New car reviews online - Skoda Superb estate and Lexus RXPlus first drives of the MG GS and Suzuki Baleno

07 November 2016

Lexus RX

The Lexus RX and its 'origami' design

We’ve got two attractive cars from different ends of the family-car spectrum this week, as well as a new compact SUV from MG and a practical small hatchback from Suzuki that has the Honda Jazz in its sights.

Since Skoda was brought into the VW fold it has been delivering solid, reasonably priced family cars. Its largest offering, the Superb, is now available in estate form and promises a huge load space, as well as a large rear cabin, wrapped up in a stylishly designed body. We’ve subjected it to our lab tests to find out if it really delivers.

We’ve also tested Lexus’ flagship large SUV - the RX - in hybrid form. You can read our road-test verdict in the full review.

Now Chinese owned, MG has launched its first crossover SUV. The GS will need to be very good to stand out among the competition in the form of the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage. We found out if it’s likely to make a stir in our first drive.

Finally, the Suzuki Baleno joins the brand’s small hatchback range, promising more practicality and passenger space than its smaller sibling, the Swift. Like the MG, however, it will have its work cut out in what is the most popular market in the UK, and one that is dominated by hugely popular models such as the Ford Fiesta.

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Skoda Superb Estate

The Superb estate is at the forefront of Skoda's resurgence

Skoda Superb estate - new model

We often praise Skoda for its spacious cars, from the cavernous Octavia to the deceptively roomy Fabia. Estate cars put space front and centre, particularly when it comes to the boot, so the latest Superb estate should play to the Czech brand’s strengths.

There are plenty of engines to choose from, as well as the option of manual or DSG twin-clutch automatic gearboxes. Buyers will also be able to choose between front- and four-wheel-drive on selected models.

Refinement and space are also big plus points, though you’ll have to read our Skoda Superb estate review to find out whether you should be considering one as a good-value alternative to the usual premium estates, such as the Audi A4 Avant and Mercedes C-Class estate.

Lexus RX - new model

The RX looks like it came from another planet, and its angular ‘origami’ aesthetic won’t appeal to everyone, but to our eyes it’s fresh, bold and distinctive.

The car’s futuristic bent doesn’t stop at the body work. Being a Lexus, this range-topping SUV is a hybrid. There is a 2.0-litre petrol option, but it’s the 3.5-litre V6 hybrid that has the claimed economy and emissions figures worth shouting about.

MG GS

The GS is the first compact SUV from MG

One thing in the RX’s favour is Lexus’ exemplary reliability rating. It got five stars in our survey, making it one of the most reliable manufacturers around. Big, complex cars like the RX are often more prone to faults than their smaller siblings and the confidence of knowing that your £40,000-plus new car isn’t likely to break down could swing the undecided in Lexus’ favour.

Take a look at our Lexus RX review to see if this Japanese SUV can beat the European ones.

MG GS – new model

Once a stalwart British marque, MG is now owned by Chinese company MG Motor, which is taking the brand into uncharted waters by stamping its familiar octagonal logo on a compact SUV.

It’s going head to head with the undisputed ruler of the crossover class, the Nissan Qashqai. And while it may not have the popularity of the Nissan it is a good deal cheaper. The entry-model GS is £14,995 while the Qashqai is closer to £20,000.

What concessions, if any, has MG made to get the costs down? You can read our MG GS first drive review to find out.

Suzuki Baleno

Will the Suzuki Baleno enjoy the same success as the smaller Suzuki Swift?

Suzuki Baleno - new model

The Baleno is Suzuki’s answer to practical, spacious small cars like the Honda Jazz. It’s not the most thrilling car to look at but the 1-litre turbocharged engine nestled under the hood should make this compact five-door car feel nippy and responsive.

As well as the peppy engine, the Baleno is being built on an entirely new platform. It’s the same one that will be the basis for the next Swift. The chief benefit of the new platform is weight - it’s relatively light, which should help boost both fuel economy and driving fun.

Find out what we thought when we got behind the wheel of the Suzuki Baleno in our first look review.

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