The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class on test for Changing Lanes!

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review (2022)

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz C-Class review for everything you need to know about the latest generation of the brand's classic executive saloon.

Mercedes-Benz has returned with a new generation of the perennial C-Class. This car is undoubtedly a pillar of the Mercedes-Benz brand, with a strong lineage that comes from a time when saloon was king.

These days saloons are under pressure from SUVs - but the timeless quality of the C-Class means it's a car that still has plenty of relevance in today's market. In the last decade, the C-Class was the highest-volume Mercedes-Benz model, with over 11 million sold worldwide.

The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class on test for Changing Lanes!

What's new for the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

There are two themes the motor industry loves right now - digitisation and electrification. Naturally, the new C-Class touches both. It's electrified thanks to plug-in hybrid and mild hybrids to improve efficiency. Inside there is also a significant improvement to digitisation with a new display and operating concept adopted from the latest S-Class.

The new C-Class goes on sale in Ireland priced from €57,580 for a C 200 d (diesel), from €59,385 for a C 180 (petrol), and from €68,430 for the C 300 e (plug-in hybrid). It's available as a Saloon or Estate.

Mercedes-Benz has smartened up the C-Class considerably. For this new generation, the C-Class has a new look inspired by the S-Class, but with more sporty and dynamic proportions befitting of a junior executive saloon.

At the front, a charismatic Mercedes-Benz grille takes centre stage, suitably modernised for this latest version. At the rear, the lights now have a two-piece design for the very first time, just like the larger Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class saloons.

The C-Class undoubtedly has kerb appeal, especially with the larger alloys and sportier stance of the AMG Line models, with further sporty enhancements to the interior.

The new C-Class goes on sale priced from €57,580
The new C-Class goes on sale priced from €57,580

Inside the new C-Class

Inside, the C-Class manages to feel even more luxurious than before. Cool ambient lighting sets the tone, while the new aviation style air vents give a sporty feel to the interior. The dashboard and central display are also now slightly tilted towards the driver.

Leather upholstery comes as standard. Other highlights include latest generation MBUX infotainment and ‘Hey Mercedes’ multimedia systems with voice-activation and touch screen functions, alongside a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster.

Mercedes-Benz has raised their game with all models now getting a stunning portrait style, 11.9 inch media display in the centre of the dash. Ventilation controls are now accessed through the screen, but it’s quite simple to use. Overall it's one of the most modern and stylish cabins of the class.

Driver comfort and safety features include distance assist, steering assist, lane keeping assist, improved surround sensors, emergency braking functions, and a feature that can detect and raise the body height in anticipation of a collision.

Slightly longer and wider than the car it replaces, the new C-Class has improved headroom, elbowroom and kneeroom for passengers. A large transmission tunnel in the rear means it’s a car most comfortable for two adults in the back. There’s 455 litres of boot space in the Saloon, rising to 490 litres in the C-Class Estate for even more practicality.

Inside the new Mercedes C-Class
Inside the new Mercedes C-Class

What are you driving?

The engine range for the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class at launch includes four cylinder petrol and diesel models, which all come with mild hybrid technology and an excellent 9-speed automatic transmission.

There's also a new plug-in hybrid that offers over 100 km in electric only driving range and 313 hp from a petrol engine and electric motor.

On test for Changing Lanes was the C 200 d AMG Line. It uses a 2.0-litre diesel engine to produce 163 hp and 380 Nm. It offers healthy if not stunning performance in the new C-Class. There’s also the more powerful C 220 d available with 200 hp for example.

Efficiency is good with my average fuel consumption over a week of driving working out at 5.5 litres per 100 km. The insulation of the car gives you a nice buffer from the sound of the diesel engine.

On the road the Mercedes-Benz C-Class shows where your money goes with a beautiful ride comfort balanced with an athletic turn through corners and precise steering. The 3 Series would still have the edge on overall driver involvement. But the C-Class is a tidy performer with a lush cabin experience and smooth ride that makes you forgive it anything it might lack!

The C-Class makes an elegant return in 2022
The C-Class makes an elegant return in 2022

Did you like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

This latest C-Class is an elegant return for the popular compact Mercedes saloon.

Clever styling and packaging means that it many ways, it's a junior S-Class. It certainly has presence on the road, a handsome and stylish car that looks good everywhere.

The C-Class now really stands out for its new interior. Quality is excellent and there is a glam side to this car that certainly gives it an edge on rivals. But with Mercedes latest infotainment and digital dashboard, the C-Class has the technology on board to back it up.

Driving the C-Class and you'll quickly find it's every inch the elegant cruiser, offering a comfortable and refined drive that never goes out of fashion - keeping the market alive for premium compact saloons.

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz C 200 d Saloon AMG Line
Price: 
€61,196
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
163 hp
Torque:  380 Nm
0-100km/h:
 7.7 seconds
Top speed: 230 km/h
CO2 emissions:  
120 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


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


In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series: Which Is Better?

In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series
In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series: Which is better?

Thinking of buying a new mid size executive saloon in Ireland in 2022? In this Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series comparison review, we are going to take a closer look at two titans of the executive car park – the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. In 2019, BMW released an all new generation of the 3 Series, while in late 2019, a revised Audi A4 range hit dealer showrooms in Ireland.

The G20 BMW 3 Series sports a gentle evolution in styling of a very familiar silhouette. It’s the classic German 3-box saloon. Proportions have been revised, styling modernised more in line with the 5 Series from a class above. But the hallmarks of the 3 Series remain – the strong BMW kidney grille at the front and a road hugging sporty stance teasing the class-leading handling ability the BMW 3 Series will always be inextricably linked to.

In the Audi corner, the A4 does a fine job of commanding the executive car park. Timeless design, clean lines and elegant detailing are what make buyers fall in love with the Audi A4 quicker than you can say ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’. The 2019 facelift enhanced what was already a smart, contemporary design of a premium saloon car.

The interior of the latest 2020 Audi A4
The interior of the latest 2020 Audi A4

LED headlights are standard on both the A4 and the 3 Series ranges. Trim levels give a classic look or a sporty one in both the 3 Series and A4 ranges. This reviewer prefers the sporty look bestowed by BMW’s M Sport trim or Audi’s S line. Larger alloy wheels, meaner body kits and other exotic details make these models a little bit special (and more expensive).

So which car has the best interior?

The latest generation BMW 3 Series has a new interior that has been delightfully modernised with the latest technology features and infotainment. The material quality is excellent with beautiful leather upholstery available as standard on higher spec M Sport models. We loved the sporty M Sport steering wheel and new digital instrument panel, the latter which comes as standard across the range. SE and Sport models get a new 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, while M Sport gets the larger 10.25-inch with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, gesture and voice control. You can also control using the iDrive controller on the centre console.

In the cabin of the Audi A4, you can have a similar digital and techy experience. The cabin design is even better in the Audi A4. Though this car debuted in 2015, it still looks really elegant and contemporary inside. The 2019 update has made the A4 even better again with the latest 10.1-inch high resolution MMI touch display tilted slightly towards the driver. This set up comes as standard and keeps the Audi A4 at the races. A digital instrument panel is an extra however.

The 2020 Audi A4 S line
The 2020 Audi A4 S line

How practical are they?

The 3 Series has a longer wheelbase than the car it replaces and cabin comfort has been improved for passengers. There is still quite an intrusive transmission tunnel in the middle but overall there is more shoulder room in the front and extra legroom in the back. BMW has also increased the height of the door opening so getting in and out of the car is easier for rear passengers. There is not much between these two cars in that they will fit four adults comfortably. The boot volume is the same in both the A4 and the 3 Series - 480 litres. Both cars are available as more practical estate cars – the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring.

Engine options

In Ireland the new BMW 3 Series is sold with petrol and diesel engines, and there is also a new BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. On the petrol side there is a 2.0-litre petrol badged 318i, 320i or 330i depending on horsepower; there are also 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre diesels (badged 318d, 320d, 330d). There's also a top end 340i and 340d models, which also feature BMW ‘xdrive’ four wheel drive. My pick is the popular BMW 320d with 2.0-litre diesel engine and 190 hp for a mixture of power, refinement and economy. 8-speed automatics and 6-speed manual gearboxes are available. However the 330e hybrid is another good choice in the range.

The interior of the 2020 BMW 3 Series
The interior of the 2020 BMW 3 Series

The Audi A4 is also available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, however at this time there is no A4 plug-in hybrid to match the popular BMW 330e. Power comes from a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 150 or 190 hp, or a 2.0-litre diesel with 136, 163 or 190 hp. A 6-speed manual gearbox or S tronic automatic are also available. Audi’s quattro four wheel drive is available on the 2.0-litre 190hp diesel. The 2.0-litre diesel with 163hp is a popular choice in this large executive car segment and very economical.

Why not try these for a test drive?

Audi A4 35 TDI 163hp S tronic S Line. Fuel consumption quoted at 5.4-5.7 litres/100km.

BMW 320d 190hp M Sport. Fuel consumption quoted at 4.4-4.7 litres/100km.

Driving them

On the road both the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series offer premium levels of comfort and refinement. They slice through the air seamlessly and silently. The Audi A4 seems just that little better in this regard with refinement and comfort being key pillars of this model. But that’s not to say that the BMW 3 Series is bad in this particular area. However the BMW 3 Series is a lot more fun and engaging to drive than the Audi A4, even as a basic four pot diesel. The steering is sporty and tactile, the grip and poise sensational. It’s the one that never ceases to entertain.

We'll always love a drive in the BMW 3 Series
We'll always love a drive in the BMW 3 Series

Equipment

For the most up to date pricing for the Irish market, please check the manufacturer's website!

The BMW 3 Series comes in three trims SE, Sport and M Sport. The entry level SE model has 17″ alloys, LED headlights, BMW Light Carpet, interior ambient lighting, reversing camera, electric folding rear view mirrors, three-zone air conditioning and enhanced acoustic glazing. There’s also a leather sport steering wheel and BMW Live Cockpit plus, with 8.8-inch central instrument cluster.

The Audi A4 comes in SE or S Line trim. Standard equipment includes heated, electrically adjustable front seats, tri zone climate control, the 10.1-inch colour display, smartphone interface, 18“ alloys, LED headlights and rear lamps, rear view camera, Audi Drive Select, keyless go, front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.

The Audi A4 shines for its refinement and elegance
The Audi A4 shines for its refinement and elegance

So which are you buying?

This is a very tough call. When you are buying a car at this level of the market, a few things are guaranteed: prestige, refinement, comfort and quality. The Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series deliver on these fronts. Under the skin, the BMW is the newer car here, however the Audi A4 2019 facelift means that you would be hard pressed to know it. The Audi A4 steals the show in terms of interior design and technology. It just is a nicer cabin to spend time in. However, beside the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 is fine but dull to drive. The 3 Series is really good to drive, engaging, athletic and supple. The Audi A4 is a classy, plush ride. So which will it be?

In light of our summation above, you won’t regret buying either car. But for this reviewer who loves driving, my money would be on the BMW 3 Series.

Caroline Kidd


The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW 330e Review (2022)

The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

Thinking of buying a new BMW 3 Series in Ireland. Read Caroline's BMW 330e review for everything you need to know about the hybrid 3 Series.

What happens when you mix plug-in hybrid power with the BMW 3 Series? It’s a question very much worth exploring as the German brand continues to launch a slew of new electrified models on the Irish market.

Badged 330e, the 3 Series hybrid has some history, debuting for the first time in Ireland back in 2016. Yet with an all-new generation of the 3 Series on sale since 2019, and a reworked 330e, it’s game on in the Changing Lanes test garage!

Driving the latest generation BMW 3 Series again is a reminder of a few magical days in 2019 spent with the 320d. A BMW 320d is a bit of a legend in its own right with a four cylinder diesel engine that delivers smart economy and plenty of fun behind the wheel.

What's so special about the BMW 330e?

But the 330e has proven its mettle in the 3 Series range, winning over its own quotient of buyers with its smooth petrol power and ability to plug in and charge up between drives, plus super low CO2 emissions meaning motor tax is just €140 per year.

In the new generation of the BMW 3 Series of course it’s ‘better’ all round. They don’t release these cars without some improvements!

The BMW 330e Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland from €48,894
The BMW 330e Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland from €48,894

Let’s recap on a few of the basics first. The BMW 3 Series range kicks off from €44,453 in Ireland for a petrol 318i, with a diesel 318d from €46,564 and the 320d range from €49,765. The 330e hybrid starts from €48,894.

The BMW 330e uses a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine, battery and electric motor. Power output is a formidable 292 hp while there is 420 Nm of torque to play with. Yipee!

The BMW 330e is handsome. Super handsome. Finished in Portimao Blue and bejewelled with the M Sport trim elements, our 330e test car is sporty, muscular, and sophisticated.

Inside the BMW 3 Series

Inside the 3 Series has a wonderful interior that puts the driver competently in the centre of the action. This is a real driver’s car. Vernasca leather upholstery makes us feel comfortably executive, while the digital instrument panel, centre screen and iDrive system give the required touch of modernity. Material quality is excellent and this is a great car to spend time behind the wheel of!

The junior executive saloon will seat five with good sized footwells in the rear, though a large transmission tunnel eats into legroom for a middle passenger. Boot space is compromised somewhat in the 330e plug-in hybrid however, down about 100 litres to 375 litres to accommodate the battery.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 3 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 3 Series

Driving the BMW 330e

On the road, the 330e feels snappy and swift. Power delivery gets a professional finish. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a car wearing this badge. The 330e is as happy to cruise as it is to take on some corners. Rear wheel drive agility keeps things light and interesting behind the wheel. There’s plenty of grip and steering is direct. The set up is quite firm in this one, so rougher road surfaces do communicate more into the cabin. But on the smooth stuff, all is well.

Interestingly the car doesn’t feel quite as communicative in your hands as the 320d we tested previously. The electrified powertrain mutes the sensations somewhat. But the instant power delivery of the electric motor is immediately obvious. Boom!

But let’s not forget there is mighty wizardry at play here allowing you to slip this baby into electric mode and stealth mode slide around town on electric power alone for a range of up to 60 km. That’s more than before.

The plug-in hybrid models in the new BMW 3 Series owe their increased electric range to the latest advances in battery cell technology. Their lithium-ion batteries, designed specifically for each model and manufactured by the BMW Group, have a gross energy content of 12.0 kWh.

Using the electric range is best suited to low speed driving in town or short commutes, as the battery power will drain more rapidly at high speeds on the motorway for example. But I was lazy with the charging and still managed to post a good return on economy of 6.4 litres per 100 km.

It takes between 3 and 6 hours to charge the battery to full, depending on type of connection.

The 3 Series is a fun sports saloon
The 3 Series is a fun sports saloon

Did you like it?

BMW’s compact executive saloon gains even more power and flexibility in the 330e. The 330e gives options as we transition to more electrification, but even if you are not a frequent charger, the car performs on fuel like a decent petrol car.

There is an impressive fluidity to this car on the road, aided by the electric motor. Maybe not quite as sharp as a 320d for example. But it is a sporty car with a firm enough set up on the road.

It’s indeed a beautiful car, particularly in M Sport trim. We love the high quality interior, and that very meaty steering wheel.

The 3 Series is a legend and deservedly so!

The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid offering an all-electric drive up to 60 km
The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid offering an all-electric drive up to 60 km

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 3 Series 330 e M Sport
Price: 
€49,082
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 292 PS
Torque: 420 Nm
Top speed: 230 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
34 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

 


The BMW 5 Series has been updated for 2021

BMW 530e Review (2022)

The BMW 5 Series has been updated for 2021
The BMW 5 Series has been updated - the brand's most popular model in Ireland

Caroline drives the the latest BMW 530e! The brand's large executive saloon now with plug-in hybrid power but is it any good? Read Caroline's BMW 530e review to find out.

What's so special about the BMW 5 Series?

The BMW 5 Series is unquestionably a stalwart of the BMW range and indeed the entire motor industry. Making a grand entrance comes simply to the 5 Series - it has been doing just that for well over 40 years.

The latest generation of the large executive classic launched here in Ireland back in 2017. That story ended with the 5 Series winning us over with its luxurious cabin and fun to drive character behind the wheel.

In 2020 the BMW 5 Series returned with a few tweaks to keep it competitive in its class. It's the 'facelifted' 5 we find here on test for Changing Lanes.

The 5 Series is BMW’s bestselling model in Ireland and the updated range goes on sale from €53,468 for a 520d diesel or from €53,803 for a 520i petrol.

What’s new for the BMW 5 Series?

Electrification moves up a gear with a revised 530e in 2021 – the plug-in hybrid 5 Series that’s capable of driving on pure electric power for a range of up to 58 km. It goes on sale from €59,822 and posts some very impressive performance figures while keeping CO2 emissions as low as 40g/km. Plug-in hybrid power is growing in popularity across the motor industry and indeed the BMW range, with many old favourites now getting the addition of a battery, electric motor and plug!

Elsewhere styling has been mildly tweaked and new equipment added. But the 5 Series in 2021 remains a gloriously handsome car that makes you feel like a boss! The BMW kidney grille is now bigger, flanked by slimmer LED headlights with two U-shaped daytime running lights.

The 5 Series goes on sale priced from €53,468
The 5 Series goes on sale priced from €53,468

In Ireland the new BMW 5 Series will be available in SE, M Sport and M Sport Edition trims. The M Sport package features new 19” and 20” wheels, while the new limited M Sport Edition comes with exclusive Individual metallic paint and unique 20” Air Performance wheels.

The front apron of both SE and M Sport cars has also been redesigned with larger and more pronounced air inlets. At the rear, the taillights have been redesigned with blackened glass. There’s also a redesigned rear apron, trapezoidal tailpipe finishers and a sportier mounted diffuser.

Inside the BMW 5 Series

The quality and comfort inside the 5 Series make it one of the most desirable large premium saloons on the market today. Yes, you will know you are behind the wheel of something expensive. There are many different trims and beautiful interior options you can choose from, which makes every 5 Series feel more individual and nothing short of luxurious! Leather upholstery is standard across the range and the test car had Ivory White Dakota leather. Material quality is just excellent everywhere.

New interior features include a larger 12.3” Central Information Display powered by the latest Operating System 7.0 with rotary controller, including BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant and smartphone integration. The new 5 Series also benefits from the latest camera- and radar-based driving assistant systems, including features like steering and lane-control assistant and active cruise control.

The interior feels large and welcoming with good width across the rear bench for three, through the transmission tunnel takes up a fair bit of space on middle passengers. Wouldn’t it be more realistic for two VIPS or executives?

In the 530e plug-in hybrid, boot space is somewhat compromised to accommodate the 12 kWh battery under the boot floor. But the floor remains flat and there is a decent 410 litres of space regardless.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 5 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 5 Series - luxury limo!

What are my engine options?

The 530e uses a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine, battery and 80 kW electric motor, all combined with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Plug-in hybrid is a big emerging trend in the BMW range with the brand adding many new plug-in hybrids across model ranges in the last 12 months. The 530e plug-in hybrid gets improved for 2021 with more power, torque and better efficiency, while a new 545e has also been added with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. The 5 Series Touring is also available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time.

Other engine options include four and six cylinder petrol and diesel engines with mild-hybrid technology across the board to enhance performance, lower fuel consumption and improve driving comfort.

In 2017 we tested the classic BMW 520d 2.0-litre diesel at Changing Lanes and it never fails to impress with its refinement, power and economy.

Driving the BMW 530e

This time at Changing Lanes, it’s the turn of the petrol electric hybrid 530e. It is one of the most powerful of the range with 292 hp and 420 Nm of torque. This means it feels lively and flexible all the time, with a responsive throttle that marries beautifully with the 5 Series rear wheel drive dance through corners. This is a real thing. BMW make cars do this very well. They have been doing it for years. The 530e is lithe but we think the 520d we tested previously might have taken on the lateral challenges of corners a teeny bit better owing to the traditional combustion engine powertrain sans battery and electric motor.

Power is put to the road in a controlled, stately manner. It's the most fun large plug-in hybrid you will find in the executive car park! This is a super quiet, comfortable long distance cruiser. The steering is meaty with plenty of feedback for a tactile experience behind the wheel. Sport mode livens things up even more but you can optimise efficiency in the Hybrid mode and still enjoy this car.

Ideally, your plug-in hybrid should be charged regularly to get the best out of it and run it on electric power for the range of up to 58 km. Ideal for low speed trips around town. When you get out on to the motorway your battery power will drain fast. But the 530e still posted some very acceptable economy figures for what is a heavy car. Over a week of driving we averaged 6.7 litres per 100 km. And wow was this car good to drive on the motorway! For this generation of the 5 Series BMW paid particular attention to reducing interior noise levels.  The BMW 5 Series is forever stylish and fun to drive!The BMW 5 Series is forever stylish and fun to drive!

Did you like it?

We love the 5 Series at Changing Lanes. It has such class and presence, amazing pedigree and fun rear wheel drive handling.

The BMW handles superbly and feels alive in your hands like none of its competitors. The 530e adds hybrid power to the mix championing a silky smooth transmission and a new degree of silence to driving a 5 Series.

The 5 Series is ageing but still looks good. The interior is high quality with a reasonable digital upgrade helping keeping it up to date with competitors.

Diesel has been the default in this segment for a long time but the 530e is a successful alternative, offering buyers flexibility - but at a premium. We can't see the classic 520d being abandoned any time soon. It posts great economy, especially for high mileage and frequent motorway users. But whatever your preferred flavour of 5, you will find an amazing companion in the BMW 5 Series!

The new BMW 530e on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW 530e on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 5 Series (530e) M Sport
Price: 
€66,996
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 292 PS
Torque: 420 Nm
Top speed: 235 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
40 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The Tesla Model 3 on test for Changing Lanes!

Tesla Model 3 Review (2022)

The Tesla Model 3 on test for Changing Lanes!
The Tesla Model 3 on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's Tesla Model 3 review for everything you need to know about buying Tesla's new more affordable electric car in Ireland.

Tesla has arguably done more to accelerate the movement of the motor industry to electrification than any other car brand. And they really don’t operate like any other car brand. In fact, this relative newcomer (Est. 2003) does everything a little bit differently. And as I was soon to find out as I approached the Tesla Model 3 for the first time, there is nothing ordinary about the car in front me!

What's so hot about the Tesla Model 3?

Designed as Tesla’s smaller, simpler, and more affordable car, slotting in below the brand-defining Model S and ‘groovy-doored’ Model X SUV, the Tesla Model 3 officially went on sale in Ireland in 2019.

With pricing starting from €48,990, this car has massively contributed to the rapid widening of Tesla’s customer base. The brand has registered 340 cars in Ireland so far in 2021, with 335 of them Model 3s.

As I approach the car with what looks like a Tesla-branded credit card in my hand, it’s probably already done a background check on me and knows my first pet’s name. A swipe of the card against the B pillar and I’m in!

Glistening in ruby red, the Tesla Model 3 brings next generation glamour to Irish roads. Three variants are available all with varying levels of performance and battery wizardry: the Standard Range Plus (448 km WLTP, priced from €48,990), Model 3 Performance (567 km WLTP, priced from €65,990) and Long Range (580 km WLTP, priced from €58,990).

Topping up the Model 3's battery at the Tesla Supercharger
Topping up the Model 3's battery at the Tesla Supercharger

What's new for the Model 3 in 2021?

The Model 3 has also received a range of styling improvements for 2021 including matte black trim around the car's exterior features like the door handles, more efficient tyres and updated 18/19” Sports Wheels. The Model 3 Performance can now be ordered with new 20” ‘Uberturbine’ wheels. There’s also a new electrically operated boot lid, which opens at the touch of a button or from the touchscreen or Tesla app.

Interior updates include more matte black finish, which replaces the gloss finish in previous versions of the car. The centre console has been redesigned, featuring fixed inductive charging mats for two smartphones. Two additional high-powered USB-C ports have been added for high-speed device charging. Plus, an additional USB-A port in the glove compartment to use for storage devices for Sentry Mode and Dash Cam footage. A new heat pump improves how fast the cabin heats up.

Eight surround cameras allow for 360-degree vision, while twelve ultrasonic sensors provide detection of surrounding objects. Driver assistance features such as emergency braking, collision warning and blind-spot monitoring try their best to keep you out of trouble, while Autopilot is included as standard which, under driver supervision, enables the car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically for other vehicles and pedestrians within its lane.

Inside the 2021 Tesla Model 3
Inside the 2021 Tesla Model 3

Inside the Tesla Model 3

Yes, Tesla do things differently - but depending on how you like your cars, the Tesla’s austere cabin design and gigantic 15" touchscreen in the centre of the dash might have you running for something more analogue and familiarly square.

Even moving the side mirrors requires a quick detour into the central operating system. But as smart as Tesla is, the pure mechanical action of adjusting the wing mirrors is then done through a few twists, turns and slides of a reassuringly normal button on the steering wheel. And except for some stalks for the wipers, indicators, and gear selection, that’s about it. There’s no ON button or ignition - the Tesla just knows you’re ready to go. The Tesla Model 3 is the smartest car I’ve ever met. And I've met a lot of cars. Over 300!

The finish of the cabin and the quality of the design is an improvement on the Model 3 but it feels more basic than a premium German saloon that would command a similar list price. Cabin space is excellent with lots of glazing making it a pleasant place to travel in. The rear bench can seat three, while the boot opens to reveal over 500 litres of cargo space.

So will I be stopping a lot to charge it?

Tesla’s battery technology is truly astounding. Seeing over 500 km on your range counter means less time plugged in or even contemplating where the next charger is when driving between destinations. And Tesla has been building these big milers for years, with well-established car brands only beginning to catch up now. And they are still not there yet.

Yes, it is a very clever car. I sat for hours behind the wheel thinking about this. No need to do rapid calculations in my head, extrapolating, predicting, estimating, and still not having enough range to get home comfortably. With a real world driving range in excess of 500 km, this model moves the conversation on completely when it comes to normalising electric cars, what you can do with them and how it feels to own one.

The Tesla Model 3 has a great design with plenty of interior space
The Tesla Model 3 has a great design with plenty of interior space

Driving the Model 3

And how you can drive them! If the range doesn’t excite your passengers, then the performance surely will. The Tesla Model 3 Long Range can accelerate to 100 km/h in just 4.4 seconds and it feels just as fast with a silent shove of torque that requires a small warning to passengers of warp speed that is about to be engaged.

Rapid acceleration is a novelty but the Model 3 Long Range is a talented handler with all wheel drive delivering a distinct style of tarmac hugging charm.

It’s very comfortable for the most part but the ride falls short of truly magic carpet premium.

Most buyers will charge their Model 3 at home from a wallbox and rarely need to charge on the go. But the Model 3 also comes with a built-in CCS Charge Port for compatibility with third party fast charging networks like IONITY and ESB, or Tesla’s own Supercharger network and Destination chargers.

The Tesla Model 3 Long Range available from €58,990
The Tesla Model 3 Long Range available from €58,990

Did you like it?

The Tesla Model 3 is a marvel, no doubt about it. The smartest car on the road, already set up for self-driving in a world that isn’t ready for that yet.

But it is not emotional at all. From the cut of the cabin to the myriad of functions and games set in the central operating system, the Model 3 has the distinct feeling of being a device. A good one, but it’s a different approach to building cars. Not wrong, simply different.

The on-road performance is silently charming but the Model 3 will never talk to you through the steering rim or the pedals and whisper words of encouragement like some of the best cars I’ve ever known.

But over 500 km driving range on battery power and not a bead of sweat on my forehead hustling through four counties in one day? With reliable fast charging at the other end on the Tesla Supercharger network? Maybe we need a new definition of 'best' at Changing Lanes!

The undeniable magnificent battery technology, next level operating and design mean this car has and will continue to attract its own loyal following. It remains a status symbol of futurism and cleverness, and reassures that someday we won’t talk about cars and electric cars as if one is somehow compromised over the other. Just cars that can take you from A to B.

Caroline behind the wheel of the 2021 Tesla Model 3!
Caroline behind the wheel of the 2021 Tesla Model 3!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Tesla Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor All Wheel Drive
Price: 
€58,990
Battery: 
75 kWh
Range (WLTP): 580 km
Top speed: 233 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 4.4 seconds
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year


The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class on test for Changing Lanes!

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review (2022)

 

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class on test for Changing Lanes!

Thinking of buying a new Mercedes-Benz E-Class in 2022? Read Caroline's Mercedes E-Class review for everything you need to know about this top large executive saloon.

What's so special about the Mercedes E-Class?

Launched back in 2016, the current generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is known as a leader. With over 14 million E-Class Saloon and Estate models delivered since 1946, the E-Class is the best-selling model series in the history of Mercedes-Benz and considered by many as the ‘heart of the brand’.

It's no surprise. This large luxury saloon hit its stride in 2016 with the launch of the tenth generation E-Class, widely acclaimed as the epitome of style, comfort and refinement. But even leaders need to keep themselves sharp with the pace of competition in the motor industry at the moment. So it was time for the E-Class to take a trip to the tailor for a fancy new executive suit.

Hybrid power is a strong theme as is a digital technology upgrade for even more wow factor behind the wheel.

 

 

What's new for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

The E-Class is the bestselling model for Mercedes-Benz in Ireland. In late 2020, the brand launched a refreshed version of this executive classic, while also using the opportunity to launch two ‘EQ Power’ plug-in hybrid models on the Irish market – the E 300 e (petrol electric hybrid) and the E 300 de (diesel electric hybrid). The petrol hybrid now has a higher capacity battery, more power and more torque. It hits the market at a time when hybrids are big news and now can drive for longer on electric power - up to 50 km.

The latest E-Class has had a few styling tweaks for 2021. The refresh includes a slight redesign of the front grille and headlamps for a more youthful appearance in line with other models in the Mercedes-Benz range like the A-Class, upcoming C-Class and flagship S-Class that launched here at the beginning of 2021. At the back, there’s a new bumper, split tail lamps and a new boot lid. Full LED headlights and taillights are fitted as standard. Subtlety is the name of the game here but stately presence is non-negotiable.

The E-Class has been updated for 2021 with more hybrid power
The E-Class has been updated for 2021 with more hybrid power

Inside the latest E-Class

Inside comes a well-appointed interior that is still a class example of modern contemporary luxury, something Mercedes-Benz does so well these days. Cabin finish is impeccable as you would expect of a high-flyer like the E-Class. There are new trims for the interior too and a new steering wheel design. Supportive seats with leather upholstery come as standard, ideal for settling in for a long motorway cruise.

The latest-generation MBUX and ‘Hey Mercedes’ multimedia and voice-activated assistance systems also feature. Displayed on two large, high-resolution multimedia screens, both come housed beneath a shared glass cover that creates a widescreen cockpit effect. It’s simply stunning.

Unfortunately boot space suffers in the hybrid to accommodate the battery, down from a very respectable 540 litres - in a diesel E-Class for example - to 370 litres in the E 300 e, with an awkward step in the boot. Otherwise this is a roomy and luxurious large executive saloon that will thrill all on board!

Pricing starts from €53,645 for the E 200 d, while the E 300 e plug-in hybrid range starts from €61,830 with a high level of standard equipment. The E 300 de diesel plug-in hybrid range starts from €63,755.

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

Hybrid power in the E-Class

Mercedes-Benz Ireland expects the focus for the Irish market to be the tried and tested E 200d and 220d diesels, and the new E 300 e/ E 300 de plug-in hybrids. I can attest to the success of the Mercedes-Benz E 220d from previous experience, with diesel still being a reliable choice for power and economy in this class of vehicle.

Yet times are changing with electrification becoming the default way for car manufacturers to bring down emissions and offer customers more flexible, environmentally friendly options.

Powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, combined with a 13.5 kWh battery and electric motor, the new Mercedes-Benz E 300 e puts out a healthy 320 hp and 700 Nm of torque. CO2 emissions are just 37g/km so this model qualifies for motor tax of €140 per year. Times are changing!

Simply gorgeous!
Simply gorgeous!

Driving the Mercedes-Benz E 300 e

On the road the E-Class shows exactly why it’s still a benchmark in its class with excellent comfort and refinement making it an absolute pleasure to drive. It soaks up the motorway miles, moving over the tarmac like the big, elegant saloon it is. There’s a pleasantly positive delivery of power by the E 300 e, made all the more special by the knack of the electric motor to give smooth, linear acceleration, while the 9-speed automatic gearbox never misses a beat. It is beguiling how quiet this car is to drive around town.

The E-Class might look the business but it’s not the most dynamically exciting car in its class. Yet rear wheel drive agility still makes it an interesting large saloon to drive.

While diesel has typically been the go-to in the large premium saloon segment, the new Mercedes-Benz E 300 e returns some impressive economy. Over a week of driving, with some motorway runs included, my average fuel consumption was between 6 – 6.4 l/100 km.

The beauty of this car is that because it’s a plug-in hybrid you can experiment with charging it and driving it on electric power alone, for example when driving around town or on short commutes. In this scenario, there’s up to 50 km of range available. With an on-board charge port with a capacity of 7.4 kW, the battery can be charged in 1.5 hours using a wallbox or in five hours using a conventional domestic power socket.

The Mercedes-Benz E 300 e is available from €61,830
The Mercedes-Benz E 300 e is available from €61,830

Did you like it?

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a fine car and highly desirable for its comfort, refinement, and high-end cabin experience. The updates for 2021 bring a healthy digital and technology upgrade to the car making for an even more glamourous cabin. It covers the road like a dream, making it a fabulous way to travel!

The new E 300 e is a wonderful execution of Mercedes-Benz values – electrified. However, the diesel E-Class is also a highly capable vehicle with great returns on economy. So, whether buyers are ready to pay the premium for new plug-in hybrid technology, and start their own journey to electrification, remains a very personal matter. But either way the E-Class is a magnificent car!

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class - full of mystery and magic!
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class - full of mystery and magic!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz E 300 e Plug In Hybrid
Price: 
€61,830
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
320 bhp
Torque: 
700 Nm
0-100km/h: 
5.7 seconds
Top speed: 
250 km/h
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
37 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

 


The new Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on test for Changing Lanes!

Jaguar XE Chequered Flag (2020) Review

The new Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2020 Jaguar XE.

We review the 2020 Jaguar XE Chequered Flag edition with great anticipation that soon turned to a real grá for this lithe and lovely cat. Fresh from a 2019 facelift, Jaguar’s compact saloon invites more customers to the brand with contemporary luxury and first class engineering.

Jaguar Ireland is turning our attention in the direction of the Chequered Flag edition of the XE. It adds an impressive list of standard equipment along with some sporty styling additions, all available from a competitive €47,005.

What's so special about the Jaguar XE?

Let’s rewind a little to put this XE into some context. Jaguar is a small brand compared to the other heavy hitters in the premium segment but buyers of premium cars should do themselves a favour and check out what’s available from the brand. To date, Changing Lanes has spent time with Jaguar's new breed of SUVs; that will be the ground-breaking F-PACE of 2016 and the E-PACE follow up of 2017.

But what about the classic Jaguar saloon? The XE was in fact an all-new model for the brand back in 2014, joining the XF and XJ in Jaguar’s premium saloon range. Just like competitor brands, the XE was about attracting younger buyers to the brand with a modern compact saloon that oozed class and sporty appeal. Let’s remember this is the brand that lives by the tagline ‘The Art of Performance’.

The Jaguar XE Chequered Flag is on sale priced from €47,005
The Jaguar XE Chequered Flag is on sale priced from €47,005

What's new for the 2020 Jaguar XE?

The Jaguar XE has great presence on the road and the 2019 facelift offers some satisfactory updates to appearance to keep things modern. New front and rear bumpers feature as do all-LED headlights and tail-lights with distinctive ‘J-blade’ LED signatures. Chequered Flag editions get black 18” alloys and exterior pack.

However, it’s inside where the XE really does sell itself beautifully. Open the door and you will be met by a stylish and classy cabin full of leather and other contemporary magic. We loved our test car's cream leather and panelling. The contour-hugging front seats are mounted low, creating a sports-car like driving position. The raised centre console also adds to the sportiness.

The 2019 facelift reaped dividends for the brand in this segment. Soft-touch materials, premium veneers and all-new door trims feature as does a revised centre console, new gear shift selector, and a new steering wheel shared with the I-PACE electric SUV. It features hidden-until-lit graphics and tactile switches for intuitive control of key functions.

The interior of the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag
The interior of the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag

More technology for the interior

The Chequered Flag edition also benefits from a swish new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with 10" touchscreen. Apple Car Play and Android Auto sync easily but the native system is quite impressive. The twin-screen system also includes a 5.5" lower touchscreen with two physical dials for things like ventilation and other functions. It looks great and it is actually one of the easiest on the market to use. Wireless phone charging is available for the first time too.

Other standard features on the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag are 14-way electric heated front seats, illuminated metal tread plates, configurable ambient lighting, front and rear parking sensors and reverse camera.

In Ireland the Jaguar XE is available at present with petrol and diesel engines form the brand’s Ingenium range of engines. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel puts out a healthy 180 hp. There is also a 2.0-litre petrol available with 250 or 300 hp.

The Jaguar XE strikes a fine balance between comfort and performance
The Jaguar XE strikes a fine balance between comfort and performance

On the road in the Jaguar XE!

Jaguar has a fantastic heritage in motorsport and building performance-oriented road cars. Yet can they package this supremacy in a compact saloon? We were keen to find out. In fact the XE appears to do it better than any rival in its current iteration. Much of the on-road performance is down to the Jaguar XE’s lightweight aluminium intensive body structure. Aluminium makes up 75 per cent of the body and combines with classic sporty rear wheel drive and sophisticated integral link rear suspension. The XE is the most agile in its class, a playful mate for keen drivers. The steering is wonderfully weighted with loads of precision and steering feel. No interruptions, this car is an excellent communicator on the road.

Jaguar has achieved a fine balance between comfort and performance in the XE. Despite a sporty oriented drive this car covers the road phenomenally well. Automatic transmission comes as standard and we liked the slickness of shifts in association with the 2.0-litre diesel in our test car. This engine is another fine point. Refinement is very good and performance, one of the best. It’s swift and responsive with 430 Nm of torque, achieving 0 to 100 kmh in 8.1 seconds. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was a competitive 5.5 l per 100 km.

Enthusiastic drivers will also find a Dynamic mode that amplifies the car’s sporting character, with faster gear shifts, sharper throttle response and increased steering weighting. We kept the car in Comfort most of the time and we were happy with the experience behind the wheel. Other modes include Eco or Rain, Ice, Snow Mode. Jaguar also includes All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) in the spec, a useful driver aid based on Jaguar Land Rover’s experience in off-road traction systems. It’s like a low speed cruise control system and helps XE drivers to electronically gain traction in seconds, ideal for use on low-grip surfaces, such as snow-covered roads.

Diesel and petrol engines are available in the current XE line-up
Diesel and petrol engines are available in the current XE line-up

Did you like it all?

So was there anything we didn’t like about this car? With the XE there is a compromise to be made on interior and boot space. This is the smallest car in its class when it comes to interior space. Rear legroom is on the tight side compared to rivals. The saloon style boot restricts practicality somewhat. There is over 410 litres available, but like for like, it is less than what you find in rivals.

The Jaguar XE is a smooth operator that comes up behind you, overtakes you and you never realised it was just so good. Seductive looks and the prestige of the Jaguar badge should put it on your shortlist as a mid size sports saloon. Yes we can call it a legitimate sports saloon because it really does feel like one. Even with a four cylinder diesel engine!

Once you get behind the wheel you will love the Jaguar for its classy interior and incredible on the road performance and agility. The 2019 facelift keeps the XE very competitive in its segment with the addition of the latest infotainment. The Chequered Flag edition is very tempting for the level of standard kit and price; when you compare it to rivals of similar spec it seems well-priced.

The XE feels smaller inside than rivals but if space is not a priority, then enjoy one of the most fun and sporty compact saloons on the market right now.

Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on sale now
Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on sale now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Jaguar XE 2.0 D Chequered Flag
Price: 
€47,005
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
180 hp
Torque: 430 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.1 seconds
Top speed: 228 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 130 g/km
Motor Tax:  €270 per year


The 2020 Audi A5 Sportback on test for Changing Lanes!

Audi A5 Sportback Review

The 2020 Audi A5 Sportback on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2020 Audi A5 Sportback on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2020 Audi A5 Sportback!

The Audi A5 Sportback is revamped for 2020. Redrawn lines, renewed technology and a revised engine line-up are the headline features. Audi modernises their gorgeous five door coupé that’s still practical enough to carry up to five people AND turn heads. Aside from the new look, new mild hybrid drivetrains and the latest MMI touch operating concept debut. Pricing starts from €48,970.

If we rewind a little, the first generation Audi A5 Sportback debuted in 2009 and it was the German brand’s arrival in a new segment between the classic A4 and A6 saloons. The A5 Sportback and Coupé are derived from the A4 yet have a completely different character. With updated Audi A4 models on sale in Ireland since the end of 2019, it was time for the A5 range to receive a similar revamp.

What's so special about the Audi A5 Sportback?

Elegant, elongated, and sporty -  the Audi A5 has an exclusive coupé-like silhouette with a lowered, tapering roofline. A longer wheelbase with shorter front and rear overhangs also give it an edge over the A4. Slim windows and frameless doors complete the look.

The facelift sees the A5 get a slightly more chiselled appearance for 2020. The front end has more visual impact now the Singleframe honeycomb grille is wider and flatter. At the rear a diffuser insert with trapezoidal tailpipes makes the car appear wider. The Audi A5 Sportback S Line on test for Changing Lanes was sporty by default. But my test car also included the Style Package (€2,205) with 20" wheels, panoramic glass sunroof, multicoloured interior ambient lighting, black styling package (€775) and mirrors (€152).

The interior of the new Audi A5 Sportback
The interior of the new Audi A5 Sportback

Inside the Audi A5 Sportback

Inside the new Audi A5 Sportback, you are welcomed by an exceptionally well-appointed cabin that has received an on-point technology update for 2020. This car manages to feel different behind the wheel to the closely related Audi A4, with a more sporty and lower driving position. However, it does inherit the same wonderful elegance and classy dashboard design. We love the large MMI touch display in the centre of the dash, angled slightly toward the driver. Ventilation controls use traditional dials below.

The Audi A5 Sportback feels big inside with roomy footwells in the rear. However the large transmission tunnel in the rear means it’s a more comfortable place for two rather than three. But the boot is a great size with a practical hatchback-style opening.

What’s the range like in Ireland?

In Ireland the Audi A5 Sportback is available in SE and S line trim levels. Buyers can choose from a range of TFSI petrol and TDI diesel engines with outputs ranging from 150 hp to 204 hp.

The petrol range is made up of the 35 TFSI (150 hp) and the 40 TFSI (204 hp). The diesel range is available with the 35 TDI (163 hp) and the 40 TDI (190 hp). Models are front wheel drive as standard but four wheel drive is available. All A5 models are equipped with an automatic transmission as standard.

The model on test was a 35 TDI S line with a list price of €52,830.

The new A5 Sportback is available from €48,970 in Ireland
The new A5 Sportback is available from €48,970 in Ireland

On the road in the Audi A5 Sportback

According to Audi, the A5's suspension has been tuned with an emphasis on comfort but also with a sporty bias.  A tauter sport suspension is a feature of the S line model. On the road the A5 offers drivers more engagement than the A4 with lots of front end grip and precise, progressive steering as standard. There's no rear wheel drive agility but the Audi will please most drivers, happy on the turn in with plenty of grip to inspire confidence on the twisty stuff.

Audi is beginning to roll out mild hybrid tech across key product lines and the updated A5 is no different. In the quest to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, a belt alternator starter recovers energy during deceleration and stores this in a compact lithium-ion battery. With the A5's four-cylinder engines, the MHEV system is integrated into the 12-volt electrical system.

The 35 TDI in our test car is a 2.0-litre diesel with 'modest' 163 hp, yet feels surprisingly sprightly. Shifts are smooth and urgent through the 7-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. Fuel economy is competitive while motor tax is €190 per year. For most drivers there won't be a real need to upgrade to the 40 TDI. The 35 TDI does a fine job here.

The typical fine Audi ride comfort and refinement was slightly offset in our S line model with optional 20" wheels. However long distance refinement on the motorway for example is done well, with the engine settling down to the background and the car providing occupants with a comfortable, classy setting.

Did you like it?

The Audi A5 Sportback is clearly a gorgeous car and grabs attention with its more exclusive styling. The facelift has given the car a slightly more masculine appearance. It remains very desirable and will be a prized possession on many driveways.

The Audi A5 Sportback is practical and extremely stylish
The Audi A5 Sportback is practical and extremely stylish

Though its roots lie in the A4, the A5 carries a premium yet it is a far more interesting car to drive. It's surprisingly unique with a great driving position and driver-focused cabin. Coupé-styling gives the A5 more presence, while the hatchback-style book makes it almost as practical as an A4 estate.

Inside there is a pleasant addition of new technology, but the cabin has an elegant design that still looks fresh and modern.

On the road the A5 Sportback also differentiates itself with a sporty yet composed drive, robust engines and no great compromise to comfort.

The Audi A5 Sportback gets a very expressive mid-term makeover that makes it one of the most well-rounded cars in its class. At Changing Lanes we love this car's style, quality and versatility.

The Audi A5 range debuts mild hybrid technology for 2020
The Audi A5 range debuts mild hybrid technology for 2020

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi A5 Sportback 35 TDI S Line
Price: 
€52,830 (from €48,970)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
163 hp
Torque: 380 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.4 seconds
Top speed: 226 km/h
Fuel economy: 3.7-4.1 l/100 km
CO2 emissions: 98-108 g/km
Motor Tax:  €190 per year


The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review


The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz C-Class review for everything you need to know about the mid-size executive saloon in Ireland. 

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is one of the icons of the Mercedes-Benz range. It has been endearing buyers of compact executive saloons for over two decades now. Despite an onslaught of new SUVs, saloons remain popular in Ireland and the C-Class is still one of the most desirable.

The current generation of the C-Class Merc debuted in 2014. It quickly gained notoriety for its interior elegance and comfort. Then in 2019, it was time for an update. And that's what we have here - the latest compact Benz saloon ready to take on an executive car park crammed with premium German saloon metal. Testing the mettle of the C-Class for sure, but even in 2020 there's still plenty of reasons to check out the Benz. 

What's new for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

Pricing for the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon starts from €41,320 for a C180 Avantgarde petrol edition. The latest revamp includes new engines, equipment and trim elements to keep it at the races against key rivals like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. The C-class styling makeover is slim in that all the elegant, compact saloon proportions are retained but with some new trim elements, alloy wheels and headlight/rear light design. 

Available in the classic Avantgarde trim or the sportier AMG Line, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class oozes class and prestige. AMG Line models get standard fit 18” alloys, more aggressive bumpers and a stunning diamond radiator grille with chrome pins. LED headlights come as standard. The C-Class knows how to make an entrance and won't let you down!


The interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon
The interior of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon

Inside the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

The cabin of the C-Class is very plush and luxurious with beautiful soft touch materials and design elements. Details like the circular air vents and open pore black ash wood trim add sophistication. The C-Class range gets a welcome technology upgrade in that you can now opt for a 12.3-inch digital cockpit display and a 10.25-inch infotainment screen. The 10.25 inch screen as part of the Advantage pack is definitely worth considering (€3,417) as it looks a lot more premium and at home than the standard 7” screen. There is also a new multifunction steering wheel with touch-control buttons that respond to swiping motions like the screen of a smartphone.

These changes give a bit more modernity to the cabin of the C-Class. It's certainly feeling more 2020 in here. But competition is stiff with a recently revamped A4 and 3 Series also dripping in quality materials and the latest technology features. All three rival compact executive saloons have a different vibe inside. The C-Class is classic Mercedes with a contemporary twist perfect for a stylish junior executive. 

In terms of space, the C-Class Saloon will seat five. However, the rear bench is best suited to two passengers rather than three because of the large ‘hump’ in the middle housing the transmission tunnel. The boot is a competitive 480 litres and the boot lid lifts electronically from a button on the key or a switch in the cabin. Classy vibes!

For buyers looking for more space, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate is a good buy. It offers stylish looks in the body of an estate car with a large and practical square boot.

What are my options?

There are plenty of nice features to make your C-Class feel a little bit special. Leather upholstery certainly helps and that comes as standard. There's also cruise control, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, keyless start and 17” alloys on Avantgarde models. The AMG Line models are a bit more expensive to buy but add sports pedals, 18” alloys and AMG bodystyling. They certainly improve the kerb appeal of this C-Class model.

Petrol and diesel engines are the main feature of the C-Class range in 2020. Engine options include a 1.6-litre petrol (C180), 2.0-litre petrol (C300), 1.6-litre diesel (C200d) and 2.0-litre diesel (C220d), as well as some sportier variants.


The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon has been updated for 2019
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines for 2020

New Mercedes-Benz C200 engine - any good?

One of the most exciting additions to the new C-Class range is the C200 now with 'EQ Boost'. It's a new 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine for Mercedes-Benz that uses mild hybrid technology. This is a big trend for manufacturers now across the industry, with the aim to bring down C02 emissions and boost efficiency. A 48 volt on-board electrical system with a belt-driven starter/alternator gives the car a boost in performance and efficiency. The power output is a healthy 184hp and 0 to 100 km/h is achieved in just 7.7 seconds.

We found the new C200 to deliver smooth power through the nine speed automatic gearbox during our test drive. The car was refined at a cruise though when you ask it to work hard quickly, it does get a bit noisier. Over a week of driving the C200 averaged fuel consumption at 8.4l/100km. Motor tax is €390 per year for this model. This shows that in this segment there is still a space for diesel, which would easily offer superior economy for high mileage drivers.

On the road in the C-Class 

My test car featured Dynamic Body Control that alters suspension damping characteristics in three stages. The damping characteristics are tuned more tautly in the two stages “Sport” and “Sport+”. The “Comfort” mode is more comfortably tuned, unevenness is levelled out better and road roar and tyre vibration characteristics are improved. There’s also a Sports Direct-Steer system for more agile and smooth handling.

On the road, the C-Class Saloon glides along the tarmac effortlessly offering a top class comfortable and serene drive. It offers rear wheel drive agility and is flexible through corners, though the sensations reaching the rim are not overtly sporty. I recently drove the Mercedes-Benz C200 Coupé, but I really like the C200 set-up in the Saloon. 

There may be a squeeze on saloons from SUVs but there is likely to always be a market for prestigious, premium saloons like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. This facelift has improved and modernised the interior even more, so that the car still feels current. This is a fine luxury motor for cruising and Mercedes-Benz has successfully packaged the essence of the brand in the C-Class, making it a great entry point into the premium saloon market. 


Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon
Style and comfort in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz C200 Saloon AMG Line Automatic
Price:
€48,119 (Range from €41,320)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 280 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.7 seconds
Top speed: 239 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.0-6.3l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
144g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year