Monthly Archives: May 2020

Ford’s new all-electric SUV, the Mustang Mach-E, will feature over-the-air software updates allowing it to literally get better with time. Almost all the vehicle’s modules can be accessed through a cloud-based platform
allowing Ford to deliver performance enhancements and even entirely new features which might not exist when customers first take delivery of their vehicles.

Ford has also quoted charging times based on real-world testing which improve upon the projected figures it had previously been working with. These suggest that versions of the Mach-E with all-wheel drive and the extended-range battery option will be able to gain 66 miles of range in ten minutes when using an Ionity fast-charging station.

Ford expects to be delivering its initial over-the-air updates around six months after the first Mach-E customers take delivery of their vehicles. This in turn is expected to happen just in time for Christmas; said customers will have paid from £46,750 for a model with all-wheel drive.

Toyota has announced that it is to bring the Highlander SUV to Britain. Due for launch early next year, the seven-seater will sit above the RAV4 in the company’s line-up – and it will be available in the UK exclusively with all-wheel drive.

First unveiled in at the New York Auto Show in April 2019, the current Highlander (also known as the Kluger in some markets) is the fourth generation of vehicles to bear the name. It’s based on the same GA-K platform as the RAV4, which bodes well, and all UK models will be powered by a hybrid system mating a 2.5-litre petrol engine to twin electric motors.

This delivers 241bhp and returns WLTP figures of 42.8mpg and 146g/km. The transmission is governed by a Drive Mode Select system with Eco, Normal, Sport and Trail modes, the latter allowing the vehicle to turn in a credible performance off-road. All four modes can still be used when the Highlander is set to run as a full EV.

Toyota’s Global Platform architecture, of which the GA-K unit is part, has been widely praised for the blend of refinement and precision it delivers. The RAV4, which won its class in our 2020 4×4 of the Year awards, has a quiet and superbly put-together cabin as well as athletic handling and peaceful motorway manners, and the Highlander can be expected to match it in all these ways. This in spite of being significantly larger – at 4950mm, its overall length is the same as that of the massive 200-Series Landcruiser which was withdrawn from sale in the UK in 2015.

These proportions allow a genuine seven-seat interior, with a 180mm sliding range for the second row of seats – allowing easy access and spacious third-row accommodation for two adults. With both the rear rows folded flat, meanwhile, the Highlander’s luggage capacity leaps from its standard 658 litres to a huge 1909 litres.

Elsewhere inside, Toyota promises excellent oddment stowage and plenty of USB ports for connectivity, as well as a wide range of premium including satellite navigation, head-up display, wireless charging and an infotainment system running Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto. Heated and vented front seats are also on the list, along with a digital rear-view mirror whose picture is unobscured by rear-seat passengers or headrests.

Externally, the Highlander will feature 20” alloy wheels to go with its striking styling – which uses the same cues as the RAV4 but, when seen next to the smaller vehicle, is noticeably more aggressive, with pronounced wings and wheelarches giving it a more muscular look. Towing capacity tops out at 2000kg.

Pricing for the new Highlander will be announced in the autumn, as the vehicle’s launch date approaches. We’d expect it to start where the RAV4 leaves off, however, which would suggest a starting price of around £35,000.


Vauxhall has released images of the new Mokka, which will go on sale in the UK early next year. The pictures show a disguised vehicle under testing in various conditions – including on snow and ice and in what looks like a simulated wet green laning environment.

This is an all-new model based on the PSA Group’s CMP platform – meaning it will offer a choice of traditional petrol and diesel engines alongside hybrid and all-electric drivetrain options.

While a large part of Vauxhall’s testing has concentrated on giving the vehicle its own unique driving characteristics, the Mokka will have many similarities to the latest Peugeot 2008 – which is also based on the CMP platform. This means it will no longer be available with the option of all-wheel drive, instead offering the Advanced Grip Control system previously seen on a variety of other PSA Group products. This offers a choice of drive modes governing the traction control and other settings, similarly to programmes like Land Rover’s Terrain Response – however in this case only the front wheels are driven.

A further advantage of the new platform is that it allows the Mokka to be up to 120kg lighter than the old model. This helps with efficiency as well as road manners – which are aided further by a 30% improvement in torsional rigidity.

Vauxhall says its testing programme will continue throughout this summer, with production due to commence late this year. Full UK specs and prices can be expected during the autumn, with the latter likely to fall into the £20-30,000 range.


SsangYong has unveiled a facelifted version of its Tivoli crossover SUV – with revised styling, an improved cabin and a range of new engines as well as greater chassis refinement and sharper dynamics.

The vehicle, which was originally launched five years ago, also gains new infotainment options with what SsangYong calls ‘a brilliant digital interface,’ as well as further updates to what was already a strong set of safety systems. It continues to offer the company’s traditional high-value sales proposition, with prices starting at £13,995 and a massive 84-month / 150,000-mile warranty.

The Tivoli’s new engine options are a pair of turbocharged GDI petrol units. Entry-level models get a 1.2 GDI-T three-cylinder engine with 128bhp at 5000rpm and 169lbf.ft at 1750rpm, while a jump up the range brings you to a 1.5 GDI-T four-pot with 163bhp at 5500rpm and 206lbf.ft at 1500rpm. The 1.2 is available only in manual form, while the 1.5 adds the option of an automatic box – as does the one diesel option, a revised version of the existing 1.6-litre unit with 136bhp at 4000rpm and 239lbf.ft at 1500rpm.

In addition to these drivetrain options, the Tivoli comes with a choice of three spec levels. Entry-level EX models have air-con, cruise control, DAB Radio, Bluetooth and a wide range of safety equipment including autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert and so on, while the mid-range Ventura trim adds 16” alloys, faux-leather trim, heated seats, smartphone pairing, rear parking sensors and a 7” media screen with rear camera.

The EX and Ventura are only available with the 1.2 GDI-T engine. At the top of the range, the Ultimate model comes exclusively with the 1.5 GDI-T and 1.6 Diesel; in addition, this trim level adds 18” diamond-cut alloys, natural leather seats, dual-zone air-con and a 10.25” smart LED cluster.

Pricing for the new-look Tivoli starts at £13,995 for the 1.2 EX. The Ventura model with the same engine costs £16,995, while Ultimate examples start at £19,995 with the 1.5-litre petrol engine in manual form and climb to £22,995 for a diesel auto.

Ford has reintroduced the Thunder badge to its UK line-up. First seen more than a decade and a half ago, the high-spec model had always been at the look-at-me end of the range – and that’s the case more than ever now, with a 1400-strong limited-edition double-cab model whose two-tone interior and high-spec leather-clad cabin are very much designed to attract attention.

Powered by Ford’s 2.0-litre twin-turbo EcoBlue diesel engine, whose 213bhp and 369lbf.ft are put out through a 10-speed automatic gearbox, the Ranger Thunder is based on the Wildtrak model and costs from £32,965 plus VAT. Its styling package includes a Sea Grey paint scheme with red highlights, as well as 18” alloy wheels whose black finish matches those of the front grille, rear bumper, skid plates, light bezels and door handles.

Inside, the cabin features black leather seats with red stitching – which is also extended across the steering wheel and dashboard. You even get bespoke red-illuminated sill plates.

The Thunder model aims to help the Ranger build on last year’s best-ever European sales figures of 52,500 – which included more than 16,000 in the UK alone. This level of popularity is even more remarkable considering the Ranger is the oldest pick-up on the market – two major revisions notwithstanding, the current model has been in production since 2011.