Hotpoint Day 1 Ultima XUL85 T3U WOJH

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Pros

  • Innovative ozone generator
  • Active fresh filter works
  • Stable temperatures
  • Low, low running costs
  • Four drawers in freezer
  • Very quiet

Cons

  • Awkward fridge drawers
  • Impractical main door pocket
  • Limited-access freezer drawers
  • Poor interior build quality
  • Inaccurate fridge thermostat

Key Features

  • Review Price: £564.99
  • Active Oxygen freshness
  • Active Fresh Filter
  • Super-cool from 70 degrees
  • Quiet inverter compressor

What is the Hotpoint Day 1 Ultima XUL85 T3U WOJH?

Part of Hotpoint’s flagship Ultima range, the XUL85 T3U WOJH might sound like a car numberplate, but it’s a frost-free fridge-freezer that promises to keep your chilled food “Day 1” fresh for up to 14 days. It achieves this by using a raft of technologies including precision temperature control and Hotpoint’s innovative Active Oxygen technology.

It boasts an A+++ energy rating, low noise, over 200 litres of fridge space, and a good-sized freezer – which, unusually, has four drawers. Features aplenty, then, and the extended food-freshness works well, but the Day 1 Ultima falls shy of greatness due to distinctly average build quality and poor design on the inside.

Related: Best Fridge-Freezers
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Hotpoint Day 1 Ultima XUL85 T3U WOJH – Design and Features

One of Hotpoint’s premium gloss-white fridge-freezers, the Day 1 Ultima has quite a few features and techno goodies to justify its fairly serious asking price.

It’s completely frost-free of course, offers brilliant-white LED lighting in the fridge, and is A+++ efficient thanks to high-tech insulation and a cutting-edge inverter compressor. The latter also helps in its claim of a ridiculously quiet 37dB operating noise.

Controls are a simple row of buttons and LEDs along the top edge of the inner door frame, and the door handles are chunky and secure.

Yet the real message of the Day 1 Ultima is in keeping your fresh produce fresher for longer. Many fridge-freezers claim just that, but Hotpoint has thrown the technology book at this model, with a raft of innovations – many not seen anywhere else. In fact, Hotpoint is so confident in these technologies that it claims this fridge will keep many fresh goods in “day 1” condition for up to 14 days. Hence the name.

Now, being a bunch of sceptical old hacks here at TrustedReviews, this isn’t a claim we’d accept without some empirical evidence to back it up. So Hotpoint supplied test results from SGL Prüf, a testing house in Hartmannsdorf in Germany.

It showed that the 14-day freshness related to the yeast and mould growth in fresh strawberries stored in the Day 1 Ultima with all of its technology features active. It noted that other fruits and produce may vary – but, blimey, that’s still one super-impressive result.

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Most exciting among the tech features is the Active Oxygen technology. This is an ozone generator that shoots a blast of O3 into the fridge compartment when you open the door or press the Active Oxygen button.

Ozone is well known for its anti-bacterial and even anti-viral properties, since it’s one of the most powerful sterilisers in the world. Add a precise quantity of ozone to the air circulating in your fridge and the bacteria that cause decay in food will struggle.

Ozone is a naturally occurring gas that’s at its most prevalent after thunderstorms – it’s produced in great quantities by lightning. This is one of the reasons the air always smells fresh after a storm. Ozone does have a faint but distinct odour, and you can occasionally catch a hint of it in the Day 1 fridge – but it’s very slight. Hotpoint claims that its Active Oxygen technology alone inhibits bacteria growth by up to 90% and can neutralise fridge odours by up to 70%.  

Inside the fridge compartment, the gloss black Active Oxygen 2.0 panel, steel highlights and chrome bottle rack produce a neat and modern look. Lighting is a single ceiling-mounted LED, but it’s far enough forward not to become too obstructed by goodies on the top shelf.

Both fridge drawers have a technology story to tell too. The lower of the two similar-sized bins is what Hotpoint terms the “3-in-1 Drawer”. Like many such drawers designed for meat and fish, it promises to hover around zero degrees if the fridge temperature is set to 4℃, thanks to its direct air-cooling Chill Mode.

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Its Super Cool+ feature offers rapid cooling of foods that are as hot as a whopping 70℃ when you put them in the fridge. Chilling down a fresh stew, whacking your dinner in the fridge when you need to shoot out suddenly, or quickly chilling jam are all possible.

This drawer also sports Safe Defrost, which allows you to thaw frozen foods slowly, potentially avoiding any damage or deterioration during the defrosting process. The latter features are a nice idea, but we can’t help thinking that, in reality, that drawer would be full with produce you’d have to move first in either scenario.

If all that wasn’t enough tech for one fridge compartment, the salad-crisper drawer boasts Hotpoint’s Active Fresh filter. Inside this little block of tricks is a compound that sucks up ethylene gas. Ethylene is the chemical produced by several fruits – most famously bananas – as they ripen. It isn’t harmful, but it speeds up the ripening process in other fruit that comes into contact with the gas. This is why your mum told you to store your apples and bananas in separate bowls.

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Not only does the Active Fresh filter help ensure fruits aren’t speed-ripening each other, it also reduces odours and helps to maintain a humidity level in the compartment to avoid condensation. The manual suggests the active part of the filter needs reconditioning every six months to maintain its effectiveness. This is achieved by a quick dust-off with a vacuum cleaner and then an hour in the oven at 80℃.

Got all that? Right, well the bottom half of the Day 1 Ultima is a freezer. This large-capacity compartment has four drawers and promises stable temperatures thanks to the aforementioned inverter motor and precision cooling.

These credentials are further enhanced by a shallow top tray that hangs in the deep lower drawer. Easily removed, could this be the ideal place for summer Magnums? You bet.

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Hotpoint Day 1 Ultima XUL85 T3U WOJH – Capacity and Layout

At nearly 1.9m tall, the Day 1 Ultima is a tall fridge-freezer, with its internal storage capacity further bolstered by the use of high-tech thin-wall insulation. The result is a model split neatly in half, with two identically sized doors and a 70/30 fridge-freezer split in internal volume.

The fridge weighs in with a serious 204 litres of total cooling space spread across the two drawers, three shelves, three door pockets and a chrome hanging bottle rack. We expect the bottle rack might be the first item to get evicted when space is tight. The furniture lineup is completed by three door pockets, the lowest of which is truly vast and comes with a wavy divider.

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Sadly, it’s these internal fridge fixtures and fittings that really let the Hotpoint Day 1 down. The shelves have limited flexibility in terms of where you can put them and are crying out for a split function to provide a little more tall-item storage.

Despite the high-tech feature count on both drawers, they rate as perhaps the worst fridge drawers for ease of use that we’ve ever tested. Even empty you have to shuffle, jiggle and wrestle them in and out. Fully loaded they all but stick fast and need a huge tug to move. Pulling them out completely requires the manual dexterity of an octopus, and you’re highly likely to evict some of the contents in the process.

The lower door pocket is an even worse design. It’s far too deep front to back to hold any regular carton, bottle or milk bottle in place, and the central divider is too low to add any stability at all. Every time we opened the door with any enthusiasm all the bottles simply fell over or even leapt out of this door pocket completely.

It’s like the designer had heard that large door pockets were good and went mad with the dimensions without thinking it through.

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The ergonomics are no less challenging down in the 124-litre freezer compartment. The top drawer barely pulls out half its depth before stopping, making access to anything in its recesses nearly impossible. The lower three drawers are only marginally better for access, but all require a serious tug to move. Fully loaded, they resist most attempts at opening or closing, and removing them altogether is just a headache.

How you can design a fridge-freezer with such amazing cutting-edge technology and then get the basic ergonomics so very wrong is a complete mystery. The Day 1 Ultima wants badly for proper rollers on the drawers, split-and-fold shelves, and sensible door pockets. As it is, it feels cheap and nasty.

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Hotpoint Day 1 Ultima XUL85 T3U WOJH – How noisy is it?

Linear compressor motors are key to getting fridge-freezer noise levels down to below the magic 40dB sound level. Hotpoint’s claim of 37dB – the sort of noise levels we’re used to seeing in premium fridge-freezers costing well over £1,000 – proved to be a little ambitious.

This model emits a very quiet 39dB on average. While it does tickle 40dB occasionally, that’s very quiet indeed and better than the ambient noise in a very quiet library. If there’s anything but silence in the kitchen then you’re unlikely to hear the Day 1 Ultima in action. For a fridge-freezer under £600, that’s a very good result.

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Hotpoint Ultima Day 1 XUL85 T3U WOJH – Performance

We loaded the Day 1 Ultima fridge with 0.5kg of mixed fresh food per 10 litres of fridge capacity. We loaded the freezer at 1kg per 10 litres of space, including 2 litres of room-temperature water acting as our temperature-measured sample food.

We initially set the fridge to 4℃ and the freezer to -18℃. Adjustments are individual for both compartments, but are in jumps of two degrees. We measured the temperature on every shelf for a week, opening the door six times per day to simulate average use.

The results for the Day 1 Ultima are complex, but generally very good. A multi-stage compressor cycle makes for complicated analysis, since its effect is markedly different on fridge and freezer performance at different stages of the cycle. Freezer results are easiest to summarise – they were excellent.

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While it took a lengthy 20 hours for our 2-litre water sample to hit -18℃, once it had reached temperature it stayed put at 19℃ – give or take about half a degree.

All four drawers were very stable, varying between -17 and -21℃ throughout – that’s pretty much the ideal result. For speedier freezing of bulk fresh food it would certainly be best to engage the Day 1’s Super Freeze mode, however.

On the three-hour fail test the Hotpoint’s high-tech insulation also proved its worth, with our food sample gaining just 5℃. This would give a frozen food safety limit of more than 16 hours without power, which is exceptionally good.

A very short 25-minute compressor cycle in the fridge keeps the average mean temperature on each shelf and drawer pretty consistent. However, they were all a little higher than ideal – just over 6℃ for the shelves and 2-3℃ for the lower 3-in-1 drawer.

We nudged the thermostat down to its 2℃ setting and took some more measurements. This time the numbers came in very close to perfect. The top shelf averaged 5.5℃, the mid-shelf and upper drawer just over 4℃, and the lower drawer 1.5℃. Great.

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However, the forced-air cooling does have quite a marked effect on the way the temperature bounces around during the compressor cycle, depending on where your food is placed in the fridge. The upper salad drawer was superbly stable at just +/- 0.3℃, which is spot on for keeping your fruit and veg in tip-top condition. Likewise, the lower drawer varied between just below zero and just over 2℃, which is almost perfect for keeping meat and fish. The open shelves had a bit more of a varied run.

The top shelf showed +/- just 1℃ – an unusually good result for this area, which traditionally has the greatest variance in temperature. But the mid- and lower-shelf areas take a direct hit from the cooling blast of air.

Having crept up to over 5℃ before the compressor restarts, the temperature crashes down to around 1℃ before the air stabilises back near the average temperature. This quick-chilling blast isn’t a huge problem as long as you don’t store delicate fruit on these shelves, since this sort of chill could cause flesh damage and early decay.

A complex and generally very good set of technical test results show the Day 1 Ultima to be an accomplished performer. As long as you set the fridge to 2℃ (as opposed to 4℃) and avoid putting fresh fruits and veg on its mid-shelves, this fridge-freezer will indeed keep your food fresh for the longest possible time.
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Hotpoint Day 1 Ultima XUL85 T3U WOJH – Running Costs

More than justifying Hotpoint’s A+++ credentials, the Day 1 Ultima is incredibly energy efficient. Opening the door a few times per day and in a stable 18℃ room temperature, this model sips less than 0.5kWh of juice daily. That’s with the fridge set to 2℃ rather than the 4℃ to which most people might default.

Extrapolating that out over a year’s usage, we calculate that this machine would use around 184kWh per year. That agrees almost exactly with Hotpoint’s quoted figure of 186kWh per annum and is extremely good. It comfortably exceeds A+++ energy efficiency for its capacity, and ensures one of the lowest running costs per litre of cooling space on the market.

Like all fridge-freezers, running costs will rise in hot kitchens or with big families, where the doors are opened more frequently. However, there’s no denying the Day 1 Ultima’s extremely low running costs. At an average UK electricity price of 15p/kWh, that’s less than £28 per year for over 300 litres of combined chilling and freezing capacity. Excellent!

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Should I buy the Hotpoint Day 1 Ultima XUL85 T3U WOJH?

Hotpoint’s Day 1 Ultima is something of an enigma. Brilliant features and excellent technical performance are completely at odds with the cheap and poorly designed interior furniture.

For its cooling performance and superb energy efficiency alone, this big-capacity fridge-freezer more than justifies its price, and the freshness features make it a real performance bargain.

However, the awkward drawers, limited storage flexibility, poor build quality and ludicrously impractical lower door pocket let the overall package down.  

Verdict

A superb-performing, energy-efficient fridge-freezer that’s let down by poorly designed interior furniture.

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