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While we contemplate a future where mobility is totally via electrical modes of transport, hybrids offer the best of all worlds when it comes to cutting emissions, performance and practicality. Here are three new models to consider.

KIA STONIC

The Kia Stonic reconfirms the fact that, more and more, cars are beginning to break away from categorisation and creating a new genre all to its own. This popular model from the Korean brand that seems to get stronger and stronger — both in its design strategies and also in its foray into the Singapore market — breaks the mould every which way you see it.

It is neither a sedan nor a typical SUV; neither a wagon nor a strict hatchback. The fact that it is a little bit of all the above proves that there is a market for a four-door car with a hatch tailgate that sits high on the road. And with all the features thrown in for the Stonic, it ticks more boxes that most alternatives in a country that is simply in love with the urban crossover.Not to mention, of course, that the Kia Stonic looks cool!

The sporty front — with its vertical fog lamps, integrated full LED headlamps, and Daytime running lights — allows the car to put its best face forward wherever it goes. The classic simplicity is well-thought out and elegant, combining an athletic intention with a stateliness that’s impressive for a small car.

Kia doesn’t shy away from giving drivers bang for their buck. The cockpit of the Stonic has many bells and whistles found in higher-end cars, including a leather-encased steering wheel, and on-wheel controls positioned just where you need them. There is Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free operation of your device, and the floating-colour, eight-inch touchscreen is ergonomically situated for easy access. There is one USB port in the front and one at the rear for your charging needs as well. The spacious luggage space and hatch rear door, too, offer great flexibility. The space expands from 352 litres with the back seats up to 1,155 litres when they’re down.The new Stonic comes with a Mild Hybrid EcoDynamics+ Powertrain System that teams the 1.0 T-GDI Smartstream engine with a 48V lithium-ion battery. Not only does this reduce emissions and enhances fuel consumption, but the system recovers kinetic energy during the deceleration process to provide more torque when accelerating. The unique Sailing Mode further allows the car to switch off the engine when the accelerator is not engaged or when braking to smoothen out the ride. The engine kicks into action immediately once the accelerator is depressed again.

Safety features abound in the Stonic. Cornering Brake Control, and Torque Vectoring by braking give you added security and assurance each time you head into a turn. Hill-start Assist Control, Vehicle Stability Management that ensures stability when braking while turning, and the six-airbag system all chip in to shore up the car’s safety suite.

PRICE  FROM $144,999 WITH COE

ENGINE  998CC SMARTSTREAM ENGINE WITH 48V MILD HYBRID SYSTEM

TRANSMISSION  7-SPEED DCT MILD HYBRID

POWER  120PS @ 6,000RPM

TORQUE  200NM @ 2,000–3,500RPM

0–100KM/H  10.4 SECONDS

DISTRIBUTOR  CYCLE & CARRIAGE KIA PTE LTD (Tel: 6866 1666)

LEXUS NX 350H

At the end of 2021, Lexus introduced an all-new NX line-up that includes the NX 350h hybrid model. Following Lexus’ new generation of vehicles that abide by the development concept of ‘Vital x Tech Gear’, the new NX sees an attempt at offering performance through advanced technologies and a refreshed design language.

The Lexus insignia on the rear of the car already says that the luxury Japanese brand is heading towards a new direction with design. Contrasting curves and angles in the bodywork have been carefully put in place to express athleticism. The Lexus Global Architecture K platform aims to provide more space for both passengers and cargo — overall length is upped by 20mm, wheelbase by 30mm, and height by 5mm. That said, the overhang is reduced to give the car a sense of agility.

The next-generation 3D spindle design is both pleasing to the eye and offers functional benefits at the same time. Lexus’ now-familiar architecture encompasses the spindle grille and extends towards the rear seamlessly. The front grille is more upright, allowing more efficient air flow to cool the radiator. The rear is noticeably narrowed but still emphasises a coherence around the rear cabin and wide stance of the tyres. The revised brand mark in the middle of the hatch is framed by independently positioned L-shaped lamps on both sides.

Lexus has also put some thought into how the driver embraces the driving experience. ‘Tazuna’ is a philosophy they’ve used to imbue a “human-centred cockpit philosophy” that creates an intuitive connection between driver and car to heighten concentration when on the road, and also with vehicle control.

Several features in the new NX help to achieve this goal. Touch Tracing Operation combines Head-Up Display with touch sensor switches on the steering wheel. The Head-Up Display also has three different modes for different driving situations from which the drivers can select.

At 14 inches, the touch display is amply proportioned; it also offers an anti-reflective coating. The multimedia system offers voice-recognition function, and is configured to be used with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 10-speaker Lexus Premium Sound System includes a large subwoofer that should provide enough oomph for your ride. And even if you prefer silence, the cabin noise is reduced by 15%, thanks to the use of better sound-insulating materials, and an engine hood that uses a twin-lock structure — a first for Lexus.

There are several new features that truly set the NX apart from its many competitors. There are 64 different colours to choose from for the interior illumination, and 14 different themes that are inspired by nature. Door latches are now electronic for smoother and effortless operation. The Panoramic View Monitor is a neat inclusion that combines images from cameras on the front, sides and rear of the car, and shows them on the centre display. The new function of displaying images of the road surface directly underneath the vehicle is possibly something that few other car manufacturers have or will ever think of.

This fourth-generation NX is powered by an AWD hybrid system that combines a 2.5-litre in-line, four-cylinder engine with front and rear high-output motors. Suspension is all new with MacPherson front struts and a trailing arm, double wishbone design in the back. The NX 350h is also one of the first Lexus cars to feature a pedal return damping mechanism to improve the dynamic quality of the pedal release operation.

You probably don’t have enough fingers in your hand to count the number of safety and driver-assist features in the car. But suffice to say that Pre-Collision System with Intersection Steering Assist and Emergency Steering Assist, Full Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, and Lexus Teammate Advance Park are some of the key ones to note.

PRICE  $302,800 WITH COE

ENGINE  2,487CC IN-LINE, 4-CYLINDER, 16-VALVE DOHC WITH ELECTRIC MOTOR

TRANSMISSION  E-CVT, E-4 WHEEL DRIVE SYSTEM

POWER  240BHP

TORQUE  239NM @ 4,500RPM

0–100KM/H  7.7 SECONDS

DISTRIBUTOR  BORNEO MOTORS (S) PTE LTD (Tel: 6631 1388)

HYUNDAI TUCSON HYBRID

Since its introduction in 2004, Hyundai has sold more than seven million Tucsons worldwide, making it one of the company’s best-selling model. The latest version, introduced in 2021, continues the brand’s dominance in the mid-size SUV market, while stamping its authority in automotive hybrid technology.

The latest Tucson comes in a 1.6-litre turbo and a 1.6-litre turbo hybrid version. It goes head to head in a crowded sector filled with vehicles such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, and several other worthy contenders for the throne. But considering the vehicle’s offerings and price point, the Tucson has a good chance at the top spot.

Hyundai’s new design identity, ‘Sensuous Sportiness’, is clearly seen in the Tucson Hybrid. Proportion, architecture, styling and technology come together in the brand’s new aesthetic direction, and many of the elements of the car reflect this approach. Parametric Hidden Lights allow the front of the car to be ensconced in dark, geometric patterns, and lets the LED Daytime Running Lights integrate seamlessly into the grille. With the lights on, the grille transforms into one that boasts eye-catching, jewel-like shapes that stand out against the car’s sleek silhouette. The all-new rear bumper also integrates parametric pattern details with a three-dimensional effect, and the car is the first Hyundai model to apply hidden rear wipers, which sit under the spoiler.

The 1.6-litre turbo hybrid powertrain helps the Tucson hybrid churn out a combined 230Bhp of power, with a whopping combined 350Nm of torque from the gasoline engine and hybrid system. The Continuously Variable Valve Duration technology further helps the car optimise power, efficiency and emissions. The Tucson Hybrid’s Electronic Controlled Suspension’s adaptive damping technology automatically and continuously controls the suspension on each individual wheel according to road conditions to maximise driving comfort and performance.

The safety and driving assistance features in the Tucson Hybrid is hard to beat. Hyundai’s Smartsense suite of features found here include Blind-spot Collision Warning and Collision-avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Warning, Rear Occupant Alert that tells drivers if there are passengers in the back seat before leaving the vehicle, Leading Vehicle Departure Alert that warns drivers that the vehicle in front of them is moving forward, Rear Cross-traffic Collision-avoidance Warning and Assist, and Driver Attention Warning. Two new features that come with this enhanced Hyundai Smartsense array are the Forward Collision-avoidance Assist with Junction Turning that detects cars, pedestrians and cyclists even while turning left, and Lane Following Assist and Lane Keeping Assist that help you from veering off your lane unintentionally.

Hyundai’s INTERSPACE concept pulls together ergonomics, technology and style in the interiors. The fully digital, configurable dual cockpit consists of a 10.25-inch digital cluster and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Air-conditioning and ventilation controls are now via touch for a futuristic feel. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available wirelessly, and there is a wireless charging pad, and USB ports in the front and rear (four in total) for easy access.

This being an urban SUV, space is held in high esteem in the Tucson. The third-generation platform makes the car 150mm longer, 15mm wider, with a wheelbase increased by 85mm compared to the previous model. Not only can rear passengers enjoy an extra 80mm of legroom, but boot space is now boosted to 539 litres with the seats up and 1,860 litres when folded (depending on trim and powertrain).

Practicality, performance and panache come together to make the Tucson Hybrid a tough act to follow in its class.

PRICE  $202,999 WITH COE

ENGINE  1.6-LITRE TURBO GDI PETROL-HYBRID

TRANSMISSION  6-SPEED AUTOMATIC

POWER  230BHP @ 5,500RPM

TORQUE  350NM COMBINED

0–100KM/H  8 SECONDS

DISTRIBUTOR  KOMOCO MOTORS PTE LTD (Tel: 6475 8888)