A powerful Porsche, beautiful BMW, luxurious Lexus and many more favourites lined up to be driven but my drive of the day was the fledgling MG.
This was the annual event staged by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and traders, when motoring journos get a chance to compare like for like from a variety of manufacturers. And the winner is…. the MG HS plug-in hybrid.
It was not the most glamorous and at £30,000 not the most expensive by a long way but showed how far the iconic British marque has come since its resurrection by the state owned Chinese company SAIC. It is currently the fastest growing brand in the UK with more models to choose from.
HS PHEV is the company’s flagship model and is up against SUV heavyweights like Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Kia Sportage. A brief drive showed the car has promise and efforts have been made to improve the standard of trim.
Power comes from a turbocharged 1.5 litre petrol beefed up by an electric motor giving a healthy 258bhp driven through a 10-speed automatic and an electric range of 32 miles. Emissions are low enough for £10 road tax while economy could be as much as 155mpg.
The big news from Audi is the launch of the all electric Q4 e-tron Sportback just the car to be in with the fuel pumps running dry.
It also shows how far the German premium brand has advanced down the electric road with a potential range of 323 miles. It also stands out in the crowd, not normally Audi’s strongest suit, with a dipping coupe style roof line giving it a real sporting look.
As to be expected the cabin is exquisitely presented with a new twist on the design of the centre console, and check out the square steering wheel, first I have seen since the Austin Allegro of the seventies.
The electric motor has a power output of 200bhp which is good for a sprint to sixty in eight seconds and with ride selection options the driver can choose comfort or sport. No Quattro version, just rear wheel drive. Price: £45,775.
There have been huge changes in pick-up land with big players like Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200 and Volkswagen Amorak dropping out creating opportunities for less well known brands Isuzu and SSangYong who have beefed up their models.
Isuzu’s new D Max will be featured here in a few weeks and a brief drive showed it has come on leaps and bounds and a credible threat to the Ford Ranger, the new market leader.
SSangYong has given a serious facelift to the Musso which has a strong diesel engine and a three and a half tonne towing capacity.
One to watch is the new Toyota Yaris Cross. The compact SUV has been a long time coming and will have a fight on its hands with several established crossovers out there but Toyota has plenty of experience to call on.
Basically it is a high riding, pumped up Yaris following some of the design lines of the rakish CH-R. The mechanicals are identical to its sibling with the economical 1.5 litre three-cylinder hybrid, CVT automatic gearbox and average fuel consumption in the mid 50s. Emissions are low at 112g/km with the first year VED costing £170. The top of the range Premier Edition is £28,185.