There's a lot to like about the Volvo XC40, but by the time you've chosen a chunky engine and plumped for a few modest options, it's not hard to find yourself staring at a price tag of forty grand. Thing is, reign it all and you can park an XC40 T3 on your drive and still have change from £30,000.
For 2019, the Suzuki Vitara has had a deliberately modest facelift, with a new front bumper, a redesigned front grille, and some funky LEDs for the rear light clusters. More substantial changes take place under the bonnet, where you’ll find a pair of new Boosterjet engines instead of the old 1.6-litre units.
“When I first saw this course, I thought to myself ‘Suzuki have been very brave here. Maybe too brave.'” These were the words of our pro-instructor as we peered up a steep, muddy and rocky hill, littered with axle-twisters. But then, as our minder’s words faded from our ears, the little Jimny cast them aside and just crawled up it. Brave isn’t the word. It’s damn near heroic.
We're fans of the Kia Sportage, thanks to its spacious cabin and strong sense of practicality. For this year, and as part of a mid-life update, Kia have introduced a new 48V mild hybrid set-up teamed up with a 2.0-litre diesel. We spent a week wondering who it was for.
There’s an incredible amount of clever technology in the new Ford Focus, from the adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition, to the LED headlights that pre-emptively adjust their pattern before entering a corner. Clearly, this new Ford Focus is a very different beast to the one that went before it. In fact, we'd say it's more grown up. Mature, even.
I’ve always been full of admiration for the Mazda MX-5. However, there have been those who’ve felt the MX-5’s remarkable chassis has been held back by a lack of power. To answer that, the company has given the 2.0-litre engine a comprehensive going-over aimed at making it spin harder and faster.
I guess you could say the Volvo V60 is the company's spiritual heartland; the premium family wagon. The thing is, there's a reason we all used to buy estate cars, one we hope people remember before too long - they offer all the practicalities of an SUV, but with none of the downsides.
Another year, another round of worthwhile changes to the rightly well-regarded Mazda6. Some are more subtle than others - there's a new grille, for instance, and a new interior with some seriously premium materials - while the big news is the arrival of a new 2.5-litre petrol engine with cylinder deactivation.
It's tempting to kick things off by describing how this new apostrophe-free Kia Ceed differs from the outgoing model - it's lower, wider, and generally more sporty for a start - but that feels like missing the point. Because to all intents and purposes this is an entirely new car, one set to be Kia's third best-selling model.
Ford has made many changes to the Mustang for this year, but there’s one that’s particularly successful. So successful, in fact, that I’d almost irretrievably fallen in love with it the second I pressed the start button. It’s the noise. Because now the Mustang sounds exactly like a Mustang should.
I'm old enough to remember the Ford Fiesta XR2, having spent most of my late teenage years tearing around the countryside in one. My God was it chuckable, filled with a cheeky sense of fun that made you feel you hadn't so much bought a car as found a new best mate. That's how I feel about the new Fiesta ST.
The new Suzuki Swift Sport marks the welcome return of a formula many had left behind - modest power, fun handling, and light weight - mixed in with a few updates to make it a better fit for the modern, overly-congested world.