume is in excess of 400 litres
Boot volume is in excess of 400 litres

Driving the Mondeo Hybrid Estate

I did a lot of motorway driving and over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.8l/100km, though in town I saw consumption as little as 5 l. It works best in urban environments, when it’s working more on electric power. The Mondeo Hybrid favours a more gentle right foot to build its power slowly and steadily. Too much throttle and there’s more annoying transmission noise. But it’s powerful enough when you need it for overtaking manoeuvres.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid has some stiff competition from the likes of the Volkswagen Passat GTE and the Toyota Camry. Yes, it’s a big comfy cruiser but is that enough in these times? The hybrid system can return good efficiency with a little bit of care. The interior is far from cutting edge and where the car shows its age the most. The Mondeo has fallen some way from its glory days but it is still a satisfying car in its own way.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is available from €35,247
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is available from €35,247

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Mondeo Estate HEV Hybrid Titanium
Price:
€35,247 (Range from €32,580)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
187 hp
Torque: 173 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 187 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.4l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
103 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

 


The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review

The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV slipped quietly into the Irish new car market back in 2014 as an off-beat alternative that some people might buy instead of a diesel. The Outlander PHEV was ahead of its time, diesel was still king, and Ireland just wasn’t ready for a hybrid revolution. The plug-in hybrid Outlander was also significantly more expensive to buy than the diesel model.

But public interest in electrified powertrains and hybrids has increased dramatically in the intervening years, with much of the change happening in the last 12 to 18 months. Now we are in a situation where more people will buy the Outlander PHEV because governments and car manufacturers are starting to put an expiry date on diesel.

It’s good news that this corresponds with a major technical update for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The main aim of the 2019 update has been performance and efficiency, with a few cosmetic changes also.

In Ireland the new Outlander PHEV range starts from €39,900. With SEAI grants and VRT relief of €7,500 included, the PHEV range is now priced in the region of the diesel Outlander range. Though the caveat here is that the PHEV is five seat only to accommodate a 13.8 kWh battery under the boot floor, while the diesel model gets an extra two seats in the rear.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is available from €39,900
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is available from €39,900

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a relatively unique car in the market at its price point. 2019 has seen the arrival of what are probably the closest competitors: the new Honda CR-V Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. These cars straddle the same price range and are low emission SUVs. However, as a plug-in hybrid the Outlander PHEV can be driven on electric power alone for up to 45 km. This means that for buyers who regularly do short journeys and can charge on either end of that journey, there is potential to run the Outlander very cheaply indeed.

What’s new for 2019?

The 2.0-litre petrol engine has been replaced by a new 2.4-litre petrol engine that has more power (135 hp vs 121 hp), across a wider rev range. The electric powertrain has also been improved, with the rear electric motor now producing 95 hp and a battery capacity increased to 13.8 kWh.

Under the skin, the shock absorbers of the suspension have been revised to improve the low speed ride. The steering rack has been quickened and the power steering ECU re-mapped to offer more responsiveness and feel. There are also larger front brake discs for improved stopping power. A new ‘Sport’ mode gives more throttle response and grip from the all wheel drive system. With an electric motor on each axle, the Outlander PHEV can operate in 4x4 even in the electric mode. The all wheel drive system has a new ‘Snow’ mode to improve low grip launching and cornering.

Visually, the Mitsubishi has a strong road presence with a characteristic front end and redesigned grille with chrome elements and LED light signature. At the back, there is a redesigned rear bumper and a roof spoiler. The Outlander PHEV has quite a boxy and utilitarian shape, which means it’s a very spacious vehicle inside. Head and legroom are very good in the rear. The middle seat is quite narrow, but there is a flat floor. Despite housing a battery, the boot is still large and practical at 463 litres, with underfloor storage for charging cables.

The interior of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The interior of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The mid-range Instyle model I had on test (from €43,900) came very well equipped with 18” alloys, LED headlamps, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, rear parking camera, high beam assist, lane departure warning and forward collision mitigation.

A touchscreen comes as standard and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless integration with smartphones. There are a number of menus that can be accessed from the touchscreen and the instrument panel to inform the driver of such things as power flow, energy consumption and range.

The cabin quality is generally good but it’s not the most modern or distinct cabin among this class of vehicle, with some old-fashioned switchgear and graphics.

Driving the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

On the road, the Outlander’s hybrid powertrain is pleasantly smooth and refined. It’s not sporty but it is agile for its size and comfortable for long journeys. Performance is lively enough with a 0 to 100 kmh sprinting taking 10.5 seconds. The Sport mode offers a sharper throttle but it’s not really necessary for the most part, really just giving the driver more confidence in overtaking manoeuvres.

The Outlander PHEV has a new engine and improvements to hybrid powertrain
The Outlander PHEV has a new engine and improvements to the hybrid powertrain

CO2 emissions of just 46g/km mean that motor tax is just €170 per year. The Outlander PHEV offers a number of different driving modes including a pure EV mode, a normal hybrid mode and a battery save mode where you can save your electric range until you reach a low speed, urban environment, for example. You can charge the Outlander PHEV from a domestic mains supply using a three point plug (about 5 hours) or using the public charging system, where 80% battery power can be achieved in just 25 minutes.

I managed to travel 40 km on electric power only and I got into the habit of plugging in and keeping the battery charged up. In some scenarios where the car was working mostly on electric power, I saw consumption as low as 2 l/100km! However, on longer journeys working in hybrid mode, economy plummeted once the battery power was gone. In these scenarios, I saw fuel consumption as high as 7 l/100km.

Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Would you buy it?

For the right owner, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a large SUV full of potential to run cheaply. The ability to plug in the Outlander and drive it on pure electric power gives it an edge over other hybrid SUVs and makes this car a unique proposition in its price range. However, the Outlander PHEV becomes less efficient in motorway and long distance driving. So in these scenarios, there’s no real advantage to owning an Outlander PHEV.

Yet for drivers with regular commutes within that 40 km range who can charge on both ends of the journey, this is one large 4x4 SUV that can absolutely be run very cheaply. Mitsubishi has packaged the battery extremely well to provide a spacious five seat vehicle with a boot that’s still practical and competitive for this class of vehicle.

The hybrid powertrain is smooth and refined, while the interface to control the different driving modes is user-friendly. Mitsubishi has reputation as the manufacturer of off-road vehicles and the Outlander PHEV is not compromised in that regard. The Outlander PHEV has the surprising ability to blend 4x4 off-road ability with a silent EV stealth mode! Packaged within the fashionable exterior of an SUV, the Outlander PHEV is impossible to ignore for the technology it offers in its price range. For urban dwellers who desire the image of an SUV and need the space and practicality it offers, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV makes particular good sense.

The Outlander PHEV is a large family SUV with potential for very low running costs
The Outlander PHEV combines 4x4 off-road ability with EV motoring!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Instyle
Price:
€43,900 (Range from €39,900)
Engine: 2.4-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
135hp (engine), 82hp (front electric motor), 95hp (rear electric motor)
Torque: 211 Nm (engine only)
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 170 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP):
2.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
46 g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year

 


The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Camry Hybrid
The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota Camry Hybrid!

The Toyota Camry is the unlikely legend of the Toyota brand – it’s the classic big Toyota saloon that actually disappeared from Europe in 2014. But it appears in the interim the Camry built up some sort of mythical status because the reaction to the car’s comeback in Ireland in 2019 has been nothing short of astounding. Who knew there were so many closet Camry fans?

The Camry is now a very on trend fuel-sipping hybrid and is playing a key part in the renaissance of the Toyota brand in Europe, featuring the latest in Toyota technology and design upon Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA).

Priced from €39,750 in Ireland, the Toyota Camry is a big barge. The new car has so much presence with a long, lean body and wide front end. From the driver’s seat it feels even better - you can see that big bonnet in front of you, giving the Camry driver a ‘king of the road’ feel!

The interior of the 2019 Toyota Camry
The interior of the 2019 Toyota Camry

Inside the 2019 Toyota Camry

So naturally I really enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the Camry. The interior is large and comfortable with lots of equipment included as standard: Toyota’s Safety Sense including automatic high beam, adaptive cruise control and lane departure alert with steering control, LED lights, smart entry, rear privacy glass, power retractable heated door mirrors, rear view camera and dual zone climate control.

The bestselling Hybrid Sol grade test car comes with leather upholstery, heated front seats and satellite navigation. The car is resolutely made – no rattles in this interior. The fit and finish is confidence inspiring. There’s plenty of soft-touch padding, leather, and wood-like grain mouldings but the vibe is more retro than cutting edge. The graphics on the central touchscreen are a little bland and there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but I was so comfortable I kind of didn’t care!

Though the roofline is quite low, both the cabin floor and the front and rear passenger seat hip point heights have also been set as low as possible to ensure a spacious interior and lower the centre of gravity. Cabin space is really good. The footwells in the rear are large and a flat transmission tunnel means it’s no bad place for the middle passenger either. The boot is very large at 524 litres but the saloon opening restricts access somewhat.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is on sale in Ireland priced from €39,750
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is on sale in Ireland priced from €39,750

How good is that hybrid?

The new Camry uses the 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 218 hp available and power driven through the front wheels using a CVT automatic gearbox. I’ve had one or two gripes about the refinement of this set up in the RAV4, but no such issues here – the new Toyota Camry is remarkably smooth and refined. It’s a pure joy to drive. Acceleration is brisk and power delivery nigh on seamless. The new Camry can definitely bring it to premium rivals based on comfort, refinement and insulation. Driving dynamics are neat, rather than sporty.

It is also truly efficient. Motor tax is just €190 per year and over five days of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 4.9l/100km.

I really didn’t expect to enjoy the Camry as much as I did, but I immediately felt at home in it. It’s rock solid, smooth and comfortable with classic big car refinement. Toyota seem to have saved their best iteration of the hybrid powertrain for the Camry – it works exceptionally well here and is very efficient for a large car also. The Camry interior features the latest safety and infotainment features, however it does not feel cutting edge. In fact it has a distinct 90’s retro vibe! It might not be for you, but for me those old school values are shockingly reassuring in this crazy world. Amen to Camry!

The Toyota Camry merges a super efficient hybrid powertrain with classic big car comfort and refinement
The Toyota Camry merges a super efficient hybrid powertrain with classic big car comfort and refinement

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Camry Hybrid Sol
Price:
€40,750 (Range from €39,750)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
218 hp
Torque: 221 Nm (engine only)
0-100km/h: 
8.3 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions:
101 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

 


The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid Review

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Honda CR-V Hybrid!

Honda has electrified their new CR-V range with the addition of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid. Based on the new generation of the popular family SUV, the new CR-V Hybrid uses a petrol electric hybrid powertrain to deliver fuel consumption as low as 5.3l/100km and CO2 emissions of just 120g.

Priced from €38,000, the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid carries a premium over the new CR-V 1.5 VTEC petrol (from €33,500) but comes with a sophisticated hybrid powertrain and automatic transmission. Available with five seats only, the CR-V Hybrid is a large family SUV with plenty of kerb appeal. The evolution between the styling of this new CR-V and the previous generation has been quite gentle, but there are broader and more muscular wheel arches, sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, as well as the latest Honda headlight signature. LED lights and 18” alloy wheels come as standard.

If you don’t immediately fall in love with the CR-V on the outside, you certainly will once you sit inside. The Honda CR-V has a fabulous build quality and the interior is immaculately finished with plenty of soft touch materials, metallic trim and wood-effect inserts in the dashboard and doors. On all but the entry model, there is a stylish looking 7” touchscreen set in the dash with the Honda Connect infotainment system. It’s one of the best interiors in the business and large and comfortable too for a family on the move. The automatic transmission adds to the ease of use also. Headroom is excellent in the rear as are the passenger footwells and a flat floor means its not too bad for the middle passenger either. The boot is large too at 497 litres.

The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid

Driving the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 184hp and 175Nm of torque available in both the front wheel drive and four wheel drive model. The CR-V Hybrid puts its power to the road using a CVT automatic gearbox. The CR-V Hybrid is driven by Honda’s unique i-MMD technology, which intelligently and automatically switches between three driving modes – EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive – to optimise both performance and efficiency.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is one of the most aerodynamic cars in its class and features Honda’s Active Shutter Grille system to improve fuel efficiency. The hybrid system is operated via buttons rather than a traditional gear lever – Drive, Park, Neutral and Reverse. There is also a Sport mode button for a more responsive throttle input. A short range EV mode can be selected when in town and it gives about 2 km of pure electric drive, depending on battery charge and driving conditions.

The new CR-V Hybrid is a dream to drive, with a very natural and smooth hybrid drive. It’s not the kind of SUV you want to throw into bends but the steering has still got decent feel and it's easy to place on the road. It's comfortable on the move and there's not too much transmission whine so it's a quiet and refined drive. It’s very quiet, well-insulated and refined. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.5l/100km, and the car would make an excellent choice for urban families who need a large SUV for short, frequent trips.

Rear seating in the Honda CR-V
Rear seating in the Honda CR-V

What are my options?

Honda Ireland is selling the new CR-V Hybrid in four grades: Comfort, Lifestyle, Elegance and Executive. Standard equipment includes 18” alloys, keyless entry and start, emergency call, Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist system, driver lumbar support, climate control, and LED headlights.

Lifestyle models (€40,500) add equipment including rain sensing wipers, electrically folding side mirrors, leather steering wheel, dual automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and Honda Connect with 7” touchscreen.

The Elegance model (€43,500) has leather upholstery, front heated seats, active cornering lights and ambient lighting.

The Executive model (€49,500) has an opening panoramic glass roof, head-up display, heated steering wheel, electric tailgate and rear heated seats.

Prices quoted here are for front wheel drive models and include Government grants and reductions for hybrids. All wheel drive (AWD) models are available from €43,500.

The model I was driving was a fully loaded CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD with a list price of €49,500.

Hybrid power seems to be a rather natural fit for the new CR-V. The refinement and efficiency of the hybrid powertrain is impressive.

We liked the new Honda CR-V when we tested it last year with the 1.5-litre turbo petrol. However, while the new CR-V Hybrid is more expensive to buy it feels like a better investment for the efficiency and refinement it offers. The new CR-V Hybrid retains all of the CR-V's natural attributes: that is it's a big, comfortable family SUV with an excellent, almost premium feeling cabin. They hybrid powertrain feels like a natural fit for the CR-V and it's easily one of the best SUVs you can buy right now.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is available from €38,000
The Honda CR-V Hybrid is available from €38,000

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD
Price:
€49,500 (Range from €38,000)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
180 hp
Torque: 175 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
126 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

If you are looking for a hybrid SUV you might also like this review of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.