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BYD is probably the largest vehicle manufacturer that you haven’t heard of… I certainly hadn’t until very recently.

I was invited to the UK press launch of the BYD ATTO 3, the new all-electric C-Segment SUV, although many will describe it as a five-door hatch. The ATTO 3 benefits from the new, revolutionary Blade Battery for optimum safety, efficiency and reliability. During the press conference on the event in sunny Bolton, the Blade System was explained to us, but most of it went completely over my head.

There are three models in the range: Active, Comfort and Design with UK prices ranging from £36,490 to £38,990, so not exactly cheap, but there is an awful lot of standard equipment in all models, and you cannot order any options, as none are available.

For those that have driven an electric car, the ATTO drives very similar to all the rest, some EVs are just a bit quicker than others, and some go a bit further than others on a full charge. But in my opinion they are all very good, efficient, quick, but drive very similar. The ATTO 3 has a range of around 418km, so not the best, but not the worst by a long way either.

The ATTO 3 has two unique features, and although unique, I’m not sure any other car manufacturers will follow this lead. The first is a huge screen in the centre of the dash, much larger than an iPad, and nearly as big as our telly at home. At the press of a button it revolves, so it can go very quickly from landscape to portrait and vice-versa. It tried it a few times and not too sure why you’d need it. The second ‘feature’ and a first in a car are the ‘Banjo Strings’ on all four door interior panels are three strings, all tuned so you can play a tune on them, a limited tune, but nevertheless … a tune of sorts. Can you imagine driving from Gibraltar to Madrid or Barcelona with kids in the back, happily strumming away, erm …. it’s a no from me.

The ATTO 3 is well put together, with a high level of quality, fit and finish throughout. It measures 4.45m in length, but has an amazing amount of interior space, big enough for five adults, with lots of legroom.

BYD was founded in 1995, and is one of China’s largest private enterprises. It has over 28 years of battery expertise and manufacturing. It employs over 600,000 people with its HQ in Shenzhen, China and its European one in the Netherlands. They produce batteries for many other companies, and make cars, trucks, buses and trains. Virtually everything that goes into their products are made by BYD, with the exception of glass and tyres.

So it is indeed, the largest company you’ve never heard of… well… until now


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The word Maserati conjures up all sorts of things in your mind. Most will still think of the ultimate Italian supercar, with looks that are outstanding, and those Maserati badges are spectacular design pieces in themselves.

But it isn’t that long ago, Maserati had to join the “diesel-brigade” and to ensure its survival started producing diesel-engined cars, namely the Ghibli. The Ghibli Diesel did have Maserati badges, but most felt, including me, it really wasn’t a proper Italian sporty luxury car. I can see why they did it, but it just didn’t work.

Move on to very recent history, and Maserati is making some crackers. I recently drove a couple at a Maserati GB Press Event at the very luxurious Grantley Hall, near Ripon. First off the starting blocks was a Grecale Trofeo, a medium sized SUV. It is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol engine, and produces 530hp, all coupled to a 8-speed automatic gearbox. It goes from 0-100kph in 3.8 seconds, and a top speed (where allowed) of 285km/h

The Grecale is a great looking SUV, with some very sharp exterior lines. The interior is up to a very high standard and so luxurious.

The second car I drove was the amazing Maserati MC20 Cielo, a two-seater convertible, and just right for a nice sunny day in North Yorkshire. This too has a 3-litre V6 engine fitted, that produces a whopping 630hp, goes from 0-100kph in a staggeringly quick 3-seconds and a top speed of 320kph, which I did not get anywhere near on the test drive. Just a nice and steady time was had, taking in the sunshine and the fantastic local scenery.

The mid-engine configuration is situated just behind the seats, and is rear-wheel drive. Despite it being a two-seat supercar, it is easy to get in and out of, is comfortable, and you don’t feel as though it’s going to give you backache or loosen your teeth. Very clever use of suspension and body stability makes sure this doesn’t happen. It seemed very happy at very low speeds going around some narrow country roads, and at no point did it try a take over, and make you feel as though you had to go quicker. It is very docile and a dream to drive.

The exterior design is just a work of art, you could walk round it a hundred times, and you’d spot something different every time.

It looks fantastic from every angle, just gorgeous.

But of course gorgeousness does come at a price. A basic MC20 costs in the UK £230,000, but add on a few necessary options (Maserati call it “personalisation”) and you can soon be up to over £300,000.

Maserati is now in a much better place than it was a few years ago, now making cars that people actually want, expensive maybe, but certainly in demand.a

Grantley Hall and Maserati – where luxury and posh, met luxurious and posh…

Don’t hate on the 408 Peugeot

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I think it is fair to say that in the past few years Citroën, Peugeot and DS, formerly part of the PSA Group, and now part of the much larger global Group Stellantis have produced some fairly dull and bland cars, call it playing safe if you want.

But recently they have definitely changed the styling theme, whether that’s new designers within the Group, or the people who do all the drawings have been given a more free hand to come up with what they like, and not trying to please those in higher positions. I really don’t have the answer, but what I do know is the cars are now very bold and handsome.

I recently had a Peugeot 408 on test from Peugeot UK Press Office. I had seen photos of it, and liked the looks, but when it arrived, it was so much better than the pics.

The 408 I had was the Allure Premium, powered by a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine that produced 130hp, coupled to a very smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox. Now on paper, the small size of the engine didn’t suit the large size of the car. But it had more than enough power, and went from 0-100kph in 10.4 seconds, certainly not the quickest car I’ve driven, but plenty quick enough for normal, everyday driving. 

The list of standard equipment on the Allure Premium goes on and on… and on. It’s jam-packed with lots of nice things, and has lots of safety features.

The 408 follows in a long tradition of “40” models, with the first, the “401” being introduced in 1934, the “404” in 1960, and the very popular “405” in 1987.

I took the 408 to a Guild of Motoring Writers event, and our President of the Group, Nick Mason (yes, that drummer) had a good look round it, and really liked the design, especially the large “haunches” over the rear wheels, very supercar-like, he commented.

The Peugeot 408 is certainly a great looking five-door hatch, and I take my hat off to the design team, for creating a handsome and muscular car, and of course the engineers for being able to press the metal to form those crisp lines on the body panels.

The UK on-the-road price of the test car is £32,175

Lamborghini Arus

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I went over to the Lamborghini factory in Italy in July 2017 when the early pre- production models of the Urus had been hand assembled in an all-new purpose built, very modern building.

 I looked at the Urus, and remember saying, a big SUV from the Sports Car manufacture, Lamborghini, it will never sell. But then I remember saying the same thing about the Porsche Cayenne back in 2002. Porsche making a big SUV, how ridiculous. This does prove, that not only can you be wrong once, but in fact twice!

The Urus I tested was from Lamborghini Leeds and painted in Nero Ade (black) probably not the best colour for the Urus, as more vibrant colours are available, with some looking outrageously good.

The Urus is powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine that produces a whopping 650bhp, and goes from 0-100kph in a staggeringly quick 3.6 seconds, especially for a large, heavy SUV.

The interior is so luxurious, and every bit a Lamborghini, the quality and fit and finish is superb. The centre console replicated a fighter jet, with similar shaped controls, and even a small red, hinged cover that goes over the start button. Lift it up, Press the starter, and up it fires, making the most fantastic sound, and a sound that just gets better and better, as you move off from stationary, and when you are cruising it sounds so good, really makes you smile. But I’m not sure ‘green’ people would be overly supportive of such a vehicle,

The Urus was launched in 2019, and headed straight into the Covid Pandemic, so production slowed to nearly nothing for quite a while, but production in Bologna’s factory is up to full capacity now, around 5,000 units per year, but you’ll still have to wait a while for delivery, time enough to save up for one.

The Italian design is crisp and so attractive, but aggressive with its sloping roof, that gives it a sports car look, but the roofline does create a problem in the fact that vision can create poor visibility, especially the rear.

At the factory, there is a visitors’ centre, where anyone can book, and go and have a look at current and classic Lamborghinis, some of them are very rare, and worth a fortune, but well worth a visit to see some absolutely tremendous pieces of extraordinary car designs.

Many people often forget that this is not Lamborghini’s first ‘off-roader’ as back in the 1980’s they had the very boxy LM002. Lamborghini also are famous for making agricultural tractors, but the tractor division of Lamborghini, is completely separate now to car production.

The starting price up in the UK is around £188,000 (circa €208,000), but once you start ticking a few boxes for some very nice options, you can soon find yourself with an invoice of over £250,000.

During the time I had the Urus on test I didn’t get chance to put it through its paces, to try its fantastic handling just a nice steady drive around West Yorkshire. Nor did I drive across any farmers fields or up any “mountains” to test its very competent off-road capabilities. I didn’t think taking the car back covered in mud was a good idea.

If you drive the Urus very carefully, which I’m sure most owners will do, then you’re u can get a range of over 400 miles (640km).

The Lamborghini has supercar performance, has room for five-adults, and their luggage, looks spectacular, sounds spectacular, can comfortably go off-road, and has those all-important Lamborghini badges on it. Just a great all-rounder, but does come with a hefty, yet justifiable price-tag.

Citroën Ami Cargo

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It measures only 2.41m long, so it is tiny, but very easy to park, and probably small enough to take into Morrisons to do your shopping in, and I’m sure it would go up and down the isles, and with a small turning circle, of only 7.2m, it’s very nimble.

Citroën has been clever with their design, as the front panel is identical to the rear, just the lights are different. The drivers door opens rearward, and the passenger door opens forward, all Ami’s are left-hand drive, so ideal for Gibraltar and its narrow streets.

In the cabin, which is remarkably spacious for such a small car, it is fairly basic, with hardly any nice bits of standard specification. It does have a heater, but I found it to be underwhelming, and you are better not using it, and conserve some electric. 

The Ami does have a nice touch first used on the Citroën 2CV over 80 years ago, these are the hinged ‘pop-up’ Windows, a bit of retro design in a modern vehicle.

The Ami is technically not a car, it’s a large electric quadricycle, and in some European countries it can be driven by 14 year olds without a driving licence. This could be a very good or a very bad thing!

The electric motor produces just 8 BHP, which gives it a top speed of 28 mph, or 45kph, so highly unlikely you’ll ever get a speeding ticket. RGP, take note.

Anyone thinking of buying an electric Ami, really needs to think long and hard about where and when they are going to use it. Its range is going to be very dependent on the gradient of the terrain. Also, obviously, required is the ability to efficiently charge the vehicle. This isn’t always practical in Gibraltar if you live on the top floor of a block without parking. The Ami really is a “buyer-beware” vehicle, do your homework before making any buying decisions. It is also available badged as an Opel Rocks Electric, so could be available over the Frontier at the relatively new Opel dealership there, with all the duty fun and games that would entail.

But the Ami is not expensive to buy, in the UK the one-the-road price is £7995, but if you do buy one, be prepared for many people looking at it, it does attract lots of attention.

The Genesis

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I have recently driven not one but two Genesis models. “A Genesis”, I hear you say out loud, yes a Genesis, not the Biblical version, or something from the rock band, or from an ancient Latin word, no, Genesis as in the new car brand.

Genesis is to put it bluntly, the posh arm of the Kia/Hyundai company, it makes cars that are basically a very luxurious car, but based on the well proven Hyundai & Kia drivetrains and technology.

First I had the all-Electric G80, which is a four-door saloon, and does look good for a full five-seat car.

It is powered by Twin-Electric Motors, driven by the batteries and they produce the equivalent of 364bhp, and it goes from 0-100kph in a staggering 4.9 seconds; a good job it has nice headrests to stop you hurting your neck while accelerating. It has solar panels on the roof to help produce a bit of electricity, but in all honesty they are not really big enough to charge up the battery that much.

As I was driving the Genesis, a song came on the radio, not by Genesis, but from the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, it was Truly Scrumptious, and that’s what this car really is.

The second Genesis I drove was another all-electric, the GV60, which is a medium sized SUV, and like the G80, it too is very good. It just oozes quality, the materials used are first class and certainly up to a very high standard to easily match the best from the United Kingdom or Germany.

Kia & Hyundai have improved dramatically over the past few years, but Genesis takes them to a new level.

The G80 I drove was electric, but you can buy a petrol version, a 2.5-litre that produces 304bhp, which is ideal for those (like me) not ready for an electric vehicle … yet.

While I had the G80, over a week, I did have some difficulties charging it. To do so at home takes forever, up to three days using the 3-pin plug, so that is not an option, and you do ideally need off-street parking too, which many people (especially in Gibraltar) just don’t have.

But putting the charging issues aside, Genesis has created and built some amazing cars in a relatively short space of time. Quality is everything. They really are truly scrumptious.

Yaris Cross

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Toyota have taken a pretty boring looking small five door hatch, that does sell in big numbers around Europe and made it into something very special.

I can just imagine the conversations at Toyota HQ, someone has got their design drawing pad and added a few extra body parts onto a standard Yaris, they’ve then gone into their boss and said “I’ve had a great idea, why don’t we do a ‘pumped-up’ version of the fairly dull Yaris?” I can imagine the initial reaction would be one of, not a chance, it wouldn’t work, and it wouldn’t sell.

But it has gone into production, and it is selling extremely well. It is powered by a 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine coupled to an automatic gearbox and the very clever and frugal Toyota hybrid system.

I had one recently on test, and before it arrived wasn’t sure about it’s design or concept, it just reminded me of what Rover did to the 25 back in 2003. They too took a pretty basic 25 hatch called it the Streetwise and added various bits to it, such as roof rails, plastic wheel arch mouldings and larger bumpers and called it the ‘Urban on-roader’ it was suppose to attract younger buyers to the Rover brand, and in fairness to Rover it didn’t do too badly in the market. But underneath it was still a fairly unreliable 25.

But the Yaris Cross is a cross of two things that Toyota do really well, make great small cars, and produce a fantastic non-plug-in Hybrid System. But the designers have completely transformed the exterior from the Yaris and made it almost unrecognisable from the standard car. Like the Streetwise lots of added body parts, but all very tastefully done, and all up to a very high quality in both materials used, and the fit and finish, not just a bit of glue holding it all together.

It has a higher driving position than the standard Yaris and even higher than its competitors such as the Ford Puma and Skoda Kamiq. In the Cross there are plenty of manual adjustments to the seats and steering wheel, so getting comfy, whatever size you are is really easy.

Rear leg and head room is fairly good for a small car, and the luggage space with its two-piece height adjustable boot floor is adequate.

But the economy on this Toyota is very good, during the week I had the car it achieved over 60mpg (4.7 l/100 km) which I thought was excellent and much of this was just local and short journeys. The hybrid system charges a battery whilst slowing down, braking, coasting or going down hills. The energy it saves, is then used for acceleration, and can run for a few miles purely on electric power, which helps fuel consumption and reduces emissions.

After a week, it was collected by Toyota GB, and I was a bit sad to see it go, as I really enjoyed using the Yaris Cross much more than I thought I was going to.

Prices in the
UK start from £24,840.

Citröen C5

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The original Citröen C5 was produced at the Rennes Plant back in 2001, wasn’t the prettiest of five-door hatches, but sold in reasonable numbers, and the French loved them.

Move on 20 years and we now have the C5 X, and the only thing it really has in common with the original, is sharing the C5 badges, everything else is completely new.

The C5 X is undoubtedly the most luxurious car that Citröen produce. It is very difficult to ‘categorise’. It mixes Estate car, long low hatch, and a bit of SUV with its raised height thrown in for good looks; yet all of these descriptions do seem to contradict each other. But for some reason, the exterior design seems to work well. The rear end, in my humble opinion is very reminiscent of the C6, a car not that popular back in its day, but quite sought after now.

The C5 X I had on test from Citröen UK Press Department was powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine, coupled to electric motors giving it a total of 222bhp, making it a true hybrid. It goes from 0-100kph in 7.9 seconds. You can plug it in, and this will give you a range of around 40km. It also ‘self-charges’ when you are slowing down, braking or going down hills, and this spare energy goes back into the battery, is used at slow speeds, and reduces petrol used – in turn lowering emissions. But the driver does not have to think about what is going on with any of this as it does everything itself. All this technology and cleverness is coupled to a very smooth and efficient 8-speed auto gearbox.

All models of the C5 X has ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushion Suspension’ and driving it took me back to the days when Citröen’s just gilded along, you never felt any lumps or bumps in the road, it just drove as though they were not there. The C5 X has got this feeling, only a whole lot better. Added to the superb suspension it also has Advanced Comfort Seats, to provide maximum cushioning. A great in-car sound system keeps you from having a siesta, when you should be driving. The cabin is such a quiet, peaceful place to sit, especially when everyone else has nodded-off. The downside of this ultra-comfy car is it tends to lean a bit on corners, doesn’t feel as sharp at handling as many other cars, but you can’t have it all in one car.

The other difference between the original C5, which was made in France, is the all-new C5 X is manufactured in China. It’s built to a very high standard with high quality materials and great fit & finish throughout.

I really enjoyed the Citröen C5 X for the week I had it, but after seven days, I was still unsure as to what, it was exactly, or where it fitted in in the market, but, does it really matter?

Peugeot 3oh!8

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The first Peugeot 308 was launched in June 2007,
replacing the 307, and was available as a hatchback, estate and a coupé-cabriolet. It regularly sold over 250,000 units per year globally.

But the 308, like many other French cars suffered from reliability problems, a legacy that lives on in many people’s minds today.

PSA the owner of Peugeot, Citroen, DS, have over the past few years worked overtime to overcome the problems they once had, and now being part of the Stellantis Group (Fiat, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Vauxhall, Opel etc) they certainly have made massive improvements in every department.

The car I had on test recently was a 308 Allure Premium, powered by a 1199cc 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that produces 130hp. This is coupled to a very smooth 8-speed efficient automatic gearbox, and goes from 0-100kph in 9.7 seconds. Not bad for a 1.2 litre car.

The car was painted in Olivine Green, a colour that certainly grew on me during the time I had it, and was a real eye-catcher wherever I parked it.

The all-new 308 has certainly grown up to be a handsome looking car, the styling is superb from every angle.

It now wears the new Peugeot badges, which ooze modernity and are a big step away from the cumbersome chrome badges we’d grown accustomed to. The Peugeot logo dates back to 1847, which makes it the oldest car emblem. The lion, as the brands symbol, was designed when the steel business of the Peugeot family needed a logo. It was a heraldic symbol of the commune the Peugeot family came from, and serves as a reminder to this day.

The interior of the new 308 shimmers with quality, it’s more like an expensive German car, than a French hatchback.

The 308 is jammed packed full of goodies and above “standard” specification, so at UK OTR £28,020 it does look good value.

During the week I had the 308 I enjoyed every minute of driving it, and on average 55mpg (4.27 litres/100km) which I thought wasn’t a bad result.

Civiv Duty

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The first Honda Civic was launched 50 years ago, back in 1972. I too have had a long relationship with the Civic as I was selling Hondas at a local garage in Huddersfield from 1976. Despite the locals reactions to selling Japanese cars in the village, they gradually accepted them, well, most did, and we sold loads.

The latest version of the Civic is the 11th generation, and when you take a look all the previous models, they are all very different. Not like most other similar sized hatchbacks that have evolved with styling, every Civic had radical changes in its design. But the one thing they had in common was the build quality and reliability.

For quite a while Hondas were well out of favour with younger buyers, and drivers tended to be in the older age bracket – not good for Hondas image.

The all-new Civic e:HEV is all-new from the ground up. The exterior design is coupé-like with its sloping roofline, but the lower roof at the rear doesn’t affect rear head room for passengers. It has uncluttered simple lines that makes it a good looking five-door hatch, with an overall cleaner look.

Major changes have been made under the bonnet since a new full hybrid system has been fitted, similar to other powertrains offered by competing manufacturers. It is powered by a newly developed 2.0-litre petrol engine coupled to dual electric motors and produces a total of 184ps, and goes from 0-100kph in 8-seconds. The gearbox is a CVT automatic, and no manual gearbox will be available. The hybrid system, like others, is self charging. This means no plugging in, as the batteries are charged when slowing down, going downhills, braking and so on. This stored energy is then used when setting off at traffic lights, roundabouts, and to give the petrol engine a boost on acceleration. All of these measures help save petrol, and make it greener and more economical.

During the time I drove the e:HEV, the car achieved 3.564 L/100km, which I thought was a good result from a two-litre petrol car. It feels safe and solid on all road surfaces, with handling fairly good, and much sharper than the previous model.

The new Civic will be built in Japan and exported to Europe following the shutdown of the Swindon plant in the UK.

All Honda Civic models will include Honda’s SENSING driver safety systems. These include a 100-degree front wide-view camera, lane-keeping assist, blind spot information and low speed braking control.

The model line-up comprises three versions: Elegance, Sport and Advance. All models have a decent long list of standard equipment.

Out on the roads, the Civic is very capable. It felt quick, very comfortable, and all the switches and buttons are in the right place and easy to use. The hybrid system works effortlessly – you don’t have to do anything – it does everything all by itself, and the economy was outstanding.

Overall a great package from Honda, and if like most people you’re not ready yet for an electric car, then the e:HEV is as close to clean as you’ll get.

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