The new Peugeot 508 SW

2019 Peugeot 508 SW 1.5 Diesel Review

The new Peugeot 508 SW
The new Peugeot 508 SW

Caroline drives the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW!

Peugeot is fighting back with the new generation of the 508 SW estate and saloon amidst declining sales of D-segment saloons and estates. Style and design innovation are now at the centre of the Peugeot’s offering in the traditional large saloon and estate car market.

Pricing starts from €32,400 for the handsome new 508 fastback and €34,110 for the equally handsome 508 SW. Peugeot is offering a range of trim levels and petrol/diesel engines at launch, with a plug-in hybrid on the way also.

I reviewed the new Peugeot 508 fastback earlier this year and now it’s the turn of the new Peugeot 508 SW. This large estate car is a style icon with a low lean silhouette and unique rear styling. There is a premium edge to the design with frameless doors and an avant garde rear light signature. The Peugeot 508 SW is a car that captures attention for its stylish design before wooing you with its innovative cabin and large boot!

The 2019 Peugeot 508 SW is the practical sibling to the 508 Fastback
The 2019 Peugeot 508 SW is the practical sibling to the 508 Fastback

Inside the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW

Inside, the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW gets the latest generation of Peugeot’s innovative i-Cockpit® with a configurable 12.3-inch head-up digital instrument panel, either a ten-inch or eight-inch touchscreen dependent on trim, and a compact multi-function steering wheel as standard. The cabin experience is not like anything else in this class of vehicle. There is a sporty feel to the driving position as the cabin appears to wrap around you with all the instruments at your fingertips. The touchscreen and digital instrument panel look amazing, as do the piano key shortcut buttons for the infotainment.

You choose the Peugeot 508 SW over the saloon because you want all the style, but more space and practicality. The 508 SW has a large, easy-access boot, offering a total load space from 530 litres with the luggage cover closed, and up to 1780 litres thanks to Magic Flat rear seats. The 508 offers adequate rear seating for passengers, but some rivals like the Skoda Superb estate offer more rear legroom.

In Ireland the new 508 SW is available in four trim levels - Active, Allure, GT Line and GT – with the cars get visually even more appealing as you go up the trim levels. Standard equipment includes 8” touchscreen, digital instrument panel, 16” alloys, spare wheel, lane keeping assist, cruise control, active safety brake, AGR (ergonomic) seats, automatic wipers and lights, front and rear parking aid with camera and electric folding mirrors.

The cool new interior of the Peugeot 508
The cool new interior of the Peugeot 508

Driving the new 508 SW

1.6-litre PureTech, 1.5-litre BlueHDi and 2.0-litre BlueHDi engines are on offer with power ranging from 130hp to 225hp. My test car was the popular 1.5-litre 130hp diesel engine with automatic gearbox. In GT Line trim this car has a list price of €42,080 and comes with lots of equipment including 10” touchscreen with satellite navigation, blind spot monitoring, high beam assist, road sign recognition, advanced driver attention alert, keyless access and start, electric lumbar support, dark tinted rear glass, 18” alloys, wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise control, full LED headlights and 3D LED rear lights.

The new Peugeot 508 is built on the same EMP2 platform that underpins the popular 3008 and 5008 SUVs. On the road the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW feels agile and holds the road well through corners, but falls short of being outright fun to drive. The automatic gearbox offers an effortless drive, and with the cruise control on you will cruise happily for many miles in the 508 SW. The ride comfort is generally good but it did feel on the firm side over some mixed quality rural roads.

The Peugeot 508 SW offers a 530 litre boot with a low loading sill
The 508 SW offers a 530 litre boot with a low loading sill

The 1.5-litre diesel powering my test car has 130hp. It’s not a glamourous amount of power but on the road it’s up to the job of powering the 508, while offering very good economy. The 8 speed automatic gearbox can be a little hesitant to respond at low speeds but it offers an ease of use that is well suited to a fleet car like the 508 SW. I averaged 5.4l/100km over a week of driving so it's clearly an efficient way to travel.

The Peugeot 508 range breathes new life into the D-segment. The 508 fastback and 508 SW are cars you would like to be seen in, with premium design details not seen before in this segment. Peugeot has rethought the concept of the 508 and offers buyers something different, while still keeping pricing reasonable.

The 508 SW is pleasantly practical while the cabin experience is strikingly different. The latest technology and safety aids feature, while the touchscreen and digital instrument panel make this one of the most modern cabins in the class.

While petrol and diesel engines are the backbone of the range for now, there is a high-end plug-in hybrid on the way. However, what's available already offers excellent efficiency and low running costs for the D-segment.

In terms of driving dynamics, the car is good rather than outstanding but this is a pleasant car for long journeys on the motorway.  Rather, the 508's gorgeous styling and innovative cabin are what will draw buyers in.

The Peugeot 508 SW breathes some new life into the D-segment

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot 508 SW GT Line 1.5 BlueHDi 130bhp 8-spd automatic
€42,080 (Range from €34,110)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
130 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 208 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.4 – 7.8 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
135 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

The new Mazda3 is now on sale in Ireland priced from €26,295

2019 Mazda3 2.0 Petrol Skyactiv-G Review

The new Mazda3 is now on sale in Ireland priced from €26,295
The new Mazda3 is now on sale in Ireland priced from €26,295

Caroline drives the new Mazda3!

Mazda has recently launched an all-new generation of the Mazda3 hatchback and saloon. Since I began testing cars, the Mazda3 has always been one of my favourite cars in the compact class for its stylish looks, high quality cabin and fun, sporty drive.

But it was time for a change. Reflecting the current move in the industry to integrating hybrid technology to boost efficiency, the news is that Mazda has also launched the Mazda3 with mild hybrid technology. There’s also a revolutionary new petrol engine due to arrive shortly (‘Skyactiv-X’) that promises the free-revving performance of a petrol engine with the response and fuel economy of a diesel.

Mazda has gently progressed the styling of the Mazda3 with stunning results. The curvature of the sheet metal around the rear quarters of the hatchback is particularly interesting. The new Mazda3 is clearly one of the style icons of its class!

The Mazda3 2.0-litre petrol engine now features mild hybrid technology to boost efficiency and reduce emissions
The Mazda3 2.0-litre petrol engine now features mild hybrid technology to boost efficiency and reduce emissions

The interior of the new Mazda3

Inside, the interior has progressed to a more cohesive and stylish design. The material quality is excellent and the new digital instrument panel is modern and easy to read. The infotainment has also been updated and improved with a new screen and rotary controller on the centre console. In terms of space, the new Mazda3 will seat five and is reasonably spacious in the rear for this class of vehicle. At 351 litres, the boot is about average for the compact class.

For Ireland there will be a choice of four trim levels for the hatchback: GS, GS-L, GT and GT Sport. Standard equipment includes air con, an 8.8-inch colour entertainment screen, 7-inch digital dashboard, window projected colour Active Driving Display, 16” alloys, LED headlights with High Beam Control, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring with rear traffic alert, E-Call and Lane Keep Assist. Every model in the line-up also features navigation, Apple CarPlay™/Android Auto™ and an eight speaker audio system.

GS-L includes a reversing camera, smart keyless entry and heated front seats, while the GT model is equipped with 18” alloy wheels and a black leather interior. At the top of the range the GT Sport sees an enhanced cabin with additional chrome detailing, a frameless rear view mirror, rear privacy glass and Bose® twelve speaker audio system.

At launch the new Mazda3 is available with the 2.0 Skyactiv-G petrol (122hp) and the 1.8 Skyactiv-D diesel (116hp). These are not new engines, but the 2.0-litre petrol now has support from a 24 volt mild hybrid system and cylinder deactivation to improve efficiency. The new 2.0-litre petrol Skyactiv-X will join later with 180hp. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available.

My test car was a Mazda3 2.0 Skyactiv-G GT Sport with a list price of €30,795.

The interior of the new Mazda3
The interior of the new Mazda3

On the road in the new Mazda3

The new Mazda3 has been built upon a new vehicle architecture that promises better handling, ride comfort and refinement. According to Mazda, every element of the car - the seats, body, tyres and suspension - has been developed with “a human centred approach” to ensure that Mazda’s famous ‘Jinba Ittai’ sense of oneness between car and driver is more finely balanced than ever before.

A torsion beam rear suspension has been used to improve refinement over a variety of road surfaces and we can say that is has worked because road noise is gone in this new generation. The Mazda3 is comfortable for the most part but doesn’t take the edge off potholes, manhole covers and other bumps and ridges in the road surface you will encounter around town. The car feels sporty and flat through bends and the steering is also well-weighted.

Bucking the trend for small turbocharged petrol engines, the 2.0-litre petrol in the Mazda3 is a naturally aspirated affair because Mazda believe this is still the best way to get good fuel efficiency from a petrol engine. It is certainly more efficient than what one might think for an engine of this capacity. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.6l/100km, while motor tax is €200 per year. However, it does deliver its power differently and I did miss the in-gear punch of a turbo unit. It can feel a little more lazy, though it is very quiet and refined on the move!

The new Mazda3 is positioned near the top of the compact class in terms of price but it comes with a high-quality interior and plenty of standard equipment. The Mazda3 offers an excellent drive and cabin experience. Engine choice is a little bit left field in the Mazda3 range but in terms of power and efficiency, perfectly acceptable.

The new Mazda3 is a sophisticated machine that looks good just about anywhere!

The Mazda3 is a stylish and sporty hatchback for the compact class
The Mazda3 is a stylish and sporty hatchback for the compact class

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mazda3 2.0 Skyactiv-G GT Sport
€30,795 (Range from €26,295)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol mild hybrid
122 hp
Torque: 213 Nm
10.4 seconds
Top speed: 197 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
142 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

New Car Registrations In Ireland In August 2019

The Hyundai Tucson was the bestselling car in Ireland in August

Official statistics from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) show that total new car registrations for the month of August are down 13.3% (5,131) when compared with August 2018 (5,921).

New car registrations year to date are down 7.9% (110,572) on the same period last year (120,003).

The top five bestselling car brands year to date are (1) Volkswagen (2) Toyota (3) Hyundai (4) Ford and (5) Skoda.

The top five bestselling models year to date are (1) Toyota Corolla (2) Hyundai Tucson (3) Nissan Qashqai (4) Skoda Octavia and (5) Volkswagen Tiguan.

The bestselling car in August was the Hyundai Tucson.

There was an increase of 10.2% (9,708) in imported used cars compared to August 2018 (8,812). Imports are up 5% (72,211) year to date ahead of 2018 (68,784).

New electric vehicle registrations continue to grow month on month with 172 registered for the month of August, an increase of 4.2% on August 2018 (165). A total of 2,860 electric vehicles have been registered so far this year.

Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General, said, Despite the strong economic growth, the new car market continues to contract this year, with registrations for the month of August following this trend. In this business context and with the increasing likelihood of a hard Brexit, SIMI is calling on the Minister for Finance not to increase taxes on new cars in Budget 2020. It is important that our new car market is as strong as possible from both an environmental and employment view point. Instead the current Brexit and taxation mix only encourages people to hold on to their older higher emitting cars for longer. New car sales need to increase if Ireland is to see the real benefit of improvements in emissions from new technologies, and taxation systems should support not hinder this.

The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Camry Hybrid
The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota Camry Hybrid!

The Toyota Camry is the unlikely legend of the Toyota brand – it’s the classic big Toyota saloon that actually disappeared from Europe in 2014. But it appears in the interim the Camry built up some sort of mythical status because the reaction to the car’s comeback in Ireland in 2019 has been nothing short of astounding. Who knew there were so many closet Camry fans?

The Camry is now a very on trend fuel-sipping hybrid and is playing a key part in the renaissance of the Toyota brand in Europe, featuring the latest in Toyota technology and design upon Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA).

Priced from €39,750 in Ireland, the Toyota Camry is a big barge. The new car has so much presence with a long, lean body and wide front end. From the driver’s seat it feels even better - you can see that big bonnet in front of you, giving the Camry driver a ‘king of the road’ feel!

The interior of the 2019 Toyota Camry
The interior of the 2019 Toyota Camry

Inside the 2019 Toyota Camry

So naturally I really enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the Camry. The interior is large and comfortable with lots of equipment included as standard: Toyota’s Safety Sense including automatic high beam, adaptive cruise control and lane departure alert with steering control, LED lights, smart entry, rear privacy glass, power retractable heated door mirrors, rear view camera and dual zone climate control.

The bestselling Hybrid Sol grade test car comes with leather upholstery, heated front seats and satellite navigation. The car is resolutely made – no rattles in this interior. The fit and finish is confidence inspiring. There’s plenty of soft-touch padding, leather, and wood-like grain mouldings but the vibe is more retro than cutting edge. The graphics on the central touchscreen are a little bland and there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but I was so comfortable I kind of didn’t care!

Though the roofline is quite low, both the cabin floor and the front and rear passenger seat hip point heights have also been set as low as possible to ensure a spacious interior and lower the centre of gravity. Cabin space is really good. The footwells in the rear are large and a flat transmission tunnel means it’s no bad place for the middle passenger either. The boot is very large at 524 litres but the saloon opening restricts access somewhat.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is on sale in Ireland priced from €39,750
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is on sale in Ireland priced from €39,750

How good is that hybrid?

The new Camry uses the 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 218 hp available and power driven through the front wheels using a CVT automatic gearbox. I’ve had one or two gripes about the refinement of this set up in the RAV4, but no such issues here – the new Toyota Camry is remarkably smooth and refined. It’s a pure joy to drive. Acceleration is brisk and power delivery nigh on seamless. The new Camry can definitely bring it to premium rivals based on comfort, refinement and insulation. Driving dynamics are neat, rather than sporty.

It is also truly efficient. Motor tax is just €190 per year and over five days of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 4.9l/100km.

I really didn’t expect to enjoy the Camry as much as I did, but I immediately felt at home in it. It’s rock solid, smooth and comfortable with classic big car refinement. Toyota seem to have saved their best iteration of the hybrid powertrain for the Camry – it works exceptionally well here and is very efficient for a large car also. The Camry interior features the latest safety and infotainment features, however it does not feel cutting edge. In fact it has a distinct 90’s retro vibe! It might not be for you, but for me those old school values are shockingly reassuring in this crazy world. Amen to Camry!

The Toyota Camry merges a super efficient hybrid powertrain with classic big car comfort and refinement
The Toyota Camry merges a super efficient hybrid powertrain with classic big car comfort and refinement

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Camry Hybrid Sol
€40,750 (Range from €39,750)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
218 hp
Torque: 221 Nm (engine only)
8.3 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions:
101 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


The 2020 SEAT Tarraco PHEV

New SEAT Tarraco FR PHEV For 2020

The 2020 SEAT Tarraco PHEV
The 2020 SEAT Tarraco PHEV

SEAT’s Tarraco SUV will soon be available as a plug-in hybrid FR model, as well as in a sporty FR trim for other engine variants. The new SEAT Tarraco PHEV (plug-in hybrid vehicle) will form’s part of SEAT’s strategy towards electrification, which will include five electric and plug-in hybrid SEAT and CUPRA models by the beginning of 2021.

The Tarraco's plug-in hybrid powertrain system consists of a 1.4 litre TSI 150hp petrol engine, 85 kW electric motor and a 13 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The car can be driven in pure-electric mode for around 50km or combine the petrol engine and electric motor to provide increased performance.

Total output for the system is 245hp (180kW)/400Nm giving the plug-in hybrid Tarraco a top speed of about 217km/h and the ability to reach 100km/h in just 7.4 seconds. CO2 emissions are expected to be below 50g/km on the official WLTP test cycle.

A new sporty FR trim will also become available on other Tarraco variants in 2020. This features wider wheel arches, a rear spoiler and FR-specific 19” alloy wheels, with an option of machined 20” wheels available.

There is also a new colour for the Tarraco FR – Fura Grey and there are new safety and practicality features including trailer assist.

SEAT’s latest generation infotainment system features including a new navigation system with 9.2’’ screen. There are also electrically adjustable sports bucket seats with memory function (for the driver side), aluminium pedals and a new sports steering wheel with FR logo.

Niall Phillips, Brand Director at SEAT Ireland said: “We are excited to introduce the FR trim and PHEV derivative to the Tarraco range. The SEAT brand is performing exceptionally well in this market, and the all-new Tarraco continues to contribute to this success. Ever-changing consumer demands for e-mobility mean we must constantly develop our product range. The plug-in hybrid, or PHEV, engine offers the consumer the choice of electric power with a traditional combustion engine and with the SUV segment thriving in the Irish market we can now combine the consumers’ desire to own an SUV and move one step closer to electrification.”

The SEAT Tarraco FR PHEV will make its world debut at this year’s IAA Frankfurt International Motor Show in September.

The SEAT Tarraco arrived in Ireland in 2019 and is available as a five and seven seat SUV. Click here to read Caroline's review of the new SEAT Tarraco 2.0TDI.

Caroline and Bianca in France

Changing Lanes, Arctic Swan And The Lanes Challenge

Caroline and Bianca in France
Caroline and Bianca in France

Arctic Swan, Changing Lanes And The Lanes Challenge

It all started when my friend and co-automotive blogger, Bianca Hurduc of Arcticswan, invited me to her hometown of Thionville, France. There was talk of great cars, road trips and crossing borders into Luxembourg and Germany. It was an invitation I could not refuse and I knew it would be a fun adventure with Bianca as chief-coordinator. So I checked my diary, booked some flights and packed my bag. Simples!

Bianca sorted the cars for the weekend with her contacts at DS Store Thionville and Losch Luxembourg. We also needed the latest and trendiest eyewear for our bespoke road trip. So thank you to Mes Petites Binocles who supplied us with the prettiest of sunglasses for the weekend.

Bianca also introduced a challenge aspect and so ‘The Lanes Challenge’ was born. We documented our adventures through photos and videos posted on social media. And we also made a video, which you can watch here!

Day 1: France

On Day 1, we popped over to DS Store Thionville to collect our first test car, the quintessential French DS 3 Crossback. The model provided to us was particularly special because it was the La Premiere (First Edition) with a luxurious specification that included ruby red quilted leather seats and 18 inch Black Onyx diamond-cut alloy wheels. Quelle beauté! Under the bonnet there was the 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine with 155 hp and the car featured an 8-speed automatic transmission.

I was happy to let Bianca plan and sort out our itinerary for the weekend, as I believed in her intuition and local knowledge. So where did she bring me in the DS 3 Crossback?

The beautiful DS3 Crossback from DS Store Thionville
The beautiful DS3 Crossback from DS Store Thionville

Our first stop was the beautiful Château de Malbrouck, close to the German border and the town of Manderen. Before exploring the castle, the DS 3 Crossback posed for a few shots outside the castle. The elegance and style of the DS 3 Crossback of course blended beautifully with the classic French château. Clever Bianca! I was feeling full of joie de vivre at this point, a feeling that would become very familiar to me over the weekend!

The castle was an exciting place to explore with four towers and a parapet walk. Then an almighty thunderstorm arrived somewhere after ‘The Witches Tower’ with a heavy accompaniment of rain. It was a beautiful and atmospheric experience thereafter, one that will stay with me for a long time.

Then it was time to begin making our return journey and it was my turn behind the wheel. I was super excited to drive the new DS 3 Crossback as it hasn’t arrived in Ireland yet and I really enjoyed the larger DS 7 Crossback when I drove it earlier in the year.

The significance of driving a French car through the French countryside and visiting a French château was not wasted on me. The DS 3 Crossback is smooth and agile on the road and I quickly relaxed behind the wheel. The engine is a typical gem from the PSA group with brisk performance and excellent refinement.

The interior of the DS 3 Crossback is quite individual and heavily adorned being a twist on contemporary French luxury. The diamond motif features heavily in the interior and while some of the switches can be hard to find on the move, the digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen are as clear as day!

Bianca had another surprise in store for me. The sat nav directed me to Schengen, which is a small town on the border between France, Luxembourg and Germany. The famous Schengen Agreement was also signed here, which led to the creation of the Schengen Area and the abolition of internal border checks.

I believe Bianca was slightly bemused by my enthusiasm for taking photos of road signs but she cooperated amiably. It was so inspiring to be able to walk between three countries, across the beautiful Moselle river.

Concluding thoughts on Day 1: I’ve had fun, I’ll never forget that thunderstorm, I’m tired, Schengen was awesome, I can’t wait to drive the DS 3 Crossback on Irish roads, thank you Bianca for an awesome Day 1.

The DS3 Crossback at Chateau de Malbrouck
The DS3 Crossback at Chateau de Malbrouck

Day 2: Germany

It was time to change the whole mood and pace of the Changing Lanes/Arctic Swan collaboration. And who was responsible for that change? The Volkswagen Up GTI!

Bianca had arranged an Up GTI from Losch Luxembourg as our test car for the next few days. Again, I was super excited to be driving the new Volkswagen Up GTI because it’s not officially on sale in Ireland.

The Volkswagen Up GTI looks the business in the metal. Our test car was finished in white with red and black GTI branding and elements. The Up is cute for sure and very compact! Inside, the Up GTI carries the classic GTI tartan seat upholstery and features a special red dashboard panel and gear knob with GTI badging. It’s very SMART with typical VW build quality. In terms of equipment it’s basic enough with no touchscreen, but there was air con, electric windows, cruise control and Bluetooth.

So what had Bianca planned for today? Well, she had an awesome day planned for me in Germany. And again, driving a German car in Germany was not wasted on me!

But first it was time for a challenge. I was put in the driver’s seat to take us from Thionville to Trier in Germany without GPS. Feeling confident, I hit the motorway.

It was a good opportunity to get to know the Up GTI a little better. The free revving 1.0 115hp petrol engine is perfect for nipping around town and putting larger cars to shame, while on the twisty stuff the Up GTI is fun, fun, fun, with a pure and natural feeling to the drive. You might not be going exceptionally fast but you will feel like you are flying! Volkswagen pumps some artificial engine noise into the cabin to enhance your driving experience and it’s actually a very realistic growl and adds to the sporty ambience!

So there we were on our way to Trier. Without the lady from Google maps telling us where to go. And me driving. Soon we passed the border between Luxembourg and Germany and I began to see the signs for Trier. I think Bianca was trying to distract me as she was talking a lot, which was nice of course, but I could easily have had my mind carried off to some obscure region of Bianca’s brain and missed the exit for Trier and end up in an even more obscure region of Germany.  So I politely stayed focused on the task at hand (sorry Bianca!), took the exit off the motorway for Trier, and joined the traffic on the way into the city.

At the Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany
At the Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany

I was really excited to be in Trier because it’s the home of Rallye Deutschland and I won the challenge! Finding a parking spot proved more difficult, not because of the Up’s small dimensions, but because everyone seemed to have decided to go shopping in Trier on that day. Still we got the Up parked and began walking the streets before stopping in a traditional German restaurant for some fine local food.

I was in awe that I had eaten breakfast in France and was now having lunch in Germany after already driving through Luxembourg. I observed the difference in the cultures, the way the people were dressed and how they carried themselves. We got as far as the Porta Nigra (Latin for ‘black gate’), which is a local landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in the 2nd century by the Romans and was the old gate into the city. Inspiring stuff once again!

Then it was back to the car, this time with Bianca taking the helm. She took me to the beautiful, picturesque Bernkastel-Kues, another chocolate box German village on the banks of the magic Moselle. The Moselle valley is famous for wine and there are vines growing just on the outskirts of town and along our driving route. This town reminded me of Ireland and all the greenery made it feel like home too.

Then it was back in the car and we followed the Moselle back home. I was driving during what was another torrential downpour. I had left Ireland seeking sunnier climes but the rain here was some of the heaviest I had ever seen!

We made it back to Thionville after our German adventure and put the Up to bed for the night, to dream of the next day’s adventure.

Day 2 highlights: the church bells at Trier Cathedral, an amazing lunch, the beautiful Moselle valley, beauty tips from Bianca in Bernkastel-Kues (!).

The Volkswagen Up GTI from Losch Luxembourg
The Volkswagen Up GTI from Losch Luxembourg

Day 3: Luxembourg

So it was Day 3. Could Bianca Hurduc of Arcticswan fame really do better today? Could she outdo herself in the itinerary planned for today? Was she still gunning for crown of France’s best travel blogger as well as top automotive blogger?

HELL YEAH because Sunday turned out to be unforgettable also.

We fired up the Up and hit the highway for Luxembourg. Our destination was Vianden Castle close to the German border. Viandan Castle has huge historical significance and is a proper fairytale castle. We must have spent a few hours there. But after an afternoon looking at old stuff, it was nice to get back into the modern cabin of the Up GTI – the coolest city car that ever roamed the earth!

I grabbed the keys from Bianca and we headed for some of Luxembourg’s finest rural roads – such beautiful roads and scenery! I was having fun.

Our destination was Luxembourg city. Now Luxembourg is a place I never thought I would visit in my life. As a kid I would have looked at the map and thought “That’s a tiny spot, I’ll never go there”. Well life has surprises for us.

Luxembourg city turned out to be a real highlight for me. But first food. Bianca knew where we could get the best burgers in town, which we did. But the Irish must have been here because there were a scary number of Irish references on the menu.

So once we had filled our tanks, it was time to explore. Luxembourg city is beautiful – elegant, clean, quirky and full of surprises. I had no idea that the city was on two levels. We had another pinch yourself moment in the Notre Dame Cathedral, as we arrived just as Sunday service was coming to a close. It was so special I cried!

SO…after another truly special day, we drove back to Thionville and put Up GTI to bed for the last time. This was going to be emotional.

Day 3 highlights: that burger, that church, that city, that plane, that video, MAGIC happened. Luxembourg you were awesome!

Getting to know the staff at Vianden Castle. Luxembourg
Getting to know the staff at Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

Day 4: Lost in Thionville

And so it was emotional. But not before Bianca let me off in the car, this time the challenge to find the centre of Thionville without GPS, park the car and behave like a French person (haha not really).

But I enjoyed exploring Thionville, itself full of history and character, and got the opportunity to talk in bad French to the people in the stores. On the way back to Bianca’s house I did the very French thing of stopping in the Carrefour shopping mall to buy nothing other than Jeff Bruges chocolate. Life was happening in Thionville just like anywhere else in the world and yes I felt happy and comfortable here.

But all good things must come to an end and it was a rather sombre Caroline and Bianca that brought the Up GTI back to Losch Luxembourg on Monday afternoon.

But Bianca had one last challenge for me. To read the description of the car in German! I took a ten-week German course when I was 21 but never really got far past hello (hallo) and goodbye (Auf Wiedersehen). But I gave it a good shot and well, I think she was impressed.

We had our memories, a thick tapestry of painting places with hearts and tyres – a weekend of fun, laughter, tears, selfies, ice cream and coffee. My heart was full and the Up was part of it.

I was touched by Bianca’s kindness and thoughtfulness towards me, to take me into her home and her family with the warmest of welcomes and finest hospitality. I was very grateful to Bianca’s motoring partners DS Store Thionville and Losch Luxembourg for allowing the Irish person they had never met to drive their cars. We had an amazing time and we are already plotting a new awesome collaboration!

The magic Volkswagen Up GTI in Luxembourg city!

A bientôt!


The new Nissan LEAF 62 kWh

Carzone Shows Growing Interest In Electric/Hybrid

The new Nissan LEAF 62 kWh
The new Nissan LEAF is the most searched for electric vehicle on Carzone

New data from Carzone highlights the growing interest for electric and hybrid vehicles among Irish motorists, along with confirming the most sought-after electric and hybrid cars on the market.

The data shows that hybrid and electric car views on Carzone have increased by 53% and 106% respectively year on year.

These statistics coincide with the Government’s recent commitment to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on Irish roads with the ‘Climate Action Plan’, which details Ireland’s plan to work towards a target of 950,000 EVs on Irish roads by 2030.

The Nissan LEAF is Ireland’s best-selling EV and has had the highest number of views on Carzone, above any other EV models, so far this year. Views for the Nissan LEAF on Carzone have increased by 19% since 2018 (from 104,311 views to 123,818). Nissan also claims the title of most viewed EV brand on Carzone for 2019 year to date.

Tesla is the second most viewed EV brand on Carzone with views of the Tesla Model S up 4% on last year.

The BMW i3 is the third most viewed EV on Carzone, with the Renault ZOE in fourth place and the Volkswagen e-Golf in fifth.

With high consumer interest in EVs, along with ambitious government sustainability plans, the demand for EVs will continue to increase in to next year, with a number of new EV launches forthcoming, including the Opel Corsa-e, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Peugeot’s e-208 and the Volkswagen ID.3.

The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a popular hybrid on Carzone

Toyota retains its position as the most viewed hybrid car brand on Carzone with the Prius Hybrid, Yaris Hybrid and C-HR increasing in popularity each year. Luxury brand Lexus is the second most viewed hybrid car brand, followed by BMW in third.

Views of the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid have increased by 75% since last year. It is the number one viewed hybrid car on Carzone for 2019 so far. Views of the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid have increased from 63,402 in 2018 to 111,250 for the same period in 2019. With a growing number of these vehicles being advertised for sale, this large SUV is proving popular with family buyers transitioning from diesel and petrol models.

The Lexus IS300h is the second most viewed hybrid car for sale on Carzone in 2019, while the Toyota Prius rounds out the top three.

Karl Connolly, Audience Manager at Carzone said, “The new insights from Carzone confirm the shift in attitude towards electric and hybrid cars over the last few years as motorists get to grips with alternative fuels and the benefits they bring. According to the 2018 Carzone Motoring Report almost two thirds of Irish motorists were planning to make the switch to an alternative fuelled car soon, and this is reflected in the views on Carzone over the past 12 months. It will be interesting to see if the interest continues to rise in the coming months and years”.

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid Review

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Honda CR-V Hybrid!

Honda has electrified their new CR-V range with the addition of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid. Based on the new generation of the popular family SUV, the new CR-V Hybrid uses a petrol electric hybrid powertrain to deliver fuel consumption as low as 5.3l/100km and CO2 emissions of just 120g.

Priced from €38,000, the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid carries a premium over the new CR-V 1.5 VTEC petrol (from €33,500) but comes with a sophisticated hybrid powertrain and automatic transmission. Available with five seats only, the CR-V Hybrid is a large family SUV with plenty of kerb appeal. The evolution between the styling of this new CR-V and the previous generation has been quite gentle, but there are broader and more muscular wheel arches, sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, as well as the latest Honda headlight signature. LED lights and 18” alloy wheels come as standard.

If you don’t immediately fall in love with the CR-V on the outside, you certainly will once you sit inside. The Honda CR-V has a fabulous build quality and the interior is immaculately finished with plenty of soft touch materials, metallic trim and wood-effect inserts in the dashboard and doors. On all but the entry model, there is a stylish looking 7” touchscreen set in the dash with the Honda Connect infotainment system. It’s one of the best interiors in the business and large and comfortable too for a family on the move. The automatic transmission adds to the ease of use also. Headroom is excellent in the rear as are the passenger footwells and a flat floor means its not too bad for the middle passenger either. The boot is large too at 497 litres.

The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid

Driving the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 184hp and 175Nm of torque available in both the front wheel drive and four wheel drive model. The CR-V Hybrid puts its power to the road using a CVT automatic gearbox. The CR-V Hybrid is driven by Honda’s unique i-MMD technology, which intelligently and automatically switches between three driving modes – EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive – to optimise both performance and efficiency.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is one of the most aerodynamic cars in its class and features Honda’s Active Shutter Grille system to improve fuel efficiency. The hybrid system is operated via buttons rather than a traditional gear lever – Drive, Park, Neutral and Reverse. There is also a Sport mode button for a more responsive throttle input. A short range EV mode can be selected when in town and it gives about 2 km of pure electric drive, depending on battery charge and driving conditions.

The new CR-V Hybrid is a dream to drive, with a very natural and smooth hybrid drive. It’s not the kind of SUV you want to throw into bends but the steering has still got decent feel and it's easy to place on the road. It's comfortable on the move and there's not too much transmission whine so it's a quiet and refined drive. It’s very quiet, well-insulated and refined. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.5l/100km, and the car would make an excellent choice for urban families who need a large SUV for short, frequent trips.

Rear seating in the Honda CR-V
Rear seating in the Honda CR-V

What are my options?

Honda Ireland is selling the new CR-V Hybrid in four grades: Comfort, Lifestyle, Elegance and Executive. Standard equipment includes 18” alloys, keyless entry and start, emergency call, Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist system, driver lumbar support, climate control, and LED headlights.

Lifestyle models (€40,500) add equipment including rain sensing wipers, electrically folding side mirrors, leather steering wheel, dual automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and Honda Connect with 7” touchscreen.

The Elegance model (€43,500) has leather upholstery, front heated seats, active cornering lights and ambient lighting.

The Executive model (€49,500) has an opening panoramic glass roof, head-up display, heated steering wheel, electric tailgate and rear heated seats.

Prices quoted here are for front wheel drive models and include Government grants and reductions for hybrids. All wheel drive (AWD) models are available from €43,500.

The model I was driving was a fully loaded CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD with a list price of €49,500.

Hybrid power seems to be a rather natural fit for the new CR-V. The refinement and efficiency of the hybrid powertrain is impressive.

We liked the new Honda CR-V when we tested it last year with the 1.5-litre turbo petrol. However, while the new CR-V Hybrid is more expensive to buy it feels like a better investment for the efficiency and refinement it offers. The new CR-V Hybrid retains all of the CR-V's natural attributes: that is it's a big, comfortable family SUV with an excellent, almost premium feeling cabin. They hybrid powertrain feels like a natural fit for the CR-V and it's easily one of the best SUVs you can buy right now.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is available from €38,000
The Honda CR-V Hybrid is available from €38,000

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD
€49,500 (Range from €38,000)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
180 hp
Torque: 175 Nm
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
126 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

If you are looking for a hybrid SUV you might also like this review of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

We celebrated our 5th birthday with an Audi A1 and a cupcake!

Changing Lanes Turns 5!

We celebrated our 5th birthday with an Audi A1 and a cupcake!
We celebrated our 5th birthday with an Audi A1 and a cupcake!

This summer, Changing Lanes turned 5! That's five years of driving cars, attending car launches, posting about it on social media and writing car reviews!

Changing Lanes has grown up and so have I. In summer 2019, Changing Lanes also underwent a redesign. We have a new logo and this marks a new era for Changing Lanes!

I would not be here today, still driving cars without my wonderful readers. I'm so grateful for your support.

At Changing Lanes, life goes on in that I still have a test schedule full of cars and some launches and events on the horizon. Changing Lanes continues to prosper on social media.

It's been a long journey but I'm proud of what Changing Lanes has achieved.

I look forward to what the next year will bring.

Safe motoring,



Caroline Kidd Changing Lanes
Happy birthday to us!

a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global

Interview With João Isaac, Garagem Global

João Issac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global
João Issac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global

João Isaac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder and editor of the blog Garagem Global. I recently spoke to João about his favourite cars and how he began his career in motoring writing!

1. Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

First of all, I want to thank you for this interview, Caroline. It really is a pleasure to share my experience with you and all the Changing Lanes readers. My name is João Isaac. I´m 33 and I’m from Lisbon, Portugal. Let’s cut to the chase: I love everything about cars. It was always my obsession since I can remember. In my youth, what started with playing with toy cars and reading all the car magazines I could buy, evolved to something that’s more than just a hobby. It’s a way of life. My way of life, I’m truly addicted to cars. Their history, how they changed throughout the years and evolved to what we know and drive today. From the iconic and expensive classics to the humblest new hatchback you can buy today at any dealership, I do believe they all have something special. They all have a story to tell. As a product, since their early development stages until the day they finally leave the roads and give way to a replacement. It’s a big journey worth sharing. And let’s not forget the most important part of a car, the memories we create while driving them and living with them through our lives. Those are the best ones.

2. What was your first car?

I inherited my first car. It’s a 1991 Seat Ibiza 1.2 GLX with System Porsche engine and was bought new by my grandparents. I still own it today and it has only 43,000 miles on the clock. It’s my pride and joy. It has huge sentimental value to me. The first car I bought is another Ibiza. It’s a 2001 model with a 1.9 TDI engine and it is my daily driver. This one has nearly 250,000 miles and has never left me stranded on the side of the road. I can't sell it either. I love them both.

3. Why did you start your blog?

My blog Garagem Global started because I needed more cars in my life. Collecting magazines, attending classic car and racing events to take some pictures, hearing the engines roaring and buy some memorabilia wasn’t enough. I also developed a special taste for photography in these events, which I thought I could use one day to shoot press cars and events I could get in to. So one day while working at an event in Circuito do Estoril (at the time I worked as a consultant in a Fleet Management company) I met Renault Portugal’s PR and made my first move. I introduced myself and told him I was beginning a new blog and that I needed a first car to review and start working on my dream job. He accepted my suggestion and a few days later I found myself driving a cabriolet Mégane. This was the beginning and soon other brands and cars followed.

João and the Mazda MX-5
João driving the Mazda MX-5 RF

4. What attracted you to this industry?

The engineering part of it plays a big role here. I have an engineering degree and my love for cars was the main reason I chose it. But as I said before, the car as a product and the way it changed throughout the years is also very relevant to me. I'm interested in knowing how car manufacturers have evolved since their beginnings and how relevant each model was and still is to the market. And of course, the act of driving. There’s nothing like driving your car, on your favourite road. As someone once said, way before me, “It's not about the destination, it’s the drive to get there that really matters the most”. If I could spend all of my time behind the wheel, I’d do it. No doubts about that.

5. What would be in your dream 3 car garage?

This has to be one of the trickiest ones. Can I change it to “Which cars would be in your 3 enormous garages?” Back to reality. I would say a fully loaded rally Spec Mk1 Ford Escort, a Porsche 911 GT3RS and something fast but usable on normal roads. Something beautiful and great to drive like an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. It can be driven hard at a race track or on a winding road, but it can also be very competent as a daily driver.

6. What has been your favourite car to test and why?

I think I have to say the Caterham 7. It gave me the most pure, analog and emotional experience possible at the wheel of a car. It’s not the most practical car in the world at all, I’ll admit it, but it is so much fun and so good to look at! I’m writing this and at the same time I’m remembering those few days I had that magical key in my hand. As I said earlier, memories.

Joao and the Hyundai i30N
João driving the Hyundai i30N

7. Most memorable moment of your career to date?

My first day working for a car magazine was very special. It was something I pursued for a long time. But later I had the opportunity to drive an Audi R8 V10 Plus at the Ascari Race Circuit. This has to be one of those moments that I will keep forever in my mind. It really was epic. I loved every single moment of that day.

8. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a motoring journalist?

Don’t stop believing and don’t stop trying. If the opportunity does not show, go around and make it happen. Find another way to make it real and believe in yourself and in your passion. I have tried for many years to start working for a car magazine and I have never made it. So I decided to work on that anyway by creating my blog. It all started way back in 2014 and I have to say I never made any money directly from that. Of course, my blog provided me a way of developing my writing abilities and a way to show my work, which has evolved into my first paid job as a motoring journalist in a car magazine during 2018. But money was not the point. That was not my objective. I started driving the cars I love and being with important people from the industry that I followed for years. That still gives me great pleasure. I enjoy it like it was the first time. My point is: use your time to make it happen. Start writing and let your motoring journalist journey begin. The path you choose will be great. I’m sure of that because there will be cars on the way. Lots of them.

Thank you to João for taking part in this interview!

You can follow João on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.