The first generation Opel Insignia (2009-2017)

Opel Insignia Used Car Review (2009-2017)

The first generation Opel Insignia (2009-2017)
The first generation Opel Insignia (2009-2017)

Check out our Opel Insignia used car review!

The Opel Insignia was one of my first ever car reviews for Changing Lanes. That was 2014. Now I think it's fair to say that we can class it as a used car review. I've updated my original review with some more background information. This will help you if you are thinking of buying a used Opel Insignia from between the years of 2009 and 2017. 

The first generation Opel Insignia reached Ireland in 2009. It received a refresh in 2013 and stayed in production until 2017 when it was replaced by the all-new Opel Insignia Grand Sport.

Diesel was king in Ireland in 2009 and the Insignia looked after customers well in this regard. It quickly became a fleet favourite. The visibility of this generation of the Opel Insignia is still high on Irish roads. The Opel Insignia replaced the Opel Vectra and was a huge step forward in design.

Opel Insignia Review

In summer 2014, I tested the Opel Insignia SRi, the sporty one in the range with attractive OPC inspired body styling, 18" alloys, and sports suspension. The first generation Insignia has good presence on the road, while inside it's comfortable and good quality for the large car segment of this era.

The Insignia range was refreshed in 2013 and there were updates to the headlamp design, revised front bumper with slightly bigger and lower air intakes, along with different rear light clusters, new rear bumper and some other trim updates.

The 2013 facelift also saw a revamped interior, new steering wheel, better quality materials, and a new Intellilink touchscreen that removed more buttons for a cleaner look. There was also a new touchpad controller available and voice control.

The interior of the first generation Opel Insignia
The interior of the first generation Opel Insignia

Standard equipment is impressive and over the years there were five trim levels -  S and SC being the more basic ones, SE and Elite the more premium ones and SRi the sporty one. SC and above have the IntelliLink infotainment system with 8” touchscreen and Apple CarPlay from 2015. Some of the safety features available on the first generation Opel Insignia include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear view parking camera, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning system.

Opel Insignia Hatchback Vs Saloon Vs Estate

The Opel Insignia was available as a hatchback, saloon or Sports Tourer estate between 2009 and 2017. Interior space was competitive for a large car, not outstanding but the boot was a good size at 530 litres in the Insignia hatchback, 540 litres in the Insignia estate and 500 litres in the Insignia saloon.

My 2014 Opel Insignia was powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 163 hp. This engine is economical with good pulling power but it's a bit on the noisy side. In 2015 it was replaced by an improved and much quieter 2.0-litre diesel with 170 hp. Read our review of that diesel Insignia here. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. Other engine options for the Insignia at the time included a 1.6-litre CDTi with 136 bhp and a 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 140 bhp.

The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi on test for Changing Lanes!

Is the Opel Insignia a good car?

On the road the Opel Insignia majors at cruising effortlessly up and down motorways. This car has broad appeal. The suspension is on the firm side but not uncomfortable by any means. The steering is precise and intuitive giving a reassuring and sporty feel going around bends. This is matched to excellent grip and body control (no doubt down to that extra firmness in the suspension!). The car grips but there is a fair bit of movement of the car’s weight over the suspension. SRi models fitted with sports suspension are tighter in this regard.

The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi 2.0-litre diesel I tested had a normal retail price of €33,295.

Not surprisingly, the Opel Insignia is a popular choice as a company car for its comfort on long journeys and good suspension that absorbs bumps and ruts so well. The huge 530 litre boot and great rear passenger space make it a great family buy too. The Opel Insignia is the German car without the premium price tag but retaining that feeling of quality that you expect from a German car.

It isn't the most dynamically exciting car in the class (that accolade goes to the Ford Mondeo) but the Opel Insignia is more than up for the job of long motorway cruises, keeping everyone on board happy and comfortable!

If you are thinking of buying a used Opel Insignia, I hope this review has been useful.

The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2014 Opel Insignia SRi on test for Changing Lanes!

Details correct at time of test

Model tested: 2014 Opel Insignia SRi Limited Edition 5-door Hatch
Price: €33,295 (as tested new in June 2014)
Engine: 2.0 litre diesel
Power: 163 bhp
0-100km/h: 9.5 seconds
Economy: 65.7mpg (4.3l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 114g/km
Tax band: A4 (€200 per year)

Caroline Kidd


The 2020 Skoda Superb Sportline!

ŠKODA Superb (2020) 1.5 TSI Sportline Review

The 2020 Skoda Superb Sportline!
The 2020 Skoda Superb Sportline!

Caroline drives the 2020 ŠKODA Superb!

The ŠKODA Superb is a bit of an Irish legend, loved for its huge cabin and ‘more for less’ pricing. The ŠKODA brand gets better and better and the company is now the fourth bestselling brand in Ireland. ŠKODA has a place in Irish hearts some brands can only dream of, backed up by cars that people want to own and drive. The Superb is one of Ireland’s favourite cars and over 18,000 of them have found homes in Ireland since it arrived here back in 2002.

In what could be interpreted as a nod of respect for the Irish grá for the ŠKODA brand, it has recently been announced that ŠKODA's first ever electric SUV will be called 'Enyaq'! Electrification is already a feature of the range with the arrival of the ŠKODA Superb iV plug-in hybrid.  

The latest generation of the ŠKODA Superb arrived in Ireland in 2015 and is the most successful version of the car to date.

The interior of the new SKODA Superb Sportline
The interior of the new ŠKODA Superb Sportline

What’s new for 2020?

ŠKODA has revamped the Superb range for 2020 with revised styling, updated interior and new features, as well as the addition of the new plug-in hybrid. The range goes on sale in Ireland from €30,985.

Other engine options include a 1.5-litre TSI petrol with 150 hp, a 1.6-litre TDI diesel with 120 hp, and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 150 hp. 6-speed manual and 7-speed DSG automatic gearboxes are available. Diesels are available from €33,295.

My test car was a Superb 1.5-litre TSI DSG in Sportline trim with a list price of €39,955.

This is a very handsome car and looks ‘superb’ in Sportline trim, which adds sporty features such as a black radiator grille, black 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED Matrix headlights and a lowered sports chassis.

For the facelift, the grille is now larger with double slats and protrudes a little further down into the front bumper. The headlights are narrower and come with LED technology as standard for the dipped and high beam. At the rear, a horizontal chrome trim
connects the full LED tail lights, with ‘ŠKODA’ spelt out for the first time in block lettering.

Other trim lines include the entry level Active, followed by Ambition, Style, and the range topping L&K.

Inside the 2020 ŠKODA Superb

The 2020 ŠKODA Superb offers class-leading interior space!
The 2020 ŠKODA Superb offers class-leading interior space!

The Superb continues to set benchmarks for spaciousness in the segment with up to 625 litres of boot space. I exclaimed when I opened the boot! In my job I see lots of boots, but the Superb’s is surprisingly cavernous for a car that looks as elegant as this one. It opens like a hatchback for extra practicality and access. It’s no wonder this car is so popular. Cabin space is also truly excellent and rear legroom best in class.

The interior is solidly built with new infotainment systems adding more modernity to the Superb range. The Sportline model retails from €37,485 and adds sport seats with Alcantara®/leather, tri zone climate control, ambient lighting, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, cruise control and aluminium pedals.

The Superb Sportline has great looks and image
The Superb Sportline has great looks and image

Driving the ŠKODA Superb Sportline

The Superb is all about big car comfort and refinement. It's got a fantastic transmission in the form of the DSG automatic gearbox mated to the 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine with 150 hp. Diesel used to be king in this segment but the Superb petrol does a fine job. It's smooth and quiet, though it does lack the punchy torque of a diesel. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.9l/100km so high mileage users will still want to look at the diesel.

Despite the rising popularity of SUVs, there is still a generous market for big cars like the ŠKODA Superb. While there is keen entry pricing into the range, the Superb no longer has to play the budget card because it's such a fine, desirable car. The Sportline trim is my pick of the bunch and draws plenty of admiring glances.

The Superb is ageing very well and now has renewed pep in its step with a refresh in styling and updated equipment in the cabin. A new plug-in hybrid certainly creates momentum around the Superb again, though the petrol model on test is still hugely relevant to buyers, as is the diesel option.

The Superb feels great to drive and is a 'superb' buy!

The Superb range is available in Ireland from €30,985
The Superb range is available in Ireland from €30,985

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: ŠKODA Superb Sportline 1.5 TSI 7-speed DSG
Price: 
€39,955 (from €30,985)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 218 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP): 
6.0-6.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
136-156g/km
Motor Tax: €270 per year


The new Volvo S60

Volvo S60 T5 Petrol (2020) Review

The new Volvo S60
The new Volvo S60

Caroline drives the new Volvo S60.

Volvo is bravely stepping into the future with the new Volvo S60 – without diesel. The new S60 is the first Volvo to be produced without a diesel engine and will be sold exclusively powered by a petrol engine or as a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. This move is part of a bold statement from the brand about transport beyond the traditional combustion engine that will see all new generation Volvos from 2019 now sold only as either a mild petrol hybrid, plug-in petrol hybrid or battery electric vehicle.

Pricing starts from €46,222, putting the new Volvo S60 firmly in the executive car park.

Being a typical Swede, Volvo has the politics just right for this car. The S60 is simple, handsome and discrete but still with enough star power to draw some admiring glances. I loved the sporty elegance of the new Volvo S60.

The interior of the new Volvo S60
The interior of the new Volvo S60

Inside the new Volvo S60

Volvo interior design is some of the best in the business and the new S60 is no exception. There's a modest colour palette and the cabin architecture somehow has a mysterious soothing effect, which is reassuring for a fleet driver who will spend may hours on the road. The UN has been in here for sure.

There are no distractions, just a simple layout built around a 9″ tablet-style touchscreen with voice-activated control, navigation system and access to the Volvo On Call connected services platform. The system also connects easily to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It’s comfortable and quality is superb. Interior accommodation is good for the segment with generous footwells in the rear and boot volume a competitive 442 litres.

Driving the new S60

The new S60 is built at Volvo’s new Charleston plant in South Carolina, USA, on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, which also underpins the S90, V60, V90, XC60 and XC90. The S60’s chassis strikes a good balance between comfort and control, while the steering is precise and responsive. Double wishbone front suspension and Volvo’s integral rear suspension reap dividends for surprisingly sporty handling and keep weight to a minimum for more agility.

The Volvo S60 is available as a petrol or petrol-electric hybrid
The Volvo S60 is available as a petrol or petrol-electric hybrid

My test car was a S60 T5, which is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine putting out 250 hp and 350 Nm of torque. The T5 is fun and responsive to drive with a slick shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox. The problem is it will never be as economical as a diesel. Over a week of driving, my average fuel consumption was 8.2l/100km.

In Ireland, the S60 range kicks off at €46,222 for a T4 petrol with 190hp, while the T5 R-Design model I had on test has a list price of €49,495. Equipment includes leather sports seats, sports steering wheel, LED headlights, keyless entry and start), head-up display, 18" alloy wheels, 12.3” driver information display and cruise control.

There’s also the S60 ‘T8 Twin Engine’ plug-in hybrid powertrain with 390 hp. The 11.8 kWh battery on board gives an electric-only range of up to about 58 km, with CO2 emissions from just 39g/km. When not in pure EV mode, it runs as a hybrid with support from a petrol engine. It has potential to be a more economical car to run however it has a comparatively high sticker price of €62,495.

The new S60 is smart and fun to drive with the refined response of a petrol engine
The new S60 is smart and fun to drive with the refined response of a petrol engine

I loved the Volvo S60 but wondered if dropping diesel might be a little premature when it comes to the transport needs of customers in a segment favoured by long distance, company car drivers.

Of course for everyone else, the new Volvo S60 is a great alternative mid-size sports saloon that’s fun to drive with the refined response of a petrol engine.

The Volvo S60 holds its corner very comfortably in the executive car park. It's a fabulous piece of design inside and out. Alternative but powerful in its own right.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volvo S60 T5 R-Design Automatic
Price: 
€49,624
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
250 hp
Torque: 350 Nm
0-100km/h:  
6.2 seconds
Top speed: 240 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP): 
7.4 – 8.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
169-170g/km
Motor Tax: €390 per year


The updated 2020 Audi A4

2020 Audi A4 2.0 TDI Review

The updated 2020 Audi A4
The updated 2020 Audi A4

Caroline drives the 2020 Audi A4.

The Audi A4 is one of Audi's bestsellers in Ireland and a core pillar of the brand. Since the first Audi A4 debuted in 1994, the A4 has matured into a highly sought after premium saloon, a gateway to the Audi brand and some of the larger Audi saloons. It packages all that's great about the brand in subtle, refined elegance that looks good everywhere.

A new generation of the Audi A4 debuted in 2015 on a new platform. In 2019, Audi updated the A4 range to keep it competitive against key rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The range kicks off at €40,570.

What’s new for the 2020 Audi A4?

New headlights with LED technology are now standard across the range. The Singleframe grille is broader and flatter and there are also redesigned bumpers and trim elements. It's subtle sophistication for the Audi A4. It is a classic good-looking Audi saloon. S line models adopt a more sporty look.

S line models adopt a sportier look for the new A4
S line models adopt a sportier look for the new A4

Inside the 2020 Audi A4

Audi has taken the A4's wonderful interior and made it better with the addition of some new technology features. The cabin is a fantastic mix of beautiful high quality materials ensuring a first class cabin experience. The brand has aptly replaced the old infotainment system with the latest 10.1-inch high resolution MMI touch display tilted slightly towards the driver. The graphics are elegant and sophisticated, and it works seamlessly with smartphones. It lifts the cabin and gives another contemporary edge to the 2020 Audi A4. The Audi virtual cockpit provides a 12.3 inch digital display for the driver and is an option very much worth ticking.

There are two trim levels for Ireland - SE and S line - with standard equipment including 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.

S line models (available from €47,435) feature 19" alloys, S line front and rear bumpers, black headliner, matte brushed aluminium trim elements, gloss black trim elements, leather/Alcantara sports seats, sport suspension, stainless steel pedals, rear dynamic turn signals and high beam assist.

The interior of the new Audi A4
The interior of the new Audi A4

Engine options

In Ireland the new Audi A4 is available with 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. Some of these engine variants feature a 12 volt mild hybrid system with a belt-starter generator and a Li-ion battery to reduce consumption by shutting down the engine in certain circumstances.

My test car was 2.0-litre diesel S tronic with 163 hp - badged 35 TDI - and in S line trim it has a list price of €49,350. This is a new power output for the Audi A4 and is a nice balance between performance and economy. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was a very economical 5.3l/100km.

The new A4 range starts from €40,570 in Ireland
The new A4 range starts from €40,570 in Ireland

Driving the 2020 Audi A4

Refinement and comfort are part of the deal in this segment. The 2020 Audi A4 does not disappoint in this regard and moves over the tarmac in a very sophisticated fashion. Extra measures like a windscreen with acoustic glass, heighten the refined atmosphere in the cabin. S line models come with sports suspension with stiffer damping for more direct contact with the road and sportier handling. The A4 is smooth and agile but overall it's not the sharpest driving experience in this segment. Where it does excel, is in calm refinement and that cabin is a wonderful place to while away a few hours on the motorway.

Audi has successfully revamped the A4. The new interior technology totally lifts the cabin and keeps it contemporary. For many, the cabin alone is a reason to buy the A4 as it is beautifully crafted and designed with technology at your fingertips. A calmer driving experience majors on comfort and refinement. There's plenty of reasons to choose the A4 as your next executive saloon.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi A4 35 TDI S tronic
Price: 
€49,350
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
163 hp
Torque: 380 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 228 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP): 
5.4 – 5.7l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
143-150g/km
Motor Tax: €190 per year


The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate Review

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Caroline drives the Ford Mondeo Hybrid.

Ford has been slow to adopt an electrification strategy but the reveal of the new Mustang Mach-E is a strong sign of commitment to EV technology from the global car brand. Surprisingly it’s the brand’s Mondeo that has seen the best efforts yet at cutting emissions and providing customers with more trendy alternatives to diesel.

The problem with that strategy is while hybrid might be sexy, the Mondeo is not! It’s a practical car but showing its age. In these times where change in the car industry is occurring so quickly, there is little mercy to be shown to the Mondeo.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid debuted in Ireland in 2018 and the hybrid estate model I had on test is new for 2019.

The Mondeo now has more than a whiff of old school about it – the styling hasn’t changed much over the last 5 years or even ten years – but it does major on classic big car qualities like comfort and refinement. Now with a hybrid option, it offers low mileage, frequent urban users a more fuel efficient solution in a big car.

The interior of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate
The interior of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Inside the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

On first impressions, the interior of the car is very dull and dated but there is an attractive enough colour display for the driver with useful information about the hybrid system. The SYNC 3 infotainment system also features and is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

In Ireland, the Ford Mondeo Hybrid is sold as a Titanium or Vignale model and goes on sale priced from €35,247. Standard equipment on my Titanium model included cruise control, traffic sign recognition, dual zone climate control, parking sensors, rear view camera, lane keeping aid, roof rails and 16” alloys.

This car is huge inside and super comfortable making it easier to forgive its shortcomings. It’s not cutting edge but it’s a fantastic car to drive very day, one that never disappoints. I did many miles in this car and it was an absolute pleasure. The estate is super practical, but the battery gives an unusual shape to the boot floor.

Boot volume is in excess of 400 litres
Boot volume is in excess of 400 litres

Driving the Mondeo Hybrid Estate

I did a lot of motorway driving and over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.8l/100km, though in town I saw consumption as little as 5 l. It works best in urban environments, when it’s working more on electric power. The Mondeo Hybrid favours a more gentle right foot to build its power slowly and steadily. Too much throttle and there’s more annoying transmission noise. But it’s powerful enough when you need it for overtaking manoeuvres.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid has some stiff competition from the likes of the Volkswagen Passat GTE and the Toyota Camry. Yes, it’s a big comfy cruiser but is that enough in these times? The hybrid system can return good efficiency with a little bit of care. The interior is far from cutting edge and where the car shows its age the most. The Mondeo has fallen some way from its glory days but it is still a satisfying car in its own way.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is available from €35,247
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is available from €35,247

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Mondeo Estate HEV Hybrid Titanium
Price:
€35,247 (Range from €32,580)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
187 hp
Torque: 173 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 187 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.4l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
103 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

 


The new BMW 3 Series!

2019 BMW 3 Series (320d) Review

The new BMW 3 Series!
The new BMW 3 Series!

Caroline drives the new BMW 3 Series!

The BMW 3 Series is an icon that doesn’t need much to sell itself. It’s long been hailed as the sportiest compact executive saloon in its class, exalted for its playful rear wheel driving dynamics and high-end build and refinement.

Now the BMW 3 Series is in its 7th generation and it’s a gentle evolution of a familiar and popular car. You don’t mess with an icon like the 3 Series.

What's new for the 2019 BMW 3 Series?

The new 3 Series was five years in development and BMW says that the focus for this new generation has been sportiness, innovation and design. Proportions have been revised, there’s a wider track and a longer wheelbase. These all impact on the visual appeal of the car and a new design language focuses on clean, precise lines. The design is comfortingly familiar yet modernised in line with the latest BMW ‘look’.

The 2019 BMW 3 Series is on sale in Ireland priced from €44,115. The new 3 Series is available in three trim levels: SE, Sport and M Sport.

Trim elements differ depending on specification and the 3 Series is in its sportiest incarnation in M Sport trim. The car sits 10 mm lower and there are large air intakes at the front as well as a redesigned front bumper, side skirts and rear apron. The kidney grille is finished in high gloss black. The stunning new Portimao Blue metallic is also a unique colour option for the M Sport model.

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

The interior of the new 3 Series

Inside the 3 Series gets a smart new interior very fitting of a junior executive car. There is a fine mix of materials and the quality is excellent throughout. The M Sport model adds sports seats to the specification, as well as an ‘M’ leather steering wheel, anthracite-coloured headliner, and full leather interior with heated front seats.

Cabin comfort for passengers has been improved with more shoulder room in the front and extra legroom in the back. Getting in and out of the car is easier for the rear passengers because the door aperture height has been increased. The boot has a capacity of 480 litres, while new partitioning into a primary luggage compartment and separate storage compartments has created an additional 36 litres of space.

There’s also a welcome addition of new technology features including a new digital instrument cluster as standard. The M Sport model gets the impressive 10.3-inch central instrument cluster and BMW’s brand new Operating System 7.0 with the Intelligent Personal Assistant.

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 3 Series range starts from €44,115 in Ireland
The 3 Series range starts from €44,115 in Ireland

What are my options?

Engine options for the new 3 Series include the 318d and 320d (diesels available from €44,115) and the 320i and 330i (petrols available from €44,155). A new 330e plug-in hybrid is also available from €51,475. A six-speed manual gearbox is also available on some models, as is the BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

My test car was a classic 320d M Sport, four-cylinder diesel engine with 190hp and an 8 speed automatic gearbox with a list price of €52,410. The 2.0-litre diesel engine has been upgraded and it now includes multi-stage turbocharging to improve efficiency across all engine speeds. On the road, the new 320d is a gem and one of the best diesel saloons on the market. It’s smooth and refined with plenty of power and torque. Acceleration is brisk with the 0 to 100 km/h sprint achieved in just 6.8 seconds with the automatic gearbox.

BMW has also made significant improvements to aerodynamics reducing the drag coefficient of the BMW 320d for example from 0.26 to 0.23 with measures such as an almost completely sealed underbody, aerodynamically optimised wheels, the use of Air Curtains at the front and the latest generation of active air flap control, which extends across the BMW kidney grille and lower air intake. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.7l/100km and motor tax for this model is €200 per year.

Rear legroom in the new 3 Series
Rear legroom in the new 3 Series

On the road in the new BMW 320d

This all knits very well with the 3 Series’ natural dynamic appeal. BMW set out to improve the handling of the 3 Series even more in this new generation of the car by increasing the track front and rear and making the whole car stiffer and more rigid while also shedding 55kg of body weight. This translates to a tactile feeling on the road that is unmatched by rivals for driver appeal. The steering is meaty and ultra precise while the whole car stays perfectly balanced and aligned through tight cornering.

Despite sporty enhancements for the M Sport model (19” alloys option on test car and sports suspension), by and large the ride is fine, though some way off the slinky ride of an Audi A4. For M Sport models, buyers can specify the Adaptive M suspension that alters damping characteristics between more comfortable and sporty driving modes.

The BMW 3 Series is an icon, a hugely desirable car among its legion of fans. It still sets the benchmark for handling in its class, defining what’s possible from the compact executive sports saloon. The interior gets a welcome addition of new technology features that keep it competitive among rivals. The 320d is a fine example of a diesel saloon with class leading refinement and splendid power. Welcome back 3 Series!

The BMW 3 Series is an icon, a hugely desirable car among its legion of fans.
The BMW 3 Series is an icon, a hugely desirable car among its legion of fans.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 320d M Sport Saloon Automatic
Price:
€52,410
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
190 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
0-100km/h: 
6.8 seconds
Top speed: 240 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.4-4.7 l/100km
CO2 emissions:
112 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The new Peugeot 508 SW

2019 Peugeot 508 SW 1.5 Diesel Review

The new Peugeot 508 SW
The new Peugeot 508 SW

Caroline drives the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW!

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

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

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

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

Inside the 2019 Peugeot 508 SW

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

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

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

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

Driving the new 508 SW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Camry Hybrid
The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota Camry Hybrid!

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

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

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

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

Inside the 2019 Toyota Camry

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

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

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

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

How good is that hybrid?

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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

 


The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon

2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon Review

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

Caroline drives the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon is one of the stalwarts of the Mercedes-Benz range that has been endearing buyers of compact executive saloons for over two decades now.

The current generation of the car debuted in 2014 and quickly gained notoriety for its interior elegance and comfort. Now in 2019, there is an updated C-Class range with pricing starting from €37,710.

What's new for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon in 2019?

Updates include new engines, equipment and trim elements to keep it at the races against key rivals like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon gets a slim makeover in that all the elegant, compact saloon proportions are retained but with some new trim elements, alloy wheels and headlight/rear light design.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon has been updated for 2019
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon has been updated for 2019

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 interior of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon

Inside, the cabin of the C-Class is very plush and luxurious with beautiful soft touch materials and design elements, like the circular air vents and open pore black ash wood trim. The C-Class range gets a 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. It gives a bit more modernity to the cabin of the C-Class.

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

The C-Class Saloon will seat five though the rear will be more comfortable for two rather than three because of the large ‘hump’ 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.

Equipment and engines

Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, cruise control, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, keyless start and 17” alloys. The AMG Line (from €39,250) models add sports pedals, 18” alloys and AMG bodystyling.

Engine options for the C-Class 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 C200 is now powered by a 1.5-litre turbo petrol with 'EQ Boost'
The C200 is now powered by a 1.5-litre turbo petrol with 'EQ Boost'

The new Mercedes-Benz C200 with EQ Boost

One of the most exciting additions to the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon range is the C200 now with EQ Boost. The new 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine has mild hybrid technology. 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 184hp and 0 to 100 kmh is achieved in just 7.7 seconds.

The C200 delivers smooth power through a nine speed automatic gearbox, and is refined at a cruise though gets noisier when you give it a heavy right foot. Over a week of driving the C200 averaged fuel consumption at 8.4l/100km, while motor tax is €390 per year for this model, so a diesel would offer superior economy for high mileage drivers.

Rear legroom in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon
Rear legroom in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon

On the road in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon

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.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon is a very desirable compact premium saloon
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon is a very desirable compact premium saloon

Caroline
Kidd

Model
tested: 
Mercedes-Benz
C200 Saloon AMG Line Automatic
Price:
€43,600 (Range from €37,710)
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


The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is a prestigious and desirable coupé

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé Review

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

Caroline drives the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé.

There are few things more desirable in life than a slinky Mercedes-Benz coupé. Mercedes-Benz just has an aptitude for creating luxury sports coupés that will stop you in your tracks. A Mercedes-Benz coupé sells a dream of sunshine, asphalt, and slow, luxury living.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé might be the most compact two door coupé that the brand offers, but none of that prestigious style has been compromised. With pricing starting from €38,365, the C-Class Coupé has been updated for 2019 with new engines, equipment and trim elements to keep it at the races.

Thankfully, the C-Class Coupé’s elegant and sporty silhouette remains every bit intact. There are new bumpers and a standard-fit diamond radiator grille with chrome pins on the AMG Line model. LED High Performance headlights now come as standard, as do more accentuated all-LED rear lights. The AMG Line model also has an AMG-specific front apron with sporty air intakes and chrome trim.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé has had an update for 2019
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé has had an update for 2019

The interior of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

Inside, the cabin of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is very plush and luxurious with beautiful design elements like the sculpted leather seats, circular air vents and open pore black ash wood trim. The C-Class range gets a 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 here 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.

The C-Class Coupé will seat four but being a coupé the rear space is tight on legroom and headroom. A narrow boot aperture hardly makes it the most practical member of the family either – you will be needing the C-Class Estate for that (!) – but there’s still plenty of room with 360 litres.

The interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé
The interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, cruise control, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, keyless start and 17” alloys. The AMG Line (from €41,342) models add sports pedals, reversing camera, 18” alloys and AMG bodystyling.

The C200 Features Mild Hybrid Technology

One of the most exciting additions for the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is the new 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with EQ Boost mild hybrid technology. This model, badged C200, has a 48 volt on-board electrical system with a belt-driven starter/alternator and it gives the car a boost in performance and efficiency. When accelerating, EQ Boost can assist the 184 hp engine with an additional 14 hp, bridging the brief moment until the turbocharger has built up its full charge pressure.

There's a new steering wheel and option of a digital instrument panel
There's a new steering wheel and option of a digital instrument panel

During deceleration, the starter/alternator recuperates kinetic energy and charges the battery. There is also gliding mode with the engine switched off when the speed falls below a certain minimum level, and the recuperative brake with intelligent engine stop when the vehicle is coasting. Alongside the diesel engines, the petrol engines are also equipped with a particulate filter.

Other engines 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.

Driving the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

The C-Class Coupé also gets the dynamic body control suspension 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 tuned for a more comfortable ride and less tyre and road noise. There’s also a Sports Direct-Steer system for more agile and smooth handling.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is available from €38,365 in Ireland
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is available from €38,365 in Ireland

On the road, the C-Class Coupé glides along the tarmac effortlessly. It is a comfortable, serene drive. It's agile and flexible through corners, without being overtly sporty. The C200 delivers smooth power through a nine speed automatic gearbox, though the engine was more noisy than what I was expecting. Over a week of driving the C200 averaged fuel consumption at 7.7l/100km, while motor tax is €390 per year.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is easily one of the best looking compact coupés out there. It’s a hugely desirable car with a fine interior also. On the road, it’s not the sportiest choice and in C200 guise I did miss the thick, syrupy pulling power of a diesel engine. But this remains a fine car that looks as good as the day it was launched.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is a prestigious and desirable coupé
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is a prestigious and desirable coupé

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz C200 Coupé Automatic
Price:
€47,431 (Coupe range from €38,365)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 280 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 239 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.1-6.5l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
148g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year