The new Opel Mokka SRi on test for Changing Lanes!

Opel Mokka 1.2 SRi (2021) Review

The new Opel Mokka SRi on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Opel Mokka SRi on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Opel Mokka!

The Opel Mokka has returned to Ireland in 2021, a rejuventated offering for the popular compact SUV segment in Ireland. Available in electric for the first time, along with petrol and diesel variants, the Mokka’s new face is one that changes everything for the Opel brand.

Priced from €23,295 for a petrol, from €25,095 for a diesel, and from €33,038 for the all-electric Opel Mokka-e, the Mokka is shaping up as a very compelling and competitive offering.

Of course, Mokka has some history in Ireland, launched back in Ireland as a new compact SUV contender in 2012 and revamped in 2016. This car still has good visibility on Irish roads, but Mokka owners will be astounded by the step forward this new version has taken.

What's so hot about the 2021 Opel Mokka?

It’s the design that gets you first. The 2021 Opel Mokka is lighter and sleeker looking, with a genuine sporty bent to it. Opel has found new direction indeed, tapping into their history in motorsport and classic Opels like the Manta and GSi models to add some zest to a new generation of cars.

You cannot miss the striking new grille area. Opel call it the ‘Vizor’ face. It looks like nothing else on the road. This new family look is bestowed upon other models like the Crossland and Grandland SUVs, as well as the upcoming new Astra hatchback.

The Opel Mokka goes on sale in Ireland as petrol, diesel or electric
The Opel Mokka goes on sale in Ireland as petrol, diesel or electric

For style conscious buyers this one hits the mark! SRi models (from €24,795) like the Mokka on test really stand out with 17” black alloy wheels, red exterior detailing and a contrasting black roof! Other trim levels include the SC and Elite.

Standard equipment levels are good including traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist, collision avoidance sensor with brake assist, pedestrian detection alert, electronic cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors with rear view camera, air conditioning, 7” colour touchscreen, 7” colour driver instrument cluster, DAB radio and 16” alloy wheels.

Inside the 2021 Opel Mokka SRi

Inside there is an all-new dashboard design that follows the Opel new ‘Pure Panel’ philosophy. Take it as code for simplified, modern and minimalistic, and you will come close to the experience behind the wheel of the new Mokka.

Opel has worked hard to give this car a new personality and the red trim of the SRi model certainly spices things up. There is a full digital experience for the driver with a digital instrument cluster as standard and 7” colour touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. A multimedia system with 10” touchscreen and navigation is also available.

The interior of the 2021 Opel Mokka SRi
The interior of the 2021 Opel Mokka SRi

This is a compact vehicle but in terms of interior accommodation, it’s competitive for this class of vehicle with a decent show of legroom and headroom in the rear. The boot is also smartly sized at 350 litres. The new Mokka is a little bit wider than the car it replaces so there’s plenty of elbow room upfront. Rear seats split fold and there is also a false floor in the boot for added practicality.

What are my options?

Available across all three trims, petrol and diesel engines offer power outputs ranging from 100 hp to 130 hp. The petrol model is a 1.2-litre affair with 100 or 130 hp, and the option of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic gearbox.

At Changing Lanes we tested the petrol automatic with 130 hp. It performs well with a good show of power and clever automatic that rarely misses a beat.

Buyers will also find a 1.5-litre diesel in the line-up with 110 hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox.

There’s also the exciting new all-electric Opel Mokka-e powered by an 50 kWh battery with 136 hp and a range of up to 324 km.

The very stylish all electric Opel Mokka-e
The very stylish all electric Opel Mokka-e

Driving the new Opel Mokka!

The Opel Mokka is the second model in the Opel range to use the CMP platform from parent company PSA, after the launch of the all-new Corsa in 2020. It’s lighter by up to 120 kg on some of the models in the range, while rigidity is up by 15%. It’s clear to see that the new Mokka is a far more efficient design, more aerodynamic with a lower centre of gravity. Opel engineers have worked hard to reduce squeaks and rattles and improve the acoustic quality, with an acoustic pack fitted as standard to further reduce road noise.

On the road, the Opel Mokka has a light and modern feel that makes it easy to handle and steer through any driving situation. It's a much improved car to drive now, refined and comfortable by class standards, with just the odd bump over ramps and the like on our test car’s 17” ‘shoes’! These cars are built to be autobahn-proof and the Mokka can surely hold its own on the motorway, staying in lane simply and confidently.

Did you like it?

Opel is definitely back in the game with the new Opel Mokka. There are more exciting models on the way. Changing Lanes loves a comeback kid and the new Opel Mokka has put its best game face on.

Choice is a key feature of the new Mokka range and Opel is to be commended for bringing such a selection to the compact crossover range. The petrol model on test offers a very good value entry into the Mokka range; the Mokka-e is a compelling option for buyers ready to make the switch to electric.

Mokka has taken a huge step forward. In design and technology, it can really now hold its own. It will stand out and adds a youth and vibrancy back to the Opel brand that was sorely missed.

The new Opel Mokka on sale now from €23,295
The new Opel Mokka on sale now from €23,295

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Opel Mokka 1.2 SRi Automatic
1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 130 hp
Torque: 230 Nm
Top speed: 200 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.2 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
133-135 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€210 per year

The new Hyundai Bayon on sale in Ireland now

Hyundai Bayon Goes On Sale In Ireland

The new Hyundai Bayon on sale in Ireland now
The new Hyundai Bayon on sale in Ireland now

The Hyundai Bayon has arrived in Ireland and goes on sale priced from €21,645 rising to €24,245.

It has been designed for Europe and has been given a European name to reflect that - Bayon is inspired by 'Bayonne', the capital of the French Basque Country.

With on-trend crossover styling, it is now the most compact of Hyundai's SUV family - joining the Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe. Bayon is the latest model from Hyundai to showcase the brand's “Sensuous Sportiness” design identity, with strong lines, slim headlights and arrow-shaped lights at the rear.

In Ireland the new Bayon goes on sale with a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 84 hp. It's available from launch with a 5-speed manual gearbox, with an automatic to join the range in January 2022. Motor tax is €200 per year for the Bayon 1.2 manual.

The interior of the new Bayon has been designed to be clean, roomy, and well-lit with ambient lighting available as standard on Executive models, which also get the full digital look with touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital cluster for the driver.

There has been a focus on maximising front and rear passenger comfort and increasing boot space, with 411 litres available.

New Bayon goes on sale in Ireland in two trim levels - Comfort Plus and Executive - with a two tone roof option available on the Executive model.

Standard equipment includes roof rails, air con and Bluetooth, while the Executive model (from €23,645) adds 16" alloys, heated from seats, automatic air con, 8" touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charger and digital instrument panel.

The launch of the new Bayon means Hyundai has now launched or enhanced seven new models in just 12 months.

The Bayon is in Hyundai dealers around Ireland now.

The interior of the new Bayon
The interior of the new Bayon

The Renault Arkana is available to order now in Ireland!

Renault Arkana Available To Order Now!

The Renault Arkana is available to order now in Ireland!
The Renault Arkana is available to order now in Ireland!

Renault Ireland has confirmed that the new Renault Arkana is now available to order in Ireland. The new SUV with coupé styling will go on sale alongside the Captur and Kadjar, priced from €28,990.

In Ireland the Arkana is available in three trim lines - Iconic, S Edition and R.S. Line. Standard equipment includes EASY LINK touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, diamond-cut alloy wheels and full LED lighting technology.

Inside there is said to be a spacious, comfortable interior trimmed with high quality materials across all models, with features like  ambient lighting and premium upholstery options.

The 2021 Renault Arkana will go on sale in Ireland with the brand's latest engine technology including the E-TECH hybrid (145 hp) and TCe petrol mild-hybrid.


  TCe 140 Auto EDC E-TECH Hybrid 145 Auto
All-new Arkana Iconic €28,990 €30,490
All-new Arkana S Edition €31,090 €32,590
All-new Arkana R.S. Line €33,690 €35,190

Iconic models feature a 7.0-inch display with DAB radio and Bluetooth functionality, while S Edition and R.S. Line models have a 9.3-inch portrait screen featuring navigation with live traffic services and weather information, Google address search and 4G connectivity and automatic update services for three years. From launch, Arkana S Edition and R.S. Line models also feature a 7.0-inch TFT Driver Information Display ahead of the driver.

The Arkana is Renault’s first purpose-built hybrid model, and a key model in pushing forward the broadened electrification of Renault’s model range. It offers the E-TECH hybrid powertrain across every trim level, inspired by Renault’s experience and expertise in Formula 1. In the Arkana, the E-Tech Hybrid 145 powertrain combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine, 1.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and two electric motors, and Renault believe it to be the engine of choice in the line-up for the majority of customers. 

Emitting as little as 111g/km of CO2 and returning consumption as low as to 4.9l/100km, the new Arkana E-TECH Hybrid is said to prioritise driving on electric power alone from the moment the vehicle starts.

Also available on all Arkana models is a TCe 140 petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology. Offering 140 hp and 260 Nm of torque, this 1.3-litre engine propels the new Arkana from 0-100km/h in 9.8 seconds, while also offering consumption as low as 5.8l/100km and CO2 emissions of 131g/km.

The mild-hybrid technology works with a 12-volt starter generator that ensures faster and more refined operation of the Stop & Start function when coming to a standstill, while also reducing emissions at the same time. The TCe 140 engine is available exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch EDC transmission delivering smooth and refined gear changes.

New Arkana on sale from €28,990
New Arkana on sale from €28,990

The new Renault Megane Hatchback E-TECH Hybrid!

Renault Megane Hatch E-TECH Plug-In Hybrid Arrives!

The new Renault Megane Hatchback E-TECH Hybrid!
The new Renault Megane Hatchback E-TECH Hybrid!

Renault is strengthening its electrified vehicle range in Ireland with the arrival of the new Renault Mégane Hatch E-TECH Plug-In Hybrid. It joins the Renault Megane Sports Tourer E-TECH Plug-In Hybrid that is already on sale here since the beginning of 2021.

It goes on sale priced from €32,240 (including €2,500 SEAI grant for private buyers).

Customers can choose from two trim levels – the Iconic E-Tech Plug-In Hybrid 160 Auto and the sportier R.S. Line E-Tech Plug-In Hybrid 160 Auto.

Both versions feature a 1.6-litre petrol engine complemented by two electric motors. CO2 emissions are rated at just 28g/km (WLTP). The new hybrid Megane hatchback can be driven on electric power only for a range of up to 50 km.

With 160 hp available, the 0-100 km/h time is 9.4 seconds, going on to a top speed of 182 km/h.

The new hybrid is more powerful than any other petrol and diesel Mégane in the range, with the exception of the high performance RS and Trophy versions.

Standard equipment includes electronic parking brake, front and rear electric windows, cruise control with speed limiter, 10-inch TFT driver’s display, Eco Mode, EV mode button, MULTI-SENSE with three driving modes and eight ambient lighting colours, and a hands-free key card.

Safety equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, Hill Start Assist and the Visio System that incorporates lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, and automatic high/low beam.

The Iconic trim level gets 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, and frameless rear-view mirror. There's also the EASYLINK navigation system with two USB ports, Bluetooth, and smartphone integration including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that are accessible through its 7-inch touchscreen.

The R.S. Line version gains exclusive body-coloured R.S. Line bumpers, 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, and an R.S. leather steering wheel. Safety is further enhanced with the fitment of the Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS), rear parking camera and hands-free parking, while the EASYLINK navigation system has a larger 9.3-inch touchscreen.

Customers will be able to further personalise their Mégane Hatch Plug-In Hybrid with options such as the Signature Pack, which adds adaptive cruise control, Lane Keeping Assistance, E-Call, BOSE audio and a leather interior.

The Mégane Hatch Plug-In Hybrid uses the same technology that debuted on the Captur E-Tech hybrid, which was engineered with input from the Alpine F1 team. It combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 9.8 kW lithium-ion battery and two electric motors, together with the automatic, multi-mode dog gearbox that features in all other E-Tech models.

In operation, it starts the vehicle in 100 per cent electric mode, significantly reducing the gap in acceleration during gear changes. This means a smoother, more refined drive plus better performance.

Battery charging on a home charging point takes as little as 3 hours at 3.6 kW, while the included domestic cable enables charging from a 3-pin plug.

The Megane Hatch E-TECH Plug-in hybrid is on sale now from €32,240
The Megane Hatch E-TECH Plug-in hybrid is on sale now from €32,240

Looking to save money on fuel costs in your business?

How To Get The Best Fuel Card

Looking to save money on fuel costs in your business?
Looking to save money on fuel costs in your business?

For business owners, fuel cards can really help you run your fleet more efficiently and save money. They act like simple payment cards that you and your drivers can use to pay for petrol and diesel, and other products like tolls and car wash, where approved by the card owner.

Fuel cards make it easier for you to manage your fuel spend. Every fuel transaction is recorded so reports can be run to pinpoint any inefficiencies in your fleet’s fuel usage. Using a fuel card scheme reduces your time spent on administrative tasks like recording usage of fuel, gathering fuel receipts or expense forms from staff and comparing them with time sheets.

You can monitor your fuel card transactions, reducing the risk of fuel fraud. Cards are pin protected for more transaction security. They can also be matched to a driver or vehicle registration number. For further security, you can set a cap on daily spend permitted.

There are a number of fuel cards available on the Irish market. Depending on the card and provider, your fuel card can be used at a network of fuel stations in Ireland, the UK and around Europe. When selecting the best fuel card provider for your business, there are a number of factors you should consider. To get the most out of a fuel card, you need to find the card that is best suited to your business. Follow these steps to find the right card for your business!


Consider your fleet size, the region you travel and your average fuel spend.


You can use an online fuel card comparison tool like iCompario to research what’s available in Ireland. The site has a handy search facility where you can add details of your business to find the best available card for your usage and fleet.


Check the coverage of your fuel card is enough to satisfy your business needs. Find a fuel card with the best coverage and network of sites. For example, do you need a fuel card for the Republic of Ireland only, or do you need coverage in the UK and perhaps pan-European?


There are two main payment options for fuel cards - weekly fixed rate and pump related price - with each bringing their own benefits so choose wisely depending on your business!

The pump price related fuel card means you are simply charged the price displayed on the pump. Depending on your fuel card provider or volume drawn you may be able to get discounts on the pump price. Other providers may include a surcharge on the forecourt price. This price may change from day to day and can also vary depending on where your drivers refuel. The main benefit of a pump price related fuel card for smaller fleets is the extensive network coverage, with more service stations accepting pump price related fuel cards, drivers have greater flexibility for refuelling quickly without any unnecessary detours.

With a fixed price card your fuel rate is determined by the diesel wholesale price and fixed for the week. No matter how much the retail rates shift throughout the next seven days, your rate won’t change. Prices are emailed to you in advance, usually on a Friday for the week ahead. The fixed price fuel cards are particularly suited to hauliers, large fleets and high-volume users. Despite having a slightly smaller network than the pump price cards, the fixed price sites are strategically located along all major transport routes.


Many fuel cards now offer online management software so you can log in from anywhere. Choose a fuel card provider which offers the most comprehensive and robust online management tools and service station locators. The best options are those that can be downloaded as an application to smartphones or any internet enabled device. You can manage your fleet and workforce from wherever you are and your drivers can use it to easily find the closest, suitable service station along their route for convenient refuelling. You can monitor transactions by card, vehicle or driver, order additional cards or cancel lost cards quickly and easily, and run reports to monitor the efficiency of your fleet. All done conveniently from desktop, tablet or a smartphone!

Check out our article for everything you need to know about fuel cards in Ireland!
Choose your fuel card wisely using an online comparison tool!

Caroline Kidd

The new Ford Puma ST on test for Changing Lanes!

Ford Puma ST (2021) Review

The new Ford Puma ST on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Ford Puma ST on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Ford Puma ST!

The Ford Puma ST has rolled into Ireland for the very first time. Ford’s stellar Puma, only a kitten itself having been launched in Ireland for the first time in 2020 – gets a high performance makeover. I’m excited!

At Changing Lanes, we have some great history with Ford Performance models like the Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS and of course the mighty Mustang!

Now Ford creates a high performance compact crossover to join the family and promises to fill a gap we never knew needed to be filled.

But with the market continuing to go gaga for crossovers and SUVs, Ford hits the market with a tasty compact performance offering - once again.

What's so hot about the new Ford Puma ST?

The Ford Puma ST of course shares much of its DNA with the Ford Fiesta ST. It’s powered by the same engine – a three cylinder 1.5-litre turbo petrol affair – putting out 200 hp and 320 Nm. Bask in it because pure and basic combustion engines like this one are on the way out. But it’s glorious, oh so glorious to behold!

Priced from €41,813, you are going to pay a premium for this mean little streak of crossover. For reference the Fiesta ST range starts from €33,219 and the Focus ST from €47,859 as of July 2020. But if you love the Puma’s style and image, then you’re going to be pretty sold on the high-performance ST model.

The Puma ST goes on sale in Ireland from €40,813
The Puma ST goes on sale in Ireland from €40,813

Ford has given it a generous tart up with black shiny trim elements, LED signature headlamps, 19” alloy wheels, red brake calipers, black contrast roof, dual chrome exhaust. It looks aggressive, but those bug eyes might be too big for some as I know the Puma already has come in for some criticism for its styling!

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

Inside the new Ford Puma ST!

Inside the most notable addition is two mighty Recaro front sports seats. They hold you in nice and snug for all that hard cornering you will be doing on the way home from the supermarket.

The interior dashboard design is lifted straight from the more humble powered Pumas so it’s a plain enough affair. There’s an ST badged, flat bottomed steering wheel, ST scuff plates, unique ST gear shift knob, alloy sport pedals. I’m a bit disappointed by the hard plastics, which are just about acceptable in a standard Puma, but considering the ST’s steeper price tag, they are harder to stomach here.

Inside the cabin of the Ford Puma ST
Inside the cabin of the Ford Puma ST

But allow the gloss and glamour of the standard digital instrument panel to distract you. It’s a fine piece of kit and glows suitably red when you pop your Puma ST into sport mode!

Other equipment features include heated seats and touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

Driving the 2021 Ford Puma ST

The new Ford Puma ST is hot on the road. But you have got to push on a bit to feel the mechanical wizardry at work. You can drive this car like a pussy cat and all you will notice is some slightly heavier steering and a firmer ride, non-negotiable for a performance kitty like this one.

But then push on a bit, engage tiger mode…and wow! Ford do make excellent performance cars. The Puma ST is no different. Our test car was fitted with the ST Performance Pack, which features a mechanical Limited Slip Differential (LSD), Launch Control, Performance Shift Light and Shift Indicator for €1,172. Launch control is an absolute blast! The mechanical LSD keeps everything really tight and tidy through the corners.

Worth it? Hell yeah! Cornering grip is excellent and the Puma ST slips effortlessly though every bend, but you will feel like a rally driver doing it. It makes you feel professional. This car is good.

The Ford Puma ST is a worthy member of Ford's talented team of high performance ST models
The Ford Puma ST is a worthy member of Ford's talented team of high performance ST models

An optimised chassis features bespoke twist-beam, anti-roll bar and damper configurations. Steering responses are 25 per cent faster and brakes 17 per cent larger than the standard Puma, along with specially-developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.

Puma ST also features selectable Drive Modes including Sport mode and – for the first time on a Ford Performance vehicle – Eco mode for when there is no need to go flat out.

The little three cylinder petrol engine rasps more maturely than what you might think. Not quite as rapturous as the Fiesta ST - deliberately tuned to match the more 'refined' character of Puma - it can still enthusiastically applause you for some of your best efforts behind the wheel. Moving through the gears is heavenly with a snappy six speed manual gearbox adding to the drama, 0‑100 km/h in just 6.7 seconds of three cylinder hissing and spitting.

Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.4 litres per 100 km.


Did you like it?

The Ford Puma ST is a very fun car to drive. However it is an expensive one. Cars like this are on the way out but a blast in the very best sure feels good. Ford make excellent performance cars. The Puma ST will surprise you with its appetite for corners. With the mechanical LSD, it just slays corners.

The Puma ST offers near equal the fun of the Fiesta ST but with just a little more practicality. Ford has carried over the Megabox feature from the standard Puma. I don't know many performance cars with an extra 80 litres of storage space under the boot floor!

Cabin quality could be better in places. This is not the plushest cabin experience but the Recaro sports seats go so far to make up for it.

A good engine like the Puma ST’s will awaken something in most drivers. A joyful car to drive!

The 2021 Ford Puma ST is on sale now
The 2021 Ford Puma ST is on sale now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Puma ST
1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 200 hp
Torque: 320 Nm
Top speed: 220 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.7 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
134 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€280 per year

Greenergy and ESB to open new EV charge points at Amber and Inver sites across Ireland

Greenergy And ESB To Bring More EV Chargers To Irish Forecourts

Greenergy and ESB to open new EV charge points at Amber and Inver sites across Ireland
Greenergy and ESB to open new EV charge points at Amber and Inver sites across Ireland

Greenergy has agreed with ESB to introduce fast and high power EV charging points at selected Irish retail forecourts operating under Greenergy’s Amber and Inver brands.

To start, 16 forecourts have been identified across the Inver and Amber portfolio and include a mix of company owned, company leased and dealer sites. The charging units will be rolled out in two-phases, with over half of the sites to be completed over the coming 18 months.

Chris O’Callaghan, Head of Greenergy Ireland, said:

“Our Inver and Amber retail forecourts give our customers variety in both our fuel and non-fuel forecourt services, and we see this venture with ESB as a way to provide another convenient offering to meet a new fuel demand. EVs alongside liquid renewables, where Greenergy has a market leading position, will make up the energy mix as we head to a decarbonised Ireland, and we are adapting to meet the needs of our customer base.”

John Byrne, Head of ESB ecars, said:

“For the last 10 years, ESB has installed and maintained the country’s public charging network with more than 1,350 points now available. We are always looking to expand and enhance our network with these 16 sites crucial to delivering a well located, reliable public charging network to the increasing number of EV drivers across Ireland.

These sites will include a mix of fast and high power chargers which can provide 100 km of range in as little as six minutes. We are excited to partner with Greenergy and selected the Amber and Inver sites given their attractive convenience retail and local community offering. We look forward to working with Greenergy on providing this essential service to their customers.”

The new Opel Astra will go on sale in Ireland in early 2022

Opel Astra (2022) On Way To Ireland!

The new Opel Astra will go on sale in Ireland in early 2022
The new Opel Astra will go on sale in Ireland in early 2022

Opel Ireland has confirmed that the new sixth generation Opel Astra will arrive in Ireland in early 2022, with prices and equipment to be released closer to launch.

Sheer, taut surfaces characterise this latest Astra and the German brand's distinctive new 'Vizor' face, seen already on the new Mokka and Crossland on sale in Ireland.

The 2022 Opel Astra will be available in petrol, diesel and for the very first time, as a plug-in hybrid.

Designed, developed and manufactured at Opel's headquarters in Germany, the new Opel Astra will launch as a sporty five-door with a low-slung look, yet it gains more interior space than its predecessor. Thanks to especially short front overhangs, the new Astra is only 4.0mm longer than the previous model, despite the considerably increased wheelbase of 2,675mm (+13mm). The new Astra's practical boot with adjustable floor still offers the driver and four passengers 422 litres of luggage volume.

The interior has also been radicalised with an all new 'Pure Panel' dashboard design similar to the latest Mokka. This expansive, digital cockpit features two 10-inch seamlessly integrated horizontal displays. With a shutter-like layer that prevents upward reflections in the windscreen, the design has dispensed of a hood over the displays, to further enhance the high-tech functionality and ambience.

Key settings such as climate control can still be operated via physical controls in the form of finely crafted keys, said to achieve the optimum balance between digitisation and intuitive operation. There is no need for cables either since the new generation of infotainment systems can be connected as standard on all model variants to wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, operated by voice control or by touch.

The interior of the new Astra
The interior of the new Astra

Opel's ergonomic AGR seats feature with the position of the front seats now 12mm lower than in the previous model, further enhancing the feeling of a sporty drive. A wide range of optional adjustments are on offer, from electric tilt to electro-pneumatic lumbar support. In Nappa leather-trim, they offer ventilation, massage for the driver and heating at the rear as well as the front. Seats trimmed in Alcantara are also available.

The new Astra is based on the third generation of the highly flexible EMP2 multi-energy architecture, with Opel DNA built in from the start of development. The steering and lateral stiffness of the chassis are designed for high control. The torsional rigidity of new Astra is 14% higher than its predecessor model. Like every Opel, the all-new Astra is "Autobahnproof": high-speed capability was a primary development objective.

The new Astra's architecture also incorporates the latest automated driver assistance systems. In addition to the multifunction camera in the windscreen, the technology comprises four body cameras (one at the front, one at the rear and one on each side), five radar sensors (one at the front and one at each corner), as well as ultrasonic sensors front and rear. This enables the system to adapt speed in curves, make speed recommendations and perform semi-automatic lane changes. Hands-off detection, rear cross-traffic alert, long-range blind-spot detection, active lane positioning, adaptive cruise control, Stop & Go are all features, dependent on trim and transmission.

The latest evolution of the adaptive Intelli-Lux LED® Pixel light comes straight from Opel's flagship Insignia and, with 168 LED elements, is said to lead the way in the compact and midsize market sectors.

The new Astra will be available from the start of sales with powerful plug-in hybrid electric drive as well as petrol and diesel engines, electrifying Opel's compact class model for the first time in the brand's history. Power ranges from 110hp to 130hp with the petrol and diesel variants and up to 225hp output with the plug-in hybrid variants. A six-speed gearbox is standard on the petrol and diesel power units, with an eight-speed automatic transmission (electrified on the plug-in hybrids) optional on the more powerful engines.

Order books for the new Astra open this autumn with first deliveries due to customers early next year.

New Astra will debut plug-in hybrid for the first time
New Astra will debut plug-in hybrid for the first time

ESB has opened a new 8-bay charging hub in Kildare

ESB Opens First High Power EV Charging Hub



ESB has opened a new 8-bay charging hub in Kildare
ESB has opened a new 8-bay charging hub in Kildare

ESB has opened its first eight bay, high power electric vehicle charging hub as part of a €20m investment programme financed by the Government’s Climate Action Fund and ESB to expand and enhance the public EV charging network.

Located at Junction 14, Mayfield on the M7, Monasterevin, Co Kildare, the bay will contain three high power chargers (350kW) and one fast charger (50kW), with the ability to charge up to eight cars at any one time.

High-power charging hubs are dramatically faster than current charging infrastructure and are capable of providing 100 km range to EV drivers in as little as six minutes, depending on model.

ESB plans to open 50 hubs like this one, as it continues to invest in the upgrade of its charging infrastructure.

Six high power hubs allowing three EVs to charge at one time have already been opened in Ireland and the ESB says it has replaced over 590 charge points and upgraded 31 chargers to faster speeds.

Marguerite Sayers, Executive Director, Customer Solutions at ESB, said:

“The electrification of transport is a key component of ESB’s low carbon strategy for a brighter future. Today’s announcement of the first eight vehicle high power EV charging hub is a significant milestone as we work to meet the growing number of EVs on Ireland’s roads. This new 350kW high power charging hub, as part of our overall upgrade works, will significantly reduce charging time for EV users. When you couple this with at-home charging, it really signifies a positive next step for current and future EV drivers in Ireland.”

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, said:

“The availability of high-power charging infrastructure on key national routes is critical for EV drivers who need to travel longer distances. Through our Climate Action Fund, we will continue to invest and maintain a world-class national charging network that supports the country’s transition to EVs. This new hub, launched by ESB today, and the others that will follow, will encourage more drivers to go electric, cut their fuel costs and reduce our carbon emissions.”

The 2021 Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid Review

The 2021 Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2021 Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Renault Megane Sport Tourer Hybrid!

In late 2020, Renault launched a suite of new hybrid models in Ireland with some familiar faces – Clio, Captur and Megane! Hybrid is hot right now, and the technology holds much promise for Irish motorists.

Hybrid is a new direction for a brand that went electric for the first time with the launch of the Renault Zoe electric supermini back in 2012. With a strong customer base to work with in the Irish market, the French brand now adds petrol electric hybrids to the mix of diesel and petrol in key model ranges like the Captur and Megane.

What's new for the Megane in 2021?

The Renault Megane has also had some work done for 2021 to keep it fresh. The grille and bumpers have been updated, all the lights are now LED – front, rear, and fog - with dynamic indicators at the rear for the first time and new door-handle lighting.

The Megane is offered in three variants – hatchback, saloon (‘Grand Coupe’) and estate (‘Sport Tourer’). The hybrid debuts in the Megane Sport Tourer, though the hatchback will also soon be available as a hybrid too.

Plug-in hybrid power debuts for the first time in the Megane range in 2021
Plug-in hybrid power debuts for the first time in the Megane range in 2021

What's so special about the Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid?

Here we find the practical and efficient Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes. The Sport Tourer is the one with the big boot and a good looker for those in the market for a compact estate car.

Priced at €30,490 in Iconic trim, or at €32,490 in the new sporty R.S. Line trim, the new Sport Tourer E-TECH brings hybrid to the Megane range for the first time. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, two electric motors, and a 9.8 kWh battery. Power output is a healthy 160 hp making it the most powerful, while the automatic transmission adds to the high spec feel. In fact, it’s already shaping up as a good buy.

The beauty of the Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH is not just its good looks, but also the ability to plug it in and charge up the battery to experience driving on battery power alone up to 50 km.

Is it nice to drive?

And even when the battery power runs out, you have here a very efficient car with my fuel consumption averaging at 5.2 litres per 100 km over a week of driving. An official CO2 figure of 30 g per km means that this car is just €140 to tax per year.

The battery will charge in 3 hours from a wallbox or in just over 4 hours from a domestic 3-pin socket.

Inside the new Megane E-TECH Hybrid
Inside the new Megane E-TECH Hybrid

E-TECH powertrains use advanced technology influenced by the Renault DP World F1 team, including a multi-mode clutchless gearbox for smooth and swift responses.

With 160 hp available, the Megane Sport Tourer responds confidently to the throttle. The car feels natural on the road and remains a tidy handler through bends. It’s not a sports car, but overall feels very accomplished. There are no paddles to operate the automatic; but smooth shifts prevail most of the time. It’s highly commended for comfort too, which seals the deal for this test driver!

Is it practical?

Yes! Just look at it!

The Renault Mégane Sport Tourer sits on a longer wheelbase to the hatchback, making for a much more comfortable seating experience for rear seat passengers. There’s good headroom and the rear footwells have enough depth to be comfortable for long legged folk.

The boot is square with a low loading sill making it ideal for lifting things in and out more easily. Yet overall capacity is down to 447 litres to accommodate the battery. It’s still ‘big’ when you open the lid and look in – but a petrol or diesel Megane Sport Tourer will beat it for outright capacity. There is space beneath the boot floor to keep charging cables stowed away tidily.

The Megane estate hybrid is a practical and efficient car
The Megane estate hybrid is a practical and efficient car

Inside the Renault Megane Sport Tourer

Renault has also updated the Megane’s interior somewhat for 2021. No more need to complain about the fiddly ventilation controls. Renault has added in some shortcut buttons, dials and switches to alter fan speed and temperature the old-fashioned way. Much welcome when you are on the move.

The 7” touchscreen is fitted as standard to the E-TECH Iconic, with the more impressive 9.3” portrait style as standard on the R.S. Line model. There are a lot of hard plastics in here but generally it’s a solid effort from Renault. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also come as standard for more seamless access to media, contacts, and maps. There’s a magnificent 10.2-inch digital display for the driver.

The E-TECH Iconic has a good level of standard kit as well including cruise control, rear parking sensors and camera, dual zone climate control, 16” alloys, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beam and ambient lighting.

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH hybrid retails from €30,490 in Ireland
The Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH hybrid retails from €30,490 in Ireland

Did you like it?

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer is nice to drive and very practical. This is a good looking car, with the practicality of an estate-style boot – regardless of the space being impeded somewhat by the battery, the boot floor is flat, the opening wide.

Considering the spec of the car, Renault Ireland has kept this particular model well-priced to keep it a real viable option in the Megane range.

This car marks a debut for plug-in hybrid in the Megane range, so the first Megane that can be charged up and ran using battery power for a limited range of up to 50 km. But Renault’s technical wizardry means that whatever way you run the Megane Sport Tourer, it’s very efficient.

Super comfortable on the road, this is a great car! Now check out my review of the latest Renault Megane 1.5 dCi hatchback.

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH is on sale now
The Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH is on sale now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Megane Sport Tourer Iconic E-TECH Plug-in Hybrid 160 Auto
1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 160 hp
Torque: 349 Nm
Top speed: 111 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
30 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year