SMMT Test Day 2024: goes to Millbrook

Image of James Kelly
Author: | Updated: 03 Jun 2024 15:28

It was fantastic to represent at the recent SMMT Test Day at Millbrook Proving Ground. For the uninitiated, this is essentially a day where the biggest car manufacturers come together to show off their latest products. It’s always a highlight of the motoring calendar, and 2024 was no exception.

After driving a dozen or more vehicles over the course of the day – as well as catching up with manufacturers and discussing their exciting plans for the coming year – we’ve put together a round-up of some key takeaways from this great event.WhatsApp Image 2024-05-24 at 10.12.01

Everything is electric

Seems like an obvious one, right? We’re on the road to an electrified future. But the SMMT’s Test Day was a perfect demonstration of just how far electric vehicles have come in recent years – and how fast change is happening.

A few years ago, perhaps 20% of the vehicles in attendance were fully electric. In 2024, it was more like 80%.

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Nearly every manufacturer present had at least one EV to sample. Two standout favourites of the day included the awesomely impressive Hyundai Ioniq 5 N and sleek Ioniq 6.

This pair not only demonstrates how far Hyundai's electric products have come in a short amount of space; they also perfectly sum up how EVs can still differentiate themselves, and that they can be more than a silent, efficient mode of transportation.

The explosive performance of the Ioniq 5 N and the sublime comfort of the 6 show different EVs can have very different characteristics – even if they are from the same brand. If this is what the electrified future looks like, I’m certainly looking forward to it.

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New brands are coming thick and fast

GWM Ora. Omoda. BYD. These are three brands that are relatively new to the UK market, but they were all present at Millbrook and proving that they are making significant strides into the UK automotive market.

Having driven models from this trio of Chinese manufacturers, their products are impressive and, when price it taken into account, we think they will prove a true challenge for rivals. Their value cannot be overstated.

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Take the Ora 03 as an example. To lease, this is an EV that costs less than many entry-level combustion cars. We’ll have to wait and see how Omoda fairs when it comes to lease rates, but we expect its petrol-powered 5 to offer impressive value compared to other similarly sized crossovers. Watch this space.

Volvo is on a roll

Volvo has long been known for its commitment to safety and reliability, but looking at its stand at Millbrook, it could be argued it’s also a market leader when it comes to innovation and design. We were recently treated to a demonstrator EX-30 and gave it to Howard to get his thoughts.

You can watch his full review above. This car shows what the future has in store for the brand, and it’s really impressive. With a focus on sustainability and energy-efficient manufacturing processes, the EX30 is an EV that takes its environmental credentials very seriously.

The driving experience was equally impressive, with a powerful yet smooth drivetrain, advanced driver aids and systems and a really premium interior.


New MG 3 hits the mark

MG has a storied history, and with its recent 4 EV proving a success and the launch of the Cyberster sports car on the horizon, things are looking bright. You might have forgotten that following its rebirth, one of the first new MG models was the MG3 supermini.

Offering basic transportation, the platform was old, dated and a little out of step with competitors. This has all changed courtesy of the all-new MG3.

Its looks mirror those of the 4, with a sharp front end. Underneath though, lies an impressive hybrid drivetrain. Taking the MG3 for a spin around the alpine test route at Millbrook, this is clearly an accomplished car, and everything the old MG3 wasn’t.

It feels on par with rivals from Peugeot, Mazda and even Toyota. Things are looking bright for the reborn MG brand.

Millbrook high speed bowl

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