The new Peugeot 508 SW

2019 Peugeot 508 SW 1.5 Diesel Review

The new Peugeot 508 SW
The new Peugeot 508 SW

Caroline drives the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW!

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

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

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

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

Inside the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW

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

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

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

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

Driving the new 508 SW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot 508 SW GT Line 1.5 BlueHDi 130bhp 8-spd automatic
Price:
€42,080 (Range from €34,110)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
130 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 208 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.4 – 7.8 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
135 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


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

2019 Mazda3 2.0 Petrol Skyactiv-G Review

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

Caroline drives the new Mazda3!

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

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

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

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

The interior of the new Mazda3

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the road in the new Mazda3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mazda3 2.0 Skyactiv-G GT Sport
Price:
€30,795 (Range from €26,295)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol mild hybrid
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 213 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.4 seconds
Top speed: 197 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
142 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Camry Hybrid
The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota Camry Hybrid!

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

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

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

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

Inside the 2019 Toyota Camry

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

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

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

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

How good is that hybrid?

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Camry Hybrid Sol
Price:
€40,750 (Range from €39,750)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
218 hp
Torque: 221 Nm (engine only)
0-100km/h: 
8.3 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions:
101 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

 


The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid Review

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

Caroline drives the new Honda CR-V Hybrid!

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

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

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

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

Driving the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

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

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

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

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

What are my options?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD
Price:
€49,500 (Range from €38,000)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
180 hp
Torque: 175 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
126 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

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


The new CUPRA Ateca!

2019 CUPRA Ateca 2.0 TSI Review

The new CUPRA Ateca!
The new CUPRA Ateca!

Caroline drives the new CUPRA Ateca!

CUPRA is making a welcome return to Ireland, this time as its own standalone brand. It’s not long ago since SEAT sold a number of hot CUPRA versions of the Ibiza and Leon in Ireland. But in 2018, CUPRA launched as a singular brand within the Volkswagen Group, with plans for a line-up of tasty new performance models. The first of these to debut here is the amazing CUPRA Ateca.

New CUPRA cars, inspired by SEAT’s award-winning motorsport division, will be available exclusively from Airside CUPRA, Ireland’s only specialist CUPRA dealer.

What is it?

Based on the rather suburban Ateca SUV, the new CUPRA Ateca is anything but suburban. Priced from €49,990, the CUPRA Ateca is powered by the stunning 2.0 TSI turbo petrol engine with 300 HP! Four wheel drive as standard makes the best possible use of that power in an SUV and there’s also a slick shifting DSG gearbox that does nothing to dull down the fun.

Under the bonnet of the CUPRA Ateca, there's a 2.0 TSI petrol engine
Under the bonnet of the CUPRA Ateca, there's a 2.0 TSI petrol engine

The new CUPRA badge is out of this world and is placed around the car. My test car looked fantastic in Black Magic and drew many admiring glances though the car lacks some recognition – most people haven’t a clue what it is other than it looks fast! There’s a special honeycomb grille, glossy black trim, full LED headlights, 19” alloys, four magnificent exhausts at the rear. The CUPRA name is spelt out on the lower grille and at the rear. This car is COOL.

The CUPRA Ateca also has a fantastic interior that’s really well appointed. There’s sophisticated Alcantara trim on the door panels and on the sports seats. Copper stitching and carbon fibre effect trim also feature. A full digital instrument panel is a fine addition and is supported by the 8-inch touchscreen navigation system in the centre of the dash.

Driving the new CUPRA Ateca

The CUPRA Ateca has an independent front suspension setup using MacPherson struts and a multilink rear. The adaptive suspension system – Dynamic Chassis Control – provides a setup that can be adjusted to the driver’s needs from comfort to firm and sporty. The CUPRA Ateca also gets larger front and rear discs, at 340mm and 310mm respectively, giving greater confidence in the SUV.

The interior of the new CUPRA Ateca
The interior of the new CUPRA Ateca

The newly developed seven-speed DSG transmission has been engineered to offer a sportier feel with faster, smoother and more precise changes. The CUPRA Ateca also features launch control. All-wheel drive 4Drive technology analyses road conditions in real time and progressively delivers power at each moment to the wheels that need it. The CUPRA Ateca is clearly smart also!

On the road, the CUPRA Ateca is shockingly quick and fun to drive with the 2.0 TSI giving a fabulous performance here. It pulls hard like a hot hatch with 400Nm of torque and 0 to 100kmh in just 5.2 seconds. The CUPRA Ateca is more than reminiscent of a Golf R. It imitates the hunkered down feel of a hot hatchback well, but in the corners the higher centre of gravity means it doesn’t feel quite as planted. The CUPRA mode is the most hardcore drive setting and gives the car a ferocious soundtrack to match the bad boy looks.

So would you buy it?

The cool thing about the CUPRA Ateca is that it’s still a very on trend and practical SUV. There is seating for five and a generous 485 litre boot. So it can be your not so guilty pleasure.

The CUPRA brand doesn’t have immediate recognition now with its new badging and dissociation from the SEAT brand so that may hold the car back somewhat in Ireland. However within the Volkswagen Group, this is a fantastic machine and very well placed. A petrol powered performance vehicle with all the practicality of an SUV and the engine and performance of a hot hatchback. The CUPRA Ateca is a fantastic debut and signal of intent from the new performance brand.

The CUPRA Ateca is really very good!
The CUPRA Ateca is really very good!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: CUPRA Ateca 2.0TSI DSG 4Drive
Price:
€49,990
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
300 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
0-100km/h: 
5.2 seconds
Top speed: 247 km/h
Fuel economy:
8.5-8.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
168 g/km
Motor tax: 
€570 per year

 


The new Peugeot Rifter

2019 Peugeot Rifter Review

The new Peugeot Rifter
The new Peugeot Rifter

Caroline drives the 2019 Peugeot Rifter.

Van-based MPVs will never be the sexiest of people carriers. But what they do offer is outstanding practicality at good value pricing! The new Peugeot Rifter is a case in point. The replacement for the Peugeot Partner Tepee MPV sports new styling, a versatile and practical interior as well as the latest in Peugeot technology, engines and interior design.

With pricing starting from just €23,540, the new Peugeot Rifter is a boxy people carrier available with five or seven seats. There’s also a short wheelbase or long wheelbase variant. The Rifter is no oil painting but it does bear the look of the new generation of Peugeot models with a characteristic front end. It’s also available in a high spec GT Line (pictured), which gives the Rifter considerable more visual chutzpah at a price.

The Peugeot Rifter is exceptionally spacious and practical
The Peugeot Rifter is exceptionally spacious and practical

So what's so great about the 2019 Peugeot Rifter?

Still, beauty is hardly the point here. And you will certainly find a reason to smile when you see all the space inside of this vehicle! The van DNA means that the Rifter is primed for carrying people and their gear. Sliding doors feature and reveal wide openings that make access and egress very easy. There are three individual rear seats in row 2 and lots of leg and headroom.

There are many storage spaces around the cabin. The boot is simply magnifique at 775 litres with a very low sill and flat floor. The boot also doubles as a great place to relax should you wish to take a quick break on your road trip!  The large boot lid makes a great canopy also. The Rifter is sounding more like a great buy by the paragraph.

Inside, Rifter gets Peugeot’s new generation interior. You sit quite high in the Rifter but Peugeot has done a good job to make it feel more car-like with a well-finished dashboard and a nice mix of materials and colours on our GT Line test model. Peugeot’s compact steering wheel and digital instrument cluster feature and the infotainment screen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The interior of the new Peugeot Rifter
The interior of the new Peugeot Rifter

What are my options?

The new Peugeot Rifter is listed with a choice of three trims: Active, Allure and GT Line. Standard equipment includes 8” touchscreen, digital instrument panel, 16” wheels, full size spare wheel, air conditioning, Active Safety Brake, Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Recognition. My GT Line test car (from €28,400) adds 17” alloys, keyless access and start, High Beam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and Advanced Driver Attention Alert, dark tinted rear windows, front and rear parking aid, dual zone climatronic air conditioning and GT Line styling.

In Ireland the Rifter is offered with the 1.2 PureTech petrol 110bhp 6-speed manual; 1.2 PureTech petrol 130bhp automatic 8-speed automatic, a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 75bhp 5-speed manual; a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 100bhp 5-speed manual; a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 6-speed manual; and a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 8-speed automatic.

There are three individual seats in row 2
There are three individual seats in row 2

Driving the Peugeot Rifter

My test car was the 1.5-litre diesel with 130 hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox. It does well in the Rigter with reasonable refinement and plenty of power. Motor tax is €200 per year while over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.4l/100km.

On the road, the Rifter does a decent job of offering occupants a comfortable and refined drive. It’s agile around town with light steering and handles reasonably well for a van!

You soon settle into life with the Rifter. The big Peugeot has moved on in terms of offering buyers more refinement and cabin ambience. It’s hugely practical and spacious with a great range of engines. A petrol engine option also gives it an edge on rivals. Good value pricing and lots of equipment means that the Rifter is definitely worth a test drive if you are looking for a super practical and affordable way to carry people and their stuff.

The new Peugeot Rifter goes on sale in Ireland priced from €23,540
The new Peugeot Rifter goes on sale in Ireland priced from €23,540

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot Rifter GT Line 1.5 BlueHDi 130bhp 6-speed
Price:
€31,000 (Range from €23,540)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
130 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11.6 seconds
Top speed: 183 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
155 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The new Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy

2019 Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy Review

The new Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy
The new Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy

Caroline drives the new Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy!

The Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy arrived in my life in a blaze of Liquid Yellow glory. This grand event has been preceded by weeks of driving the usual motoring journalist’s blend of SUV, small hatchback and saloon in varying shades of silver, grey and maybe a pop of blue for 2019.

There I was, sitting in traffic in the Mégane R.S. Trophy when I became aware that I was driving the most obvious car in Dublin city. Why was everyone watching me? Suddenly, I felt completely conspicuous and slunk a bit lower into my Recaro seat.

Of course, leaving the car park I had devilishly slipped the Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy into Sport mode. Though it was pointless, other than for the gnarly engine note. For the first time, there is a valve in the exhaust of the Mégane R.S. that allows you to adjust how noisy and anti-social your Trophy becomes. And for test purposes it was best to get right into the thick of things.

Through slow-moving city traffic, the Mégane R.S. Trophy felt tense, but well behaved. This was hardly its ideal environment but a few swift starts from the traffic lights, and pops and bangs summoned by lift off from the accelerator, beckoned to this car’s potential. I was driving the EDC automatic version, and on the downshift even at speeds below 50 kmh, there were some beautiful burbles and crackles from the exhaust. I was getting excited for the open road.

The Renault Megane R.S. is the pinnacle of what Renaultsport can offer you in terms of a hot hatch
The Renault Megane R.S. is the pinnacle of what Renaultsport can offer you in terms of a hot hatch

What's so special about the Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy?

The Mégane R.S. and I have history. Late last year I had another momentous week with the Renault Mégane R.S. 280 (priced from €41,995), but the Trophy is the more hardcore version of Renaultsport’s crowning hot hatchback (priced from €46,995). The Trophy uses the same 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol unit but power is up from 280hp to 300hp, and torque is up from 390 Nm to 420 Nm in the Trophy EDC automatic. It’s shed some weight and it comes as standard on the stiffer, more track focused, “I’m going to make your jaw rattle” Cup Chassis.

Cosmetically, it’s a beautiful car in the metal, with Liquid Yellow being more like liquid gold. Swoon. The Trophy gets special 19” ‘Jerez’ alloy wheels, red Brembo® brake callipers, increased front and rear track with bespoke front and rear wings and a rear spoiler to improve aerodynamic performance.

The interior of the Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy
The interior of the Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy

Inside it’s a pretty standard Mégane interior but there are beautiful (optional) Alcantara-finished Recaro bucket seats, carbon grey trim, aluminium pedals and an Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel! It’s a sporty ambience but there are quite a few hard plastics, which are harder to stomach considering the list price of the car. But that’s a foible you could aim at rivals also.

Of more frustration is the infotainment system, which is fiddly to use on the move. However, the inclusion of Apple Car Play and Android Auto mean that you can bypass it more simply too. The standard BOSE stereo system is awesome.

The Mégane R.S. Trophy is available from €46,995 in Ireland
The Mégane R.S. Trophy is available from €46,995 in Ireland

But back to the story! What happened when I left the city?

I took the long way home of course, through the Wicklow Mountains National Park. It was midsummer, the sun shone and the tourists decided to pull in to let me have some fun. It turned out to be a fantastic test route. Not only will the scenery take your breath away, but the long straights, tight corners and mixture of road surfaces make the drive interesting too.

Under the skin of the Trophy, the limited slip differential and four wheel steering add up to amazing precision, stability and agility. The torque steer under heavy throttle is eliminated. When you quicken the pace, the Trophy flows so beautifully through corners. In these magic circumstances, I felt “at one with the car”, words I don’t utter lightly. The Trophy is elevated to the arena of the Honda Civic Type R and the Ford Focus RS with a mechanical and tactile feel behind the wheel that marks out the very best.

Yes, the Trophy is a fine piece of engineering. The ride is firm and for day to day use the firm but less firm Mégane R.S. 280 on the Sport chassis is more comfortable and refined. But the Trophy is beguiling in its own way, with the tension of a true racer and the handling to match. The Trophy is not the fastest hot hatchback of all time in a straight line but sometimes the “slower” way around is more interesting. That’s certainly the case here. A true alternative.

The hot hatch of your dreams in Liquid Yellow
Take the long way home in the Mégane R.S. Trophy!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy EDC Auto
Price:
€49,995 (Trophy from from €46,995)
Engine: 1.8-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
300 hp
Torque: 420 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.5 seconds
Top speed: 254 km/h
Fuel economy:
36.7 mpg
CO2 emissions: 
176 g/km
Motor tax: 
€750 per year


The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

The renaissance underway at Toyota continues in the SUV class. Not only has the brand ditched diesel power from the RAV4 line-up - and indeed the rest of their passenger car range in favour of hybrid - but there’s also a new platform that promises better driving dynamics.

The Toyota RAV4 was the original ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ (SUV). Now in its fifth generation, Toyota has reinvented the RAV4 upon the exciting new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). In Ireland the new Toyota RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain so from herein, it shall be known as the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

Priced from €35,900, the new RAV4 Hybrid has a stylish new look. It is a car transformed in styling terms. It is an altogether leaner and more angular SUV than the model it replaces, with more than a hint of the utilitarian design of the larger Landcruiser. It has an identity! In Ireland, 17” alloys and LED headlamps come as standard, while Sport models are available with a bi-tone paint option.

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available from €35,900
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available from €35,900

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4

Inside there is a new interior that has stepped up in terms of quality and design. The dashboard has a clean horizontal design with soft touch materials and satin chrome features. There is a more ‘rugged’ feeling to the cabin of the RAV4 than say the new interiors of the Corolla family, with some large knobs to twist for the ventilation controls. It’s a marked improvement on the old car but it’s not the most stylish of the class. There is an 8” touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, but the absence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a frustration.

However for buyers looking for a spacious family SUV, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid really does deliver. The new car has a longer wheelbase to create more interior space and there is generous seating in the rear for three with a flat floor. The opening angle of the rear doors has been increased so getting into and out of the vehicle and access to child seats has been made easier. The boot is also now a very generous 542 litres with a wide opening making it a practical space to work with. There is a height-adjustable, two-level deck board that can be reversed when dirty items need to be carried. The rear seats have a 60:40 split-folding function and there are storage nets on each side of the boot.

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Equipment and specifications

Toyota Ireland is selling the new RAV4 in five grades: Aura, Luna, Sol, Sport and Platinum. Standard features on Aura models (from €35,900) will include 17” alloys, LED lights front and rear, dual exhaust tailpipes, black roof rails, electric parking brake, automatic lights, 7” multimedia system, dual zone climate control with rear vents, folding mirrors, driving mode selector and rear view camera. Toyota Safety Sense 2 is also standard, adding safety equipment such as automatic high beam, driver attention alert, eCall emergency call system, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, road sign assist and lane trace assist.

The Luna model (from €37,590) will add dark grey painted upper front grille, silver front underrun, chrome interior trim, auto wipers, power tailgate, Smart Entry & Start, 8” multimedia system, front fog lamps, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Sol (from €39,590) adds 18” alloys, rear privacy glass, heated front seats, leather upholstery and satellite navigation.

Sport (from €42,240) adds 18” machine-finished alloy wheels, bitone roof, projector LED headlamps, painted lower bumpers and mouldings, painted front fog lamp surrounds, unique sport leather upholstery, black headlining, driver’s electric seat adjustment and lumbar support, and paddle gear shift.

Platinum (from €43,000) features include 18” alloy wheels, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, chrome outer door handles, leather seats, grey headlining, memory driver seat adjustment, luggage net and heated steering wheel.

Rear legroom in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Rear legroom in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Driving the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The 2019 RAV4 has a new, improved 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with more power and greater efficiency. Front wheel drive models now have 218hp, while all wheel drive models have 222hp. Power is put to the road through a CVT automatic gearbox.

Toyota has also done much with the new platform to improve the driving experience. The new RAV4 has a more rigid body and lower centre of gravity with every component lighter and located lower down in the vehicle for improved comfort and driving dynamics. The response from the electric power steering has also been improved.

On the road, the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid immediately feels more natural and balanced, handling confidently through corners with more fluid steering. It falls short of being one of the more engaging cars to drive in its class, but it's a pleasant and competent drive. You sit high in the RAV4 and the driving position has been improved so you feel "more at one with the car". It's comfortable over Irish roads and properly efficient now that Toyota has ditched diesel. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.8l/100km, which is very good considering this is a large SUV! The only bugbear is the refinement of the vehicle with some wind whistle around the wing mirrors at high speeds on the motorway and the CVT transmission can get quite noisy when you accelerate hard, working better when gentle throttle is applied.

Toyota has transformed the RAV4 Hybrid into a stylish and contemporary SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is a spacious SUV with a real individual and rugged look. With the absence of a diesel model, it's competing in a higher price bracket where standards are high. Inside there's a much improved interior, even if it is missing some sophistication. The efficiency of the vehicle is most surprising as Toyota has really delivered on creating a desirable and efficient hybrid large family SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is a car you would be proud to see on your driveway!

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a stylish, spacious and efficient large family SUV!
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a stylish, spacious and efficient large family SUV!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Sol
Price:
€39,590 (range from €35,900)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
218 hp
Torque: 202 Nm
0-100km/h:
8.4 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
105 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


The new Mercedes-Benz EQC will have its official market launch in Ireland in October

Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC First Drive Review

The new Mercedes-Benz EQC will have its official market launch in Ireland in October
The new Mercedes-Benz EQC will have its official market launch in Ireland in October

I travelled to Stuttgart, Germany, to drive the new Mercedes-Benz EQC. The EQC is a significant new model for the brand because it’s Mercedes’ first all-electric model to be brought to market. The new SUV has arrived in Ireland and is available from €89,450.

Styling

The EQC is based on the Mercedes-Benz GLC, however classic Mercedes-Benz design has been given a fresh twist for this pioneering new electric model. This is a large and imposing car in the metal with an extended roofline and low waistline placing it visually between a conventional SUV and an SUV Coupé. A striking feature at the front is the large black-panel surface enclosing the LED headlamps and grille bearing the three-pointed star motif and bordered at the top by an illuminated optical fibre. The horizontal LED light bar at the rear also distinguishes this new model.

Interior

Inside, the EQC has a very conventional Mercedes-Benz interior that means that all the equipment, screens and controls will be familiar to any owners of the current generation of Mercedes’ models. Material quality is high and some new trim elements include rose gold accents on the air vents and a ribbed edge on the instrument panel. The MBUX multimedia system comes as standard and has ‘Hey Mercedes’ driver assist and command features. EQC-specific MBUX functions include display of range, charge status and energy flow.

Practicality

The EQC is a mid-size SUV with seating for five. The use of the GLC platform rather than a bespoke EV platform means that there have been some compromises to interior space including a large transmission tunnel in the rear. Still, two adults will be comfortable back here. The boot has a decent 500 litre capacity and an electrically opening tailgate of course! The EQC can tow up to 1800 kgs.

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz EQC
The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz EQC

Powertrain

The EQC has an 80 kWh battery and there are two electric motors mounted at each axle, front and rear. Together they generate 408 hp and a massive 765 Nm of torque! The WLTP range is rated between 374 and 417 km. The EQC is suitable for AC charging at home or using faster DC charging on the public charging networking using the CCS connector. According to Mercedes-Benz, a fast charge can increase battery power from 10 to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.

On the road

The EQC has a permanent all wheel drive system and selectable driving modes also feature. Battery recuperation is also possible using gearshift paddles located behind the steering wheel. On the road, the Mercedes-Benz EQC is powerful and extremely refined. Acceleration between 0 and 100 km/h is a brisk 5.1 seconds, while the EV transmission is effortless and smooth. Steering is fluid and intuitive. The EQC handled our twisty test route with ease though it does feel heavy and rolls a bit in the corners.

A fast charge can increase battery power in the new EQC from 10 to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.
A fast charge can increase battery power in the new EQC from 10 to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.

Pricing

The EQC 400 is available from €89,450 before Government grants and reductions (€79,450 after). With an AMG exterior, it costs €91,897, with an AMG Electric Art Interior (€92,713) and with full AMG Exterior and Interior fitments (€93,546). A limited edition EQC Edition 1886 model is available from €105,882 before grants and reductions. These models are available exclusively in metallic high-tech silver and include special badging, styling tweaks and equipment. The Edition 1886 recalls the year in which Karl Benz invented his famed Benz Patent Motorwagen.

A small number of dedicated EQ dealers will be appointed from the current Mercedes-Benz Irish dealer network.

Rivals

Mercedes-Benz is not the first premium brand to bring an electric SUV to market. Buyers may also be interested in the Tesla Model X, the Jaguar I-PACE and the Audi e-tron.

Verdict

The EQC is an exciting new pioneering model for Mercedes-Benz, marking the debut of the EQ brand and the first Mercedes-Benz electric production vehicle. The EQC is the trailblazer for what will be a growing family of all-electric vehicles to come from Mercedes-Benz under its EQ branding. And it’s a very good entrant into this new market, being stylish and innovative enough to turn heads, with a powerful battery delivering competitive range for these times and impressive performance. Mercedes-Benz values have not been compromised and the EQC is sophisticated on the road and in the cabin.

Ultimately, the EQC carries a premium but is a highly desirable all-electric SUV!

The new Mercedes-Benz EQC is expected to cost in the region of €90,000
The new Mercedes-Benz EQC is available from €89,450

Caroline Kidd

 


The new Citroen C5 Aircross!

2019 Citroën C5 Aircross Review

The new Citroen C5 Aircross!
The new Citroën C5 Aircross!

Caroline drives the new Citroën C5 Aircross!

Citroën has totally reinvented the brand’s line up of cars in recent years with bold new family-focused vehicles that carry distinct styling. And now they’ve launched one of their most potentially lucrative models to date – the new Citroën C5 Aircross. With pricing starting from €26,495, the new C5 Aircross competes in the sweet spot of the market where family SUVs reside. Yet the C5 Aircross is the compact family SUV done in the Citroën way, with comfort, style and practicality being this car’s key attributes in the market.

In styling terms, Citroën designers may have applied an air pump to the smaller C3 Aircross because the C5 Aircross mirrors the styling of that vehicle. However, Citroen’s new design language really does sit well upon the larger dimensions of the C5 Aircross. It looks fresh and friendly with a design that moulds rugged style flourishes like wheel arch extensions and Airbump® panels, with soft, curvy surfaces. My test car was quite demure in silver, but a funky two-tone look is also available.

 

The Citroen C5 Aircross is available from €26,495
The Citroen C5 Aircross is available from €26,495

The interior of the new Citroën C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross is one of the longest and tallest cars in its segment and has a spacious and airy cabin. Citroën has focused on practicality so you will find three individual seats in the second row that can slide, fold and recline. There is plenty of leg and headroom for this class of vehicle with a flat floor in the rear. The boot is also one of the best in class at 580 litres.

There’s quite a rugged, durable look to the dashboard design, with some soft touch materials, but also some more sombre hard plastics throughout the cabin also. A touchscreen is included as standard and also houses the ventilation controls, which depending on what school of motoring you are from, may be a source of frustration. Storage is a high point for the C5 Aircross making it a great vehicle for a family on the move, including a large cubby in the centre console and a convenient tray for keys and phone. A 12.3-inch digital driver information panel is also included as standard and looks cool and modern.

 

The interior of the new Citroen C5 Aircross
The interior of the new Citroen C5 Aircross

In Ireland there are four trim levels for the C5 Aircross: Start (from €26,495), Touch (from €27,995), Feel (from €29,995) and Flair (from €33,695). The entry ‘Start’ trim level includes 8” touchscreen display, cruise control, active safety brake and air conditioning. The ‘Touch’ trim adds items such as 17” alloys, rear parking sensors, folding mirrors, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.

The ‘Feel’ model has 18” alloys, front parking sensor, privacy glass, wireless phone charging and active blind spot detection. ‘Flair’ is the top specification level and includes 19” alloys, Citroën connect navigation, keyless entry and keyless start, a Panoramic Sunroof with interior LED ambient lighting and various driver assistance systems such as park assist, active lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. ConnectedCAM, a factory fitted dashboard camera from Citroën, is also standard across the range.

On the road in the new Citroën C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross adopts the sofa-inspired seating of the C4 Cactus with thick, wide seats, and plenty of sound insulation measures to improve refinement. So this is a very comfortable car that provides a nice ambience for families on the move. It features Citroën’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension for a smoother and more comfortable ride. It translates well to the road, with the C5 Aircross being very soft and smooth over the road. The trade-off is that the C5 Aircross rolls in the corners a bit more than rivals and the steering set-up is not the sharpest either.

 

Rear seating in the C5 Aircross
Rear seating in the C5 Aircross

The Citroën has some excellent engines on offer. At launch there is the 1.2-litre 130hp Puretech petrol engine paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, or a 1.6-litre 180hp petrol, which comes with the choice of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. There is also a 1.5-litre Blue HDI 130hp diesel engine with the choice of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission, and a 2.0-litre 180hp unit, which comes as standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Motor tax ranges from €190 to €280 depending on model. A plug-in hybrid is on the way in 2020.

My test car was a 1.2 petrol with 130hp and I can’t recommend this engine enough. It makes the C5 Aircross more interesting to drive than the diesel, and always feels lively. Refinement is excellent also and running costs are competitive.

The Citroën C5 Aircross offers good value in the market being a spacious family vehicle with a good specification. It’s bold and friendly, comfortable and refined. The Citroën C5 Aircross is a quirky new entrant into the compact SUV segment and embodies the best of 21st century Citroën!

The Citroen C5 Aircross scores for comfort, space and practicality!
The Citroën C5 Aircross scores for style, comfort, space and practicality!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Citroën C5 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 Flair
Price:
€33,695 (range from €26,495)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
130 hp
Torque: 230 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 188 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.8 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
121 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year