The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace Review

The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Caroline drives the new Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

Volkswagen’s SUV range has never looked so good. While the Volkswagen Tiguan continues to sell well here in Ireland, it’s been joined in 2018 by a brand new Volkswagen T-ROC compact crossover, and the new Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace. Crowning Volkswagen’s SUV range is of course the new Volkswagen Touareg that arrived in Ireland over the summer.

More seats and space for the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Available with five seats (from €34,050) or seven (add €770), the new Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is larger than the Volkswagen Tiguan with the all-important option of seven seats. The Tiguan and Tiguan Allspace were developed at the same time so there are many similarities between these two vehicles. But visually the Tiguan Allspace has a bit more presence. The bonnet has been raised up at the front and the rear doors of the Tiguan Allspace are longer to adapt the proportions to the longer overall length of the vehicle.

Inside, there's a simple dashboard design and the quality of the materials used throughout is indisputable. Touchscreen infotainment systems are available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, while top of the range models get a very impressive digital driver information display.

The interior of the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
The interior of the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace Highline

There are three trim levels - Trendline, Comfortline and Highline - with standard equipment including 17" alloys, air conditioning, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and lane assist. Mid-range Comfortline models (from €38,895) add some more styling features, adaptive cruise control, front fog lights, tri zone climate control, 8" touchscreen with App Connect and voice control, and parking sensors. Highline models (from €42,050) feature 18" alloys, velour seat trim, LED headlights, heated front seats and a rear view parking camera, among other equipment.

How big is the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace inside?

The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace has a large and flexible interior with optional '5+2' seating. There is plenty of headroom all round and the rear footwells are large. The second row seats split fold 60/40 and can be moved forward and back to give more wriggle room to those in row 3. In seven seat mode, Volkswagen has managed to eke out 230 litres of boot space, while in five seat mode there is about 700 litres of space! When not in use the two extra seats in seven seat models fold neatly into the boot floor.

Volkswagen is offering the Tiguan Allspace with a 1.4-litre TSI 150hp petrol engine (Trendline only) and with a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp, 190hp or 240hp. The diesel range starts from €36,350. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, as is '4MOTION' all wheel drive. My test car was a seven seat Highline model with a 2.0-litre TDI 150bhp diesel, DSG automatic gearbox and 4MOTION all wheel drive retailing from €46,895.

Rear legroom in the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
Rear legroom in the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Does it drive well?

On the road, the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is everything you could want from a large family car - agile and easy to manouvre despite the large dimensions, comfortable and refined. It's not sporty, but controlled and predictable in corners. The 2.0TDI with 150hp offers adequate performance and over a week of driving I averaged 6.5l/100km. Motor tax on this all wheel drive, automatic model is set at €390 per year.

With the Volkswagen Tiguan already proving to be a hit in Ireland, buyers looking for more space or seats to accommodate a growing family can be pointed in the direction of the Tiguan Allspace. Rather than feeling like an afterthought, the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace has been designed with care so it's stylish, premium and huge! There's competition within the Volkswagen Group's own stable with the equally likable Skoda Kodiaq large SUV, but the Tiguan Allspace's quality, style and finish will keep it highly desirable among aspirational families.

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is available as a five or seven seat SUV

Model tested: Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace Highline 2.0 TDI 150hp 4Motion DSG (7 seats)
Price: 
€47,665 (Range starts at €34,050)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.9 seconds
Top speed: 198km/h
Economy: 
5.9l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
153g/km
Motor tax:
€390 per year

Caroline Kidd


The 2019 Corolla Hatchback

New 2019 Toyota Corolla Revealed For Ireland

The 2019 Corolla Hatchback
The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback, arriving in Ireland in 2019

Toyota Ireland has announced that a new Corolla Hybrid will arrive in Ireland in February 2019.

It comes as Toyota reveals plans that will see the Toyota Corolla take new prominence in Toyota's range of compact cars. The Toyota Auris name plate is to be phased out - Toyota's C-segment offering will now consist of a hatchback, saloon and estate badged as the Toyota Corolla.

The Corolla Hatchback (pictured) will be available from January 2019. There are no images yet of the Corolla Saloon but it will be here in February.

This is a clear strategy to use the power of big global brand names. Corolla is the world’s best-selling model nameplate, with more than 45 million vehicles sold since its introduction in 1966.

The move coincides with the Corolla’s adoption of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) and latest Toyota hybrid technology. The Corolla Hybrid will use a 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain, while there will also be a 1.6-litre petrol available.

Toyota Ireland will release pricing and specifications for the 2019 Toyota Corolla range in October.

Steve Tormey, Chief Executive of Toyota Ireland, said,“2019 is an incredibly exciting year as we see the arrival of the first ever Corolla Hybrid in Ireland. The Corolla, the world’s best-selling car, has long been Ireland’s favourite, and our customers have been eagerly awaiting the hybrid variant. We’re also delighted to announce the extension of the Corolla family, which represents the clear strategy to use the power of big global brand names to complement Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA)".


ŠKODA Ireland dealer network seeking apprentice technicians

ŠKODA Dealer Network Seeking Apprentice Technicians

ŠKODA Ireland dealer network seeking apprentice technicians
ŠKODA is recruiting for apprentice technicians across its Irish dealer network

Following the announcement of their highest ever market share – 7.2% for the first half of 2018 – ŠKODA Ireland’s dealer network is seeking to recruit 24 apprentice technicians, across 17 dealerships.

This recruitment campaign is the result of continued growth and strong performance from the Czech brand. In a year when overall car sales are down over 4%, ŠKODA Ireland has grown its sales volume by 4.3%.

The volume of ŠKODA vehicles on Irish roads, coupled with the brand's objective of becoming a top five brand in Ireland, has led to greater staffing needs.

Commenting on the announcement, William Lee, Head of After Sales at ŠKODA Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be in a position to create 24 new apprentice positions – particularly at a time when young, talented and driven Leaving Certificate students are making important decisions about their future and their career prospects.

Our customers are at the heart of our business and we always strive to deliver the best service in the motor industry. We are looking to recruit ambitious people, who will contribute to our continued brand growth and who will help us to continue to provide the excellent level of service that we have built our reputation on. For those successful candidates, we can ensure an innovative, dynamic and rewarding career, for years to come.”

For more information on the positions available, please visit www.vwgcareers.ie.


The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review

The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Caroline drives the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

Mitsubishi has a lot of respect in the Irish market for building tough off-roaders and SUVs like the Pajero and Outlander. With ever-growing demand for stylish SUVs that are more at home on the school run than on the farm, the brand has responded with the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross mid-size SUV. Pricing starts from €27,900 in Ireland, placing the Eclipse Cross firmly among the Tuscon and Qashqai set.

There is no doubt that the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is an exciting new model for the brand, with Mitsubishi citing it as the first of a new generation of cars for them that are 'more capable and desirable'. Certainly in the metal the Eclipse Cross has a lot of presence and Mitsubishi is pitching it as an SUV coupé. The styling is shown off to particular good effect in Diamond Red Metallic, a special new red paint developed for the Eclipse Cross and applied using a new chromatic painting process.

The ride height might be high like an SUV but inside Mitsubishi has managed to package something of a sporty, coupé-like feel. The centre tunnel is quite high for an SUV and the steering wheel sits more low so there is a pleasant, snug feel to the cabin. Mitsubishi describes the interior as ‘cockpit style’ and the quality is a step up for Mitsubishi with some nice soft touch materials and stylish piano black and silver trim. There is a 7-inch touchscreen display on the dashboard that pairs seamlessly to smartphones with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, combined with a new touchpad controller.

The interior of the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
The interior of the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

How practical is the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross?

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross might be a looker but it retains the sort of practicality that should please family buyers. The rear legroom is excellent and even in width the Eclipse Cross seems generously proportioned for this class of vehicle. The rear seats can also slide and recline. The boot opens to reveal 411 litres with the five seats in their normal position so that's a bit on the small side compared to some rivals.

There are three trim levels for Ireland: Invite (from €27,900), Intense (from €29,900) and Instyle (from €34,900). The entry model is well-equipped including 16" alloy wheels, reversing camera, touchscreen, automatic air conditioning, four electric windows,  cruise control, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, auto high beam and front fog lamps.

The top of the range Instyle model shown here was bursting with equipment including notables like full leather upholstery, head-up display , premium stereo, blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is pitched as a stylish SUV-coupé
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is pitched as a stylish SUV-coupé

Entertaining petrol power for Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

At launch, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is powered by an all-new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 163hp and 250Nm of torque, though a diesel is on the way in 2019. A six-speed manual comes as standard but a CVT automatic is also available. The current range is front wheel drive only but Mitsubishi Ireland says that four wheel drive will be available.

On the road the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross gets perky performance from its 1.5-litre petrol engine. With 163hp it's got a lot more power than what some of the more mainstream rivals are offering in their petrol ranges, but the running costs are a bit steeper too: motor tax is €390 per year and my fuel consumption was 7l/100km over a week of driving. But this engine makes easy and sometimes entertaining progress in the Eclipse Cross.

Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

What's the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross like on the road?

Refinement is good with extensive sound insulation within the body panels as well as the use of soundproof glazing and a floor silencer material. Mitsubishi has tuned the suspension and steering for a more engaging drive and the results are a mixed bag. It's fine by class standards with direct steering and reasonable composure through bends, but there's not enough feedback in the steering or willingness to hunker down in corners to fully deliver on the promise of a sporty SUV. While the car is generally comfortable on the smooth stuff, the ride can be bumpy in town.

The distinctive SUV coupé style of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and its sporty stance will certainly draw attention to this one, while Mitsubishi has managed to capture some uniqueness in the interior too. Families will love the spacious interior, while the engine is a powerful match for the car. Equipment levels are high too with Mitsubishi's eight year warranty for peace of mind.

Not delivering fully on the sporty driving dynamics seems like a missed opportunity as the Eclipse Cross is a genuinely well-executed idea of an SUV-coupé among more vanilla competitors. Regardless, the Eclipse Cross is a great addition to Mitsubishi's portfolio and the bold, stylish design is a mark of great things to come from the Japanese brand.

The Mistubishi Eclipse Corss is available from €27,995 in Ireland
The Mistubishi Eclipse Corss is available from €27,995 in Ireland

Model tested: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Instyle 1.5L Turbo
Price: 
€34,900 (Range starts at €27,900)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
163hp
Torque: 250Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.3 seconds
Top speed: 205km/h
Economy: 
6.6l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
151g/km
Motor tax:
€390 per year

Caroline Kidd


The 2018 Volkswagen T-ROC

2018 Volkswagen T-ROC 1.5TSI EVO Review

The 2018 Volkswagen T-ROC
The 2018 Volkswagen T-ROC

Caroline drives the new Volkswagen T-ROC.

The new Volkswagen T-ROC arrived in Ireland earlier in 2018 and it's an exciting new model for Volkswagen, showing more personality than what we're used to from the sensible German brand. Volkswagen has brought the new T-ROC the way of the crossover and with pricing starting from €24,750, the Volkswagen T-ROC slots in neatly below the popular Volkswagen Tiguan family SUV.

The Volkswagen T-ROC is positioned as a sportier, compact model and it’s immediately clear that the designers at VW had some fun with this one. The Volkswagen T-ROC is easily one of the most interesting and playful looking models in the range. In the metal it sits like a slightly elevated hatchback with gorgeous coupé-like styling, especially towards the rear.

But being marketed as a crossover means that the curves are balanced out with extra plastic cladding around the wheel arches, sills, and front and rear bumpers, adding more attitude to what is a very expressive design. The T-ROC is also the first Volkswagen SUV that will be available to order in two-tone paintwork with a contrasting roof, A-pillars and exterior mirror covers.

The interior of the 2018 Volkswagen T-ROC
The interior of the 2018 Volkswagen T-ROC

What's it like inside the new Volkswagen T-ROC?

Inside much of the switchgear is shared with other Volkswagen models, and dark grey plastics feature a lot. To add some interest there is a plastic dashboard insert that stretches the width of the cabin and continues its colour theme around the centre console. This was grey/black in the test car, but there are other colours available. The quality in the cabin is good, but the interior of a Golf for similar money feels a bit more plush. In terms of technology and in-car entertainment, the T-ROC scores well with a touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a very impressive digital instrument panel.

The Volkswagen T-ROC is a five seater, though realistically four will be most comfortable because the middle seat in the rear is quite narrow. There is good accommodation up front and the two rear footwells are a reasonable size. There's extra headroom too. The boot is good at 445 litres but opting for a model with a spare wheel will eat into that boot volume.

In Ireland the T-ROC is available with a 1.0-litre TSI petrol (115hp), 1.5-litre TSI EVO petrol (150hp), a 1.6-litre TDI diesel (115hp) or a 2.0-litre TDI diesel (150hp). The 2.0-litre diesel is available exclusively with 4MOTION all wheel drive. A 6-speed manual gearbox comes as standard but there are also 7-speed DSG automatic gearboxes available.

Rear legroom in the Volkswagen T-ROC
Rear legroom in the Volkswagen T-ROC

On the road in the Volkswagen T-ROC

My test car was powered by the 1.5-litre turbo petrol unit with 150hp and it’s a powerful and refined option for the T-ROC. My fuel consumption over a week of driving was about 6.6 litres per 100 kms.

The Volkswagen T-ROC is built on the same MQB platform as the Golf and other Volkswagen products. On the road the T-ROC is smooth and confident, with well-weighted steering and a fun, agile feel. It doesn’t quite feel as hunkered down on the road in corners as a hatchback owing to that raised ride height, but heck it adds to the fun. The T-ROC is generally comfortable but a firm edge to the suspension will transmit some bumps into the cabin over uneven surfaces at low speeds around town.

Is it well-equipped?

There are three trim levels for Ireland – T-ROC, Design and Sport – and standard equipment includes leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, electric windows, 6.5” touchscreen, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, auto lights and wipers, lane keeping aid, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking.

Design models start from €26,995 and add 16” alloys, more chrome detailing on the outside, front fog lamps, roof rails, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and more advanced infotainment system with 8 speakers, voice control and app connect.

The Volkswagen T-ROC range starts from €24,750 in Ireland
The Volkswagen T-ROC range starts from €24,750 in Ireland

Sport models start from €29,750 and add 17” alloys, double rear tailpipe, front sports seats, ambient lighting, LED headlamps, tinted rear windows, auto high beam among other exterior styling updates.

Would you buy it?

It's hard not to come away from the T-ROC feeling a little more enthusiastic about life. With this car, Volkswagen set out to make a fun crossover to complement the larger and more traditional Tiguan and they succeeded. The Volkswagen T-ROC is a fabulous addition to the Volkswagen range, and is easily one of the brand's most playful cars. The Volkswagen T-ROC is not the value option in the compact crossover class, but it is a stylish and sporty family vehicle.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen T-ROC Sport 1.5 TSI EVO
Price: 
€30,525 (Available from €24,750)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 250Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 205km/h
Claimed Economy: 
5.4l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
121g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

The Volkswagen T-ROC is a sporty and stylish crossover
The Volkswagen T-ROC is a sporty and stylish crossover

The Volkswagen New Beetle

Farewell To The Volkswagen Beetle In Ireland!

The Volkswagen New Beetle
The Volkswagen New Beetle launched in 1998

Volkswagen Ireland has informed us that production of the Volkswagen Beetle has stopped and the last examples of the current generation of the Beetle are being offered in Volkswagen retailers now, priced from €25,350.

The Beetle Design is available with a 105 hp 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine with either a six-speed manual or 7-speed DSG. Alternatively, buyers can choose a 2.0-litre TDI with 110 hp with a five-speed manual or seven-speed DSG. The Beetle R-Line is available with more powerful engines. The petrol offering is a 1.4-litre TSI putting out 150 hp via a 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG. The 2.0-litre TDI diesel
in the R-Line version puts out 150hp. Prices for the R-Line specification start from €30,395.

The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle
The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle in Dublin, Ireland

A History of the Volkswagen Beetle in Ireland

As the Beetle bows out, Volkswagen Ireland has prepared a history of this iconic model in Ireland to mark the occasion...

It was shortly after the first post-war Christmas 1945 that the first of the Volkswagen Type 1 – the model which, as the Beetle, would subsequently be sold more than 21 million times – rolled off the production line.

By the end of the Second World War in 1945, just 630 of the People's Car known as the 'KdF-Wagen' had been built. The state-of-the-art factory in what was to become the present-day Wolfsburg, built specially to make the vehicle, was integrated into Germany's wartime armaments industry, producing mainly military goods. US troops occupied the site on 11th April 1945. In June 1945, the British Military Government took over trusteeship of the factory with its workforce of some 6,000 people.

On 22nd August 1945, the recently appointed 29-year-old Senior Resident Officer Major Ivan Hirst acquired an initial order for 20,000 Saloons, thereby providing the factory and its workforce with a future, and avoiding the threat of decommissioning and dismantling. The vehicles were intended mainly for use by the occupying Allies, but also to help provide health-care services in rural areas. Production mostly remained stuck at around 1,000 cars a month through 1946/47. It was only after the currency reform in June 1948 that significant numbers of private buyers emerged.

The Beetle was a crucial factor in the development of democracy and mobility in post-war Germany, and subsequently found a home in many other countries, acting as an essential ambassador in promoting a positive image of Germany.

Shelbourne Road Site
Shelbourne Road site where the Volkswagen Beetle was assembled in the 1950s

Here in Ireland, the Beetle was assembled from 1950 to 1977 and was priced at £465 when it first went on sale. A deal was struck in 1949 when Motor Distributors Limited, founded by Stephen O'Flaherty secured the franchise - with the agreement eventually signed off on June 22nd 1950. And on the 7th of September 1950, the Irish Press announced that "the 'People's Car' or Volkswagen to be assembled in Dublin from the end of this present month." It went on to add that "so far it has not been possible to determine the exact retail price but it is expected to be in the region of £450." It would go on sale at £465.

The first consignment of cars was delivered in Dublin in October 1950 and The Irish Independent on Tuesday, October 31st 1950 reported that "The agreement with the Irish company for assembling outside Germany is the first of its kind the German firm has made in its foreign sales." After the first shipment of 24 vehicles, another 24 were shipped in November of that month. Stephen O'Flaherty had bought a former tram depot on the Shelbourne Road in Dublin. From an output of 46 units in 1950 to 2,155 in 1952, the assembly business outgrew the Shelbourne Road premises and in 1955 was transferred to a new factory on Dublin's Naas Road. Assembly continued in Ireland until 1974, when fully built-up units started to arrive. The Beetle averaged 3,000-4,000 units per year for most of the 30 years it was on sale, reaching its highest figure of 5,288 in 1972.

Irish_Production_Line
Irish production line of the Volkswagen Beetle

Production at the original Beetle's last manufacturing location in Puebla, Mexico, was discontinued at the end of July 2003. With over 21 million vehicles built, the Beetle had become an automotive icon, loved by many millions of people. Its characteristic shape is recognised everywhere.

With the Concept One study designed by the Californian studio Simi Valley and presented at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 1994, Volkswagen gave the first glimpse of a new age Beetle. Hartmut Warkuß, at that time Chief Designer of the Volkswagen Group, said: “This was probably a unique opportunity to reinterpret a form that had survived for more than half a century.” The Concept One gave rise to a new Beatlemania. In 1998, the New Beetle was finally launched. Many fans were pleased to note that it had a flower vase, round headlights and a round instrument cluster. The silhouette could be sketched with three semicircles: front wing, rear wing and roof line.

Kenilworth Motors
Kenilworth Motors Volkswagen dealership

In January 1998, The Sunday Independent reported that the "Beetle is back in business more than 60 years after Volkswagen put the original on sale. It should reach Irish showrooms late this year, or early 1999, and the word is the starting price here will be around £17,000." Such was the demand for the car at the time; the distributor at the time imported a number of left-hand drive example. This new car was the start of a new chapter for the Beetle and the 'New Beetle' as it was known sold in Ireland from 1999 to 2011.

In a transcontinental premiere, Volkswagen unveiled the latest Beetle simultaneously in Shanghai, Berlin and New York in 2011. The designers had consistently followed their briefing to “design a new original”. In contrast to the New Beetle of 1998, the silhouette of the original Beetle was more strongly emphasised. Typical design features of the Beetle and the New Beetle – such as the round headlights, exposed wings and the shape of the bonnet and door sills, were of course retained.

Volkswagen Beetle Ireland
Volkswagen Beetle bows out but there are a few 2018 models remaining!

The Skoda Rapid that will transport Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland

ŠKODA Ireland To Supply Cars For Pope's Irish Visit

The Skoda Rapid that will transport Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland
The ŠKODA Rapid that will transport Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland

ŠKODA Ireland has announced that it will be the official car partner to the World Meeting of Families 2018 and the Papal visit later this month.

As part of the announcement, ŠKODA Ireland confirmed that when Pope Francis touches down in Dublin on the morning of Saturday, 25th August, he will be transported to Áras an Uachtaráin in a ŠKODA Rapid.

Three identical ŠKODA Rapids, each fitted with customised registration plates, have been reserved for the event.

The registration plates hold some significance, with 182-C-1979 commemorating Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979. 182-C-2018 will mark this year's visit. 182-D-9093 is the primary vehicle, and when the digits 9093 are inverted, they spell out the word POPE (!).

Special glass has been installed and each vehicle has been finished in unique navy blue as requested. Small chrome flag poles have also been installed to the passenger side fenders to display the Vatican flag.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYvGazvctjQ

Speaking about the partnership, ŠKODA Ireland’s Head of Marketing and Product, Raymond Leddy, said: “We are excited and honoured to be official car partner of the World Meeting of Families 2018. All ŠKODA models are designed and built with the family in mind. We offer some of the most spacious cars on the market, perfect for families young and old, so this is a great opportunity for us to showcase the quality of the ŠKODA range to mass audiences, both at home and abroad."

After the event, Pope Francis’s ŠKODA Rapid, together with an additional ŠKODA Rapid, will be provided to a charity.

In addition to providing transport to Pope Francis in Dublin and Knock, ŠKODA Ireland will provide logistical services to dignitaries, with a fleet of ŠKODA Superbs, Karoqs and Octavias.

modified ŠKODA RAPID will transport Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland
The ŠKODA Rapid has been wrapped in navy blue as requested and will be given to charity after the event

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota Ireland Plotting A Hybrid 'Invasion' In 2019

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota Ireland will launch four new self-charging hybrid models in 2019, including new generations of the Toyota RAV4 and Auris, as well as the return of the Toyota Camry after a 14-year absence, this time as a hybrid.

Toyota is remaining tight-lipped about the fourth model, but we expect more information in September.

Pricing and specifications for these new models will be available from Toyota dealers from the middle of October, and we are told that deposits can also be taken at this time to guarantee delivery for the new 191 registration period in January.

This news from Toyota comes on the back of the decision of the car manufacturer to stop producing diesel cars this year. New hybrid and petrol models will be built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). According to Toyota, the new models will carry "a more modern and highly stylised aesthetic", currently reflected in the design of the popular Toyota C-HR.

The new Toyota Auris Hybrid
The new Toyota Auris Hybrid

New Toyota RAV4 will be sold exclusively as a hybrid in Ireland

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is expected to arrive in dealers in early January 2019 promising a more spacious and comfortable cabin. There will be the option of a bi-tone colour scheme and a new interior with updated Toyota Touch 2 infotainment system with 3D sat-nav mapping, voice recognition and phone connectivity.

Toyota Auris will come in two hybrid flavours

The new generation of the Toyota Auris will be arriving in Ireland from the middle of January 2019. The new Auris sports sleeker styling and a longer wheelbase for more interior space. There will also be a new Auris Touring Sport. The new Auris will be come in the form of a 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid or 2.0-litre hybrid. The 2.0-litre hybrid is a sportier variant with more power (180hp) and steering wheel mounted paddles.

New Camry Hybrid on the way in April

The new Toyota Camry Hybrid will arrive in Ireland in April 2019 with a newly developed 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain with a power output of 218hp. According to Toyota Ireland, over 550 people have already expressed interest in the Camry Hybrid and the challenge will be to match demand with the 300/400 allocated supply in 2019.

Toyota Camry Returning To Ireland In 2019
The Toyota Camry will be on sale again in Ireland in 2019 as a hybrid

Steve Tormey, CEO of Toyota Ireland, said, "With a significantly more attractive, dynamic and modern design aesthetic, we believe the new models will quickly catch the eye of drivers who previously might not have considered a Toyota, while our legion of devoted Toyota customers will be eager to get on board with our all-new range.

In March 2018, Toyota announced plans to cease production of diesel passenger cars in line with our ‘Built for a Better World’ brand promise and in doing so solidified our leadership and commitment to making cars that are better for the environment and consumer health through improved air quality. With hybrid now representing 52% of our total car sales, we expect that the new models will drive a strong upward shift to these numbers next year, as more and more drivers naturally migrate away from diesel.”


The 2018 Ford EcoSport

2018 Ford EcoSport EcoBoost Review

The 2018 Ford EcoSport
The 2018 Ford EcoSport has been tweaked to make it more competitive among compact SUVs

Caroline drives the new Ford EcoSport.

The Ford EcoSport first appeared in Ireland in 2014 as Ford’s answer to the compact crossover/SUV craze. It failed to make a huge impression on the Irish market like its Ford Fiesta and Focus stablemates, and even the larger Ford Kuga SUV that also sells well here.

Now Ford is back with a second iteration of the Ford EcoSport compact SUV, citing improved quality, technology and capability as some of the key focus areas for this mid-life refresh. With pricing starting from €26,900, the Ford EcoSport will find a lot of competent rivals to displace.

So what does the Ford EcoSport have new for 2018?

The 2018 Ford EcoSport has had some cosmetic work done and it looks more than ever like a baby Kuga with the same sort of grille shape, headlamps and rear styling – just more in miniature. For sure it all sits a bit awkwardly on the EcoSport’s small frame but it is an improvement. Ford has also introduced more personalisation options and you can select a different roof colour. ST-Line models like the one on test have a sportier appearance with body kit, black roof rails and headlight bezels, rear spoiler, 17-inch alloy wheels, ST-Line badging and a contrast coloured roof and mirror caps included as standard.

The EcoSport is priced above the Fiesta and more in line with Ford Focus pricing. While there is generous headroom inside, it has more in common with the Fiesta in terms of width. In the rear, two will be most comfortable and there are more spacious SUVs/crossovers available in this price range. The boot is 334 litres as before with an adjustable boot floor and low loading sill. The boot door is hinged from the side as opposed to a liftback style boot lid. Apparently some buyers like this feature, but it can be impractical in tight parking spots.

The interior of the 2018 Ford EcoSport
The interior of the 2018 Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport has a snug interior and is well-equipped

The interior dashboard design in the 2018 EcoSport is very similar in layout to the new Fiesta. My ST-Line model was nicely finished with red contrast stitching on the steering wheel and seats. Other ST-Line interior features include a leather-trimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel, ST-Line branded scuff plates and stainless steel sports pedals. Infotainment is provided via a new 8” touchscreen that connects seamlessly to smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Controls are easy to navigate and the driving position is quite snug with plenty of adjustment in the driver’s seat and steering wheel.

In Ireland, Ford is avoiding any sparsely trimmed entry models so the car will be available in just two high spec trims – Titanium and for the first time, ST-Line. Standard equipment includes Ford SYNC 3 Navigation with 8” touchscreen, DAB radio, Emergency Assistance, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, rear view camera, keyless start, cruise control and part leather trim.

In Ireland, the new EcoSport is offered with Ford’s excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine (125 or 140 hp) and a 1.5-litre diesel with 100 hp. A six speed manual comes as standard though an automatic is also available. The Ford EcoSport is front wheel drive by default but for 2018 it's offered for the first time with 'Intelligent All Wheel Drive' for improved traction on- and off-road.

Rear seating in the Ford EcoSport
Rear seating in the Ford EcoSport

Petrol Is A Good Mate For The Ford EcoSport

My test car was a 1.0 EcoBoost 125hp in ST-Line trim and it retails from €28,180. The engine is indeed fantastic with great refinement and smooth power delivery, though it doesn't feel as lively as the Fiesta EcoBoost. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption was about 7 litres per 100km and motor tax for this model is €200 per year.

You sit high in the Ford EcoSport so on the road it feels more like an authentic SUV than some more low slung rivals. The ride and handling has been tuned specifically for customers in Europe and the car stays composed through corners, with nicely-weighted steering. The manual gearbox gives a pleasant, precise gear change. You will find yourself backing off in the corners because there is some body roll making a Fiesta more fun in this regard. Generally the EcoSport scores well for comfort, though it can be upset by uneven surfaces and bumps around town.

The compact SUV segment is super competitive and the Ford is at the more expensive end of the market. The cars do come well-equipped with good turbo powered engines, but the space inside is not as generous as some rivals. Ford has improved the EcoSport considerably so that in its own right it's an acceptable offering and a step in the right direction for Ford’s grand SUV plan.

The Ford EcoSport is the baby of Ford's SUV range
The Ford EcoSport is the baby of Ford's SUV range

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford EcoSport ST-Line 1.0T EcoBoost
Price: 
€28,180 (Range from €26,900)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
125hp
Torque: 170Nm
0-100km/h:  
12.7 seconds
Top speed: 111km/h
Economy: 
5.2/100km
CO2 emissions:  
119g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE Review

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE
The Volkswagen Golf GTE is the first plug-in hybrid Golf

Caroline drives the Volkswagen Golf GTE.

There’s never been a better time to talk about alternative fuel vehicles and when the world’s most recognisable hatchback starts dabbling in electric and hybrid power, we know there’s something up. While the majority of the over 4000 Golfs sold in Ireland each year are still petrol and diesel models, the current Golf range also features an electric Golf (‘e-Golf’) and a petrol-electric, plug-in hybrid (Golf GTE). It’s the Volkswagen Golf GTE that’s the subject of this review.

The Volkswagen Golf GTE’s hybrid powertrain offers buyers more flexibility than a pure electric vehicle (EV) making it a good transition model for those still a bit anxious about the logistics of relying on battery power only and the availability of charge points for longer journeys. Plug-in hybrids are something of a half-way house though - at the moment they offer a limited range on electric power compared to a full EV. But running costs are potentially very low, without any of the range anxiety that can blight EV ownership.

It also helps that Volkswagen has ensured that their plug-in hybrid Golf is anything but a nerdy ecowagen with dull styling and lethargic performance. Interestingly the brand took the brave step to market the new Volkswagen Golf GTE as something akin to sporty variants of the Golf like the GTI and GTD. It certainly piques interest in the Golf GTE. However, it is expensive and with grants the list price is €40,050. So the Golf GTE is not just pitched like a plug-in hybrid performance hatchback – it’s also priced like one!

The Volkswagen Golf GTE
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE has a list price of €40,050 in Ireland

The Volkswagen Golf GTE is a stylish, sporty hybrid

Refreshed models of Volkswagen’s popular Mark 7 Golf arrived in Ireland in 2017 and the Golf GTE has received the same cosmetic and interior upgrades. The Volkswagen Golf GTE looks smart and distinguishing features include C-shaped LED daytime running lights, full LED headlights and rear lights with sweeping indicators, a blue strip that runs through the grille and lights, 18" alloy wheels with blue brake calipers, rear spoiler, and GTE badging.

Inside there is the same reassuring quality and layout to the interior as the other models in the Golf range, with GTE models adding some additional blue detailing (as opposed to red in the GTI). The upgrades as part of the Golf facelift have been very successful and the GTE gets a new 8" infotainment system with clear glass touchscreen and a full digital instrument panel. These features really lift the cabin and the Golf GTE is every bit the premium hatchback.

The GTE also has some fabulous sports seats with classic 'Clark' upholstery. Other standard features include dual zone air con, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, ambient lighting, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The GTE also has an 'e-manager', allowing the driver to preset vehicle charging, as well as interior cooling or heating. These functions can be operated remotely using the Car-Net app on a smartphone.

On a practical note, the Golf GTE offers competitive interior accommodation for a five door hatchback. Unfortunately the Golf GTE has a smaller boot to accommodate the battery, down from 380 litres in a regular Golf to 272 litres in the GTE.

The interior of the Volkswagen Golf GTE
The interior of the Volkswagen Golf GTE

Can the Volkswagen Golf GTE be powerful and efficient?

The Volkswagen Golf GTE combines a 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol with an electric motor to produce 204hp. In terms of power and acceleration the Golf GTE is very lively indeed with 0 to 100 km/h achieved in 7.6 seconds. CO2 emissions are 40g/km so motor tax is just €170 per year.

As a plug-in hybrid the Golf GTE can be charged at home in about 3.5 hours or using the public charging system in about 2 hours. On a full battery in real life terms you will be able to drive on pure electric power for about 30 km. But this electric range is best suited to stop/start urban driving because high speeds on the open road will deplete the battery power more rapidly.

And you need to keep that battery topped up for the overall efficiency of the car, even in the hybrid driving modes. I spent most of the time driving in the basic hybrid mode where the car draws power from the engine and battery as appropriate with a bias towards efficiency. My fuel consumption over a few days of driving was 6.3 litres per 100kms. That's good for a petrol hatchback but I imagine you could do better than this with a less heavy right foot and driving the car more in pure EV mode.

There is also a GTE mode where you can tap into the sporty side of the car. The GTE mode adds weight to the steering and changes the shift timings of the 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox, making the throttle response more urgent, while pumping some augmented engine noise into the cabin! The last point will probably shock some purists but the 1.4-litre TSI doesn’t sound very menacing by itself so it needs a bit of help in that department.

Rear seating space in the Volkswagen Golf GTE
Rear seating space in the Volkswagen Golf GTE

So what’s the Volkswagen Golf GTE like to drive?

On the road the Golf GTE retains its intrinsic 'Golfness' in that it’s smooth and agile, refined and comfortable. As a hybrid vehicle, it’s impressive for its refinement and the ease of which it moves between engine and electric power. Digital displays keep the driver informed on things such as range, efficiency and what part of the system is active at any given time. The Golf GTE is on the heavy side weighing 1,615kg but it still remains flat and balanced through corners. The steering is fluid and precise but there is no real feedback. While the battery boosted acceleration in GTE mode is impressive by itself, the car is lacking a playful edge and the sort of sweaty palm inducing driving dynamics that marks out the best of the hot hatchbacks, including its own stable mate, the Golf GTI.

The Volkswagen Golf GTE performs well as just a regular, efficient plug-in hybrid, if you can make use of that electric range and drive it in a balanced way. The Golf GTE is expensive but it’s more exciting and refined to drive than many other plug-in hybrids on the market, retaining all the basic Golf qualities that make it a car loved by millions.

However, the problems arise when you start to view the Golf GTE through the lens of a performance hatchback because though it's fast, it's not particularly engaging. Still for the right buyer, the Volkswagen Golf GTE is a smart, refined and prestigious plug-in hybrid hatchback.

Volkswagen Golf GTE
The Volkswagen Golf GTE is a smart, prestigious and refined plug-in hybrid

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid
Price: 
€40,050
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol + electric motor
Power: 
204hp
Torque: 350Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.6 seconds
Top speed: 222km/h
Claimed Economy: 
1.8l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
40g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year