The new Honda ZR-V

Honda ZR-V Review

Read Caroline's Honda ZR-V review for everything you need to know about Honda's new compact SUV on sale in Ireland.

Honda has been quietly reviving its line-up of cars with new versions of favourites like the Jazz, Civic and CR-V, as well as brand new ones like the Honda ZR-V.

Slotting between the HR-V and the larger CR-V, the new ZR-V is a compact SUV to rival the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5.

It goes on sale in Ireland priced from €54,995 and is available in three trim levels - Elegance, Sport and Advance.

Let's take a closer look!

The new Honda ZR-V
The new Honda ZR-V

Styling 

The ZR-V is a brand new model for the Japanese car brand with compact dimensions and safe styling. At the front, the ZR-V features a new oval-shaped grille with a different finish depending on the grade. It's hard not to think of the Ford Kuga pre-facelift when looking at it, so it's not quite the most original styling cue compared to the edgy and sporty Civic for instance. The ZR-V's silhouette is quite plain and generic, as is the rear of the car but altogether it's not as outlandish as some rivals so will appeal to all kinds of buyers. The Sport is visually the pick of the range with its honeycomb mesh pattern to the grille, black wing mirror caps and gloss black around the wheelarches. The standard wheel size is 18-inch across the range, though the design and finish differs depending on the grade.

Interior

The cabin is a high point for the new ZR-V. A feeling of quality pervades and it's a nice car to get in and drive every day. The driving position is very good and all the controls fall easily to hand. There's a digital display with information for the driver and a 9-inch touchscreen. The native graphics are nothing to write home about but seamless smartphone integration with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means you can bypass it most of the time. The fit and finish is very good with a stylish honeycomb pattern to the full width air vent. Fabric seats come as standard but you can upgrade to leather. There's a drive-by-wire gear selector on the centre console that's easy to use.

The cabin of the new Honda ZR-V
The cabin of the new Honda ZR-V

Elegance models come with heated front seats, parking sensors and parking camera, though you have to go up the trim levels for things like wireless smartphone charging, power adjustment for the front seats, heated steering wheel and a panoramic glass roof.

Practicality

The boot comes in at 380 litres, which is actually a bit smaller than the Civic and not among the best in class for overall boot volume, though it will be fine for many buyers. Honda seems to have prioritised rear legroom, of which there is a lot! The rear seats can also split fold 60:40.

Engine

Like other Hondas, the ZR-V is hybrid only. It's a 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid that uses a small capacity battery and two electric motors to boost efficiency. It's not a plug-in hybrid so doesn't require to be plugged in to get the best efficiency from the car. Honda quotes 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres, which is possible to replicate in real world driving. Motor tax is €270 per year.

The ZR-V uses a very efficient 2.0-litre hybrid
The ZR-V uses a very efficient 2.0-litre hybrid

Driving

On the road, the ZR-V is great to drive. The hybrid has 184hp and 315Nm of torque and provides a smooth delivery of power. It uses an eCVT transmission but is incredibly quiet and smooth. Honda has even engineered simulated gear changes that give the driver the sense of changing gears - even though it's not! 0-100km/h is 7.8 seconds and there are a few different driving modes to alter the drive including normal, economy, sport and a snow mode for better traction in winter conditions. A hill descent control is included as standard. There are also paddles behind the steering wheel to adjust the strength of the regenerative braking, which can be used to slow down the car instead of the foot brake. It's a very responsive and refined hybrid. Comfort levels are good for a compact SUV, with just a touch of road noise letting the ZR-V down. There's lean in corners but otherwise it's got plenty of grip and precise steering to make it a pleasant and competent drive. There's also the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance features

Pricing

The Honda ZR-V starts from €54,995 for the Elegance, from €57,595 for the Sport and from €59,995 for the Advance.

Boot space in the ZR-V
Boot space in the ZR-V

Verdict 

Honda has over 20 years experience in hybrid and it shows. The ZR-V hybrid is one of the best on the market for drivability and reliable efficiency. It's pleasant to drive with a smooth, quiet delivery of power that is not the norm for hybrid SUVs like this - more so the exception, and it's really to be applauded for that.

When it comes to styling, it's not a standout star but it makes up for it in the quality, space and comfort of the cabin. The biggest drawback is the price, which is about €10,000 more than starting prices for many key rivals. But it is a wonderfully engineered car and a truly good hybrid SUV.

Welcome back Honda!

The Honda ZR-V is on sale now
The Honda ZR-V is on sale now

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Dacia Jogger Hybrid

Dacia Jogger Hybrid Review

Read Caroline's Dacia Jogger Hybrid review for everything you need to know about buying Dacia's first hybrid car in Ireland.

The Dacia Jogger arrived in Ireland in 2022 and it was big news at the time because it was the most affordable seven-seat car on sale in the new car market.

The Sandero and Duster sell in greater numbers, but the Jogger has still managed to establish a presence on Irish roads.

At launch the range was quite limited with just a petrol manual available. Now Dacia Ireland has introduced the brand's first hybrid car, the Dacia Jogger Hybrid.

It promises more efficiency, more power and if you're looking for an automatic Jogger, this is the one you will want.

It does cost a bit more to buy than the petrol Jogger but is still available from just €31,440, which sounds like exceptional good value for such a spacious and practical car.

The new Dacia Jogger Hybrid
The new Dacia Jogger Hybrid

What's so special about the Dacia Jogger Hybrid?

Opt for the top of the range Extreme model for just €32,940 and Dacia will add a host of extras such as 16-inch black alloy wheels, copper brown wing mirror caps and numerous equipment features like heated front seats, reversing camera, automatic air conditioning, keyless entry and start, blind spot monitoring and cruise control.

The Jogger is not the sexiest car in the world but its mixture of estate car, MPV and rugged styling cues of a crossover is very functional.

It sits a teeny bit higher off the ground than the average hatchback. Cladding around the wheel arches, skid plates and roof bars give it an adventurous, outdoor look.

It also features LED headlights with Dacia's signature Y-shaped illumination. It now wears the new Dacia logo, just like the latest Sandero and Duster.

But it's the sheer amount of space inside the Jogger that makes it special...especially considering the price.

The cabin of the Dacia Jogger
The cabin of the Dacia Jogger

Inside the Dacia Jogger

Just like the petrol version, the Jogger Hybrid offers a lot of space and flexibility. Seven seats across three rows are included as standard. The two seats in the very back can even fit adults in reasonable comfort, with space under the seat in front for feet. They can also be folded down, tumbled forward and even removed altogether.

In the second row, there is seating for three across the bench with a reasonably flat floor removing the competition for legroom. The tall roof also means headroom is generous. There are few amenities but there's nothing much else to complain about.

Even with the seven seats in place, there is space for a few bags or small suitcases positioned upright. But once the two extra seats are tumbled forward or removed altogether, there is truly van-like amounts of boot space. It is worth noting the boot lid is quite large and can be awkward to open in car parks.

Up front, the Jogger has a solid feeling cabin with plenty of hard plastics for its budget price but softer materials too and nicely finished seats in the Extreme model with brown contrast stitching. There's a digital speedometer in the driver display and a large touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Tactile dials and buttons are aplenty and it's generally a cleanly laid out, practical cabin.

The automatic gear selector is a little clunky however and can be awkward when trying to move quickly between forward and reverse.

The Dacia Jogger Extreme is very well-equipped for the money
The Dacia Jogger Extreme is very well-equipped for the money

Driving the Jogger Hybrid

Dacia offers the hybrid in two trim levels - Expression and Extreme. The petrol in the equivalent spec is available from €27,240 vs €31,440 for the hybrid.

So is it worth the extra? Well, the hybrid has a few advantages. With the help of a battery and electric motor, it won't consume as much fuel as the petrol model. In fact, it's as low as 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres and not far off that in real world driving. And that's without any requirement to plug it in and charge it.

With more power (140hp), it doesn't feel as under pressure either when you want to join a motorway or overtake - though 0-100km/h is still a leisurely enough 10 seconds.

It's also the only option in the Jogger range if you want an automatic and is easier to get around in as a result.

The drive is still quite soft and wallowy, which means it's not particularly sharp to drive but it's comfortable for what it is. Less appealing is the amount of road and wind noise that gets into the cabin, particularly at high speeds on the motorway.

Two extra seats in the Jogger's third row
Two extra seats in the Jogger's third row

The hybrid system itself is mostly a smooth affair and offer a B mode to increase regenerative braking and an Eco mode to make it most fuel efficient.

The Extreme model also gets an 'Extended Grip' mode as standard, which can increase traction when off-road on loose gravel for instance.

Did you like it?

The Jogger Hybrid is not without its foibles but it does offer an incredible amount of car for the money. It's hugely spacious and versatile, while being a comfortable and pleasant drive.

The hybrid now adds even more efficiency to the mix and is ideal for town and city driving where it can make the most of having a battery and electric motor to run more cleanly.

It's neither a very sharp or impeccably refined drive but it is good enough and has a charm of its own.

Dacia has come a long way on design, quality and technology, as the new Jogger Hybrid demonstrates very well.

The Jogger is a great value family car
The Jogger is a great value family car

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Peugeot E-5008 is expected in Ireland later this year

Peugeot E-5008 Review

Read Caroline's Peugeot E-5008 review for everything you need to know about the new version of Peugeot's popular seven-seat SUV, expected in Ireland later in 2024.

The Peugeot 5008 has been a huge success for Peugeot in Ireland. It's one of the nation's favourite family cars and a familiar sight on Irish roads.

Now there's a new one incoming. Sitting on all-new underpinnings, it will be offered as a plug-in hybrid, mild hybrid petrol and as a full battery electric vehicle with a range up to 660 kilometres in its top form.

The new E-5008 shares much in the way of batteries and underpinnings with the Peugeot E-3008, which arrived in Ireland this summer.

So is it still a brilliant family car?

I travelled to Sweden with Peugeot Ireland to test it out ahead of its arrival in Ireland.

The new Peugeot E-5008 is expected in Ireland later this year
The new Peugeot E-5008 is expected in Ireland later this year

Styling

The new 5008 is longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces. Much like before, it shares a lot of its style with the smaller 3008 SUV. There's a new front-end characterised by slim LED headlights, new claw-like daytime running lights and a black strip with 5008 spelt out across it. The grille is quite a flamboyant affair with body coloured detail. There will be two trim levels - Allure and GT - and six different body colours. Wheel sizes are 19- or 20-inch. The wheelbase is longer than the E-3008 to allow for more space for passengers. Around the back, the 5008 gets more of the traditional boxy rear of an SUV compared to the 3008's now more coupé-like roofline. The new look sits very well upon the 5008 and it's matured into a very handsome seven seater that's sure to stand out among rivals like the Mercedes-Benz EQB, Skoda Kodiaq and Kia Sorento.

Interior

The 5008 has a truly spectacular cabin design featuring Peugeot's new 'panoramic i-Cockpit' and plenty of plush cabin materials that really make it feel a cut above the rest. A 21-inch high definition digital screen sits elegantly upon the dashboard with a slightly curved display. Beneath that there's a new compact steering wheel with paddles now present to adjust the strength of the regenerative braking. The centre console wraps neatly around the driver and houses a few buttons for controls like the drive modes and electronic parking brake release. A glossy panel sits beneath the main display where you can program shortcuts to your most used features like navigation, climate control and music. There's also plenty of storage dotted around the cabin, wireless smartphone charging and an opening glass roof to flood the cabin with light.

The cabin of the new Peugeot E-5008
The cabin of the new Peugeot E-5008

Practicality

Onboard the 5008 feels very spacious and family-friendly. There's seven seats as standard across three rows. This is a car that was always a hit with families for its modular interior - three individual seats in row two, all with Isofix. This time round Peugeot says it's prioritising modularity and comfort. That means the middle seat is now a bit narrower than the outer two seats and Isofix features on just the two outer seats. While there's plenty of legroom and headroom for everyone, the former layout did offer a unique layout and more flexibility for fitting child seats. Still, the rear bench can slide forward and back 60:40, and the backrests can fold down individually.

There's more boot space than before when all seven seats are in place, with space for a couple of cabin bags in an upright position. There's also extra storage under the boot floor for the charging cables, and even the parcel shelf fits neatly there. In five seat mode, there's a generous 748 litres.

Battery

There are two battery options - 73kWh and 96kWh - just like the new E-3008. The entry model will use the 73kWh battery and a 210hp motor sending power to the front wheels. This version offers a range of up to 502 kilometres (WLTP). With the long range battery, the E-5008 offers up to 660 kilometres of range (WLTP). The top of the range dual motor model will be the most powerful and offer up to 500 kilometres (WLTP).

The 5008 is a stylish and capable seven seat SUV
The 5008 is a stylish and capable seven seat SUV

Driving

On the road, the E-5008 has an affable driving character that's ideal for a family car. We tested the entry level model with 210hp and it's definitely not fast or exciting to drive but nor is it unpleasant. The electric powertrain offers a quiet, serene driving experience and it's one of the most refined seven seaters around. The longer wheelbase makes it feel more comfortable and settled on the road than the smaller E-3008. While our test route was not exactly taxing, the efficiency figures indicated that this won't be thirsty on its battery consumption. Regenerative braking can be adjusted from paddles behind the steering wheel and there are a few driving modes like normal, sport and eco to adjust things a little.

Other power options will include a petrol mild hybrid automatic and a plug-in hybrid with a range up to 80 kilometres.

Charging 

11kW AC charging is included as standard with the option to upgrade to 22kW. DC fast charging is possible up to 160kW. No matter which battery you opt for, a 20-80% charge is possible in under 30 minutes.

Rear seating in the new Peugeot 5008
Rear seating in the new Peugeot 5008

Pricing 

Pricing for the new 5008 range will be announced closer to launch. The current range is priced at about €51,995 for a diesel automatic.

Verdict 

In its electric guise, the new Peugeot 5008 will be one of the very few electric seven seaters on sale - for now at least.

It also happens to be a very good one. The EV powertrain suits it very well, adding a quiet and effortless drive to the mix. It covers the road well, offering an enjoyable lounge feel that's ideal for a family car.

The 5008's style and presence just gets better and better, and the cabin fit and finish is truly a step above many mainstream alternatives.

For a compact seven seater, it offers plenty of space and flexibility, with some clever boot storage also.

While pricing is yet to be announced, the new 5008/E-5008 is likely to continue where the previous version left off and it feels like a worthy successor.

The new 5008 is available as a plug-in hybrid, petrol mild hybrid or full battery electric vehicle
The new 5008 is available as a plug-in hybrid, petrol mild hybrid or full battery electric vehicle

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


Opel Astra Electric Review (2024)

Read Caroline's Opel Astra Electric review for everything you need to know about buying Opel's new compact electric hatchback in Ireland.

The Opel Astra is one of Ireland's favourite compact cars and has been for a very long time. Now Opel Ireland has introduced the all-new Opel Astra Electric, which joins the petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid already on sale in the Astra range.

Opel expects to be selling just electric vehicles from as soon as 2028 in Europe and has been slowly electrifying key models like the Corsa and the Mokka.

The upcoming new Grandland and Frontera will also feature electric powertrains for the very first time, though they will be sold alongside fuel engine variants for some time to come.

Opel is also promoting some attractive offers for the Astra Electric range this summer. This model usually starts from €39,598 but for a limited time it's available from €34,598.

The new Opel Astra Electric

What's so special about the Opel Astra Electric?

The Astra Electric uses a 54kWh battery that gives a range between 405 and 416 kilometres (WLTP). It rivals other electric hatchbacks like the Peugeot e-308, Volkswagen ID.3, the Renault Megane E-Tech and MG4, and does it in considerable style.

The Astra is a good-looking car and Opel hasn't strayed from its original lines for the electric version. Only real car aficionados will be able to spot the difference - clues include a small 'e' badge on the boot lid, a slightly different front bumper design and unique aerodynamic alloy wheel designs.

Finished in Voltaic Blue, this car is a real eye-catcher. There are three trim levels to choose from - SC, Elegance and GS - with the GS model standing out for its black roof and wing mirror caps, high-tech matrix LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels. At the front and back, Opel's blitz logo is blacked out.

The sporty GS model retails from a cool €43,993, but for a limited time is available from €38,993.

Inside, the Astra is a straightforward affair with a simple charm and quality feel that will feel instantly familiar to Astra buyers.

The cabin of the Astra Electric
The cabin of the Astra Electric

Inside the Astra

Controls are all logically laid out and there is a good balance between digital screens and buttons to pull up menus quickly and adjust the climate control settings. A touchscreen comes as standard across the range and blends into a full digital driver display. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included for seamless smartphone integration.

The fit and finish is good too. There are some exposed panels of scratchy plastics but softer materials too. The Alcantara/leather effect seats in the GS model are a highlight. The driver's seat is AGR approved and is one of the most comfortable and supportive seats in the compact class. The GS model also adds power adjustment, which is a nice feature to have.

Other features include heated steering wheel, heated front seats, 360-degree camera, wireless smartphone charging and a head-up display.

At 352 litres, the Astra's boot will fit a few bags or suitcases but is not as large as that in the petrol and diesel versions. A Megane E-Tech has a larger and deeper boot with a handy underfloor storage compartment for the charging cables. The Astra unfortunately does not have anywhere clever to store the cables and there's no storage compartment under the bonnet either.

The Astra Electric has a range between 405 and 416 kilometres (WLTP)
The Astra Electric has a range between 405 and 416 kilometres (WLTP)

There's no change in passenger space inside the Astra so it will sit two adults comfortably though there's not a huge amount of spare legroom on offer. Still it's finished nicely and features a few creature comforts like an armrest and USB-C port for charging devices.

Driving the electric Astra

The Astra Electric uses parent company Stellantis Group’s new 54kWh battery. It's a lithium-ion battery and appears across the company's electric cars. Opel describes it as 'right-sized' for the Astra, without adding excessive weight.

It also gets a different underbody and rear axle design to other Astras, increased torsional stiffness by 31% and measures to make the cabin quieter.

Certainly the Astra Electric feels very natural on the road. It's easy to drive and though it's not quite as athletic as the Astra petrol or diesel, it makes up for it in the sheer smoothness and quietness of the driving experience. Laminated glass and improved insulation ensures a refined driving experience.

Being an Opel it’s also ‘Autobahn-proof’ with well-weighted steering that means it’s easy to keep in lane on the motorway and contributes to a steady, solid feel.

The boot loses some capacity compared to petrol and diesel Astras
The boot of Astra Electric loses some capacity compared to petrol and diesel Astras

This car is front wheel drive with a 156hp motor, 270Nm of torque and 0-100km/h in 9.2 seconds. It's not blisteringly quick to drive but it doesn't need to be. A bias towards efficiency seems much more sensible at this part of the market.

Drive modes include Sport, Normal and Eco. There's also a B mode accessed through the gear selector for a nice, regenerative braking effect. A heat pump is also included. Consumption can be as low as 14.8kWh per 100 kilometres and that's easy to replicate in real world driving.

The Astra is capable of DC fast charging up to 100kW for an 80% battery charge in 30 minutes. AC charging is possible up to 11kW. You can find your nearest charge points through the navigation system.

Did you like it?

The Opel Astra Electric is a fine effort to power an icon of the compact class using just battery power alone. It feels different yet familiar to its petrol and diesel counterparts. The quietness and smoothness of the drive means it's miles ahead in terms of refinement but the cabin is so conventionally designed that it certainly won't ruffle any feathers.

The Astra does face stiff competition from a line of worthy contenders, the MG4 and ID.3 to name just two. Astra Electric has good looks on its side, familiarity and efficiency. It may not be spectacular enough to challenge the bestsellers, but Opel's current offers certainly make it worth a look.

The Astra Electric is the next chapter in Opel's electrification story
The Astra Electric is the next chapter in Opel's electrification story

 

WATCH A VIDEO REVIEW OF THE OPEL ASTRA ELECTRIC

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The Opel Astra Sports Tourer

Opel Astra Sports Tourer Review (2024)

Read Caroline's Opel Astra Sports Tourer review for everything you need to know about buying Opel's new compact estate car in Ireland.

The Opel Astra Sports Tourer is a bit of a latecomer to the Astra range, but definitely worth waiting for as it adds a little more space and practicality to the Astra range in the attractive shape of an estate car.

The current Astra has been available in Ireland as a hatchback since 2022. Since then Opel has added electric and plug-in hybrid variants, though the electrified versions don't currently feature in the Sports Tourer range.

Opel's compact estate car is available with the choice of petrol and diesel engines in Ireland, with both fuel types still accounting for significant market share in Ireland.

Let's take a closer look!

The Opel Astra Sports Tourer
The Opel Astra Sports Tourer

Styling

Just like the hatchback, the new Astra Sports Tourer is a handsome car with now familiar Opel design cues like the 'Vizor' black panel grille framed by sharp LED lighting. There are a number of trim levels available - SC, Elegance and GS - that adjust the look somewhat. For instance the top of the range Astra Sports Tourer GS on test adds some sportier styling including more dynamic bumpers, 18-inch alloy wheels with red detail, a black window surround and blacked out Opel blitz logos at the front and rear. Finished in Perla Black, this car has formidable presence. Other eye-catching shades are available including Jade White, Yellow Amber and Hot Red.

Interior

The Astra Sports Tourer has a solid and honest cabin that mixes modern digital screens with more traditional buttons and switchgear. All the controls fall easily to hand and it's a car you quickly feel at home in. There's a driver-focused feel too with a high centre console housing the gear selector for models with an automatic transmission, a touchscreen angled towards the driver and paddles behind the steering wheel for the diesel automatic. It feels well-made with a mix of materials to add interest, though there are some exposed hard plastics in the doors. The seats in the GS are another highlight, finished in suede and leather-effect.

The cabin of the latest Astra
The cabin of the latest Astra

A full digital driver display comes as standard and a touchscreen with wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto. It all comes together for a fashionable widescreen effect. The ventilation can be adjusted from the screen, with handy buttons underneath to quickly adjust the fan speed or temperature for example. Standard features include adaptive cruise control, keyless entry/start and automatic climate control. The GS has such luxuries as heated front seats, heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging and a 360 camera.

Practicality

The Astra Sports Tourer is naturally more spacious than its hatchback sibling. It sits on a longer wheelbase so feels roomier in the back and will be able to sit adults in comfort. The boot volume also expands to up to 597 litres. That's significantly bigger than the 422 litres in the Astra hatchback and similar to rivals like the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports and Cupra Leon Sportstourer. A Skoda Octavia Combi has just about 40 litres more. The Astra's boot has a wide opening and low sill, while the rear seats can also split fold 40:20:40. There's also a retractable boot cover and switches to let down the rear seats.

Engines

The Astra Sports Tourer is offered with a choice of 1.2-litre petrol (110hp) with a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 1.5-litre diesel (130hp) with an 8-speed automatic. Unlike the Astra hatchback, it's not offered as electric or hybrid at the moment.

The Astra Sports Tourer is available with the choice of petrol or diesel engine
The Astra Sports Tourer is available with the choice of petrol or diesel engine

Driving

I was testing the diesel and it truly impresses in the Astra. It has more than ample performance with 130hp, 300Nm of torque and 0-100km/h in 10.6 seconds. There are a few driving modes like Normal, Eco and Sport, which do adjust the drive somewhat. The Sport mode for instance makes the acceleration feel livelier and weights up the steering for when the roads get a bit twistier. It's a confident handler regardless and offers good refinement levels for a car of this kind, never getting too noisy.

All versions sit on standard suspension, including the GS, so it doesn't ride too firm over the tarmac and is ideally suited to long runs on the motorway.

When it comes to fuel economy, my average consumption over a week of driving was 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres. If you do a lot of motorway miles, the diesel is certainly a good option and the torque suits a car of this size.

As a German car brand, Opel also insists on making its cars 'Autobahn-proof' so it is easy to keep in lane on the motorway and never feels tiring or unwieldy to drive.

Boot space in the Opel Astra Sports Tourer
Boot space in the Opel Astra Sports Tourer

Pricing 

The petrol manual range starts from €31,295, while the diesel automatic range starts from €38,295. The Elegance is available from €32,995. The diesel GS Line on test has a list price of €43,195.

Verdict

The Opel Astra Sports Tourer is a great addition to the Opel range, and builds on the success of the Astra hatchback with more space and style.

It could make a good alternative to an SUV, being good-looking and practical, well-built and nice to drive.

It also offers a more spacious interior than the hatchback, particularly when it comes to legroom, and the big boot makes it an excellent family car or load lugger. It does get expensive in the top of the range GS trim, particularly as a diesel, but feels like a very complete car in many ways.

While there are no electrified options for now, the diesel Astra still has its merits. With diesel cars seeing a small resurgence in the last few months, this Astra diesel estate is definitely one worth considering if you do a lot of driving, particularly on motorways.

The Opel Astra diesel estate still has many merits in today's market
The Opel Astra diesel estate still has many merits in today's market

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé

Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé Review

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé review for everything you need to know about buying Mercedes's new luxury coupé in Ireland.

The Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé is a new model for the German brand that replaces the old C-Class Coupé and E-Class Coupé.

While luxury coupés are quite a niche market in Ireland, the C-Class and E-Class coupés have quite a lot of fans in Ireland already who may be thinking of upgrading some time soon.

The brand's coupé models always ticked the boxes for style and luxury and the new CLE Coupé certainly looks to continue the theme.

Let's take a closer look.

The new Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé
The new Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé

Styling

The CLE Coupé is a stunning two-door coupé that really has to be seen up close to appreciate its elegant and classy design.

A cabriolet is expected to join the range but for now the coupé hits just the right spot for anyone looking for an exclusive car.

The good news is all CLE Coupés in Ireland are specced in the AMG Line Plus trim so it gets sportier AMG Line bumpers as standard and some lovely alloy wheel designs to choose from (18-, 19- or 20-inch).

The bonnet is long and sleek with charismatic power domes. There are also new wraparound high performance LED headlamps. The grille gets the modern face of the brand with centrally mounted star and chrome studs in the shape of the Mercedes logo. It's low and sleek with a long wheelbase and short overhangs that celebrate its coupé credentials.

It's hard not to be wowed by the CLE, particularly finished in glorious Graphite Grey Metallic.

Interior

It's worth noting that the cabin of the new CLE takes more inspiration from the current C-Class than the new generation E-Class but it's not without its opulent touches. Like the synthetic leather upholstery in a range of colours and the option to upgrade to genuine or Nappa leather, ambient lighting with 64 colours and impressive infotainment on board.

The cabin of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé
The cabin of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé

It borrows heavily from the interior of the C-Class with the same stylish air vents and 11.9-inch, driver-oriented central display in a user-friendly portrait format. It comes with intelligent voice control and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. There's also a crisp free-standing 12.3-inch, fully digital instrument display behind the flat-bottomed AMG style sports steering wheel.

Equipment highlights include heated front seats with lumbar support, power adjustment and memory function and wireless smartphone charging. There's the option of a sliding sunroof to let in a little more light.

Practicality

For the first time at Mercedes-Benz, the front seats are not unlocked using a lever, but instead with an elegant loop made of Nappa leather. The new CLE Coupé has a 25 mm longer wheelbase than the old C-Class Coupé so anyone upgrading from it will certainly notice it's more spacious for two rear seat passengers. There's also 10 millimetres more headroom, 19 millimetres more shoulder and elbow room, and 72 millimetres more knee room.

The boot has handsfree opening and a total volume of 420 litres - 60 litres more volume than the old C-Class Coupé. Mercedes says it can hold three golf bags!

The CLE is a stunning coupé that replaces both the C-Class and E-Class Coupés
The CLE is a stunning coupé that replaces both the C-Class and E-Class Coupés

Engines

All engines for the CLE are mild hybrid. There's a choice of four and six cylinder engines, including petrol and diesel at launch, with a plug-in hybrid promised to join at some point.

The CLE Coupé is rear wheel drive as standard, though more powerful versions get 4Matic four wheel drive. Power ranges from 197hp to 449hp in the top of the range Mercedes-AMG model.

A 9-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard across the range.

The CLE 220 D is still likely to be popular will Irish buyers, offering 197hp and 440Nm of torque from a four cylinder 2.0-litre diesel. Mild hybrid technology ensures a smooth delivery of power (0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds). Fuel consumption was in the region of 5.4 litres per 100 kilometres during my test drive.

Driving

The CLE is an upmarket coupé and drives like one too. There's a smooth, strong delivery of power and a number of driving modes through the Mercedes' Dynamic Select system to switch, for example, from a more comfort-biased setting to a more alert, sporty one. The CLE is engaging to drive and handles the road with some real skill. The steering is well-weighted and the car doesn't lean too much through corners, kept in check by an agility control suspension lowered by about 15mm. Combined with excellent grip and the response of the diesel engine, it's an enjoyable drive.

The boot in the CLE Coupé
The boot in the CLE Coupé

Comfort and refinement levels are good in a similar vein to the new C-Class but the CLE doesn't get the high-level cushiness of the latest E-Class for example. But for any driver coming from the previous C-Class Coupé, the CLE will be a massive upgrade.

Pricing

The new Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé goes on sale from €73,215 for the CLE 220 D and from €74,670 for the CLE 200. The CLE 300 4Matic is available from €89,545 and from €109,880 for the CLE 450 4Matic.

Verdict

The new Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé satisfies a niche market for upmarket coupés in Ireland - with considerable style, presence and luxury. The brand's former C-Class and E-Class Coupés are still a strong presence on Irish roads, and the CLE is a worthy successor.

This new CLE certainly puts its best foot forward with its stunning design and lavish interior. It's fun to drive with a sporty edge that mixes just fine with Mercedes' well-proven 2.0-litre diesel engine.

It's an expensive car but a serious upgrade for Mercedes coupé buyers.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé is on sale now
The Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé is on sale now

The new Citroen e-C3

Citroen e-C3 Review (2024)

Read Caroline's Citroen e-C3 review for everything you need to know about Citroen's new compact electric car expected in Ireland before the end of the year.

The new Citroen e-C3 is likely to be one of the most affordable electric cars on sale when it arrives in Ireland later in 2024.

Citroen has a history of building brilliant small cars like the 2CV, Saxo and previous generations of the C3.

The brand is keen to offer choice to buyers in the market for a small car and so the new C3 will be offered with a choice of petrol, mild hybrid and electric.

The new e-C3 uses a 44kWh battery with a range up to 320 kilometres (WLTP) and is designed for more space, more comfort and more character.

I was in Austria with Citroen Ireland to take a closer look.

The new Citroen e-C3
The new Citroen e-C3

Styling

Citroen has completely reimagined the C3 and e-C3 for this new generation of the small car. Though it has similar dimensions to the previous model, it's taller and squarer overall with a strong SUV influence to its design. That means it sits higher off the ground than before, has a higher bonnet and more rugged styling cues like skid plates and wheel arch covers. Designed in France and built in Slovakia, the new C3 and e-C3 are also the first Citroens to get the brand's new oval logo. There are a range of colours available as well as contrasting roof colours and clips in the front fascia and C-pillar. Wheel sizes vary from 16- to 17-inch. LED headlamps come as standard.

Interior

The C3 and e-C3 get a brand new cabin design that's pared back to give driver and occupants a feeling of peace and relaxation. Highlights include the new Citroen 'Advanced Comfort' seats, which have thicker foam and add to the lounge-like feel finished in cool grey and black. There is a plush grey fabric material in the dashboard that adds some style though there are scratchier black plastics in the doors. But for a budget car, that's acceptable and there's no squeaks or rattles in this cabin.

The cabin of the new Citroen e-C3
The cabin of the new Citroen e-C3

Citroen has also introduced a new compact steering wheel and a digital head-up display that works very well. There's also a new 10.25-inch touchscreen though that won't be standard on the entry level trim. Instead there will be a docking station for a smartphone and access to music and maps will be through an app. It's probably worth stretching to the touchscreen as it looks more impressive and is nice to interact with. It also comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless connectivity. Other features include wireless smartphone charging and automatic climate control.

Practicality

The new C3 is about 100mm higher than the previous car so it's easier to get in and out of. It's a particularly nice small car for carrying rear seat passengers and feels notably spacious. It's a bit wider than before and has more headroom, legroom and elbow room. The two tone interiors make it a welcoming place to sit and there are useful features for rear seat passengers like two USB-C ports, pockets in the back of the seats and door bins.

At 310 litres, there's just about 10 litres more boot space in the new car - though it's good to know it hasn't lost any space in exchange for its new electric powertrain. The boot has some depth and is a good shape for carrying things. There are no clever features like a split level boot floor to hide away charging cables, but the rear seats do split fold 60:40.

The Citroen e-C3 is expected in Ireland at the end of 2024
The Citroen e-C3 is expected in Ireland at the end of 2024

Battery

The new e-C3 uses a new 44kWh battery with a range up to 320 kilometres (WLTP). It's an LFP battery, chosen because it is more cost-efficient and Citroen is the first to use it among the Stellantis Group of car brands. A heat pump is not included but the e-C3 proved to be very efficient during my time with the car avergaing just 11.5 kWh per 100 kilometres.

A smaller capacity battery will join later with a range in the region of 200 kilometres.

Driving

The C3 and e-C3 are built on a new platform called the Smart Car Platform. It's very efficient and flexible enough to house combustion engines too. On the road the e-C3 offers a smooth and comfortable drive - if not a particularly fast one. It uses a 113hp electric motor and 0-100kmh is a leisurely 11 seconds. That's reasonable for a small car though not fast for an electric one! It's clearly an efficiency and comfort-biased small car. For the first time the C3 gets Citroen's suspension system with progressive hydraulic cushions so this is a car that covers the road softly. The raised height also offers a more comfortable drive over speed bumps and potholes in urban and suburban driving. The electric version adds a reassuring weight from behind the wheel so feels solid in cornering though it's not a particularly fun car to drive. Still for a budget car that's likely to spend most of its time in town and suburbia, it offers an affable drive.

Rear seating in the Citroen e-C3
Rear seating in the Citroen e-C3

There will also be new safety features like Active Safety Brake, Active Lane Departure Warning and Speed Sign Recognition. A new 'e-Routes' app will allow you to plan journeys, monitor charging status and battery level. The MyCitroën App will manage charging schedules and pre-heating or pre-cooling of the vehicle.

Charging

7.4 kW AC charging comes as standard. DC fast charging is up to 100 kW, which translates to a 20-80% battery charge in just 26 minutes.

Pricing

There will be three trim levels for Ireland: You, Plus and Max with varying levels of equipment. Pricing will be announced closer to launch in Ireland in November of this year.

The new e-C3 is an efficient and practical small electric car
The new e-C3 is an efficient and practical small electric car

Verdict

We're starting to see the rise of the budget-friendly small electric car like the Dacia Spring and the BYD Dolphin. The Citroen e-C3 is part of a wave of new European designed and built small electric cars that are going to make electric motoring even more affordable and accessible.

In Europe, the e-C3 goes on sale for less than €25,000. While pricing is yet to be confirmed in Ireland, it will likely be one of the most affordable electric cars on sale.

Offering buyers choice is also a key part of Citroen's philosophy with this car so it's good to know that Irish buyers will be able to choose from a petrol manual or petrol mild hybrid automatic if you like the look of the car but don't want to go electric.

At its core, this is a small car full of character with trendy small SUV-inspired looks that should see it do well in the market and garner quite a few fans. It's also a great small car for carrying passengers with a decent sized boot and bright, airy rear bench.

The new Citroen e-C3 scores for practicality and efficiency, while also being incredibly cute and rugged! If it's priced well, it will be a compelling choice in the new car market.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Jeep Avenger on test for Changing Lanes

Jeep Avenger Petrol Review

Read Caroline's Jeep Avenger review for everything you need to know about buying Jeep's small petrol SUV.

The Jeep Avenger launched in Ireland in 2023 and marked the start of a new chapter for the Jeep brand. It's the brand's smallest model yet styled as a very fashionable SUV.

At launch, it was available as a full electric vehicle but Jeep has since added a 1.2-litre petrol to the Avenger range.

The good news is it makes the Avenger a little more affordable than before, with a starting price now from €31,495. The electric Avenger starts from €35,995.

Let's take a closer look.

The new Jeep Avenger on test for Changing Lanes
The new Jeep Avenger on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The Jeep Avenger is a very smart-looking small SUV. It really stands out against rivals with its iconic seven-slat Jeep grille, boxy shape and squared-off wheel arches. The LED headlights have a charismatic lighting signature that gives the Avenger a very modern Jeep face - but still the family DNA from the Renegade and Compass is apparent, which is good for Jeep fans!

It has tonnes of attitude and a range of cool colours that suit it very well including bright red and aqua, as well as more subtle tones like grey, white and black. There are two trim levels to choose from for the Avenger petrol - Longitude and Altitude - with 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels that come with an attractive chunky design. The Altitude model also gets glossy black door mirror caps.

Interior

Inside, the little Jeep has quite a robust cabin with lots of hard black plastic but it doesn't look too cheap and there's no squeaks or rattles. It perhaps could do with a few more plusher materials or at least some colour. But it's modern and well-equipped with plenty of storage up front including a nice shelf in the dash that's handy to slot things into. The petrol gets a chunky silver gear selector, and there's also nice seats embossed with the Jeep logo. There's a large touchscreen as standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Cruise control and manual air conditioning are also included as standard.

The cabin of the Avenger
The cabin of the Avenger

The higher spec Altitude model gets an attractive full digital driver display, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, automatic air conditioning, rear view camera, wireless smartphone charging and six-speaker JBL audio system with subwoofer.

Practicality

The Avenger is a small car and that is most apparent in the back seat. It will feel cramped for two adults but realistically children should be fine. There are few amenities back there with no armrest or door bins but there is one USB-C port.

There's more boot space than in the electric Avenger (380 litres vs 355 litres) so that might be appealing to some buyers. The boot has a split floor, which helps create a flat sill for getting things in and out.

The Altitude model also adds a handy powered tailgate.

The Jeep Avenger is happy on tarmac or sand!
The Jeep Avenger is happy on tarmac or sand!

Engines

The Avenger petrol uses a 1.2-litre petrol that appears in other cars from parent company Stellantis like the Opel Mokka and Peugeot 2008. It's a well-proven engine and is equally capable in the Avenger where it's offered with 100hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox. My average fuel consumption over a week of driving was 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

Driving

It's a revelation to drive compared to other models in the Jeep range. With compact dimensions, it's an ideal car for tight city streets or bopping along country roads. It can even hold its own out on the motorway. The steering is light and there's not much in the way of feel, but it does have good body control through bends and a sort of chuckable manner that makes it endearing. It's great fun to drive with the petrol engine proving to be lively and well-matched to the manual gearbox, which is a joy to use. It can be a little bit bumpy over rougher surfaces in town and country but it's a small compromise for what is mostly a joyful small car to drive.

It's not quite as refined or sophisticated overall as the closely related Peugeot 2008, with a bit more road noise getting into the cabin - but it makes up for it in attitude.

Boot space in the new Jeep Avenger
Boot space in the new Jeep Avenger

The Avenger is front wheel drive (there's no four wheel drive version). There's a few different driving modes to choose from like Normal, Sport and Eco as well as a few off-road modes for Snow, Sand and Mud. Ground clearance is quite good for a small SUV at 200+mm. One for the urban jungle!

Pricing

The Jeep Avenger petrol goes on sale from €31,495 for the Longitude and from €33,995 for the Altitude.

Verdict

The Jeep Avenger was one of the hottest new releases of 2023. Having secured the title of European Car of the Year, it marked a real resurgence for the Jeep brand in Europe with one of its most competitive models in years.

It's already helping to grow the Jeep brand in Ireland once again.

The petrol Avenger on paper has a much more palatable entry price than the electric for what is quite a dinky car - though running costs are also important to consider when making a choice between petrol or electric.

Either way, if the Avenger is on your shopping list it's good to know it's a delightful small SUV with a little attitude and spark to it that makes it a great companion for the road.

The Jeep Avenger is a brilliant companion for the road
The Jeep Avenger is a brilliant companion for the road

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The Mercedes-Benz E-Class on test for Changing Lanes

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review (2024)

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz E-Class review for everything you need to know about buying Mercedes's famous executive saloon in Ireland.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been a bestseller for the German brand for many years and is famous around the world for its luxury, technology and safety.

While in recent years Mercedes-Benz' SUV models like the GLE and GLC have risen in popularity among Irish buyers, the E-Class has definitely not been outclassed by them. This new generation model certainly proves that.

The new E-Class is available with choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid and is selling well for the brand in Ireland so far in 2024.

Let's take a closer look.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class on test for Changing Lanes
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The new E-Class sees a subtle evolution of style compared to the previous model that keeps the executive DNA well and truly alive. It's a classy and handsome saloon with the availability of two different grille designs that adjust the look somewhat - from grand to grander.

Avantgarde and AMG Line models come with the modern face of the brand - three pointed star in the centre of the grille finished with chrome studs in the shape of the Merc logo. The Executive line features the classic Mercedes-Benz louvred grille with star logo mounted on the bonnet. It's a brilliant way to announce one's arrival.

Power domes feature in the long, sculpted bonnet. There are also new LED headlights. The rear lights have a new illumination in the shape of the Mercedes' star. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 17- to 19-inch depending on model. There's also new flush door handles, which pop out on approach and are elegantly illuminated at night.

Interior

The cabin is stunning and truly feels a step ahead of rivals like the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. It's an expensive car but wow does it feel it inside.

The cabin of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The cabin of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Synthetic 'Artico' leather upholstery comes as standard, and is available in a variety of colours. The front seats have power adjustment, lumbar support and a memory function. Real leather upholstery is also available as an option. The steering wheel is finished in soft Nappa leather. Black open pore ash wood trim in the dashboard comes as standard but other options are available including the ash wood with a glam backlit Mercedes-Benz star pattern. The cabin is illuminated beautifully at night by ambient lighting. It's incredibly well-built.

The biggest upgrade comes in respect to the digital screens and technology on board. There's a crisp full digital driver display with a few different views available. There's also a new high-resolution 14.4-inch central media display with the latest MBUX infotainment and voice control. It looks very impressive and has new features that include games and the ability to make a Zoom call from the car. The lack of physical buttons for the climate control does feel like a backward step and is trickier to adjust than in the previous car.

Mercedes-Benz has also introduced the 'Superscreen' option for the E-Class, where your passenger gets their own screen too.

Practicality

The E-Class offers luxury accommodation for those lucky enough to be a passenger. The back seat will sit two adults in comfort with plenty of legroom and headroom. There is a large centre tunnel, as is typical with rear wheel drive executive saloons.

The Saloon offer 540 litres of boot space, which is competitive with its rivals. There's also an E-Class Estate available. Plug-in hybrids have less boot space at 370 litres.

The new E-Class is offered with petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid engines
The new E-Class is offered with petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid engines

Engines

The popular E 220d on test uses a four cylinder diesel engine with 197hp and 440Nm of torque. It's still a brilliant option for the E-Class offering a range over 1000 kilometres on a full tank of fuel. It's economical to run (4.8-5.2 litres per 100 kilometres) and is a smooth operator with the standard 9-speed automatic gearbox. You really couldn't wish for more.

There's also a four cylinder petrol engine ('E 200') and a six cylinder diesel ('E 450d').

The new generation E-Class petrol and diesel plug-in hybrids can drive electric for a region of 100 kilometres, which is very impressive.

Driving

The E-Class sits on a revised platform of the previous generation car that also underpins the latest C-Class, S-Class and GLC. It's a stunning car to drive, offering incredible comfort and refinement for a truly luxurious driving experience. It's very relaxing to drive across all sorts of roads, and deals with the Irish tarmac exceptionally well.

Its rear wheel drive agility means it can hustle along with a great degree of skill too, with plenty of power and torque from the diesel for swift performance. Like in other Mercs, the Dynamic Select system allows you to alter the behaviour of the car by shifting between different modes like Sport, Comfort, Eco and Individual.

Rear seating in the new E-Class
Rear seating in the new E-Class

Pricing

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class goes on sale from €80,525 for the E 220d and from €82,130 for the E 200. The E 300 e is available from €79,785 and the E 300 de from €81,705.

Verdict

Luxury saloon cars never really go out of fashion - and definitely not Mercedes-Benz' ones. The E-Class is a lesson in luxury and refinement at an incredibly high level. While it won't be a car that appeals to every buyer, it's hard not to be utterly in awe of it. It's more expensive to buy but leaves rivals behind when it comes to pure opulence, and now even comfort and refinement levels. If you're in this market for a luxury car, you can't go wrong with a new E-Class.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a brilliant executive car
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a brilliant executive car

The BYD Seal on test for Changing Lanes

BYD Seal Review

Read Caroline's BYD Seal review for everything you need to know about buying BYD's new electric saloon in Ireland.

The BYD Seal is BYD's third model to launch in Ireland after the Atto 3 and Dolphin.

In just a few short months, the Tesla Model 3 rivalling saloon has become BYD's bestseller.

It's available in two flavours - rear wheel drive Design or all wheel drive Excellence, with over 500 kilometres of range possible.

Let's take a closer look.

The BYD Seal on test for Changing Lanes
The BYD Seal on test for Changing Lanes

Styling 

The BYD Seal is an exciting car to behold with a sporty and sleek design that helps it stand out on the road. It's the second model in BYD's 'Ocean Series' after the Dolphin, cue the marine mammal reference.

The nose is low and sleek like a sports car. There are striking LED headlights and the DRLs are meant to represent water ripples. Flush door handles pop out neatly for access to the car. At the back there is a full width lighting bar with more extravagant detailing and a badge depicting how fast the all wheel drive version can get to 100km/h - a staggering 3.8 seconds. Sporty 19-inch alloy wheels come as standard and there's also a diffuser effect in the rear bumper.

There are six colours to choose from including pictured Indigo Grey.

Interior

Inside the newcomer feels stylish and well-appointed. There is the choice of blue or black leather interior as standard, with diamond stitching and sporty integrated headrests. The Seal gets what BYD call a 'surging wave' dashboard design and there's a bridge console in the centre that gives the Seal quite a snug, driver-focused feel. The suede-effect fabric in the dashboard and doors gives a pleasant plushness. Neat details include door handles shaped like water droplets and a crystal-effect gear shifter.

The cabin of the BYD Seal
The cabin of the BYD Seal

There's a full digital driver display and a large rotatable touchscreen for a high-tech feel. The touchscreen requires patience to navigate at first, with quite a lot of options to browse and touch controls exclusively for the climate menu. There's also a wired Apple CarPlay/ wireless Android Auto connection and voice control.

Standard equipment levels are high including heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, wireless charging for two smartphones, upgraded sound system, panoramic roof and lots of safety features.

Practicality

The Seal is built on a bespoke electric vehicle platform so offers a spacious rear seat for passengers. There's loads of legroom and headroom for a saloon like this. It's very well-finished with lots of practical amenities like an armrest with cupholders, USB-C ports, air vents and pockets in the back of the front seats.

The boot has a capacity of about 400 litres, which is a good size however the saloon-style boot opening makes the space a little harder to access than in a hatchback.

There's also a small storage compartment under the front bonnet.

The Seal offers a range in the region of 500 kilometres
The Seal offers a range in the region of 500 kilometres

Battery

The Seal is powered by BYD’s own 82.5 kWh 'Blade' battery. It's a lithium-iron phosphate battery (LFP) and cobalt-free. BYD says it has a higher level of safety and durability compared with lithium-ion batteries and can withstand more charge and discharge cycles with hardly any loss of capacity.

The all wheel drive Seal has an official range of up to 520 kilometres (WLTP), while the rear wheel drive one can manage up to 570 kilometres (WLTP).

A heat pump comes as standard.

Driving

The Seal is a powerhouse with the top of the range Excellence all wheel drive model packing 670Nm of torque and 530hp. It puts its power down well with no drama or tyre squeal, feeling very secure and planted at all times as you hit 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds (5.9 seconds in the rear wheel drive Seal). It is a heavy car so the initial accelerator response doesn't feel particularly lively.

You can move between Sport, Normal and Eco driving modes. There's two 'strengths' of regenerative braking, though the effect is not that strong for either and stops short of one-pedal driving.

Rear seating in the Seal
Rear seating in the Seal

Seal gets the honour of being the first BYD with independent suspension, while the all wheel drive versions also get uprated dampers. While the Seal feels a lot more tied down and athletic than the BYD Dolphin or Atto 3, it doesn't quite have the same level of expertise behind the wheel as rivals like the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2. The steering is not weighted as well and lacks a fluid, natural feel.

Still when the roads get twisty, the combination of good body control and the speedy acceleration does make it feel willing and dynamic.

It's also impressively refined. The front windows get laminated glass for more insulation, which keeps things cool and calm in the cabin.

The Seal doesn't go as far as to offer a pillowy ride and feels quite harsh over the worst of Irish tarmac in town and on rural roads. It settles down on smoother tarmac.

In terms of efficiency, my average consumption wavered between about 17kWh - 21.6 kWh per 100 kilometres (382 - 485 kilometres).

Charging

The Seal has an 11kW on-board charger for AC charging as standard. It's possible to charge at up to 150kW in DC charging.

The BYD Seal is a stylish and well-appointed electric saloon
The BYD Seal is a stylish and well-appointed electric saloon

Pricing

The rear wheel drive Design model is on sale at €44,036 and from €49,836 for the all wheel drive Excellence.

Verdict

The Seal is BYD's best model yet to reach these shores. It's an incredibly stylish car with a superbly finished interior that's sure to woo new fans to the brand. It can also go the distance offering competitive range and charging for an electric saloon. The Seal is a good contender for cars like the Tesla Model 3, Polestar 3 and Hyundai Ioniq 6 though the driving experience requires a little finessing for those who enjoy a sharper driving experience. The Seal is one to watch in 2024 and is sure to make an impact.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year