7 new electric vehicles you need to check out

A number of new releases are on the way – here are some of the best, says Jack Evans.

The electric vehicle segment is really hotting up, with loads of new models entering the market. It’s understandable, as interest continues to grow in battery-powered models and more people look to move away from petrol and diesel cars towards full EVs instead.

Needless to say, there are plenty of new electric vehicles due on the scene soon – so which do you need to know about? We’ve picked out some of the most exciting…

1. Polestar 3

Polestar has already proven itself as one of the most exciting new brands in the EV business, having introduced the striking 1 and 2 models. The 2, in particular, has appeared to be a hit in the UK where its solid build quality and edgy styling have gone down well.

With the 3, it’s trying to head more into the mainstream. This electric SUV enters into a flourishing market and though we’ve only seen teaser images of Polestar’s newest addition, it’s shaping up to be an interesting model.

2. Fiat e-Doblo

Not all EVs have to look like they just drove off the set of Blade Runner and that’s where models like the Fiat e-Doblo come in. Designed with practicality in mind, it’s car that has acres of space but offers a range of up to 173 miles between charges. Plus, because it can charge at speeds of up to 100kW, it’ll manage an 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes.

3. Volkswagen ID Buzz

It feels as though we’ve been talking about the ID Buzz for a little while now, but the funky retro-inspired model is finally set to hit the UK. Prices start from £57,115 and though relatively steep, that does secure you a car which is bound to turn heads and will also manage up to 258 miles of range.

Of course, this isn’t a car – but its very existence shows the breadth of EVs that are starting to become available on the market.

4. GWM Ora Funky Cat

The name alone attracts attention, but the Funky Cat from Chinese firm GWM Ora is shaping up to be a really good option for those after a reasonably well-priced EV. It’ll start from £30,495 when it arrives in the UK, but given that this price accompanies a high-spec Launch Edition car, we’d guess that cheaper variants will be on the way shortly after.

It’s got a 193-mile range too, while a 15-80% charge will take 40 minutes via an 80kW fast charger.

5. Renault Scenic

Renault has given us a little glimpse as to what a new generation of its ever-popular Scenic will look like. An initial concept – called Scenic Vision – showcases a very futuristic design and, though the concept uses hydrogen power, the production version will adopt a full battery-electric powertrain.

Inside, the concept looks almost video game-like in its design, but we expect the regular car – which is slated for release next year – will have a slightly more conventional setup.

6. Ford Transit e-Custom

Ford isn’t taking any breaks when it comes to its electric vehicles and, having released a battery-powered version of its regular Transit, has delivered a more compact version in the Transit e-Custom.

It’s got an impressive 236-mile range too, while clever ProPower Onboard technology means that items such as tools or lights can be charged or powered by the van itself.

7. Mercedes EQS SUV

The Mercedes EQ range of electric cars is growing thick and fast – and that’s only set to continue with the introduction of the EQS SUV. It’s got the same level of technology and equipment as the firm’s range-topping EQS saloon but brings a little more space and practicality.

In its most long-legged specification, it’ll manage up to 410 miles between a charge, while all versions can be charged at speeds of up to 200kW, meaning 155 miles of range could be added in as little as 15 minutes.

Camping out this summer? Where to see some of the most beautiful stars in the UK, Ireland and Europe

Imy Brighty-Potts discovers some of the best places to go star spotting.

Gazing up at a star-filled sky before falling asleep in your tent beneath the Milky Way is one of the real joys of summer.

And next time you pitch your tent, think of this mind-boggling fact as you stare upwards: the European Space Agency (ESA) has just released a treasure trove of data on almost two billion stars in the Milky Way. How insignificant does that make most everyday problems feel?

To see the stars in all their glory, there are a few simple things to remember. Jonathan Knight, UK manager of outdoor stays provider Hipcamp, says: “Your eyes need time to fully adjust to the darkness of the night sky, but your night vision can be ruined by one flash of bright light.

“Turn your headlights off, put out that campfire, and avoid using any flashlight with white light. Instead, use a red-filtered headlamp or flashlight to navigate in the dark and save your eyes from frequent adjustments.”

Downloading a star map app might also be a good idea, he suggests. “Whether you’re just observing with your naked eye or through a powerful telescope, your smartphone can guide you around the night sky, show you what you’re looking at, and help you find constellations like the Big Dipper and Orion.”

Inspired? Here are some of the best spots across Europe, the UK and Ireland to enjoy gazing at beautiful stars in a clear sky.

1. Canary Islands, Teide National Park

The Teide National Park in Tenerife has been recognised as a “Starlight Tourist Destination” by the Starlight Foundation, an organisation which aims to protect the night sky – meaning this is an place where light pollution is controlled and visitors should have excellent conditions for stargazing.

Lisa Francesca Nand, travel journalist and host of The Big Travel Podcast ( says: “With moonscape mountains and clear skies, Tenerife’s interior is one of the world’s best stargazing destinations.

“For breath-taking vistas of the constellations, there are several round-trip tours offering professional guides to help explore the stars, stories and myths of the universe. Or stay over at the Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide, a mountain lodge with spectacular views.”

Nand points out that wild camping is not permitted but says: “You’ll find several dedicated campsites around the area where you can switch off your torch and lie back for one of the most awe-inspiring views of earth.”

2. Any of the Scottish islands

Scotland is the most remote part of the UK and rewards you with the darkest skies.

James Warner-Smith, Camping Expert at Hipcamp, advises: “Head out to the islands and glamp somewhere remote like Runach Arrain or try Badrallach Campsite, which is eight miles from the nearest main road and a 14 mile hike from the nearest shops so can guarantee you minimal light pollution.”

3. Scandinavia

A great spot to see The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, Scandinavia has vast expanses of unpolluted land and skies. The Danish islands of Møn and Nyord have been named as some of the best spots in the world to stargaze by the International Dark-Sky Association.

Wild camping is highly restricted in Denmark but there are campsites on both islands with tent and van pitches in gorgeous rural spots.

Similarly, Kiruna is the northernmost town in Sweden and is home to the Esrange Space Center, the Institute of Space Physics and Spaceport Sweden. There is a popular campsite in Kiruna called Camp Ripan which has an on site restaurant and spa for a more luxurious experience.

4. Valentia Island, Ireland

Valentia Island, off the south-western coast of Ireland, has very low light pollution, and is a tranquil spot to see the stars. Part of the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve, it is one of the best places to see the night sky.

Travel guide The Irish Road Trip advises checking the position of the moon before you visit, saying: “The moon’s cycle is 28 days, so each month has only seven dark nights with no moonlight to interfere with your view of the heavens above.”

For camping, check out Valentia Island Caravan & Camping Park. Situated at the top of Knightstown village, you will wake up to views of the Kerry mountains and Valentia Harbour.

5. Northumberland

Northumberland National Park was named England’s first International Dark Sky Park in 2013 by the International Dark Sky Association.

Warner-Smith says: “Walkmill Campsite is a great option there, nice and secluded and back-to-basics with no light pollution but also a good campsite in its own right with good access to Warkworth and the coast.”

Stargazers should head to Kielder Observatory. In summer, you can view star clusters, shooting stars and the moon’s surface.

How to find the right water feature for your small garden

An expert runs through how to choose wisely and the pitfalls to avoid. By Hannah Stephenson.

If your garden’s not big enough for a pond, but you’d love a water feature to add some cool and calm to your outside space, there are plenty of options.

Pools in pots, sculptures trickling water and wall attachments spouting a stream can all be easily sorted – but there are some basics you need to consider, says award-winning landscape and garden designer Helen Elks-Smith (, a member of the Society of Garden Designers (

“You want good surfaces and you want good plants – and if you are time-poor, I’d be cautious about water,” she says for starters.

Pots can be high maintenance

“The issue is, if you have a small body of water, it heats up. When water heats up it goes green,” Elks-Smith warns. “But if you have a small element of water, you can probably drain it when it goes green, clean the container and fill it back up again.”

If you have, for instance, a half barrel lined with pond liner for a water feature, the frequency with which you’d have to change the water depends on where you position it.

“Oxygenating plants can help to keep the water a bit cleaner,” she notes. “Water lilies can added to still water but they don’t like moving water. Flag irises can be added, but the depth of the water will have a bearing on what you can plant.

“Often it’s a good idea to have a little shallow area, like a little shelf you can pop plants onto, which are planted in little baskets. Not a lot of plants which grow above the water like the water really deep.”

Consider filters

Elks-Smith says: “If you have a still bit of water – and they are very popular – you may have to have a large amount of filters moving the water.

“There are loads of kits available, which often come with filters or you can buy them from specialists who will advise you on the type of pump and filter you need.”

Balance it out

“You don’t want plants to be too invasive in a small container, but some irises are really beautiful. We planted an equisetum in a water feature scheme in Winchester, which has these horizontal bars on it, which is very striking and contemporary looking,” she adds.

For modern gardens

“Even if you plant for nature, it doesn’t have to look homespun. You can have something that’s up-to-the-minute. Nature doesn’t mind.

“Think about why you want water in the garden,” suggests Elks-Smith. “For some people, looking at the reflective surface is what matters. They don’t want the water to be moving, they want it still. Creating a reflective surface is a great way of bringing the sky down and bounce the light around. Others wouldn’t want water to be that still.”

Check your sound

“There are many different types of sounds associated with moving water. If you have water falling from a height, you will get a lot of splash and it’s quite busy to look at and will make a big sound.

“You could have water falling from the same height at the same rate onto different things, and it will sound different,” she notes. “If you want a gentle trickle, the water would be going over a surface as it drops. The classic is water falling through a rockery, where you’d see it more than you’d hear it.”

Wall-mounted water features

“There are kits where you prop it up or build it against a wall, and the water will fall out of a chute into a body of water,” says Elks-Smith. “The traditional thing would have been a lion’s head, while a more contemporary version is a steel chute.

“These wall-mounted features tend to be slightly noisier, depending on the height and speed of the water and how wide the chute is. If you want to change the sound underneath, you can bring something up from the ground for the water to fall on, such as stones or pebbles.”

Plant in shade

“If you have moving water, shade helps stop the water from going green, but then whatever you are pushing that water over (such as rocks or pebbles), if it’s trickling, they will go green.

“That can be lovely – put your water in a cool, shady space, where you can plant around it with ferns and woodland plants. So you can choose to go with green water.”

They’re not always good for wildlife

“Not all forms of water feature will be great for wildlife, although some can be,” she observes. “For example, if you had a stone or a sculpture with water running over the top, which went into a hidden reservoir, that’s not going to be of any benefit to wildlife.

“You have to have an open body of water, and on balconies that would be a bit more of a struggle. But if you have a bird bath with a bit of water in, that’s absolutely fantastic for birds.”

Sculpture-led streams

You can buy water feature sculptures, typically where a hole has been drilled in it and the water is pushed up through the hole. Many have hidden reservoirs, where a pump and filter sits. The reservoir will need topping up and cleaning from time to time, and Elks-Smith advises you’ll need an outside electrical supply to run it, installed by a qualified electrician.

Patio position

“It makes sense to be able to see and hear your water feature at the same time,” says Elks-Smith. “And consider that you might still want to see your water feature in the winter, when you won’t be in the garden but you can see it from your kitchen sink, or if you are sitting in your lounge. Think which window would make a good viewing point.”

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