Here we talk through just some of the new models to be released.
This second-generation Mokka represents a new kind of assertive identity for Vauxhall as it seeks to carve out a more distinctive volume brand niche within the PSA Group portfolio of brands. It certainly makes more of a driveway statement than its predecessor – as you’d hope, given that it sells at a slightly higher price point. And the engineering is at a different level to anything previously seen in a Vauxhall SUV.
It would probably be too much to hope here that this second-generation Mokka would bring anything completely new to its segment – it doesn’t. But customers of small crossovers aren’t really looking for engineering ingenuity. Usually, they want to make a pavement statement – and this car does that with a lot more gusto than quite a few of its class rivals. Will that be enough here? It’ll be interesting to see.
All-New Nissan Qashqai
These days, the Nissan Qashqai is sleeker, feels more expensive inside and offers some of the most sophisticated electronic safety technology in the mid-sized SUV Crossover sector. With this third-generation range, all models get a 1.3-litre petrol turbo engine with a 12v mild hybrid electrified system. This adds 22kgs to the powertrain weight but claims to reduce CO2 emissions by 4g/km. The engine comes in either 138 or 156bhp forms, the latter available with the option of 4WD, a system now much improved. You can have either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a CVT auto. And if you don’t want a mild hybrid, there’s the option of an ePower engine with a bigger dose of electrification. The Qashqai ePower isn’t a plug-in – and it differs from Prius-like ‘self-charging’ parallel hybrids because the engine isn’t directly connected to the wheels. Instead, it charges a battery, which in turn powers an electric motor to drive the wheels. This MK3 Qashqai offers a much higher quality interior and there’s extra media and safety tech. Plus a little more rear seat and boot space.
New Fiat 500 EV
At last, an all-new third-generation Fiat 500. And contrary to appearances, everything is different. This is the very first all-electric car from the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCA conglomerate, a model to be marketed as the ‘New 500’ and sold alongside the existing petrol hybrid model, which continues for the foreseeable future. This latest car is fractionally bigger than that old second-generation model but continues to be offered in 3-door hatch and convertible body styles. Unlike some stylised direct EV segment rivals, there’s a proper driving range of nearly 200 miles with the volume 42kWh version.
So is this new EV-era 500 worth aspiring to? We think many loyal buyers will think so. It’s just as stylish as its MINI Electric and Honda-e rivals and sets a new high bar in terms of driving range for a tiny EV that embarrasses both of them. Which goes some way to justify a high price that hopefully will become more accessible as the range broadens. This is no longer the cheap ‘Peoples’ Car’ it once was. But without a doubt, it retains the spirit of the original.
Hyundai Kona Hybrid
If you’re after a small Crossover that’s particularly city-orientated and you’re not quite ready to take the plunge into full-EV motoring, then this Hyundai Kona Hybrid might prove to be a very good pick. This variant hasn’t garnered as many headlines as the fully battery-powered Kona Electric but in reality, right here, right now, it’s probably the better pick for the majority of likely buyers.
Obviously, the key competitor on Hyundai’s radar here is the Toyota C-HR. Well, that car represents tough opposition but there’s certainly plenty of room in the full-hybrid part of this class for both cars and this Kona represents a slightly better value proposition. We think it’s a car the segment will like.