The BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: which is better?

BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: which is better?
The BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: which is better?

BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Which is better?

In this comparison review, we are going to take a closer look at two of the hottest premium compacts on sale in Ireland right now – the BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class! In 2018, Mercedes-Benz launched a new generation of the A-Class, while in 2019 it was the turn of BMW, with a new 1 Series hitting dealer showrooms.

Both cars mark an entry into the ranges of their respective brands. Premium compact hatchbacks are an opportunity for aspirational buyers to get on the ladder of their favourite premium brand. Get them hooked and it's likely they will stay a fan forever, migrating to larger models as their lifestyle and earning power changes.

While the A-Class is now available as a hatchback and as a saloon, here we will examine it in hatchback form as the direct rival to the BMW 1 Series hatchback.

The new BMW 1 Series is on sale in Ireland in 2021 priced from €32,891
The new BMW 1 Series is on sale in Ireland in 2021 priced from €32,891

Nice to look at?

Both the new BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class are attractive cars in the metal, with high class kerb appeal. BMW styling has turned into something quite controversial in recent years and the 1 Series hasn't been immune from criticism for its larger than life grille. But it is a significant improvement over the car it replaces, and brings it more in line with larger BMWs like the popular 3 Series and 5 Series. In fact at Changing Lanes we are a big fan of that rear styling. The appearance changes depending on trim level, with the M Sport models really looking the best. They sit lower on the road with a more aggressive body kit and 18” alloys, as well as satin aluminium struts in the kidney grille.

Over in the Mercedes-Benz camp the A-Class avoids controversy with a handsome compact exterior. A slimmer and lighter appearance adds even more desirability to the latest generation of the A-Class. Like the BMW, different trim levels give the car a different look. But the AMG Line models have sporty flair that really suits the new generation Benz compact, with a sportier styling kit and 18” alloy wheels.

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is on sale in Ireland in 2021 priced from €31,080
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is on sale in Ireland in 2021 priced from €31,080

So which car has the best interior?

While exterior looks are a personal preference, inside is where the battle is really fought these days for the hearts and minds of buyers. Even in the premium compact class, the race to include as much digital technology and connectivity is on. Big time. It's a race both our featured brands here do very well, but with their own unique style.

When the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class arrived in 2018, the brand was debuting the all new MBUX infotainment system that has since been rolled out to other models in the Mercedes range. The twin screen layout was new and exciting, with the system responding to novel voice commands of 'Hey Mercedes'. It has aged very well. In fact the whole A-Class interior is still a joy to behold in 2021 as one of the best premium compact interiors of its generation! Material quality is excellent and the design is super stylish. One just feels expensive inside the new A-Class. It's a very satisfying place to sit. The widescreen digital effect comes from two high-resolution displays, 7 inch as standard or optionally extra large at 10.25 inch.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 1 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 1 Series

Over in the BMW 1 Series, there has also been a significant revamp of the interior. With a strong influence from the larger 3 Series, the cabin is of fantastic quality. There are impossibly glam back lit trim elements among the driver-oriented cockpit, with all of BMW’s latest digital technology at your fingertips. It’s in its best iteration with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional incorporating a digital instrument panel and 10.25” Control Display. Another neat feature is the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which allows you to alter the car’s settings, ventilation or find a list of local restaurants for example using a simple summons of ‘Hey BMW’. I wonder where they got that idea from...

How practical are they?

Much has been made of the 1 Series migration to a more space efficient front wheel drive layout. While many may lament the loss of BMW rear wheel drive from the 1 Series range, practicality does matter at this side of the market and the new platform reaps dividends in the new 1. Now adults will be able to sit more comfortably in the rear with much more competitive legroom than ever before. There is also more boot space. The boot capacity has been improved by 20 litres to 380 litres, now with a wider opening. An electrically operated tailgate is optionally available for the BMW 1 Series for the first time.

The new A-Class has a longer wheelbase than the previous generation of the car to improve interior space. There’s also more shoulder, elbow and headroom. The BMW and the Merc have a largish transmission tunnel and relatively narrow middle seat meaning both are more comfortable for two people. The A-Class boot has a capacity of 370 litres in the hatchback, while rear seats fold 40:20:40 as standard. It's 60:40 split as standard on the 1 Series. It's hard to split these two on interior space. Take one for a test drive and see if you can get comfortable!

The interior of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The interior of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Engine options

In Ireland, the new BMW 1 Series is sold with petrol and diesel engines at the time of writing. They include the 118i petrol (136 hp), 116d diesel (116 hp), 118d diesel (150 hp) or 120d diesel (190 hp). Manual and automatic transmissions are available. There's also the high performance 128ti with 265 hp and the M135i xdrive with 306 hp. At Changing Lanes we had the opportunity to test the new 118i, powered by a new three cylinder turbo petrol engine for the 1 Series. Power is a modest 136 hp but it's actually a sweet entry into the range.

The latest A-Class range includes two new four-cylinder petrol engines (1.3-litre A200 with 163 hp and 2.0-litre A250 with 224 hp) and a new four cylinder diesel (1.5-litre A180d with 116 hp). Manual and automatic transmissions are available. An entry level A160 with 109 hp is available too. You can also buy high performance versions of the A-Class: A35 (306 hp), A45 (387 hp) and A45 S (421 hp). At Changing Lanes we had the opportunity to test the A200 model powered by a 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine pushing out 163 hp. A nicely refined engine with a pleasant thump of power.

An A250e plug-in hybrid is to join the A-Class range in Ireland in 2021.

Why not try these for a test drive?

BMW 118i M Sport Auto. Priced from €40,202 (January 2021)

Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG Line. Priced from €42,888 (January 2021)

The new BMW 1 Series is available with petrol and diesel engines
The new BMW 1 Series is available with petrol and diesel engines

Driving them

Buyers should expect high end refinement and driving dynamics from such esteemed company.

Let's start with the new BMW 1 Series. The new 1 Series is up to 30 kg lighter than the car it replaces but more rigid. Is it enough to make up for the loss of rear wheel drive from the classic BMW compact? There's some help from ARB technology taken from the electric i3 and it is used in the new 1 Series for the first time in a combustion engined BMW. On the road this means that the 1 Series exhibits excellent stability and balance in cornering. There's an impressively tight turn in but the car lacks the outright sparkle and playfulness of the 3 Series for example. The steering just doesn’t translate the same sensations to your fingertips. Overall refinement is excellent and this car covers the tarmac well, despite the M Sport treatment giving a tad firmer ride. Long distance motorway cruising is very pleasant behind the wheel of the 1 Series. The 118i also does a fine job here for a three cylinder petrol engine. The engine feels lively enough and smooths out well at speed, with decent enough fuel economy. Gear changes through the new 7-speed automatic are well judged.

The new generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class is also front wheel drive, however it doesn't have the same reputation as BMW for sporty handling. Yet the new A-Class turns out to be a delight to drive, especially with one of the lively petrols like the A200. In fact the steering is so sharp and the body control so good that it's a very fine line between this and the new 1 Series.

Both cars come with their own version of driving modes as standard equipment.

Mercedes-Benz will add a plug-in hybrid to the A-Class range in 2021
Mercedes-Benz will add a plug-in hybrid to the A-Class range in 2021

Pricing and Equipment

The BMW 1 Series is available from €32,891 and comes in three trim levels: SE, Sport and M Sport. The entry level SE model has 16" alloys, air conditioning, multifunction steering wheel, front collision warning, lane depature warning, Drive Performance Control, cruise control and 8.8" control display with touch function and iDrive controller.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is available from €31,080 and comes in Style, Progressive and AMG Line trim. Standard equipment includes 16" alloys, air conditioning, cruise control, digital instrument cluster and media display with touchscreen and MBUX infotainment, Dynamic Select, heated front seats, multifunction steering wheel, Active Lane Keeping Assist, part leather/cloth seats, and reversing camera.

So which are you buying?

Another tough call. Both the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class are a cut above your average hatchback with premium design, refinement and driving dynamics. And you will pay dearly for it too with the most desirable M Sport and AMG Line models asking for serious money.

The new BMW 1 Series has come on leaps and bounds for this new generation of the car. While we might shed a tear for the loss of the rear wheel drive, at least now the 1 Series can properly compete as a versatile hatchback. Inside the interior is such good quality, it's properly matured and feels like a bigger car. There is just one petrol engine at the entry to the range, but it does punch above its 136 hp. There are also a number of diesels to choose from.

The BMW 1 Series more competitive than ever
The BMW 1 Series more competitive than ever but is it enough?

Over at Mercedes, the new generation A-Class has spawned a number of derivatives like the CLA and GLB from its compact underpinnings. Each time we drive another derivative it's a reminder of what a wonderful car the new A-Class is. The interior is fantastic modern contemporary and hasn't aged at all. Mercedes' new petrol engines are also winners, particularly the A200.

It's for these combined reasons that this reviewer would be heading in the direction of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class in the premium compact space. Perhaps the 1 Series has lost the edge in the driving dynamics that would lead to a decisive YES, like the one we give the 3 Series in the class above. Did we have a bad time in the 1 Series? No not at all and we could really appreciate that beautiful tight turn in. The classic sensations just weren't there. But that cabin is wonderful. Front grille? Not sure.

The gap has indeed narrowed to the A-Class as the new generation of the car feels pure and agile, and the A200's 163 hp petrol engine is really fun in the A-Class. Then there's the cabin and the looks, so quietly sophisticated. Altogether it makes the Mercedes-Benz A-Class a winning package.

The new A-Class excels for its style, design and quality
The new A-Class excels for its style, design and quality

Want to find out more? Read our detailed review of each model compared here:

BMW 1 Series

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Looking for something a bit bigger? Check out our twin test of the BMW 3 Series vs Audi A4!

Caroline Kidd

 


Irish Electric Vehicles Owners Association

Interview With Simon Acton, Irish EV Owners

Irish Electric Vehicles Owners Association
This week we find out more about the Irish EV Owners Association, who represent electric vehicle owners and driver in Ireland.

In this interview we meet Simon Acton, Chair of the Irish Electric Vehicle Owners Association (IEVOA), who represent electric vehicle owners and drivers in Ireland.

1) Can you introduce yourself and the club to our readers? 
I'm Simon Acton, the current Chair of the Irish Electric Vehicle Owners Association (IEVOA). I am also Managing Director of my own business, Next Eco Car, which specialises in selling and sourcing used EVs and Hybrids in Ireland. The IEVOA was established in 2015 to: represent the interests of Electric Vehicle (EV) owners and drivers across the island of Ireland; help encourage the widespread uptake of EVs throughout the island; work with vehicle manufacturers, dealers, Public and Private Charger infrastructure owners or managers, Government bodies, County Councils and all other stakeholders to further the aims of the Association; promote and hold events for EV Owners/Drivers; and maintain an online presence to facilitate information exchange and membership. We have a committee, currently of ten, who meet monthly to drive this agenda forward, all of who give their time freely. We welcome all EV owners and drivers in Ireland to become members. We currently have around 1500 members and almost 5000 engaging in our associated Facebook group.

Simon Acton, Chair of the IEVOA, and the Renault ZOE
Simon Acton, Chair of the IEVOA, and the Renault ZOE

2) What are the benefits for members?
We currently have two membership tiers, Associate, which is free, and Full, which is currently €10 per year. Full members have voting rights at our general meetings, such as our AGM, so they can actively influence the direction we take and the focus of the work we do.  All members benefit from the activities we engage in and have the option of getting involved in our work.  They also have access to all the events we run. Normally we have a number of meets each year, but 2020 was a challenging year on this front, so we are currently running a bi-monthly series of webinars until normal service can resume. For 2021 we are developing additional benefits for paid members, such as discounts from a range of like-minded companies and access to our Slack community, which was previously reserved for committee members only.  We also plan to develop a corporate membership offering.

3) What is the role of the Irish EV Owners Association as Ireland transitions to electric mobility?

We have a big role to play. Our growing membership gives us a vast resource to tap into when considering the needs of current and future EV owners, based crucially on real world experiences. At our most recent AGM in June we set out our objectives for the coming year including expanding our lobbying efforts across government, councils and key stakeholders, continuing our engagement with charging infrastructure stakeholders including ESB ecars, ESB Networks, Smart Dublin and councils, establishing events to aid public education, awareness and engagement with EVs, and increasing the content on all our platforms and engaging with the media to drive public interest. In the past 6 months alone, some of our efforts have included continuing our engagement with ESB ecars and ESB Networks around public charging infrastructure and other technologies pertinent to the EV ecosystem; engaged with the DCCAE and Minister Eamon Ryan about our objectives and requested regular meetings; lobbied councils to utilise the on street charging grant and encouraged our members to do the same and commenced work on a refresh of our website and branding to enable better public engagement. We are very active and motivated to drive EV adoption in Ireland as we aim to reduce pollution and emissions in order to meet our climate action obligations as a nation.

4) What do you think is the biggest challenge to wide scale EV adoption in Ireland? 

Most people would say we need cheaper vehicles with greater range or that the public charging infrastructure needs to be better. But my experience, both with IEVOA and in dealing with customers considering buying used EVs tells me that education is actually the biggest challenge. I talk to a lot of people about EVs and the lack of knowledge and myths that surround them is still a huge barrier to wider adoption. IEVOA is pushing hard in this space but we are a voluntary organisation with little financial means. Much more needs to be done. if we look at the UK there is the experience centre in Milton Keynes and there is the Fully Charged Live show each year. These are places where potential EV owners can learn more without being in a sales environment. These sorts of things need to be replicated in Ireland and should be something supported by the likes of government, local councils, and the manufacturers. Further, more needs to be done to combat the huge amount of disinformation being deliberately spread by some manufacturers and dealers who are set to lose out in the shift to the electrification of transport. The press and advertising standards organisations have a huge role and responsibility to play in this, in fact checking what is published.

5) What prompted your interest in electric vehicles?
From a young age I had three main interests: cars, technology and the natural world. Electric vehicles are a great combination of the first two and also help me see a way towards protecting the latter for future generations. As a teenager I raced karts competitively in the UK and later forged a career as a software developer on leaving University, which led to a successful 20+ year career in IT. So whilst I took a keen interest in the trajectory of electric vehicle technology and how it could potentially help make our planet a better place from the early 2010s, it wasn't until around 2017 when I bought my first EV and decided to make a career change and start my own business that it became an all consuming part of my daily life.

The Irish EV Owners Association has a number of benefits for EV owners in Ireland
The Irish EV Owners Association has a number of benefits for EV owners in Ireland

6) How did you become involved in the Irish EV Owners Association?
Prior to starting my business in 2017 I had joined the association as a member and had mainly just followed what was going on with the Facebook group so I decided to attend the next AGM in early 2018 to learn more about what they were doing.  I was impressed with the enthusiasm of the committee and the members in general. They were looking for volunteers to help out so I decided to get involved. The following year the previous Chair, Frank Barr, decided to step down and the rest of the committee convinced me to run as Chair at the AGM and it's gone on from there really. I'm now in my second term as Chair and hope to continue a good while longer. We are in a very important moment for EV adoption in Ireland and there is still so much work to do.

7) Which electric vehicle past or present do you think has been the most influential on a) the motor industry and b) consumers? 
In terms of the motor industry I'd have to say Tesla who have been a hugely influential disruptor in terms of how the motor industry will be shaped moving forwards. The original 2010 Tesla Roadster broke the mould of what people imagined an electric car could be and they have gone from strength to strength from there. The mass market Model 3 which became available here in Ireland in 2019 is now a common sight on our roads and the upcoming SUV style Model Y is sure to be an even bigger success here. They also have their proprietary Supercharger network, which makes travelling long distances in any of their cars a breeze with plenty of chargers at every hub. Tesla have also proven that if you have the right product you don't need a national network of dealerships to sell and maintain cars and that it can mostly be done online.  This, combined with the fact that their cars are hugely reliable, require little servicing and can be software upgraded to improve functionality over the air, means that they are changing the game.

The new Tesla Model 3 is available to order now!
Tesla has had a huge influence on the motor industry

From a consumer perspective I would have to say the Nissan Leaf, which was the first true mass market EV. In September 2020 Nissan announced that they had just manufactured the 500,000th Leaf since 2010. This has propelled Leaf drivers to over 14.8 billion clean-air kilometres, which equates to 2.4 billion kilograms of saved CO2 emissions. If you drive a first generation Leaf today it is still a very capable car, and the latest incarnation with its 40 or 62 kWh battery capacity and a host of autonomous driving features is a very accomplished car suitable to almost any need.

8) How can public charging be shared fairly among EV drivers who require this service regularly? 
As with any publicly available service there is certain etiquette to be followed in using charging infrastructure. There is plenty of information about this etiquette on the IEVOA website but it largely boils down to common sense, courtesy, and knowing the charging capabilities of your car and the charge units you plan to use. In summary, rapid chargers are for a quick top up in order that you can complete your journey or the next leg of your journey. Ideally you shouldn't leave your car unattended at these chargers and you certainly shouldn't leave your car connected and charging for more than 45 minutes, in fact there are penalties on most rapid chargers if you do. Also, don't block the charger if you've finished charging or don't need to charge, move away and park somewhere else.

Check out the IEVOA website for more information on owning an electric vehicle in Ireland
Check out the IEVOA website for more information on owning an electric vehicle in Ireland

For slow chargers the etiquette is a little different. It's fine to leave your car charging away for as long as you need to, most cars will take over 4 hours to fully charge on this type of charger anyway. But again, if you have finished charging then try to move away, the exception being at places like train or bus stations where you can reasonably leave your car hooked up for the day if you need a full charge. Plus, never use any charging bay as a parking space, only park in a charging bay if you are actually charging. You wouldn't park at a petrol pump after all, would you?

In the longer term, charger availability will be much less of an issue because there will be plenty of infrastructure for everyone. For example, ESB ecars are two years into a five year program that will see a huge expansion of their network including the addition of 50 high power charging hubs on key transport routes from early 2021. Plus anyone who drives an electric car will tell you that the best place to charge is either at home or work, whenever they can anyway. It's always better (and generally cheaper) to be putting power into your car when you are doing something else, like sleeping. That way the public infrastructure is left available for those who really need to use it.

Simon Acton speaking at the 2020 Electric Vehicle Summit
Simon speaking at the 2020 Electric Vehicle Summit

9) Where would you like to see Ireland in 5 years time in relation to electric vehicles versus volumes of combustion engined cars?
By 2025 I'd like to see that at least 30% of annual new car sales in Ireland are fully electric cars. This might seem very ambitious from where we are today but if you look at the trajectory of sales increases in EVs, and at what the vast majority of car manufacturers are focusing their research and development on, it's only going one way. We've seen a great number of new EV models released in 2020 and we will see more and more as each year passes with model types and range to suit every need; indeed some manufacturers have already signalled timelines for switching to selling EVs only. Ultimately consumers can only buy what manufacturers are offering. Legislation, incentives (and disincentives) and public opinion will drive adoption strongly too. Opinions are changing and awareness is growing: by 2025 choosing to buy a new combustion car will likely be viewed in a similar light to smoking in front of your kids or drink driving; it will become socially unacceptable. This is a huge moment for the motor industry and any manufacturer not fully on board with electrification by now is already unlikely to survive in the longer term.

The Irish EV Owners Association holds events throughout the year for members
The Irish EV Owners Association holds events throughout the year for members

10) How can our readers keep up to date with the club?

Our website www.irishevowners.ie is a great source of reference for information about everything EV, especially for anyone thinking of making the switch to an EV for the first time. We also have a lively community page on Facebook with almost 5000 members and also a presence on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Thank you to Simon for taking part in this interview for Changing Lanes.

 


Looking for a new van? Check out these 211 van deals

Van Deals 2021 For Ireland

Looking for a new van? Check out these 211 van deals
Looking for a new van? Check out these 211 van deals

Looking for the best deals on a new van in 2021? In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at offers and scrappage deals available on commercial vehicles in Ireland in 2021. From cargo vans, to compact and panel vans, crew vans and car-based commercial vehicles, there’s plenty on offer! Check out the latest offers from the manufacturers below and find the best van for you. We'll add more as we get them. Check the manufacturer's website for more information on models and offers.

CITROEN

€3000 scrappage + 4.9% APR HP finance on new Berlingo and Dispatch vans or 3.9% APR HP finance. €2000 scrappage + 4.9% APR HP finance on Relay van or 3.9% APR HP finance.

FORD

Reductions of up to €6,500 across the range including the Ford Transit, available for the first time in a plug-in hybrid version. Finance packages with 2.9 percent APR are available and a once off 0 percent APR offer for customers who opt for the Ranger Wildtrak pick-up truck. Commercial vehicle reductions include up to €1,750 off the Transit Connect Limited or Sport models; €5,500 off the Transit Custom; €6,500 off the Transit two tonne van; and €3,200 off the Ranger.

MITSUBISHI

2.9% APR HP finance rate on the L200 or a €1,000 trade-in booster when you purchase a new L200 manual before 31st January 2021.

NISSAN

Choose between 0% APR or guaranteed minimum €3,000 scrappage on the Nissan commercial range including NV, Navarra, Leaf, Qashqai and X-Trail commercials.

OPEL

0% APR finance on Combo Cargo, Vivaro and Movano vans registered before 31st January 2021.

PEUGEOT

€3000 scrappage available on Peugeot Partner, €3500 on Expert, and €4000 on Boxer.

RENAULT

Renault’s offer includes 3 months deferred payments and 3.9% finance on Kangoo, Kangoo Z.E., Master and Trafic vans.

TOYOTA

3.9% APR HP finance or trade-in booster of €2500 or scrappage bonus of €3500 on Proace. 3.9% APR HP finance or trade-in booster of €2500 or scrappage bonus of €3000 on Proace City. 3.9% APR HP finance on Hilux.

VOLKSWAGEN

Purchase contribution of €1,500 on the new Caddy and 0% APR finance. €2,750 purchase contribution on the Transporter and APR finance of 2.9%. €3,500 purchase contribution on the Crafter and APR finance of 2.9%. Offers available until 31st January 2021.


The latest Suzuki Vitara on test for Changing Lanes!

Suzuki Vitara (2021) Hybrid Review

The latest Suzuki Vitara on test for Changing Lanes!
The latest Suzuki Vitara on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Suzuki Vitara!

The Vitara is an icon of the Suzuki range that has managed to stay relevant throughout its 33 year career in the automotive industry. That means that over the years it's been repositioned and softened to appeal to the compact SUV market that has emerged. Now the Vitara evolves again with the addition of some mild hybrid technology to the mix.

To backtrack a little, Suzuki has been dabbling in 12 volt mild hybrid technology for some years now before it was even fashionable to lend a little electrical support to reduce emissions and eke out better fuel consumption. In fact at Changing Lanes we've always been impressed with the real world economy of Suzuki vehicles like the latest Swift, Ignis and S-Cross. No fibbing from Suzuki. The cars always deliver what matters.

What's new for the 2021 Suzuki Vitara?

Now the Japanese brand is excited to tell us about the 48 volt mild hybrid technology that now feature across the Vitara and S-Cross ranges. Well frankly everyone is excited about hybrid these days.

The Vitara has stayed relevant since it was first launched back in 1988
The Vitara has stayed relevant since it was first launched back in 1988

In Ireland the Vitara now comes exclusively with a new 'K14D' Boosterjet petrol engine with 1.4-litre capacity and 48 volt mild hybrid technology, which replaces the old 1.4-litre Boosterjet derivative. The new hybrid powertrain is said to offer up to 20% lower CO2 emissions, a greater level of torque and 15% overall improvement in WLTP combined fuel consumption.

The new system is similar in basic principle to the 12V Hybrid SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) system that Suzuki debuted in 2016 on the Swift. The newly developed 48V hybrid powertrain remains very lightweight in design and the components add less than 15k g to the overall weight of the vehicle. Could it be magic? You will have to read on to find out!

What's on offer?

The Vitara itself had a minor facelift back in the beginning of 2019. It remains the most popular Suzuki on sale in Ireland. With pricing starting from €23,230, it is also competitively priced to compete in its segment. The range kicks off with the SZ4, followed by the SZ-T from €25,750, and the SZ5 from €27,760.

The interior of the 2021 Suzuki Vitara Hybrid
The interior of the 2021 Suzuki Vitara Hybrid

Standard equipment on the new Vitara for 2021 includes automatic climate control, 16" alloys, and LED headlamps. There is also a standard safety equipment including Dual Sensor Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Cruise Control.

In our eyes, the SZ-T remains a sweet spot of the range with touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, rear parking camera and 17" alloys.

All models are front wheel drive as standard though 4x4 is available from €29,745.

Inside the Suzuki Vitara

In the last revamp, Suzuki gave the Vitara's cabin a little upgrade in quality, with the upper instrument panel now finished in a soft touch material. The interior is basic but cheerful enough, just like the rest of the car. There is a plucky spirit to the Vitara that remains after all these years. Buyers will love the authentic small SUV feeling from behind the wheel thanks to a genuinely elevated driving position. And of course it looks different from the outside too, with a boxy charm that hasn't really changed much. It's definitely a tad dated, but Vitara's loyal customers don't seem to care.

Interior space also remains good for this class of vehicle. It may be compact but it's not cramped, like some rivals. There is decent enough legroom in the back, and it feels roomy up front. The boot is 375 litres and well capable of most tasks, with split folding rear seats.

New Vitara Hybrid range on sale from €23,230 in Ireland
New Vitara Hybrid range on sale from €23,230 in Ireland

Driving the Vitara Hybrid

The 1.0-litre turbo petrol is now gone from the Vitara line-up in Ireland, leaving the more powerful new 1.4-litre with 129 bhp, paired to a 6-speed manual gearbox. It's a lively companion for the Vitara, feeling nippy and capable whether in town or on the motorway. The added electrical assistance adds smoothness to take off and low speed manouvres.

And what about that fuel consumption? Over a few days driving the Vitara Hybrid, my average fuel consumption was 6.6 litres per 100 km.  I found this a little disappointing considering the high billing of the mild hybrid technology, but otherwise I would probably say it was acceptable for a petrol powered compact crossover.

On the road, once again the Vitara proves to be more fun than you might expect from the little Japanese compact. Steering is light making it agile around town, but out on the open road it is entertaining to drive. I took it the long way home through the Wicklow Mountains and I was suitably impressed with the smiles per mile!

It's no hot hatch or even hot SUV, but it brings some rudimentary joy. Well up for a jaunt down a twisty road. Not that Vitara owners are interested in such frivolous fun(!). Are maybe they are? You tell me. But it's nice to know it can. Again Vitara punches above its weight in this department. Always full of surprises. There are a few refinement issues, like road noise at high speeds, but it's comfortable for the most part.

Suzuki adds mild hybrid technology to the Vitara
Suzuki adds mild hybrid technology to the Vitaranology to the Vitara

Did you like it?

Do we like the Suzuki Vitara? Yes we do! It's an honest little compact SUV with big attitude. It performs well on practicality, offering better space inside than many rivals. It's not the most luxurious inside, but it's not trying to be either. Pricing remains competitive for the segment with a decent level of standard equipment.

Suzuki continually impresses us with its engine technology and real world fuel consumption. Again the Vitara gets their most modern mild hybrid technology. Is it a success? Perhaps expectations were too high but we did anticipate a better return on economy than what we got, which seemed about average for a petrol powered compact of this size.

It is roaring fun to drive. You certainly wouldn't think it to look at it, but some rivals are sheer boring beside it.

The Vitara is showing its age though it remains a subtle but solid buy with plenty of fans out there.

There's still lots more to discover in the Suzuki range in 2021, with a newly facelifted Ignis that we will be driving soon, along with a refreshed version of the fabulous Suzuki Swift supermini.

The Vitara is a subtle but solid buy in its class
The Vitara is a subtle but solid buy in its class

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet Hybrid SZ-T
Price:
€25,745
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
129 hp
Torque: 235 Nm
0-100km/h:
9.5 seconds
Top speed: 190 km/h
Fuel economy: 
5.7 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
128g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is available to order now in Ireland

Volkswagen Tiguan (2021) Pricing For Ireland

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is available to order now in Ireland
The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is available to order now in Ireland

Volkswagen Ireland has confirmed that the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is available to order now.

The new facelifted version of the popular Tiguan mid size SUV will build on the success of this model in Ireland. Since the current generation launched in 2016, it has become the German brand's bestselling model in Ireland and was the third bestselling car in the country in 2020.

The new Volkswagen Tiguan range will go on sale priced from €31,510 RRP with a €1,000 delivery charge on each model.

What's new for the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan?

At launch the 2021 Tiguan range will go on sale with petrol and diesel engines, with a new Tiguan plug-in hybrid to follow later in the year. The Tiguan eHybrid will feature a 1.4-litre TSI engine twinned with an electric motor that produces a combined 245 hp and makes the eHybrid capable of covering up to 50 km in electric mode. We don't have pricing for this model yet.

The first high performance Tiguan R also debuts in 2021
The first high performance Tiguan R also debuts in 2021

A high performance Volkswagen Tiguan R will also go on sale for the first time priced from €66,990, powered by a 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine with 320 hp. Four wheel drive and DSG gearbox are also standard on this model.

A comprehensive facelift means a more modern appearance for the Tiguan akin to larger Volkswagen SUVs like the Touareg. The bonnet is more concise in its appearance and the new radiator grille with LED headlights is wider, with the new Volkswagen badge positioned centrally at the front. There are redesigned bumpers, and at the rear the Tiguan lettering is now in a prominent central position below the Volkswagen badge.

Inside there is a new steering wheel featuring touch controls (standard on R-Line and R), and Volkswagen has also digitalised the climate control functions by means of touch sliders and touch buttons in some trim levels.

The updated interior of the latest Tiguan
The updated interior of the latest Tiguan

What are my engine options?

The petrol range kicks off from €31,510 RRP with the option of 130 hp and 150 hp versions of the brand's proven 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine, and choice of manual or DSG automatic gearbox.

The diesel range is available from €33,345 RRP and uses the brand's 2.0-litre TDI engine with 122 hp (manual only), 150 hp (manual and DSG automatic) or 200 hp for the top of the range diesel model with four wheel drive and a DSG gearbox.

Pricing and equipment

The new Volkswagen Tiguan will be sold in four trim lines here: Tiguan, Life, Elegance and R-Line. Standard equipment includes 17” Montana alloy wheels, 8” Ready 2 Discover radio system, 2 USB-C ports in the front, air conditioning and LED daytime running lights. There is also Wireless App Connect for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid expected before the end of the year
Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid expected before the end of the year

The Tiguan Life is available from €34,285 RRP for the 1.5-litre, 130hp petrol engine with a manual gearbox or €39,330 RRP with a 7-speed DSG. The Tiguan Life 2.0-litre TDI diesel starts at €35,515 RRP with a 6-speed manual transmission or €40,425 RRP with a 7-speed DSG automatic. Extra features include 18” Frankfurt alloy wheels, 8” Discover Media Navigation System, adaptive cruise control, Park Distance Control, 3-zone climate control, natural voice control, black roof rails and tinted rear windows as well as Comfort seats in the front and additional storage compartments.

The Tiguan Elegance is aimed at those buyers wanting the best of technology and is available from €44,020 RRP for the 1.5-litre TSI with 150 hp and 7-speed DSG. There are three diesel versions, priced from €42,350. Equipment highlights include 19” Victoria Falls alloy wheels, ArtVelours upholstery, an ambient lighting pack with 30 colours, a multifunction steering wheel, heated front seats, chrome elements, panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control ACC Stop & Go incl. speed limiter, Park Assist with Park Distance Control, keyless entry and lane change system ‘Side Assist’ and Rear Traffic Alert.

The Tiguan R-Line is the sportiest of all with standard 20” Suzuka alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers in ‘R-Line’ design and a rear spoiler in ‘R’ style. Inside there is an ‘R-Line’ interior including decorative ‘Carbon Grey’ inserts and a black headliner.There is one petrol R-Line, a 1.5-litre TSI putting out 150 hp, mated to a 7-speed DSG, for €44,920 RRP and three diesel options from €43,195 RRP.

The latest version of the Volkswagen Tiguan goes on sale priced from €31,510 RRP
The latest version of the Volkswagen Tiguan goes on sale priced from €31,510 RRP

The new Nissan Juke Enigma!

Nissan Juke Enigma Goes On Sale

The new Nissan Juke Enigma!
The new Nissan Juke Enigma!

Nissan Ireland has confirmed the new Nissan Juke Engima for Ireland. This special edition of the popular compact crossover boasts an exclusive new look and a high specification of equipment.

The Juke Enigma will carry a high billing in the Juke range and goes on sale priced from €27,300.

Cosmetic updates include deep black, 19-inch Akari (Japanese for "light") alloy wheels to enhance the Juke's signature sporty stance, while bespoke, intricate graphic patterns adorn the coupé-style roof line and door mirrors. The Enigma signature graphic on the C-pillar can be complemented by two, two-tone paint combinations, including Gun Grey or Pearl White with a black roof.

The new Nissan Juke Enigma also introduces Amazon Alexa voice experience compatibility to the Juke range for the first time, which will be rolled out on all new models sold with the NIssanConnect infotainment system. This technology allows customers to control some of their vehicle functions remotely from their smartphone or an Alexa-enabled device. By asking Alexa, they can remotely find out if their Juke's lock/unlock status, how much fuel they have left, or send a location to the on-board navigation system.

Other features include rear view camera, automatic climate control, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and intervention, automatic headlights with high beam assist, and interior ambient lighting.

The latest Juke is powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine, with the Enigma spec available with manual or automatic gearbox.

The Juke Enigma goes on sale in Ireland priced from €27,300
The Juke Enigma goes on sale in Ireland priced from €27,300

Peter Dynan, Head of Product, Nissan Ireland, said:

“The Nissan Juke Enigma is a fantastic addition to the Juke range. It offers even more head-turning design and advanced technology in a truly compelling and value for money package. Enigma draws on unique styling and intelligent connectivity to enhance the driving experience.

The new generation of the Nissan Juke went on sale in Ireland in 2020. The Juke range is available from €22,845 in Ireland.

You can read Caroline's review of the new Nissan Juke here.


The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has arrived in Ireland

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2021) Arrives In Ireland

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has arrived in Ireland
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has arrived in Ireland

Mercedes-Benz Ireland has confirmed that the new generation of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has arrived in Ireland. It will go on sale priced from €121,865, and is available in standard and long wheelbase versions.

Like its predecessors, the flagship German saloon showcases technology that, in time, will likely appear in future Mercedes-Benz vehicles – previous examples debuted by the S-Class include ABS in 1978, airbag in 1981 and ESP in 1995.

The brand says the new S-Class comes with an even higher level of standard specification including AMG Design Line, rear Thermatronic Climate Control, Nappa leather upholstery and trim, heated rear seats, metallic paint and OLED touchscreen with augmented reality.

Space has been improved inside this German luxury liner with driver and rear passenger elbowroom increased by 38 mm and 23 mm, with 16 mm more rear headroom. The 550 litre boot is increased by 20 litres.

Mercedes-Benz says the ambience inside the new S-Class is quieter and more comfortable thanks to improved acoustics and additional air and hydraulic features that adjust suspension and dampen body movement to enhance ride comfort.

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The driver experience is dominated by the second-generation Mercedes-Benz MBUX User Experience with 3D display and 50 percent better computing power. Its features include eye-tracking spatial perception using cameras and algorithms that anticipate occupant wishes and interpret body language, head and hand movements to manage functions. The ‘Hey Mercedes’ function is now available to every seat occupant, and recognises speech and voice commands in twenty-seven languages. A ‘learning feature’ helps it recognise buzzwords and vary its voice output beyond stereotypical answers.

The door handles retract flush with the body when not in use or travelling and extend automatically when the driver approaches or touches their outer surface.

Other enhancements include measures to protect the vehicle against vandalism, improved driver assistance packages, an active body control feature, which raises the vehicle up to 8 centimetres when a side impact threatens, new headlamp technology, which projects warning symbols onto the road ahead, a multi-speaker 4D sound system with enhanced personalisation functions, and a new ‘over-the-air’ system that automatically updates software for more than 50 components.

Engines for the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class include two petrol and three diesels from launch, with a plug-in hybrid to follow. All have V8, 6-cylinder in-line engines and 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission.

Petrol models include an S450 and S500, which both use a 3.0-litre engine and have 4-MATIC all-wheel drive.

Diesels are a S350d, S350d 4MATIC and S400d 4MATIC.

The S-Class is available with a petrol and diesel engines from launch
The S-Class is available with a petrol and diesel engines from launch

The new Skoda Octavia range has arrived in Ireland!

What Were The 10 Bestselling Cars In Ireland In 2020?

As we enter the new 211 registration plate, let’s first recap on 2020! What were the bestselling cars in Ireland in 2020?

2020 was a difficult year for everyone, including the motor industry, with Coronavirus causing widespread disruption to the arrival of new models and the retailing of cars through dealerships across the country.

According to figures from SIMI, new car registrations in Ireland in 2020 were down to 88,324 - but there were some winners too as you will see when you scroll down to view the cars more people in Ireland were buying in 2020.

Diesel remains the most popular engine type, while hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid gained market share in 2020. Diesel accounted for 43.29% of new car registrations for the entire year, while petrol accounted for 36.91%, hybrid for 11.86%, electric for 4.54%, and plug-in hybrid for 2.78%.

Manual transmissions (59.8%) continue to dominate, but automatic transmissions are gaining popularity, particularly with the rise in hybrid and electric vehicle sales.

The hatchback is Ireland’s top selling car body type of 2020. Grey remains the top selling colour and has continued to keep that title for the past five years.

But as promised here are the top 10 bestselling cars of 2020! Is your car on the list?

10. Toyota Yaris

1,915 units

The 2020 Toyota Yaris!
The new Toyota Yaris

The first of three Toyotas in the top 10 bestsellers in Ireland in 2020. The Toyota Yaris is well established now in Ireland and its popularity was bolstered in 2020 with the arrival of a new generation of the Japanese supermini. Available with a small petrol engine or as a hybrid, the new Yaris has a cool new look and better quality and design throughout.

9. Nissan Qashqai

1,930 units

The Nissan Qashqai is still a popular buy on the new and used car market
The Nissan Qashqai remains a popular buy in Ireland

The Nissan Qashqai is a former #1 bestseller in Ireland. It slipped down the rankings in 2020 but this generation of the Qashqai has had a great run in Ireland since it was launched here in 2014. An all-new generation of the popular Japanese family crossover will arrive in Ireland later in 2021.

8. Volkswagen Golf

2,006 units

The new 2020 Volkswagen Golf now on sale in Ireland
The new Volkswagen Golf now on sale in Ireland

The Golf has slipped down the sales chart in 2020 but remains one of the bestselling family hatchbacks in Ireland. The new generation of the iconic German hatchback arrived in Ireland back in summer 2020 with a range of petrol and diesel engines, as well as some new hybrid variants. Performance versions are also available.

7. Skoda Octavia

2,045 units

The new Skoda Octavia range has arrived in Ireland!
The new Skoda Octavia range

Consistently one of the bestselling cars in Ireland, the Skoda Octavia returned in late 2020 with a new generation of the car. Also available as an estate, the Octavia offers a spacious alternative and is a favourite of Irish buyers. A plug-in hybrid Skoda Octavia iV will join the range in 2021.

6. Toyota C-HR

2,078 units

The C-HR is now available with a 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with more power and performance
The Toyota C-HR brings efficient hybrid power to its class

The Toyota C-HR has been a real success story for the brand in Ireland since it launched here back at the end of 2016. In 2020, Toyota Ireland welcomed a new facelifted version of the C-HR, which is now sold exclusively as a petrol hybrid, with two versions available. The new 2.0-litre hybrid offers more performance, but the C-HR remains a very efficient and sophisticated hybrid.

5. Hyundai Kona

2,321 units

The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid
The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid

Another success story, this time for Hyundai and the Kona compact crossover. Since it launched in Ireland towards the end of 2017, it has become a firm favourite with the Irish public. There's great choice on offer in the range, including petrol, hybrid and electric.

4. Ford Focus

2,502 units

The new Ford Focus is selling well in Ireland
The new Ford Focus is selling well in Ireland

The Ford Focus is one of those perennials of the motor industry and continues to perform well in the Irish market, outselling close competitor the Volkswagen Golf in 2020. It offers comfortable and good value motoring with petrol, diesel and mild hybrid offerings in the range. There's also a high performance Ford Focus ST available.

3. Volkswagen Tiguan

2,977 units

The Volkswagen Tiguan is more popular than the Golf in Ireland
The Volkswagen Tiguan is more popular than the Golf in Ireland

The current generation of the Volkswagen Tiguan has been a stellar success in Ireland since it launched here in 2016. In 2020 it moved into the top 3 bestselling cars in the country. A facelifted version is expected in 2021, with the arrival of a new plug-in hybrid and high performance version.

2. Hyundai Tucson

3,227 units

The Hyundai Tucson sold well in November
The new Hyundai Tucson should bolster sales of this SUV in Ireland even more in 2021

Another former number one bestseller in Ireland. Despite a challenging year for the motor industry, the Tucson posted strong sales and continues to satisfy Irish buyers. At the end of 2020 an all-new version arrived here with a stunning new design and new powertrains, including diesel and hybrid. A Tucson plug-in hybrid will join the range in 2021.

1. Toyota Corolla 

3,755 units

The 2020 Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla has been an incredible success in Ireland since launch

No change at the top in 2020! The Corolla has had another incredible year. Since the new generation Corolla launched here in 2019, it quickly became Ireland’s bestselling car. Available as a hatchback, saloon or estate, it offers buyers a fuel efficient hybrid compact car. In 2020, a new trim level was added, GR Sport, and a more performance oriented 2.0-litre hybrid.


New Car Registrations Down 25% In 2020

The Toyota Corolla remained a bestseller in Ireland in 2020
The Toyota Corolla remained a bestseller in Ireland in 2020

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has released their official new vehicle registrations statistics for 2020. They show that the total new car registrations for Ireland in 2020 finished at 88,324, which was 25% down on 2019 when 117,109 new cars were registered.

The bestselling car in Ireland in 2020 was the Toyota Corolla, followed by the Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Focus and Hyundai Kona.

The hatchback remains Ireland’s top selling car body type of 2020. While grey is the top selling colour and has continued to keep that title for the past five years.

There was a decrease in imported used cars in Ireland with a total of 79,969 registrations in 2020, a decrease of 29.8% on 2019 when 113,926 were counted.

4,013 new electric cars were registered in 2020 in comparison to 3,444 in 2019, up 16.5%.

Diesel remains the most popular engine type, while hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid gained market share in 2020. Diesel accounted for 43.29% of new car registrations for the entire year, while petrol accounted for 36.91%, hybrid for 11.86%, electric for 4.54%, and plug-in hybrid for 2.78%.

Manual transmissions continue to be more popular, holding 59.8% of the market, though their market share has decreased to rising numbers of cars being bought with automatic transmissions.

New Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) registrations in 2020 saw a decrease of 14.2% (21,732) compared to 2019 (25,336). While New Heavy Commercial Vehicle registrations (HGV) saw a decrease of 22.3% (2,066) in comparison to 2019 (2,659).

Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General commenting:
“Like many other sectors, 2020 proved to be a very difficult year for the Irish Motor Industry. New car sales, already hampered in recent years due to Brexit, were down a further 25% due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are now at recession levels. Looking to January, the key month for new car sales, the dramatic deterioration in the public health situation over the last few weeks and the implementation of Level 5 restrictions will make it another difficult period for the sector. Dealerships remain open for service, repair and testing, which are essential services, and the Industry will continue to play an important role in assisting emergency and essential services. Car sales will operate on a click and collect service with retailers increasing investment in their digital platforms to facilitate customers. In the current challenged business environment, it is vital that the current restrictions succeed in driving down the incidence of COVID so business and society can return to some level of normality.”


The new Kia Sorento on test for Changing Lanes!

Kia Sorento (2021) Review

The new Kia Sorento on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Kia Sorento on test for Changing Lanes!

The Kia Sorento has long been a popular model for the brand in Ireland. With demand for 7-seater SUVs, the Sorento always filled the gap perfectly with family-friendly seating all wrapped up in a cool SUV exterior.

In 2020, the brand launched an all-new generation of the Kia Sorento. With the model first appearing in 2002, Sorento is now in its fourth generation. Together with the popular Kia Sportage, it brought the Kia brand to prominence here in Ireland and throughout Europe.

The formula remains much the same - big family SUV with seating for seven. However from whatever angle you look at this Sorento, the jump appears big. Kia is seriously stepping up the game with the new Sorento, which should seriously worry any other brand trying to sell a 7-seat SUV.

What's new for the 2021 Kia Sorento?

Appearances matter. And Kia has done a wonderful job with the new Sorento. Inspired by the uber-big Kia Telluride, an SUV available in other markets like North America, the new Sorento has much stronger and serious design language. There is indeed more than a slice of Americana about the big, blocky grille and squared-off rear, but still the typical flair we expect from the Korean brand in this century. Cue the interesting light detail at the rear, and S O R E N T O spelled out in large letters.

The 2021 Kia Sorento raises the bar for design in the 7-seat SUV segment
The 2021 Kia Sorento raises the bar for design in the 7-seat SUV segment

Kia also is one of the brand's at the forefront of electrification, with no delays on rolling out electrified powertrains, even to their biggest SUV on sale in Europe. You could say they are ahead of the curve and have been for some time. Can you see why other brands might be worried?

For the first time, this behemoth will be available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. In Ireland this model will go on sale from February, priced from €50,000 and exclusively all wheel drive. So what we find in the Changing Lanes garage to review today is the new Kia Sorento diesel, now on sale priced from €51,600.

Another reason why this Sorento impresses so much on a first encounter is the way the interior is kitted out and the technology on board. As I cruised down the M11 after picking the Sorento up in Sandyford, Dublin, I felt like I was driving a Korean Range Rover. I'm not making fun of Kia as only fools would do that with a brand that has become such a powerhouse. And Ireland clearly loves Kia.

The Kia Sorento is available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time in 2021
The Kia Sorento is available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time in 2021

Inside the new Kia Sorento

You sit high in the 2021 Kia Sorento. From your armchair you are met with an all-new dashboard design that is a sign of great things to come. It really does feel like a fresh start for the brand once again. This will be Kia’s most high-tech car ever, thanks to new connectivity features, driver assistance and infotainment technologies including an impressive twin digital screen display.

For Kia's flagship SUV in Ireland, a 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster is twinned with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system at the centre of the dashboard. These display information clearly within the driver’s line of sight, and create a cool wide-screen user experience.

Quality goes up another level again inside the new Sorento; another reason for competitors to worry if they are not 100 per cent on their game, and focusing too much on trying to cut costs.

But what is most impressive is the attention to detail, the way the ambient lighting cuts through the elegant design of the dash and door panels. The glossiness of it all. And the slickness of the new digital instrument panel with its funky fuchsia pink detailing. As I was changing lanes, my speedometer turned into a camera view of my blind spot. How clever.

The interior of the 2021 Kia Sorento
The interior of the 2021 Kia Sorento

More technology on board

That's because the Sorento is equipped with Kia’s new Blind-Spot View Monitor. When you indicate to change lane, the system displays a high-resolution video feed on the left or right side of the TFT-LCD instrument cluster. The video feed comes from discreet wide-angle, high-resolution cameras, hidden in each of the door mirror housings. These provide a wider viewing angle than the door mirrors, giving drivers a clear view of any approaching vehicles.

In Ireland the entry into the range is the K3 model. It is a well-equipped car that comes as standard with 18” alloys, the twin digital screens display with telematics, rear view camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and charge ports on all three rows of seats. Safety features include Bind Spot Detection, Front Collision Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Smart Cruise Control, and Highway Drive Assist.

The K4 model on test adds even more comfort and safety features including a panoramic sunroof, driver and passenger power seats, 12 speaker Bose sound system, rear heated seats, power opening tailgate, the Blind-Spot View Monitor, Around View Monitor and Parking Collision Avoidance.

Generous 7-seat accommodation inside the new Kia Sorento
Generous 7-seat accommodation inside the new Kia Sorento

How practical is it as a 7-seat SUV?

The Sorento is huge inside with seating for seven. It's built on Kia’s new-generation midsize SUV platform, so is larger again with a longer wheelbase to maximise interior and boot space. The platform ensure the Sorento is one of the most versatile and spacious three-row SUVs on the market.

We can believe it. The rear bench will accommodate three easily and rear legroom in row 2 is very generous. The 2021 Kia Sorento is a proper family car with plenty of storage and other convenience features for all three rows of seats.

Access to the third row of seats is also very easy, with the second row seats released forwards with just the touch of a button.

The seats in the very rear will be most suitable for children, but the Sorento does better than a lot of rivals on space. And in five seat mode you get a huge boot, and more than a token boot space in seven seat mode. Cowabunga!

The new Kia Sorento goes on sale in Ireland priced from €51,600
The new Kia Sorento goes on sale in Ireland priced from €51,600 for the diesel, from €50,000 for the hybrid

Driving the 2021 Kia Sorento

The 2.2-litre diesel in the Kia Sorento is new and avoids being a rumble in the jungle. 202 hp ensures it's no lazy elephant either, with 0 to 100 km/h achieved in 9 seconds. It's remarkably refined, another ode to Kia's ambition for their brand. The Sorento is a fabulous way to travel, smooth and comfortable. Power is directed to the front wheels only in diesel spec using a new 8-speed automatic gearbox. Over a few day's driving my average fuel consumption was 6.7 litres per 100 km, while this model will cost €420 to tax per year. The diesel Sorento can also tow up to 2.5 tonnes.

In development of this new generation of the Sorento, Kia engineers worked to reduce the effect that road surface imperfections have on the body, and to reduce noise and vibrations through the suspension, while also improving body control and steering responses under cornering. This has been achieved with a series of geometry changes and new components, as well as improvements to the structure of the suspension system. The 35 mm longer wheelbase also contributes to an overall improvement in cruising comfort, while a more rigid bodyshell results in lower body vibrations.

Handling is predictable for a large SUV. It's not sporty, as much as the driving modes would like you to believe. But it is an easy beast to manoeuvre around tight country roads and delivers the necessary comfort and refinement this segment requires, without cartwheels or fanfare. We did note some road noise at motorway speeds, but other than that the new Sorento is a charming large SUV that can fully command its sticker price.

The Sorento diesel provides a reliable source of power and economy for long distance or rural users
The Sorento diesel provides a reliable source of power and economy for long distance or rural users

What's next?

A new Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid will join the range in Ireland in February. It will be powered by a 1.6-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine paired with a high-capacity 13.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and a powerful electric motor. Together the petrol electric hybrid powertrain in the Sorento will produce up to 265 hp and 350 Nm torque. The plug-in hybrid Sorento will come with a 6-speed automatic and will be all wheel drive exclusively. The boon for this model with urban users is a pure electric range of up to 56 km and low emissions of just 50 g - meaning motor tax of just €140!

Did you like it?

The new 2021 Kia Sorento is a serious sign of intent from the Korean brand. Kia has a great track record in Ireland selling SUVs, and the Sorento will continue the fine tradition in the large family SUV category. All things considered it is still remarkably good value, considering the space on board the new Sorento, and the level of equipment and technology.

Buyers will have more options now when it comes to powertrain. While we are yet to test the Sorento hybrid, we can confirm the diesel is a star performer. The new diesel engine is more refined and has plenty of power and torque to make the Sorento drive effortless and something to be enjoyed. Towing capability is strong but buyers may lament the loss of four wheel drive from the Sorento diesel range. That will be reserved for hybrid models.

The biggest recommendation for the Sorento is the space inside the vehicle and the living room feel. It's more and more like a luxury hotel on wheels. Who could believe we would be saying these things about a Kia? But times have changed and the Sorento will woo buyers from other brands, no problem.

This is a truly impressive SUV and one of our favourite cars of the past year.

The stunning new Kia Sorento raises the game in design and quality for the Korean brand
The stunning new Kia Sorento raises the game in design and quality for the Korean brand

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia Sorento 2.2 diesel K4
Price: 
€56,500
Engine: 2.2-litre turbo diesel
Power:
202 hp
Torque: 440 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9 seconds
Top speed: 202 km/h
Economy (WLTP):
6.1-6.4l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
165 g/km
Motor tax: 
€420 per year