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 (2020) 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 2020 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 (2020) Review


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

Caroline drives the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon!

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


The new BMW 3 Series!

BMW 3 Series (2020) 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.

BMW 3 Series Video Review

What's new for the 2020 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 2020 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


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?

In this 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 2020 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 connectivity (Android Auto is on the way in 2020), 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. Now the 2019 revamp has made it 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 new 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.

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. Qualifies for motor tax of €190 per year. Priced from €49,350.

BMW 320d 190hp M Sport. Fuel consumption quoted at 4.4-4.7 litres/100km. Qualifies for motor tax of €200 per year. Priced from €52,410.

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 refinment 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

Pricing and Equipment

The BMW 3 Series is available from €44,115 and 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 is available from €40,570 and 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.

Volvo S60 vs Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

What happens when you throw the Volvo S60 into the mix? Interesting. Briefly, I’ll make a few points. An all-new Volvo S60 was launched in 2019. The S60’s Scandi style is something completely different to the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. Inside the cabin experience is high quality but we noted in our Volvo S60 review how calming and relaxing this cabin was with few distractions. The most interesting difference here is that Volvo has taken the brave decision to produce only petrol and petrol plug-in hybrid S60s. There’s no diesel in a segment where many drivers are high mileage. We tested the Volvo S60 T5. It was beautiful to drive, actually quite close to the 3 Series in that regard but without the rear wheel drive frolics. However, the economy could never match what we got from the BMW and the Audi. Still a classy alternative.

The new Volvo S60
What about the new Volvo S60?

Mercedes-Benz C-Class vs Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Ah, how will the old stalwart Mercedes do in this company? Again let’s look briefly at the C-Class from Stuttgart against the 3 Series from Munich and the A4 from Ingolstadt. In 2018 the Mercedes-Benz C-Class range received a revamp to keep it at the races. The C-Class is know for its broad range. There’s a saloon, estate, cabriolet and coupé. The C-Class is a good looker with the unmistakable class of a Mercedes-Benz. The 2018 revamp did wonders for the interior, with the same contemporary vibe as the Audi A4. In fact, these two are probably best matched for overall cabin design, quality and ambience. There is a broad engine range with a new petrol engine with mild hybrid tech and some trusty diesels. It’s good to drive but a BMW 3 Series is better.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon
Or you could have a tasty Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon like this one

Read our up to date full road test reviews of some of the latest models in the premium saloon segment:

BMW 3 Series (320d)

Audi A4 TDI S line

Volvo S60 T5

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon (C200)

Caroline Kidd


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 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.

v
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