In this week's automotive adventures, Steve pays homage to the Kia e-Niro, reflects on what makes the motoring industry's brightest stand out, pens a love letter to the Vauxhall Mokka and more. 


For one fascinating week, I’ve had two electric Kias on hand at my home in Gloucestershire – a gently revised Kia e-Niro and the even newer Soul EV. They both use identical 201bhp front-drive single-speed electric powertrains, and 64kWh lithium ion battery packs, giving genuine 280- to 300-mile ranges. Fascinating how different such very similar cars can feel, though. I’d thought the Soul, smaller and sportier, might be the pick of the pair but it doesn’t ride nearly as well and its steering has a curious ‘springy’ sensation around the straight-ahead that messes with the precision. The e-Niro, now with gentle improvements to its instrumentation, simply confirms its status (my view) as the best and most sensible EV on sale in the UK.


It’s our great pleasure this week to credit the highest achievers of the motor industry in our annual Autocar Awards, and I’ve enjoyed meeting quite a few of them, albeit electronically. You can read how our stars of 2020 earned their accolades, and view our online coverage at, but two things especially strike me about our industry’s best people. One is their instinct for knowing, out of a myriad of calls on their valuable time, which will be most productive. The other is pervading, unforced optimism. Not only do they seem to know instinctively that hand-wringing won’t help, but they simply can’t be bothered with it. Great examples for life.


Deeply impressed by the design of the new Vauxhall Mokka, a car whose shape relates unmistakably to that of the superb GTX concept shown at Frankfurt two years ago. At the time, Opel-Vauxhall design chief Mark Adams told us very firmly that this was “far more than just a concept” but I confess I found it difficult to see it translating so easily into a showroom model, given its breathtaking modernity. The GTX’s single side-door and somewhat impractical interior (plus the electric forklift motor underneath) probably didn’t help my perception, but it’s now clear I should have given the company more credit. Looking at the slick emergence of the new Corsa, especially its in-demand battery version, and now this, you’ve got to say Vauxhall deserves to be doing okay in tough times.