Compact Car reviews

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2021 Suzuki Across

2021 Suzuki Across

Meet the Suzuki Across, the almost-identical twin of the Toyota RAV4

The first fruit to stem from the Toyota-Suzuki partnership struck a while back is called the Across and wears the Suzuki badge, although it’s pretty clear that the outer shell is nothing else but a slightly tweaked Toyota RAV4 body.

That aside, the Across features an interesting plug-in hybrid powertrain that mixes a 2.5-liter internal combustion engine with two electric motors, one for each axle. Here’s all you need to know about the new Suzuki Across.

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2022 Audi Q4 e-tron

2022 Audi Q4 e-tron

The Q4 e-tron is shaping out to be a well-spec’d product with a big price advantage over the Tesla Model Y

The Volkswagen Group has made some phenomenal strides in recent times. From being caught in Dieselgate a few years back to running a few of the most proactive brands in electrification today, the German group has come a long way. One of its most prominent brands, Audi, also has a few electric models in the works. The automaker’s next electric vehicle will be the Q4 e-tron, which was previewed at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

Audi recently revealed that the SUV will launch at the end of 2020 and is set to go on sale in 2021. Although it might be the brand’s fifth EV, there are a lot of eyes on it since it will be the first four-ringed electric vehicle to be pinned on Volkswagen’s MEB architecture. It was recently spotted performing cold-weather tests in Northern Sweden.

Update 7-6-2020: The Audi Q4 E-tron has finally be spied out on public roads and, unlike the mule we saw earlier this year, this baby is looking pretty close to production ready. Check it out in the spy shots section below.

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2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven

A no non-sense electric car without any extra shenanigans

Chevrolet Bolt has been around for less than four years, but it is one of the earliest mainstream EVs to have hit the market. The Bolt hasn’t taken the market by storm, but it is an important product for Chevrolet in the EV segment.

The automaker is constantly updating the little EV, and for the 2020 model, it comes with a few more miles in the battery pack. To put things into perspective, it is the best non-Tesla model on sale today in terms of range. The 2020 Chevy Bolt arrived at TopSpeed’s headquarters recently, and here are our impressions about this urban commuter.

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2020 Nissan Sentra - Driven

2020 Nissan Sentra - Driven

Forget (most of) what you knew about Nissan’s compact sedan

The last two generations of Nissan Sentra have followed a simple formula: a spacious interior, a smooth ride, great gas mileage, and low prices. For plenty of compact-sedan buyers, that’s a winning formula. But it came at the expense of driving pleasure — to the extreme. Last year’s Nissan Sentra wasn’t merely dull, but downright awful if you try to get some grins. Its wheezy 124-horsepower engine struggled under all but the gentlest acceleration, and its handling betrayed an alarming lack of composure for a modern small car. And while its upright styling could be considered elegant from some angles, it just looked tall and narrow from others.

For the 2020 model year, Nissan has worked to reinvent the Sentra. A striking new body sits atop a more sophisticated suspension and wraps around a more potent engine and a fancier interior. All the while, Nissan has kept prices in check and even improved the Sentra’s gas mileage.

Do the changes turn the Sentra into a class leader? Not exactly. Even after this year’s improvements, you can still find quicker, sharper-handling, more luxuriously-finished small sedans. And if you loved the old Sentra because you could get a huge backseat and trunk at a fire-sale price, the new model will feel like a step backward.

By becoming more similar to competitors like the latest Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, and Kia Forte, the 2020 Sentra loses the old model’s standout spaciousness and value — but it brings fresh advantages to the table all while keeping costs in check.

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2021 Kia Seltos - Driven

2021 Kia Seltos - Driven

The Kia Seltos - a car that avoids the flaws commonly found in the subcompact crossover market

The subcompact crossover class has so much potential. Best-selling “compact” models like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Chevrolet Equinox have gotten fantastically spacious, refined — and expensive. A modern CR-V or RAV4 is just as big, fancy, and costly as midsize models used to be. For lots of people, they’re still a great deal: for as little as $25,000, you get ample space for four or even five adults and their stuff, all the latest advanced safety features, a fully featured touchscreen infotainment system, and great gas mileage. But lots of people don’t need or even want something this big, or at least aren’t eager to pay for it. So most automakers now offer a subcompact model that’s smaller and less expensive than their compact.

What’s puzzling, though, is how flawed most of these subcompact crossovers have proven to be. Many of them are polarizing styling statements, sometimes with looks that compromise their utility even more than their scaled-down dimensions do. A surprising number of them offer no all-wheel-drive. Some suffer from execution flaws like underpowered yet inefficient engines, compromised interior layouts, or clumsy driving dynamics. Each model that gets a lot right has also had at least one serious flaw — whether it’s the fun-to-drive but cramped Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-3 and CX-30; the spacious but slow, noisy Honda HR-V; the pleasant but overpriced Nissan Rogue Sport; the off-road-ready, on-road-jerky Jeep Renegade and Subaru Crosstrek; or a host of other would-be contenders. That’s to say nothing of the ones that, well, don’t get a lot right. Why, oh why, couldn’t someone just take everything that people love about a compact crossover and simply make it a little smaller and less expensive?

At long last, that call has been answered. The all-new 2021 Kia Seltos is a mechanical cousin to the Hyundai Kona, but it’s taller and longer. And that’s just what was needed to address the Kona’s lower, more car-like seating position and its tight rear seating. This makes the Seltos the first truly well-rounded subcompact crossover, delivering all-around competence with no disastrous downsides. It’s handsome, functional, fun to drive, fuel-efficient, and affordable. While no car is perfect — certain buyers will gravitate toward the specific advantages of some Seltos competitors — this is the only subcompact crossover that has something for just about everyone.

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2020 Hyundai Sonata - Driven

2020 Hyundai Sonata - Driven

The Hyundai Sonata entered its eighth generation for the 2020 model year, finally completing the transformation from econobox family sedan to something that looks luxurious and sporty. In fact, at a glance, it even looks a lot like the new Audi A7 or RS7 with a slightly tweaked front end. So, do the aggressive exterior design cues, sporty proportions, and upscale appearance actually push it into a position to leave the Honda Accord and Kia Optima behind as it starts to compete with brands like Audi, BMW, and Porsche? Well, after spending a week with eh all-new Sonata, we can comfortably say it isn’t quite there yet, but it’s not far off. This is what it was like to live with the 2020 Hyundai Sonata.

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2020 Tesla Model 3 Performance by R-Zentric

2020 Tesla Model 3 Performance by R-Zentric

The tuner’s aero kit for the Model 3 makes it track-worthy and adds points for its looks

Have you ever wondered how the aftermarket tuning works for EVs? You don’t have much stuff in the powertrain that you can play around with. These machines are so different that a power boost can be done via an over-the-air update. There aren’t a lot of companies who have worked on electric cars yet.

However, a company called RevoZport, has laid its hands on the Tesla Model 3 Performance and experimented with what can be done. The result is an electric car with supercar-like aerodynamics that makes it a hoot-and-a-half to drive. Not to mention, it also looks sporty with those body kits. Do you think aerodynamics will play a big part in customizing an electric car for performance?

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2020 Mazda 3 - Driven Review

2020 Mazda 3 - Driven Review

How well does the Mazda 3 carry over to the 2020 model year?

Flying in to Newark International Airport last month, I arrived at the Budget Rent a Car counter and received the keys to a familiar staple of rental fleets: a 2019 Nissan Sentra wearing scratched-up Ignore Me Silver paint. Plenty of travelers would likely ask if, pretty please, anything else was available. This previous-generation Sentra (the car was fully redesigned for 2020) is generally reviled by anyone who appreciates a fine automobile. It’s underpowered, it lacks handling poise, and it’s drab-looking inside and out. And yet, it was just what my family of three needed for a three-hour drive home to Maryland. The Sentra’s plus-sized rear backseat was perfect for our rear-facing child seat, and its big trunk swallowed our suitcases and stroller with ease. Its generously sized windows offered excellent outward visibility, and it could go 41.3 miles before burning a gallon of gasoline. And, keeping our rental rate in check, the Sentra provided plenty of features at low prices.

This brings us to the subject of today’s review: the 2020 Mazda3. Like the Sentra, it belongs to the compact economy car market segment. But that’s pretty much where the similarities stop. For two cars in the same segment, it’s hard to get more dissimilar than our tested Mazda3 and our rental Sentra — for better and for worse.

The Mazda3 is basically a luxury sports sedan (or, like in our test car, a five-door hatchback). It’s beautifully styled, elegantly finished, laden with features, and — although it’s not as energetically zippy as it once was — a pleasure to drive. It even offers all-wheel-drive, just like an Audi or BMW. Yet like a luxury car, it’s also more expensive, has a cramped rear seat and tight cargo hold, has slits for windows, isn’t cheap for its class, and gets lousy gas mileage. It would have been absolutely the wrong choice for a family road trip, even for our small family. But if you appreciate something finer than a Sentra and won’t often carry more than one extra passenger, the Mazda3 brings a high-end experience at relatively affordable prices — starting from $21,500.

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2020 Suzuki Ignis

2020 Suzuki Ignis

The facelift looks like Suzuki put lipstick on a pig!

The Suzuki Ignis is not the smartest-looking hatchback out there, but the company is still updating it on a regular basis to keep it from going obsolete. Suzuki unveiled the 2020 Ignis with few cosmetic changes outside and even fewer on the inside and under the hood. A layman won’t be able to differentiate it from the outgoing model, but once you figure out the changes, you’ll be surprised that they were staring in your face all this while.

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2021 CUPRA Formentor

2021 CUPRA Formentor

Cupra’s first in-house production vehicle is a high-performance SUV

The 2020 Formentor is a compact crossover built by Cupra. Unveiled online during what was supposed to be the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, the Formentor is the first model exclusively developed by Cupra, a brand established only two years ago. At almost 4.5 meters long, the Formentor is smaller than the Kodiaq, but slightly bigger than the Karoq.

Design-wise, it’s not based on an existing Skoda. But it’s just as aggressive as its Leon-based counterpart and features all the trademark cues of the Cupra brand, like sharp lines, copper trim, and black elements. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it’s named after a cape on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

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2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet

2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet

A more affordable alternative to the Range Rover Evoque Convertible

The 2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet is a drop-top version of the company’s subcompact crossover. Launches two years after the coupe regular version, the 2020 T-Roc Cabriolet isn’t just a T-Roc with a soft-top, it also features only two doors instead of four. What’s more, the soft-top has a sleeker design, so the Cabriolet looks sportier than its standard sibling. Inspired by the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet and the Range Rover Evoque Convertible, the 2020 T-Roc Cabriolet is Volkswagen’s only small convertible to date after the discontinuation of the Beetle.

The soft-top and the revised shape of the roof are the only features that set the 2020 T-Roc Cabriolet apart from its standard sibling. The bodywork and the interior are similar, as is the technology package. They’re identical under the hood as well, although the 2020 T-Roc Cabriolet doesn’t yet feature the more powerful gas engines. Volkswagen doesn’t offer diesel mills for this model either. Let’s find out more about this bold convertible in the review below.

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2020 Nissan Sentra - Driven

2020 Nissan Sentra - Driven

The car that was once unappealing in so many ways has moved upmarket

The Sentra might be Nissan’s best-selling model of all time, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s been labeled as “cheap,” “uninspired,” or “sluggish.” Those claims to fame come courtesy of the last-generation model that has, thankfully, been replaced. For the 2020 model year, the Nissan Sentra ditches its old digs for a new Maxima-inspired design that sits atop a new platform. That old, sluggish 1.8-liter engine has been replaced with something a little more responsible and powerful, the 2.0-liter from the Nissan Rogue.

With the Nissan Sentra set to hit dealers in late February, Nissan invited us to give its updated compact sedan a test drive to see just how much better it really is. This is our experience.

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2020 Seat Leon

2020 Seat Leon

The Spanish-built hatchback looks hotter than ever!

The 2020 Seat Leon is the fourth-generation version of the Spanish hatchback and wagon. Built on the same MQB Evo platform as the Volkswagen Golf Mk8, the 2020 Leon is essentially a Golf with a different body and a slightly different interior. But for what it’s worth, the Leon looks notably sportier on the outside and the cabin isn’t far below the premium-like interior of the Golf. Power options are also shared with the Golf, so you can choose between gasoline, diesel, mild hybrid, and plug-in hybrid options. Let’s find out more about the new 2020 Leon hatchback and wagon in the review below.

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