Weekly News - April 11 2022

In our latest news review, Smart is talking in hashtags with its new comeback model, Kia is celebrating and a bunch of models have been given mild updates.

Smart gets smarter

Smart is back in town, still under the ownership of Mercedes-Benz but now it has two parents with Chinese automaker Geely sharing joint custody. The new Smart #1 is a radical departure from the ForTwo and ForFour we are used to seeing buzzing around town, with a whole new look inside and and it all sits on top of Geely’s SEA platform. 

It’s not as small as the Smart cars we’re used to, measuring in at 4,270mm but the new platform allows for some clever interior packaging within a spacious 2,720mm wheelbase. Not surprisingly, the #1 is only available as an electric model with the ability to use a 200kW charger. It’s all connected and packed with tech and features a design which Mercedes head of design Gordon Wagener says is grown up and cool. 

We’re not so sure about that when it comes to the exterior design, but as always we’ll only form a real opinion when we’ve seen it in the metal. Inside it looks far more luxurious than Smart cars we are used to, in fact we’d go so far as to say it looks a bit Merc. Perhaps that’s not surprising but we expected more of a unique Smart identity. 

Kia reveals new Niro as it tops UK sales charts

If anyone has been really smart, it’s Kia which has been rewarded by becoming the UK’s top-selling brand so far in 2022 with its new Sportage topping the compact SUV charts. At the same time, it has revealed the second generation of its popular Niro, including the electric E-Niro. It adopts some of the great looks and tech of the Sportage and EV6 inside while outside it gets a whole new design on top of a brand new platform from the ground up. The new Niro will be available with recycled materials and electrification is used throughout with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric models. There’s more tech across everything from connectivity to safety and Kia says the engineers have worked hard to improve comfort, reduce road noise and provide an even better driving experience, although for now we will have to take their word for it. 


Our update on the updates

Skoda has updated one of the Niro’s main rivals, the Karoq SUV which benefits from some design tweaks inside and out, the latest generation Volkswagen Group Evo engines and the introduction of some new sustainable materials. Some of the changes are hard to spot as it really is a mild facelift but there’s a new grille, thinner headlights and revised bumpers. Inside there’s the option of those new materials and some enhanced tech and equipment. 

Renault has also introduced a range of updates, in this case for its Clio and Captur models if you’re in the market for something compact with a dose of French style. There are new variants including Evolution, Techno and RS Line as well as the option of a more powerful E-Tech 145 hybrid version which gets an extra 5hp over the last one. 

In a recent news review we brought you details of the new Honda Civic and naturally that means a new Civic Type R will follow. The performance hatch has been undergoing final tests and while we generally don’t get excited about new lap records, the fact that it has set one at the Suzuka circuit means it has some serious promise. Fans will be excited to hear it will be be launched in the UK later this year and hopefully we will be able to bring you more details on its performance credentials before it does.

There’s news for Mitsubishi owners this week, with the official opening of the new Mitsubishi Motors office under the stewardship of IM Group in Cirencester. When Mitsubishi announced it was leaving the UK many owners were left unsure of what would happen with their vehicles, but IM Group which imports brands such as Isuzu and Subaru, stepped in to take over aftersales and some other functions, so owners can relax again.


Written by Mark Smyth