MPV buying guide

MPV Buying Guide

MPV buying guide
All you need to know before buying an MPV

MPVs are among the most practical cars on the market and are designed with families in mind. MPV stands for ‘multi purpose vehicle’ and they are popular for their family friendly features. If you are new to the MPV market and buying your first MPV, this guide contains practical MPV buying tips that will come in useful when you’re browsing the brochures and cruising the showrooms.

1) Number of seats

Some compact MPVs are sold with just five seats, but larger ones may have seven. Seven seaters usually work by having five seats permanently in place with two fold away seats in the very back. For very large families, an eight seater might be the only MPV that will do, and there are some of these on the market, though they tend to be derived from vans so you lose some of the car-like driving character of a smaller MPV. Some MPVs squeeze in seven seats within a reasonable small footprint but the extra seats may only be suitable for children. There are larger seven seaters on the market that will be more suitable for carrying adults regularly.

2) Size

The larger the MPV, the more cumbersome it’s going to be to drive in tight situations like through town and around car parks, which if you’re a parent you’re likely going to spend a lot of time doing, so think hard about much space and how many seats you really need. On larger MPVs, it’s worth checking the spec to see if equipment like parking sensors, reversing cameras and even autonomous parking systems are included, and if not it makes a lot of sense to add these as options if the budget allows.

MPV Buying Guide
Buying an MPV? Think about how many seats you need and what convenience features you should opt for

3) Flexibility

Check the seats for flexibility. Some MPVs feature seats in row 2 that can slide forward or back, and also recline. See how easy it is to fold the seats down and if they will fold down flat. Some MPVs even have a front passenger seat that can fold completely flat!

4) Access

Check how easy it is to get in and out of the MPV. MPVs naturally sit a bit higher than a standard hatchback but some may have additional features to make getting in and out easier. For example, there are a few MPVs on the market with sliding doors and though they don’t look very dynamic or sexy on a car, they are extremely practical for getting children and car seats in and out, especially in car parks where space is limited. If there are three rows of seats, check how easy is it to get into row 3.

5) Storage

MPVs generally have lots of cubby holes but check to see if they are all in logical places and if they are genuinely useful.

6) Convenience features

Some MPVs will have pull down picnic tables on the back of the front seats but these may be optional on some or limited to higher trims. The children might appreciate 12-volt power sockets and USB sockets to plug in their devices – some MPVs will have these, some won’t. It’s important that the driver is happy too so if you do a lot of driving think about features like cruise control and even an automatic gearbox that will make sitting in traffic on the school run less draining. Other features worth considering: pull down blinds on the rear windows, electric windows, a panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, and climate control (some cars will have separate controls for rear passengers).

6) Child seats and Isofix fixtures

Some MPVs will have three individual seats in the middle row. The number of Isofix child seat fixtures can vary from car to car. Bring the children and child seats to the dealer and see if everyone will fit comfortably before you buy!

7) Boot space

This is so important in a family car so check out the boot for yourself and bring the buggies and other paraphernalia you regularly carry to see if the shape and size will work for you. Some of the more compact seven seaters will be severely compromised on boot space when the two extra seats are in place, but in a five seat configuration they will have huge boots that can be easily stacked to the roof. Some larger seven seaters will be less impacted in this regard and may be more suitable if your regularly carry seven people.

MPV Buying Guide
Buying an MPV? Better check that boot is big enough

8) Safety

Check that the car has a full complement of airbags and check the Euro NCAP safety rating. Other safety equipment like driver fatigue alert, city emergency brake, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor and forward collision alert may be standard or optional on some models.

9) Engine power and driving fun

Bring the car for a test drive and see how it performs on the road. Is there adequate power? Consider how the car might perform with a full family onboard and their luggage. And yes you can have fun driving an MPV. Some are better than others so take a proper test drive and see does the car adapt well to your driving style.

10) Economy

Check the running costs for the vehicle, specifically the miles per gallon and annual motor tax.

Browse some MPV reviews here.

Caroline Kidd


Kia Sportage Ireland Review

Kia Sportage Review

Kia Sportage Ireland Review
The new Kia Sportage

The new Kia Sportage landed in Ireland earlier in 2016. This is the fourth generation of the popular compact SUV and Kia are hoping to build on the success of the outgoing model with improvements in efficiency, performance, refinement and drivability.

Kia did make real progress with this car’s predecessor, the third generation that is a common sight on Irish roads and has made the Sportage a household name in the burgeoning and fashionable compact SUV segment.

This is a brand with real prominence now in Ireland, one of the top ten selling carmakers here, and the Sportage has been a key driver in that growth with over 11,000 sold here to date.

With a strong new exterior design, which manages to both retain a classic Sportage profile but add much more definition and character, the new model certainly does look the part. There is a genuine rugged 4x4 look to the Sportage and it also has the height to indicate the same.

Of course to any petrolhead, the grille and front-end styling is strikingly similar to the Porsche Macan, which I think is a wondrous thing. Kia has pulled off the best bit of copycat styling since Ford started digging an Aston Martin grille.

Kia Sportage review Ireland
The new face of the Kia Sportage with Kia's now trademark 'tiger-nose' grille

Inside you can see the effort that has been made to inject the same sort of contemporary style into the cabin. It’s a mixture of black plastics, metalwork and stitched leather for a tactile finish. The design is simple and modern, and a 7” touchscreen infotainment and navigation system is standard on EX and above.

The Sportage is a five seater but increased exterior and interior dimensions mean that the new car is roomier than before. Rear legroom is generous and even the middle seat passenger can sit quite comfortably without feeling too cramped from either side. Cargo space has also grown from 465 litres to 503 litres and the sill is flat so it’s easy to slide large items in and out of the boot.

Diesels start at €27,995 in LX spec and standard equipment is good including 16” alloy wheels, front fog lights, roof rails, electric windows and mirrors, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, cruise control, and air con. EX models (from €29,995) add 17” alloys, touchscreen, sat nav, reversing camera, driver’s power seat, half leather upholstery, high beam assist and lane keep assist. The top of the range GSE (from €34,495) adds 19” alloys, sunroof, full leather, heated seats, power passenger seat, smart key and xenon lights.

Kia Sportage Ireland Review
A stylish new interior for the Kia Sportage with improved quality

A 1.7-litre diesel is available for front wheel drive models and a 2.0-litre diesel for all wheel drive. The 1.7-litre engine has been reworked to improve efficiency and the new car also happens to have a more aerodynamic design. With the addition of Idle Stop and Go technology, emissions have been reduced and motor tax is now at a low of €200 per year.

Soundproofing has been bolstered to improve in-car refinement and on the motorway the new Sportage is impressively quiet. The 1.7-litre diesel is a bit gruff stopping and starting around town and under hard acceleration, but it is not annoyingly harsh and I found its 115hp adequate power for the car. Despite the Sportage’s imposing presence, the gearing and light steering mean it’s a pleasant SUV to drive around town and suburbia. Updates have been made to the suspension to keep the car tighter through corners and while there is lean if you push it hard, there is loads of grip and it never feels too flaccid. The engineers have definitely had a go at the idea of driver feedback when tuning the steering too. It’s reasonably effective – the steering does weight up on the twisty stuff but does feel a little bit forced and artificial at times. There is some harshness over rough/uneven surfaces, but comfort levels are generally good.

In a market where there are many slightly elevated hatchbacks masquerading as off-roaders, Kia can be commended for managing to pull off the authentic SUV feeling in the Sportage, but at a price and with a level of standard kit that makes this car a great choice if you want ‘bang for your buck’. And that’s before I’ve even written the words 'seven year warranty'. You can see why the Sportage to date has made such an impact on the Irish market. The new 2016 model only improves again what its predecessor started with a more spacious and better finished cabin, and improvements to economy and refinement. And it’s not bad-looking either, is it?

Kia Sportage Ireland Review
Kia Sportage is a comfortable five seater that's well equipped and has the kerb appeal to mix with the big guys

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Kia Sportage 1.7D EX SR
Price: 
€31,095
Engine: 
1.7-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115hp
0-100km/h:
11.5 seconds
Economy:
61mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
119g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year


Volvo S90 Ireland

Volvo S90 Pricing And Specs For Ireland

Volvo S90 Ireland
The new Volvo S90

The new Volvo S90 saloon has arrived in Ireland, priced from €48,400.

At launch, there is a choice of two 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engines – a fuel-efficient D4 and a more powerful D5 PowerPulse. Two trim levels are offered here, Momentum and Inscription.

The entry level D4 engine has 190hp and comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This car uses a conventional front wheel drive layout. The claimed economy is 64.2 mpg and CO2 emissions are 116 g/km meaning the car qualifies for motor tax of €200 per year.

The 235hp D5 uses ‘PowerPulse’ technology to boost responsiveness. These models come in all wheel drive to put the power to the road in the smoothest way possible. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is also standard.

Entry level Momentum cars come with leather upholstery, LED headlights, two-zone climate control with ‘CleanZone’ air-filtration system, automatically dimming mirrors and Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. This brings a 9” touchscreen, satellite navigation (including lifetime annual map updates), a voice-control system, and access to the Internet and a range of cloud-based apps such as TuneIn, Stitcher and Yelp.

City Safety and Pilot Assist, Volvo’s semi-autonomous drive feature, are also standard on the S90. Pilot Assist automatically keeps you at a set speed or distance from the vehicle in front, braking and accelerating with the flow of traffic, and gives gentle steering inputs to keep the car within lane markings at motorway speeds up to 130kph.

Inscription trim adds Nappa soft leather upholstery, electric front seats, rear footwell and side step illumination, a 12.3” active TFT driver’s information display (Momentum cars get an 8” version), and 18” diamond-cut/silver alloy wheels. Styling updates include walnut interior inlays and chrome exterior details.

The optional Xenium package is available across the range and adds an electric tilt and slide glass sunroof, a parking camera system with 360o surround view, and Park Assist Pilot, which includes automatic parallel and 90o parking and blind spot information system, including cross traffic alert.

Apple CarPlay is another option and allows you to access certain functions of your Apple device and CarPlay-optimised apps directly via the car’s touchscreen, voice control system or the buttons on the steering wheel. Also available is the Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system, with 18 speakers and an output of 1,400W.

The D4 Momentum comes in at €48,400, while the higher specced D4 Inscription comes in at €52,900. The D5 with all wheel drive starts at €56,400 in Momentum trim, and at €60,400 in Inscription.

The new Volvo S90 is available from dealers now.

Caroline Kidd


fiat 500 Collection ireland

Limited Edition FIAT 500 Collection Goes On Sale

fiat 500 Collection ireland
New Fiat 500 Collection models in white and red

FIAT Ireland has launched the new FIAT 500 Collection - two new special editions of the iconic city car, one red and one white.

Based on the new FIAT 500 Lounge, the Collection features a number of styling and equipment enhancements for just €150 more than the FIAT 500 Lounge on which it's based.

They will also be very exclusive, with a limited run of just 24 specimens coming to Ireland!

The FIAT 500 Collection is available in white or red with contrasting detailing. White models have a red dashboard, red key cover and a chrome-finished gear shifter, as well as red mirror caps, red side mouldings, larger 16-inch alloy wheels with centre caps with red detailing. For red cars, these details are all offered in contrasting white.

Power comes from the popular 69hp, 1.2-litre petrol engine.

Standard equipment includes seven airbags, remote central locking, electric front windows and mirrors, touchscreen Uconnect infotainment system with Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, panoramic, fixed glass sunroof, rear parking sensors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, front fog lights, and chrome styling kit.

Priced at €16,250, FIAT claim that this special edition is equipped with up to €725 worth of additional equipment for just €150 more than the Lounge model on which it’s based.

Caroline Kidd

fiat 500 Collection ireland
Interior of new FIAT 500 Collection

Ford S-MAX car review ireland

Ford S-MAX MPV Review

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
The new Ford S-MAX

The Ford S-MAX has always been a popular choice with families in Ireland looking for a large family car, and even with the rise of the SUV, there’s still demand for a good, honest MPV, especially if it has seven seats.

The new S-MAX also does a good job of looking sleek and dynamic despite its hulking mass, and is a ‘good-looking bus’ which can’t be said for some boxy looking rivals. The current model arrived in 2015 and the styling is quite a gentle evolution of its predecessor, Ford’s new trapezoidal grille being the most striking change. All round it looks a bit more chiselled and defined.

The S-MAX is based on the Mondeo and the design and finish of the cabin is very similar. Ford has had a good shot of pushing the new S-MAX upmarket and it all looks pleasing to the eye and the material quality is good. In Titanium models, the dash is built around the Sync 2 infotainment system and touchscreen, which looks very well indeed.

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
Interior of the new Ford S-MAX borrows heavily from the Mondeo

There are three individual seats in row 2, all three with Isofix child seat fixtures, and these passengers get loads of legroom and headroom. The S-MAX has seven seats as standard, but is really what is known as a ‘5+2’: the two seats in the very back are for children rather than adults as the legroom is tight, though the seats in row 2 can be slid forward to create more room. The extra seats can fold into the floor when not in use and yield a large boot that can be easily stacked to the roof. With row 3 seats in place, boot space is impacted but there is still room for a few bags.

There are two trim levels for the S-MAX on the Irish market: Zetec and Titanium. Zetec models come well-equipped including 17” alloy wheels, fog lights, daytime running lights, quickclear windscreen, Ford Sync, front and rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel, dual zone air con and keyless start. Titanium trim adds Ford Sync 2 infotainment and touchscreen, LED daytime running lights, chrome door line finisher, auto lights and wipers, auto high beam, ambient lighting, lane keeping aid, and traffic sign recognition incorporating an Intelligent Speed Limiter. A useful option is the handsfree-tailgate, that allows the boot to be opened or closed using a kicking motion beneath the rear bumper.

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
The new Ford S-MAX shows why it's still a mighty titan in the seven seat MPV segment

Power for the range comes from a 2.0-litre diesel with 120PS, 150PS, 180PS or 210PS, and a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine (160PS). There are a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, and an all-wheel drive option.  The petrol S-MAX is available in Titanium only and has a list price of €38,835, while the diesels start at €35,860.

Sitting on the same platform as the very enjoyable Mondeo, the omens are good for the S-MAX. On the road, the S-MAX really does impress and even on a tight country road, the car feels good with direct, accurate steering that communicates the grip from the front wheels so well. And remarkably for such a large car,  body roll is not too alarming either and it feels quite taut and composed on the tight stuff, yet comfortable enough for the rough and tumble of Irish roads.

My test car had the 2.0-litre diesel with 180PS and it does a really good job of lugging the considerable weight of the S-MAX around. You can hear a bit of a diesel gurgle under acceleration but it never gets too raucous in the cabin and in this guise it's reasonably economical too returning up to 56mpg.

The new Ford S-MAX hasn't undergone any drastic changes but then it probably didn't really need them, being a tried and tested Irish family bus for many years now. But the enhancements in the styling, the cabin, and the update of tech and equipment will ensure it stays a competitive choice in the 7-seat MPV market. The S-MAX is still a mighty titan in this segment and now feels more upmarket than before, and while the average suburban parent may never fully exploit the handling, the S-MAX retains the competent driving character that marks out the best in the segment.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Ford S-MAX 2.0-litre TDCi Titanium
Price: 
€43,935 (Range starts at €35,860)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
180PS
0-100km/h:
9.7 seconds
Economy:
56mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
129g/km
Motor Tax: 
B1 (€270 per year)


Ford Edge Ireland

Irish Launch For New Ford Edge

Ford Edge Ireland
The new Ford Edge

Ford’s new large SUV, the Edge, has arrived in Ireland. The Ford Edge will sit alongside the Kuga and EcoSport in Ford’s SUV line-up.

With pricing starting at €55,700, the new Edge is positioned towards the premium end of the large SUV segment and comes with a high specification as standard and Ford’s ‘Intelligent All Wheel Drive’ for optimised traction in slippery conditions.

Two trim levels will be sold here, Titanium and Sport, with standard equipment including 19” alloys, front and rear parking sensors, handsfree power tailgate, keyfree system, Ford DAB navigation system, Active Noise Cancellation, rear view camera and illuminated scuff plates.

Sport trim equipment includes 20” alloys, Adaptive Steering system, SONY DAB navigation system with 12 speakers, unique front, rear and side sports body styling with dark exterior detailing, and alloy pedals.

The Edge is offered with a choice of two 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engines, one with 180PS or a Bi-turbo version with 210PS. Both versions deliver up to 48.7 mpg and emissions are rated at 149 g/km COfor Titanium models,  and 152g for Sport.

2.0-litre TDCi 180 PS models are equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox and come in at €55,700 in Titanium trim or at €57,450 in Sport trim. 210 PS models come with a six-speed PowerShift automatic and start at €60,350 for Titanium and €62,100 for Sport.

Ford Edge Ireland
The interior of the new Ford Edge

The new flagship SUV features a host of technologies including Active Noise Control (works like noise-cancelling headphones to counteract unwanted noises in the cabin), Pre Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection (can apply the brakes to avoid collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians), Ford Adaptive Steering (automatically adjusts the steering ratio according to speed to optimise manoeuvrability and precision), Front Wide View Camera (technology that can see around corners even when drivers cannot),  and a number of parking aids.

The new Ford Edge is available from Ford’s Irish dealer network now.

Caroline Kidd


kia niro ireland

Kia Niro Hybrid Crossover On The Way To Ireland

kia niro ireland
The new Kia Niro

The Kia Niro hybrid crossover is coming to Ireland this October. The car will be priced from €30,495 (excluding the current €1500 VRT relief for hybrid vehicles).

The Niro is about offering buyers the practicality and kerb appeal of a spacious crossover, but with the fuel efficiency of a hybrid powertrain. Smaller than the Kia Sportage, but occupying a larger footprint than the Cee’d hatchback, the Kia Niro occupies a new space within the brand’s model line-up in terms of its size.  The Niro will be a five seater, with 427 litres of boot space that can extend to 1,425 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The hybrid powertrain is made up of a 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine, lithium-ion polymer battery pack and 32 kW electric motor producing 141PS and put to the road via a six-speed double-clutch automatic transmission. CO2 emissions are just 88g/km CO2 and the Niro’s fuel economy is rated at 3.8 litres per 100 km.

Standard equipment for Ireland will include Sat Nav with Android Auto (Apple Car Play to follow), full leather heated seats, dual zone aircon, Lane Keep Assist, LED front and rear lights, privacy glass and rain sensing wipers.

Caroline Kidd


mazda3 review ireland

Mazda3 GT 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-D Review

mazda3 review ireland
The Mazda3

The current Mazda3 has been on sale in Ireland since 2014 but has new pep in its step with the addition of a 1.5-litre diesel to the range.

Mazda3 was first launched with a 1.5-litre (100PS) petrol engine and a 2.2-litre (150PS) diesel engine, but the new engine (already seen in CX-3 and Mazda2) is now the most efficient in the range. It will also likely be more pleasing to Irish buyers who tend to feel more comfortable with a smaller capacity engine.

It’s efficient for sure. Mazda say the engine will return up to 74.3mpg with emissions of just 99g CO2, and the car proved frugal during my test drive. But thankfully the Mazda3 is no bore, and the 105PS engine has enough zip to exploit the Mazda’s excellent handling.  This car feels light and agile on the road, aided by a sweet shifting 6 speed manual gearbox and well-judged steering that means that corners can be taken on in one fluid motion that is extremely satisfying to the driver. While there is road noise at high speeds and the whisper of diesel gurgle when hopping on the accelerator, the Mazda3 never feels anything less than a smooth and sophisticated car.

The interior is mature but stylish and easy navigable, and the Mazda ‘MZD Connect’ infotainment system with touchscreen and rotary controller operates like something lifted from a more expensive car.

mazda3 review ireland
The Mazda3 has a stylish interior that is extremely well-finished

The Mazda3 will seat five and rear space is competitive for the class. The boot is 364 litres, which is a little off the very best in the class. And while there is a great bottle shaped space in all four doors, I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t conventional door pockets!

Yet door pockets or no door pockets, I couldn’t help but be hooked by the Mazda3. It’s a stylish presence in this segment and without the ubiquity of say the Golf, Megane, Astra, Focus, it feels more exclusive. The entry price into the range is a bit higher than some key rivals with prices for petrol models starting at €22,995, and diesels at €24,695, though standard specification is good including 16” alloy wheels, leather wrapped steering wheel, electrically adjustable and folding door mirrors, air con, keyless start, front and rear electric windows, Bluetooth, 7” colour touchscreen and multimedia system and hill hold assist.

Executive SE (from €26,195) adds the likes of front fog lights, auto lights and wipers, bi xenon headlights, LED rear lights, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass, dual zone climate control and cruise control. The GT model on test (from €27,395) had an updated interior with silver dashboard decoration panel, 18” alloys, head-up display, reversing camera, heated front seats and keyless entry.

mazda3 ireland review
The Mazda3 is a car that resonates with head and heart

The addition of the new 1.5-litre diesel to the range means that the Mazda3 can square up nicely to rivals in terms of engine size and despite being a really efficient unit, the Mazda3 is no bore.

However the Mazda3 is a car that really appeals for its grown-up good looks and stylish interior. Hatchback buyers are spoilt for choice but this one really does resonate with the head and the heart.

Model Tested: Mazda3 1.5 SKYACTIV-D GT
Price: 
€30,290 (Range starts €22,995)
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
105PS
0-100km/h:
11 seconds
Economy:
74.3mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
99g/km
Motor Tax: 
€180 per year

Caroline Kidd


subaru levorg ireland

Subaru Levorg Arrives In Ireland

subaru levorg ireland
The Subaru Levorg

The all-new Subaru Levorg will have a list price in Ireland of €44,995.

The new Levorg is dubbed a “sport tourer” and is the natural successor to the Subaru Legacy Tourer.

The car will be available in a single GT trim with a high level of specification and Subaru’s iconic All-Wheel Drive (AWD) as standard. There is just one engine available for new Levorg, a new 1.6-litre Boxer turbo petrol engine producing 170PS and 250Nm torque. Using a CVT automatic gearbox, the Levorg will hit 100kmh from a standstill in 8.9 seconds, while returning fuel consumption of 7.1 litres/100km (almost 40mpg). Emissions of 164g CO2 put the Levorg in tax band D with annual motor tax of €570.

The Levorg is smaller on the outside when compared to the last Legacy Tourer, however Subaru say it’s even more spacious and practical. The boot has a capacity of 522 litres, expanding to 1,446 litres with the second row of seats folded down.

subaru levorg ireland
Interior of new Subaru Levorg

Standard equipment includes leather-trimmed sports seats with blue stitching, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment, connectivity and navigation system, LED headlamps, auto lights and wipers, front and rear fog lamps, metallic paint, 18-inch dark grey alloy wheels, privacy glass and roof spoiler, keyless access and push-button start, bespoke leather heated sports seats in the front, 60/40 split-folding and reclining rear seats, two 12-volt power outlets, four USB ports (two in the front, two in the rear), dual-zone air-conditioning and rear parking camera.

Levorg is equipped as standard with safety technology including Blind Spot Detection (alerts drivers to cars sitting in their blind spot), Lane Change Assist (warns drivers of fast-approaching vehicles behind when the driver indicates to change lane), and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (detects vehicles passing behind when reversing out of a parking space). The car also features SI Drive (Subaru Intelligent Drive) which allows the driver, via a button on the steering wheel, to choose either Intelligent mode or Sport mode.

For better handling, the Levorg has Active Torque Vectoring (ATV), which effectively brakes the inside wheels under cornering and apportions greater torque to the outside of the car, reducing understeer and oversteer to allow a more predictable and controlled course through corners.

The all-new Subaru Levorg goes on sale in Ireland this month.

Caroline Kidd


tips for good car photography

12 Simple Tips For Good Car Photography

tips for good car photography
Taking car photos from above can work really well, like this shot of the Peugeot 308 GTi

I try where possible to use original car photography to accompany my car reviews on Changing Lanes. I’m not a professional photographer, more a snap happy Instragrammer. But I have a learnt a few things about taking a good car photo, mainly by making a lot of mistakes.

Here are my car photography tips for producing something half decent!

1. Turn the front wheel of the car that’s facing the camera in, not out! I used to do this so bad until one day I copped it.

2. Natural light is your friend but bright sunlight is an actual beast to work with as an amateur stuck on auto. Dull, overcast days make things a lot easier and we get a lot of those in Ireland. Soft light at daybreak and sunset is very flattering to the amateur photographer, but depending on time of year, you may have a very, very early start to get the best morning light.

3. Be aware of shadows, especially in sunlight. They look awful in photos if they’re facing the camera. I found this out after a lot of failed shoots too.

4. If you are shooting in bright sunlight, make sure the sun is behind your shoulder, not the car’s, because it just wreaks havoc with the shot. Don’t ask me why, it just does.

Honda Jazz Review Ireland
Car photography tips: See that tree sprouting from the Honda Jazz? Yeah, try to avoid doing this.

5. Move the car around in the one location and try different angles. Some will work, some won’t, but it helps you to learn.

6. Watch out for reflections in the side of the car. Think about this when choosing your location. Flat open space is best.

7. Check the ground around the car in the shot. Is there any rubbish around the car? It looks awful afterwards and sometimes if you’re focusing so much on getting the car right in the shot you won’t see it until you're home on your computer.

8. Check the backdrop. If there are trees or poles, make sure that they are not in an awkward position. A pole sprouting from the car's roofline never looks good. I’ve made this mistake so many times and I still do it from time to time.

9. Play with different angles but taking the photo from low down tends to work well. Be prepared to get down and dirty to get the perfect shot! From above is also cool, if your location will allow it, but make your safety number one!

10. You don’t have to always centre the car in the shot. You can produce more interesting photos by placing the car off centre or including more background in the shot.

Mazda2 Irish review
Car photography tips: Choose an interesting location and take shot from below eye level, like my photo of the Mazda2

11. Bring cleaning equipment. There is nothing as bad as a dirty car in photos. Why would you bother?

12. Scout around for different locations but mountains, sea, beaches, water, empty roads, forests, fields, castles and stately homes tend to work well for beginners!

Caroline Kidd

opel adam S review ireland
Stay safe out on location: I sat on a thistle to get this shot of the Opel Adam S, but I think it was worth it!