The Northern Group Drives: July’s Road Test Reviews

We’re a busy bunch here at the Northern Group of Motoring Writers, with our collective membership racking up enough test drives each month to drive around the equator — with miles to spare — and reviews that reach tens of millions of readers.

July 2023 has been no exception, with several manufacturer events in our region, including of course the Group’s own annual general meeting hosted by Kia with a full day of driving activites.

Kia’s all-electric EV6 was among the busiest cars at that day, and some members have already had their thoughts on the car published. That includes our social media manager, Andy Harris, who remarked in his column in the Yorkshire Times on how “nicely balanced” the rear-wheel drive “Air” model is.

New member George Loveridge also preferred the Air compared to the all-wheel drive GT-Line, noting on Driving Around that with the additional front-axle motor it’s “too much power and torque” — though he conceded that it’s great for an afternoon’s drive! We’ll hear more from our members about the Kia EV6 and its stablemates over August.

BYD also came to the region this month, and several members have posted their thoughts on the new brand’s Atto 3. You can see above that Ben and Annabelle (our new vice chair!) Quirk of PlanetAuto felt the Atto 3 was a “joy to drive”, while Mike Torpey in Car Review UK and Andrew Walker for Company Car & Van both praised the car’s “leftfield” and “interesting” cabin.

Another brand making the trip north recently was Maserati, and some of our lucky members have been talking about the range this month. That includes Frederic Manby, reviewing the full product range in the Scotsman on Sunday, who remarked that the MC20 Cielo was “like a lightning strike… just as thrilling”. Meanwhile new chair Andrew Evans reviewed the Grecale Trofeo for GTPlanet, and noted that it is “special thing to drive” with “a solid breadth of abilities”, with Steve Nelson adding that the Grecale range captured “the romance and mystique of the brand” in the York Press.

Suzuki brought the facelifted Swace (or “Swacelift”) to the region earlier this year too, and delivered test cars for the refreshed hybrid estate to many of our members recently. Among the loanees was former chair Julie Marshall who commented in the Wakefield Express that it’s a “very easy car to live with”.

There were plenty of reviews outside of events too. One of our newer members, David Thomas of Auto Bears, took on a Ssangyong Musso pickup for a week, and — as you can see above — came away very impressed, adding that “you really can’t go wrong” with the budget workhorse.

Ben Harrington of Driving Torque had a sporty July, reviewing the fast Skoda Enyaq iV RS — “possibly the least Skoda-ish Skoda I’ve ever come across” — and Honda Civic Type R. Ben felt the Civic still showed how good a front-wheel drive, manual performance car could be, “if you can justify” the near-£50k price.

Our resident off-roader Damian Turner has been putting the all-electric Subaru Solterra to his usual treatment, including green-laning, for The Mud Life 4×4 Magazine. Despite a few foibles, he enjoyed the sibling car to Toyota’s bZ4X, particularly the “excellent rear legroom and plenty of boot space”.

Elsewhere around the Group you can read Andy Harris’s thoughts on the updated Polestar 2, Andrew Walker’s test drives of the Audi Q3 PHEV and Audi Q5 PHEV siblings, and Mike Torpey’s reviews of the Volkswagen ID.Buzz and Land Rover Discovery PHEV.