Caroline Kidd testing the Ford Mustang in France

2018 Ford Mustang V8 International First Drive Review

Caroline Kidd testing the Ford Mustang in France
Caroline testing the Ford Mustang in France

The Ford Mustang arrived in Europe for the first time at the end of 2015, along with the first right hand drive models ever for the UK and Ireland. Now less than three years later, Ford has revised the Ford Mustang V8 and 2.3-litre range, with significant changes to the styling, trims, engines, technology and equipment. I travelled to Nice, France, to find out what’s new for the Ford Mustang V8 in 2018.

Styling

The 2018 Ford Mustang has been subtly restyled for a sleeker appearance and is more aerodynamic than before. The bonnet has been lowered a fraction and there are now integrated air vents which look really cool. The Mustang’s headlights, daytime running lights, indicators and tri-bar tail lights now all feature LED technology as standard, with LED foglights also available.  The lower front grille has been redesigned and at the back there is a re-modelled bumper and diffuser. The 5.0-litre V8 has standard quad-tailpipes while the 2.3-litre EcoBoost has twin tailpipes. There’s also a new optional boot spoiler. There are now eleven colours to choose from including three new colours: Kona Blue, Orange Fury and Royal Crimson. Racing stripes in white or black can now be added. There are new 19-inch forged alloy wheels offered in multiple finishes including Nickel, Ebony Black and Polished Aluminium.

Interior

They have been a few new additions to the interior. The most impressive is the customisable, 12-inch digital information cluster. New trims improve the quality around the cabin, though the Mustang is still very much the ‘working class hero’ compared to plush coupés from BMW, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. A Carbon Sport interior package is also available across the Mustang range, including suede-effect Alcantara door and seat inserts, plus a carbon fibre instrument panel surround and gear knob. There are optional leather Recaro racing seats available in red, blue or black.

2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé
The interior of the 2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé

Practicality

As before the Ford Mustang is available as a fastback (coupé) or convertible with a folding fabric roof. Interior space is the same with comfortable accommodation up front and just enough room for two adults in the back. The boot can also accommodate a couple of small suitcases. A fantastic car for a road trip for two!

Engines

Ford has made some changes to the Mustang V8 to deliver more power and a higher rev-limit. Power is up to 450hp and there’s 529Nm of torque. The engine has a new dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection system, which also increases low-end torque. Fuel economy is still no better than 23mpg and the ‘greenest’ model has CO2 emissions of 270g/km! But no one ever bought a V8 for economy. While on the road, the Ford Mustang V8 never feels exceptionally fast (though all models will hit 100kmh in under five seconds), but nothing can prepare you for the visceral growl of a real V8.

Power is now a little down in the 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine to 290hp, but there’s still 440Nm of torque available. This is the more fuel-efficient Mustang but you will unlikely see over 30mpg. CO2 emissions for the Mustang EcoBoost are no better than 199g/km. The engine has a transient overboost function for the turbocharger – triggered under heavy acceleration to provide an extra burst of boost following each up-shift.

2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé
Ford has significantly revised the Mustang for the 2018 model year

On the road

For 2018, the Ford Mustang has a new 10-speed automatic gearbox, while there’s also a 6-speed manual gearbox. On the launch, both were driven with the V8. The automatic performs very well with quick, seamless shifts. There’s also steering wheel mounted paddles. Ford has now added rev-matching technology to the 6-speed manual transmission to deliver smoother, faster downshifts accompanied by a “blip” of the engine.

The Ford Mustang V8 is quite the beast to wrestle around the small twisty roads above Nice. But this time the Mustang feels more manageable and connected to the road than before. The on-road feel is one of greater refinement, sophistication and control. It’s mighty fun to thread that big nose through a series of corners, while the rumble of the V8 provides a menacing soundtrack to your endeavours.

Some of the things Ford has done to improve the car’s dynamic appeal is add a larger front splitter that increases downforce to help keep the front end planted to the ground for greater stability. Rocker shields to the rear of the front wheel arches improve air flow beneath the Mustang, reducing drag by up to 3%. There are also recalibrated shock absorbers to improve stability through corners, and the rear suspension is stiffened with a cross-axis joint to reduce unwanted movement. Thicker anti-roll bars also help the Mustang resist body roll better in sharper turns.

The cars we drove at the launch also had optional MagneRide adjustable suspension and selectable Drive Modes, including a new customisable My Mode option. The MagneRide Damping System electronically controls higher or lower damping resistance, depending on the driving conditions.

There’s also a new Active Valve Performance Exhaust which allows you to adjust the intensity of the Mustang’s exhaust note, including a ‘Good Neighbour Mode’ which can be programmed for quiet morning start-ups!

2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé
Irish buyers will have to wait until December 2018 for the revised Ford Mustang to arrive here

Equipment

The Mustang’s poor 2-star Euro NCAP rating has been addressed with new safety equipment including Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Aid, Adaptive Cruise Control and Distance Alert.

Ford’s SYNC 3 8” infotainment system features in new Mustang and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto™.

There are also performance car treats like Launch Control and Electronic Line Lock. The latter applies only the front brakes, allowing the driver to spin the rear wheels and warm the tyres while stationary. Line Lock is now also standard with the 2.3‑litre EcoBoost engine.

Two new Drive Modes have been added including Drag Strip Mode, which optimises performance for maximum acceleration standing starts, and My Mode, which enables drivers to select their own preferred settings for performance, dynamics and exhaust sound.

Pricing

Pricing for the new Ford Mustang V8 in Ireland will be announced closer to launch in December 2018. The current Mustang range starts at €55,500.

Verdict

Ford has taken this mid-life refresh as an opportunity to make considerable improvements to European-spec Mustangs. Aerodynamics and overall driving dynamics have been improved, and the Ford Mustang now feels more sophisticated and sporty on the road. Aesthetically, it’s still the classic, much-loved American sports coupé – just a little bit sleeker and safer. The technology and equipment upgrades are very welcome and the digital instrument cluster and some of the new trims really lift the cabin quality. The Ford Mustang V8 is far from posh (and it’s still a thirsty brute) but a spruce up does it the world of good.

Caroline Kidd

2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé
The 2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé now packs 450hp

Volvo XC60 wins World Car Of The Year 2018

Volvo XC60 Wins World Car of the Year 2018

The new Volvo XC60 midsize SUV has been named World Car of the Year 2018 at the New York Auto Show. It is the first World Car of the Year award for the brand.

The win comes after the Volvo XC40 small SUV was recently named European Car of the Year at the Geneva Motor Show.

“I am pleased to see our company’s product investments paying off,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. “We are up against some tough competition, but this award for the XC60 show that Volvo has the right combination of design, connectivity and safety that appeals to customers across the world.”

The finalists for this year's competition included the Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW X3, Kia Stinger, Land Rover Discovery, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Camry, Range Rover Velar, Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen T-Roc.


Audi RS 5 Sportback

Audi Sport Unveils The New Audi RS 5 Sportback

Audi Sport has unveiled the brand's latest high-performance model, the all-new Audi RS 5 Sportback.

The Audi RS 5 Sportback features a wide, flat single-frame grille, solid air intakes with a honeycomb structure typical of an RS, and a front spoiler with matte aluminium quattro lettering.

At the back there's an RS-specific diffuser insert and exhaust system with oval tailpipes and fixed spoiler lip.

Inside the five-door, high-performance coupé there are RS sport seats with optional honeycomb pattern in Nappa leather, and the flat-bottomed RS multifunction sports leather steering wheel.

The RS design package includes contrasting red stitching on the steering wheel and selector lever and red-trimmed seat belts and floor mats featuring the RS logo.

Special RS information displays in the Audi virtual cockpit provide information on tire pressure, torque and G forces.

Under the bonnet of the new Audi RS 5 Sportback there's a 2.9 TFSI V6 twin turbo engine with 444hp and maximum torque of 600Nm.

The two turbochargers of the 2.9 TFSI V6 twin turbo generate up to 1.5 bar of charge pressure, allowing for instant acceleration responses to the movements of the right pedal.

As with all new Audi V6 and V8 engines, the turbochargers are mounted at a 90-degree angle to the cylinder banks, which means that the exhaust side of the cylinder heads is inside, and the intake side is outside. This layout enables a compact design and short fuel paths with minimal flow loss. The B-cycle combustion process with central direct injection contributes to the overall efficiency.

There is no information yet on when this new model will reach Ireland.


BMW to sponsor Triathlon Ireland

BMW To Sponsor Triathlon Ireland

BMW Group Ireland has announced a major new partnership agreement with Triathlon Ireland that sees the brand become the sport’s main sponsor, as well as title sponsor of the BMW Triathlon National Series and the BMW Duathlon National Series.

The deal includes an investment of €1 million over the duration of the sponsorship, which will support the Organisation to make the Triathlon and Duathlon more accessible to people of all abilities and backgrounds in every part of the country.

Triathlon has one of the highest growth rates of any sport in Ireland and has one of the highest female participation rates in the country at 35%.

Per (head of) capita, Ireland has the fifth highest participation rate in Triathlon of any country in the world, while this year alone, more than 70,000 people will participate or watch a triathlon event on the island of Ireland.

2018 BMW Triathlon National Series

This summer, more than 10,000 people will compete in the BMW Triathlon National Series - a nationwide league of 17 races which take place around Ireland between May and September.

The vast majority of these people will be amateur participants: men, women and teenagers seeking to challenge themselves and achieve something extraordinary. Competitors need to compete in four races to qualify for a ranking in the BMW National Series with awards presented in five-year age groups. Within the National Series, women between the ages of 40 and 44 across the country are only competing against women of their same age. Last year the youngest competitor in the National Series was just 16 while the oldest raced in the men’s 70-74 years age group.

BMW Corporate Series

From 2019 BMW and Triathlon Ireland will launch a Corporate Series to encourage companies help their employees towards greater health and fitness.

This is in-line with the Governments National Physical Activity plan (2016) to promote workplace wellbeing.

Commenting on the sponsorship announcement Paulo Alves, Managing Director BMW Ireland Group said: “The partnership with Triathlon Ireland is a hugely exciting development for BMW in Ireland. At the core of our brand is a notion to make every second count, whether in a professional, personal or sporting sense so we are very excited to come on board and further support the development of the sport here in Ireland”.

Triathlon Ireland Chief Executive, Chris Kitchen believes BMW are a perfect match:  “We share common values and strive to provide perfection in our own fields. We will be working hard with BMW to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship develops and flourishes over the sponsorship's duration.”

Mr Kitchen continued: “Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland and has moved from a niche sport to a mainstream one with over 18,000 members and an ever increasing reach. The relationship with BMW will provide significant extra income to help us grow and accelerate the development of the sport further. Both organisations are ambitious and goal focussed and the injection of additional funds and the value in kind will help enable us to not only achieve but exceed the aspirations within our Strategic Plan.”

For more information about the BMW Triathlon and Duathlon National Series, please visit Triathlon Ireland.


The new Audi R8 Spyder V10

Win An Audi Brand Experience with Audi Ireland And Today FM

Audi Ireland and Today FM have teamed up to give away 15 places to an exclusive two-day Audi brand experience in Germany.

The 15 lucky winners, along with a guest of their choice, will fly to the global home of Audi in Ingolstadt, Germany on 28th and 29th June 2018. The exclusive prize will an opportunity to drive the Audi R8 V10 Plus and Audi S5, go off-roading in the Audi Q7 and receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Audi factory and the Audi Museum.

Book An Audi Service To Enter

Audi customers who book an Audi Major Service on www.AudiService.ie between February 12th and April 30th will automatically be entered into the draw to win one of the first ten places. The winners will be selected at random and announced at 3pm on 30th April.

Cian Cox, Aftersales Marketing Specialist with Audi Ireland said: “We are really thrilled to be able to offer our service customers an exclusive experience to acknowledge their custom and loyalty to the Audi brand and their local authorised Audi dealer. We have some very enthusiastic and loyal ambassadors to the Audi brand and we feel that letting some of our customers tour the facility where their cars are made, as well as driving our ultimate performance model, the Audi R8, is an exciting way to reward our customers for keeping their servicing needs within the Audi Dealer network.”

For more information on Audi’s new service booking platform visit www.AudiService.ie or contact a local authorised Audi dealership.


Opel Corsa GSi

2018 Opel Corsa GSi For September Launch

Following on from the Opel Insignia GSi, Opel has revealed that there will be a new Opel Corsa GSi.

The new Opel Corsa GSi will arrive in Ireland in September 2018 and Opel Ireland will release more details on engines and pricing closer to launch.

“We are continuing our long GSi tradition with the new Corsa GSi. There was already an especially sporty variant of the very first Corsa, which is a sought after classic-to-be. Our latest athlete will set new standards in the segment with its OPC sports chassis,” said Peter Küspert, Opel Managing Director Sales and Marketing.

Sportier styling for Corsa GSi

The three door Corsa GSi distinguishes itself with air intakes, sculptured bonnet, prominent rear spoiler and side sills.

Inside there are optional Recaro performance seats, a sports steering wheel, leather gearshift knob, and aluminium sport pedals.

Under the skin there's the same sport chassis as the Corsa OPC.

The IntelliLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will also be available.


2018 Renault Kangoo ZE

New Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33 Arrives In Ireland

Following the launch of the new Renault ZOE Z.E. 40 in summer 2017, the new Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33 has arrived in Ireland.

According to Renault, the new Kangoo Z.E 33 has the longest range of any electric LCV currently on the market. The all-electric van/commerical goes on sale from €28,190 after the SEAI grant of €3,800 (battery included).

The new Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33 has a longer NEDC range of 270km equating to 200km in summer conditions or 120km in winter. This extended range is achieved with an increase in battery capacity from 22 kWh to 33 kWh, which has been achieved by increasing the energy density of the battery’s cells without increasing size or weight – so there is no penalty in terms of load capacity or payload (605-640kg).

The winter range can be improved further by specifying the optional heat pump air conditioning, a world first for an LCV.

The new Kangoo Van Z.E. 33 also benefits from a new energy efficient motor, the R60 (5AQ 60), which is based on the motor that also powers the ZOE Z.E. 40.

The van is also fitted with a new charger that is twice as powerful as the previous one. The single phase 7kW (32A, 230V) AC charger can take the new 33kWh battery to a full charge in just six hours, with the ability to ‘top-up’ the vehicle by up to 33 km in just one hour.

DAB radio, full steel bulkhead (not on crew vans) and height adjustable driver’s seat as standard on the Business trim level.

The new Kangoo electric is offered in both standard panel van and maxi lengths, alongside a crew van version and a crew van cab version that comes with the multi-positional bulkhead as standard.

Options include rear parking sensors, body coloured front bumper and the Renault R-Link infotainment and navigation system.

Pricing for new Kangoo Z.E

As with the ZOE, New Kangoo Z.E. 33 is available to order with battery-inclusive pricing.

There is no BIK for a Kangoo Z.E. 33 from 1 January 2018, for three to five years.

Kangoo Z.E. 33 has a 5 year/200,000km full vehicle warranty and a 5 year/100,000km battery warranty.

For more information visit www.renault.ie


JEEP Ireland sponsors Hell&Back

Jeep Ireland To Sponsor HELL & BACK

Jeep® Ireland will sponsor the adventure race series, HELL & BACK, in 2018 with four events taking place across the weekends of the 16th / 17th June and 29th / 30th September 2018.

The sponsorship will include two Jeep® challenges. The first will test competitors at the start line with the “Hang Tough” challenge. Contestants will test their strengths by hanging from a monkey bar for as long as possible to compete for an exclusive cash prize of €500.

This year, Jeep® has revamped one of the most popular HELL & BACK obstacles, “Hell on Earth”, where participants will have to run, jump and crawl over and under muddy mounds, featuring Jeep® vehicles to make it to the finish line.

As part of the sponsorship programme, Jeep® will support all HELL & BACK events, providing a fleet of 4x4 vehicles, including the all-new Jeep Compass, the Renegade and the iconic Wrangler. Additionally, competitors will be able to visit the designated Jeep® area at Hell & Back to experience the full range and buy exclusive Jeep® merchandise.

Perfect Partnership for Jeep

“We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with HELL & BACK for their challenging race series,” said Paul Hunt of Jeep® Ireland.

“The HELL & BACK ethos is very much in line with that of Jeep®. We’re not only passionate about adventure, but encourage people to challenge themselves too – and everyone who takes on the HELL & BACK course certainly does that.

This exciting sponsorship will allow us to get the Jeep® brand in front of adventure-seekers and their families – showcasing our range of premium vehicles (including our wide range of 4x4s) to a potentially new audience.  Across the four events we’ll also be supporting our dealer network by encouraging people to sign up for test drives as well as take advantage of our latest offers," he added.

Jeep® Ireland will soon be hosting a number of competitions on their Facebook page, giving followers the chance to win 30 free race admissions.

Those who have registered their interest in Jeep® will also be eligible to receive a 10% discount code which can be utilised on the HELL & BACK registration page, for the upcoming June event.

Aidan Walsh, Director of Operations at Alive Outside said, “We are delighted to have Jeep® on board as a HELL & BACK Sponsor for 2018. HELL & BACK is all about pushing through and conquering the elements that are thrown at you, whether that’s the temperamental weather conditions, the gruelling natural environment or the torturous man-made obstacles – qualities that are as relevant to Jeep® as they are to us. We hope 2018 is the start of a long and successful relationship between HELL & BACK and Jeep®, an iconic international outdoors brand.”


Honda Civic Type R

Me And My Car: Jim Millett's Honda Civic Type R

Jim Millett is a Changing Lanes reader from the UK. Jim owns a 2016 Honda Civic Type R. In this Me and My Car Feature, Jim tells us all about his Type R and why he chose this car.

1. Tell me about your car (Make/model/engine/year of registration). 

It's a Honda Civic Type R FK2 with a four cylinder 2.0 VTEC Turbo with 306bhp and 295lbft of torque. The car was registered in September 2016.

2. How long have you owned this car?

I purchased it new.

3. Why did you choose this car?

I needed a practical, sensible and reliable four seat hatchback. A Honda seemed to fit the brief. Also, the fact that it can do nearly 170mph and costs around £30k also helped. The styling is Marmite but I personally loved it and it certainly stands out. One test drive sealed the deal.

4. What do you like about this car?

The superb manual gearbox and seats are stand-out features. I love the slightly old school power delivery with a touch of lag, but when it hooks up, the power delivery is addictive. The handling and grip are incredible considering it has to deploy over 300bhp through the front wheels. I do love the styling...controversial I know!

Honda Civic Type R
Jim is impressed with his Honda Civic Type R's power delivery and superb manual gearbox
5. Is there anything you would change about your car?

Only one thing I would change...just wish it sounded a bit more aggressive considering it has four large exhaust pipes. However, I prefer this to the current trend of artificial piped-in engine sound and contrived pops and bangs. The Type R has a certain honesty and authenticity about it. Some people have stated it is too harsh in R mode for British roads...absolute rubbish. Nowhere near as hard as my old Clio RS200 with Cup pack!

6. What's in your glovebox?

Only three things in the glovebox...locking wheel nut key, handbook and one CD (Ten by Pearl Jam...showing my age).

7. Favourite memory of the car? 

My favourite memory of the car is driving the infamous EVO Triangle in Wales. Totally dry, empty roads...worth the journey just to drive this bit of road. Type R was in its element.

8. Who would your ideal passenger be?
Chris Harris so he can give me some driver tuition and then show me what the car can actually do.
Honda Civic Type R
Jim has happy memories of driving his Honda Civic Type R on the EVO Triangle but he would like a few driving tips from Chris Harris!
9. Three words to describe your car.

Fast, Raw....Unique

If you would like your car featured on Changing Lanes, email caroline@changinglanes.ie

The 2018 Opel Grandland X

Opel Grandland X 1.2 Petrol Review

The 2018 Opel Grandland X
The 2018 Opel Grandland X is now on sale in Ireland

The Opel Grandland X is a brand new model for the Opel range, a mid-size SUV slotting in above the Opel Astra. Grandland X gives Opel a key product to compete for family buyers, who more and more are opting for SUVs.

The Opel Grandland X is a good-looking SUV with familiar Opel design cues. It shares underpinnings and engines with the Peugeot 3008 launched last year, but the Grandland X feels very much like an Opel. The Grandland X has a sleek and compact presence but there’s room inside for five as well as a generous 514 litre boot.

And while the interior design may not be as avant-garde as the Peugeot, the interior of the Grandland X is good quality and packed with technology including the Opel OnStar personal assistant and a touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Will the Opel Grandland X make a good family car?

Comfort and space is a must for a family car and the Opel Grandland X does not disappoint. On the road it’s an agile and pleasant SUV to drive with light but predictable steering. The handling is not going to set the world on fire, but as a family car that’s easy to drive and get along with, you can’t fault it.

The 2018 Opel Grandland X
The Opel Grandland X is a classy five seat SUV

Opel is lucky to have some excellent engines to offer with Grandland X. I was driving the 1.2-litre petrol with 130hp and the SRi model tested with lots of goodies retailed at €30,595 (the range kicks off at €27,995).

For anyone thinking of switching back to petrol, I couldn’t recommend this engine more. It’s nippy with plenty of torque, and refinement is excellent. It’s smooth and efficient while C02 emissions mean motor tax is just €200 per year.

There’s also a 1.6-litre diesel with 120hp (from €28,995) and a range topping 2.0-litre diesel with 177hp.

Opel Ireland is offering the Grandland X in four trim levels: SC, SRi, Elite and Ultimate. While the starting price of €27,995 is higher than some rivals, Opel bites back with a good standard specification.

The interior of the 2018 Opel Grandland X
The interior of the 2018 Opel Grandland X

All the equipment you could ever need

Equipment includes OnStar with Wifi hotspot, smartphone projection, dual zone climate control, cruise control, electric windows, 17” alloys, lane departure warning, speed sign recognition, rear parking sensors, high beam assist, and auto lights and wipers.

My 1.2 SRi model on test (€30,595) had 18” alloys, ambient lighting, electrically folding door mirrors, front and rear alloy effect skid plates, front parking sensors, keyless entry, 60/40 split folding rear seats, blind spot alert and a power tailgate.

The Opel Grandland X enters a packed segment full of rivals but it’s a really valuable car for Opel. It ticks all the boxes for a family car and the 1.2-litre petrol model is very pleasant to drive. The Opel Grandland X doesn’t do anything extraordinary but it’s comfortable and laden with technology so deserves to do well in its segment.

2018 Opel Grandland X
The Opel Grandland X is available with a 1.6-litre diesel or an excellent 1.2-litre petrol

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Opel Grandland X SRi 1.2
Price: 
€30,595 (Range from €27,995)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
130hp
Torque: 230Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 188km/h
Economy: 
5.1/100km
CO2 emissions:  
117g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

If you are looking for a petrol family crossover, you might also like this review of the Nissan Qashqai.