The new Peugeot 508 PSE on test for Changing Lanes!

Peugeot 508 PSE Review (2022)

Read Caroline's Peugeot 508 PSE review for everything you need to know about buying Peugeot's new flagship high performance hybrid in Ireland.

Peugeot is striking the Irish new car market with a range of new hybrid and electric models. Key model ranges like the 208, 2008, 3008 and 508 now all contain some sort of 'electrified' model, be it a full battery electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid.

The soon-to-arrive new Peugeot 308 range will also have a hybrid available for the very first time.

It's an exciting time for Peugeot passenger cars. But their high performance division is also undergoing a revival. Peugeot Sport brought us so many epic performance cars like the legendary 205 GTi and recent hits like the 208 GTi and the 308 GTi.

The new Peugeot 508 PSE on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Peugeot 508 PSE on test for Changing Lanes!

But times are changing and Peugeot Sport must reinvent itself for this new era of hybrid and electric power, while bringing exciting performance cars to market that blend efficiency with performance and dynamism to thrill even the most hardened petrolheads.

A big challenge for any brand, and for one with a sporting heritage like Peugeot. So they have created a new brand - Peugeot Sport Engineered (PSE) - and the first model to come to market is the Peugeot 508 PSE.

What's so special about the Peugeot 508 PSE?

Based on the 508, Peugeot's stylish executive car, the 508 PSE is a high performance hybrid that can drive on electric power for a range of up to about 42 km.

Available as a 508 PSE Fastback or SW (estate) with a list price starting from €70,405, this car has a premium billing. It's the most powerful production Peugeot has ever made and probably the most expensive too!

The 508 was a stunning car to begin with. The 508 PSE adds an aggressive, sporty look very befitting of a high performance car. PSE models are available in Perla Nera black, Pearl white or exclusive Selenium grey. The new PSE brand adds lime green accents and 'claw' marks around the car. There is an aggressive bodykit with very distinctive winglets, a black diffuser at the rear, and 20" wheels.

WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW OF THE NEW 508 PSE

Inside the 508 PSE

There's a premium price tag for the 508 PSE but the interior does not disappoint. Peugeot has been on a move upmarket for years now, and the product reflects that.

Inside the Peugeot 508 PSE manages to feel even more special and sporty than standard versions of the 508. There are beautiful sports seats as standard and lime green stitching. Peugeot's iCockpit still looks great with a 12.3" digital instrument panel for the driver and a central 10" HD touchscreen for the infotainment and other functions. The compact steering feels great in the hands, adding to your sense of control over the vehicle. You sit low and sporty, with plenty of adjustment in the steering wheel and seat.

This is a big car, with the SW model being the more practical of the two. Thankfully the design of the hybrid has not impacted boot space or passenger space in either vehicle.

Two adults will be comfortable in the rear. The boot of the SW has a 467 litre capacity, wide opening area and low loading sill making it ideal for carrying gear!

The interior of the Peugeot 508 PSE
The interior of the Peugeot 508 PSE

Driving the 508 PSE Hybrid

Under the bonnet there is a familiar 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, derived from a few of our favourite Peugeot hot hatchbacks. But there's more: two electric motors - an 80 kW at the front and an 83 kW at the rear. So this halo car for the Peugeot range is all wheel drive with 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque. Power is put to the road through an 8-speed automatic gearbox that never misses a beat. Acceleration is hot hatchback quick: 5.2 seconds. While the top speed is an electronically limited 250 km/h.

The performance stats are certainly stunning but theses days they don't tell the full story. The question is how good does the Peugeot 508 PSE feel on the road?

PSE has taken a Peugeot 508 and given it a high performance makeover to handle 360 hp. They have worked on the chassis, it has a lower and stiffer suspension, wider track, sticky Michelin tyres and very strong performance brakes. All wheel drive helps with the power distribution to the road. There are driving modes and adaptive suspension. Modes include hybrid, electric and sport. The latter gives a more responsive throttle, tighter steering and adjusts the adaptive suspension settings. There's also some augmented engine noise in the cabin when you hit the accelerator, which is realistic and does add to the excitement behind the wheel.

This car has a number of different sides to it and it transitions seamlessly between them. Refinement and comfort is excellent, making this car a great all rounder.

The 508 PSE has 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque
The 508 PSE has 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque

But Sport mode is maximum attack mode, where you access the car's exciting performance character and efficiency goes out the window! The car handles the road sublimely well. There is instant throttle response, pushing you all the way to the back of your seat. But the cornering performance is something to behold. The steering has been vastly improved over a standard 508 so all the sensations reach your fingertips. It feels more fluid, precise and well weighted. This car dips and dives into corners like a car half its size. Despite weighing 1850 kg with all its hybrid 'gear' on board, it behaves like a hot hatchback in corners. A good one.

Fuel consumption does differ from about 5.5 litres per 100 km in a cruise on the motorway, to up to 8.5 litres per 100 km in full attack mode. But with the opportunity to charge the battery and run the car on electric power, the efficiency of this vehicle and its running costs are truly up to you.

Did you like it?

Yes, yes and yes. Peugeot Sport has done a wonderful job with this car. It's the first performance Peugeot in about 5 years. It has a lot to live up to. Frankly I did not quite expect such a visceral experience from a hybrid performance car. Peugeot has done it with the 508 PSE.

It a very expensive Peugeot. But when you look at the quality of the car, the engineering and the performance on the road, it all makes absolute sense.

Peugeot has been on a move upmarket. The 508 PSE is the best of Peugeot at the moment. A very interesting car that is practical and fun to drive. Certainly one to aspire to and a halo car for the entire Peugeot range.

The Peugeot 508 PSE is a master of hybrid performance
The Peugeot 508 PSE is a master of hybrid performance

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot 508 SW PSE 
Price:
€71,890
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power:
360 hp
Torque: 520 Nm
0-100km/h: 
5.2 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
CO2 emissions:
42 g/km
Motor tax: 
€140 per year


The new Mercedes-Benz EQA

Mercedes-Benz EQA Review (2022)

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz EQA review for everything you need to know about the German brand's new electric small SUV on sale in Ireland in 2022.

The EQA is the first all-electric model in the Mercedes' compact car range. It's a close relation of the GLA, the popular compact crossover available here for some years now.

Mercedes-Benz has been on a mission to bring a whole range of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to market. We have seen a slew of plug-in hybrid models reach these shores including the GLC 300 de, the E-Class 300 e and the GLC Coupe 350 de.

Then there has been the brand's first full battery electric vehicle, the EQC, followed by the EQV and now this, the EQA!

The new Mercedes-Benz EQA
The new Mercedes-Benz EQA

What's so special about the Mercedes-Benz EQA?

The EQA was conceived as an all-electric small SUV from the brand's EQ family of electric vehicles. Based on the GLA class, the Mercedes-Benz EQA goes on sale in Ireland priced from €56,120.

It's a full battery electric vehicle powered by a 66.5 kWh battery with a claimed range of 426 km (WLTP) and 190 hp at its disposal.

In design, it does bear a resemblance to the GLA but with a more futuristic look around the front end in particular. Plus a striking light signature that's become a standard of Mercedes EQ vehicles.

The EQA may be described as compact. But it does have a considerable presence when you meet it for the first time. The front end stands out for a closed black panel radiator grille with large central Mercedes star. There are also EQ blue headlamp strips and a distinctive fibre-optic strip running along the front and at the rear.

In Ireland the new EQA goes on sale in three trim lines: Progressive, Electric Art and AMG Line. The Progressive line is expected to be the most sought-after model here. All-wheel-drive models will join the range at a later date with more power, including one version with a WLTP range of over 500 km.

The EQA is on sale in Ireland from €56,120
The EQA is on sale in Ireland from €56,120

Inside the EQA

Inside the EQA, convention is at work. We get a classic Mercedes-Benz compact car interior. The brand's new generation compacts lead the way in contemporary luxury. It's no different here. Everything is familiar Mercedes-Benz territory.

There is no compromise to quality. Everything feels good to use. Digital technology is on-point. There's a 10" digital instrument panel for the driver and a 10" touchscreen housing the MBUX infotainment system that responds to 'Hey Mercedes' commands.

It also feels spacious inside the EQA for a compact, with generous footwells in the rear and plenty of headroom. Boot space has taken a hit however to accommodate the EV powertrain. It's down to 340 litres. Though a low loading sill and wide opening boost practicality. There's also space to store charging cables under the boot floor.

Standard specification is good on the Progressive model. Features include high-performance headlamps with Adaptive Highbeam Assist, electrically operated tailgate, light 18-inch alloys, 64-colour ambient lighting, adjustable lumbar support, reversing camera and leather sports steering wheel.

The interior of the new EQA
The interior of the new EQA

Driving the Mercedes-Benz EQA

The new EQA is built on the GLA platform. But the combustion engine has been replaced by a 66.5 kWh battery and an electric motor that sends power to the front wheels (190 hp). Performance is fine, in line with the EQA's relaxed and premium feel behind the wheel. It will hardly throw you back in your seat every time you touch the accelerator. But handling is quite neutral as opposed to sporty, so efficiency is key here.

Mercedes has worked to improve the efficiency of the car with aerodynamic features like front and rear aprons, smooth underbody, closed cooling air system, and wind-optimised wheels with spoilers. There is a quoted range of over 400 km with average energy consumption of 17.6 kWh. During my time with the car, my average consumption was 20.8 kWh. The heat pump uses waste heat from the electric motor to warm passengers, increase range and reduce the draw on battery power.

The new electric Mercedes moves off effortlessly in silence. Refinement is a strong point for the EQA, no matter the road or road surface. The electric motor is isolated from the chassis and body to improve comfort and reduce noise and vibration. Numerous damping measures have been designed to prevent the transmission of airborne sound so the EQA can offer a premium driving experience in the compact electric SUV space.

The new EQA is the brand's first electric compact
The new EQA is the brand's first electric compact

Did you like it?

The Mercedes-Benz EQA moves the German brand into the competition for a compact premium electric vehicle. It's now the most affordable electric EQ model in the line-up based on the stylish and popular GLA. The EQA offers a competitive range of over 400 km, though that will depend on your driving style and other factors like the ambient temperature and the speed you are driving at.

The EQA has the advantage of an 11 kW on board charger allowing more flexibility in AC charging. While up to 100 kW DC fast charging is available, so you can get 80% battery charge in around 30 minutes at a motorway charger for example.

Mercedes trump card is the interior of the EQA. All the factors that make their compact car interiors so desirable are here with an 'EQ' branded twist to reflect the electric powertrain. Quality is excellent, equipment levels high.

For Mercedes fans seeking an electrified driving solution, the brand has also recently brought a GLA 250 e plug-in hybrid to market in Ireland. Priced from €48,690, the car's 15.6 kWh battery allows owners to sample driving electric for a range of up to 61 km, with the back up of a 1.3-litre petrol engine.

The EQA is a considerable investment but it fills a gap in Mercedes' portfolio and will be joined soon by the all-electric EQB.

The Mercedes-Benz electric charge continues in 2022 with the launch of the new EQS and EQE!

Mercedes-Benz is on a mission with a new range of EQ vehicles
Mercedes-Benz is on a mission with a new range of EQ vehicles

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 Progressive
Price:
€56,120
Battery: 66.5 kWh
Power:
 190 hp
Torque: 375 Nm
0-100km/h: 
8.9 seconds
Top speed: 160 km/h
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 on test for Changing Lanes!

Hyundai IONIQ 5 Review (2022)

Read Caroline's latest Hyundai IONIQ 5 review for everything you need to know about Hyundai's exciting new electric car in Ireland in 2022.

The Hyundai IONIQ 5, the first model from Hyundai’s new IONIQ electric vehicle-exclusive brand, arrived in Ireland in 2021. The IONIQ 5 goes on sale priced from €37,995, with two batteries available - a 58 kWh with up to 384 km of range and a 72 kWh with up to 481 km of range (WLTP).

With striking good looks, revolutionary Hyundai interior, long range and fast charging, the IONIQ 5 makes a dramatic debut!

The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 on test for Changing Lanes!

Hyundai as a brand has an impressive pedigree in electric vehicles already with the Hyundai Kona Electric being one of Ireland's most popular compact electric vehicles. The small crossover was a game changer when it arrived in Ireland at the end of 2018, with an electric range in excess of 400 km.

Since then the electric vehicle market has got even more competitive, but Hyundai strikes back with the launch of the IONIQ 5. It's a larger car than the Kona Electric. In fact the space inside is more comparable with the Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai's large family SUV. Let's take a closer look.

What's so special about the Hyundai IONIQ 5?

The IONIQ 5 marks a new direction for Hyundai in design. It is built on Hyundai Motor Company’s dedicated battery electric vehicle architecture called Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), which allows it to have unique proportions on an elongated wheelbase.

The IONIQ 5 looks like a concept car. It's a fresh new look for the Hyundai brand, with a futuristic presence on the road. The front of the car has Hyundai’s first clam shell bonnet that minimises panel gaps for the best aerodynamics.

The Hyundai IONIQ 5 is very striking and interesting to look at
The Hyundai IONIQ 5 is very striking and interesting to look at

The front bumper has an eye-catching V-shape incorporating distinctive daytime running lights that provide an unmistakable light signature unique to IONIQ 5. Small pixel-like light clusters also appear at the rear of the vehicle. Auto flush door handles provide clean surface styling and enhanced aerodynamic efficiency. It's a beautiful car that really makes a statement.

Inside, the IONIQ 5 has a lounge-like feel. The dedicated electric vehicle platform has allowed for an innovative use of space inside the vehicle. There's great width to the cabin and loads of space beneath the dashboard and where a centre console traditionally lies.

It's a new interior design concept for Hyundai - futuristic but functional. Yet it's easy to get comfortable in here. The controls are all intuitive to use. The quality is worth a mention too. It's truly excellent. Everything feels good to touch from the dials and switches, to the inside surfaces of the doors.

Digital technology is on point as you would expect from a trendsetter like the IONIQ 5. Two 12.3” LCD screens give an almost widescreen effect - one for the driver information display and one for multimedia. There's also wireless phone charging for compatible devices, a rear view camera and smart navigation-based cruise control.

Inside the new Hyundai IONIQ 5
Inside the new Hyundai IONIQ 5

Is it practical?

Hyundai pitches the IONIQ 5 between the Tucson and Santa Fe in size. In fact space inside is more comparable to the Santa Fe. There's loads of room in the front of the cabin.

Hyundai has reduced the thickness of the front seats by 30 percent, providing more space for those seated in the second row. You can also recline almost flat in those front seats!

Rear leg room is really excellent because of the stretched wheelbase. The rear seats split fold 60:40 and also slide as standard. There's a flat floor too making it more comfortable for a middle passenger.

The boot has over 500 litres of space and a traditional hatchback-style opening. There's also a handy space under the boot floor to store charging cables away cleanly. There is a small amount of extra storage under the bonnet too.

What's available in the IONIQ 5 range in Ireland?

In Ireland there is a choice of three battery and drive types for IONIQ 5: a 58 kWh, single motor, rear wheel drive; a 72 kWh, single motor, rear wheel drive; or a 72 kWh dual motor all-wheel drive model.

The 58 kWh model on test for Changing Lanes is single motor and sends 170 hp to the rear wheels. There's 350 Nm of torque available, with 0 to 100 km/h achieved in 8.5 seconds. The electric range of this model is up to 384 km (WLTP) and it's priced from €37,995, including all relevant grants and reductions.

The 72 kWh, single motor IONIQ 5 starts from €44,995. The same car with all wheel drive is available from €64,995 with the best performance of the entire range - 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds.

There are four trim levels in Ireland: Executive, Executive Plus, Premium and Premium Plus, with high levels of equipment across the range. Standard equipment includes 19” alloy wheels, interior mood lighting, 12.3” LCD audio, visual and navigation system with DAB, Apple Car Play™ and Android Auto™, LCD drivers instrument cluster, and wireless phone charging for compatible devices. There's also a rear view camera, LED Multi-Faceted Reflector headlamps, LED stop, tail and turn lamps, rear parking sensors. Highway Drive Assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Following Assist.

Charging the Hyundai IONIQ 5
Charging the Hyundai IONIQ 5

Driving and charging the Hyundai IONIQ 5

On the road, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 58 kWh is swift and supple. There's a natural feeling to this car on the road that is very pleasant; it doesn't feel too heavy. It's not designed to be sporty but it is still agile and well-balanced through corners.

The transmission is very refined. The IONIQ 5 is quiet and comfortable on the move with little transmission noise entering the cabin. It's capable of driving long distances on one charge, while being comfortable too for an electric car with a balanced ride quality.

IONIQ 5 features 800V charging as standard, which makes it one of the best EVs on the market right now for charging. Of course this depends on the infrastructure available to you but the IONIQ 5 has a lot of things in its favour. If you can find an IONITY station, you can charge at the IONIQ 5's maximum charging rate of 220 kW, and get 80% battery charge in just 20 minutes.

There is also a powerful 11 kW on-board charger with more flexibility for AC charging. It allows the IONIQ 5 to charge almost twice as fast as a lot of other EVs on the market using those 22 kW public chargers in Irish cities and towns.

WATCH MY VIDEO OF THE NEW IONIQ5 !

Did you like it?

Hyundai has already proven itself as a front runner in the race to electric with the launch of the Kona Electric back in 2018 and its stellar electric range for a sub-premium compact.

But IONIQ 5 brings the game on again for the Korean car brand. The IONIQ 5 feels fresh, new and a generation ahead with its innovative design and 800V fast charging capabilities.

The 11kW on board charger brings even more flexibility in AC charging and is a great feature to have as standard.

It's no doubt an unusual car, more a hatchback than an SUV. Though the raised ride height will make it popular among drivers seeking a more crossover-style vehicle.

The IONIQ 5 deserves to draw attention to itself with its futuristic design, considering what Hyundai has packed into this car. All things considered, the IONIQ 5 58 kWh is well-priced, loaded with equipment and technology, and a sound buy. The 72 kWh version will bring even more comfort when it comes to range, with over 400 km available on a full battery charge.

The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 is just one more reason why electric is closer than you think.

The Hyundai IONIQ 5 on sale now from €37,995
The Hyundai IONIQ 5 on sale now from €37,995

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai IONIQ 5 58 kWh Premium
Price:
€44,995
Battery: 58 kWh
Power: 
170 hp
Torque: 350 Nm
0-100km/h:
8.5 seconds
Top speed: 185 km/h
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Review (2022)

Thinking of buying a new Toyota Yaris in 2022? Read Caroline's Toyota Yaris Hybrid review for everything you need to know about Toyota's small hatchback.

The Toyota Yaris is one of Ireland's most loved small cars. It's been around for over 20 years and is a consistent top 10 bestselling car in Ireland. In 2020 Toyota launched an all-new generation of the popular Yaris and it was quick to snatch the award of European Car of the Year 2021.

In 20 years, the Yaris has become Toyota’s most important model in Europe, steadily increasing both its sales volume and its market share.

The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the new Toyota Yaris?

There's something major happening at Toyota in recent years. It's called TNGA or Toyota New Global Architecture. If you thought Toyotas were boring cars, you need to drive their new generation vehicles.

The new Yaris is the first small Toyota to be built on Toyota New Global Architecture. The GA-B platform is central to the car’s improved dynamic performance, giving a lower centre of gravity and much greater body rigidity. A range of Toyota Safety Sense active safety systems come as standard, including Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) such as Lane Trace Assist and Emergency Steering Assist.

The Yaris Hybrid is more powerful and efficient than before
The Yaris Hybrid is more powerful and efficient than before

The latest Yaris is also a much cooler looking car than the model it replaces. It's a far more energetic and dynamic design. A bi tone roof is available with alloy wheel sizes up to 17" and new LED light technology.

Inside the Yaris

Toyota has transformed the interior of the latest generation Yaris. Quality and design have taken a real step up in line with this car's cooler and more youthful image.

The interior has a more open and spacious feel when compared to the outgoing model. The driving position is better, sportier.

There are more soft touch materials and cool ambient lighting available on some models. There are 7" and 8" touchscreens available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The steering wheel is smaller and sportier. New auxiliary buttons have a greater tactile quality.

The new GA-B platform allowed for a reduction in the car’s overall length, making it the most compact model in its class, but with an increase in its wheelbase for more space and comfort for everyone on board. The new Yaris has more space and elbow room - an extra 20 mm between the driver and front passenger. The boot is nowhere near class-leading but it has some depth and offers an adequate 286 litres of space.

Inside the 2020 Toyota Yaris
The interior of the new Toyota Yaris

In Ireland the Toyota Yaris is available in five trim levels –  Aura, Luna, Luna Sport, Platinum and Premier. The 2022 Toyota Yaris range kicks off in Ireland with a 1.0-litre petrol with 72 hp, while there is also a 1.5-litre petrol manual and a 1.5-litre hybrid auto.

Pricing starts at €20,140 for the Yaris Aura petrol, while the Toyota Yaris Hybrid pricing starts from €23,990 in Luna trim.

How economical is the Toyota Yaris Hybrid?

The new Toyota Yaris uses the latest, fourth-generation Toyota hybrid technology. New components have been engineered to be compact, lightweight and efficient. The focus in the development of this car was not just to make it more efficient, but to also make the car more enjoyable to drive.

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid now offers EV driving for longer periods in urban traffic. CO2 emissions have dropped, while it's more efficient than before too. Under the bonnet there's a 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain to improve efficiency by 20% and put out even more power at 116 hp. It's quicker and more responsive to the throttle.

Behind the wheel, the new driving position gives you a greater sense of control and connection with the car, supporting the fun-to-drive character of the new Yaris. The car feels more agile and engaging at the wheel. The steering is quicker and more direct. The hybrid delivers the power in a smoother, quieter and more refined way than the previous generation of the Toyota Yaris Hybrid.

While built for efficiency, the Yaris Hybrid feels natural on the road, like any petrol driven small car. A revised suspension set-up means it covers the tarmac better, with a softer and smoother ride. In town driving it can run up to 80% of the time on electric power, with the engine only cutting in when needed. So in urban environments it helps your eco-credentials, while sipping at the fuel.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 5.5 litres per 100 km, with some long distance motorway runs included. So this is a good return on fuel economy for a small car.

The new Yaris is a radically improved car
The new Yaris is a radically improved car

Did you like it?

The new Toyota Yaris is far more desirable than the car it replaces. It has truly blossomed as a small car on the new TNGA platform. It looks great and even quite sporty in higher trim levels like the top of the range Premier model on test for Changing Lanes.

Already an award winner, the new Yaris has been suitably revamped inside and now feels a lot more competitive in its segment with the latest technology and digital features.

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid has also been greatly improved. It's much more refined now on the road to drive. The car is more fun to drive than it was before. It's comfortable by small car standards too. It is more expensive to buy than the petrol models in the range, but the car has power and feels good on the road.

Toyota has just welcomed the new Toyota Yaris Cross to Ireland, an SUV spin off of the Yaris sharing much of the same DNA but in more of a crossover style.

The Yaris picks up the baton as a small simple efficient hatchback, with good value and choice available in the range.

It's a classic and reliable choice of small car but the Yaris now feels truly competitive in its class of vehicle and one you can pick with your heart too.

A transformation for one of Ireland's favourite cars.

The Yaris Hybrid is available from €23,990
The Yaris Hybrid is available from €23,990 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Yaris Hybrid Premier
Price:
€27,680
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
116 hp
0-100km/h: 
9.7 seconds
Top speed:  175 km/h
CO2 emissions: 
88 g/km
Motor tax:
€160 per year


The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Arkana Review (2022)

The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Thinking of buying a new Renault Arkana in 2022? Check out Caroline's latest Renault Arkana review for everything you need to know about the brand's exciting new mid-size SUV!

What's so special about the new Renault Arkana?

The Renault Arkana arrived in Ireland in 2021 and is a mid-size SUV priced from €30,340, with a hybrid available. This exciting new SUV coupé for the French brand will go on sale alongside the popular Captur and Kadjar SUVs, with Renault's latest mild hybrid and E-TECH hybrid powertrains making up the range.

The Kadjar is to be replaced in 2022 by a new SUV called the Austral so for the moment the Captur and the Arcana are the most up to date SUVs in the Renault range featuring the best of the brand's design, technology and innovation.

Renault we know already make some of the best-looking cars on the road and the Arkana is no different. SUV coupés used to be something premium brands brought to market to help their customers feel a little more unique and different to their SUV cousins.

Now Renault brings this design concept to the mass market with a very stylish Arkana. It particularly 'pops' in a bright colour like Valencia Orange and is certainly easily distinguishable from a Kadjar for example. The side profile is sporty with typical Renault flourish to the LED light signatures front and rear. Tinted windows, chrome trim on the wing badging, 3D rear LED lighting and 17-inch diamond-cut ‘Bahamas’ alloy wheels all feature on entry-level Iconic models, plus body-colour door handles with chrome and black lower door protection.

WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW OF THE NEW ARKANA!

Inside the Arkana

The Arkana gets a new generation Renault interior. It makes all the difference to the desirability of this new model. The design is nice and there is a good fit and finish to the interior. It's probably the best quality we have seen in a Renault SUV to date.

There's also a significant digital presence in the cabin. Iconic models kick off the range with a 7.0-inch display with DAB radio and Bluetooth functionality, while S Edition and R.S. Line models have a 9.3-inch portrait screen featuring navigation with live traffic services and weather information, Google address search and 4G connectivity and automatic update services for three years. The 9.3 inch screen is worth the upgrade. It looks more modern in the centre of the dash and is nice to use. Arkana S Edition and R.S. Line models also feature a 7.0-inch TFT Driver Information Display ahead of the driver.

Arkana R.S. Line models like the one on test start from €35,140 but it's an even better looking car with a really great cabin. The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line stands out with special R.S. Line sports seats upholstered in leather and suede-effect, complemented by red stitching that also extends to the door panels, gear lever and central armrest. Red detailing is also found on the leather steering wheel with unique R.S. Line marker. Completing the interior enhancements are aluminium pedals, a carbon-effect dashboard panel with full-width red trim, plus black headlining. It's just a nice cabin to spend time in and interact with.

The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line
The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line

It looks great but is it practical?

The Renault Arkana has not compromised space for style despite the sloping roofline and trendy SUV coupé looks. The Arkana belongs to the C segment and offers reasonable accommodation for a family with enough headroom in the rear and legroom for two adults to be comfortable.

Based on the CMF-B modular platform, the Arkana is longer than the Kadjar. It offers a high driving position popular with drivers of Renault’s SUVs. The boot is surprisingly large too, packing in 480 litres in E-TECH hybrids, and 513-litres with a variable-height boot floor in 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol versions. For maximum interior space, the rear seats fold, leaving a level, flat load area for bulkier items. 

The Arkana was built to be a hybrid from the start of development and is a key model to push forward the broadened electrification of Renault’s model range. The brand's new E-TECH hybrid powertrain features across every trim level. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, 1.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and two electric motors, with a power output of 145 hp.

Renault Ireland think it will be the engine of choice in the line-up for the majority of customers. It's proposed as the most efficient of the range, returning consumption as low as to 4.8l/100 km (WLTP). Arkana will also be available in Ireland with the TCe 140 petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology. This 1.3-litre engine has 140 hp and fuel consumption is officially rated at 5.8l/100km (WLTP). Both offerings are automatic by default. No manual gearboxes or diesel on offer in this range. 

The Renault Arkana R.S. Line in Valencia Orange
The Renault Arkana R.S. Line in Valencia Orange

Driving the Renault Arkana Hybrid

The Renault Arkana feels immediately mature and confident on the road. The handling is good with a nice flowing character through bends and body roll kept in check. On the motorway the Arkana cruises well with excellent refinement. It's a very comfortable car too, even on 18" wheels.

The Arkana Hybrid is a truly impressive car on the road. It feels more powerful than what 145 hp might suggest on paper. Then there's the way the power is delivered. There's no lumpiness to the transmission, just power delivered solidly and confidently. The batteyr boost makes it very responsive to the throttle.

But is it efficient? Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.1 litres per 100 km. So not quite as efficient as Renault claim but still good for a petrol driven mid-size SUV.

Did you like it?

Yes! The Renault Arkana is one of the best cars I drove in 2021. It looks great and for the moment remains quite a distinctive presence in the C-SUV segment with its sporty SUV-coupé looks. R.S. Line models are hugely desirable for their sporty inspired looks and the superbly finished cabin.

The Arkana is mature and confident on the road. Hybrid power suits it very well. While fuel efficiency is not quite diesel rivalling for drivers who regularly take long motorway commutes, it is a good hybrid SUV debut by Renault and there are no ugly surprises here when it comes to fuel consumption.

Around town the Arkana will do even better, running on electric power more but always with the back-up of the petrol engine. There is no charging involved of this E-TECH hybrid - which can be very convenient in its own way.

With SUVs still being the hot spot of the market, it seems there can never be too many available and the Arkana brings a typically premium SUV coupé style to the mass market - with considerable style.

The Renault Arkana on sale in Ireland priced from €30,140
The Renault Arkana on sale in Ireland priced from €30,140

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid R.S. Line
Price:
€36,540
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
145 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.8 seconds
Top speed: 172 km/h
CO2 emissions:
109 g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé Review

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé review for a definitive verdict on the brand's new diesel plug-in hybrid SUV.

What's so special about the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé?

Mercedes-Benz adds a new diesel electric plug-in hybrid powertrain to the GLE Coupé. Spawned from the GLE large, premium SUV family that debuted an all-new generation vehicle in 2019, the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé offers a more stylish and exclusive design. It is the ultimate SUV-coupé, with a well appointed interior featuring Mercedes show-stopping quality and technology.

With hybrid continuing to grow in popularity across different market segments, now Mercedes-Benz drops a diesel hybrid into the GLE and GLE Coupé. Badged GLE 350 de, this model combines the long distance motorway economy of a diesel with zero emissions electric driving around town for a distance of up to 100 kilometres. Large SUVs have often had a poor image for environmental concerns but with plug-in hybrid technology, there is now a real viable option to charge the vehicle and drive on cleaner power and limit environmental impact, while still enjoying the convenience and economy of a diesel engine on longer runs.

Priced at €98,065, the GLE 350 de Coupé sits in truly premium territory but it's a wonderfully made SUV. It oozes class and sophistication, while comfort is in a completely different arena too, even on the large 21" wheels of the test car.

Currently accounting for around one third of Mercedes-Benz sales, SUVs are of increasing importance to the brand with a global customer base of over six million owners spread across an eight model range that includes GLA, GLB, GLC, GLC Coupé, GLE, GLE Coupé, GLS and G-Class.

The GLE Coupé is now available as a hybrid
The GLE Coupé is now available as a hybrid

Inside the GLE Coupé

The GLE Coupé is every inch the large luxury SUV but with a more exclusive design to the GLE, which has more traditional and boxy SUV lines.

Inside there is some trade-off in the practicality stakes - that sloped roofline will mean a bit less headroom for rear passengers - but this is still a large SUV by anyone's standards. The rear footwells are large, while the middle passenger gets a relatively flat space for their feet too, along with their own ventilation controls.

The boot has a powered tailgate and opens to reveal a large boot of 510 litres that goes back a good deal but wouldn't have same depth as the standard GLE for example. The diesel plug-in hybrid system also eats into the space somewhat compared to a standard diesel model by about 100 litres. But a special rear end design and a modified rear axle create space for the large battery housed beneath the floor of the boot. This attention to detail means there is a flat floor and no step in the luggage compartment, like the E-Class hybrids for example.

The interior of the GLE Coupé is an absolute marvel. You are happily ensconced in comfortable supportive sports seats with full leather and power control. Heated of course! There are two large 12.3" screens that blend together perfectly with modern graphics and lots of functionality. The latest generation ‘Mercedes me’ and MBUX infotainment system responds to voice commands and is easy to use.

The interior of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe
The interior of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe

How does the diesel hybrid work in the GLE?

The diesel hybrid GLE 350 de uses a 2.0-litre diesel engine, 31.2 kWh lithium ion battery and 100 kW electric motor. Power is transmitted by the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. There's a healthy 320 hp while there is 700 Nm of torque available giving 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in just 6.9 seconds. Impressive for a hulking machine like the GLE Coupé!

Despite its considerable size (over 2500kg in kerb weight), the GLE Coupé feels nothing short of swift and responsive to the throttle. It masks its weight reasonably well too, feeling agile and sure-footed in most situations. It's a fabulous SUV to drive with precise and weighty steering, and super supple ride quality. It handles the road well, with a sporty edge to it. Whether cruising on the motorway or following a twisty road through the mountains, the GLE Coupé adapts to each with aplomb. Driver and passengers sit high up with a commanding view over the road.

The diesel plug in hybrid powertrain also happens to be very successful in the GLE. Handling and driving dynamics don't feel impacted in any negative way. There's no lumpiness to the transmission, just smoothness and thick syrupy power delivered with no fuss or wheel spin. Delicious! 4MATIC fully-variable all-wheel drive with torque on demand truly helps with that too.

The hybrid system helps eke out better fuel economy. Even without charging I managed a respectable 6.7 litres per 100 km. The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging, which is quite unusual for a plug-in hybrid. It will take about half an hour. The GLE Coupé has a towing capacity of up to 3500 kg also as a plug-in hybrid.

The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging
The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging

Did you like it?

More tightly tailored than the GLE, the GLE Coupé does offer a more stylish and exclusive design with a small compromise to space and practicality. This is a wonderful large SUV for those lucky enough to own one.

The GLE and GLE Coupé both have one of the best car interiors in the class. It's a fine example of contemporary premium. The widescreen digital effect is just stunning, while there are so many gadgets and tools on board for a full on luxury liner experience.

There's a fine balance between comfort and sportiness behind the wheel. The GLE 350 de Coupé is supremely quiet and smooth-running.

The diesel plug in hybrid does work well here in the GLE 350 de. Motor tax for this behemoth is just €140 thanks to the low emissions and it offers new levels of flexibility and less environmental impact around town for example. But the battery will need to be kept charged up and the SUV driven on electric power to reap these benefits.

Hard to find fault with this machine!

The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is a high end SUV-coupé
The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is a high end SUV-coupé

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLE 350de 4MATIC Coupé
Price:
€98,065
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel electric plug-in hybrid
Power:
320 hp
Torque: 700 Nm
0-100km/h: 
6.9 seconds
Top speed: 210 km/h
CO2 emissions:
23 g/km
Motor tax: 
€140 per year


The new Ford Mach-E!

Ford Mustang Mach-E Review

The new Ford Mach-E!
The new Ford Mach-E is now on sale in Ireland!

The Ford Mustang Mach-E has finally arrived in Ireland! It feels like we have been waiting for this car for so long. There is huge anticipation around the Mach-E, Ford's first serious attempt at a mass production battery electric vehicle. Was it worth the wait? Caroline took the new Mustang Mach-E for a test drive to find out.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E goes on sale in Ireland priced from €53,100 including the SEAI grant. There are rear wheel drive and all wheel drive variants, two battery sizes and a range topping Mach-E GT with 487 hp!

Styling

The Mach-E carries the famous Mustang name and the iconic pony badge. It's something of a crossover-style vehicle with the raised ride height of an SUV. It looks sporty and purposeful. It's a very successful electric vehicle design. The front end of the car is just gorgeous with that curved closed grille and thin, aggressive headlamps. Around the rear there is homage to the classic Mustang coupé with trademark tri-bar taillamps.

Interior

The interior of the Mustang Mach-E marks a new generation interior for a Ford car. There has been a significant digital upgrade to anything we've seen previously from the brand including a new digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a show-stopping 15.5" portrait-style touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. It's a blend of old and new, with enough traditional switchgear inside to not frighten any Ford customers! A wireless charging pad for smartphones also comes as standard.

Quality seems generally good but it's not quite a premium billing for new Mustang Mach-E. The rotary selector for the automatic lacks a satisfying click into gear. Leather seats and other cabin materials have a red stitching finish and with that iconic pony logo on the steering wheel, you won't forget the Mustang Mach-E's sporty roots.

The new Mach-E goes on sale from €53,100
The new Mach-E goes on sale from €53,100

Practicality

The Mach-E has seating for five and space inside is about comparative to a mid-size SUV. There is a 402 litre boot and a 'frunk' (front trunk storage unit) with an additional 81 litres of storage space. The front trunk is also drainable for added convenience!

Battery 

There are standard (70 kWh) and extended-range (91 kWh) battery options available. There is a choice of single-motor rear-wheel drive and dual-motor all-wheel drive performance. The 70 kWh rear wheel drive entry model has a range of 440 km (WLTP) and 269 hp. The Mustang Mach-E First Edition on test for Changing Lanes features all-wheel drive and extended-range battery as standard (540 km WLTP) and 351 hp.

Charging

Ford is offering Mustang Mach-E customers an optional 7.4 kW Ford Connected Wallbox. The wall-mounted charger can top up the Mustang Mach-E battery from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 8 hours. Mustang Mach-E customers also currently receive as standard two charging cables. The 6-metre Ford Public Charge Cable is compatible with the common charging standard in Europe, enabling customers to easily connect to AC chargers without an integrated charge cable. The 6.7-metre Universal Home Charge Cord enables connection to either a standard domestic socket or 32 A blue industrial socket.

DC fast-charging compatibility is also standard with charging up to 150 kW possible, using an IONITY charger for example.

The interior of the new Ford Mustang Mach-E
The interior of the new Ford Mustang Mach-E

Driving it

Mustang Mach-E’s all-new platform has been developed by Ford Team Edison to take full advantage of the performance-enhancing weight distribution and torque delivery of an all-electric powertrain. The lithium-ion battery is located centrally between the axles and beneath the floor for a low centre of gravity to support sporty driving dynamics.

The high-performance batteries – tested at temperatures as extreme as minus 40 degrees Celsius – are secured inside a waterproof case surrounded by crash absorption protection. An advanced active liquid heating and cooling system regulates battery temperatures for optimised performance in extreme weather, improved charging times and sustained high-speed driving.

Battery power is transferred to an all-new, oil-cooled, rear-mounted AC motor to drive the rear wheels, and an additional front-mounted motor for models equipped with the all-wheel drive system. The permanent magnet, synchronous rear motor enables peak torque in 0.5 seconds for ultimate responsiveness.

The available all-wheel drive system applies torque independently to the front and rear wheels for improved acceleration and handling. Unique settings for shock absorbers, springs, anti-roll bars, steering and powertrain have been tailored for the European market.

Mustang Mach-E also offers One Pedal Drive capability that helps return more kinetic energy to the battery, for greater efficiency.

There are new selectable drive modes - Whisper, Active and Untamed - the latter which unleashes the full potential of the Mustang Mach-E; sharpening the steering, enhancing the throttle response and even giving the driver the feel of downshifting on deceleration. Matched to the performance is a boosted interior sound, sporty orange lighting, and dynamic sense lines on the driver display that reflect the acceleration and cornering forces being experienced.

The Mach-E has two battery sizes available - 71 kWh and 90 kWh
The Mach-E has two battery sizes available - 70 kWh and 91 kWh

The Mustang Mach-E First Edition on test for Changing Lanes features all-wheel drive and extended-range battery as standard for 351 PS/258 kW, 580 Nm of torque and 0-100 km/h acceleration in 5.1 seconds.

On first impressions the Mach-E has been well engineered for a sporty and natural drive. It doesn't feel too heavy on the road and is fun to drive with lightening quick responses. There is a firm edge over bumps in the road and uneven surfaces, but on the smooth stuff all is good.

The range-topping Mustang Mach-E GT features all-wheel drive and extended-range battery as standard for 487 PS, 860 Nm of torque and 0-100 km/h acceleration in 3.7 seconds 

Equipment

In Ireland, Mustang Mach-E is offered in three series: RWD, AWD and GT, as well as a limited number of First Edition vehicles available at launch.

Mustang Mach-E RWD Standard Range / Extended Range Spec:

18” 5-spoke silver alloy wheels; LED reflector headlamps; LED Mustang signature tail lights; body colour bumpers; body colour headed mirrors with puddle light Mustang logo projection; side cladding and wheel arches in black; brace front grille design; heated driver and passenger seats; next generation SYNC 4A; FordPass Connect (embedded modem); e-latch keyless entry system including b-pillar keypad access; front trunk; selectable drive modes (Active, Whisper, Untamed); 10.2" Full Digital Cluster & 15.5" Central Touch Screen; One Pedal Drive; Pre-Collision Assist: includes Collision Mitigation, FCW (Forward Collision Warning), DBS (Dynamic Brake Support), AEB (Automated Emergency Braking), DA/DI (Distance Alert/Distance Indication), ESA (Evasive Steer); Ford VariPower charging cable; high power charging cable; 115kw high-powered charging (Standard Range model); 150kw high-powered charging (Extended Range model).

Mustang Mach-E AWD Standard Range / Extended Range adds:

19” black machined alloy wheels; red brake calipers; side cladding and wheel arches piano black; blade front grille design; black perforated full Sensico trim with red stitching; rear view camera; hands free tailgate; 360-degree camera; B&O Premium Sound System 10-Speaker inc. Dashboard Sound Bar; advanced active park assist; full panorama roof; dual motor permanent all-wheel drive.

Mustang Mach-E GT adds:

20” cast aluminium wheels; unique GT front grille design; Brembo brakes with red calipers; unique Pirelli tyres; unique GT bumpers; wheel lip mouldings – body colour and door cladding painted black; GT performance seats; 860 Nm of torque; 487PS/358 kW maximum power; MagneRide suspension; GT scuff plates.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E is fun to drive
The Ford Mustang Mach-E is fun to drive

Pricing

SeriesBodystyleBatteryTransmissionPrice*
Mustang Mach-E RWD5 door70kWh (75kWh) Standard Range1 speed auto€53,100
Mustang Mach-E RWD5 door91kWh (98kWh) Extended Range1 speed auto€64,400
Mustang Mach-E AWD5 door70kWh (75kWh) Standard Range1 speed auto€68,550
Mustang Mach-E AWD5 door91kWh (98kWh) Extended Range1 speed auto€76,100
Mustang Mach-E GT5 door91kWh (98kWh) Extended Range1 speed auto€82,100

*Gross Retail Prices including VAT and SEAI grant

Summary

The Mustang returns! But as Ford's first proper attempt at a full battery electric vehicle. There's no Ford badge anywhere on this car except on the key. We know the Mustang badge is cool. The Mach-E makes a great first impression.

With pricing starting from €53,100 and rising too €82,000 for the range-topping Mustang Mach-E GT, this is new territory for Ford and there is plenty of competition now in this price range.

The Mustang Mach-E bites back with cool crossover styling, the iconic badge and a car that is truly enjoyable to drive.

The interior of the Mustang Mach-E blends old and new, with an exciting new look but it's also entirely practical and functional. Cabin finish falls short of premium, but the Mach-E excels behind the wheel.

Battery range is not an issue here. There is plenty to be comfortable and battery performance is impressive. The car handles the road naturally, it's an electric car you will enjoy driving.

While it's odd to have a car with a Mustang badge and no rumble from under the bonnet, the world has changed and I'm glad Ford is now making electric vehicles with a little bit of personality. Mach-E is cool, no doubts!

The range-topping Mustang Mach-E GT
The range-topping Mustang Mach-E GT

Caroline Kidd.


The new Hyundai Bayon!

Hyundai Bayon Review (2022)

The new Hyundai Bayon!
The new Hyundai Bayon!

Hyundai broadens the appeal of the brand's small car line-up with the arrival of the new Hyundai Bayon in 2021.

It has been designed for Europe and has been given a European name to reflect that – Bayon is inspired by ‘Bayonne’, the capital of the French Basque Country. With on-trend crossover styling, it is now the most compact of Hyundai’s SUV family – joining the popular Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe.

Responding to trends in the market for crossover-style vehicles, the brand launched the Kona compact crossover in Ireland back in 2017 and it has been a great success with electric, hybrid and petrol variants, starting from €24,395. Hyundai now has a young range of compact cars with the new Hyundai i10 and Hyundai i20 on sale here since just 2020.

Where does the Bayon sit in the Hyundai range?

The Bayon now slips in to the Hyundai range just below the Kona, offering a more crossover-inspired design to traditional small cars like the i10 and the i20, with an attractive entry price of €20,795.

New Bayon on sale in Ireland from €20,795
New Bayon on sale in Ireland from €20,795

Though based on the i20 supermini, the Bayon looks like a more substantial car in the metal with a slightly raised ride height and some characteristic new generation Hyundai design cues like slim headlights and arrow-shaped lights at the rear. It's longer and higher than an i20 with roof rails giving the required injection of attitude for the urban crossover.

Keeping things simple is the order of the day with just petrol power for the new Bayon -  a choice of a 1.2-litre petrol manual or a 1.0-litre automatic. There are two trim levels - Comfort Plus and Executive - with a two tone roof option available for Executive models.

Inside the Hyundai Bayon

Inside the Bayon has a simple cabin design that's easy to navigate. There is lots of hard plastic but at this price that goes with the territory and it feels solid and well made throughout. Simple and functional, drivers will enjoy a slightly elevated ride height behind the wheel.

The instrument cluster is fully digital (10.25") while Executive models (from €22,795) come with an 8" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The interior of the new Bayon
The interior of the new Bayon

The interior of the new Bayon has been designed to be clean, roomy, and well-lit with ambient lighting available as standard on Executive models. This is a small car but there is a good use of space inside the vehicle with rear legroom and headroom decent for a compact. There has been a focus on maximising front and rear passenger comfort and increasing boot space, with 411 litres available, excellent for a car of this size.

Standard equipment includes roof rails, air con and Bluetooth, while the Executive model adds 16″ alloys, heated from seats, automatic air con, 8″ touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charger and digital instrument panel.

In Ireland, the new Bayon launched with a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 84 hp and a 5-speed manual gearbox. Motor tax is €200 per year for the Bayon 1.2 manual. The 1.0-litre automatic joins the range in time for January 2022. Motor tax is €210 per year for the Bayon 1.0 automatic.

The Bayon is the smallest crossover in Hyundai's range
The Bayon is the smallest crossover in Hyundai's range

Driving the Bayon

On the road the Bayon feels light and easy to drive. It provides comfort for passengers over a variety of roads and road surfaces.

The 1.2-litre engine is a simple naturally aspirated affair with 84 hp, while 0 to 100 km/h is 13.5 seconds. This makes it ideal for driving around town where it is smooth and free-revving.

The Bayon feels less at home out on larger roads where the revs run high at cruising speeds on the motorway. It is a four cylinder engine so the refinement is good inside the vehicle with not too much intrusive engine noise. It is a cheap car to run. My fuel consumption averaged at about 5.3 litres per 100 km during my time with the car.

Rear seating in the Hyundai Bayon
Rear seating in the Hyundai Bayon

Did you like it?

Hyundai has had a busy year with a number of new product launches including a facelifted Hyundai Kona, new Tucson and Santa Fe. There was also the arrival of the all-electric IONIQ 5.

New Bayon strengthens the compact portfolio while meeting consumer demand for more crossover-inspired vehicles.

The Bayon surprises with its practicality and comfort. It is a simple and straightforward motoring experience in these days where everything seems to be either hybrid or electric.

While those needs are catered for elsewhere in the Hyundai range, the Bayon offers a practical and comfortable small car at just over €20,000. Executive models offer the full digital experience, with even wireless smartphone charging included.

Cheap to run, Bayon is an ideal city car with a little more crossover style!

The Bayon is an ideal city car with a little crossover style
The Bayon is an ideal city car with a little crossover style

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Bayon Executive
Price: 
€22,795
Engine: 
1.2-litre petrol
Power:  84 hp
Torque: 118 Nm
Top speed: 165 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 13.5 seconds
CO2 emissions:
 128 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW iX3 Review

The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

In 2021, BMW has strengthened its portfolio of electric vehicles considerably with the arrival of the new BMW iX3, an electric version of the popular BMW X3 mid-size SUV. This year has also seen the launch of the flagship electric iX large SUV and the i4 electric sports saloon.

What's so special about the new BMW iX3?

But there's a familiarity to the iX3 that's sure to help it penetrate the market here, a market that is becoming ever more receptive to battery power.

With pricing starting from €74,815, the BMW iX3 is perched predictably in the higher end of the market. But in recent years rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz have been bringing their electric flagship SUVs to market, spearheading change that's rippling throughout every corner of the industry.

The development of the BMW iX3 was based on the experience amassed by the BMW i brand since 2011.

The iX3 is a pipe dream for many, but it's surprisingly effective and desirable for its market with robust range from a 80 kWh battery. Official data says the range is up to 460 km (WLTP) on a single charge, but most drivers won't emulate quite that. Still over 300 km is achievable and there's a lot of comfort and confidence driving on a full charge because of that.

The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery
The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery

Visually there are a few little hints to the iX3's electric underpinnings. Granted on test is the fully loaded 'Premier Edition Pro' that looks equally smart and sinister with bespoke modifications to the front and rear apron, enclosed front kidney grille and 20" black aerodynamic alloy wheels. But it's stout and squat like a good old-fashioned BMW SUV, many of which had found a home in Ireland since the X5 started it all.

Inside the new BMW iX3

Slipping inside the new BMW iX3 is a very pleasant experience. The cabin quality is excellent, the design sturdy and reassuring. There's no compromise in quality, everything looks and feels great, like any other X3 in the range. There's a full digital experience with a digital instrument cluster for the driver. It's a proper luxury liner.

The interior of the car also contains blue accents as a reference to the electric drive system. These can be found on both the Start/Stop button and the gear selector lever. Other model-specific cues include the model lettering on the centre console, door sill plates bearing the BMW i logo, the screens in the cockpit and Control Display adapted to the presence of an electric drive system as well as the standard-fitted ambient lighting, which provides blue illumination in its default setting.

Standard equipment for the new BMW iX3 includes BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto preparation and the digital services from BMW Connected Charging.

The interior of the new BMW iX3
The interior of the new BMW iX3

The BMW iX3 Premier Edition includes 20” black aerodynamic wheels, automatic tailgate, adaptive suspension and panoramic sunroof. Vernasca leather is available in a choice of four colours, along with Sensatec dashboard, sun protect glazing, ambient lighting and electric seats. Additional standard features include wireless phone charging, heated front seats and the brand’s very latest driver assistance technology, including Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant and BMW Live Cockpit Professional.

Additional standard features on the Premier Edition Pro include BMW head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, gesture control, Parking Assistant Plus, automatic high beam assistant, and lumbar support.

Is it practical?

The iX3 remains a practical family SUV with little compromise on space inside the vehicle. The driver, the front passenger and the three occupants in the rear have almost exactly the same levels of space as in a conventionally powered BMW X3 variant.

Boot capacity also matches that of combustion-engined BMW X3 models, while the boot floor lifts up to reveal a stowage compartment for the charging cable or luggage compartment cover. Thanks to the 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrest, load space can be expanded as required. The load capacity of the new BMW iX3 is between 510 and 1,560 litres.

The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW
The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW

The new iX3 is capable of charging at 150 kW at DC fast-charging stations, with recharging from 0 to 80 per cent taking just over 30 minutes in these instances. When using AC terminals, there's single-phase charging available at up to 7.4 kW and three-phase charging at up to 11 kW.

Driving the BMW iX3

So is it still the ultimate driving machine with a battery? There's a healthy 286 hp and 400 Nm from a newly designed fifth-generation BMW eDrive electric motor. But that will be needed to haul the hulking iX3 at over 2.2 tonnes. Still the iX3 manages a 0 to 100 kmh sprint in just 6.8 seconds.

Power is transferred to the rear wheels and adaptive suspension fitted as standard optimises sporting responses and comfort. There's no four wheel drive option and ground clearance is not a strong point so don't try anything too adventurous with it.

The BMW iX3 has a unique rear axle subframe and bespoke chassis integration to help it meet the particular demands on a pure electric vehicle. The iX3 feels good on the road with the comfort and refinement we expect from a premium SUV. Handling and grip is fine but the weight of the battery and its distribution appears to take the edge off BMW's famed sporty handling characteristics, while the steering remains quite neutral too.

BMW enters the arms race with the iX3
BMW enters the electric premium SUV arms race with the iX3

Did you like it?

More than I thought I would. The iX3 is a brilliant electric SUV. Yes you pay for it but the quality and execution of this car is top notch. It remains comfortably familiar BMW territory - a beautiful interior, classic BMW design cues, and utterly seducing from the moment you slip behind the wheel and put it in Drive.

With over 300 km possible on one battery charge, I did many journeys with no charging required between them, including motorway journeys.

While ultimate 'ev' driving machine might be a stretch too far for this reviewer, comfort and refinement remain reassuringly premium and a good omen for the future of electric BMWs. The iX3 is another surprise hit of the year for Changing Lanes.

The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV
The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW iX3 Premier Edition Pro
Price: 
€76,067
Battery:
80 kWh
Power:  286 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 180 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year


The 2021 MINI Cooper Sport on test for Changing Lanes!

MINI Hatch Review (2022)

The 2021 MINI Cooper Sport on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2021 MINI Cooper Sport on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's MINI Hatch review for everything you need to know about the MINI range in Ireland in 2022.

The iconic MINI Hatch - reinvented at the turn of the century under the steer of BMW Group - needs little introduction. Styling cues have stayed fresh and relevant over the years with just the slightest tweaks. The friendly round headlights say it all. 20 years old this year.

But is this MINI still relevant in today's market where it's all about how electrified you are?

MINI of course is not immune to market trends and in 2020, the brand launched the all-new MINI Electric in Ireland.

What's new for the MINI Hatch in 2021?

But MINI will still plant a petrol engine in this beauty and in 2021 the MINI Hatch got a comprehensive range of updates, along with the MINI Convertible and five door hatchback variants. It's the MINI, just swankier with a few more embellishments and options.

The MINI Hatch on review for Changing Lanes presents itself in Island Blue with three doors and a new multitone roof with an enthralling colour gradient from San Marino Blue through Pearly Acqua to Jet Black, created with a new painting technique. It's simply wild!

The MINI Hatch has been updated for this model year
The MINI Hatch has been updated for this model year

The MINI Hatch is cool. No doubt about it. After all these years, there's still no car that drips with attitude quite like it. Our MINI Hatch Cooper Sport on test rolls in at €27,903 with a small but funky 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet.

MINI has tweaked the front end with a larger radiator grille with black, hexagonal surround, flanked by hallmark round MINI headlights. The position lights have been replaced by vertical air inlets and the central bumper strip is now in body colour. The wheel arches have new contours and the side indicators have been redesigned to feature LED technology. At the back, the fog light is now integrated into the rear apron as a narrow LED unit. The John Cooper Works pack comes as standard on the Sport model and adds extra badging and more visual chutzpah.

What's it like inside?

Inside it's classic MINI too. No one else in the motor industry does car interiors quite like MINI. It's dark and cool with the central binnacle standing the test of time, now digital with an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display and Piano Black high-gloss surface as standard. A newly-designed sports leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons is now standard, as is the digital display behind the steering wheel.

This car is oh so cool but it's not hot on rear legroom or even boot space. Carrying rear passengers is the MINI's least favourite thing to do. It's tight back there with just two seats. Some other small cars do boot space better too with the Hatch only managing 211 litres.

Inside the 2021 MINI Hatch
Inside the 2021 MINI Hatch

Driving the MINI Hatch

Behind the wheel, John Cooper Works sports sear bolster you perfectly in the MINI Hatch Cooper Sport. After driving this car we can confirm that the MINI Hatch petrol is most certainly relevant because fun never goes out of fashion.

This is probably the most fun small car you can buy. After all these years, it's still got it. The controls have a bit of weight to them, enhancing the sporty feeling behind the wheel. The MINI buries itself in corners with such enthusiasm, backed up by fabulous grip and precision. The MINI is a car you drive and it loves corners.

The six-speed gearbox is wonderfully notchy, the steering tight and sporty. There are few cars that feel this lively on the road any more, certainly in this price range. Refinement is as good as it should be for a car of this type, yet there’s a natural firmness to the suspension that adds to the atmosphere behind the wheel.

In the Cooper Sport, the 1.5-litre engine is a three cylinder affair with just 136 hp. But it feels lively and engaging and will suit most buyer's needs for power and performance. The 6-speed manual gearbox comes as standard but there is an automatic gearbox available too. The Cooper S models pack a more powerful 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol under the bonnet.

The classic silhouette of the MINI Hatch that never goes out of fashion
The classic silhouette of the MINI Hatch that never goes out of fashion

Did you like it?

The MINI Hatch is still one of the most desirable small cars on the market right now. It never goes out of fashion, even these days. It's not cheap and certainly carries a premium for its style and prestige. But driving it is a reminder why.

Delightfully sporty and fun on the road, this car is all about the joy of driving. Granted it's not the most practical small car on the market either.

Inside the MINI feels just as sporty with a unique interior perfectly 'digitised' for the times we live. MINI remains an icon of premium compact cars.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MINI 3-Door Hatch Cooper Sport
Price: 
€27,903
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power:  136 hp
Torque: 220 Nm
Top speed: 210 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.1 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
129 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year

MINI Hatch Cooper Sport is a cut above the rest in the small car market
MINI Hatch Cooper Sport is a cut above the rest in the small car market