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Motoring Matters Road Report

Isuzu D-Max Pick Up Truck

By Motoring Matters Road Report

It’s been a pleasure getting re- acquainted with the Isuzu D-Max pick- up truck particularly as it arrived just in time for the bout of stormy weather we have had recently.

It was to be a busy week with meetings all across Scotland, then came the warnings from the weather forecasters about the storms which now all seem to have to have a name!  Babet, Isha, and no doubt soon Jimmy, Tam and Hugo.

We had strong winds, heavy rain, sleet and snow but driving in this up-dated pick -up truck was a breeze.

2024 was a record- breaking year in the UK for Isuzu (45% up on the previous year) with the D-Max pick up truck the only model it sells in the UK.

The model we had on test was the V-Cross which has gone through an update with the aim being to capture a larger slice of the lifestyle market.

Only one engine is on offer across the range, the 1.9 -litre turbodiesel which delivers 162bhp and 360Nm of torque. We really enjoyed the auto box but you can go for a six speed manual which would see you making a reasonable saving. We did a fair bit of in city driving and found the speed-sensitive  steering made the D-Max `a dream to manoeuvre into many tight parking spots.

The exterior has an improved front grille and smarter alloys whilst the interior has an eight-way adjustable drivers seat, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and a nine-inch multifunction colour touchscreen.

The modifications on the D-Max result in the wheelbase being longer which gives you more space in the cabin, the rear doors are larger giving easier access.

We both enjoy driving pick -ups and the Isuzu D-Max certainly gets the thumbs up from us.

Price: £44,323

Insurance Group: 40

Warranty: Five Years /125,000 miles

MPG: 30.7mpg

Kia EV6

By Motoring Matters Road Report

When it comes to Electric Vehicles, we are absolutely spoiled for choice, but when it comes to styling, with its eye-catching, bold, sporty appearance, the Kia EV6 must be one of the best looking cars available on the market today. It is surprisingly long, almost as lengthy as its stablemate the Kia Sorrento and even slightly longer than the Jaguar I-Pace. The benefit of this is that there is lots and lots of interior space front and back. The boot space is less than in some of its rivals but it does have a small front boot which will take a couple of small bags.

Inside the cabin the materials are of high quality and it has a modern upmarket feel to it. All versions of the EV6 come with a curved 12.3 in touchscreen positioned handily in the middle of the dashboard. It’s easy to see and operate and infotainment system is excellent. All trims have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, while GT-Line models and above get wireless phone-charging.

Even entry-level EV6 Air models are pretty well equipped, with 19in alloys, climate control, rain-sensing wipers, heated door mirrors, adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, a must for these cold early morning starts, and heated front seats with driver lumbar support adjustment. Upgrade to GT-Line trim and that adds some sportier design features, electronically adjustable front seats, adaptive LED headlights, tinted rear windows GT-Line S models get larger 20in alloys.

The EV6 is a strong performer in the electric vehicle segment. It offers a variety of powertrains, including a powerful GT model that can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.5 secs. The ride is quite firm but it’s still comfortable and we enjoyed the precise handling. It is of course very quiet with just a little bit of road noise and it grips well on wet roads.

The EV6’s official range can match with rivals like the Skoda Enyaq iV, and Nissan Ariya, but the bonus is its ultra-fast charging capability. The EV6 uses an 800V charging system and if you have access to an ultra-rapid charger, a 10 to 80 % refill takes less than 20 minutes giving you a range of about 300 miles. Kia has a great record for safety, and the EV6 scored five stars in Euro N-Cap. Prices start from just over £45,000.

Ally says – The EV6 is fun to drive and with its longer range and faster charging speeds, it is one of the best Electric Cars around.

Lorraine says – It is well equipped and refined and compares very favourably with other EV’s with much higher price tags.

BYD Dolphin

By Motoring Matters Road Report

The Dolphin is a small electric car that sits alongside the BYD Atto 3 SUV and the BYD Seal electric executive car in the Chinese car maker’s line-up.

The car industry is trying hard to offer affordable electric motoring, in terms of both purchase price and running costs. The business sector has already made inroads and sales are increasing significantly for fleet due to some great incentives, however retail for the common man or woman, is still slow.  It would seem that individual drivers and either not ready to take the giant leap into electrified motoring, or the costs are just preventing them from doing so. We as consumers are flooded with cut priced goods from China, and cars are no exception.

The Dolphin is a smart-looking little car and will rival the MG4 which is one of the most successful at the moment. It has a plush interior and being Chinese, the tech is of the highest quality.  It is comfortable inside, bright and airy and quite spacious for a car of this size.

The BYD Dolphin with a 150kW motor and a 60.5kWh usable capacity battery. An entry-level 70kW version – called Active – and a 130kW mid-spec Boost version are set to join the range later.  The Active and Boost each get a 44.9kWh battery and official ranges of 211 miles and 195 miles respectively. The bigger 60.5kWh battery version – called either Comfort or Design depending on the trim you choose – officially extends the range to 265 miles. However, in real use we didn’t quite make 200 miles. It is nippy though, around 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds.

On the inside the Dolphin, comes with electrically adjustable seats and an adjustable steering wheel and we love the large rotating touchscreen, although we do disagree what is best, portrait or landscape… each to their own! Safety is high on the agenda and all Dolphins come with rear parking sensors, and the two top trim levels also add front sensors.

There’s plenty of room in the front, with plenty of head and leg room. There’s also loads of storage space in the front, with a decent-sized glovebox, two cupholders, a small space for your phone and more storage under the central armrest.

In the rear, there is room for two adults or maybe three kids and talking of kids there is enough boot space for all the junk they bring with them!

The smaller battery option can charge up to 65kW, while Comfort and Design versions have a faster maximum charging rate of 88kWh. Both have the potential to top up from 10-80% charge in around 40 minutes, which is a little slower than some of its competitors, but let’s face it if you are going to buy an electric car, you will invest in a home charger unless you live in a 5th floor apartment!

This is attractive….the Dolphin comes with a six-year/90,000-mile basic warranty, an eight-year/124,000-mile warranty on the battery, and an eight-year/90,000-mile warranty on the drive motor and drive controller.

Prices start for just under £29,000

Ally says – The BYD Dolphin comes with plenty of kit as standard, and then there is that generous warranty.

Lorraine says – It is one of the most affordable electric cars to buy outright, it is smart and quirky too but still practical.

BYD Atto 3

By Motoring Matters Road Report

We recently had our first drive of the little known but revolutionary electric vehicle named the BYD Atto 3 which has emerged from the bustling heart of China’s automotive industry. It may be a newcomer to the roads of Scotland and the UK in general but the company has actually been around since 1995 and is one of the bestselling brands in China.

BYD stands for Build Your Dreams which is quite a long badge on the back of a C segment crossover SUV. The Atto 3 is a smart, sleek and compact car, perfectly suited for urban living. Its design is elegant, with clean lines and a panoramic sunroof that allows natural light to flood the interior. On the inside, it is very modern and original with a gym-themed design which had to be explained to us! It is surprisingly spacious front and back and the seats are very comfortable.

The car’s infotainment system housed in a large touchscreen which rotates at the touch of a button, is state of the art and will keep the kids entertained with educational videos and games during the charging process which takes just about an hour.

We thought the drive was quite impressive too, powered by an advanced lithium iron phosphate battery, it glided smoothly through the city streets, creating a serene environment that allows for family conversations even at higher speeds. It also offers impressive range and energy efficiency. We didn’t quite get the 260 miles predicted, but during our time with the Atto, we did have the heater blasting, wipers thrashing at double speed and the radio blaring for most of the time.

BYD says the Atto 3 is not just a car; but a symbol of their commitment to a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world. In addition to the Atto, coming soon is the Dolphin, a family hatchback and a smart saloon called the Seal, with several more in the planning stage. Atto 3 comes with a choice of three trims, and even the entry level has electric front seats, panoramic roof and LED headlights as standard.

Like other EV’s the Atto 3 has quite a hefty price-tag starting at £38,990.

Ally says – BYD is the only manufacturer to make all the key components of an electric car so it is not dependant on others, very clever. Loved the drive and its quirkiness.

Lorraine says – There was some cruel chat describing the Atto 3 as a Chinese milk-float, however once driven, even on a short journey, those minds have been well and truly changed. The Atto and indeed BYD will no doubt be seen in great volume on our roads in years to come.

Kia EV9

By Motoring Matters Road Report

We have both been long time fans of Kia models, in particular the Sportage, the strikingly beautiful Stinger and more recently the all electric EV 6, so we were really excited to be trying out the new also all electric larger EV 9.

When it arrived in the driveway, it was a bit of a competition to see who could get to it first. Not surprisingly, Lorraine won!

To say it is a head turner is an understatement, its bold design is simply stunning and at first glance you could easily mistake it for a Range Rover. (We are not sure how deliberate that was by the talented Korean designers.)

It is a large car both inside and out and with the choice of 6 or 7 seats, it is ideal for the larger family who is looking to indulge themselves and enter the all electric market at the same time.

The clever design continues on the inside with great use of space, luxury and versatility. It comes with twin 12.3 inch infotainment and instrument displays with all the bells and whistles you can ask for and you can charge two phones in the front and the rear.

So far so good but how was the drive?  We thought it drove and handled really well and just as you would expect from a large car on urban roads and on the motorways for longer distances.

There are numerous safety features too and the parking collision avoidance assist works particularly well… please don’t let on to Ally about Lorraine’s near miss with his car!

As with all electric cars, the two big questions are about range and price.  This is a heavy car which will obviously affect the range obtained but you are looking at around 300 miles.

Kia says all versions of the EV 9 can be fast charged with a 10-80% in just 24 minutes, now that is impressive if it is indeed factual. We used a slower charger but it still only took about an hour.

There are three models on offer. The entry level is the rear wheel drive Air which has the longest claimed range. Then there is the all wheel drive GT- Line and the range topper all wheel drive GT- Line S which is the 6 seater.

Prices start from £64,995 for the entry model up to £75.995 for the GT-Line S

Ally says-The Kia EV 9 will be a clear challenger for the better recognised European premium brands, such as the Audi Q8 E-tron and the BMW iX and we wish them well with it.

Lorraine says- We both loved our time in the EV9, however we are not in the market for a 6/7 seater but for those who are, this is one lovely car.

Ford Ranger XL

By Motoring Matters Road Report

We both love driving the Ford Ranger in any of its guises and have done for over a decade.  We tested the Ford Ranger XL 2.L diesel 6 speed manual finished in a crisp frozen white colour, or at least that was the colour we started with but we reckon the Ranger looks better with muddy splashes!  It looks just as it should, a rough and ready for anything statement but it manages to incorporate a bit of style into the mix which you cannot say for all commercial type vehicles. The truckbed is huge, suitable for carting equipment around or even just all those laborious trips to skip.

Climbing up inside is easy with the help of the handle and the steering wheel, even Lorraine’s 87 year old mother managed it, and that says something. The Ranger’s dashboard has a huge touchscreen, similar to the Ford Mustang Mach – E’s (which we also love) and it also has the now familiar Ford’s latest SYNC 4 connected infotainment system with all the bells and whistles and all easy to navigate and we like the physical buttons too. There is plenty of storage space, in all nooks and crannies for all our bits and bobs, phones, i-pads, notebooks, umbrellas etc.

Seats are comfortable back and front with loads of head and legroom in both. We headed out on the road on a couple of trips to Edinburgh in all weathers by the way, sleet, gale force wind, torrential rain but nothing was too much for this hardy truck. It is not going to win any races at Knockhill but it saunters along very nicely on all types of road. It is a big car but it doesn’t feel overly huge when driving it. It corners well and both braking and steering are really positive. The Ranger has lots of safety features too, reverse parking aid, lane keeping aid, rear view camera, to mention a few.

The Ranger appeals to agricultural drivers, painters, joiners, and folk like us who just like driving it and that is why is was voted best Utility/4×4 of the year at the Scottish Car of the Year awards, late last year.

Price for this version starts at £35,760.

Ally says – The Ford Ranger delivers exactly what you would expect and the pricing is spot on for the type of vehicle. I do prefer the automatic version, probably because I am getting lazy in my old age!

Lorraine says – None of my female friends quite understand my love for this vehicle and the pleasure I get from of driving it, they really do not know what they are missing!

Honda Jazz

By Motoring Matters Road Report

It has been long said in some journalistic quarters that the Honda Jazz is most suited to retired university professors or any other conservative profession not in the first flush of youth, well we didn’t agree in the early noughties when we first had the opportunity to drive the Jazz and actually we disagree even more so now unless of course you think we may now fit that category.

The Jazz comes under the Supermini category but we can’t help thinking that this car is so spacious that “mini” doesn’t quite give it justice and it is roomier than most in the category, its main rivals being the Renault Clio and the Skoda Fabia, both excellent cars.

Our test car was the range topping EX Style, which of course has all the attributes of an archetypal Jazz but adds plenty of extra attraction.

From the outside it has a very contemporary appearance, we like the contrasting black roof and door mirrors and those 16 inch alloy wheels add that sportier look and we can see how it would appeal to younger drivers who do not fit the “conservative” label. We are thinking young couple with or without kids in tow. Not that we are claiming to cross the threshold of that demographic by any stretch of the imagination, we are just saying that the Jazz has appeal to the common people.

Inside it is well kitted out with part cloth and part leather upholstery and the front heated seats were a joy during the week we had it on test. We knew it had a heated steering wheel as well but Lorraine just couldn’t find it and Ally never let on! In the rear, the seats are just as comfortable, just not quite so cosy but plenty of space and not just for children, there is good legroom throughout.

Great seat configuration too, not only to the seats fold but they can flip up too, for even more space, very clever.

The goldfish bowl visibility is amazing and you almost feel like you have 360 degree vision thanks to the slim pillars especially in the front and all the toots and beeps enforce the safety protection awareness. The Jazz has a great infotainment system with a very responsive touchscreen and instrument panel and it is very user friendly.

The Jazz is only available with a single 96bhp hybrid petrol/electric engine option which might not appeal to everyone but how many times have we said that we are given way too many choices?

Out on the road it drives really well, doing 0-60mph in 8.6 secs. It leans a little on twisty country roads but in the town and city it steers along very nicely and is very quiet too.

The Honda Jazz is available in lower specs, the SE and the SR.

Prices start at around £20,000

MPG- 61.4 for the EX

Ally says – The Jazz is fantastic for town and city driving and you have the reassurance of Honda quality and reliability.

Lorraine says – The Jazz is hard to match with regard to interior space and flexibility and for anyone looking for a car in this category, I would highly recommend it.

Lexus RX 500h

By Motoring Matters Road Report

Can you believe that the original Lexus RX launched way back in 1998 just at the emergence of drivers desiring a luxury version of what was then pretty boring choices of SUVs. Lexus saw the gap in the market and since then, the Japanese manufacturer has enjoyed great success with the combination of comfort, flawless build quality and renowned reliability the RX offers.

On the outside, the Lexus RX typically has an eye-catching exterior design with the brand’s signature spindle grille and sharp, modern lines. The new Lexus RX is more efficient than ever, with much improved technology on board, and the latest, fifth-generation Lexus RX is also available exclusively with hybrid power in the UK, offered with a choice of ‘self-charging’ hybrid or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains.

We were driving the range-topping RX 500h which only comes in F Sport trim. This brings with it some sportier exterior design tweaks and 21-inch alloys. It is a self-charging hybrid with a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine which sends power to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 500h also gets an electric motor on the rear axle for a combined power output of 366bhp and 550Nm of torque.

On the inside the bucket seats are snug but not uncomfortably so, there is plenty space in the front and room for two average sized adults plus maybe a smaller one. The boot space is a bit on the small side, depending on how much you cart around with you. It has a central 14-inch touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as you’d expect, but Lexus’s own infotainment is excellent in its own right. The menus are user friendly and easy to use.

We loved the look of this car but it was when we were out on the road that we really appreciated it the most. The drive was simply superb, performance when you needed it and a comfortable ride on all journeys. High priority has been given to safety systems and the dynamic cruise control is excellent once you get used to it. When the car in front slows down, the RX starts braking almost immediately. The lane-keep assist is good too and doesn’t drag you back with any great force. The pre-collision warning system is extra sensitive however, it thinks you are about to smash into another vehicle when in reality you’re just driving beside it. Neither of us liked the speed limit recognition, because it dings constantly when you exceed the speed limit even by just 1mph. Maybe that says more about our driving though!

Unlike the previous-generation RX, this new version is only available with five seats, but let’s face it five seats are enough for most of us.

Now in its fifth generation, the RX has always been a competitive rival to the likes of BMW’s X5 and the Mercedes GLE, thanks to hybrid technology and refinement, and will clearly still be a serious rival for a long time to come.

0-60 in 6.2 seconds

2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder + 2 electric motors

Prices start from £77,165

Ally says – for those who like me are maybe not quite ready to drive down the fully electric road yet, hybrids are the next best thing and if you want class, quality and reliability, the Lexus RX 500h is one beautiful car and well worth considering.

Lorraine says – the comfort and design is brilliant and although it is quite pricey, you get a lovely car for your money.

Subaru Solterra

By Motoring Matters Road Report

It has been quite a while since we had the chance to get behind the wheel of a Subaru of any description so we were looking forward to our time with the new Solterra, Subaru’s fist ever electric car. Now there are those in some quarters who think the Solterra is not rugged looking enough to be a typical, tough and versatile Subaru however, we would argue that they barking up the wrong tree.  It is tough, it is versatile but it is also very stylish which is not a word often associated with the traditional Subaru workhorses. Now on looking at the photos, you may be thinking that it looks a bit familiar and you would be right, because they have partnered up with their Japanese chums at Toyota to manufacture the Solterra which is very, very similar to the bZ4X. So it has great looks but will it satisfy the thirst of the Subaru stalwarts? We think it will, it’s 4 x 4 capabilities are really good and yes, it is an EV but it can wade in up to 50mm of water. We both agreed (and it doesn’t always happen) the drive is one of the best of any vehicle we have experienced in recent months.

On the inside it is well turned out, with great tech but it also has traditional instruments and the 12.3 inch screen is easy to view. Seat are comfortable and flexible. Plenty of head and legroom inside and the bootspace is 452L which is not the best in class but more than ample for our and the average driver’s needs.

The Solterra comes in two specs, Limited (which isn’t limited in anything) and Touring which adds a bit more refinement such as wireless phone charging and a panoramic sunroof, so you can see the rain…..

Interesting name…. combines the Latin words “sol,” meaning sun, and “terra,” meaning earth. Subaru says the name expresses the brand’s commitment to deliver traditional SUV capabilities in an environmentally responsible package.”

Prices start from just over £50,000 but we all know electric cars are not cheap, it is about the year long savings in having no fuel costs that is attractive.

Most importantly the range is stated 289 for the Limited and 257 for the Touring.  We didn’t get anything akin to that but it was in the middle of a very cold spell.

This medium-sized crossover is in a highly competitive sector with rivals such as the EV 6 and the Mach E, although the Solterra does come in all wheel drive only which will please the diehards and if they can be convinced that EV and Subaru can actually go hand in hand, we think the Solterra is a serious contender.