Weekly News - December 20 2021

In our final news round-up of 2021 we look at the latest electric vehicle reveals, safety issues at Renault and some of the new models heading our way in 2022.

2021 is almost over and what a year it has been, although of course not all in a good way. We’ve seen a huge amount of change, including in the car industry where the switch to electric has really started to take hold. It remains to be seen what impact the cut in UK Government grants for electric vehicles (EV) will have, but the industry is surging forward and we will have loads of new models in 2022. We will bring you a full rundown of what’s coming early in January but for now, let’s get back to the latest news.

Not surprisingly, we are going to start with some EVs. The biggest reveal of the year, at least in terms of number of new models, was the reveal of an impressive 16 new EVs from Toyota and Lexus. President of Toyota, Akio Toyoda showed all 16 concepts in one go, including everything from city micro cars to SUVs, saloons to sports cars and even a new Lexus supercar. Toyota has been criticised for focusing on hybrids rather than electric but the Japanese giant had already promised a bunch of EVs and now it’s shown what it has been busy with. They are all concepts at this stage, but expect a flood of them coming off production lines in the coming years. 

We recently drove the new BMW i4 and iX EVs and of course there are more to come from Munich. It’s currently finishing up testing of its new i7 flagship electric saloon. Not surprisingly BMW isn’t revealing much apart from the fact that they say it’s quite good in hot and cold conditions and promises typical 7 Series luxury combined with zero emissions. 

At completely the other end of the EV scale is the concept of the Citroen My Ami Buggy. Citroen has now confirmed that it’s pint-sized Ami EV is heading to the UK but the Buggy adds even more cool into the equation. It’s like the modern Beach Buggy, with funky looks for surfer types and golf estate residents. No word on production but it’s the one we would have, provided they put screens on the doors to keep out the British weather.

Polestar sales are starting to take off in the UK thanks to the great design and technology of its Polestar 2 EV, but as promised there is more to come, a new model every year for the next three years in fact. Next up for the Swedish automaker will be the, yes you guessed it, the Polestar 3 which will be its first SUV and will be built at its new plant in the US. 

Slightly electric is the new Mazda 2 hybrid which is also only slightly Mazda. Actually it’s not really Mazda at all, it’s a Toyota. Essentially it’s the very good Toyota Yaris hybrid with a Mazda badge. Yes it’s badge engineering and looks nothing like any other new Mazda 2, but if you’re a Mazda fan and have been tempted to switch to Toyota for its hybrid tech then now you don’t have to, at least we think that’s the idea.

Talking of vehicles wearing different badges, after Ford revealed its new Ranger, now we have the first sketch of its twin, the new Volkswagen Amarok. The two rivals have teamed up on commercial vehicles and we’ve already seen the results of this with the new Ford Transit Connect and VW Caddy. We will have to wait a bit longer for the official reveal of the new Amarok and like the Ranger there should be potential for some form of electrification, although it’s not likely to go beyond hybridisation.

If you need load-lugging space in a passenger car then we’re quite excited about the new Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer which has just been shown and will be on sale in the UK next summer. It will be available in petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid with up to 608 litres of space with all the seats up and 1,634 with the seats folded away, although you’ll get slightly less in the hybrid due to the battery. We are still big fans of estate cars and reckon the Astra is going to be one of the best looking when it arrives, although we will have to wait and see how good it is to live with.

When it comes to living with a car, one of the things that’s most important for all of us is safety, which brings us to the rather dismal results of crash tests by the latest electric pair from the Renault Group of the Renault Zoe and Dacia Spring. We fully expected the Spring to do badly, after all, it is essentially the emerging markets Renault Kwid which had already performed poorly, but the Spring strangely surprised many EVangelists who had been pushing for it to go on sale in the UK. It only achieved one out of five stars, which should be enough to send Dacia back to the engineering department to make some fundamental changes. An even bigger surprise though was the popular Zoe scoring no stars at all, making the new one less safe than the pre-facelift version. That’s good news if you are buying secondhand, but not so much if buying or leasing new. Essentially the facelift lacks a side airbag to protect the heads of adult occupants and changes to the structure of the dashboard mean materials can become a hazard in a crash. Again, expect Renault to fix this in a hurry to try and protect not just the occupants, but the company’s reputation for safety.

Finally, a couple of cars that could well be on many enthusiasts Christmas lists and which aren’t likely to prioritise safety over fun. Morgan has released images of its first Plus 8 GTR, a car which has come about after the famous Malvern company came across a few spare chassis of the original Plus 8. Only nine will be built and they will be the most powerful Morgans every made with 380hp. Then there’s possibly the most famous Morgan of all, the three-wheeler, which will get a whole new look for 2022. We still haven’t seen the final thing, but Morgan has released some sketches from its design studio to get everyone excited, that is those that want a three-wheeled car with no roof and the need to wear Biggles glasses. That includes us, because let’s face it, in a world that’s going increasingly digital and emotionless, the Morgan three-wheeler shows we still like to have a bit of fun.

That’s it for our news round-ups this year. Expect more, much more in 2022 as we plan to bring you more news, more advice, more first drives and more insight into anything from getting rid of your old car to the technology of the cars you might be buying in five years time and everything in-between. Have a great festive season and let’s hope for a smoother road in 2022.


Written by Mark Smyth