The new Audi e-tron GT on test for Changing Lanes!

Audi e-tron GT (2021) First Drive Review

The new Audi e-tron GT on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Audi e-tron GT on test for Changing Lanes!

The new Audi e-tron GT has arrived in Ireland and goes on sale priced from €102,397. A halo model for the Audi brand, the e-tron GT is a high-performance sports coupé that embodies all Audi’s values – electrified. That’s right, the Audi e-tron GT is battery powered but with mind-warping performance statistics. And as Changing Lanes was about to find out, there are even more surprises when the Audi e-tron GT hits the roads for the first time. Read on for Caroline’s first drive Audi e-tron GT review from the Irish launch of this revolutionary new model!

Styling

The Audi e-tron GT is gorgeous. Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design, says the e-tron GT is “the most beautiful car that I have ever designed." We can believe it. The e-tron GT wears its proportions beautifully with sporty elegance and a futuristic closed grille at the front. There are hints of the R8 and TT to it but in fact the e-tron GT combines all the best hallmarks of Audi design but with an ultra-modern, futuristic twist. Electric cars just got very sexy. The body is extremely aerodynamic, and the drag coefficient is just 0.24. Wide and visually imposing, the Audi e-tron GT will make you rethink everything you ever thought you wanted in life!

Interior

Inside the cabin of the new 2021 Audi e-tron GT is unmistakably Audi with excellent material quality, glossy finishes and cool but straightforward digital technology. It all feels so normal inside, but so very classy. We like that the interior will be familiar to anyone who already drives one of the latest Audi cars, in terms of the style and how you interact with the controls. You sit in a low and sporty position behind the steering wheel. Frameless windows make you feel a million euros every time you open the door of your new e-tron GT.

The seats are upholstered either with a combination of artificial leather and Kaskade material or with a mixture of artificial leather and the microfibre material Dinamica. Recycled materials are used in both cases, for example polyester fibres that were made from old plastic bottles and textiles.

The new Audi e-tron GT is gorgeous from every angle!
The new Audi e-tron GT is gorgeous from every angle!

Practicality

The Audi e-tron GT is a high-performance sports coupé but with four doors and seating for five. The two rear footwells are a good size but it’s far from limo-like. The boot opens to reveal a respectable 405 litres while there is an additional 85 litres of storage space under the bonnet!

Battery

The new Audi e-tron GT's high-voltage battery has a capacity of 86 kWh (net), which gives a range of 479 km (WLTP). It’s a truly powerful car with 469 bhp and 630 Nm of torque. It can hit 100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds going on to a top speed of 245 km/h.

Charging

800-volt technology enables fast DC charging with an output of up to 270 kW – including just five minutes for a distance of approximately 100 km and roughly 22.5 minutes to bring the battery from 5% back up to 80%. At the moment, you can enjoy this rapid charging at IONITY charging stations. There is also an 11 kW onboard charger.

The interior of the 2021 Audi e-tron GT
The interior of the 2021 Audi e-tron GT

Driving it

The Audi e-tron is a magnificent machine. This car weighs over 2 tonnes but handles the road like a true professional. Quattro with e-torque vectoring comes as standard ensuring power is distributed intelligently to the individual wheels. When sufficient traction is available, it sends power primarily to the front axle. The suspension has been designed for a balance of dynamism and comfort, thanks to technologies such as Audi drive select, controlled damping and the rear-axle differential lock.

We had to push on in the e-tron GT to really see what this car was capable of. In fact it’s a very exciting car to drive, and you can really feel this car’s high performance DNA. Audi set out to create a sports coupé and that’s what they have done. Yet electrified. A characteristic that adds even more drama and performance to the e-tron GT.

Hop on that accelerator and the Audi e-tron GT is capable of mind-warping acceleration - just 4.1 seconds to take you to 100km/h. All accompanied by a cleverly designed sound that is fed through the speakers to enhance your driving experience. In fact, the sound is intuitive and coalesces nicely with what your right foot is doing on the accelerator. The Audi e-tron GT 'e-sound' won’t make the ground shake when it takes off at the traffic lights, but this is entertaining.

There is a deftness and lightness to the steering allowing ultra precise movements of the car. It's also super responsive to the pedal. Designed as a ‘Gran Turismo’, cruising comfort is good with adaptive air suspension available as an option.

A wonderful car that will make you recalculate everything you thought about what a performance car should be.

The new Audi e-tron GT goes on sale in Ireland from €102,397
The new Audi e-tron GT goes on sale in Ireland from €102,397

Equipment

Standard equipment on the new Audi e-tron GT includes 19” alloy wheels, panoramic glass sunroof, smartphone interface, navigation, front and rear parking sensors, synthetic leather upholstery, electric, heated front sports seats, lane departure warning and tri zone climate control.

Customers can manage pre-entry climate control of the interior and charging via their smartphones using the myAudi app.

Pricing

The new Audi e-tron GT retails from €102,397 in Ireland.

Rivals

The new Audi e-tron GT’s rivals include the Porsche Taycan and the Tesla Model S.

WATCH A VIDEO! Caroline driving the new e-tron GT on Irish roads for the first time:

Anything else?

The super high performance Audi RS e-tron GT is also hitting the Irish market now. Designed in the spirit of Audi’s classic RS models, it uses the same 88 kWh battery as the e-tron GT but with more power and torque. There is also more aggressive body styling, accessories and adaptive air suspension. Power output is a colossal 590 bhp while torque is rated at 830 Nm! The Audi RS e-tron GT can accelerate to 100 km/h in just 3.3 seconds. It retails from €140,367.

The Audi e-tron GT is the brand’s first fully electric car to be built in Germany. The new e-tron GT is built at Audi Böllinger Höfe at the Neckarsulm site in Germany on the same production line as the R8! The small-series production facility has been expanded, upgraded, and converted for its new role. The company is using customised digital processes and smart technologies but the finishing touches to each car are applied by highly skilled hands.

The e-tron GT has a range in excess of 400 km and incredible performance on the road
The e-tron GT has a range in excess of 400 km and incredible performance on the road

Summary

The new Audi e-tron GT epitomises the values of the Audi brand – electrified. The e-tron GT is a halo car for the brand and you will pay well for it. But considering the design and engineering that has gone into creating such a powerful car with real grace and elegance on the road, it’s not as outlandish as what you might expect.

Behind the wheel I was not thinking about range at all. The e-tron GT moves the conversation along. Let’s just talk cars. I was just enjoying the performance as the high voltage battery handles the rest.

With 270 kW charging, the e-tron GT is future proofed for the forseeable. The real challenge is that you can only avail of this rapid charging technology at a few stations around the county at the moment. But living with an electric vehicle is a lot easier than what it once was. We’d like to live with the e-tron GT a little more to fully test its range and capabilities!

The Audi e-tron GT is a car to aspire to. Created by visionary minds and talented technical hands. Vorsprung durch Technik at its finest.

The Audi e-tron GT is a super desirable halo car for the Audi brand
The Audi e-tron GT is a super desirable halo car for the Audi brand

Caroline Kidd


The Dacia Duster on test for Changing Lanes!

Dacia Duster (2021) Review

The Dacia Duster on test for Changing Lanes!
The Dacia Duster on test for Changing Lanes!

Say hello to the 2021 Dacia Duster!

The Dacia Duster is maturing. Launched in Ireland back in 2012, it quickly gained notoriety as a ‘no nonsense’ budget SUV. Some canny pricing and a tough off-road look did the Duster a lot of favours. Just as the market was becoming saturated with B-segment crossovers, the Duster’s angles and honest charm wriggled its way into the hearts of more than a few Irish buyers.

That’s right, over 10,000 Dusters have found a home in Ireland. Now in its second generation, the latest Dacia Duster has the exterior sheen of the trendy suburban compact SUV to it, magnified by a glossy metallic finish! It’s come a long way. With the last significant update to the car in 2018, the Duster looks like it's ready for the Dakar Rally. Larger than life roof rails, plastic cladding and squared off wheel arches make the Duster just so…tough!

In fact, I’d missed the honest charm of the Duster. Slipping in behind the wheel, and it’s fair to say that the Duster is not trying to seduce you with sophistication. The cabin is a hard-plastic affair with some more dated switchgear than the most style conscious of the small SUVs. Superficially, you might dismiss the Duster for its lack of glossy surfaces, glittering technology, and digital interfaces. But there is a lot of substance to this car. This is why you will find a small army of Dusters already holding their own on Irish roads.

Pricing for the Duster starts from €18,795 in Ireland
Pricing for the Duster starts from €19,365 in Ireland

What are my options?

With pricing starting from €19,365, the Duster offers a compact SUV stance for supermini money. Standard equipment is basic but the Essential model includes LED daytime running lights, Emergency Brake Assist, 16-inch steel wheels and DAB radio with steering-column mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity.

You will find a more comfortable home in Comfort trim (from €21,365) - still 'shockingly affordable' - including cruise control, 16" alloy wheels, soft feel steering wheel, trip computer, satin chrome roof bars and skid plate, manual air con, electric rear windows, rear parking camera and sensors, and the MediaNav 7″ touchscreen multimedia system.

Top of the range Prestige models like the one on test for Changing Lanes start from €23,665. Word has it that Dacia buyers do tend to go for the higher trim levels in this car for maximum goodies. The Duster Prestige looks the business, adding 17-inch alloy wheels, multi-view camera, blind spot warning, climate control and keyless entry.

Front wheel drive and four wheel drive models are available. Power comes from the trusty 1.5-litre dCi diesel or a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine.

The interior of the 2018 Dacia Duster
The interior of the latest Dacia Duster

Inside the latest Duster

The Dacia Duster has a plain cabin with little of the glitter or glamour we have come to expect from a small SUV. That wouldn’t sit well with the Duster’s image now would it? It appears solidly built and practical. There’s a multimedia touchscreen display in the centre of the dash but the graphics do look quite dated. Yet with Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, it’s not likely to matter too much.

Where the Duster really shines is when you consider the space available inside the vehicle at this sticker price. Duster will seat five, with the rear footwells offering more space than many rivals. The high roofline gives loads of headroom, adding to that feeling of space. The boot is also a good size at 445 litres. The Duster's boxy goodness reaps dividends. Isofix child-seat mounting points are fitted to the outer rear seats.

The Duster holds a 3-star Euro NCAP safety rating with some safety equipment like lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking still absent.

The Duster is available with petrol or diesel engines
The Duster is available with petrol or diesel engines

Driving the Dacia Duster

The driver enjoys a high seating position behind the wheel giving the feel of an authentic off-roader. Steering is light making the car easy to park and drive around town. The Duster handles the road safely though it’s not the sharpest driver of them all in its class, with more body roll than some more low slung competitors. Yet it's comfortable where it matters over long distances and copes with rougher surfaces on rural roads and in town reasonably well.

The diesel engine in our test car is a 1.5-litre affair with 115 hp. It gives a nice bit of pulling power without getting too raucous under acceleration. It returns good economy with my average fuel consumption coming in at 5.4 litres per 100 km over a week of driving. Motor tax is €200 per year for this model. There’s also a 1.0-litre petrol available with 100 or 130 hp.

The Duster is missing some polish but at this side of the market and at this price, it's clearly not a deal breaker.

The Duster offers great space for the money in the small SUV market
The Duster offers great space for the money in the small SUV market

Did you like it?

The Dacia Duster is the darling of the Dacia range. The Duster offers excellent value but also happens to be quite the charismatic car. The modern, squared off look gives Duster a leg up in the crowded SUV market.

Inside the Duster provides the convenience features one would expect of a compact SUV - if you avoid the very entry model - but without the gloss or sophistication of the best of the rivals. But everything works and it’s comfortable and fun to drive in a basic and authentic way.

On the road the Duster makes good progress backed up by strong engines.

No disparaging remarks are needed. The Dacia Duster is a rough diamond, but a good one.

The Dacia Duster makes a great, affordable small family car
The Dacia Duster makes a great, affordable small family car

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Dacia Duster dCi 115 Prestige
Price: 
€23,665
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115 hp
Torque: 
260 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 
179 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.9-5.5 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
111 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


The new Hyundai Tuscon on test for Changing Lanes!

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid (2021) Review

The new Hyundai Tuscon on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Hyundai Tucson on test for Changing Lanes!

The Hyundai Tucson has undoubtedly been a huge success for the Korean brand. Since it launched back in 2004, more than 7 million units have been sold worldwide, with the Tucson becoming something of an Irish sweetheart too. This car really hit its stride in 2015 with the launch of the third generation model. Almost immediately it took a stranglehold of the Irish new car market, closing in on established bestsellers and retaining the title of Ireland's bestselling car for much of the last few years.

Late in 2020, an all-new generation of the Hyundai Tucson arrived. Similar patterns are emerging with this car already securing the position of Ireland’s bestselling car so far in 2021.

What's new for the 2021 Hyundai Tucson?

It’s out with the old and in with the new. The previous generation of the Tucson has great notoriety on Irish roads, but the 2021 model will lift things up a gear with Hyundai taking it to the next level with bold design and electrified powertrains for the first time.

Convention has gone out the back window with more angles, curves and dramatic light signatures that give the fourth generation Hyundai Tucson the taste of the avant-garde for the first time. Yes competition is fierce in the family SUV segment and the new Tuscon does not want to be vanilla.

With pricing starting from €33,595, the Hyundai Tuscon is moving up a gear yet presence, design, technology and quality speak volumes about this car.

Sportier and more dynamic proportions have been made possible by the new platform. On approach the car is characterised by a striking light architecture dubbed 'Parametric Hidden Lights’ that means the lights blend into the grille to give a jewel-like effect.

The new Tucson is available from €33,595 in Ireland
The new Tucson is available from €33,595 in Ireland

Inside the new Hyundai Tucson

New Tucson marks a significant change in design direction for Hyundai and the theme continues inside. The brand has done a wonderful job transforming the cabin and the Tuscon now reflects a more premium experience inside. It’s a combination of lots of soft touch materials, glossy digital screens for the infotainment and digital instrument panel, ambient lighting, and neat design touches like a rather avant-garde steering wheel!

Smartphones connect seamlessly to the infotainment system via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The new 10.25-inch screen fills the centre of the vehicle. This is the first Hyundai model to feature a full touchscreen console with everything controlled from it but it is intuitive to use.

There are three trim levels, Comfort Plus, Executive and Executive Plus. Standard equipment includes 17″ alloys, heated front seats with electric lumbar support for the driver, automatic lights, high beam assist, reverse parking camera, 8″ touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and safety equipment including lane keep assist, driver attention alert and forward collision alert.

The interior of the new Hyundai Tucson
The interior of the new Hyundai Tucson

Is it practical?

The 2021 Hyundai Tucson is longer and wider than the car it replaces, and the wheelbase has also been increased by 10 mm so passengers can enjoy more space inside the vehicle. Boot space has been increased, offering up to 620 litres overall.

The new interior feels open and roomy. There is 26 mm of additional legroom in the rear. The rear seats of the all-new Tucson can now be folded in a 4:2:4 ratio with folding levers located on the side walls of the boot for extra convenience. This is a versatile family SUV, comfortable to travel in with competitive space on board for this class of vehicle.

The clever packaging of the battery for the hybrid means that there is no difference in interior space between diesel and hybrid models.

Boot space in the new Tucson
Boot space in the new Tucson

What's on offer?

On that note, the new Tucson completes the electrification of Hyundai’s SUV fleet in Europe, with mild hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid available as well as a trusty diesel/diesel mild hybrid.

The diesel Tucson range uses a 1.6-litre engine and is available from €33,595 rising to €46,745 for a fully loaded four wheel drive model. Diesels cost between €210 and €280 to tax in Ireland.

The new Tucson petrol hybrid is available from €37,195 rising to €48,745. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, electric motor, and 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery to reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and motor tax ranges from €200 to €210 per year in Ireland for this model.

A plug-in hybrid will join the new Tucson range in 2021, with 265 hp and the ability to drive for short ranges on electric power only.

Driving the new Hyundai Tucson

The 2021 Hyundai Tucson has been developed and tested in Europe. The conventional dampers on the suspension use a new valve technology that offers more tuning flexibility. A MacPherson strut on the front and multi-link suspension on the rear are designed to ensure good levels of comfort and handling. The Tucson’s steering features a new generation Belt Drive steering gear for more smooth and connected steering.

The hybrid version I was testing uses a new 1.6-litre T-GDI turbo petrol engine, 44.2 kW electric motor and a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission (6AT). The system is the most powerful in the 2021 Hyundai Tucson powertrain line-up, with a combined output of 230 hp.

The new Tucson offers buyers more powertrain options than ever before
The new Tucson offers buyers more powertrain options than ever before

On the road, we can say that the new Tucson feels more premium than ever before. The cabin ambience is hugely rewarding, with a more comfortable and stable drive across motorway, town and rural roads. It’s comfortable for long distance motoring, while the Tucson's hybrid transmission is seamless at work in the background.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.7 litres per 100 km. There is plenty of power and smoothness from the accelerator, with an amazing 230 hp available. The Tucson Hybrid is quiet around town and we think the fuel economy is respectable. But for high mileage motorway users, the diesel will still return the best economy.

Did you like it?

The Hyundai Tuscon has enjoyed an impressive drive to notoriety in Ireland and Europe. This new generation looks set to make this car an even more compelling choice than ever before. This SUV icon has been suitably modernised to help it lead in its segment and command its price.

The outside of the car is smart and stylish, making a statement like never before. The interior of the car is a revelation, bringing a new premium style to the Tucson and a much anticipated digital upgrade.

This now feels like a design-led car. The ambition of Hyundai is palpable but it’s backed up by real choice in the powertrain department – with mild hybrid, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and diesel offering buyers amazing choice in the segment. This hybrid gives the Tucson some great credentials as an alternative to diesel.

The Tucson sells itself with a reputation that precedes. But now it really delivers. Tucson can enjoy the time at the top; it won’t be going anywhere else anytime soon.

Tucson is now more premium than ever before!
Tucson is now more premium than ever before!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Tucson Executive Plus HEV
Price: €42,195
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 230 hp
Torque: 265 Nm
0-100km/h:  8 seconds
Top speed: 193 k/h
Economy (WLTP): 5.7 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 130 g/km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year

 


The MG ZS on test for Changing Lanes!

MG ZS EV (2021) Review

The MG ZS on test for Changing Lanes!
The MG ZS EV on test for Changing Lanes!

It’s not every day a new car brand enters the Irish market! But last November, MG announced they were making a return to Ireland. This time with a range of pure electric and hybrid vehicles.

Now under the stewardship of the Frank Keane Group, the brand has already appointed a 6-strong MG dealer network with retailers around the country in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

MG was originally a British brand with numerous MG cars marketed in Ireland over the years. But now the parent company is SAIC Motor (Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation). SAIC is the 7th largest car manufacturer in the world and was the first automobile group in China with annual sales of more than 7 million units.

So it's a completely fresh start for MG Motor Ireland with some very on-trend new models that combine SUV-style with new electrified powertrains.

The MG ZS is the brand's first all-electric SUV to market here in 2021
The MG ZS is the brand's first all-electric SUV to market here in 2021

What’s so special about the MG ZS?

At Changing Lanes, we are meeting the MG ZS EV for the first time, which looks to be one of the brand’s most important new launches here. The all-electric compact SUV retails from a headline grabbing €28,995 including Government grants and VRT relief.

Powered by a 44.5 kWh battery, giving a range of 263 km (WLTP), the ZS makes a strong statement about the affordability of electric cars that are also capable of realistically supporting the needs of a family.

The MG ZS is launched on the market as a compact SUV, and people love these at the moment, right? MG looks to be finding its niche with design but as a new brand, it may not be immediately recognisable on the road. At the front there is a large MG badge to dominate the front grille, flanked by headlights with LED daytime running lights.

It sits well among the other SUVs, and with that sort of pricing it should gradually become a more familiar presence on Irish roads. MG is the fastest growing car brand in the UK and growing across Europe with sales in a number of markets.

Inside the new MG ZS EV
The interior of the new MG ZS EV

Inside the new MG ZS

With the new MG ZS, we are encountering a new brand for the first time at Changing Lanes so first impressions will account for a lot as we get to know the MG way of doing things. The interior of the ZS makes a good impression. The perceived quality is good with a mixture of cabin materials and soft touch surfaces, finished with detail stitching. In fact, it’s all a bit sporty inside here! Exclusive versions have leather-style upholstery.

MG has gone with more traditional analogue dials for the driver but there’s a familiar touchscreen to the driver’s left that keeps things modern. It can be on the slow side to respond to touch presses, but Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility mean you are unlikely to be frustrated too much.

The feeling of space inside the MG is excellent for a B-segment SUV. There is lots of headroom and large windows, which makes it bright and spacious feeling. The rear will seat three, though most comfortable for two and the rear footwells are a decent size for this class of vehicle. The feeling of space makes it simply family friendly, and there are plenty of storage places in the cabin also. Buyers will also find a good boot of 448 litres. The split folding rear seats enable you to expand this to 1,116 litres. Charging cables can be stored neatly under the boot floor leaving the boot clear of any apparel for charging so you can get on with your life!

The new MG ZS electric retails from €28,995 in Ireland
The new MG ZS electric retails from €28,995 in Ireland

Standard equipment (Excite trim) includes air conditioning, keyless entry with push button start, adaptive cruise control,  electric windows, 8" colour touchscreen, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, traffic jam assist, high beam assist, rear parking sensors and 17" alloy wheels.

The Exclusive model (from €31,995) adds equipment such as rear parking camera, silver roof rails, panoramic opening glass roof, rain sensing wipers, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert, electrically adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, and leather style upholstery.

Powering the MG ZS EV

The MG ZS EV is powered by a strong 143 hp (105 kW) electric motor and combined with the 44.5 kWh lithium-ion-battery gives a WLTP range of 263 km. Maximum torque is 353 Nm, so the MG feels nifty once you hit the accelerator, with 0-100 km/h in 8.1 seconds.

Real life driving range is very realistic with over 200 km possible and my Dublin-Wexford drive done with range to spare. Charging is super easy using the fast charge network for example to pick up 80% charge in 40 minutes using the CCS charge port that lives behind a panel in the front grille. Charging at home takes about 6.5 hours using a 7kW wallbox charger.

Charge the MG ZS EV at home or on the public charging network
Charge the MG ZS EV at home or on the public charging network

On the road, the MG ZS EV makes good progress moving effortlessly from town to motorway. There are no large drops in range out on the motorway and losses in range are accurately reported to the driver. Regenerative, 3-level braking is also included and the automatic transmission can be set to Eco, Normal or Sport mode.

Steering and controls are light, while the automatic transmission makes it simple to drive too. It’s easy to drive around town and compact enough to be simple to park. It's not quite as cohesive a drive as some rival electric crossovers like the Peugeot e-2008 and the Opel Mokka-e, but the higher SUV stance of the MG goes some way to explain this more languid feeling behind the wheel.

Did you like it?

The MG ZS follows the rules of a classic B-segment compact SUV – raised ride height, chunky styling, big windows and some attitude. But with a twist. The fully electric powertrain and very nice range of over 200 km is likely to get the attention of many buyers.

So is the starting price. On closer inspection, the MG ZS EV can do a fine job of carrying people and their things in comfort. Perceived quality is also good, though it's not the most sophisticated drive or cabin in this segment.

The MG brand makes an electrified return to the Irish market. We expect the brand will hit its stride quickly with its range of new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The MG ZS could quickly become the star of the range with its delicate entry into the electric SUV market and attention grabbing starting price.

A great start for MG in Ireland once again!

The MG ZS EV gets the MG brand off to a great start in Ireland
The 2021 MG ZS EV gets the MG brand off to a great start in Ireland

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MG ZS EV Exclusive
Price: 
€31,995
Battery: 44.5 kWh
Power: 
143 hp
Torque: 353 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 140 km/h
Range (WLTP): 263 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
Motor Tax:  €120 per year


The new SEAT Leon on test for Changing Lanes!

SEAT Leon (2021) 2.0 TDI Review

The new SEAT Leon on test for Changing Lanes!
The new SEAT Leon on test for Changing Lanes!

SEAT has achieved great success in Ireland with its new range of SUVs like the Arona and Tarraco, but it’s the SEAT Leon you could say that put the brand on the map in the first place. Produced since 1999, it's now in its fourth generation with more than 2.2 million sales worldwide.

Volkswagen Group membership has been good for SEAT with access to top quality powertrains and technology taking the brand from zero to hero. But SEAT has found a way to differentiate itself and it’s always been about designing with more emotion. They are happy to embrace their ‘Created in Barcelona’ colours and there is nothing Ireland likes more than a little bit of Spanish sunshine, something we are all missing right now.

The new SEAT Leon designed, developed and built at SEAT’s facilities in Martorell, Barcelona, at least brings some glamour and good will to the dealer forecourt. The new generation SEAT Leon arrived here in 2020, and goes on sale priced from €24,275. The brand cites it as their most advanced car ever. It was time for Changing Lanes to discover this car in more detail. Because photographs can only tell you so much.

The Leon goes on sale in Ireland priced from €24,275
The Leon goes on sale in Ireland priced from €24,275

What's new for SEAT Leon in 2021?

Based on the latest MQB Evo platform from the Volkswagen Group, the new Leon has moved on again in terms of design, powertrain and technology. Electrified powertrains feature for the first time in 2021 with a new plug-in hybrid promising an electric range of up to 60 km using just the energy stored in the vehicle’s battery.

On approach for the first time, the new SEAT Leon is undoubtedly a sharp dresser, marking an exciting evolution of the brand’s design language. It looks bolder than the previous generation of the car, ready to stand out and be counted among C-segment hatchbacks.

The car is characterised by a new nose, longer bonnet, more deep set LED headlamps, smooth flowing surfaces and the perfect mix of curves and edges. That’s all nice but it’s the ‘coast-to-coast’ rear light signature where it’s really at with this car. Design flourishes like that require some thought and application, but go a long way to give the Leon a more distinct character - whether on the road or in the car park.

Inside the 2021 SEAT Leon
Inside the 2021 SEAT Leon

Inside the 2021 SEAT Leon

Inside there's an all-new cabin design. Out with the old and in with the new. Everything at eye level looks glossy and slick, wrap around ambient lighting creates just the right mood, while the latest digital technology brings the Leon up to date with the best in class. There are some cheaper plastics in the doors and the centre console, but the overall impression is good.

The cabin has been ergonomically designed to increase comfort, and decluttering Marie Kondo would be proud of, with a large scale reduction in the number of physical buttons on the centre console. You have to really look for them. And you still won't find them. That's because everything is now controlled via the super glossy touchscreen, including ventilation. The focus is now on the main infotainment screen, for better or for worse. The SEAT Digital Cockpit brings together a high-resolution 10.25-inch configurable driver instrument cluster and 10-inch infotainment system.

The digital instrument panel works perfectly, a responsible digital upgrade for the times we live in. The touchscreen to the driver’s left looks impressive with bright, colourful graphics and menus accessed via some simple swipes. But a few more buttons for the ventilation controls for example are just more convenient when you are on the move. The tapping and swiping can be frustrating when you just want to turn the air con on. The system does pair seamlessly with Android Auto and even offers wireless connectivity with Apple CarPlay.

Away from the vehicle, users can access their vehicle’s data remotely via SEAT Connect, as well as manage the battery charging and control the electronic air conditioning in plug-in hybrid models.

A digital transformation for the new Leon
The new SEAT Leon is available with a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines

Is it practical?

The Leon’s new platform has reaped dividends for interior space. The Leon will seat five and the increased wheelbase translates to more legroom for rear occupants. The space in the footwells in the rear is undoubtedly among best in class.

The boot volume remains the same in the hatchback as the previous generation of the car, but it is a competitive 380 litres.

There is also a Leon Sportstourer available with even more boot space - 617 litres - and numerous other practical features like a low loading sill and split folding rear seats.

What are my options?

The new Leon is available in six trim levels: SE, SE Plus, Xcellence, Xcellence Plus, FR and FR Plus.

Standard equipment includes 16" alloy wheels, keyless start, LED headlight technology with automatic high beam, electronic parking brake, an eight-inch infotainment system, cloth upholstery, leather steering wheel and gear stick, adaptive cruise control and SEAT Connect technology.

SE Plus adds 17-inch alloy wheels, rear view camera, auto wipers and dark tinted rear windows.

The FR trim model on test adds sporty front and rear bumpers, 18" alloy wheels, dual exhaust pipes and a unique suspension set-up. Inside the cabin, FR includes leather multifunction steering wheel with red stitching, drive modes, three-zone air conditioning, wireless charging and two additional USB points in the rear.The FR trim also brings full-LED technology to the rear of the vehicle including the coast-to-coast light and LED dynamic indicators (front and rear), and illuminated front and rear aluminium door plates.

Boot space in the new SEAT Leon
Boot space in the new SEAT Leon

Leon petrol, diesel and hybrid for the first time

The new SEAT Leon is offered with a full complement of engines in 2021: petrol (TSI), diesel (TDI), mild hybrid (eTSI) and plug-in hybrid (eHybrid), with 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic DSG gearboxes available. Petrol options include the 1.0-litre TSI with 110 hp and a 1.5-litre TSI with 150 hp. The diesel options include a 2.0-litre TDI with 115 hp or 150 hp with a DSG gearbox. New to the range is the mild hybrid petrol engine – 1.0 eTSI (110 hp) DSG and 1.5 eTSI (150 hp) DSG.

Petrols are available from €24,245, while diesels are available from €25,995. The mild hybrid petrols are available from €26,815. The technology uses a 48 volt starter-generator and lithium-ion battery to allow the car to coast with no pedal input from the driver with the engine switched off, while retaining all key electric functions, such as power steering. It also harvests energy under deceleration and provides electrical torque assistance during acceleration. Clever!

The model on test was a SEAT Leon 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 150 hp and DSG gearbox. In FR trim, this car has a list price of €31,990. The diesel engine introduces a new Selective Catalytic Reduction system that includes dual AdBlue injectors to significantly reduce NOx emissions compared to previous generation diesel engines and meet the latest emissions standards.

In February, the brand also announced the arrival of the all-new SEAT Leon eHybrid. This plug-in hybrid uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine, 13 kWh battery and electric motor to produce 204 hp and can be driven on electric power alone for up to 60 km using just the energy stored in the vehicle’s battery. This model is available from €34,990, including Government grant and VRT relief.

SEAT has added a plug-in hybrid to the Leon range for the first time
SEAT has added a plug-in hybrid to the Leon range for the first time

Driving the new SEAT Leon

The 2021 SEAT Leon uses the MQB Evo architecture that provides an inherently strong and stiff safety cell, which allows the integration of some of the most advanced driver assistance systems available, including Predictive Adaptive Cruise Control and Emergency Assist 3.0, to make it the safest car that SEAT has made to date.

The new exterior has been specifically developed to enhance the vehicle’s overall efficiency with improved aerodynamics – the drag coefficient has improved by around 8% compared to the previous generation.

On the road the new Leon feels lighter and more precise than ever before. FR models sit about 15 mm lower than other models in the range and with the aid of big wheels, this car will take on the road with impressive stability and control. The trade off is a firm suspension that picks up more imperfections in the road surface. The Leon is good but not the most refined car in its class, bringing some audible wind and road noise into the cabin.

The 2.0-litre diesel is a joy to drive with great flexibility and power meaning that overall it returns an impressive 5.0 litres per 100 km because it's just never under pressure. It works well with the DSG automatic gearbox, making long distance or stop start driving in town really simple and straightforward.

The SEAT Leon is practical and fun to drive
The SEAT Leon is practical and fun to drive

Did you like it?

The new SEAT Leon makes a strong statement with an elegant sporty design and seriously upgraded cabin. It's now happy to stand out, but with the technology and powertrains to back it up.

The engine range is extensive, now offering petrol, diesel and hybrid for the first time.

The Leon still offers value in its class, with cars well specced from base. The FR and Xcellence trims add more visual chutzpah, but beware of the FR's firmer suspension. It looks good and is fun to drive, but it's not the most comfortable hatchback you could ever buy in this configuration.

Let's not overlook that this is a genuinely spacious hatchback, more accommodating for carrying passengers than some rivals. SUVs have put the squeeze on the classic hatchback, even within the SEAT range. But the Leon's simplicity and style should earn it some fans. Those that choose to discover the Leon will find a very capable and practical hatchback.

The 2021 SEAT Leon is on sale now
The 2021 SEAT Leon is on sale now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: SEAT Leon 2.0TDI DSG FR
Price: 
€31,990
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 360 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.6 seconds
Top speed: 218 km/h
Economy (WLTP): 4.6-4.9 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 119-132 g/km
Motor Tax:  €190 per year

 


The 2021 Renault Mégane on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Mégane (2021) Review

The 2021 Renault Mégane on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2021 Renault Mégane on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Renault Mégane!

The Renault Mégane – famous for its sensuous curves and look-at-me lights. But could there be more to this French hatchback? It was time for Changing Lanes to rediscover the Renault Mégane!

The Mégane is a strong pillar of the Renault brand for 25 years. 7 million cars sold worldwide, 4 generations, 3 records on the prestigious Nurburgring track for the high performance models. My test drive coincided with the launch of the facelifted version of the Renault Mégane.

I have of course some very coloured history with this current series of Mégane. Launched back in 2016, I drove the new generation Mégane hatchback soon after its debut in Ireland. That was followed by the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé, 'the one with the separate boot'. But the pièce de resistance was the high performance Mégane twins – the Renault Mégane RS and the Mégane RS Trophy.

See how I remember all these details vividly? That’s because the Mégane always leaves an impression...

Renault has updated the Mégane for 2021
Renault has updated the Mégane for 2021

What's new for the Renault Mégane in 2021?

Now in 2021, the Renault Mégane is back with a suite of updates to keep it competitive in the C-segment, the one where the traditional family hatchbacks reside.

Some minor tweaks to styling for example. Nothing too serious. The hallmark sensuous design, dynamic lines, and bounteous rear are still there. There are new front and rear bumpers, and a sleek new front grille. The headlamps, tail lights and fog lights are now all LED, with dynamic indicators at the rear for the first time and new door-handle lighting, a touch more synonymous with premium cars.

New 16- and 18-inch wheels are also available as an option, as are new colours: Solar Copper, Baltic Grey and Highland Grey.

There’s also an exciting new trim level - R.S. Line - which replaces the previous GT Line. Inspired by the high-performance R.S. Méganes, it adds an F1-style front blade running the width of the front lower bumper of the car, R.S. Line bumper at the rear with dual chrome exhaust pipes, R.S. Line badging, and custom 17" alloy wheels.

There is great choice in the range with saloon, hatchback and estate models available.

Inside the new Renault Mégane R.S Line
Inside the new Renault Mégane R.S Line

Inside the 2021 Renault Mégane

The latest Renault Mégane also offers a revamped and modernised interior. 7" and 9.3" screens are available for the multimedia system, as well as a magnificent 10.2-inch digital display for the driver. The Mégane’s interior has plenty of hard plastics about but there’s enough visual appeal to keep it interesting, while some new upholsteries and materials have been added.

Renault has also used the 2021 update as an opportunity to address some of the concerns we had about the tricky access to the ventilation controls through the touchscreen in previous versions of the car. There are now dials to control these functions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also come as standard for more seamless access to media, contacts and maps.

R.S. Line models stand out for lovely sport seats with additional lateral support that give you a real hug. There are also some carbon-look inserts, a perforated leather steering wheel stamped with the double R.S. diamond, and aluminium pedals. All in all, Renault has done a great job to make this cabin feel modern and sporty.

The latest Mégane is equipped with new driver-assistance systems for the safety and comfort of all passengers, including the Highway & Traffic Jam Companion, a Level 2 autonomous system that ensures comfort and peace of mind while driving.

The Mégane is a classic five seat hatchback, but it's not among the most spacious in its class for rear legroom. In fact the Mégane Grand Coupé and Sport Tourer sit on a longer wheelbase so feel more accommodating in this regard. The boot volume is a healthy 394 litres.

The Mégane Hatchback goes on sale in Ireland priced from €24,290
The Mégane Hatchback goes on sale in Ireland priced from €24,290

Petrol, diesel or hybrid?

Exciting times at Renault as the brand launched more hybrids and plug-in hybrid across the range in 2020. Now the Mégane also benefits from this technology, with all-new plug-in hybrids available for 2021. The plug-in hybrid Mégane Sports Tourer is already on sale here, but a plug-in hybrid Mégane Hatchback will arrive shortly.

The Mégane is also offered with petrol and diesel engines. The petrol range is built around a 1.3-litre turbo petrol with 140 hp and matched to a six-speed manual transmission or dual-clutch seven-speed EDC automatic transmission. The diesel range uses the tried and tested 1.5-litre turbo diesel, which continually impresses us at Changing Lanes. Such frugality! A six-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission is also available with this engine.

Renault has refined their 1.5-litre diesel engine over the years and improved its efficiency even more. Running costs are low. Motor tax is €190 per year and over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 4.9 litres per 100 km.

Power output might look modest at 115 hp but it’s no hassle at all behind the wheel. It just performs and returns the sort of efficiency that makes you stop for a minute to appreciate the modern diesel engine.

The Mégane is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines
The Mégane is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines in 2021

What are my options?

Pricing starts from €24,290 for the hatchback. Buyers will pay about a €1000 premium for the Grand Coupé and Sport Tourer. There is good enough reason for this as the Grand Coupé and Sport Tourer sit on a longer wheelbase so offer more legroom in the rear.

We will focus on the hatchback pricing to give you some context here. There are three trim level: Play, Iconic and R.S. Line. Play models kick off from €24,290, Iconic from €26,690, and R.S. Line from €28,690, all prices quoted for the 1.3-litre petrol engine. Diesels start from €26,290.

Standard equipment includes rear parking sensors, automatic dual zone climate control, 7” touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and LED headlights/fog lights.

The Iconic trim line adds items such as lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high/ low beam, ambient lighting, driving modes, power door mirrors, 16” alloys, and leather steering wheel.

The Renault Mégane R.S. Line is sporty and fun
The Renault Mégane R.S. Line is sporty and fun

Did you like it?

To sum up. Can the Mégane cut it in 2021?

Yes it can. The Renault Mégane looks good anywhere. The R.S. Line is beautiful to look at with lots of sporty details. It’s a car you park and then keep looking around to admire its beautiful curves and stance. Priceless.

Inside the Megane puts on a good show for driver and guests. The facelift and addition of the R.S. Line breathes new life into it. The digital instrument panel has had a lift with new graphics, and the portrait-style touchscreen on top spec models looks slick in the centre of the dash. Renault keeps the pricing competitive also.

The Mégane tackles the road with confidence without any particular sparkle in any one area. Steering weights up nicely in corners, with good body control allowing you to accurately place the car on the road. It’s comfortable on the motorway and the large alloy wheels only really protest over rough surfaces around town or on rural roads. As a diesel hatchback, the Mégane is simple, uncomplicated and efficient means of getting around, with a little bit of flair. The 18" alloys on our test car gripped the road exceptionally well.

Swift and supple. The Mégane makes you feel good behind the wheel. These days that’s a simple pleasure to lift the most boring days.

Caroline and the 2021 Renault Mégane!
Caroline and the 2021 Renault Mégane!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Mégane Blue dCi 115 R.S. Line
Price: 
€30,690
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115 hp
Torque: 260 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 190 km/h
Economy (WLTP): 6.8 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 119 g/km
Motor Tax:  €190 per year


The new Opel Mokka-e on test for Changing Lanes

Opel Mokka-e (2021) Review

The new Opel Mokka-e on test for Changing Lanes
The new Opel Mokka-e on test for Changing Lanes

The Opel Mokka-e is Opel's new all-electric crossover. It will go on sale in Ireland in April, with petrol and diesel versions also available. Caroline tested the 2021 Opel Mokka-e around Dublin and Wicklow to find out more about this exciting new model for the Opel brand in Ireland! Opel has marketed the Opel Mokka in Ireland since 2012 and at Changing Lanes, we've been lucky to follow the Mokka's journey since the beginning. Enjoy the latest of our Opel Mokka reviews below with the 2021 Opel Mokka-e, on Irish roads for the first time!

Styling

The Opel Mokka has radical new styling that is a new direction for the German brand. The car has a lighter, sportier and slimmer appearance; in fact it's now more of a crossover than an SUV, with a hatchback-style. But there's been a heavy addition of attitude: plastic cladding around the wheel arches, angular blacked out grille, two tone roof and optional black bonnet. The Mokka was lacking distinction in the popular B-SUV segment. Not any more!

Interior

The theme of renewal continues inside with an all-new interior for the 2021 Opel Mokka. It will be recognisable as an Opel to any previous Mokka owners who sit in, but it's had a detox in line with a bright new future. A full digital instrument panel keeps the driver updated with relevant information like speed and battery range. There is also a new touchscreen angled towards the driver, compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The interior is well-built with our test car sporting some stylish grey panelling and fabric inserts on the doors. Everything works and functions correctly with spot on material quality - we would just love to see a little more character inside the car in line with that exterior fizz.

The interior of the new Opel Mokka-e
The interior of the new Opel Mokka-e

Practicality

The Opel Mokka is a five seat crossover that has been built upon a bespoke multi-energy platform that can accommodate petrol, diesel or electric powertrain. This is important because it means there is no compromise to passenger space and boot volume inside the car, regardless which model you go for. The Mokka-e is a compact vehicle, but as an average sized female adult, I felt comfortable in the back. Taller passengers may feel more squeezed for legroom and headroom. The new Mokka is a little bit wider than the car it replaces so there's plenty of elbow room upfront. Rear seats split fold and there is also a false floor in the boot for added practicality. The volume is 350 litres - not huge but practical enough for day to day needs.

Battery, Range & Performance

The new Opel Mokka-e uses a 50 kWh battery with a system output of 136 hp. There are a number of driving modes to alter performance and efficiency - Sport, Normal and Eco. The WLTP range is 324 km but bear in mind how many kilometres you can get from the car will depend upon things like the ambient temperature, driving style and the speed. Opel offers an eight-year/160,000km warranty for the battery.

Charging

If stopping to use the public charging points, the Mokka-e's battery can be fully charged to 80% in about 25 minutes with a 100 kW charger or 80 minutes with a 50 kW charger. Charging at home is most efficient using a wallbox, which can charge the car in about 7 hours using the 7 kW onboard charger. Or try 22 hours with a three point plug!

The new Opel Mokka-e has an estimated range of 324 km on electric power
The new Opel Mokka-e has an estimated range of 324 km on electric power

Other engines

The new Mokka is also available with petrol and diesel engines. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is available with 110 hp or 130 hp, while the 1.5-litre diesel is available with 110 hp. 6-speed manual and 8-speed automatic gearboxes are available. Of the combustion engines, the diesel is the best for economy with fuel consumption of 4.5l/100km and CO2 emissions of 118g/km.

Driving it

The Opel Mokka is the second model in the Opel range to use the CMP platform from parent company PSA, after the launch of the all-new Corsa in 2020. It's lighter by up to 120 kg on some of the models in the range, while rigidity is up by 15%. It's clear to see that the new Mokka is a far more efficient design, more aerodynamic with a lower centre of gravity. Opel engineers have worked hard to reduce squeaks and rattles and improve the acoustic quality, with an acoustic pack fitted as standard to further reduce road noise. Being German it's Autobhan proof too! This translates on the road to a steady secure feeling from the steering that keeps the car in lane easily. Compared to the previous Mokka, this car is a revelation thanks to its new platform and 'weight loss'. It feels fun and agile on the road, while the Mokka-e goes about its business silently, with smooth responses from the controls.

Equipment

According to Opel Ireland, standard equipment will include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED lamps at the front and rear, an electric parking brake and traffic sign recognition. More information on trim levels and equipment will be announced closer to the launch. Dependant on trim, other available features will include six-way ergonomic seats, heated leather seats, massage function, a 180-degree panorama rear-view camera, navigation, Advanced Cruise Control, Active Lane Positioning, wireless smartphone charging, and glare-free, IntelliLux LED® matrix lights, unique to the segment.

100 kW high speed charging is possible with the new Mokka-e
100 kW rapid charging is possible with the new Mokka-e

Pricing

Official pricing has not been released yet but indicated pricing is from €23,500 for the 1.2-litre petrol (110 hp) manual, and from €33,000 (including VRT relief and SEAI grant) for the Mokka-e all-electric version, which will be sold exclusively in the high spec SRi trim.

Rivals

The new Opel Mokka and Opel Mokka-e will take on some established competition like the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008/e-2008, Nissan Juke, and Hyundai Kona/ Kona Electric.

 

 

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Summary

The new Opel Mokka and Opel Mokka-e will be an exciting new addition to the Opel range, in the popular B-SUV segment. The Mokka will build on the success of the Opel Corsa in 2020, but this could arguably be Opel's year to go stellar.

The Mokka is now a car transformed with character and presence that will command attention on the road. The new interior is smart and well-appointed, with the addition of a new digital instrument cluster and touchscreen giving an on-trend, widescreen effect.

Opel is leading the renewal of their brand in Ireland with a clever multi-energy platform that sees buyers presented with more choice than ever before - petrol, diesel or electric. We expect the Mokka-e to be one to watch, combining the striking looks with an exciting new EV powertrain and range of up to 324 km.

Welcome back Mokka!

The new Mokka will put Opel on the map again
The new Mokka will put Opel on the map again

Caroline Kidd


The new Peugeot e-2008 on test for Changing Lanes!

Peugeot e-2008 (2021) Review

The new Peugeot e-2008 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Peugeot e-2008 on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Peugeot e-2008!

With the new car market at its most receptive point ever for electric cars, Peugeot is a brand emerging as one to watch.

2020 saw the brand launch two all new electric models here – the Peugeot e-208 and Peugeot e-2008. Both are derivatives of two well very established Peugeot models in Ireland. The 208 and 2008 have many loyal fans around the country. You can tell by the visibility of these models on Irish roads.

Indeed the 2008 had developed arguably even more notoriety in the Irish market, falling into the compact crossover segment with some serious style, space and practicality.

With Peugeot now developing multi energy platforms for new models that can support petrol, diesel and electric powertrains, there is a car for every lifestyle and budget. But an extended test drive in the new Peugeot e-2008 has brought me to the conclusion that electric is truly closer than you think.

When you are living with a car every day, doing all your somewhat normal routines, you do start to see the other side of the coin more clearly.

The new Peugeot e-2008 is one of the most stylish compact electric vehicles today
The new Peugeot e-2008 is one of the most stylish compact electric vehicles today

What's so special about the Peugeot e-2008?

I have some history with the 2008. I’ve seen this car’s evolution as it was one of my first test cars when it came on the market in its first generation back in 2013, coinciding with my maiden journey into the automotive world.

We finally got the second generation of the car in 2020 and it bears all the trademarks of the revolution going on at Peugeot. The 2008 is so handsome in the metal and inside Peugeot moves on another step in their mission to move their brand upmarket.

The Peugeot e-2008 kicks off from €31,262 in Ireland including all relevant grants and VRT relief. The similarly specced Peugeot 2008 petrol automatic starts from €28,450. So while the electric 2008 is still carrying a premium, it’s not as much as what you might think. And electricity is cheaper than petrol, as is the motor tax on this model!

Peugeot has chosen a 50 kWh battery to power the e-2008. That gives 136 hp and a WLTP range of 310 km. On our test drive over 200 km was possible though the e-2008's range was susceptible to things like how cold it was outside and how fast I was driving. Basically the slower you drive, the more miles you get!

Inside the new Peugeot e-2008
Inside the new Peugeot e-2008

What are my options?

The e-2008 is available in the same three trim levels – Active, Allure and GT – as the petrol and diesel versions of the 2008 so there is no compromising on kit should you wish to buy the e-2008. Standard equipment on the e-2008 Active includes 16” alloys, automatic air conditioning with pre-heating functionality, electric and heated power folding door mirrors, rear parking sensors, i-Cockpit® with 3.5” instrument panel display reversing camera, traffic sign recognition, LED headlights and foglights, automatic emergency braking and active city brake. So a very well specced car indeed.

The e-2008 GT model I had on test retails from €35,010. Equipment highlights include heated front seats, 3D i-Cockpit® with 10”
colour touchscreen and 3D navigation, front parking sensors, leather/cloth trim, lime green contrast stitching on the seats and steering wheel, ambient lighting, and cosmetic updates including black roof, door mirrors and rear spoiler.

The e-2008 looks the exact same as the other models in the range but it does have a beautiful unique body-coloured chequered flag effect grille. Similar to a petrol or diesel car, you open a flap on the rear side to access the charge ports. There is some subtle 'e' badging too. I like Peugeot’s strategy as there is no ‘weirdness’ to the e-2008. It’s simply just powered by an electric engine as opposed to a petrol or diesel one.

The new e-2008 retails in Ireland from €31,262
The new e-2008 retails in Ireland from €31,262

Inside the Peugeot e-2008

The theme continues inside. It's the same switchgear from other models in the range. Great news because we also get the beautiful i-Cockpit arrangement - a digital instrument cluster with 3D effect on some of the higher trims where some of the information appears closer to you; a slick touchscreen to your left angled at the driver; and a compact steering wheel that feels so good in a compact car like the 2008. The stunning design and material finish gives the e-2008 an upmarket feel that makes this car one to watch.

Buyers will also love the practicality of the e-2008. It can seat five though it will be more comfortable for two in the back. Yet there are decent footwells in the rear for the class of vehicle. Because the e-2008 uses a bespoke platform, there has been no compromise to the space inside the vehicle or the boot compared to other models in the range. The boot has a capacity of 360 litres, though you will need to be careful about storing your charging leads to make the most of it.

Boot space inside the Peugeot e-2008
Boot space inside the Peugeot e-2008

Driving and charging the Peugeot e-2008

On the road the Peugeot e-2008 is very impressive. It's smooth and pleasant to drive, and very refined. Power output is 136 hp and there are also driving modes - Normal, Sport and Eco - which alter things slightly behind the wheel. The e-2008 has plenty of power and it's very responsive to the accelerator. With experience behind the wheel of both the Peugeot 2008 diesel and the Peugeot 2008 petrol, I can say it's remarkable how well Peugeot has incorporated the electric engine into the e-2008. It feels very natural and it's only in enthusiastic cornering that you feel the extra weight on board, so agility only feels somewhat different. It's easy to place through corners, the steering light and responsive.

The Peugeot e-2008 can be plugged in at home most effectively using a wallbox that can be installed, with grants available of up to €600 from the SEAI. With the standard 7 kW on-board charger for Type 2 AC charging, you will get a full charge in 7.5 hours. In this way charging becomes a way of life and you can leave your home confident with a full battery charge. There is also a CCS adaptor so you can make use of fast charging at motorway stations for example. The e-2008 can charge at up to 100 kW at high speed chargers, which can give 80% charge in just 30 mins.

The Peugeot e-2008 uses a 50 kWh battery so while the official WLTP range is given at 310 km, in reality range will vary depending on your driving. Living in rural Ireland, my driving was a mixture of town, country and motorway. Over 200 km is possible in these circumstances. I performed all my journeys will little fuss. Of course the Level 5 restrictions meant I'm not on the road as much as I used to be, but I still think range anxiety is less of an issue with this new generation of electric vehicles.

Things of course can get a little trickier on more long distance journeys and intercounty travel when you might require a top-up. But once again I didn't encounter any problems using the fast charge network.

The Peugeot e-2008 can avail of 100 kW DC fast charging
The Peugeot e-2008 can avail of 100 kW DC fast charging

Did you like it?

We're not just reviewing an electric vehicle here; we're also reviewing how well the e-2008 performs as a compact crossover.

Firstly, the new Peugeot e-2008 executes the compact SUV concept with a flourish that keeps it one of the most distinct of its class. Built to be practical and stylish, the new model will build on the success and customer base of the first, but with more maturity, refinement and style that makes it stand out, and the addition of the latest powertrain technology.

Inside buyers will find a well appointed cabin and a decent small family car with generous kneeroom and a practical boot.

The 2008 range kicks off in Ireland at €24,450, with the electric range priced from €31,262 including grants and VRT relief. Peugeot has done a remarkable job with the e-2008. The electric technology slips into this beautiful new model so seamlessly. It's pleasant and serene to drive, and stands out for quality and design. An extra 100 km range would be nice for even more peace of mind, though it certainly is not a deal breaker here.

More electric vehicles are coming to market, with plenty of competition, but the e-2008 does bring something different to the electric vehicle space.

Peugeot's first foray into electric is very successful. After driving all three versions of this compact crossover, the e-2008 really endeared itself to me and there is something very appealing about going for the most modern EV technology in the range.

Some readers may not have the facilities at home to charge or not be ready for the routine of plugging in their car or what can be a somewhat chequered experience when using the public charging system. But it's nice to see experienced car manufacturers bringing more electric vehicles to market, with the values and expertise garnered over decades of car manufacture. And with Peugeot's multi energy strategy, buyers will find exactly what they need in the new 2008 range.

The Peugeot e-2008 stands out for style and quality
The Peugeot e-2008 stands out for style and quality

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot e-2008 GT
Price: 
€35,010
Battery: 50 kWh
Power: 
136 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.0 seconds
Top speed: 150 km/h
Range (WLTP): 310 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
Motor Tax:  €120 per year


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

BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice to look at?

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

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

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

So which car has the best interior?

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

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

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

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

How practical are they?

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

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

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

Engine options

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

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

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

Why not try these for a test drive?

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

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

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

Driving them

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing and Equipment

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

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

So which are you buying?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BMW 1 Series

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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

Caroline Kidd

 


The latest Suzuki Vitara on test for Changing Lanes!

Suzuki Vitara (2021) Hybrid Review

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

Caroline drives the 2021 Suzuki Vitara!

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

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

What's new for the 2021 Suzuki Vitara?

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

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

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

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

What's on offer?

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the Suzuki Vitara

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

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

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

Driving the Vitara Hybrid

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

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

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

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

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

Did you like it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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