Toyota has a habit of making its hybrid cars look like something out of Star Wars. It can be too extreme for some, but has the Japanese manufacturer found the sweet spot with its first hybrid SUV, the Toyota C-HR?
Our latest car reviews include the Toyota C-HR, as well as the Audi A5 and Audi Q2. Plus, you can see what our experts discovered when they put the fourth-generation Kia Rio and the innovative Mazda MX-5 RF through their paces.
The Audi A5 and Q2 look tame by comparison with the C-HR, but the simplicity of their design isn’t without its charm. However, they will need to impress in our tests if they have a hope of tempting people away from the BMW 4 Series and the ever-expanding choice of compact SUVs and crossovers.
When it comes to judging the latest cars we’ve reviewed purely on looks, the Mazda MX5 RF is the pick of the bunch. This gorgeous roadster is a treat, and we could watch its hard-top roof go up and down all day. Keep reading to find out if we were also impressed by its performance.
Whichever style of car you’re after, you can find your perfect model with our round-up of the top cars for 2017.
Toyota is fast becoming synonymous with the future of motoring. The Prius is the most popular hybrid car on the market and virtually a household name at this point, while the hydrogen fuel cell Mirai is a zero emissions car without the short range of an electric one.
It will be some time before there are hydrogen filling stations within range of every home, so Toyota is still making hybrids. The C-HR is the company’s first hybrid SUV and it’s easy on the eye.
Manual and automatic versions are available. If you go for the 1.8-litre petrol hybrid, you have the option of two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. There’s also a 1.2-litre petrol engine if you don’t fancy running a hybrid.
Striking looks and hybrid engines aside, the C-HR is still going up against the mighty Nissan Qashqai, and the base model costs over £3,000 more. If Toyota’s claims of 74mpg are accurate, then you could recoup the money in fuel costs.
Our full review reveals the car’s true mpg, as well as how easy the C-HR is to drive and whether its unusual design impacts interior space and comfort. Go to our Toyota C-HR review.
Audi’s classy saloon is as desirable as ever. Despite the loss of practicality over the A4, there’s no denying that the sloping roof on the coupe is alluring.
To see what’s different about the newest A5 you need to look past the bodywork. The car has a longer wheelbase and more interior space as a result. The handling has had a significant overhaul, too, and the dynamic steering offers better feedback and increased precision over the previous A5.
Prices start at £30,690. A car as lavish and expensive as this one needs to be comfy and a breeze to drive. Having a sloping roof makes the A5 stand out in a crowded forecourt, but it can lead to a poor experience for anyone riding in the back.
Our testing goes beyond a car’s good looks, and tests everything from how much headroom and legroom there is to how easy it is to see out of the car.
Head to our Audi A5 review to see how much you’ll need to compromise for the car’s sleek bodywork.
The A5 isn’t the only car that has grown – the fourth-generation Kia Rio has added a few inches to its wheelbase for a more spacious interior. It’s not just bigger, it’s also better. The harsh plastics that cheapened the third-generation Rio have been replaced by, well, more plastic, but it feels nicer.
Just because the Rio is bigger and more upmarket doesn’t mean it has seen a big increase in price. £12,000 is enough to get you a Kia Rio, which is cheaper than a Honda Jazz or Ford Fiesta. And, of course, it still has a seven-year warranty.
You also get more space, a turbocharged engine, a class-leading warranty and a fantastic 62.8mpg – at least according to Kia.
To find out if the Rio handles well and whether the improvements to the cabin were worthwhile, head to our Kia Rio first drive review.
The Audi Q2 has a tough job on its hands. It needs to tempt people away from the vast range of competent and popular small SUVs, and it needs to do it despite costing thousands of pounds more.
The Audi brand name and the promise of luxury and class that come with it will carry it some of the way, but it needs to significantly outshine the likes of the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008 in every area.
As you might expect, the Q2 is a pleasant place to be, and the cabin is packed with cutting-edge technology.
No matter which of the three trim levels you go for, you’ll be treated to a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. You also get Audi Pre Sense, which detects emergency manoeuvres and automatically applies brakes, tightens seatbelts and winds up windows.
There are plenty of engines to choose from, including three petrol and two diesels, and your choice of two-wheel or four-wheel drive.
For the price, the Q2 needs more than a tech-laden cabin; it needs to be better on the road than its cheaper rivals. The ‘progressive’ steering could help this SUV stand out in the handling department – it alters power assistance depending how far the wheel is turned, which should make the car feel more responsive.
Is the Audi Q2 good enough for its price tag, or are its cheaper rivals a better choice? Find out in our full Audi Q2 review.
Unlike other MX-5s, the RF has a hard top that’s swallowed by the boot at the push of a button. The process is neat – especially when the rear roof panel rises back up, creating a U-shaped frame.
The back panel means the RF doesn’t feel like a full convertible, but it is undeniably cool.
Mazda got the design just right on the RF, and the drive will need to match. Smooth handling and buckets of power, in conjunction with the low weight, should get this car to 60mph in the blink of an eye.
We had the enviable task of taking the MX5 RF out for a spin. Find out what happened in our Mazda MX-5 RF first drive review.
Latest car news
Google in your car – Audi and Volvo cars will soon come with Android installed. Android is usually reserved for Google smartphones and now it will power in-car entertainment systems. You’ll be able access apps, such as Google Maps and Spotify. Even more exciting is Google Assistant, which means you’ll be able to give your car voice commands for doing everything from making calls to asking for directions.