Compact Car reviews

view thumbnails grid view horizontal compact blog view
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA

The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA is here and it borrows a lot of design cues and tech from its larger peers

Mercedes-Benz has officially unveiled the new GLA, the A-Class-based crossover whose first-generation was a popular choice among buyers. The new Mercedes-Benz GLA, however, takes a lot after its bigger brothers design- and tech-wise, and that’s a very good thing.

The new GLA is 4.1 inches higher (now 63.4 inches) and 0.6 inches shorter (now 173.6 inches) than the model it replaces. This means you get more headroom, but Mercedes-Benz highlights that now there’s even more legroom in the rear (38.4 inches, compared to 33.9 inches in the previous model). The U.S.-bound 2021 GLA has an aerodynamic coefficient of 0.30, which will contribute to low levels of wind noise inside the cabin as well as a reduction in fuel consumption at higher speeds. What’s more, Mercedes is so confident that the GLA can pull its own weight off the beaten path that it offers the Off-Road Engineering Package as standard on the GLA 4Matic.

On the inside, the GLA receives the highly-acclaimed MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment setup. Rear headroom, however, takes a 0.3-inch plunge (now 38.1 inches instead of 38.4), but shoulder room is more generous (now 54.8 inches instead of 53.1 inches, a 1.7-inch increase). Trunk capacity is also better in the new GLA, measuring 15.4 cubic feet, a 0.5 cubic feet increase from the previous model’s 14.9 cubic feet rating.

The safety bundle is a hefty one, especially if you opt for the optional Driver Assistance Package. Here’s what you get:

Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC Active Steering Assist Active Speed Limit Assist with Traffic Sign Assist Evasive Steering Assist Active Lane Keeping Assist Active Brake Assist Pre-Safe PLUS

In the U.S., the non-AMG 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA can be had with a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter, turbocharged gasoline engine bolted to an eight-speed 8G-DCT automatic transmission. The powerplant makes 221 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque between 1,620 rpm and 4,000 rpm. You can pick between the GLA 250 or the AWD GLA 250 4Matic. Performance-wise, Mercedes-Benz estimates that the 2021 GLA needs 8.6 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill en route to a top speed of 130 miles per hour.

No words on pricing yet, but the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA launches in the U.S. in the summer of 2020, so we’ll know more as its market debut closes in.

Read more
2019 Hyundai i10 N Line

2019 Hyundai i10 N Line

Not quite a full-fledged N model but close enough

The 2020 Hyundai i10 N Line is a performance-oriented trim of the third-generation hatchback. A range-topping model in the current lineup, the 2020 i10 N Line slots above the regular i10 and will fill the gap between the standard hatchback and the upcoming i10 N. The 2020 i10 N Line is the fourth Hyundai to sport the "N Line" badge as of December 2019. It joins the i30 N Line, the i30 Fastback N Line, and the Tucson N Line. The N Line is essentially a package that adds some exclusive features to the 2020 i20. Performance-wise, it’s not a full-fledged N model, but it does benefit from an exclusive turbo three-cylinder mill that adds extra oomph over the standard powertrains. Let’s find out more about that in the review below.

Read more
2020 Ford Urban Escape by LGE-CTS

2020 Ford Urban Escape by LGE-CTS

Ford’s baby crossover has a versatile side to show off

The 2020 Ford Escape is well-represented at the 2019 SEMA Auto Show. Three different versions of Ford’s hot-selling crossover are in attendance at the world’s largest auto show, including the Ford LGE-CTS Motorsports Urban Escape. As the name implies, the LGE-CTS Urban Escape is a stylish all-around crossover vehicle designed to tackle both urban and off-road environments. It comes with a smattering of upgrades in the form of new equipment and performance modifications, among other things. It’s not the fanciest tuned version of the Escape that’s at SEMA, but it is the one that a lot of people will no doubt gravitate to, in part because of its functionality and all-around usefulness in the real world.

Read more
2021 Ford Puma ST

2021 Ford Puma ST

The 2021 Ford Puma Is a Small 200-Horsepower Performance SUV With a Talent For Fun

The new Ford Puma will, most likely, come in several different guises. The one we are most interested in is an alleged performance ST version that, lately, hooned its ST skills over the hard tarmac and bends of the Nurburgring race track in Germany. Spy shots that come from Europe clearly showcased the small Ford SUV tackling the ’Ring with large exhausts and rather large wheels and tires. That is basically the only differentiating factor between this Nurburgring-caught Ford Puma, and other units previously spotted on the roads.

Update 10/31/2019: The Ford Puma ST has been caught testing in the wild once again, this time feature a lot of production parts and no padding. Check out our special “spy shots” section below to learn more about it and see the latest images.

Read more
2020 Volkswagen Golf

2020 Volkswagen Golf

The Golf Mk8 is an amazing hatchback with loads of tech, but is it too expensive for the segment?

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf is the eighth-generation of the iconic hatchback. Unveiled in Wolfsburg, Germany, the company’s home town, the 2020 Golf Mk8 shares the same MQB platform as the third-generation Audi A3 and Seat Leon. An evolutionary design on the outside, the 2020 Golf looks similar to its predecessor but employs more angular styling features similar to larger Volkswagen cars and SUVs. The interior is a notable departure from the old car and sports a more upscale design and fresh technology. Under the hood, the 2020 Golf continues to offer gasoline and diesel engines, but Volkswagen started using 48-volt systems and now offers a higher performance hybrid.

Arguably the most advanced vehicle in its class, the 2020 comes with a major drawback: it will be notably more expensive than the competition. Actually, there’s a good chance that the 2020 Golf will be only marginally cheaper than the Audi A3 Sportback, which could become a serious issue for the German automaker. What’s more, the 2020 Golf won’t be sold in the U.S. in base trim, as Volkswagen confirmed that only the GTI and R models will cross the pond to North America.

Read more
2021 Mazda MX-30

2021 Mazda MX-30

Mazda’s first electric offering is an urban commuter that comes with stuff that will make you go ‘wow’, as well as ‘damn!’

Mazda is the latest entrant in the EV segment. The company has finally launched its first electric crossover in the form of an urban crossover. Moniker’d the MX-30, Mazda revealed the product at its home turf at the ongoing Tokyo Motor Show. From the initial impressions, the MX-30 looks like a mixed bag. We’ll hold our verdict till Mazda releases all the details about the MX-30. The Tokyo Auto Show was lukewarm at best and it was the perfect time to launch the crossover with pomp and fare and garner all the attention. But, Mazda has still not revealed everything about it. Missed opportunity? I think yes.

Read more
2020 Hyundai i10

2020 Hyundai i10

The smallest Hyundai returns with new looks and tech, same old engines

The 2020 Hyundai i10 is the third-generation version of the subcompact hatchback. A success story for Hyundai in Europe, the i10 is now bolder on the outside and smarter on the inside. Under the hood, the 2020 i10 is pretty much similar to its predecessor as it features the same engines, but it has a new automated manual transmission. Hyundai also added extra safety features, turning the 2020 i10 is one of the most advanced vehicles in its niche.

The 2020 i10 arrives to compete with its Kia-badged sibling, the Picanto, and the popular Toyota Aygo in a really crowded subcompact segment. How does it compare to its predecessor and rivals? Let’s find out in the review below.

Read more
2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE

Meet the most efficient model in the new Golf range

With Dieselgate still not just an ugly distant memory in the back of Volkswagen’s brain, Wolfsburg looks like it’s leading the electrification revolution in the car world, driven by the traction offered by the behemoth that is the Volkswagen Group. But Volkswagen, as a brand, irrespective of what its other sisters and brothers are doing, has become synonymous with electrification plans of all sorts.

This so-called offensive will ultimately rub off on VW’s future models. TheID.3 is already out of the bag, but for now, the company is busy at work preparing the new Golf 8 for debut. When that finally happens on October the 24th, the new Golf will also come as a mild-hybrid model, the first in its history, as well as in the shape of conventionally-powered versions (i.e., diesel and gasoline variants). What’s more, the VW Golf will also receive a plug-in hybrid iteration under the GTE moniker, but no e-Golf model - since the ID.3 is already here to cover the all-electric ground. So with the e-Golf out of the scene, we’ll focus on the new VW Golf 8 GTE, which was caught during pre-production tests by our spy photographers.

Read more
2019 Toyota RAV4

2019 Toyota RAV4

A crucial next-gen update for Toyota’s CUV icon

Originally arriving in 1994, the Toyota RAV4 is one of the Japanese brand’s older nameplates, especially within the crossover segment. In the quarter century since the debut of the original RAV4, demand for crossovers has grown substantially, and sales of the compact Toyota have grown with it, eventually becoming the Japanese brand’s number-one seller in the U.S. However, the RAV4 last got a redesign in 2013, so to keep it fresh, Toyota just pulled the sheets on a new fifth-generation at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, bringing updated exterior styling, a redesigned interior, the latest safety tech, and a new architecture under the skin.

Update 10/11/2019: Toyota has announced the all-new RAV4 PHEV that will debut at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Check out our new section below to learn more about it.

Read more
2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven

A hard-core premium competitor or living outside of its element?

Back in 2018, Cadillac finally decided that it was tired of missing out on sales in the compact SUV market and launched the XT4. This compact crossover was designed to compete against the best in the market, including the BMW X1, Mercedes GLC, Infiniti QX50, and Lexus NX, among others. Now that the XT4 has been on the market for well over a year, we decided it was time to get behind the wheel and see how it really holds up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem to hold water against models from BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t compete in the market at all. This means there are a lot of questions to answer: How does the Cadillac XT4 drive, does it have enough passenger space, and what about cargo room? What models does the XT4 actually compete against? Well, we spent a week with the XT4, and we’re here to answer all those questions and more . This is what we’ve learned after spending a week with Cadillac’s latest compact crossover.

Read more
2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport - Driven

2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport - Driven

Manual transmission brings joy to the Elantra.

The Hyundai Elantra isn’t exactly a spring chicken, being on the market for two decades as of 2020. Over the years, it’s gone through five generational shifts, with the most recent taking place in 2015 with a major facelift happening in 2019. The Elantra of today is completely different than the car it once was and has moved on from its econobox roots into all-new territory where its design and driving dynamics can compete with great authority over the models it competes with, including the Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze, and even the Volkswagen Jetta. These days, the range-topping model in the lineup is the Elantra Sport, and we’ve been wondering just how sporty it really is. Well, we’ve finally had a chance to spend some time with it, and this is our experience.

Read more
2021 Chevrolet Colorado

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

The 2021 model comes with slight aesthetic updates to keep the product fresh until the next-gen arrives

Chevy has tasted great success with the Colorado in the past years. The pickup truck is one of the most popular offerings in the pickup truck segment currently. It has had its fair share of wars with the Toyota Tacoma, but it still holds a strong foot in the segment. The current-gen Colorado has been there for a long time, and finally, the company has decided to introduce the 2021 facelift. At the onset, the truck looks really fresh and will surely spice up things in the segment. But, will it be able to inch closer to the Japanese in terms of sales figures? Also, what about its cousin, the GMC Canyon?

Read more
2020 Abarth 695 70th Anniversario

2020 Abarth 695 70th Anniversario

That’s a nice looking special edition model

Fiat is no stranger to building special edition versions of the Abarth 695, but there is something different about this one. It’s called the Abarth 695 70th Anniversario, and, as the name suggests, it’s a celebratory special edition model that pays homage to Abarth’s 70th anniversary. In keeping with the theme, Fiat will only build 1,949 units of the 695 70th Anniversario. It’s unclear if America will get dibs on a specific number of models, but if you live in Italy, you should get a good chunk of the 1,949 available units, each priced at €34,600. That converts to just under $38,000 based on current exchange rates.

Read more
2020 Audi RS4 Avant

2020 Audi RS4 Avant

The thrills of a hot sedan in a wagon avatar

At a time when wagons are slowly evolving from being family haulers to performance beasts, people in the U.S. are missing out on a lot of action. The Audi RS4 and the RS6 Avant give us the major #FOMO feels. Audi has told wagon-lovers in the U.S. not to give up hopes yet, as the company said, "We always look at potential new opportunities in the market. It’s a niche to explore. We keep holding discussions. Keep writing us letters.” That’s not a confirmation in any way, but it sounds like an assurance for the time being. Now, the company has finally unveiled the 2020 Audi RS4 Avant with aesthetic changes and a few changes inside the cabin. Is it better than the previous iteration?

Read more
2020 Toyota Corolla TREK

2020 Toyota Corolla TREK

It’s not the type of Corolla we’re used to, but it’s the type that we can get excited about

The Toyota Corolla is one of the last cars you’d think of as being special. But something about the new Corolla TREK variant qualifies as “special.” It’s the latest addition to the Corolla Touring Sports estate lineup, and it’s a promising showcase of the Corolla Touring Sports’ understated versatility as a personal ride and a family hauler for those weekend adventures away from the city.

The Corolla TREK comes as a result of a collaboration between Toyota and bicycle manufacturer Trek. It’s a partnership that stems from a recent partnership between the two companies at this year’s Vuelta a Espana cycling race where 16 Corolla TREK models were used as support vehicles.

Well, they’re not support vehicles anymore. The Toyota Corolla TREK is now available for public consumption. Pricing details will be announced in the coming weeks — it’s estimated to cost around £29,000 ($36,00) — but order books are now open with the initial batch of deliveries scheduled to begin sometime before the year ends. Unfortunately, the Corolla TREK isn’t headed to the U.S. market.

Read more
2019 Renault Twingo

2019 Renault Twingo

Is having a pretty city car face enough to make the Twingo a success?

Renault radically changed the formula for its third-generation Twingo city runabout. The first- and second-gen Twingos were front-engined, front-wheel drive, three-door cars (and the second one even had a proper hot hatch variant). For its third generation, though, Renault completely changed things around, making the Twingo a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive, five-door model.

Further differentiating it from its predecessors was its design. Whereas the two previous Twingo incarnations were styled to look as modern and fresh as possible, the current Twingo has a retro-inspired look that owes everything to the iconic Renault 5. And it really works - the Twingo is cute, tasteful and, even though there are other retro-inspired cars out there, it’s among the most successful from a visual standpoint.

But it too isn’t especially new, as it was launched back in 2015 and was recently given its mid-lifecycle refresh. Renault didn’t change anything major, though; the refresh has changed the front and rear bumpers, the headlights, as well as added some extra interior customization options. One of the engines available for the Twingo also gets a power boost courtesy of the facelift and some extra tech has been added too.

But overall, it’s still the same fresh looking car that attracted a lot of attention back when it was launched. That attention didn’t really translate into it becoming a sales hit, yet you still see a fair few of them scuttling around Europe’s major cities (the Fiat 500 is still king in this respect and the Twingo didn’t manage to dethrone it).

Read more
2020 Smart EQ Fortwo Ultimate E Cabrio by Brabus

2020 Smart EQ Fortwo Ultimate E Cabrio by Brabus

A peppy Smart that’s friendly to the environment might not be such an outlandish proposition after all

Brabus, the famed German tuner that’s made a name for itself by extracting ludicrous amounts of power out of some already very potent V-8s and V-12s that were at the heart of Mercedes-Benz’s lineup of sedans and sports cars, brought to the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2019 a serving of re-heated stew. This is, by all intents and purposes, the Smart EQ Fortwo Ultimate E Shadow Edition Cabrio we’ve seen already earlier this year at Geneva, minus the Gunmetal Grey paint. It’s got just as much power, the same oversized rims, the same hunched widebody, and the same tacky details like the illuminated door sills. You may never see one with your own two eyes since Brabus only plans to sell 28 (fewer than the amount of Ferrari 250 GTOs in the world) but you can’t blame Brabus for only making a couple of dozen of these since it has already oversaturated the market with the 28 units of the Shadow Edition. Granted, this one is cheaper by a few grand although at €59,000 in Europe it’s not cheap in the grand scheme of things.

So, let’s say you’re in the market for an ultra-small city car that’s also 100% electric and features a folding roof. What does that say about you? Well, on paper, you’re a person who could do without the worries related with having to find a parking spot in the bustling downtown area of the city while also trying to do his or her part in reducing pollution - all with a dribble of fun added to the experience by the open-air feel of a cabriolet. What all this means is that the person that would be in the market for a Smart EQ Fortwo Cabriolet isn’t looking for what the Brabus Ultimate E is offering, i.e. big wheels, more power, and less practicality because of the lowered ride height and the fact that it doesn’t come with a bigger battery. In spite of all that, it exists and it’s not even the only Brabus-tuned Smart Fortwo on the European market, there tamer options in the German company’s portfolio if the widebody doesn’t necessarily float your boat.

Read more
2020 Hyundai i10 N

2020 Hyundai i10 N

The Korean brand tackles the subcompact performance market with a new N model

The 2020 Hyundai i10 N is a higher performance version of the company’s third-generation hatchback. Set to be unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, the tiny i10 will spawn a more powerful variant in 2020. At least that’s what the recent spy shots suggest. Our paparazzi spotted a slightly beefed-up i10 testing on public roads and we have reasons to believe that it will sport an "N" badge.

This will be the first time the i10 spawns a higher performance version. Although it’s been around since 2007, the i10 was never more than just a mundane city car with small engines rated at well below 100 horsepower. This could change with the third-generation model. Let’s find out more about it in my speculative review below.

Read more
2020 Kia XCeed Crossover

2020 Kia XCeed Crossover

High-riding Kia XCeed is the prettiest and most desirable member of the Ceed family

For those who want the Ceed hatchback, but wrapped in a higher-riding, crossover-like package and with a hint of extra sportiness to its design, then the Kia XCeed is what you’re looking for. Its underpinnings are pretty much identical to those of the regular Ceed, but for some buyers, the fact that you sit higher off the ground in combination with the more rakish design will make it an irresistible proposition.

Kia markets it as “a sporty alternative to traditional SUVs” and while it’s certainly sportier than typical, tall SUVs, it’s not actually a sporty car. I will grant Kia this, though - this is the best looking member of the current Ceed family, which to my eyes is even more handsome than the Proceed wagon, thanks to its unique fascias and that very well executed fastback-style hatch.

And if at first glance you’re thinking “this looks quite different to all other Ceed models,” you are actually right. The only body panels the XCeed shares with the rest of the Ceed lineup are the front door panels - everything else is bespoke and really quite distinctive. The automaker has also tried to spruce up the interior, although here it only changed a few bits of trim to match the car’s more lively exterior - the dashboard, controls, seats and, well, pretty much everything is identical to what you see in the Ceed hatch.

Read more