Compact Car reviews

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2019 Kia Ceed GT-Line

2019 Kia Ceed GT-Line

Hot hatches are big business in Europe, but not everybody wants the stiffer ride, or the higher associated fuel bills, which is why Kia has made the Ceed GT-Line which it revealed at the Paris motor show.

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2018 BMW 225xe iPerformance plug-in hybrid - Driven

2018 BMW 225xe iPerformance plug-in hybrid - Driven

BMW raised a few eyebrows when it debuted its front-wheel drive-biased 2-Series Active Tourer model, and people quickly called it “not a BMW,” it was a model which dilutes the brand, and just plain ugly. However, after spending a few days with the top-of-the-range plug-in hybrid version of the 2 AT, the 225xe iPerformance, its many qualities did start to shine through, in spite of my initial hesitation to like it.

And I did like it in the end, even if not for the usual reasons one traditionally appreciates a BMW. I found it very spacious to sit in, with surprisingly comfortable seats, I liked its excellent fit and finish, and even the one-box design started to grow on me.

The driving experience is also pretty good, but again, not very BMW-like. It drives like one of the larger models in the MINI lineup, and that’s no accident because they all use a shared (modular) architecture.

My tester was also made even more likable thanks to its plug-in hybrid powertrain which works very smoothly and seamlessly, allowing it to change its character from silent side street cruiser to a hissing, turbocharged all-wheel-drive people carrier with hot hatch performance.

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2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybird

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybird

The same workhorse; now with better clothing and a lot more space

Toyota RAV4 has been around for almost 25 years now. It has been one of the most stable products for the Japanese giant, raking in sales numbers consistently since its launch. At a time when sedans’ sales were booming, Toyota offered customers with a car that could be taken on any terrain, had the looks of an SUV, and could be handled like a hatch. While this sounds like a success formula now, it was quite a big risk two decades back.

The automaker showcased the fifth-generation RAV4 Hybrid, at the Paris Motor Show this year. Toyota has used a new underpinning, called the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform. With increased body rigidity, The RAV4 now boasts a low center of gravity and better handling when compared to the previous iterations. As for the dimensions, the SUV is 4,600 mm long - shorter by 5 mm compared to the previous gen, but the wheelbase is 30 mm longer. This is because there is reduction of 35 mm in the bonnet and boot overhangs. It is 10 mm wider, and 10 mm shorter.

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2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Convertible

2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Convertible

Volkswagen is testing its upcoming T-Roc Convertible, and this is the very first set of shots showing a camouflaged prototype of the drop top. The vehicle will replace the VW Golf Convertible in the range, and like that car, it will feature a soft top and frameless and pillarless doors.

It is going to be a four-seater vehicle with decent room in the back for passengers, powered by a range of mostly gasoline and probably diesel engines and at the moment it has no real crossover rivals in the same size and price bracket.

The soft top it uses looks like it’s very similar in shape to that of the current Golf Cabriolet, and it will pretty much offer the same experience as that car but will sit slightly higher off the ground and better off-road capability. But make no mistake, it is designed to spend most of its time on the road, and we doubt anybody will want to do serious off-roading in one of these.

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2019 Toyota Yaris GR Sport

2019 Toyota Yaris GR Sport

The GRMN, served warm

The Toyota Yaris GR Sport is the more down-to-Earth version of the limited-run GRMN. It features some sporty styling, but much of the oomph of the GRMN is gone, akin to a sheep in wolf’s clothes.

Last year, at the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota unveiled the Yaris GRMN hot hatchback to the world. A run of only 600 units was slated for 2018 for the car that was inspired by the Yaris WRC but, confusingly, presented itself with GRMN logos all round. GRMN stands for Gazoo Racing Masters of the Nurburgring – so not really related to rallying. In any case, the 209-horsepower pocket rocket was fun to drive and powerful enough to excite.

Now, a year later, Toyota brought to the Paris Motor Show a GRMN for the masses: the Yaris GR Sport. It’s based off the hybrid Yaris, so the figures are, frankly, negligible, but you do get great economy. What is more, the car comes in the usual Gazoo Racing white with red and black inserts and black wheels. It isn’t a hot hatch, but it’s sort of a stepping stone, a ”warm hatch.”

Keep reading to learn more about the Toyota Yaris GR Sport.

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2018 Renault K-ZE

2018 Renault K-ZE

Is this the electrified future?

Renault is previewing its future mini electric crossover with the K-ZE concept revealed at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. Taking a closer look at the K-ZE, it becomes immediately apparent that it is, in fact, just a dressed up Kwid (which Renault already sells in emerging markets) which has had its internal combustion powertrain swapped out for a full-electric one.

The future electric crossover will look much closer to this concept, than it will to the current Kwid, although it will maintain its basic body shape. What will set it apart visually more significantly are the new, redesigned front and rear fascias, as well as various details around the exterior. It also promises to offer “class leading” range for a vehicle in its size-bracket.

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2018 Skoda Vision RS

2018 Skoda Vision RS

A sporty path to the future for Skoda

Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, the Skoda Vision RS shows the path the Czech manufacturer is likely to take for the next generation of its cars. This is a hatchback, sized like a Volkswagen Golf, but sharpened up to the level of a hot-hatch. The Vision RS, a concept car, rolled under the Paris Motor Show lights with a 1.5-liter turbocharged gas engine producing 148 horsepower but assisted with an additional electric motor good for 100 horsepower. As a hybrid, the Vision RS demonstrates Volkswagen’s uncanny ability to craft modern compact cars and transform them into hot hatchbacks - a type of a car the company is definitely versed in (just remember the Golf GTI, the Leon Cupra, the Audi S3, and the Octavia, among others).

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2019 Renault Clio SUV

2019 Renault Clio SUV

Renault is preparing to launch a small crossover based on the next Clio city car, aiming to woo buyers away from the Ford Fiesta Active, Hyundai i20 Active and other similar small high-riders. What’s a bit strange is that the French automaker already has just such a vehicle in its range, called the Captur, but apparently, this one is going to be placed under it in the model lineup.

We also don’t yet know what Renault wants to call this new model, whether it will use the Clio SUV or a completely new name. One thing’s certain - it won’t be merely a Clio with extra ground clearance and body cladding; its body is taller and looks different compared to the fifth-gen Clio we’ve seen in another batch of spy photos.

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2018 Fiat 500 1957 Edition

2018 Fiat 500 1957 Edition

Special edition 500 revives the 1957 vibe

Fans of the Fiat 500 can’t seem to get enough of the 500 1957 Edition, so much so that the Italian automaker is rolling out a new version of the special edition model. The “new” 500 1957 Edition arrives this fall at a starting price of $20,740. There’s no stated cap on the model’s volume, but the package is available on hardtop and convertible versions of the 500.

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2019 Volkswagen T-Roc R

2019 Volkswagen T-Roc R

VW’s fastest compact SUV to date

The Volkswagen T-Roc R is not yet officially unveiled, but we know what it looks like thanks to a fresh round of spy shots. The car has been spotted at the Nurburgring numerous times where it’s undergoing high-performance tests while giving us a clue of what to expect. Spy shots reveal the T-Roc R sans any camouflage, and it looks largely similar to the regular T-Roc with just a few minor updates to make it stand out.

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2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi

2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi

Fun And Raspy City Car

Whether you call it the Vauxhall Corsa GSi or the Opel Corsa GSi, one thing is for certain - the Corsa GSi is one zippy concoction made to make a lot of bang for not a lot of buck. Available in mainland Europe as Opel and in the U.K. as the Vauxhall, the Corsa GSi packs a tiny, 1.4-liter turbocharged, engine, enough power to surge to 62 mph in less than 9 seconds and, with a proper amount of sporty features honed by the OPC, enough character to make you happy.

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2019 Ford Focus Active Wagon

2019 Ford Focus Active Wagon

A Rugged hatch without all-wheel drive

Ford offers an array of Focus-derived variants of its latest generation compact hatch that include the base model, a sporty looking ST Line, a posh Vignale and a high-riding Active. All are available as practical wagons, and the Active is no exception, arguably making more sense to buy as a wagon than the standard hatch.

The Focus Active tourer (and the regular hatch too) sit 30 millimeters higher on its suspension compared to the standard model and features plastic body cladding for a more rugged overall appearance. Front and rear bumpers are different too, as is the grille which gets its own unique design.

This is Ford’s response to similar models from other automakers, like the Skoda Octavia Scout or VW Golf Alltrack, although unlike these models, Ford doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

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2018 Fiat 500L S-Design

2018 Fiat 500L S-Design

A little extra goodness at decent value

Fiat adds another name to its line of S-Design models, this time the family-friendly 500L. Based on the crossover-inspired 500L Cross, the aim of the S-Design version is to inject some extra style into the package, like it’s already done with the Tipo, 500X and 124 Spider.

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2019 BMW X1

2019 BMW X1

Bimmer’s front-wheel-drive crossover is getting an update

The second-generation BMW X1 stormed into our lives only two years ago, but the German automaker is already preparing an updated model, as recent spy shots of a test mule X1 have shown. The prototype crossover is heavily wrapped in swirly camouflage, but we can still make out familiar elements of the model. The lack of meaningful updates lends credence to the belief that the updated front-wheel-drive-based crossover is in line for nothing more than a few nips here and a few tucks there.

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2019 DS3 Crossback

2019 DS3 Crossback

PSA’s new premium sub-brand has launched its first small crossover called DS3 Crossback, aiming to make a style statement and hopefully attract buyers its way. Whether or not it will succeed remains to be seen, but it certainly stands out from a visual standpoint.

It’s really very unique to look at, and this will undoubtedly be its biggest draw, although it may also repulse some prospective buyers at the same time - definitely a love it or hate it kind of situation here. But if you do fancy the design and exterior styling enough to climb aboard, you will be rewarded with an equally bold cabin that will definitely raise your eyebrows on first contact.

Look aside, what makes the DS3 Crossback special is the fact that on top of the usual gasoline and diesel engines you expect it to come with, there’s also a proper EV version with decent range and performance.

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2019 Skoda Rapid

2019 Skoda Rapid

Skoda is due to reveal an all-new generation of Rapid hatch next year. It should grow in size to match that of the VW Golf or Ford Focus, effectively moving it away from its current position between the Fabia city car and the Octavia. On that note, the new-gen model may not even be called Rapid. Since there is a lot of reshuffling within the Skoda range, the whole lineup could change, and the similarly-sized Octavia will be moved upmarket for its next generation.

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