Global car production has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

How The Coronavirus Is Affecting The Motor Industry

Global car production has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
Global car production has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic is changing how we live and how we work. The motor industry is not immune to the local, national and global effects of the worldwide COVID-19 public health crisis. We've put together this article to show you the many facets of the motor industry that have been affected in Ireland and Europe. This is a story of disruption to car production and new car launches, but also innovation and cooperation, as the industry responds to one of the biggest challenges its ever faced.

1. Car Manufacturers

Both car production and sales of new cars have come to a halt in most of Europe and other regions. Global car production has been severely impacted with factory shutdowns. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the average shutdown duration is 16 working days at the moment with the jobs of at least 1,110,107 Europeans working in automobile manufacturing affected. EU-wide production losses due to factory shutdowns amount to at least 1,231,038 motor vehicles so far. However, it is heartening to note that in Wuhan, China, once the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak, production is now resuming. Ferrari is planning to resume production at its Maranello plant in Italy on 14th April.

In a twist, some of the car manufacturers are switching their efforts to produce more ventilators, key equipment in the fight to save more lives from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford, PSA Groupe, SEAT and Lamborghini are all switching some available resources to the development and production of this vital healthcare equipment. SEAT has transformed the Leon production line at the Martorell plant in Barcelona to make automated ventilators with adapted windscreen wiper motors for the Spanish healthcare system.

SEAT along with some other car manufacturers have switched some resources to the production of ventilators in the fight against COVID-19
SEAT along with some other car maufacturers have switched some resources to the production of ventilators

2. Dealers

From midnight on Friday 27th March, the Government has asked all non-essential businesses to close. Across Ireland, showrooms are closed though many Irish dealerships are still available to answer sales enquiries by email or by phone. Businesses involved in the service and repair of vehicles can still operate, but only for emergencies.

3. Motor Shows

The Geneva Motor Show, which takes place in March every year, was cancelled at the beginning of the month. Many of the new car reveals that are a feature of the annual show took place online instead. The organisers of the biennial Paris Motor Show have just announced that it won't go ahead 'in its current format' in October. The Detroit Motor Show was scheduled to take place in June and has now been cancelled. The site is being converted into a temporary field hospital to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Media

All local and European press drive events have been cancelled or postponed for the forseeable future. In Ireland, press car rotations have now been suspended. While the supply of motoring news and new car content has dwindled, at Changing Lanes we are determined to keep this show on the road! We will use our creativity and ingenuity to keep you informed and entertained as best we can over the coming weeks and months.

Many events and motor shows around the world have been cancelled or postponed
Many events and motor shows around the world have been cancelled or postponed

Caroline Kidd

Fuel retailers in Ireland are calling for a reduction in rates as business drops by 70%

Fuel Retailers Stay Open But Call For Rate Relief

Fuel retailers in Ireland are calling for a reduction in rates as business drops by 70%
Fuel retailers in Ireland are calling for a reduction in rates as business drops by 70%

COVID-19 Crisis Affecting Irish Fuel Retailers

The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) is calling on the Government to extend rate relief to fuel retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed the way we live and work in Ireland. With many restrictions in place to limit the movement of people, fuel retailers are deemed essential services and are staying open.

However, fuel retailers are reporting 70% drop in business in light of the current public health crisis.

The IPRA, the trade body representing fuel retailers in Ireland, has now written to Ministers John Paul Phelan and Eoghan Murphy. They have asked for forecourts to be included in any Council plan for rate relief.

David Blevings, spokesperson for the IPRA, said:

“Retail sites have been designated an essential service in the recent list of essential service providers published by Government. While our members are happy to serve the emergency services, HGV drivers, defence forces and essential county council workers, their turnover has reduced by c.70%. This is due to the obvious reduction in traffic volumes as people stay at home and consumers’ switch to buying only essential items."

Supporting Rural Economies

There are around 1,000 retail forecourt locations in the Republic of Ireland and according to the IPRA, 80% are owned and operated by sole traders and family businesses.

"Local forecourts will be the only shop in many Irish villages open for many customers, and while our Members are pleased to remain open, they cannot be expected to pay rates at a time when their income has been drastically reduced.

Without rate relief at this critical time, many of these businesses will not survive and this will lead to closures. Any closures during this crisis will reduce fuel supply availability to front line workers and services and cripple rural Ireland. We have asked the Ministers to swiftly introduce a local authority rates relief package and to ensure the Irish forecourt sector is included in any
plan to protect jobs and family businesses in rural Ireland," added David.

For more information, visit the Irish Petrol Retailers website.

The Renault Clio is Europe's most popular car!

Renault Clio Moves To Pole Position In Europe!

The Renault Clio is Europe's most popular car!
The Renault Clio is Europe's most popular car!

Clio is King of Europe!

The new Renault Clio is Europe's bestselling new car, according to figures released by Jato Dynamics.

The European new car market continued to decline throughout February 2020 but the small French hatchback racked up 24,914 new registrations.

The new Renault Clio was launched in 2019 and is selling well in Ireland, with 1,125 units up to the end of February making it one of Ireland's top 10 bestselling new cars.

The Clio has pushed the Volkswagen Golf into second place in Europe, while the new Peugeot 208 is now the third bestselling model.

European new car sales in decline

Overall 1,063,264 cars were registered in Europe in February, down 7% on February 2019. The data does not show yet the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the European automotive market.

Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO Dynamics, commented:

“The situation is rapidly deteriorating in Europe due to complex regulation, lack of available homologated cars, and increasing pressure on the economy. All of these factors are having a detrimental impact on consumer confidence.”

There was growth in registrations of electric vehicles, which jumped from 75,400 units in February 2019 to 135,500 units last month. The increase of over 80% came at the expense of diesel and petrol cars who saw significantly fewer registrations.

The volume of EVs more than doubled in Germany and France – their biggest markets. In terms of market share, EVs represented 75% of all passenger cars registrations in Norway, 33% in Sweden, 31% in Finland, 22% in Netherlands and 17% in Hungary. France leads among the big 5 markets, with an EV penetration of 14%, against 13% in the UK, 11% in Germany, 10% in Spain, and 8.6% in Italy.

Any trends in new car sales?

Registrations for SUVs fell by 1.7% to 415,300 units, taking the year-to-date total to 865,500 units, down by 1.4% from last year. The fall in registrations was due to the compact SUVs, declining by 3.7% in contrast to the strong growth experienced by large SUVs, who saw an increase of 17%. Although there was a decrease in SUV registrations, their market share did in fact increase due to the overall downturn of the market.

Midsize cars posted the highest growth among all segment, thanks to the BMW 3-Series, boosted by a new generation model, and the Volkswagen Passat. Their combined registrations made up 31% of the whole midsize segment volume.

Vans also saw an increased in registrations, coming very close to beating the market share of MPVs, who experienced a decrease of 27%.

Big improvers for the month included the Fiat 500, BMW 3-Series, Volkswagen Passat, Hyundai Kona, BMW 1-Series, Audi A4, Volvo XC40 and Citroen C5 Aircross. Among the latest new car launches, the Toyota Corolla registered 13,600 units, 11,600 for the Volkswagen T-Cross, 7,500 units of the Ford Puma, 6,700 units for Skoda Kamiq, 5,100 units for Skoda Scala, and 4,600 units of the Mazda CX-30.

Finally, the Audi Q3 Sportback registered 3,900 units, Kia XCeed 3,700 units, and both the Audi E-Tron and DS 3 Crossback registered 2,300 units each.

The 2020 Hyundai IONIQ on test for Changing Lanes

Hyundai IONIQ Electric (2020) Review

The 2020 Hyundai IONIQ Electric on test for Changing Lanes
The 2020 Hyundai IONIQ Electric on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the new Hyundai IONIQ Electric.

Hyundai sashayed into the market for electric vehicles back in 2016 with the new Hyundai IONIQ Electric. In 2018, Hyundai’s electric offering was strengthened again by the arrival of the fashionable KONA Electric. While the brand also sells a range of hybrids and fuel powered cars, their electric offering has settled very well into the Irish market where buyers are ever more receptive to EV technology.

What's new for the 2020 Hyundai IONIQ Electric?

While the KONA Electric, is the trendy electric compact crossover, the IONIQ is the classic electric hatchback. Now in 2020 the Hyundai IONIQ Electric has been updated with a new battery giving more range and more power. This effectively keeps the IONIQ Electric at the races in a time when manufacturers are constantly improving and offering popular EV models with more range.

The 2020 Hyundai IONIQ Electric is available from €35,470 in Ireland including grant and VRT relief. The new model now has a 38.3 kWh battery with a range rated at 312 km (WLTP). The IONIQ is also available as a plug-in hybrid (from €34,995).

The updated IONIQ Electric now has more power and more range
The updated IONIQ Electric now has more power and more range

The Hyundai IONIQ Electric hatchback now has a redesigned closed grille with new distinctive pattern and active air flaps to assist in cooling. There are also new headlamps, rear lights, and new front and rear bumpers. It is quite an unusual design, not as trendy as the KONA, but there is the familiarity and sensible nature of a hatchback to it.

The interior of the IONIQ

Inside there has been a comprehensive redesign of the dashboard with upgraded materials and finishes, updated instrument cluster, cabin mood lighting and all new touch type temperature and multimedia controls. A new 10.25” widescreen navigation system comes as standard on the IONIQ Electric in Ireland. Hyundai interiors are generally quite conservative, so this is a really nice, modern feature for the car. The system allows the driver to easily find nearby charging stations. The IONIQ Electric’s standard high-resolution 7-inch LCD console display has also been improved with mood lighting to visualise the different drive mode themes – comfort, eco, eco + and sport. There’s also some nice blue ambient lighting in the cabin, visible at night.

Equipment includes cruise control, parking camera, keyless start and entry, 16” alloys, lane departure warning, heated front seats, climate control, LED headlights, high beam assist, wireless phone charging pad, and 10.25" Widescreen Navigation with Radio, RDS, DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The IONIQ interior has been revamped for 2020
The IONIQ interior has been revamped for 2020

In terms of space, the IONIQ is a relatively compact hatchback but interior space, especially in the rear feels more generous than the Hyundai KONA. The boot is shallow but large with a generous 455 litre capacity. It stretches back a fair deal and has a very practical hatchback opening.

Battery and charging my IONIQ

The 2020 IONIQ Electric now uses a larger battery, which has increased in size from 28kWh to 38.3kWh, and a more powerful 100 kW motor. There is also new fully adjustable regenerative braking with one pedal driving functionality and smart regenerative braking. This automatically regulates the regenerative braking power depending on road inclination and forward momentum to ensure the smoothest driving experience, while maximising efficiency and range.

The IONIQ can be charged at home or on the public charging network. a 7.2kW on-board charger is fitted as standard - an upgrade from current 6.6kW – for Type 2 AC charging.  A CCS adaptor means that the IONIQ can also make use of 50 kW fast charging on the public network. Hyundai says that the battery can be recharged from flat to 100% charge in 6 hours 5 minutes on a 7kW charger. Using a 50 kW charger, 80% charge can be got in just under an hour.

On the road the Hyundai IONIQ Electric is smooth and effortless to drive. There is no particular dynamic appeal to this car but the light steering and comfortable suspension set-up make it an easy companion to travel Irish roads in. There is now more power with an overall system output of 136 hp so it copes fine in that regard without anyone mistaking it for a hot hatchback. The braking action is smooth, while one pedal driving is a doddle in the IONIQ.

50 kW charging of the Hyundai IONIQ Electric on the ESB e-cars network
50 kW charging of the Hyundai IONIQ Electric on the ESB e-cars network

Hyundai IONIQ vs KONA Electric?

Hyundai has been ahead of many manufacturers with two fully electric compact models in their Irish line-up. Like all electric vehicles right now, these are more expensive cars for their size than their fuel powered stablemates. However the Hyundai IONIQ Electric does have a lower entry price than the Hyundai KONA.

Clearly these two cars offer something a little bit different in style and format, trendy crossover (KONA) vs. classic hatchback (IONIQ). The KONA has an entry price of €38,630, while the IONIQ Electric starts from €35,470. Both are well specced cars, yet the KONA does have a more powerful 64 kWh battery, which is good for over 400 km of range.

There is plenty of options for EV buyers out there and lots to think about in terms of the balance between price, range, style, longevity and lifestyle suitability. The Hyundai IONIQ Electric is the classic electric hatchback that benefits greatly from a larger battery. Seeing over 300 km on your dashboard every morning is reassuring and this car is a simple entry into electric motoring.  It’s now got a more modern infotainment system that lifts the interior, while it’s also practical and compact for town.

If you would like to read our review of the IONIQ’s sister car, click here to read our Hyundai KONA Electric Review!

The new Hyundai IONIQ Electric is available from €35,470 in Ireland
The new Hyundai IONIQ Electric is available from €35,470 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Battery: 38.3 kWh
Range: 312 km (WLTP)
136 hp
Torque: 295 Nm
9.7 seconds
Top speed: 154 km/h
Motor Tax: €120 per year

The Mazda3 is available as a hatchback or saloon

Hatchback vs Saloon: Which Should I Choose?

The Mazda3 is available as a hatchback or saloon
The Mazda3 is available as a hatchback or saloon

It's time to get back to basics.  When it comes to buying a new car, there are a few decisions to make about the type of car you want. Will it be a hatchback or saloon car?

How popular are saloons and hatchbacks?

While sales of SUVs are on the rise, there is still a lot of interest in hatchbacks in Ireland. In fact in Ireland in 2020, hatchbacks account for about 30% of the new car market. Sales of saloons are actually growing, with this type of car accounting for about 15% of the market.

According to Google Trends, there have been more Internet searches for saloons than hatchbacks in the last 12 months in Ireland! Many manufacturers are still bringing new saloon cars to the market, like the Mercedes-Benz CLA and the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé.

When you are researching buying a new car, you will find that some manufacturers offer both in the same model range. For example the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Audi A3 and Renault Mégane are offered as a five door hatchback or a four door saloon! In 2019, Toyota relaunched the Corolla as a hatchback and saloon. Renault Ireland says that the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé (Saloon) outsells the hatchback in this country. Irish people do love a good saloon!

Now let's clarify what is a hatchback and what is a saloon car, and then look at why you might choose one over the other.

The Toyota Corolla Saloon is very popular in Ireland
The Toyota Corolla Saloon is very popular in Ireland

Hatchback or saloon?

There are a few simple differences between a hatchback and saloon.

1. Design

The ‘five door’ hatchback has an integrated boot and when you open the boot you are really opening that fifth door. The boot lid incorporates the rear window and opens directly into the cabin of the car. By contrast the boot lid does not include the rear window in a saloon and the boot is opened in isolation from the rest of the car.

2. Style

This fundamental structural difference between a hatchback and saloon naturally has style implications. The saloon’s boot extends more out the back making the car appear bigger. A hatchback tends to have a more integrated, compact style at the rear. Some people prefer the more sporty, compact look of a hatchback. Others like the somewhat larger and more grand appearance of the saloon. In recent years, manufacturers have begun to give saloon cars more gracious and flattering 'coupé-like' design. Some hatchbacks are even cleverly designed to have the appearance of a saloon. The SKODA Octavia is a perfect example. The Octavia is actually a hatchback.

3. Space & Practicality

The final point to make is about space and practicality. The hatchback’s boot tends to be more practical for carrying things compared to a similarly-sized saloon car. Saloon boots tend to have narrower, more restrictive openings. This means it can be hard to reach items at the very back. By contrast, a hatchback boot is a more flexible space. Folding down the rear seats will increase the practicality of the space even further for carrying larger items. Interestingly, some saloon cars actually have more boot volume than their hatchback counterparts. So if you are looking for outright volume do take a look at the figures in the catalogue. For example, the boot in the new Mazda3 saloon is almost 100 litres larger in capacity than the Mazda3 hatchback.

Saloon cars can have smaller boot openings but more space like the Mazda3 Saloon
Saloon cars can have smaller boot openings but more space like the Mazda3 Saloon

Anything else?

So there you have it. A quick rundown on what is a hatchback or saloon car and the differences between them.

Now read some reviews of our favourite hatchbacks:

Mazda3 Hatchback Review

Toyota Corolla Hatchback

And our favourite saloon cars:

Honda Civic Saloon Review

Audi A3 Saloon Review

If you have any questions or need some specific model advice, send a message using the contact form on this website.

Caroline Kidd

The first generation Opel Insignia (2009-2017)

Opel Insignia Used Car Review (2009-2017)

The first generation Opel Insignia (2009-2017)
The first generation Opel Insignia (2009-2017)

Check out our Opel Insignia used car review!

The Opel Insignia was one of my first ever car reviews for Changing Lanes. That was 2014. Now I think it's fair to say that we can class it as a used car review. I've updated my original review with some more background information. This will help you if you are thinking of buying a used Opel Insignia from between the years of 2009 and 2017. 

The first generation Opel Insignia reached Ireland in 2009. It received a refresh in 2013 and stayed in production until 2017 when it was replaced by the all-new Opel Insignia Grand Sport.

Diesel was king in Ireland in 2009 and the Insignia looked after customers well in this regard. It quickly became a fleet favourite. The visibility of this generation of the Opel Insignia is still high on Irish roads. The Opel Insignia replaced the Opel Vectra and was a huge step forward in design.

Opel Insignia Review

In summer 2014, I tested the Opel Insignia SRi, the sporty one in the range with attractive OPC inspired body styling, 18" alloys, and sports suspension. The first generation Insignia has good presence on the road, while inside it's comfortable and good quality for the large car segment of this era.

The Insignia range was refreshed in 2013 and there were updates to the headlamp design, revised front bumper with slightly bigger and lower air intakes, along with different rear light clusters, new rear bumper and some other trim updates.

The 2013 facelift also saw a revamped interior, new steering wheel, better quality materials, and a new Intellilink touchscreen that removed more buttons for a cleaner look. There was also a new touchpad controller available and voice control.

The interior of the first generation Opel Insignia
The interior of the first generation Opel Insignia

Standard equipment is impressive and over the years there were five trim levels -  S and SC being the more basic ones, SE and Elite the more premium ones and SRi the sporty one. SC and above have the IntelliLink infotainment system with 8” touchscreen and Apple CarPlay from 2015. Some of the safety features available on the first generation Opel Insignia include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear view parking camera, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning system.

Opel Insignia Hatchback Vs Saloon Vs Estate

The Opel Insignia was available as a hatchback, saloon or Sports Tourer estate between 2009 and 2017. Interior space was competitive for a large car, not outstanding but the boot was a good size at 530 litres in the Insignia hatchback, 540 litres in the Insignia estate and 500 litres in the Insignia saloon.

My 2014 Opel Insignia was powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 163 hp. This engine is economical with good pulling power but it's a bit on the noisy side. In 2015 it was replaced by an improved and much quieter 2.0-litre diesel with 170 hp. Read our review of that diesel Insignia here. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. Other engine options for the Insignia at the time included a 1.6-litre CDTi with 136 bhp and a 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 140 bhp.

The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi on test for Changing Lanes!

Is the Opel Insignia a good car?

On the road the Opel Insignia majors at cruising effortlessly up and down motorways. This car has broad appeal. The suspension is on the firm side but not uncomfortable by any means. The steering is precise and intuitive giving a reassuring and sporty feel going around bends. This is matched to excellent grip and body control (no doubt down to that extra firmness in the suspension!). The car grips but there is a fair bit of movement of the car’s weight over the suspension. SRi models fitted with sports suspension are tighter in this regard.

The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi 2.0-litre diesel I tested had a normal retail price of €33,295.

Not surprisingly, the Opel Insignia is a popular choice as a company car for its comfort on long journeys and good suspension that absorbs bumps and ruts so well. The huge 530 litre boot and great rear passenger space make it a great family buy too. The Opel Insignia is the German car without the premium price tag but retaining that feeling of quality that you expect from a German car.

It isn't the most dynamically exciting car in the class (that accolade goes to the Ford Mondeo) but the Opel Insignia is more than up for the job of long motorway cruises, keeping everyone on board happy and comfortable!

If you are thinking of buying a used Opel Insignia, I hope this review has been useful.

The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi on test for Changing Lanes!

Details correct at time of test

Model tested: 2014 Opel Insignia SRi Limited Edition 5-door Hatch
Price: €33,295 (as tested new in June 2014)
Engine: 2.0 litre diesel
Power: 163 bhp
0-100km/h: 9.5 seconds
Economy: 65.7mpg (4.3l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 114g/km
Tax band: A4 (€200 per year)

Caroline Kidd

Read our article for car cleaning tips on how to keep your family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

How To Clean Your Car In A Crisis

Read our article for car cleaning tips on how to keep your family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
Read our article for car cleaning tips on how to keep your family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has given a whole new meaning to keeping your car clean. At Changing Lanes, I've always been meticulous about keeping the outside of my car clean but what about inside? As COVID-19 continues to spread in Ireland, Europe and the world, I've been paying a lot more attention to keeping the inside of the car clean, particularly the parts that I frequently touch inside and outside the car (we have listed these further down in this article).

Viruses are invisible to the eye and survive on surfaces. Before I switched career to journalism, I studied science in college and I have a degree in Microbiology from UCD. So I suppose that makes me a motoring journalist and a microbiologist! While this doesn't give me immunity to what's pressed our world on hold, it does give me a little insight into the secret lives of viruses. And it ain't pretty.

This week, some of our friends in the motor industry have been creating useful content around car cleaning tips for the coronavirus crisis. So I've put together some of the best of that content below.

First of all SKODA say, the simplest advice for how to stay safe is to stay home. But what if you have to go somewhere by car? Here's the best of their advice on protecting you and your family from coronavirus in the car.

Car Cleaning Tips

1. Minimise contact with others.

But if a journey has to be made, protect yourself.

“Ideally don’t go anywhere. If you have to go somewhere, go alone – don’t share the car with anyone. If you have to go with someone, make sure that the person does not have acute symptoms of respiratory illness. Use a respirator or at least a facemask. Make sure you have the contact details of all the other passengers so that you can track them down if you find out you’re infected,” says Jana Parmová, chief physician at ŠKODA.

2. Disinfect.

If you can’t avoid coming into contact with others and going somewhere by car, pay thorough attention to cleaning your car to prevent the spread of infections.

“Disinfect all the surfaces you touch before and after the journey, especially if you’re sharing the car with someone or gave someone a lift,” Doctor Parmová says.

Take this cleaning very seriously: disinfecting the steering wheel, gearstick, handbrake, door handles, radio and infotainment controls would occur to everyone, but don’t forget the stalks on the steering column (indicators and windscreen wipers, cruise control), elbow rests, seat position controls, door frames and exterior door handles or luggage compartment handle. These principles are even more important for taxi drivers and other drivers who transport passengers.

What should you use to disinfect the car? At least 70% alcohol solution is effective against coronavirus, and isopropyl alcohol won’t do the main surfaces in your car any harm. Carmakers and their subcontractors use it to disinfect parts. You can use alcohol to wipe down the seat upholstery and other soft surfaces in the car. But be careful not to soak them through. Alcohol should not damage either leather or imitation leather upholstery, but excessively intensive cleaning with alcohol can discolour the material: so don’t scrub the seats and other leather surfaces too hard. After cleaning, though, leather surfaces in the car should be treated with leather protection products.

Never use hydrogen peroxide, for example, which will most likely damage the car’s surfaces. Don’t use cleaning products containing ammonium on touch screens in the car. Micro-fibre cloths are ideal for cleaning all surfaces and for all cleaning methods.

Some places to pay attention to when cleaning the interior of your car
Some places to pay attention to when cleaning the interior of your car

3. Air your car after cleaning

Doctor Parmová also advises always thoroughly airing your car after you clean it. Clean the air-conditioning unit. Buy a specialised spray (online or at a fuel station) for cleaning a car’s air-conditioning and ventilation system. Although these are not as effective as professional cleaning, they can again help reduce the risk: the disinfection spray may not wipe out the coronavirus, but having a cleaner heating and air-conditioning system means a lower risk of the virus attaching itself to it.

4. Fill up safely at the fuel pumps

If you absolutely have to go somewhere by car, it's highly likely that you'll need to buy fuel sooner or later. Don’t forget to be very careful about hygiene at petrol stations. Minimise contact with the staff. Choose a self-service filling station if you can. After filling up your car, immediately wash your hands or at least disinfect them with a hand disinfectant solution.

Pay by contactless card if you can. Some petrol stations let you use contactless payment methods right at the pump, so you don’t need to go inside the shop. And incidentally, another way to reduce risk is by making sure the tank is full, so you don’t need to go back to the petrol station soon after.

Video of how to clean your car during COVID-19 pandemic

Now our friends at Toyota Ireland have created a video with more detail on all those contact points in the car that you need to pay special attention to during car cleaning.

The more we respect these measures, the more we reduce the risk of the infection spreading, and the sooner we can get our lives back to normal. So be considerate, minimise contact with others and journeys by car as much as possible, don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly and use disinfectant.

Europcar Ireland is supporting frontline HSE and Emergency Services staff with private car rental initiative

Europcar Ireland Launches TOGETHER Initiative

Europcar Ireland is supporting frontline HSE and Emergency Services staff with private car rental initiative
Europcar Ireland is supporting frontline HSE and Emergency Services staff with private car rental initiative

Europcar has announced a new vehicle rental initiative to support frontline HSE and Emergency Services staff as they work through the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The company is offering private rental vehicles for the duration of the crisis from a discounted rate of €35 per week. Their aim is to facilitate social distancing and provide convenient and safe transport to/from work for vital frontline workers. The TOGETHER programme is in operation across Europcar Mobility Group’s global network spanning 135 countries to relieve some of the pressures on overstretched services and essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Europcar Ireland’s existing range of services, including vehicle rental and GoCar car sharing, remain in full operation across the country, and the company is committed to providing members of the public with convenient and safe transport options as usual during these unprecedented times.

Commenting on the announcement, Colm Brady, MD of Europcar Mobility Group Ireland, said:

“During such unprecedented times, it is crucial that businesses and communities continue to support one another and create a united front in the face of this crisis. Frontline HSE and Emergency Services staff across the country are working tirelessly to tackle the unfolding COVID-19 situation and for this we are truly grateful. We hope that this dedicated transport service will be of some benefit to those workers who are helping all of us during this very difficult period.”

To avail of this initiative, frontline workers must provide ID and a valid driving licence. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Further information about the new rental initiative and registrations can be made via

The new Kia XCeed!

Kia XCeed 1.6 Diesel (2020) Review

The new Kia XCeed!
The new Kia XCeed!

Caroline reviews the new Kia XCeed!

Since the launch of the new Kia Ceed in the summer of 2018, Kia has created a number of spin-offs to appeal to different buyers of compact vehicles. There was the practical Ceed SW followed by the elegant ProCeed shooting brake. Now in 2020 we say hello to probably the most desirable of them all – the new Kia XCeed!

Why so desirable? Well that’s because the XCeed is a crossover and Europe loves a good crossover right now. So does Ireland. Kia claims compact SUV practicality for the XCeed along with the sporty packaging and engaging handling of a hatchback. The new XCeed goes on sale from €26,345, so buyers do pay more for the prestige of this vehicle over an equivalent Ceed hatchback.

What's so hot right now about the Kia XCeed?

So is it worth it? In the metal the new XCeed has got a great stance. The only body panels carried over from the five-door Ceed hatchback are the front doors. While the wheelbase remains the same as other models in the Ceed line-up, the 2020 Kia XCeed has longer front and rear overhangs. The proportions are still compact but the ride height has been raise by up to 42 mm over the Ceed hatch. Wheel arch and side sill cladding along with silver roof rails give the car a tougher, SUV-like presence, with the metallic valance in the rear bumper enhancing this effect. My grey test car looked smart and premium but to really stand out there is a vibrant new Quantum Yellow shade that is unique to the XCeed!

Caroline in the cabin of the Kia XCeed
Caroline in the cabin of the Kia XCeed

What's it like inside?

The cabin design of the new XCeed is more or less the same as what we’ve seen in other members of the Ceed family. So that means a contemporary design with the latest Kia infotainment system and good quality fit and finish. The 10.25 inch touchscreen in my test car was really nice to use, with large graphics, clear interface and seamless integration with smartphones. A new yellow colour pack is unique to the XCeed and adds more fun and character. Black upholstery is contrasted with vibrant yellow stitching for seats and doors, yellow seat piping, and a blend of gloss black and metallic yellow highlights throughout the cabin.

Interior space is also good for the compact class, with reasonably sized footwells in the rear. The higher roofline adds a greater feeling of space to the interior. The hip point for each seat is raised by up to 42 mm over the Ceed hatch so it is easier for occupants to step in or out. The boot is also bigger by 31 litres with a total volume of 426 litres.

The XCeed goes on sale in Ireland from €26,345
The XCeed goes on sale in Ireland from €26,345

In Ireland, the new Kia XCeed is offered in three trim levels (K2,K3 and K4). Engine options include a 1.0-litre turbo petrol with 120 hp or a 1.6-litre diesel with 115 hp. A new XCeed plug-in hybrid will join the range from April priced from €28,945. Standard equipment includes 16“ alloys, LED lights front and rear, rear privacy glass, 8 inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, and a host of safety features including Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance, High Beam Assist and Speed Limit Assist.

My test car was a K3 diesel with 18” alloys, 10.25 inch touchscreen with Sat Nav /Tom Tom and rear view camera, half leather upholstery, electronic parking brake and a wireless phone charger. The list price for this model is €30,495.

The K4 completes the range with added features such as heated front seats ,12.3 inch supervision instrument cluster, smart key with push button start, climate control and Blind Spot Detection.

Driving the 2020 Kia XCeed

Kia’s European engineering team developed the suspension and steering of the Kia XCeed to deliver a comfortable ride and more engaging handling. According to the brand, the new XCeed was tested across a wider range of road surfaces than any previous European-developed Kia to ensure the handling character was ‘truly European’.

On the road, buyers will enjoy the more commanding view of the road ahead compared with a conventional hatchback. The XCeed is agile and fun to drive. Unique suspension tuning accommodates for the raise in ride height ensuring the new XCeed feels nothing short of accomplished and comfortable over a variety of Irish roads. Road noise has been reduced also.

The interior of the new Kia XCeed
The interior of the new Kia XCeed

Diesel is still an important fuel for motoring in some parts of the country and indeed for all high mileage drivers. The Kia XCeed 1.6-litre diesel offers enough power and torque, however it’s not the most refined or efficient diesel on the market right now in the compact segment. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 5.9l/100km while motor tax is €200 per year.

So did you like it?

The 2020 Kia XCeed offers buyers now even more style and individuality in the compact segment. The design of this vehicle has been wonderfully executed and on style and image alone, the XCeed should find many homes. Everything we loved about the new Ceed is retained and enhanced here. So the cabin is good quality but lifted a little more with the addition of the optional coloured trim. And there is a more spacious and practical nature to this car though dimensions are still compact.

The diesel engine wouldn’t be my first choice but there is a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine available and a new plug-in hybrid that will allow buyers to explore battery technology without range anxiety.

The Kia XCeed does carry a premium for its fashionable looks but buyers have shown again and again that they will go that extra mile for the SUV/crossover look.

The new XCeed is a fantastic addition to the Kia range!

Would you be brave enough for Quantum Yellow?
Would you be brave enough for Quantum Yellow?

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia XCeed 1.6 CRDi K3
€30,495 (from €26,345)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
115 hp
Torque: 280 Nm
11.4 seconds
Top speed: 190 km/h
Fuel consumption (NEDC2): 
4.1 – 4.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions (NEDC2):  
109-114 g/km
Motor Tax: €200 per year

The 2020 Kia Sorenti=o will arrive in Ireland in the second half of 2020

10 Things To Know About The 2020 Kia Sorento

The 2020 Kia Sorenti=o will arrive in Ireland in the second half of 2020
The 2020 Kia Sorenti=o will arrive in Ireland in the second half of 2020

Kia has taken the covers off the new Sorento. It's the fourth generation of the popular large family SUV and slots into the range above the Kia Sportage. The new Kia Sorento is expected to arrive in Ireland in the third quarter of 2020 with pricing to be confirmed closer to launch. It will be sold in Europe with Kia’s seven-year, 150,000-kilometre warranty as standard.

1. The new Sorento is the first vehicle to be based on Kia’s new-generation midsize SUV platform. It will be larger than the outgoing model with more passenger and boot space. Kia promises one of the most versatile and spacious three-row SUVs on the road. The 7 seat Sorento is much in demand in Ireland so this is good news for family buyers.

2. The 2020 Kia Sorento will debut electrification for the first time with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain. As a result, the new model offers greater fuel efficiency, lower emissions and higher performance than its predecessors.

3. Diesel models will also be offered and will be the first to arrive here in Ireland, followed by the PHEV variant in late 2020. The Sorento’s new four-cylinder 2.2-litre ‘Smartstream’ diesel engine produces 202 ps and 440 Nm torque. It will be paired with Kia’s new eight-speed double-clutch transmission (8DCT).

4. This will be Kia’s most high-tech car ever with the latest connectivity, driver assistance and infotainment technologies. In the cabin we are promised twin digital displays with advanced graphics, new telematics features and smartphone connectivity. The 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 for a wide-screen user experience.

The interior of the 2020 Kia Sorento
The interior of the 2020 Kia Sorento

5. The new Sorento is the result of a collaborative design effort by Kia’s worldwide design network and is inspired by the concept of ‘refined boldness’! They wanted to retain the robust, tough-looking aesthetic of earlier generations of Sorento, while applying a greater degree of refinement and elegance, and even a sense of sportiness. So there are more sharp lines and creases this time and contemporary geometric details.

6. Kia’s hallmark ‘tiger nose’ grille is now wider and the headlamps feature a new ‘tiger eyeline’ LED daytime running light, which Kia says adds "extra focus to the design by depicting the intense impression of the lines around a tiger’s eyes"! Like the ProCeed, the Sorento model name is spelt out centrally across the tailgate.

7. The new Sorento has grown in all directions. It's 10 mm wider than the third-generation Sorento, 10 mm longer, 10 mm taller, with a 35 mm longer wheelbase thanks to the new platform.

8. In seven-seat models, with all seven seats in place, boot space is also increased by 32% compared to its predecessor, to 187 litres. Controls in the side wall of the boot also let users fold down the second-row seat backs at the touch of a button. The second-row seats now slide up to 45 mm further.

9. The new Sorento will have enhanced all-terrain capability thanks to a new Terrain Mode. Paired with the optional all-wheel drive system, Terrain Mode makes the Sorento more capable in mud, snow and sand. With each mode selectable from a dial on the centre console, Terrain Mode carefully controls the car’s standard electronic stability control (ESC), as well as the distribution of torque to all four wheels. It also adapts transmission shift times to help the car find and maintain traction in a range of driving environments.

10. The 2020 Kia Sorento will be the first Kia available in Europe with the company’s new Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA), which enables drivers to move their car autonomously out of a front-and-back parking space remotely with their key fob.

The new Sorento will be available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time
The new Sorento will be available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time