The new Skoda Scala has just arrived in Ireland priced from €23,650

Skoda Scala First Drive Review

The new Skoda Scala has just arrived in Ireland priced from €23,650
The new Skoda Scala has just arrived in Ireland priced from €23,650

The all-new Skoda Scala has just arrived in Ireland. It’s Skoda’s new five door family hatchback that slots in between the Fabia and the Octavia. It effectively replaces the Rapid. Caroline went to the Irish press launch to test drive the new Scala. It’s on sale in Ireland now priced from €23,650.

Styling

The Skoda Scala is a straightforward, five door hatchback. It’s actually one of the largest cars in its segment measuring 4.4 metres in length, but the wide and low stance hides the length. There’s little extravagant flourish to the styling of the Scala but it is the first Skoda to have S K O D A spelt out in individual letters across the rear! Mid-range cars get 16” alloys and LED taillights with dynamic indicators, while top of the range Style models have 17” wheels and full LED headlights.

Interior

The Skoda Scala has a new generation interior for a compact Skoda. That means that there has been a step up in quality and design. The Scala is the first car in the Volkswagen Group family to receive the third and most advanced generation of infotainment systems known internally as MIB3. The benefits of the new MIB3 units include a much cleaner cockpit as former infotainment, and air-conditioning buttons move to controls operating from very sophisticated looking 6.5”, 8.0” or 9.2” colour touch screens. There’s also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and wireless phone charging available. The cabin is a mixture of soft and hard plastics with the Style model getting a particularly stylish pearl-effect dash panel insert.

Practicality

It’s one of the longest cars in the class, so it’s also generously sized inside for a five door family hatchback, particularly for rear seat passengers. The rear footwells are impressively large. Boot capacity is 467 litres so it’s one of the best in class.

Engines

Engine options for new Scala include a 1.0 TSI 115bhp and 1.5 TSI 150bhp petrols, and a 1.6 TDI 115bhp diesel is also available with both manual and DSG automatic transmissions.  A lower powered 1.0 TSI 95bhp petrol unit will be offered at a later date.

The interior of the new Skoda Scala
The interior of the new Skoda Scala

On the road

We took a Skoda Scala 1.0-litre TSI for a drive around Kildare. It’s smooth with light controls for an easy, affable driving nature. The 1.0-litre petrol does the job here without feeling under pressure on our test route across motorway and rural roads. My first impressions were that the Scala doesn’t feel as sporty on the road as a Ford Focus for example and there was some audible road noise coming into the cabin, but it certainly feels up to class standards.

Equipment

At launch the Scala will be available in Ambition and Style specifications with an Active entry version to be added by the end of 2019. The Ambition equipment includes 16” alloy wheels, dynamic rear LED indicators, air-conditioning, cruise control, electric windows, rear parking sensors and a 6.5” colour touch screen unit. The Image Package, which consists of the glass tailgate, will be provided as standard from Ambition. The Style model gets 17” alloy wheels, full LED headlights, dual zone climate control, rear view camera, keyless entry, auto lights, rain sensor and 8” infotainment unit.

Pricing

The Scala range starts from €23,650 for the 1.0 TSI 115bhp. Diesels start from €26,475. When the Active model arrives, it will undercut these.

Rivals

Skoda points to the Ford Focus, Renault Megane, Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed as key rivals for the new Scala.

Verdict

The Skoda Scala replaces the Rapid and goes more upmarket in the process. The Scala is aimed at a younger buyer looking for a more stylish vehicle and it certainly offers a very smart new generation interior with the latest in infotainment and connectivity. The Scala carries the Skoda value proposition of being generously sized for carrying passengers and their things. I look forward to bringing you a full road test report later in the year!

The Skoda Scala is available with petrol and diesel engines
The Skoda Scala is available with petrol and diesel engines

Caroline Kidd

 


The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid
The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback!

Late last year, Toyota Ireland promised a ‘hybrid invasion’ in 2019. It’s not surprising they were feeling confident – this year new cars from the Toyota brand have been arriving thick and fast, including the new generation of the RAV4 Hybrid and the return of the Camry.

But 2019 has also seen the arrival of a new generation of the Toyota Corolla, one of Ireland’s best-loved cars. The Corolla family – hatchback, saloon and estate – are all available now as hybrids. It was time I took this new Toyota Corolla Hybrid for a test drive!

Ever since Toyota Global President, Akio Toyoda, declared "no more boring cars!" from the brand, there has been something of a renaissance underway at Toyota. That’s thanks to Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that is underpinning this new generation of models.

Available from €24,380 with a 1.2-litre petrol engine or from €26,370 as a petrol electric, self-charging hybrid, the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback is pitched as the compact, sporty one within the new Corolla family. Certainly, the new Corolla Hatchback has undergone a terrific makeover. The new Corolla Hatchback is longer and lower than the Auris Hatchback it replaces, with a snug, sporty stance on the road. Exclusive to the segment, there are also four optional bi-tone colour schemes available from launch. They combine the body colour with a metallic black finish to the roof, roof front and rear pillars, and the door mirrors.

The Toyota Corolla Hatchback range goes on sale from €24,,380 in Ireland
The Toyota Corolla Hatchback range goes on sale from €24,,380 in Ireland

Equipment and interior

The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback is offered in Ireland in three grades: Aura, Luna (from €26,995), Luna Sport (from €29,620) and Sol (from €30,115). Standard equipment includes 16″ alloys, Toyota Safety Sense including adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist, LED headlights/fog lights and 8″ Toyota Touch. My Corolla 1.8 Hybrid Luna Sport model had a list price of €29,620 and features included rear view camera, Toyota Touch® 2 multimedia system, bi beam LED headlamps, LED front fog lamps, 17” black machined alloys, black contrasting roof, black roof spoiler, rear privacy glass, red dashboard trim and blue ambient lighting.

The design and quality of the interior of the new Toyota Corolla has improved almost as dramatically as the exterior styling of the car. There are plenty of soft touch materials and a number of technology features including the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen for the infotainment. However, technology buffs may be disappointed with the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Corolla Hatchback will seat five with reasonable accommodation for the compact class. The Hatchback sits on a slightly shorter wheelbase to the Saloon and Touring Sports, so if rear space is a priority, buyers will appreciate the more spacious feeling in the back of those models. The boot is about average for the segment at 361 litres.

The interior of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The interior of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

On the road in the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Toyota has made much of the newly adopted Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-C platform and rightly so. Key concerns for engineers were to make this Corolla safer and more engaging to drive than anything that has come before. The GA-C platform guarantees a more rewarding driving experience thanks to a centre of gravity that is lowered by 10 mm, a multi-link rear suspension fitted as standard across the model range, and a 60% more rigid body shell through the use of high strength steel as reinforcement in key areas. According to Toyota, these contribute to better handling and stability without compromising ride and comfort, as well as reducing high frequency vibration for an increased feeling of quality.

This new generation of the Corolla uses a revised 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain putting out 122hp. However, the hatchback is also available with a more high performance 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with 178hp. It retails from €32,915.

I was immediately impressed by the smoothness and refinement of the new Toyota Corolla 1.8-litre Hybrid on the road. The hybrid powertrain means that the car uses a CVT automatic gearbox, but Toyota has considerably improved the refinement of the transmission and also invested in better cabin insulation.

Rear legroom in the new Corolla Hatchback
Rear legroom in the new Corolla Hatchback

How efficient is it?

The Hatchback feels agile and dynamic on the road with fluid and direct steering responses and good body control through corners. Over a week of driving the hybrid delivered fuel consumption of 4.5/100km, while low emissions mean that motor tax is €180 per year. Around town the hybrid frequently dips into EV mode, which makes this hybrid a very efficient solution for drivers who do short commutes and plenty of town and city driving. On the motorway at high speeds, the Corolla will become less efficient but again it has been markedly improved in these circumstances, as seen in my overall average fuel consumption that was rated with about 300 km of motorway driving.

The Toyota Corolla has been one of the most anticipated new cars of 2019. It’s now a stylish and desirable hatchback on par with rivals in terms of interior finish, technology and its ability to engage the driver. Rear legroom is a little tighter compared to the Saloon and Touring Sports, but the Corolla is dubbed as the sporty one and the shorter wheelbase does make it feel more dynamic on the road. Toyota has also improved the hybrid powertrain and from my time driving the car, there are certainly savings to be made in terms of efficiency, particularly for urban drivers. There is a lot riding on this new generation of one of Ireland’s best loved cars, but the new Corolla Hatchback has been transformed.

The Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid is a stylish and efficient compact car
The Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid is a stylish and efficient compact car

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Hatchback Luna Sport
Price:
€29,610 (from €24,380)
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 142 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Claimed fuel economy:
3.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
83g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Caroline drives the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports!

The Toyota Corolla is one of Ireland’s best loved cars and is now in its 12th generation. Ever since Toyota Global President, Akio Toyoda, declared "no more boring cars!" from the brand, there has been something of a renaissance underway at Toyota.

That’s thanks to Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that is underpinning a whole new generation of models including C-HR and Prius, and now in 2019, Camry, RAV4 and the new Toyota Corolla family.

The new Toyota Corolla is now available in Ireland as a saloon, hatchback and estate (‘Touring Sports’). I recently took the Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid for a test drive. Available from €28,420, the Corolla Touring Sports comes exclusively as a petrol electric, self-charging hybrid. In this new generation of Corolla it uses a revised 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain putting out 122hp.

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is available from €28,420
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is available from €28,420

Sporty and stylish family car

In the metal, the new Corolla really makes a style statement. The Touring Sports is particularly successful in my opinion. In fact, the hatchback, saloon and estate have all been given an individual look because the new platform gave the designers the freedom to do that.

The Touring Sports is available in the entry Luna trim and in Sol trim with a bit more gear (from €31,990). But even the entry model comes exceptionally well equipped with 16” alloys, LED headlamps/fog lamps, 8” Toyota Touch, rear view camera, dual zone climate control, and Toyota Safety Sense with adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist.

For the extra spend, Luna adds 17” alloys, a chrome window frame, rear privacy glass, rain sensor, Smart Entry & Start, navigation, textured chrome inserts to the interior, grey lower dashboard, ambient lighting, heated front seats and driver lumbar support.

The interior of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
The interior of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Inside the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

The design and quality of the interior of the new Toyota Corolla has improved dramatically. There are plenty of soft touch materials and a number of technology features including the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen for the infotainment, though technology buffs will be frustrated by the absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The interior of the car is nicely spacious too with decent accommodation for the compact class. The estate is the obvious choice in this new trio of Corollas if you need more space and a bigger boot. The boot aperture opens wide for easy loading with a low, flat load lip. At 598 litres, there’s also 237 litres more boot volume than in the hatchback.

Boot space in the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
Boot space in the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Driving the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Toyota has made much of the newly adopted Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-C platform and rightly so. Key concerns for engineers were to make this Corolla safer and more engaging to drive than anything that has come before.

The GA-C platform promises a more rewarding driving experience thanks to a centre of gravity that is lowered by 10 mm, a multi-link rear suspension fitted as standard across the model range, and a 60% more rigid body shell through the use of high strength steel as reinforcement in key areas. According to Toyota, these contribute to better handling and stability without compromising ride and comfort, as well as reducing high frequency vibration for an increased feeling of quality.

I was immediately impressed by the smoothness and refinement of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports on the road. The hybrid powertrain means that the car uses a CVT automatic gearbox, but Toyota has considerably improved the refinement of the transmission and also invested in better cabin insulation.

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a stylish and practical estate car
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a stylish and practical estate car

How fuel-efficient is the new Corolla?

The Touring Sports has adequate power for driving and overtaking manoeuvres. However, as a hybrid it really needs to deliver on fuel efficiency. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.6 l/100 km, and I saw a return of over 60 mpg on some journeys. The hybrid system works particularly well in town and promotes a more relaxed mode of driving that helps to deliver on efficiency. Low emissions mean that motor tax is €180 per year.

There has been much anticipation for this new generation of the Corolla. But until we drive it we can never be sure if it will deliver on all that is promised. However I’m happy to report that the new Toyota Corolla has improved considerably in just about every way, and it’s also got super competitive again in the compact class.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a very handsome vehicle and the most practical member of the new Corolla family. It's genuinely efficient, spacious and pleasant to drive making it a great family car.

No more boring cars!

The 2019 Toyota Corolla is a car transformed
The 2019 Toyota Corolla is a car transformed

Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Toyota
Corolla Touring Sports Sol
Price:
€31,990 (from €28,420)
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 142 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.5 – 5.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
87g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

2019 Suzuki Vitara 1.0 Boosterjet Review

The 2019 Suzuki Vitara
The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

Caroline drives the 2019 Suzuki Vitara!

The Suzuki
Vitara has status as a bit of a legend. Debuting in 1988, early iterations of
the Vitara had boxy, utilitarian attitude by the bucketloads. In fact it’s not
uncommon to see some late 80s and early 90s models still on the road.

Over the years, the Suzuki Vitara has morphed to suit the rise in popularity of the ‘soft-roader’ and SUV. Softer around the edges, it’s probably reached its meekest form in the current generation of the car. That’s not an insult, and it’s great to see Suzuki adapting their Vitara to suit market trends. With pricing starting from €20,995, the Vitara is now scrapping it out with the other compact crossover. But while most of its competitors have been spawned from superminis, I was delighted to find that the Vitara still has a whiff of its tough early roots about it.

The Suzuki Vitara is available from €20,995
The Suzuki Vitara is available from €20,995

The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

In early 2019, Suzuki refreshed the Vitara range with styling upgrades, new engines and more technology and safety features. That’s good for Vitara fans.

On the
outside the 2019 Suzuki Vitara has a more elegant front face with redesigned
grille and lower bumper, and the rear lamps have now been redesigned with a
distinctive LED display. There is something charming about the Vitara’s
presence, and while the back of the car is a little too generic for my liking,
you can’t deny that there is a plucky toughness to this car that is missing
from many rivals.

There are also two new colours for 2019, including Solar Yellow Pearl and Ice Greyish Blue, the latter of which is particularly fashionable!

The interior of the 2019 Suzuki Vitara
The interior of the 2019 Suzuki Vitara

Inside the 2019 Suzuki Vitara

In Ireland the Suzuki Vitara is sold in three trim levels: SZ4 (from €20,995), SZT (from €22,995) and SZ5 (from €26,495).

Inside
there is new seat trim design and suede seat fabric fitted on SZ5 models. The
upper instrument panel is upgraded to a soft touch material and the instrument
cluster now features a central colour information display. There are still
plenty of hard plastics about the cabin but it’s simple and inoffensive with
good levels of standard equipment. Bluetooth, alloy wheels, electric windows,
cruise control and climate control are fitted as standard on all models, while
smartphone link audio and navigation is fitted as standard on SZ-T and SZ5
grade.

SZ5 also adds Dual Sensor Brake Support (also on SZ-T ALLGRIP models), Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Interior space is good for this class of vehicle. There is good room to stretch out in the back and there is also a practical 375 litre boot, comparative to any hatchback. Lots of headroom all round too.

Rear seating in the Suzuki Vitara
Rear seating in the Suzuki Vitara

What are my engine options?

Engines for the Vitara range now include the excellent 1.0-litre (111hp) and 1.4-litre (140hp) turbocharged petrol engines with Boosterjet technology, seen already on other models in the Suzuki range like the Swift and S-Cross. The 1.0-litre petrol comes with a 5 speed manual or automatic gearbox, while the 1.4 litre petrol is available with a 6 speed manual or automatic gearbox. ALLGRIP ‘Select’ four wheel drive is also available from €28,495.

My test car was the Suzuki Vitara 1.0 SZT with a list price of €22,995. This 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine suits the car well and has adequate power and performance. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.2l/100km.

Driving the Suzuki Vitara

You sit higher in the Vitara than in some of the more low slung hatchback-based crossovers. The little Vitara is fun to drive and grips the tarmac willingly with light but precise steering and not too much body roll. There is some road noise at high speeds and the suspension picks up some disturbances over uneven tarmac but overall the Vitara is a surprisingly good compact crossover.

The Suzuki Vitara is perhaps a slightly offbeat choice in the compact crossover segment. Yet it’s very enjoyable to drive and has its own charm. It’s good value with the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine and comes well equipped with plenty of space. If you are in the market for a small SUV, the Vitara is definitely worth a test drive – it could win you over very quickly!

The Suzuki Vitara is a fun little crossover for the compact class
The Suzuki Vitara is a fun little crossover for the compact class

Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Suzuki
Vitara 1.0 SZT
Price:
€22,995 (from €20,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
111 hp
Torque: 160 Nm
0-100km/h: 
12.5 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.7 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
121g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


The new Skoda Karoq Sportline

2019 Skoda Karoq Sportline

The new Skoda Karoq Sportline
The new Skoda Karoq Sportline

Caroline drives the 2019 Skoda Karoq Sportline!

Skoda has been competing in the compact SUV segment in Ireland with the new Karoq for over a year now. In 2019 the Karoq range has expanded again with the launch of the Skoda Karoq Sportline, which brings a little extra ‘oomph’ to the Karoq’s SUV offering!

Available from €34,100, the Karoq Sportline is positioned at the top end of the Karoq range and is available with a 1.5-litre TSI (150hp) turbo petrol engine, and 1.6-litre (115hp) and 2.0-litre (150hp) diesels. A 6 speed manual gearbox is standard but a 7 speed automatic transmission and four wheel drive are also available.

The Skoda Karoq Sportline starts from €34,100
The Skoda Karoq Sportline starts from €34,100

Sporty features inside and out

For a sporty appearance, the Karoq Sportline gets special sports bumpers including rear diffuser, black radiator grille, tinted windows, black door mirrors, black roof rails, LED headlamps and 18-inch ‘Mytikas’ black alloys wheels.

Inside,
there are front sports seats with contrasting silver stitch, a multifunction
sports steering wheel in perforated black leather, black headliner, carbon
effect inserts in the dash, LED interior lighting pack, aluminium door sills with
Sportline logo and aluminium sports pedals.

The interior of the Skoda Karoq has a simple layout built around an 8” touchscreen that pairs seamlessly with smartphones. The perceived quality is good for the segment and the Sportline treatment adds a pleasant injection of atmosphere to the cabin of the Karoq.

The interior of the Skoda Karoq Sportline
The interior of the Skoda Karoq Sportline

What do you get?

Standard equipment includes dual zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, parking camera and a driving mode selector. The test car had the Skoda Virtual Cockpit added as an option for €594. It adds a cool and modern finish to the cabin with five different views to choose from.

The Karoq
Sportline has been dolled up but thankfully retains all the practical features
of the standard compact SUV. It will seat five with plenty of head and legroom
in the rear. The boot is also very generous at 521 litres.

My test car was fitted with a 2.0TDI diesel with 150hp and in Sportline guise has a list price of €35,160. This engine has loads of power and flexibility, and offers decent refinement. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.0l/100km and motor tax is €270 per year.

The Skoda Karoq Sportline comes with petrol and diesel engine options
The Skoda Karoq Sportline comes with petrol and diesel engine options

Driving the 2019 Skoda Karoq Sportline

On the road, the Skoda Karoq Sportline delivers an agile and composed drive, as we have come to expect from Skoda. Comfort and refinement are also on par with rivals so it falls neatly into the segment, and should fit the requirements of most compact SUV buyers.

The Skoda Karoq Sportline adds a lot to the Karoq offering. Visually it’s a very appealing car, especially in red. It has loads of standard equipment and a suitably atmospheric interior also.

Underneath the Karoq has the basics covered in that it’s a spacious and comfortable family SUV. Sportline just gives it that extra bit of visual appeal to give it a hand to stand out in the segment.

The Skoda Karoq gets a pleasant injection of attitude in Sportline trim
The Skoda Karoq gets a pleasant injection of attitude in Sportline trim

Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Skoda
Karoq Sportline
Price:
€35,160 (Range from €28,350)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 340 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9 seconds
Top speed: 205 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.6 - 6.0l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
123g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


The new Kia ProCeed!

2019 Kia Proceed 1.4 GT Line

The new Kia ProCeed!
The new Kia ProCeed!

Caroline drives the 2019 Kia ProCeed!

Over the last few years, Kia has really put itself on the map as one of the most modern and progressive car manufacturers. Not content with raising standards across their range of hatchbacks, SUVs and saloons in recent years, the ambitious Korean brand has also pushed itself into new segments. Last year it was the stunning Kia Stinger GT stealing all the headlines for its evocative design and high-performance engine. This year it’s the return of the Kia ProCeed. But not as we know it!

The Kia ProCeed entered the market a number of years ago as a sporty, three door hatchback. But there is no longer much of a market for cars like that. So Kia has reimagined the ProCeed as a “shooting brake” to coincide with the new generation of the Kia Ceed family that arrived in Ireland in 2018.

The Kia ProCeed is a prestigious "shooting brake" for the compact class
The Kia ProCeed is a prestigious "shooting brake" for the compact class

The 2019 Kia ProCeed

The new Kia ProCeed is a cross somewhere between an elegant hatchback and a practical estate. It now sits at the top of the Ceed range, with a list price of €28,946. For reference the Ceed hatchback range kicks off at €22,695 and the SW range at €25,295.

However, the Proceed range is very simple in Ireland in that Kia Ireland is offering just one model with a high specification – GT Line. The 2019 Kia ProCeed GT Line has a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet putting out 140hp. A six speed manual gearbox comes as standard while there is a 7 speed automatic version available for €30,445.

The interior of the Kia ProCeed
The interior of the 2019 Kia ProCeed

Stylish and practical

The 2019 Kia ProCeed is a design-led concept merging style and practicality. The ProCeed is lower and longer than both the Ceed five-door hatchback and Sportswagon and so carries its own unique identity within the Ceed family. In fact it’s quite unique in the family car segment with a striking raked back silhouette, sharing only its bonnet and front wings with the Ceed five-door.

The ProCeed name is spelled out in capitals across the centre of the tailgate, beneath LED tail-lights which span the width of the tailgate, giving the car a unique light signature. The ‘tiger nose’ front grille is finished in high gloss black with satin chrome, with matching high gloss black door mirrors and side sill mouldings. The air intake has a lower lip with black accent, and the rear spoiler is body coloured with high gloss black trim.

The ProCeed is every bit the head turner especially finished in Infra Red, but it’s also versatile with a 594 litre boot. The boot is bigger than in the Ceed hatchback and just a few litres shy of the SW in that regard. It’s also easy to load and access the space too. The sloping roofline means that in the rear, there is some impact on headroom, but otherwise this is a competively sized car for the compact class.  

Rear seating in the Kia ProCeed
Rear seating in the Kia ProCeed

The interior of the Kia Proceed

The interior is almost a carbon copy of the Ceed on which it is based, though the ProCeed does have a black headliner, special upholstery and a D-shaped sports steering wheel. It’s a comfortable cabin with some stylish brushed chrome and gloss black to add interest. Considering the premium buyers pay for this model, it would be nice to see some more higher quality materials or a more individual design. A small frustration really.

Standard equipment on the ProcCeed GT Line includes 17” alloys, automatic headlights, front projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights with a full-width LED brake light, front fog lights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, rear privacy glass, wireless phone charger, reversing camera with rear parking sensors, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Lane Keeping Assist with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.

The Kia ProCeed is available from €28,946 in Ireland
The Kia ProCeed is available from €28,946 in Ireland

Driving the Kia ProCeed

Kia has made a few changes to the ProCeed under the skin for a sportier and more engaging drive. This has been achieved by using stiffer front and rear springs to increase body control and improve steering inputs, and softer front and rear anti-roll bars to keep its inside wheels in contact with the road, even under hard cornering. 

On the road the ProCeed immediately feels tauter and more engaging with loads of front end grip and minimal body roll making it a very accomplished car to drive. There is a firmer edge to the suspension but it’s by no means uncomfortable. There was quite a lot of audible road noise however on our test drive.

The 1.4-litre engine does perform well in the ProCeed with good power and performance, reaching 100kmh in just 8.8 seconds from a standstill, and smooth power delivery through the six speed manual gearbox. There is no diesel engine available in the ProCeed in Ireland so running costs will be a little higher. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption was 6.9l/100km and motor tax is €280 per year.

The new ProCeed is design triumph for Kia!
The new ProCeed is a design triumph for Kia!

Verdict

The new Kia ProCeed makes a style statement, while also being practical, so it's a compelling alternative to the family hatchback or SUV. The ProCeed does command more investment over the Ceed hatchback and SW, but it’s a prestigious vehicle and fun to drive also. Another stunning and ambitious car from Kia!

Model tested: Kia ProCeed 1.4 T-GDi GPF Petrol 140 hp 6MT
Price:
€28,946
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
140 hp
Torque: 242 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.8 seconds
Top speed: 209 km/h
Fuel economy:
45.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 
132g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year


The new SEAT Tarraco!

2019 SEAT Tarraco 2.0 TDI Review

The new SEAT Tarraco!
The new SEAT Tarraco!

Caroline drives the new SEAT Tarraco!

In the last few years, SEAT has grown its portfolio of cars with the addition of a new family of SUVs, including the Ateca and last year’s compact Arona. But now it’s the arrival of the Tarraco that looks set to enhance SEAT’s prospects even more. The new SEAT Tarraco is not only the brand’s largest family SUV, available with five or seven seats, but it’s also a new flagship model for the brand.

With pricing starting from €34,700, the SEAT Tarraco enters a significantly crowded market of family SUVs. Yet the Tarraco is certainly one of the most spacious of its ilk so in that way it’s a properly accommodating family car. Five seat models are standard but you can get two extra seats in the rear for an additional €1000, turning your Tarraco into the seven seat family mover of your dreams.

The SEAT Tarraco is available from €34,700 in Ireland
The SEAT Tarraco is available from €34,700 in Ireland

Stylish and practical family SUV

The SEAT Tarraco hides its bulk well in the metal, being creased in all the right places for a classy, discrete presence. However to distinguish the Tarraco, there’s some more elaborate design touches synonymous with the ambitious Spanish brand. There’s drama in the big, upright grille and sharp LED headlights with SEAT’s triangular signature design, as well as a defining light strip along the rear of the car.

SEAT Ireland has launched the Tarraco in two trims, SE and Xcellence, with even SE models getting LED lights and 18” inch alloys. The Xcellence model I had on test (from €39,885) had 20” alloys added as an option but standard kit includes 19” alloys and a special Xcellence styling kit.

Standard equipment is very good across the range with SE models getting 8” touchscreen, cruise control, digital instrument panel, SEAT drive profile, tri zone climate control, keyless start, front assist, city emergency braking, lane keep assist and rear view camera. Xcellence models add electric tailgate, adaptive cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, and park assist.

The interior of the SEAT Tarraco
The interior of the SEAT Tarraco

Inside the SEAT Tarraco

The interior of the SEAT Tarraco has a simple and elegant design with a digital instrument panel as standard and 8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Quality is some of the best we’ve seen from SEAT to date. There are also some more distinct elements to this cabin like the stylish brushed chrome trim inserts and the digital instrument panel with unique graphics and three different views to choose from.

The cabin feels large and spacious and there is loads of space for second row occupants. There are two optional seats in row three. There is not a lot of legroom back there, but the split fold rear bench in row 2 can be slid forward and back to create more space. The boot is a huge 760 litres with a wide aperture and a powered tailgate is standard on Xcellence trim.

Rear seating in the SEAT Tarraco
Rear seating in the SEAT Tarraco

What are my engine options?

The new SEAT Tarraco is available in Ireland with a 1.5-litre TSI turbo petrol (150hp), a 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol (190hp) and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel. The 2.0-litre TDI is available with a manual gearbox with a power output of 150hp or in automatic DSG 4×4 guise with 190hp.

My test car was a 2.0-litre diesel with 190hp paired with a DSG automatic transmission and four wheel drive. It was a wonderful combination with smooth gearshifts and lots of power, making it an effortless drive whether in town or country. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.2l/100km, while motor tax is €390 per year for this model.

The SEAT Tarraco is built on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-A long wheelbase architecture but SEAT say that they have tweaked it to make it more like a SEAT, with a bit of sportiness and flair to the driving experience.

Boot space in the SEAT Tarraco when the seven seats are in place
Boot space in the SEAT Tarraco when the seven seats are in place

On the road in the SEAT Tarraco

The light controls make it easy work in the urban environment, while the diesel was smooth and refined around town. There is only so much that the Tarraco can do to disguise its size and weight in corners, but it handles with enough agility for this class of vehicle. The refinement and comfort of the car is truly special also and the Tarraco moves through the air with incredible ease.

The SEAT Tarraco is a real triumph for SEAT, showcasing some of the best quality, comfort and refinement the brand has to offer. It’s a spacious and practical vehicle with a versatile interior that should serve family well.

The Tarraco is stylish and well equipped with well proven engines on offer so it can truly command its position in the market as a stylish, quality and desirable SUV. This is such a pleasant car to drive every day, with ride quality and refinement that gives a surprisingly premium feel to the Tarraco. In that way SEAT has really delivered on the premise of a flagship model for their brand and the Tarraco is an aspirational vehicle that will turn heads.

The Tarraco is a real triumph for SEAT!
The Tarraco is a real triumph for SEAT!


Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Tarraco
2.0TDI 190hp DSG 4Drive Xcellence (7 Seat)
Price:
€51,460 (Range from €34,700)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
190 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8 seconds
Top speed: 209 km/h
Fuel economy:
37.2-38.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 
147g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


The 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Review

The 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo
The 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Caroline drives the 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo!

The Skoda Fabia has gained popularity over the years because it packages the simple and straightforward ethos of the Skoda brand with good value pricing and a raft of engines derived from the Volkswagen Group. Now Skoda has revisited the Fabia in their line-up, and refreshed the model with a number of updates.

What's new for the Skoda Fabia in 2019?

The Fabia range is available in Ireland from €15,600 and features a new line-up of all petrol engines, including a 1.0 MPI unit offering 75hp and a 1.0 TSI unit with 95hp or 110hp. The 110hp engine is also available with the option of DSG automatic transmission.

Styling has been tweaked also and the facelifted Fabia includes a redesigned radiator grille, alterations to the front and rear bumpers, new headlights and tail lights with optional LED technology. But Fabia’s quite quirky squared off profile remains. The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo as tested (from €19,425) gives the Fabia a more individual look, with a black roof (optional) and door mirrors, 16” black alloys, tinted glass, black rear spoiler and black front grille surround.

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is the sportiest variant in the Fabia line-up!
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is the sportiest variant in the Fabia line-up!

The interior of the 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Inside, Skoda has refreshed the cabin of the Fabia with a newly designed instrument cluster and seat upholstery. The Skoda Fabia has a straightforward cabin that’s easy to find your way around. The cabin quality is good though there are some cheaper plastics used. The thing I did notice is that it’s starting to look a little dated in comparison to newer competition, but there is a 6.5” colour touchscreen infotainment unit standard from the middle of the range with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

I do like the sporty ambience of the Monte Carlo models with their special seat upholstery, a flat bottom sports leather steering wheel, chrome pedals and red stitching.

The interior of the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo
The interior of the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Does it come well-equipped?

There are four trim levels for the Fabia in Ireland: Active, Ambition, Monte Carlo and Style. Standard equipment includes 14” steel wheels, a Blues radio unit with Aux-In, USB port and SD slot, electric front windows, height adjustable driver’s seat, and electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors.

The
mid-level Ambition (from €16,725) adds 15” alloy wheels, a Swing 6.5” colour
touchscreen infotainment unit, Smartlink including Apple Car Play and Android
Auto, leather multi-function steering wheel and front fog lights.

The Style trim (from €18,815) adds air conditioning, rear electric windows, front arm rest, keyless entry and keyless start, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and a height adjustable passenger seat.

The sporty Monte Carlo version is available from €19,425 with the equipment highlights listed above.

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is available from €19,425
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is available from €19,425

Is it practical?

The Fabia will seat four reasonably comfortably, five at a push. The two footwells in the rear do seem quite large for a supermini and headroom is good too because of that squared off roofline. The boot is also excellent for this class of vehicle at 330 litres.

The Fabia Combi is available for an extra €745 across the range and comes with even more boot volume.

Rear legroom in the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo
Rear legroom in the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Driving the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

I was test driving the 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo with the 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine with 110hp. The Fabia is fun to drive with light steering and an agile driving character. The engine provides peppy performance in the low gears, only running out of puff in the top gears. The Fabia is comfortable on the move and stable on the motorway, with just a hint of road noise at high speeds. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.3l/100km, while motor tax is just €190 per year.

While this updated Skoda Fabia is not a new, new model – it’s merely a facelift with some cosmetic changes - the Fabia is still a very enjoyable small car. It’s practical for its size and nice to drive. Though it’s starting to feel a little old inside, this is not a huge frustration really since it’s still a nice cabin to spend time in. For me the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is the pick of the range, because it really makes a statement!

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is a really fun small car with a very individual look!
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is a really fun small car with a very individual look!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 1.0 TSI
Price:
€21,435 (Range from €15,600)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
110 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 195 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.6l/100km

Motor tax: €190 per year


The 2019 Renault ZOE Z.E. 40

2019 Renault ZOE Z.E. 40 Review

The 2019 Renault ZOE Z.E. 40
The 2019 Renault ZOE Z.E. 40

Caroline drives the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40 kWh!

The electric vehicle (EV) space is heating up with a host of new entrants to the market, as well as Government commitment in recent weeks of €20 million in the public charge point infrastructure.

But some brands like Renault are already quite established players in the EV market and keep improving their current product. Take for example the Renault ZOE I was driving recently. The Renault ZOE debuted in Ireland in 2014, but since then it has already been updated with a more powerful 40 kWh battery to give owners a real world range in excess of 200km.

What's new for the Renault ZOE in 2019?

Now in 2019, Renault Ireland has made a few more changes to the line-up to offer customers an even better EV experience. The Z.E. 40 battery is now standard across the ZOE range. They’ve also added a R110 version with more power and greater acceleration, with no detriment to range.

The improved range Z.E. 40 kWh battery is now standard across the ZOE range
The improved range Z.E. 40 kWh battery is now standard across the ZOE range

What are my options?

Let’s recap a little on pricing and specs. The Renault ZOE is an all-electric supermini with pricing starting from €24,990 in Ireland now for the Expression R90, after VRT relief and SEAI grant. The ZOE Expression R90 includes the 22kW Chameleon charger, heat pump climate control and R-Link navigation with 7” touch screen as standard.

A new, more powerful R110 motor is available
on both Dynamique Nav (from €27,790) and Signature Nav (from €30,290) versions
of the Renault ZOE, putting out 110hp. The Dynamique Nav version also offers
rear parking sensors, hands-free key card entry as well as automatic lights and
wipers, while Signature Nav trim includes leather seats, parking camera and
BOSE audio as standard.

The Renault ZOE is a cute and futuristic looking small car. It has seating for five but that might be wishful thinking. Two people will fit more comfortably across the narrow rear bench, though tall passengers will find it tight! The ZOE makes an absolutely epic car for a singleton or couple however, and the 338 litre boot is not bad either.

The Renault ZOE is available from €24,990 in Ireland
The Renault ZOE is available from €24,990 in Ireland

Inside the 2019 Renault ZOE

The interior of the ZOE is basic and
comfortable. There are quite a lot of hard plastics but the digital screen with
driver information looks really cool. Infotainment is controlled via the Renault
R-Link multimedia system and operated using a 7” touchscreen that includes
Bluetooth and navigation. The driver instrument display shows information
regarding speed, battery power and an econometer that shows you how efficient
your driving is - all useful when you are trying to get the most out of your
range!

On the road, the 2019 Renault ZOE feels agile and reasonably energetic, with light steering that’s great for a city car. It’s not the sharpest in terms of driving dynamics but it’s still fun to drive in its own little way. Out on bigger roads it offers decent refinement, comfort and stability for a small car.

The interior of the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40
The interior of the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40

How far will the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40 get me?

When I got into the car on a full battery, the available EV driving range was at 238km and I was getting the guts of 200km out of the car in real world driving. Renault say that in the summer months you can get up to 300km out of a single charge.

The wonderful thing about the ZOE – and what saved me a lot of stress – is the Chameleon charger. It means that you can get the best out of whatever charge point is available, even the more plentiful Type 2 chargers, because it’s always available to charge at maximum power. You can get a full charge in as little as 2 hours and 40 minutes from a 22kW charger or in 1 hour and 40 minutes from a 43kW.

The beauty of the ZOE is the Chameleon charger that means you can make the most out of whatever charger you encounter
The beauty of the ZOE is the Chameleon charger that means you can make the most out of whatever charger you encounter on your journey

So what's the verdict?

The ZOE is a stylish and quirky electric vehicle. The threat of range anxiety may still put off buyers with frequent long commutes, but in reality the Chameleon charger makes a difference when you are out and about trying to grab some extra range whenever you can on the public charging network.

The Renault ZOE is clearly expensive for what is still a small car. However, it makes a surprisingly pleasant companion and entry into electric motoring.

The ZOE is a stylish and surprisingly desirable small electric vehicle!
The ZOE is a stylish and surprisingly desirable small electric vehicle!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault ZOE Signature Nav R110 Z.E. 40 kWh
Price:
€30,290 (Range from €24,990)
Battery: 40 KW
Power: 
110 hp
Torque: 225 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.4 seconds
Top speed: 135 km/h
Range: 
(WLTP) 300km summer, 200km winter
CO2 emissions: 
0g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The 2019 Audi Q3

2019 Audi Q3 1.5 TFSI Review

The 2019 Audi Q3
The 2019 Audi Q3

Caroline drives the 2019 Audi Q3!

Audi’s Q
range of SUVs have never been so relevant as they are now. Naturally, Audi has
invested considerably in their Q range of SUVs in recent years, with new models
like the Q2 and Q8, as well as this all new generation of the Audi Q3 that recently
landed in Ireland.

The arrival of the more compact Q2 in 2017, means that the 2019 Audi Q3 is no longer the smallest SUV in the Audi range. In fact, for this generation, Audi has considerably reinvented the Q3 so that it can function better as a family SUV.

In Ireland, the 2019 Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600. There are a range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, as well as two trim lines, SE and S line. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available as is quattro four wheel drive, though standard models are front wheel drive.

The Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600 in Ireland
The Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600 in Ireland

What's new for the 2019 Audi Q3?

The Audi Q3 is a very smart looking SUV in the metal. Audi has given the new Q3 more definition and stance. Yet it’s still a relatively compact vehicle in the metal, but achingly stylish and desirable in that cool, understated Audi way. The new Singleframe grille has an octagonal design and eight ‘don’t mess with me’ vertical bars. The new wedge shape lights use LED technology in all versions and are paired with LED daytime running lights.

Slip inside the cabin of the 2019 Audi Q3, and it’s hard not to be instantly beguiled by the quality and technology at your fingertips. The cabin experience in the Q3 is one of the best in class. That’s down to how the digital instrument panel (Audi Virtual Cockpit, a 10.25 inch screen within the binnacle), and the new 10.1 inch MMI touch display, fit so comfortably into the cabin with seamless controls.

The interior of the new Audi Q3
The interior of the new Audi Q3

Interior and Equipment

The Q3's dashboard design is modern and cool with lashings of stylish high gloss black, while the material quality is good in just about all the places that matter. There’s also an optional ambient lighting package with 30 colour options for more wow.

The new Q3 comes with a number of active safety systems including pre-sense basic, pre-sense front, side assist, active lane assist and automatic emergency braking. Standard equipment on SE models includes 18” alloys, Audi drive select, Audi Virtual Cockpit and 10.1” MMI touch display, light/rain sensor, LED headlights, cruise control and manual air con.

S line models (from €42,550) add 19” alloys, S line body kit, S line interior including front sport seats and stainless steel pedals, LED interior pack and full LED headlamps with dynamic rear indicators.

Rear legroom in the new Audi Q3
Rear legroom in the new Audi Q3

Does the new Audi Q3 make a good family SUV?

The new
Audi Q3 is built upon the Volkswagen Group’s modular transverse matrix, which
means that the new Q3 has grown in size. It’s longer and wider than its
predecessor with a longer wheelbase also meaning that it is now more spacious
inside for five people and their gear. In the rear it feels noticeably bigger
with a welcome boost in knee room, headroom and elbow room that makes it more
competitive in its segment than ever before.

For extra practicality an electrically powered tailgate comes as standard. The new Q3 also has a bigger boot at 530 litres or 675 litres depending on the position of the rear seats and backrests.

The Audi Q3 35 TFSI features a 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine with efficiency boosting cylinder deactivation technology!
The Audi Q3 35 TFSI features a 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine with efficiency boosting cylinder deactivation technology!

Driving the 2019 Audi Q3

According to Audi, the suspension in the new Q3 has been tuned to be more comfortable, assured and responsive, helped by the latest car’s longer wheelbase. S line models have a sport suspension for an even more tightly controlled feel. Progressive steering comes as standard across the range, which gradually becomes more direct as the steering angle increases.

On the road, the new Audi Q3 is remarkably good. The most striking and pleasant feature is the silence and seclusion of the cabin while driving. The refinement of this car is just beautiful. The handling and steering are more than adequate, making progress pleasant and brisk in the new Q3.

The Audi drive select dynamic handling system comes as standard and includes six modes - auto, comfort, dynamic, offroad, efficiency and individual. These settings influence the throttle response, the steering, the shift characteristics of the S tronic and the damper control where this is fitted.

The new Audi Q3 is a stylish and fun family SUV
The new Audi Q3 is a stylish and fun family SUV

Diesel and petrol engines for the Audi Q3

In Ireland
the new Audi Q3 is available with three petrol options (150hp, 190hp and 230hp)
and two diesel options (150hp and 190hp). The entry-level engine is the
1.5-litre TFSI turbo petrol engine with 150hp and 250 Nm of torque, badged 35
TFSI. It uses the cylinder on demand technology to improve efficiency, which
temporarily switches off two cylinders at low load. This engine is really smooth
and powerful on the road. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged
at 7.5l/100km.

The new Audi Q3 sashays into a very competitive market but this modern interpretation of ‘Audiness’ that now pervades the brand’s newer models like the Audi A6, makes the Q3 instantly desirable. The Q3 has grown up and is now more practical than ever with more space and more presence. The real jewel in the crown however, is the latest generation Audi interior that sits so comfortably in the Q3, striking a perfect balance between comfort, quality and wow-worthy tech.  

The new Audi Q3 is astoundingly good!


Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Audi Q3 1.5TSI S line S-Tronic
Price:
€44,950 (Range from €38,600)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 211 km/h
Fuel economy:
7.4-7.7l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
169-176g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year