The 2020 Renault Clio!

2020 Renault Clio TCe 100 Petrol Review

The 2020 Renault Clio!
The 2020 Renault Clio!

A new Renault Clio has just reached Ireland in time for 2020 new car sales! The fifth generation of the iconic small French hatchback has matured just like a fine Bordeaux that gets better with age. Priced from €17,195, the headline features for new Clio are refreshed looks, a new cabin, new petrol engine, new technology and a new trim line.

In the 30 years since the iconic supermini first went on sale, the Renault Clio has sold 55,000 models in Ireland with the previous generation Clio being the most successful - 12,000 units sold to date.

What's new for the 2020 Renault Clio?

The Clio has a new look but it's a gentle evolution of a very successful design. The previous generation Clio that debuted in 2012 was a dramatic departure of what had come before. It was top designer Laurens van den Acker's first masterpiece for Renault and was the start of a cascade of stylish new Renaults with clearly defined road presence depicted in sensuous curves and distinct light signature.

Inside the new Renault Clio
Inside the new Renault Clio

The 2020 Renault Clio matures with some stretching and refining of surfaces. The bonnet features sculpted ribs, while the grille is now bigger and the front bumper more pronounced.

The side profile is one of the best in the segment - sleek and stylish - with hidden window-mounted rear door handles giving the sporty look of a three-door model. Full LED headlamps are flanked by Renault’s C-Shaped daytime running light signature. The colour palette features the eye-catching Valencia Orange - specially treated for a radiant shine - and the classic 'looks good everywhere in every weather' Iron Blue.

Inside the new Renault Clio

However it’s inside where we see some really welcome changes. There’s a new interior design that has matured but is still textured enough to not be boring. Material quality has improved and the new driver instrument panel looks much better, along with a new infotainment system with either 7-inch or 9.3-inch touchscreen. You’ll still probably skip Renault's interface and head straight to Apple Car Play or Android Auto connectivity for ease of use.

The new Clio available from €17,195
The new Clio available from €17,195

Renault Ireland is offering new Clio in four trim lines: Expression, Dynamique, Iconic and a new sporty-looking R.S. Line. Full LED lights come as standard as do air con and cruise control with speed limiter, ADAS safety systems, electric windows and mirrors. Dynamique features the 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while Iconic’s EasyLink with built-in navigation includes intuitive Google address search. The R.S. Line has full exterior R.S. look, with 17” alloy wheels, special interior trim and the 9.3” EasyLink screen as standard.

My test car was a Clio 1.2 litre 100 hp in Iconic trim line with good specification and priced from €20,395.

Is it practical?

There’s also now more space than ever in the new Clio, despite being 12 mm shorter and 8 mm lower than its predecessor. The new front seat design gives more comfort and support but the design also frees up more legroom in the rear. Elsewhere, boot capacity has increased to 391 litres, and there's a further 26 litres of storage dotted around the cabin.

There's currently a line-up of small efficient petrol and diesel engines, though a 1.6-litre ‘E-TECH’ petrol-electric hybrid is on the way later in 2020. There's an entry level three-cylinder naturally aspirated SCe 75 with 72 hp, but the pick of the range is the new 1.2-litre turbo petrol unit with 100 hp ('TCe 100').

Renault has introduced an excellent new petrol engine into the Clio range
Renault has introduced an excellent new petrol engine into the Clio range

I absolutely adored this engine. It feels nippy and refined and is truly efficient. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was just 5.0l/100km! This engine is available on Dynamique trim and above from €19,095. It's fitted as standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, but the engine is also available with a seven-speed CVT gearbox.

There's also a 'TCe 130' turbo petrol engine with more power again and available exclusively with the seven-speed EDC dual-clutch transmission.

The 'Blue dCi 85' diesel is a 1.5-litre unit and has a six-speed manual gearbox. Official WLTP fuel economy figure for this model is just 4.2 l/100 km.

New 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
New 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Driving the 2020 Renault Clio

The 2020 Renault Clio sits on a new Renault CMF-B platform, which delivers improvements in space, safety, technology and weight saving. This car is light and athletic on the road. Refinement is also excellent and the Clio is as comfortable on motorway runs as it is in town or country road driving. The TCe 100 positively hums and is very efficient.

You quickly blend into the groove with the new Clio. There's good value to be had in the Clio range and it's a great all rounder. The cabin might not be the last word in luxury, but it's a much improved interior that's fun and cheerful to spend time in. The new 1.2-litre petrol engine is highly desirable and makes the car more versatile.

This is a really great small car!

Caroline and the new Renault Clio in Valencia Orange!
Caroline and the new Renault Clio in Valencia Orange!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Clio TCe 100 Iconic
Price: 
€20,395
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
100 hp
Torque: 160 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.8 seconds
Top speed: 187 km/h
Economy: 
5.2/100km
CO2 emissions:  
118g/km
Motor tax: 
€ per year

 


The new Audi e-tron

2020 Audi e-tron 55 quattro Review

The new Audi e-tron
The new Audi e-tron in Ireland

Caroline drives the 2020 Audi e-tron.

Audi has landed into the world of EVs with a big splash in the form of the flagship Audi e-tron SUV. With a massive 95 kWh battery, the e-tron is a technological achievement, a perfect embodiment of the Vorsprung durch Technik the brand is built upon. Progress through technology, the concept of the new e-tron is undoubtedly big, impressive and optimistic. Audi chose to conceive a large family SUV as the brand’s first ever fully electric production model. The new e-tron will spearhead an electric vehicle (EV) offensive for the brand that will see 12 production Audi e-models by 2025.

But the most important question for most EV buyers right now is – how far will it get me on one charge? While Audi quotes a WLTP range of up to 436 km, this reviewer can tell you that during our real world test during a cold spell in December, we travelled a reliable 300 km on a full charge.

What about performance?

In the metal the e-tron looks like the kind of vehicle that will make the ground shake when you start it up. But no twin turbos under the bonnet here. In fact, there is very little under the bonnet at all! Powerful front and rear electric motors energised by a large high-voltage battery, give the e-tron 55 quattro a power output of 402 hp and 664 Nm of torque and the 0 to 100 km/h sprint figure is 5.7 seconds. When you are swapping stats and stories at the EV fast charger, this will be met with a short intake of breath - but performance is not really the story here.

The interior of the new Audi e-tron
The interior of the new Audi e-tron

For sure the e-tron can move quickly. But what is more impressive and frankly enjoyable about this vehicle is the silky smooth refinement of the car. The way the controls feel, how it covers the tarmac so smoothly and effortlessly, all in silence.

Audi says the drive components are installed low and central for the best dynamic ability with the battery system located between the axles in the form of a flat, broad block beneath the passenger compartment. They say that this configuration makes the Audi e-tron’s centre of gravity similar to that of a saloon car. Axle load distribution is perfectly balanced at almost 50:50.

The Audi e-tron is very clever

Audi drive select allows driver to toggle between seven profiles depending on the driving situation, road conditions or personal preferences. The system also influences the standard air suspension with adaptive dampers. The pneumatic springs adjust individually to the road conditions depending on the speed and the driver’s preferences, varying the ride height by as much as 76 millimetres. At higher, motorway speeds on longer journeys the e-tron can sit lower on the road to improve aerodynamics and range. I drove it in the efficiency mode most of the time, with the most discernible difference being a less responsive throttle.

The 2020 Audi e-tron 55 quattro is powered by a 95 kWh battery
The 2020 Audi e-tron 55 quattro is powered by a 95 kWh battery

And when it comes to charging the mighty e-tron, there’s up to 150 kw charging, which I can tell you feels like magic. High speed 150 kw IONITY chargers arrived in Ireland in the summer at select Circle K stations and I’m lucky to have one in my area. There are fast chargers and then there are IONITY chargers. For €8 per use, I went from 10% battery power to 100% in 40 minutes. When I hopped back in the range read 314 km. At home with a 22 kw wallbox a full charge can be got in approximately 4.3 hrs or 8.3 hours with 11 kW charging.

Inside the 2020 Audi e-tron

Priced from €89,810 including grant reductions, the new Audi e-tron is an elite piece of kit. Inside, the e-tron is as salubrious as any other member of the Audi range. It features the latest in Audi interior design with a stunning digital cockpit. Material quality is excellent throughout and the space inside the vehicle is also used well. An electric tailgate reveals a boot volume of 600 litres.

Audi Ireland has also just recently announced the arrival of the Audi e-tron 50 quattro, which uses a 71 kWh battery and starts from €64,990 with a shorter WLTP range of 336 km.

The new e-tron 55 quattro available from €89,810 including grant reductions
The new e-tron 55 quattro available from €89,810 including grant reductions

The concept of the Audi e-tron is a true showstopper. Audi’s flagship electric SUV is a fantastic debut with the convenience of 150 kw charging and a genuine 300 km of real world range.

While the stats from the high voltage battery are impressive, the packing of this EV technology means that there is no denying the car feels heavy on the road and you will be acutely aware of carrying your battery when slowing down at a junction or for a roundabout. Dynamically, the e-tron does little to excite.

But the execution of this vehicle’s premium attributes, the attention to detail in the way it's been designed and built, and the smoothness of the cabin and ride is highly seductive. Hell, it’s an Audi after all. You will enjoy this car.

For eco-conscious trendsetters and EV evangelists, the e-tron brings huge bragging rights.

Caroline Kidd and the Audi e-tron
Caroline and the Audi e-tron

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi e-tron 55 quattro
Price: 
From €89,810 (including grants)
Battery: 95 kWh
Power: 
402 bhp
Torque: 664 Nm
0-100km/h:  
5.7 seconds
Top speed: 200 km/h
CO2 emissions:  
0 g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


New high power IONITY chargers have arrived in Ireland!

Guide To IONITY At Circle K In Ireland

New high power IONITY chargers have arrived in Ireland!
New high power IONITY chargers have arrived in Ireland!

Circle K and IONITY have partnered to bring the first 350 kW electric vehicle (EV) chargers to Ireland. The company is planning 400 stations along major European routes with over 200 already in action across the continent and four already in Ireland. Here's a guide to using them to charge your electric car!

What is IONITY?

Europe’s leading high-power charging provider. A joint venture founded by BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche. It was established with the aim of providing a network of reliable, high-performance charging stations along Europe's main transport routes.

How does it work?

You can use if your car is equipped with a CCS. The charger technology automatically optimises its charging speed to the maximum your car’s built-in battery management system can handle so you will always be charging at full speed. For example. the new Audi e-tron can charge at 150 kW so it's possible to get from 10% to 100% battery power in just 40 minutes.

How to pay for IONITY

It cost €8 per session at launch but a kilowatt hour based pricing structure is in place from 31st January 2020. Many manufacturers are offering special packages with contactless cards that you can present at the charger for convenient, easy access. Connected Mobility Service Providers (MSP) like Audi e-tron Charging Service, Mercedes me Charge, BMW ChargeNow, Porsche Charging Service and Volkswagen WeCharge offer more financially attractive and bespoke packages for motorway drivers. You can also pay via the app when you register an account. For third-party payments, the company advises that you check directly with your mobility service provider for their rates. Customers who do not have a contract with an MSP will pay €0.79 cent per kWh to charge their EV.

IONITY is simple and easy to use
IONITY is simple and easy to use

Where can I charge with IONITY in Ireland?

There are currently four motorway Circle K sites in Ireland with this new high power charging installed: Circle K Cashel, Tipperary, Circle K Athlone on the M6, Circle K City North on the M1, and Circle K Gorey on the M11. A site is currently under construction at Circle K Kill South on the M7.

Is there an app?

Yes you can download a smartphone app that shows the position and availability of charging stations.

Can Tesla use IONITY?

Tesla has its own supercharger network throughout Europe but popular models like the new Model 3 can be charged using IONITY chargers. Model S and Model X can be charged if you have a CCS adaptor.

IONITY Ireland Map

IONITY Ireland map
Map of IONITY stations in Ireland

Eugene Devereux, founder of Irish Boostrapper, and his BMW 3 Series Coupe

Me And My Car: Eugene Devereux, Irish Bootstrapper

Eugene Devereux, founder of Irish Boostrapper, and his BMW 3 Series Coupe
Eugene Devereux, founder of Irish Boostrapper, and his BMW 3 Series Coupe

Irish Bootstrapper was founded by Eugene Devereux and promotes positive mental and physical health through travel and adventure. Eugene produces the popular podcast The Bootcast, which features inspiring interviews with people living and working in the travel and adventure space. Eugene also loves cars and he accepted our invitation to feature on Changing Lanes with his BMW 3 Series Coupe! I spoke to Eugene about the story behind Irish Bootstrapper, his favourite travel memories, and the most memorable journey he ever took in his BMW.

1. Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

Hi, I'm Eugene Devereux from Carlow, Ireland. My passions lie in travel, adventure and business, while my interests are in tech, media, music, motors and of course Ireland. My professional background is in media, sales and marketing, and in 2019 I started a new Adventure/Travel brand called Irish Bootstrapper.

Irish Bootstrapper: A new travel and adventure brand

2. What inspired Irish Bootstrapper?

I've always had a love of travel and adventure, ever since taking my first flight to Wales at 14 years old. Since then, I've been to a lot of Europe, the US and most recently South East Asia. Also, I take part in adventure races around Ireland, which are a fun, challenging way to see the country and meet new people. I had always wanted to start my own business. So, when I went travelling in 2019, I started Irish Bootstrapper effectively as a blog and it naturally progressed into what you see today: a fresh Irish brand bringing you travel and adventure products, services and content with will one day be a global powerhouse in the space.

3. As you've travelled the world, have you made any observations about cars and transport in other countries?

European cites: They love to drive cars and in general smaller cars. Take Paris or Amsterdam with their Smarts, Fiat 500s and little Renaults .

Asian Cities: They love to drive 2-wheelers!

Cambodia: Tuk-tuks and rickshaws are common public transport options.

Vietnam: The bus drivers take no prisoners! On your little scooter, get out of their way! Streets are narrower and very congested in the Vietnamese cities, like Ho Chi Minh, so it's a space thing. And, you'd be surprised what you can get onto a Honda 50! I've seen anything from a chicken pen to a ghetto blaster to literally somebody's entire home on the back of a scooter whereas in Ireland or Europe, you might think you need an SUV with a roof rack and hitch for doing the same journey. Resourcefulness with their vehicles I guess.

Irish Bootstrapper in Ho Chi Minh
Irish Bootstrapper reaches Ho Chi Minh

4. What has been your most memorable car/transport moment to date while travelling? 

In South East Asia, being a passenger on my friend's scooter on my first night in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The sheer volume of traffic (99% 2-wheelers) and what appears to be absolute pandemonium is a total driving-awakening to somebody from a small Irish town.

In Europe, doing a road-trip with three friends from Nice in the South of France, along the coast and up into the French mountains, going through places like Grasse, Antibes, Castellane and another little gem of a town high in the mountains.

An absolutely amazing journey in terms of driving experience, scenery and stop off points. And all in a trusty Peugeot 307!

5. What in your opinion are three of the best road trips and which car would you choose to explore each of them?

Oh good question. From what I've done and what I'd like to do:

1) The South of France road trip mentioned above. You could start off in Monte Carlo and go through the coastal towns before heading into the mountains. I would do this again in an Ariel Atom. These are real "driver's roads" and the car would be ideal for maximising the spectacular views en route.

2) A trip to the West of Ireland and around the West, in something like a VW Camper. The West is so amazing in terms of terrain, scenery and its rugged Irish appeal, as well as a host of activities and traditional taste along the way.

3) The entire Route 66 in either an original Mustang or Dodge Charger. Clichéd maybe but it would be so "American muscle"!

When not travelling abroad, Eugene is driving the 2010 BMW 3 Series Coupe
When not travelling abroad, Eugene is driving the 2010 BMW 3 Series Coupe

6. Tell us about your car/what do you like about it?

I drive a 2010 BMW 320d M Sport Coupé. It's a lovely car to drive, it's reliable and actually quite fuel-efficient for a 184 bhp 2 litre. The boot is pretty big for packing for trips around Ireland and long journeys are comfortable, even on the low-profile 19s. It can be fun in the wet too!

7. Most memorable journey to date with that car? Where did you go?

Probably driving it back from Wales when I bought it. I was so excited to have bought it and the journey from Cardiff, through Swansea and onto Fishguard before boarding the ferry was a great intro to my future with the car. I drove about 300 km in total so was pretty used to its handling and response by the time I pulled into the driveway at home!

Eugene has travelled around Ireland in his 320d
The 2010 320d is powered by a 184 bhp 2.0-litre turbo diesel

8. How did you prepare for the journey?

Got my insurance changed over, brought a few snacks for the way and filled the tank in Cardiff! I found it difficult to sleep on that ferry though.

9. What was on the stereo during this journey?

Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf.

10. What did you learn from that journey? 

If you really want to do something in life, make a bit of a plan to achieve it and then take the first step. It doesn't have to be entirely mapped out with precision. Once you have a starting point, an end goal and a rough idea of how you might get there, the rest tends to fall into place. But anyway, it's the journey that matters.

Hence, the Irish Bootstrapper tagline is "Become The Journey".

Irish Bootstrapper in Saigon - eyes on the world

Listen to The Bootcast here.

You can follow Irish Bootstrapper across social media:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

YouTube

Thanks to Eugene for taking part in our interview.


The new Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition!

Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Review

The new Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition!
The new Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition!

The Mazda MX-5 turned 30 in 2019 and to celebrate, Mazda has produced a limited edition 30th Anniversary model. Only 3000 will be made and distributed worldwide with just ten of those cars making their way to Ireland. In December I had the pleasure of spending a week with car #16 of that limited production run.

Finished in exclusive Racing Orange paint, the Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition is a showstopper. Priced from €40,995, this model now sits at the very top of the range and is a significant investment over the entry level MX-5 (available from €28,195). But it’s special y’know.

Only 3000 models will be distributed worldwide
Only 3000 models will be distributed worldwide

So what's so special about the Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary?

The orange paintwork and 2.0-litre petrol 184 hp engine are non-negotiable. Yes, the MX-5 30th Anniversary edition gets by default the more powerful engine in the range - the 2.0-litre petrol engine has been improved to output more power – up from 160 hp to 184 hp – since we last tested the MX-5 in 2017. This is paired to an ultra-precise and mechanical feeling six-speed manual gearbox. Bilstein dampers, a strut-brace and limited slip differential mean best possible performance from the tiny two seat roadster.

Other special features include exclusive 17" wheels, orange brake calipers with Nissin brakes on the rear and Brembo brakes on the front wheels, and a 30th Anniversary badge displaying the model’s serial number. It’s one very cool looking machine.

The interior of the MX-5 30th Anniversary
The interior of the MX-5 30th Anniversary

What's the MX-5 30th Anniversary like inside?

The black interior has been laced with orange trim for a modern, youthful feel. There’s orange piping on the Recaro seats with Alcantara trim, orange trim around the air vents and on the inside door panels, steering wheel, dashboard and gear lever. The infotainment screen is controlled via steering wheel mounted controls and a rotary controller on the centre console. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard.

The cabin of the MX-5 is snug and sporty. You’ve got to enjoy tight spaces. Feet stretched out in front of you on the pedals, press the start button to fire up the engine, left hand on the gear shifter as you slot the car into first gear…there’s a tactile, raw feeling to the Mazda MX-5 that stays for the entire journey.

The Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary is available from €40,995
The Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary is available from €40,995

Driving it

A perfectly balanced chassis translates to lightening quick steering and chassis responses in corners that account for the magic feeling only a true sports car like the MX-5 can give you. This car flows through corners with just delicate movements on the steering wheel and a lightness of touch that's absolutely thrilling when the roads get twisty and you give it a bit more throttle. Sitting so close to the ground means you feel like you're flying all the time. There’s lots of engine noise through the gear changes and the lack of refinement from the fabric roof just adds to the atmosphere.

This is a stiff set-up and can be teeth jangling on very rough roads. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.1 l/100 km, which is remarkably good.

The Mazda MX-5 is a wonderful sports car for people who love driving for the fun of it. It's small, a bit uncomfortable at times...but I doubt you will ever regret buying it other than the day you are asked to do an airport run.

You do pay a premium for the 30th Anniversary model but the orange theme adds a surprising amount of energy. A fantastic birthday makeover for an icon!

Caroline says sayonara from the cabin of the MX-5 30th Anniversary - we have our memories

Caroline says sayonara from the cabin of the MX-5 30th Anniversary - we have our memories

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary 2.0 Skyactiv-G
Price: 
€40,995
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 205Nm
0-100km/h:  
6.5 seconds
Top speed: 219 km/h
Economy: 
6.9/100km
CO2 emissions:  
161g/km
Motor tax: 
€570 per year

 


The 2020 Range Rover Evoque

2020 Range Rover Evoque Review

The 2020 Range Rover Evoque
The 2020 Range Rover Evoque

The world’s trendiest SUV enters the new decade. Caroline reviews the 2020 Range Rover Evoque. 

The Range Rover Evoque was a dramatic new model for the Range Rover brand back in 2011, putting the brand on the radar of style setters everywhere with Victoria Beckham undoubtedly becoming the poster girl for the car. The Evoque was a huge success and high on many wish lists.

In 2019 it was time for the Evoque to evolve once again. The game for stylish premium compact SUVs had moved on with plenty of competitors looking to replicate the Evoque's success.

But the Evoque's blend of cool styling and the heritage of the Range Rover brand is a hard one to beat. Designers have wisely not upset the classic Evoque silhouette - high beltline/sloping roofline – instead opting for some subtle but modern refining of the surfaces. The super-slim Matrix LED headlamps are new and the flush door handles slip elegantly out from the car once you unlock it. Yes, this is a car you want to be seen in. It’s cool and stylish with the underlying pedigree of not just the Land Rover brand, but the prestigious Range Rover one too. Believe it’s a baby Range Rover because it really is.

What are my options?

In Ireland the Evoque range kicks off at €42,845. There are front wheel drive and four wheel drive models available with the 2.0-litre diesel with 150, 180 or 240 hp the popular choice in Ireland. A 2.0-litre petrol is available with 200, 250 or 300 hp. Mild hybrid technology (MHEV) now features across the range to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. An Evoque plug-in hybrid is expected soon also. A manual gearbox comes as standard and a 9-speed automatic is also available.

The interior of the new Evoque
The interior of the new Evoque

Trim lines are based around an entry Evoque and a more sporty Evoque R-Dynamic with S, SE and HSE packages available for both.

The car I had on test was a Range Rover Evoque S with four wheel drive and the 2.0-litre 150 hp diesel. It is a sweet spot in the range and is available from €49,285. The Evoque S is instantly luxurious inside with specification including leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear view camera, impressive infotainment, dual zone climate control and cruise control. On the outside there are 18” alloys and LED headlights. The capability of four wheel drive models is second to none as we found out testing the Evoque in Greece in 2019. The 2.0-litre diesel is also well up to the job here.

Inside the 2020 Range Rover Evoque

The cabin is comfortable with many beautiful soft touch materials. It’s reasonably spacious and competitive in terms of size for a compact premium SUV. Built on Land Rover’s new Premium Transverse Architecture, the overall dimensions are near on identical to the previous generation of the car but there is more interior space now than before. A longer wheelbase provides 20 mm extra rear kneeroom. The electric tailgate opens to reveal a generous 591 litres, perfect for impromptu shopping trips or day trips to the mountains.

The controls for the ventilation and four wheel drive system are set on a touchscreen like panel, which you might be at odds to operate when you first slip in behind the wheel. But after a while, it's actually very easy to use and looks so impressive. It's a proper 21st century technology addition! The new infotainment system also looks very well and is an improved unit.

The Range Rover Evoque is available from €49,285 in Ireland
The Range Rover Evoque is available from €49,285 in Ireland

Driving the new Evoque

On the road the 2020 Range Rover Evoque excels first and foremost for comfort and refinement. This is a premium driving experience with no such foibles as wind or road noise to upset passengers. A new, more rigid platform means the Evoque feels athletic in the corners with good handling and supple suspension reacting well to all road surfaces and changes in direction.

The 2.0-litre diesel with 150 hp is ideal for the Evoque and feels lively and powerful.  It mates well to the automatic gearbox, never getting too noisy in the cabin, even under hard acceleration. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.6 l/100 km.

The Evoque will slip perfectly from smart city streets to rougher terrain and looks good doing both. The cabin experience is great for passengers with lots of comfort and luxury detailing. There are new powertrains on the way, but the Evoque diesel should still be popular. For buyers looking for a premium mid-size SUV, the Evoque still makes a great case for itself. It looks great and has a fantastic image. Land Rover have successfully brought the Evoque into a new era, with a welcome addition of new technology.

The Evoque matures perfectly. Still utterly desirable!

Caroline and the new Range Rover Evoque
Caroline and the new Range Rover Evoque

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Range Rover Evoque S D150 AWD Automatic
Price: 
€55,995
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 380 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.2 seconds
Top speed: 196 km/h
Manufacturer Quoted Economy: 
5.6l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
149g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


The new Volkswagen Passat GTE!

2020 Volkswagen Passat GTE Arrives In Ireland!

The new Volkswagen Passat GTE!
The new Volkswagen Passat GTE!

The 2020 Volkswagen Passat GTE has gone on sale in Ireland starting from €42,495, including VRT rebate and SEAI grant.

The Passat GTE is a plug-in hybrid and uses a 1.4-litre TSI (156 hp) petrol engine with an 85 kW / 115 hp electric motor to develop a combined 218 hp and 440 Nm of torque.

CO2 emissions for the vehicle are just 29g/km.

The 2020 model’s 13kW battery now has 31% more capacity than the previous Passat GTE, allowing a fully electric range of up to 56 km (measured under WLTP) when driving in electric mode.

The 2020 Volkswagen Passat GTE gets the same updates as the rest of the Passat range including some updated exterior styling features, interior and equipment.

Private customers of the Passat GTE can avail of Government incentives of €7,500 (€5,000 SEAT grant and €2,500 VRT rebate), which brings the price of the Passat GTE saloon down to €42,495 and the Estate model to €44,595.

Commenting on the new model, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen Ireland, Mark McGrath said:

“This revised Passat GTE offers customers who want the best of both worlds the chance to drive a car that can be zero-emissions for up to 56 km yet can also offer the long-range benefits of a plug-in hybrid. This now comes as a price which is comparable to a 2.0-litre TDI DSG Diesel Passat, making it a viable alternative to anyone wanting to move to an electrified vehicle in 2020.”

The Volkswagen Passat is one of Ireland's bestselling large cars and is available as a saloon and estate. The Passat is popular with business customers and family buyers for its quality offering and comfort over long distances. The Passat GTE broadens the range offering buyers an alternative to diesel and is particularly good sense for urban drivers as the car can be driven in electric power only, reducing fuel bills considerably for those drivers that can charge at either end of their journey.

2020 Passat GTE available from €42,495 with incentives
2020 Passat GTE available from €42,495 with incentives

The new Renault Captur has arrived in Ireland!

Renault Captur (2020) Pricing For Ireland - It's Here!

The new Renault Captur has arrived in Ireland!
The new Renault Captur has arrived in Ireland!

Renault Ireland has announced pricing and specifications for the Renault Captur (2020 model), which is arriving in Renault dealerships in Ireland now.

It goes on sale priced from €21,995 with diesel and petrol engine, and three trim levels - Play, Iconic and S-Edition.

The Captur has been a hugely successful model for Renault in Ireland since the first generation was launched in 2013. The compact SUV slots in above the new Clio supermini in the range and almost 10,000 have found homes here.

New exterior styling is complemented by a new interior that's more spacious and better equipped, with the latest safety and driving aids giving the Captur a 5 star Euro NCAP rating.

Standard equipment includes 17” wheels, multimedia touch-screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, full LED lights and automatic climate control. Moving up the range adds more standard features, including the contrasting roof, the  9.3” touchscreen and some stylish alloy wheel designs.

The interior of the new Captur
The interior of the new Captur

Play features a 7” touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, LED lights, climate control and 17” alloy-look flex wheels, auto lights and wipers and a comprehensive ADAS suite including E-Call, Lane Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and AEBS.

Iconic (from €23,645) includes keyless entry, built-in navigation (EasyLink system with Google search and live fuel prices), parking sensors, roof rails and the two-tone paint look.

S-Edition (from €25,645) adds and 9.3” portrait multimedia screen, parking camera, part leather seats, auto high beam among other features.

Customers can choose from 11 exterior colours and four roof finishes.

Rear-sliding seats are standard on all trim levels for added practicality.

Engine options include Renault's new 1.2-litre TCe turbo petrol engine with 100, 130 or 155 hp and a diesel with 95 or 115 hp. Diesel models are available from €23,995. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. Motor tax ranges from €190 to €270.


The Volkswagen Golf 1.5-litre TSI

What Were The 10 Bestselling Cars In Ireland In 2019?

As we enter the new 201 registration plate, let's first recap on 2019! What were the bestselling cars in Ireland in 2019?

According to figures from SIMI, new car registrations in Ireland in 2019 reached 117,100.

Diesel remains the most popular engine type, while hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid gained market share in 2019. Diesel accounted for 47%, petrol for 41%, hybrid for 9%, electric for 3%, and plug-in hybrid for 1%.

Manual transmissions (67%) continue to dominate with automatic transmissions (33%) gaining in popularity. Automatic transmissions saw a 22% increase in 2019, while manuals declined by 17%.

The hatchback is Ireland’s top selling car body type of 2019. Grey remains the top selling colour and has continued to keep that title for the past four years.

But as promised here are the top 10 bestselling cars of 2019! Is your car on the list?

10. Toyota C-HR

2,509 units

The 2020 Toyota C-HR
The 2020 Toyota C-HR

The first of three Toyotas boasting top sales in Ireland in 2019, the Toyota C-HR has been a hot seller since it first arrived here in 2017. The C-HR was a turning point for Toyota, boasting a stylish design, well-appointed interior and fun to drive behind the wheel. At launch it was available as a petrol or petrol electric hybrid. A facelifted Toyota C-HR has arrived in dealers and will be available exclusively as a hybrid. With that, C-HR looks set to have a great year in 2020 also.

9. Toyota Yaris

2,554 units

The Toyota Yaris Y20 Limited Edition is coming to Ireland in 2019!
The Toyota Yaris Y20 Limited Edition is coming to Ireland in 2019!

Another bestseller for Toyota. The straightforward supermini has been a success in Ireland since launch in 1998 and celebrated 20 years with a special edition. A new model will arrive in 2020, likely to boost Yaris fortunes even more with a new hybrid.

8. Ford Focus

2,766 units

The new Ford Focus
The new Ford Focus

The Focus has slipped down the sales chart in 2019 but remains one of the bestselling family hatchbacks in Ireland. The Focus is available with excellent petrol and diesel engines and a super hot ST version. A crossover inspired Active version joined the range in 2019.

7. Volkswagen Golf

2,823 units

The Volkswagen Golf 1.5-litre TSI
The Volkswagen Golf 1.5-litre TSI R-line

Consistently one of the bestselling cars in Ireland, the Golf has also slipped down the sales chart in 2019 but should receive a boost in 2020 with the launch of the all-new eighth generation Golf in March.

6. Hyundai Kona

2,939 units

The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid
The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid

The Kona has been a huge success story in Ireland since its launch here in 2018. It has sailed up the sales chart and secured sixth place in 2019. Sales were boosted by the arrival of the new Hyundai Kona Electric in 2019. A Kona Hybrid has joined the range for 2020.

5. Skoda Octavia

3,199 units

The Skoda Octavia petrol hatchback
The Skoda Octavia

The Octavia is one of Ireland's favourite cars, every year! The no nonsense family car will be replaced by an all-new Octavia in 2020 with a more salubrious interior, new technology and powertrains.

4. Volkswagen Tiguan

3,201 units

Volkswagen Tiguan
The Volkswagen Tiguan is now available with an entry level 115bhp diesel engine

The Tiguan has gone from strength to strength since its Irish launch in 2016. It moves up into fourth place in 2019. The SUV offers typical Volkswagen quality in the form of a highly desirable mid-size SUV.

3. Nissan Qashqai

3,748 units

Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai has been a stellar success and consistently one of the bestselling cars in Ireland since launch. A revamped model arrived in Ireland towards the end of 2017. Petrol and diesel engines available.

2. Hyundai Tucson

3,828 units

Hyundai Tucson
The Hyundai Tucson

Another former number one bestseller in Ireland. The Tucson has tousled with the Qashqai since launch and remains a very popular choice of family SUV in Ireland.

1. Toyota Corolla 

4,406 units

The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid
The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid

The Corolla has had an incredible year. An all-new Corolla Hatchback, Saloon and Touring Sports arrived in Ireland in the first half of the year and the Corolla quickly became Ireland's bestselling car. It's stayed there all year and offers an attractive hybrid option in the mid-size segment.


Interview With Nina Weizenecker

Nina Weizenecker and the Mercedes-Benz CLA
Nina Weizenecker and the Mercedes-Benz CLA

Let me introduce Nina Weizenecker, one of the brightest new stars blogging about cars! Nina is from Germany and writes for her own website and the German magazine Der Autotester. I spoke to Nina about the inspiration for her blog and her favourite cars.

1. Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences?

Hi car enthusiasts, my name is Nina Weizenecker and I am an automotive blogger. I'm from southern Germany and I study educational science. I also work for the German online car magazine www.der-Autotester.de. My father gave me a passion for cars from the time I was in the Maxi-Cosi. He didn't exchange his beloved Porsche for a family car when I was born!

2. How did you start your career testing cars?

Back in 2012, my father founded our car magazine, der-Autotester.de. I am part of the team since September 2018.

3. What is the inspiration behind your blog Ninacarmaria.de?

I set up my blog to share my enjoyment of all the latest models. It gives me great pleasure to give my community the opportunity to explore the newest cars with me.

Nina is an automotive blogger from Germany
Nina is an automotive blogger from Germany

4. What was your first car?

My very first car was a Fiat 500 Convertible. It was love at first sight. It was finished in a beautiful pearl white with a wine red roof.

5. Which have been your top 3 cars to test? 

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Audi R8

Suzuki Jimny

6. What has been the best moment of your career so far?

Totally hard to pin down. Of course, driving super sports cars are always indescribable moments but I enjoy testing camper vans even more, preferably by the sea!

Nina and the Lamborghini Aventador!
Nina and the Lamborghini!

7. Which place in Germany would you recommend for a road trip?

I'm from the Black Forest and I love the winding roads here. The magnificent landscape in combination with a beautiful sports car makes my heart beat faster. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely visit the Black Forest.

8. What advice do you have for anyone who wants a career as a motoring journalist?

Be authentic and love what you do.

You can follow Nina's adventures with cars on social media:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Youtube

Thank you Nina for taking part in this interview!

Follow Nina on Instagram to stay up to date on all the cars she tests
Follow Nina on Instagram to stay up to date on all the cars she tests