Volkswagen ID.3 arriving at Dublin Port

New Car Registrations Ireland September 2020

Volkswagen ID.3 arriving at Dublin Port
Volkswagen ID.3 was the bestselling car in September

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has released their official new vehicle registrations statistics for the month of September and reiterated their call to Government to reduce Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) in the upcoming Budget.

The Society claims a reduction in VRT would protect the 40,000 people employed in the Industry, sustain business, stimulate new car sales while helping to decrease emissions from transport and protect Exchequer Revenues. With a new taxation system for new cars tested under WLTP from January 2021, any increase in VRT would have dire consequences for the sector, already struggling in the context of both COVID and BREXIT. SIMI say it would make new cars considerably more expensive, reducing demand and would see thousands of job losses and business closures.

New car registrations for the month of September saw an increase of 66.3% (5,685) when compared to September 2019 (3,418). While total registrations year to date are down 25.8% (84,535) on the same period last year (113,945).

The bestselling car brands so far in 2020 are 1. Volkswagen, 2. Toyota, 3. Hyundai, 4. Skoda and 5. Ford.

The top five bestselling cars so far in 2020 are 1. Toyota Corolla, 2. Hyundai Tucson, 3. Volkswagen Tiguan, 4. Ford Focus and 5. Hyundai Kona.

The bestselling car in September 2020 was the new Volkswagen ID.3.

So far in 2020 diesel accounts for 43.02% of the new car market, petrol for 37.29%, hybrid for 12.08%, electric for 4.28%, and plug-in hybrid for 2.74%

Light Commercials vehicles (LCV) are up 67.4% (2,240) compared to September last year (1,338) and year to date are down 18.6% (18,930). HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) registrations are up 12.5% (162) in comparison to September 2019 (144). However, year to date HGVs are down 23.6% (1,795).

Used car imports for September (9,522) have seen a decrease of 6.8% on September 2019 (10,221). While year to date imports are down 40.3% (49,190) on 2019 (82,435).

Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General, said: “September represents the first month this year to see an increase for new vehicle registrations, which can be attributed to catch up from the previous eight months of declining sales. Year to date, a far more accurate barometer, sees a reduction for the fourth consecutive year leaving new car sales at recessionary levels, merely 50% of what we should be achieving in a normal functioning new car market.

January 2021 will see a taxation change for our Industry, the biggest change to VRT and Road Tax since 2008. The 2008 change coincided with the recession, causing a collapse in the new and used car market with close to 15,000 jobs lost. With the duel threat arising from COVID and BREXIT, we simply cannot have the same destabilisation of the car market again. A more burdensome VRT regime will undermine both the new and used car markets, making new cars more expensive, impacting on used car values and slowing our fleet renewal. This will inevitably lead to a fall in employment and undermine viable family businesses. What we need to see in the Budget is a taxation reduction that will support the new car market and which will be environmentally positive. This will protect jobs, businesses, renew our fleet and reduce emissions.”


The new Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e

New Audi A3 Sportback Hybrid 40 TFSI e

The new Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e
The new Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e

Audi Ireland has confirmed that a new Audi A3 Sportback with plug-in hybrod technology will debut in Ireland in January 2021.

The new Audi A3 range went on sale here over the summer and is available as a five door hatchback or four door saloon with a range of petrol and diesel engines.

The new Audi A3 hybrid will be badged 40 TFSI e and will have 204 hp and can be driven on electric power alone for a limited range up to 67 kilometres (WLTP). A more powerful variant will follow shortly after.

The new A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e is the latest new plug-in hybrid model from Audi , which already includes the A6, A7, A8, Q5, and Q7.  The A3 hybrid uses a 1.4 TFSI with an electric motor and six-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. When the engine and motor are working together with maximum boost, the system torque reaches 350 Nm. The compact plug-in hybrid model sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 227 km/h.

When the A3 PHEV is in hybrid mode, the two drives divide the work intelligently. Two special modes can be selected via the MMI operating system: “Battery hold” and “Battery charge.” In “hold” mode, the available battery charge is held at the current level. In “charge” mode, as much electricity as possible is supplied to the battery.

Audi drive select also features in the hybrid and offers comfort, auto, dynamic, and individual driving profiles.

Audi says that it will take slightly more than four hours to fully recharge a completely empty battery. Customers can control the charging times with the free myAudi app.

Hybrid-specific functions and displays have been added to the operating concept of the A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e. The powermeter in the digital instrument cluster – or in the optional Audi virtual cockpit – displays the system’s output, the status of the drive, the recuperation, the battery’s state of charge, and the range. The central 10.1-inch MMI display shows the energy flows.

Equipment includes LED headlights, a leather multifunction steering wheel, two-zone automatic air conditioning system, Audi pre sense front, lane departure warning, turn assist, and swerve assist.

Inside the new Audi A3 hybrid
Inside the new Audi A3 hybrid

The new Dacia Sandero will arrive in Ireland in 2021

2021 Dacia Sandero Range Revealed

The new Dacia Sandero will arrive in Ireland in 2021
The new Dacia Sandero will arrive in Ireland in 2021

Dacia has refreshed its offer in the compact car segment with the new Dacia Sandero and Stepway. The new Sandero range is expected in Ireland in spring 2021, with pricing to be announced closer to launch.

The third generation of the Dacia Sandero and Stepway are built on a new platform, and will offer more active and passive safety features, new engines and a new automatic transmission and six-speed manual gearbox.

In Ireland over 9,500 Sanderos have been sold since the model launched here in 2013, with the Stepway crossover style model accounting for over 60% of Sandero sales here.

There have been subtle tweaks to the exterior with a more sloped windscreen, a slightly lower roof and flowing roofline. The front and rear lights display Dacia’s new Y-shaped LED light signature. LED headlights will be offered as a standard feature across the entire model range.

According to Dacia, the new shape of the doors and wing mirrors improves the car’s aerodynamics while reducing air noise for all occupants.

The 2021 Dacia Sandero Stepway has a unique ribbed and domed bonnet, the chrome Stepway logo under the front grille and curved fenders above the fog lights. The front and rear bumpers include a metal skid plate. There is 174 mm ground clearance (an increase of 41 mm compared with the Sandero), while roof bars and wheel arch cladding complete the crossover-like design.

The new Renault Group CMF modular platform underpins the new Sandero range and combines greater resistance and rigidity with less weight. Both cars are fitted with a new front axle with rectangular suspension arms that are said to provide effective shock absorption and enhanced steering. Anti-roll capacity has been improved and the wheelbase extended for greater cornering stability. The new engine mount has been upgraded to minimise vibrations in the cabin.

There's also a new interior with redesigned dashboard features. Newly designed front seats provide greater comfort and support with height adjustable headrests and new, more premium upholstery. In the rear there is an additional 42 mm of space compared to the outgoing models. The boot of the Sandero has a generous 328-litre capacity and features a flat floor with adjustable height floor with two positions.

Engines will include the SCe 65, a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission and the TCe 90, a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit paired with a six-speed manual transmission or CVT automatic transmission.

Sandero and Stepway budget compacts
Sandero and Stepway budget compacts

The new Kia XCeed PHEV on test for Changing Lanes

Kia XCeed Plug-In Hybrid (2020) Review

The new Kia XCeed PHEV on test for Changing Lanes
The new Kia XCeed PHEV on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the 2020 Kia XCeed.

Earlier in the year we tested the Kia XCeed diesel; now it’s the turn of the hybrid.

The Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid (PHEV) comes to market with fashionable crossover style and an equally on trend hybrid powertrain. It’s a stylish piece of design for the compact segment but how successful is the hybrid powertrain?

Kia has astounded us over the last few years with a range of exciting and innovative models that puts them ahead of some even more established brands.

The Korean brand has not only stepped up quality and design but has also been an enthusiastic adopter of electrification into their range. The brand already sells two popular electric vehicles in Ireland, the Kia e-Niro and the Kia e-Soul, Irish Car of the Year 2020.

Fashionable crossover style for the new XCeed
Fashionable crossover style for the new XCeed

What's so special about the Kia XCeed Plug-In Hybrid?

Hybrid is also a key feature of the range, debuting here in the Niro range back in 2016 and now extending to the XCeed range and next Kia Sorento.

The brand has had great success in Ireland with its SUVs like the Sportage and moved into the crossover market with the Stonic and now the XCeed. A derivative of the Ceed is a good place to start for the XCeed and it inherits the same underpinnings and interior with some modifications. The XCeed in my opinion is the most desirable of the range with its crossover-style makeover.

The XCeed PHEV has a new closed ‘tiger-nose’ grille to aid aerodynamic efficiency and the charging port is integrated into the left front wing. In Ireland it retails from €28,350 including grants and VRT relief. It is available in just one high specification. Standard equipment includes 18” alloy wheels, dual zone automatic air con, 8” touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, rear privacy glass, rain sensing wipers, lane keep assist and forward collision avoidance.

Inside the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV
Inside the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV

Inside the Kia XCeed PHEV

Inside, the XCeed PHEV is comfortable with a well-laid out cabin and good finish. There are some new features for the plug-in hybrid including a charging indicator on top of the dashboard to signal visually to the driver the state of the battery (charging or fully charged).The instrument cluster also displays remaining charge levels, anticipated electric-only range and the flow of energy between the battery pack, engine and electric motor. The ‘Driver Only’ heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system is a handy feature to reduce the draw on battery energy from the ventilation system.

There is good space inside the vehicle for a compact with decent legroom in the rear. The Ceed model line-up was engineered from the start to accommodate new hybrid powertrains so the battery pack doesn't interfere with passenger space. The 8.9 kWh battery pack is located alongside the 37-litre fuel tank beneath the rear bench. However the boot is on the shallow side with luggage capacity in the hybrid down to 291 litres, less than the pure combustion engine versions.

How does the hybrid work?

The 2020 Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor and 8.9 kWh battery pack to produce 141 hp and 265 Nm of torque. There is a pure electric range quoted up to 54 km by the brand, though in real world driving this will be a little less. But it does allow buyers to experiment with driving an electric vehicle and means that short commutes or errands can be run on battery power alone, with little dip into that petrol tank. It can take less than 3 hours to charge the battery to full capacity.

Luggage capacity in the new XCeed hybrid
Luggage capacity in the new XCeed hybrid

Kia says that the XCeed Plug-in Hybrid has been engineered exclusively for European roads, with European buyers in mind. The ride and handling characteristics have been tuned for dynamism and driver engagement, with some special tweaks to suspension and steering over the diesel and petrol XCeed range.

The powertrain is paired with a six-speed double-clutch transmission, while regenerative braking technology also comes as standard to recuperate energy typically lost during coasting or braking.

Driving the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV

On the road the Kia XCeed PHEV impressed for its smooth, refined drive. Handling is quite neutral so the car behaves predictably on the road but there isn't much dynamic spirit to it. There are two modes to switch between – Sport and Eco - and both are worth acquainting yourself with.

In Eco mode there is a bias towards efficiency with a duller throttle feel ensuring you optimise your fuel economy. To that end we averaged between 5.0 and 5.5 litres per 100 kms across mixed roads - urban, rural and motorway. That is an impressive return and motor tax is just €170 per year, accounting for the reduced CO2 emissions from the hybrid powertrain.

When you need more throttle response and quick acceleration, for example when overtaking or joining the motorway, the Sport mode is a must.

Kia has invested to bring plug-in hybrid technology to the compact class, and the brand is offering buyers in Ireland an attractive package of price, equipment and fuel sipping hybrid technology in the compact class.

The XCeed occupies a sweet spot of the market right now with styling that is right on point for current trends for crossovers. Adding hybrid to that creates a very appealing prospect. While the hybrid carries a small premium over the entry level petrol XCeed, in return I think buyers will be impressed with the fuel economy and refinement of the vehicle.

The Kia XCeed PHEV offers buyers a fuel sipping hybrid crossover
The Kia XCeed PHEV offers buyers a fuel sipping hybrid crossover

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid
Price: 
€28,350
Engine: 1.6 litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
141 hp
Torque: 265 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.8 seconds
Top speed: 225 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 109 g/km
Motor Tax:  €170 per year


The new Ford Puma ST on the way to Ireland before the end of the year!

Ford Puma ST On The Way To Ireland!

The new Ford Puma ST on the way to Ireland before the end of the year!
The new Ford Puma ST on the way to Ireland before the end of the year!

Ford Ireland has released more details of the new Ford Puma ST, the brand's new high performance compact SUV.

The new Puma ST is expected here before the end of 2020 and will be powered by a 1.5-litre Ecoboost turbo petrol engine with 200 hp. and 320 Nm of torque available. First introduced for the latest Ford Fiesta ST, the engine features advanced turbocharging and high-pressure fuel injection technologies alongside Twin-independent Variable Cam Timing.

Active exhaust valve technology amplifies the naturally sporty three-cylinder engine sound to enhance the driving experience. Ford Performance tuned the exhaust note to better suit the Puma ST’s more refined SUV character – the model is approximately one decibel quieter than the Fiesta ST.

The engine also includes Ford’s cylinder deactivation technology to improve fuel efficiency. Figures given are an anticipated 6.9 l/100 km fuel consumption and 155 g/km CO2 (WLTP).

The Puma ST will be offered with the same six-speed manual transmission as the Fiesta ST, with a shortened final drive ratio to enable 6.7-second 0-100 km/h acceleration and a 220 km/h top speed.

An optimised chassis features bespoke twist-beam, anti-roll bar and damper configurations. Steering responses are 25 per cent faster and brakes 17 per cent larger than the standard Puma.

There will also be a unique-in-segment limited-slip differential (LSD) option and patented force vectoring springs. Puma ST also features selectable Drive Modes including Sport mode and – for the first time on a Ford Performance vehicle – Eco mode; providing drivers with options for a wide range of road driving scenarios.

The interior of the new Puma ST
The interior of the new Puma ST

Ford Performance worked alongside Michelin to develop a bespoke tyre specification to complement the Puma ST’s enhanced chassis, without sacrificing ride quality. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres help deliver the most agile Ford SUV driving experience yet.

The Puma ST is the only small performance SUV in Europe to be offered with an LSD, which optimises front-end traction to enhance cornering ability and minimise understeer, in particular on the exit of corners. The purely mechanical system distributes engine torque to the wheel with the most grip, reducing wheel spin and allowing the driver to fully exploit the engine performance. Available as part of a performance pack, the LSD works alongside Torque Vectoring Control, which improves road-holding and reduces understeer by applying brake force to the inside front wheel when cornering. The balance between the two features has been fine-tuned by Ford Performance to optimise grip on dry surfaces and smoothness on wet surfaces.

Braking performance is also optimised. Front discs are increased by 17 per cent in diameter compared with the standard Puma specification to 325mm, and 271mm discs feature at the rear.

Selectable Drive Modes include a Track mode, Eco mode, Normal mode, and of course Sport mode. Launch Control is available as part of the performance pack.

Design modifications include a Ford Performance-embossed splitter integrated into the front bumper to increase front end downforce by almost 80 per cent for greater stability and traction. The large rear roof spoiler also supports optimised aerodynamics, with a distinctive diffuser incorporated into the rear bumper. Signature ST upper and lower grilles are designed to deliver increased engine cooling capability.

The Puma ST offers Magnetite or machined metal finishes for the standard 19-inch alloy wheels, and six available exterior body colours include Agate Black, Desert Island Blue, Fantastic Red, Frozen White, Magnetic and the new ST-exclusive Mean Green. A gloss black finish for the roof, grille surrounds, side spears, door mirror caps and rear roof spoiler are all standard.

Inside,there are bolstered Recaro sports seats embossed with the ST logo, Ford Performance skid plates, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and ST gear knob.

The new Ford Puma ST will be powered by a 1.5-litre Ecoboost turbo petrol engine
The new Ford Puma ST will be powered by a 1.5-litre Ecoboost turbo petrol engine

Standard features will include a wireless charging pad, Quickclear heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and Ford’s SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto™ compatibility, and a premium B&O sound system.

“Real driving enthusiasts aren’t going to settle for less excitement just because life demands a more ‘sensible’ car, so our number one priority was that the Puma ST had to be as exhilarating and capable as every ST model, without sacrificing any of Puma’s practicality,” said Stefan Muenzinger, Ford Performance manager, Europe. “We believe that we have the best-handling small SUV in its segment. It really does feel connected and has the true ST feel. It is a joy to drive.”

 


Volkswagen ID.4 1ST Max

Volkswagen ID.4 On Sale In Ireland From January 2021

Volkswagen ID.4 1ST Max
Volkswagen ID.4 1ST Max

Volkswagen Ireland has confirmed that the new Volkswagen ID.4 will go on sale in Ireland from January 2021.

The ID.4 is the German brand's first all electric SUV and the follow-up to the Volkswagen ID.3 electric hatchback that has just gone on sale in Ireland this autumn.

The first models to arrive here will be the 1st Edition. Pricing for the new Volkswagen ID.4 1st will start from €42,995 including Government grants and VRT relief. These models will use a 77 kWh battery with a system power output of 204 hp and an expected range of 500 km (WLTP).

The Volkswagen ID.4 1st Max with even more equipment will be available from €54,395 after grants and a WLTP range of 492 km.

A source in Volkswagen Ireland has said that the brand expects to sell 1700 here in a year.

From May 2021, the Volkswagen ID.4 52 kWh will launch here with an expected lower entry price of €35,000 after grants and a range of around 340 km.

The ID.4 is classed as a compact SUV and uses Volkswagen’s modular electric drive matrix (MEB) architecture. Volkswagen says the space available in the vehicle interior is at the level of conventional SUVs in the next category up. Depending on the rear seat backrest’s position, the luggage compartment will have a capacity from 543 to 1,575 litres. The equipment range of the ID.4 includes an electrically powered boot lid, roof rails and a towing bracket.

The interior of the new ID.4
The interior of the new ID.4

The E-SUV’s operating concept will be based on two displays – one of which diagonally measures up to 12 inches and features touch functionality – as well as “Hello ID.” natural voice control. The new ID.Light – a narrow light strip under the windscreen – features as does an augmented reality head-up display as an option.

The ID.4 can avail of DC quick-charging at 125 kW adding 325 km in as little as 30 minutes.

“The ID.4 is an emotional all-rounder which will impress many customers with its efficient electric drive, generous amount of space, modern assist systems and powerful design,” says Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen brand. “As the first global electric car, this model will roll out our modular electric drive matrix platform that has been developed specifically for electric mobility the world over. Volkswagen is thus once again demonstrating its leading role in innovation, technology and quality on
the high-volume market.”

The new Volkswagen ID.4 expected in Ireland in January 2021
The new Volkswagen ID.4 expected in Ireland in January 2021

The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser

2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Update

The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Land Cruiser has been updated for 2021, and will arrive in the brand's Irish dealerships from this October.

Key highlights include a more powerful 2.8-litre diesel engine, new Stop & Start technology for the automatic version, and upgrades to the multimedia system.

On the engine front, the proven four cylinder 2.8-litre diesel engine benefits from an increase in both power and torque. Maximum power output has been increased by 27 hp to 204 hp, and maximum torque has increased by 50 Nm to 500 Nm. When matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission, this gives the Land Cruiser a maximum speed of 175 km/h and lowers its 0-100 km/h acceleration time to 9.9 seconds - an improvement of 3.0 seconds over its predecessor.  These improvements also come with a saving in fuel consumption and CO2 as those models with automatic transmission are now equipped with Stop & Start technology.

Equipment levels have been enhanced for 2021 with an upgraded multimedia system with customisable home view, faster software and screen response, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Pricing for the updated Toyota Land Cruiser starts from €45,160 including 2% VAT reduction, and from €38,171 excluding VAT.


The new Renault Arkana on the way to Ireland in 2021

Renault Arkana Coming To Ireland in 2021

The new Renault Arkana on the way to Ireland in 2021
The new Renault Arkana on the way to Ireland in 2021

Renault Ireland has confirmed that the all-new Renault Arkana will go on sale in Ireland in 2021, with pricing to be confirmed closer to launch. This new offering, which complements Renault's compact range (Mégane, Kadjar and Scénic), is part of a rapidly growing SUV market worldwide.

The new model for the brand is billed as a 'coupé SUV' and combines SUV proportions with the sloping roofline of a coupé. The new model will be built on the CMF-B modular platform, which underpins the new Clio and Captur and will be slightly longer than the current Megane hatchback. It will join Renault's current range of SUVs - Captur, Kadjar and Koleos - but offer coupé SUV style more usually associated with premium brands.

We are told that it will have a boot capacity of 513 litres along with a raised floor and seats which can be folded completely flat.

Inside a digital dashboard features a 4.2-, 7- or 10-inch Driver Information Display. This is complemented by a 7-inch horizontal or 9.3-inch portrait Easy Link touchscreen infotainment display oriented towards the driver, all compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The Arkana will feature hybrid technology
The Arkana will feature hybrid technology

It is the latest model from the French brand to be offered in R.S. Line specification providing sportier exterior and interior design elements.

The new Renault Arkana will be available with a selection of electrified powertrains including a full E-TECH hybrid and a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine with mild hybrid technology.

The full hybrid powertrain will combine a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a lithium-ion battery and two electric motors for a total power output of 140 hp.

The interior of the new Arkana
The interior of the new Arkana

The new Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on test for Changing Lanes!

Jaguar XE Chequered Flag (2020) Review

The new Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2020 Jaguar XE.

We review the 2020 Jaguar XE Chequered Flag edition with great anticipation that soon turned to a real grá for this lithe and lovely cat. Fresh from a 2019 facelift, Jaguar’s compact saloon invites more customers to the brand with contemporary luxury and first class engineering.

Jaguar Ireland is turning our attention in the direction of the Chequered Flag edition of the XE. It adds an impressive list of standard equipment along with some sporty styling additions, all available from a competitive €47,005.

What's so special about the Jaguar XE?

Let’s rewind a little to put this XE into some context. Jaguar is a small brand compared to the other heavy hitters in the premium segment but buyers of premium cars should do themselves a favour and check out what’s available from the brand. To date, Changing Lanes has spent time with Jaguar's new breed of SUVs; that will be the ground-breaking F-PACE of 2016 and the E-PACE follow up of 2017.

But what about the classic Jaguar saloon? The XE was in fact an all-new model for the brand back in 2014, joining the XF and XJ in Jaguar’s premium saloon range. Just like competitor brands, the XE was about attracting younger buyers to the brand with a modern compact saloon that oozed class and sporty appeal. Let’s remember this is the brand that lives by the tagline ‘The Art of Performance’.

The Jaguar XE Chequered Flag is on sale priced from €47,005
The Jaguar XE Chequered Flag is on sale priced from €47,005

What's new for the 2020 Jaguar XE?

The Jaguar XE has great presence on the road and the 2019 facelift offers some satisfactory updates to appearance to keep things modern. New front and rear bumpers feature as do all-LED headlights and tail-lights with distinctive ‘J-blade’ LED signatures. Chequered Flag editions get black 18” alloys and exterior pack.

However, it’s inside where the XE really does sell itself beautifully. Open the door and you will be met by a stylish and classy cabin full of leather and other contemporary magic. We loved our test car's cream leather and panelling. The contour-hugging front seats are mounted low, creating a sports-car like driving position. The raised centre console also adds to the sportiness.

The 2019 facelift reaped dividends for the brand in this segment. Soft-touch materials, premium veneers and all-new door trims feature as does a revised centre console, new gear shift selector, and a new steering wheel shared with the I-PACE electric SUV. It features hidden-until-lit graphics and tactile switches for intuitive control of key functions.

The interior of the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag
The interior of the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag

More technology for the interior

The Chequered Flag edition also benefits from a swish new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with 10" touchscreen. Apple Car Play and Android Auto sync easily but the native system is quite impressive. The twin-screen system also includes a 5.5" lower touchscreen with two physical dials for things like ventilation and other functions. It looks great and it is actually one of the easiest on the market to use. Wireless phone charging is available for the first time too.

Other standard features on the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag are 14-way electric heated front seats, illuminated metal tread plates, configurable ambient lighting, front and rear parking sensors and reverse camera.

In Ireland the Jaguar XE is available at present with petrol and diesel engines form the brand’s Ingenium range of engines. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel puts out a healthy 180 hp. There is also a 2.0-litre petrol available with 250 or 300 hp.

The Jaguar XE strikes a fine balance between comfort and performance
The Jaguar XE strikes a fine balance between comfort and performance

On the road in the Jaguar XE!

Jaguar has a fantastic heritage in motorsport and building performance-oriented road cars. Yet can they package this supremacy in a compact saloon? We were keen to find out. In fact the XE appears to do it better than any rival in its current iteration. Much of the on-road performance is down to the Jaguar XE’s lightweight aluminium intensive body structure. Aluminium makes up 75 per cent of the body and combines with classic sporty rear wheel drive and sophisticated integral link rear suspension. The XE is the most agile in its class, a playful mate for keen drivers. The steering is wonderfully weighted with loads of precision and steering feel. No interruptions, this car is an excellent communicator on the road.

Jaguar has achieved a fine balance between comfort and performance in the XE. Despite a sporty oriented drive this car covers the road phenomenally well. Automatic transmission comes as standard and we liked the slickness of shifts in association with the 2.0-litre diesel in our test car. This engine is another fine point. Refinement is very good and performance, one of the best. It’s swift and responsive with 430 Nm of torque, achieving 0 to 100 kmh in 8.1 seconds. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was a competitive 5.5 l per 100 km.

Enthusiastic drivers will also find a Dynamic mode that amplifies the car’s sporting character, with faster gear shifts, sharper throttle response and increased steering weighting. We kept the car in Comfort most of the time and we were happy with the experience behind the wheel. Other modes include Eco or Rain, Ice, Snow Mode. Jaguar also includes All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) in the spec, a useful driver aid based on Jaguar Land Rover’s experience in off-road traction systems. It’s like a low speed cruise control system and helps XE drivers to electronically gain traction in seconds, ideal for use on low-grip surfaces, such as snow-covered roads.

Diesel and petrol engines are available in the current XE line-up
Diesel and petrol engines are available in the current XE line-up

Did you like it all?

So was there anything we didn’t like about this car? With the XE there is a compromise to be made on interior and boot space. This is the smallest car in its class when it comes to interior space. Rear legroom is on the tight side compared to rivals. The saloon style boot restricts practicality somewhat. There is over 410 litres available, but like for like, it is less than what you find in rivals.

The Jaguar XE is a smooth operator that comes up behind you, overtakes you and you never realised it was just so good. Seductive looks and the prestige of the Jaguar badge should put it on your shortlist as a mid size sports saloon. Yes we can call it a legitimate sports saloon because it really does feel like one. Even with a four cylinder diesel engine!

Once you get behind the wheel you will love the Jaguar for its classy interior and incredible on the road performance and agility. The 2019 facelift keeps the XE very competitive in its segment with the addition of the latest infotainment. The Chequered Flag edition is very tempting for the level of standard kit and price; when you compare it to rivals of similar spec it seems well-priced.

The XE feels smaller inside than rivals but if space is not a priority, then enjoy one of the most fun and sporty compact saloons on the market right now.

Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on sale now
Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on sale now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Jaguar XE 2.0 D Chequered Flag
Price: 
€47,005
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
180 hp
Torque: 430 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.1 seconds
Top speed: 228 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 130 g/km
Motor Tax:  €270 per year


The new Ford Puma ST Line X Vignale

Ford Puma ST-Line X Vignale Now Available

The new Ford Puma ST Line X Vignale
The new Ford Puma ST Line X Vignale

Ford in Ireland has further expanded the new Puma range with additional powertrain and equipment level options. Customers can now choose from Puma models equipped with a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a luxurious new Puma ST-Line X Vignale variant.

The brand also tells us that they have invested approximately €200 million at a state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Craiova, Romania, to support production of Puma, taking Ford’s total investment in Craiova to almost €1.5 billion since 2008.

The Ford Puma SUV-inspired crossover arrived in Ireland at the beginning of the year, priced from €24,835. It was the first car in the Ford range to benefit from Ford’s 48-volt mild hybrid technology for enhanced petrol fuel efficiency from the 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine with a six-speed manual transmission. It launched with three trim levels: Titanium, ST Line and ST Line X.

Now a new seven-speed automatic transmission option for the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine with 125 hp delivers from 139 g/km and 6.1 L/100km WLTP.  Available from €26,797 (Titanium series), according to the brand the advanced transmission’s greater number of gear ratios and dual-clutch operation for seamless gear changes contribute to optimised fuel efficiency, refinement and driving dynamics.

Inside the Puma ST Line X Vignale
Inside the Puma ST Line X Vignale

Based on the sporty Puma ST-Line X variant, the Puma ST-Line X Vignale is now available from €28,644. It adds more premium styling and specification including exclusive 18” alloys, a satin aluminium upper grille and surround, ebony lower grille, and body-coloured lower rear bumper. Standard specification includes signature LED headlights, Windsor leather seats, wrapped instrument cluster, heated front seats, heated steering wheel and Ford KeyFree system.

In June, Ford announced that a new Ford Performance Puma ST model will join the range later this year.

“Customers have told us that they want a range of options to help find a combination of style, equipment, performance and efficiency that’s just right for them. That’s something we committed to delivering with Puma, and with a new Puma ST coming later this year, we’re not finished yet,” says John Manning, Market Lead, Ford Ireland.

Read our latest review of the new 2020 Ford Puma ST Line X.