News - February 14 2023

In our latest news round-up, we have updated models from BMW and Mercedes, the Ford Fiesta tops the UK 2022 used car sales charts and it’s a big year for Matchbox.

We’re inundated with reports at the moment with everyone from car manufacturers to research organisations releasing statistics and analysis relating to 2022. Some are interesting, other less so and there are a few that seem to have more spin than a politician under the spotlight. 

What is always interesting though is the stats on the 2022 UK used car market because that’s where the majority of people buy their next car. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 6,890,777 used cars changed hands last year, down 8.5% compared to 2021. There was a slight upturn in December, signalling a potential improvement in 2023 but with new car sales restricted by supply issues, people choosing to hold on to their car for longer due to the cost of living or because it’s a sustainability choice, the used car market could be relatively flat this year.

It will come as no surprise that the much-loved Ford Fiesta was the top used car in 2022, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa with the Volkswagen Golf in third. Grey might be the most popular new car colour, but in the used market black took the top spot. Petrol models were the biggest sellers, followed by diesels, with these two accounting for 95.9% of the market but sales of used electrified models have increased, with sales of battery-electric models up 37.5% to 71,071, hybrids up 8.6% and plug-in hybrids up 3.6%.


Now let’s get to some new stuff, although we have to say it’s all a bit quiet at the moment. It’s so quiet in fact that we’re leading our new car news with a facelift of the BMW X5 and X6, pair including the big news that you can now have your X5 with an illuminated grille. Yes, it’s that quiet. 

Light up your life with the BMW X5

The exterior design changes on the X5 and X6 are really just tweaks, with a slightly altered kidney grille, available now with the option of illumination, as well as new headlights and some other minor updates. The changes are bigger inside with the inclusion of the latest BMW Curved Display comprising a 14.9-inch instrumentation display and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, both integrated into one stylish piece. There’s new ambient lighting, improved sports seats and an expanded choice of sustainable materials. Other options include heated or cooled cup holders and a Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof with LED lighting that BMW says can create more than 15,000 graphic patterns or simply a starlit sky. 

Under the skin there are plenty of engineering changes, including more mild hybrid tech and an increase of 96hp and 100Nm on the X5 xDrive 50e plug-in hybrid which BMW says can now travel up to 68 miles on electric power. The big M models get have an updated 4.4-litre V8 pushing out 530hp and the X6 xDrive 40i gets a new six-cylinder motor. 

Finally there’s loads of new tech, from driver assistance systems to suspension you can raise at the touch of a button on an app and Harman’s new augmented reality view in the information display. The changes on the outside might not seem like a lot, but admittedly beyond the styling, there’s actually lots that’s new about the latest BMW X5 and X6.


Mercedes has also been tweaking

Then, almost as if they have been comparing notes, Mercedes-Benz has also revealed updates for its GLE and GLE coupe. Like BMW, it’s added 48v mild hybrid tech on models that had no electrification before. There are some new plug-in hybrids and most models get a slight increase in power.

Design changes appear to be even less than at BMW, with revised bumpers, slightly tweaked headlights and tail lights and some new colours. Inside, the air vents are now chrome. That’s basically it, although there is an updated Mercedes-Benz User Experience infotainment system and some new audio too. 

Merc has also recognised something the rest of us already knew, that most GLE owners never go off-road and so it has reduced the equipment in the off-road package and its price. It has added something called the Trailer Route Planner though, allowing you to put in the dimensions of your trailer and then plan your route accordingly. It doesn’t say anything about caravans though, so if you’re a caravanner, you’re on your own there. Mercedes has also made some of the options standard equipment but it’s all model dependent and complicated so we gave up trying to figure it out.


New(ish) Mazda 2 on the way

If you prefer your car to be little more compact then Mazda has revealed its new Mazda 2. Actually this is also just a facelift so don’t get too excited, but it does have some styling changes, including new grille choices, revised bumpers, new interior trim pieces and some new model lines. It’s always been a great little car, so we’re confident that when it arrives in the UK in the Spring it will continue to be so.


In other news….

Just like that we’re into the other news, including the announcement of the finalists for World Car of the Year. There are various categories including EV, luxury car, performance car, urban car and best car design, but the big one is the overall world car title and it will be one of these:

Alfa Romeo Tonale

BMW 2 Series coupé

BMW X1 / iX1

Honda HR-V

Hyundai Ioniq 6

Kia Niro

Mazda CX-60

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Nissan Ariya

Nissan Z

We’re not sure anything really jumps out at us from that list, but perhaps we’ll give you our top choice when the final three are announced on 7 March.


Nissan Ariya aims to travel from pole to pole

You might have spotted the electric Nissan Ariya in the world car finalists list and while we will be testing its ability on snow and ice in the Pyrenees shortly, an even more adventurous couple are planning to drive one from the North Pole to the South Pole. The husband and wife team of Chris and Julie Ramsay will drive an Ariya that has been adapted by Arctic Trucks. The suspension has been raised, it has flared wheel arches and large tyres and a portable vehicle charger that uses a combination of wind and solar to top up the Ariya’s batteries in isolated areas. At Chris’ insistence, it also has an espresso machine to keep him charged up. The couple have plenty of expedition experience with electric Nissans, completing the Mongol Rally in 2017 in a Nissan Leaf and if you want to follow their progress you can do so here.


Happy birthday Matchbox

Finally, happy birthday to Matchbox which turns 70 in 2023. The famous model car maker is owned by Mattel these days but it started out as the creation of British Army mechanics, Jack Odell. His first model was a brass road roller before he made some prototypes more recognisable as Matchbox cars. 

Now Mattel has introduced a 70th anniversary collection with platinum details and a sustainable theme with some models made from recycled zinc. 

That’s all for this edition, we’re off to the toy aisle at the local supermarket.



Written by Mark Smyth