The Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé

Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé First Drive Review

The Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé has just arrived in Ireland, priced from €64,085. Caroline has been driving the new CLS at the Irish launch.

Styling

The Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé is now in its third generation and it’s looking better than ever. It’s a cross between a saloon and a coupé with a lot of physical presence, but a more unique and sportier design than an E-Class saloon for example.  Frameless side windows add prestige to the low sporty profile and high waistline.

Interior

The new CLS Coupé shares interior features with the S-Class and comes with the latest Mercedes-Benz touchscreen infotainment, safety and driver assistance systems. The driver information display is fully digital and there are a number of other cool features including 64-colour ambient lighting, illuminated air vents, and air conditioning with colour-guided, red/blue, warmer/cooler temperature control. It’s plush!

Practicality

The CLS Coupé used to be a four seater, but now it’s a five seater. The large transmission tunnel won't be much fun for a middle passenger and a sloping roofline to the rear eats into headroom. The boot is a generous 520 litres.

The interior of the the Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé
The interior of the the Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé

Engines

Engine options include a CLS300d – this 245hp 2.0-litre diesel is expected to be the most popular choice in Ireland – along with a CLS350d 4MATIC and CLS400d 4MATIC. A CLS220d version will follow in early 2019. The most powerful model is the CLS450 4MATIC with 367hp.

At the launch I drove the CLS300d. With 500Nm of torque, 0 to 100kmh is just 6.4 seconds, while emissions are 142g CO2. The engine is refined and capable.

On the road

The Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé is a comfortable and relaxing drive. The handling is confidently agile, though it never feels overtly sporty. A steel comfort suspension comes as standard but a sportier setup is available as an option with continuously adjustable damping at the front and rear axles with selectable comfort, sport and sport plus modes. Air suspension is also offered.

Equipment

In Ireland the CLS Coupé is available as an entry model or in AMG Line. Standard equipment includes 18” alloys, active brake assist, active lane assist, ambient lighting with 64 colours, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dynamic select, reversing camera, and speed limit assist.

AMG Line models add 19” alloys and AMG bodystyling.

Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé
The Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé goes on sale in Ireland priced from €64,805

Pricing

Irish pricing for the new Mercedes-Benz CLS diesel start at €64,805 for a CLS300d Automatic, €76,965 for a CLS350d Automatic 4MATIC, and €85,760 for the CLS450 Automatic 4Matic.

Rivals

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé goes up against other premium four door coupé rivals like the Audi A7 Sportback, Porsche Panamera and the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupé.

Verdict

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé is a handsome, long distance cruiser with plenty of style and kerb appeal. The new CLS Coupé brings significant enhancements in technology, safety and comfort, while Mercedes-Benz Ireland is pricing it keenly among rivals.

Caroline Kidd


Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

Caroline reviews the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Mercedes-Benz has been enjoying something of a renaissance and boost in popularity in Ireland in the past couple of years. Buoyed by some excellent new product like the E-Class and an aggressive market strategy that has seen a reduction in price and more equipment, Mercedes-Benz is bringing a tough challenge to competitors.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the brand’s evergreen mid-size executive saloon but it’s looking better than ever. I recently took the C200d model for a test drive. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has an extensive engine line-up of petrol, diesel and even hybrid in the form of the C350e.

Under the bonnet of the C200d there is a 1.6-litre diesel with 136hp. The 8-speed automatic ‘Avantgarde’ model I was driving has a list price of €42,715, but there was no sense of ordinariness about this car. Mercedes-Benz Ireland offers the option of adding a sporty ‘AMG’ Line look to an already well-equipped Avantgarde model for about €1,100. My test car also had 19” AMG multispoke alloy wheels adding a further €1,279.

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

Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a top interior

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a neat saloon profile and is a very cohesive member of the Mercedes family in terms of design. Inside, there is one of the best interiors in this premium segment against the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Jaguar XE and even the Audi A4. The ‘silk beige’ interior with black detail is very classy and the material quality is good everywhere.

Avantgarde models are well equipped including leather upholstery, 17” alloys, leather multifunction steering wheel, heated front seats, keyless go and LED headlamps. Space is good for the size of car with two large footwells for rear passengers. Like other rear wheel drive rivals, the middle passenger will have to tackle a large transmission tunnel. Still the cabin of the C-Class is a lovely place to spend time in. The boot is a competitive 480 litres and the boot lid lifts electronically from the key or a switch in the cabin.

The infotainment system includes navigation but if I’m to be picky, the graphics are a little old-fashioned. But you get used to scrolling through menus from the rotary controller on the centre console after some time.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a formidable competitor in its segment

The C200d on the road

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class range kicks off at €35,225, with diesels available from €37,570. My C200d with a 1.6-litre diesel engine and 136hp doesn’t sound like a match for a large saloon like the C-Class on paper, but it has plenty of power on the road while returning good economy. There is some diesel engine noise at idle but it fades into the background once cruising.

There is also the opportunity to switch between driving modes like Comfort, Sport and Sport +. The Sport mode adds more urgency to the throttle response, so the C200d does not ever feel at a loss for power.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a fine car to drive with sharp steering, agile handling and good refinement. The large 19” wheels did make for a harder ride over mixed road surfaces so stick with the standard wheel size for more comfort.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has evolved into a formidable competitor in its segment, with one of the best premium contemporary interiors and sharp driving dynamics. Mercedes-Benz Ireland’s pricing and specification makes it difficult to ignore in its segment so there’s never been a better time to check out the C-Class.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz C200d Automatic
Price: 
€42,715 (Range from €35,225)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
136hp
Torque: 320Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.2 seconds
Top speed: 216km/h
Economy: 
4.2-4.6l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
119g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


Ford Mondeo Hybrid

Ford Mondeo HEV (Hybrid) First Drive Review

Ford Mondeo Hybrid

    The new Ford Mondeo Hybrid in Vignale trim

Ford Ireland has bitten the bullet and decided to import the Ford Mondeo HEV (Hybrid) into Ireland. The timing is perfect just as hybrid sales begin to show growth and the Irish start to come around to the idea that it’s time to start preparing for the all-electric future that lies on the horizon. The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is another car that will help motorists bridge the changing motoring landscape. The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is a petrol electric hybrid (no plugs) and claims to sip fuel with C02 emissions as low as 89g/km. Let’s see shall we? I recently checked out Ford’s first hybrid model for Ireland at none other than the Luas Depot in Dublin, the HQ of Dublin’s all-electric tram network.

Styling

There are no ‘odd’ bits to the Mondeo Hybrid, in fact it’s a rather handsome beast especially in Vignale trim with larger wheels and chrome detail. It helps that the Mondeo HEV is sold as a four door saloon only in Ireland. The Mondeo hatchback has pretty much taken over in Ireland, but the saloon has a lot of class and grandeur to it.

Interior

The interior of the Ford Mondeo is starting to look a little tired but the HEV does come well-equipped so there are plenty of creature comforts on board making it a great long distance cruiser. Infotainment is provided via the SYNC 3 system with 8” touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The instrument panel has a digital element with unique information displayed about the hybrid system. You can also view the power flow between the electric motor and the engine from the touchscreen.

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

Practicality

The Mondeo Hybrid will seat five and inside it’s still a large and comfortable space for driver and passengers. Unfortunately boot space is down to about 386 litres in the hybrid because of the battery on board. There’s also an awkward ‘step’ in the boot and the saloon opening is naturally not the most practical. But I am reliably informed that a set of golf clubs will fit in there!

Power

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to produce 187bhp. Power is fed to the road through a CVT automatic gearbox. 0 to 100kmh is 9.2 seconds.

On the road

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is quiet on the move and slips between electric and petrol power in order to optimise efficiency. Hybrids are best when driven with a calm right foot; the Mondeo HEV is no different. The revs get raucous if you give the accelerator too much welly, typical of CVT driven powertrains. Yet there is power there when you need it, so overtaking and joining the motorway is not a problem. The Mondeo Hybrid is nice to drive, comfortable and agile with the well-weighted steering of its petrol and diesel counterparts. It’s properly efficient too: on a 40 minute run up and down the motorway, and a small bit of slower urban driving, I averaged 4.7l/100km.

Equipment

In Ireland the Ford Mondeo is offered in two trims: Titanium and an upscale Vignale model. Equipment on Titanium models includes 16” alloy wheels, SYNC 3 with 8” touchscreen, keyless start and entry, sports seats, rain sensing windscreen wipers, traffic sign recognition, ambient lighting, high series instrument cluster display and parking sensors front and rear. Vignale adds 18" alloy wheels, metallic paint, rear view camera and adaptive LED daytime running lights.

Ford Mondeo Hybrid
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is an efficient new option for fleet drivers and lovers of large saloons

Pricing

The Mondeo HEV Titanium is available from €32,745 (including a promotional launch discount and VRT rebate). The Vignale model is available from €35,280 making it quite the bargain over an equivalent Mondeo diesel.

Verdict

The Ford Mondeo HEV adds a flash of modernity to the Mondeo and indeed the whole Ford range in Ireland. The Mondeo itself is starting to age and is looking a bit tired inside, but it’s still a very popular choice in its segment. The Mondeo Hybrid will give fleet buyers and lovers of large saloons something to think about because it is well-specced and well-priced. But most pleasing it that the Mondeo Hybrid also has the potential to deliver some great economy figures.

Caroline Kidd


The Maserati Quattroporte 3.0 V6 GranLusso

Maserati Quattroporte 3.0 V6 Diesel First Drive Review

The Maserati Quattroporte is the flagship, four door, sports saloon from the Trident marque. The sixth generation Quattroporte went on sale in 2013 and has received some updates for the 2018 model year. I recently travelled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to check out the Maserati range with Maserati GB. I enjoyed an extended test drive in the Maserati Quattroporte 3.0 V6 diesel around Belfast and the Ards Peninsula.

Styling

The Quattroporte is a suitable flagship saloon for Maserati. It’s old-school handsome with imposing dimensions and bearing all the hallmarks of exquisite Italian design. The classic Alfieri-inspired, sharknose grille sets the Quattroporte apart from everything else on the road. For the 2018 model year, the front headlights now incorporate Adaptive full LED technology. At the back there are quad chrome tailpipes, hinting at the car's potential. There is a choice of eight body colours including Bianco Alpi, Rosso Folgore and Grigio Maratea.

Interior

The cabin of the Quattroporte is of high quality and build, with beautiful materials and textures that make it interesting and luxurious in equal measure. The seats, upper dashboard and armrests are finished in leather and the traditional blue Maserati clock is a neat detail. The headrests feature an embroidered Trident emblem and contrast stitching. For 2018, Maserati has introduced Soft Close Doors, which automatically and quietly closes the doors. Inside, it’s easy to feel quickly at home in the Quattroporte, while there is lots of equipment for your comfort including heated front seats with electric adjustment, lumbar support, and a steering column with electric height and reach adjustment. What results is a fantastic, comfortable, driving position with all the controls at your fingertips. The steering wheel is thick, leather-bound and a joy to hold. Infotainment is provided via an 8.4” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Maserati Quattroporte 3.0 V6 GranLusso
The interior of the Maserati Quattroporte 3.0 V6 GranLusso
Photo: Jed Leicester

Practicality

The Maserati Quattroporte will seat five but will be most comfortable as a luxurious four-seater with two large footwells in the rear. The rear bench split folds 60:40. The boot has 530 litres of boot space, comparative with any large saloon.

Engines

The Maserati Quattroporte is available with petrol and diesel engines including the 3.0-litre V6 diesel tested with 275hp, a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with 430hp, and a 3.8-litre V8 Twin Turbo petrol with 530hp. The V6 diesel is no surprises the best for economy returning up to 6.2 litres/100 km on a combined cycle. The Maserati Quattroporte diesel has pace and pulls strongly with 600Nm of torque. 0 to 100 km/h is 6.4 seconds and the Quatrroporte goes onto a top speed of 252 km/h.

On the road

The Maserati Quattroporte is rear wheel drive though a Q4 model is sold with all wheel drive. An 8-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard. On the road, the Quattroporte is a sporty but comfortable drive. Cabin refinement is excellent with noise insulating glass as standard. The Skyhook system with electronically-controlled dampers is standard on the Quattroporte so there is the ability to switch between more comfort-oriented and sportier driving modes.

The Quattroporte is a big car but it’s agile on the road with precise steering. This is the first Quattroporte to have an electric power steering system, replacing the previous hydraulic system, but retains a lot of steering feel. The car also features a mechanical rear limited slip differential and the Quattroporte moves through corners with remarkable ease and no body roll. It’s utterly composed and athletic. So whether you are looking for a comfortable cruiser for motorways or pin-sharp sports saloon for when the roads get twistier, the Quattroporte has you covered.

The Maserati Quattroporte 3.0 V6 GranLusso
Under the bonnet of the Maserati Quattroporte Diesel there's a 3.0 V6 producing 275hp and 600Nm of torque
Photo: Jed Leicester

And then there’s the noise. I could happily listen to the Quattroporte’s V6 singing to me every day. Forget it’s a diesel; it still sounds wonderful even at low speeds.

Equipment

The Quattroporte is available with two alternative trim packages, GranLusso and GranSport. The Quattroporte GranLusso has a bespoke silk interior by Ermenegildo Zegna, wood and leather steering wheel, wood trim,
a power rear sunblind, four-zone climate control and heated rear seats. There's also a discreet front spoiler, chrome bumper inserts, body-coloured side skirts and the GranLusso designation on the front wings. There are also 20” Mercurio light alloy wheels with black brake callipers.

The Quattroporte GranLusso has a different front and rear bumper design with glossy black finish, red brake calipers, blue inserts in the Trident and Saetta logos and 21” forged aluminium Titano wheels. Inside there are sport seats, sport steering wheel and aluminium gearbox paddles, along with high-gloss Black Piano wood trim and Inox Sport pedals in the interior.

The Harman Kardon Premium Sound System with 10 speakers is standard across the Quattroporte range.

The new Driving Assistance package is available as an option on all Quattroporte versions and includes Highway Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition.

The Maserati Quattroporte
The Maserati Quattroporte is a comfortable and luxurious four door saloon
Photo: Jed Leicester

Pricing

There is no official Irish pricing for the Maserati Quattroporte but in the UK, pricing starts at £70,975 for the Maserati Quattroporte Diesel. The Maserati Quattroporte Diesel GranLusso starts from £79,375 and the Maserati Quattroporte Diesel GranSport from the same price. The Quattroporte V6 petrol starts from £83,275 and the Quattroporte V8 petrol from £116,770.

Verdict

The Maserati Quattroporte is a fine mix between performance, luxury and comfort. Maserati's individuality is on show here: from the beautiful, silk finished interior to the chorus of the V6, the Quattroporte makes a compelling case for itself in the luxury saloon market. The Maserati Quattroporte is an elegant choice of grand tourer, with the 3.0 V6 diesel providing a seductive soundtrack for any cross-continent cruising you may undertake!

Caroline Kidd


Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio review ireland

Mercedes Benz E-Class Cabrio Review

Mercedes-Benz has had an excellent start to 2018 in Ireland, outselling rivals BMW and Audi to become Ireland’s bestselling premium brand in January.

An aggressive pricing strategy along with generous equipment across the range has surely helped place the brand at the top of the league tables.

But Mercedes-Benz also has a fine range of product, with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class being the bestselling model for the German marque here in Ireland. A new, tenth generation E-Class saloon arrived in Ireland in 2016, and has spurred the usual coupe and cabriolet derivatives. I recently got behind the wheel of the new E-Class Cabrio.

Watch Caroline's video review of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio or scroll down to read the rest of the review.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio is the grande dame of the E-Class range: this car is about enjoying luxury and comfort whether the roof is up or down, and doing it with a lot of style. In Ireland the E-Class Cabrio range starts at €56,995, while the E220d AMG Line I had on test retails from €61,140.

The Cabrio sits lower than the saloon and AMG Line models have AMG bodystyling and 19” alloys. There is a choice of 12 body colours, while the fabric roof is available in black, brown, blue and red.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio review ireland
The interior of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio

The new E-Class Cabrio is longer and wider than the car it replaces and a longer wheelbase yields more legroom for passengers, especially in the rear. This is a strict four seater, but two adults will be comfortable in the rear. The access to the boot is quite shallow by the nature of this being a cabriolet, but there’s still over 300 litres of space available.

The interior of the car is absolutely beautiful and it really stands out among rivals for its artistic flair, enhanced by the ambient lighting that comes with a choice of 64 colours. Mercedes-Benz has mixed the traditional executive feel with the style and technology demanded by today’s premium car buyer, and the material quality is excellent.

Leather upholstery comes as standard, as does the AIRSCARF neck level heating system and AIRCAP draught-stop system and boot separator. They really work and driving with the top down in the E-Class Cabrio is a very comfortable experience!

An 8.4” touchscreen infotainment system also comes as standard and can be controlled via a rotary dial on the central console or touchpad. The driver information display is controlled via touch-sensitive finger swipe buttons on the steering wheel.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio review ireland
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio is a sophisticated cabriolet with a stunning interior and excellent refinement

In Ireland the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio is offered with a choice of 2.0-litre, 184hp petrol badged E200, a 2.0-litre, 194hp diesel badged E220d or a 3.0-litre, 258hp diesel badged E350d. A nine-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard. On the move the refinement and comfort is top class, with engine noise well isolated from the cabin. The diesel pulls strongly with 0 to 100kmh achieved in 7.7 seconds, while my average fuel consumption over a week of driving was 6.2l/100km.

The wider track on the new E-Class Cabrio improves the driving dynamics over the previous model. But while the E-Class Cabrio steers and handles positively, it still could not be described as sporty and there are sharper alternatives. Yet the peaceful refinement and serenity of the E-Class’s cabin more than makes up for it and why would you be in a hurry anyway?

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio review ireland
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio range starts from €56,995

Mercedes-Benz knows a thing or two about how to make an elegant and desirable convertible and the new E-Class Cabrio has an illustrious lineage. The E-Class Cabrio bears classic Mercedes-Benz elegance but packaged now in a smart and contemporary way. In E220d guise, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio is a smooth and comfortable player in the premium convertible segment. Though it’s not a sporty drive, the refinement, comfort, and the sheer artistry of the cabin mean that you’ll definitely find a lot to enjoy here.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz E220d Cabriolet AMG Line
Price: 
€61,140 (Range from €56,995)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
194hp
Torque: 400Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.7 seconds
Top speed: 237km/h
Economy: 
4.3-4.9l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
126g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


Volkswagen Arteon review ireland

Volkswagen Arteon 2.0TDI Review

The Volkswagen Arteon is Volkswagen’s posh new flagship and it’s clear from the onset that the Arteon has premium car ambitions.

On looks alone for sure the Volkswagen Arteon can mix it with the big boys. The styling is the most avant garde of Volkswagen’s range of vehicles and this is an extremely handsome car.

Described as a ‘gran turismo’, the Arteon is a five door fastback (think hatchback), slotting in above the Passat, with a beautiful coupé-like profile. The car has width and presence in abundance. Frameless windows add even more prestige.

With pricing starting from €41,495, the Volkswagen Arteon is by no means cheap but this car has some serious interior space. It is huge inside. The rear legroom is limo-like and despite that beautiful coupé-like styling, headroom is not compromised. The hatchback style boot opens, electrically of course, to reveal a 563 litre boot.

Volkswagen Arteon
The interior of the new Volkswagen Arteon

Yet from behind the steering wheel, the Arteon is very Passat. The Passat has a fantastic high quality and beautifully designed interior for its class of vehicle but unfortunately it’s a bit underwhelming in the Arteon. Comfortable of course and perfectly functional but lacking the wow factor one might expect from an expensive gran turismo vying for the attention of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW buyers. An 8” touchscreen comes as standard but there is the option of Volkswagen’s 9.2” Discover Pro Navigation system, which looks great in the centre of the dash.

My test car was powered by the entry level 2.0-litre TDI with 150hp (from €43,650) with 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The combination works well. The diesel is not the most refined at low speeds around town but smooths out to barely a whisper on the open road. The Arteon has excellent long distance cruise ability and is comfortable for the long haul. Buyers seeking more power will find it in the 2.0TDI with 190hp (from €48,395) or the top of the range 2.0TDI 240hp 4MOTION. There is also the option of a 1.5-litre (150hp) or 2.0-litre (190hp) TSI petrol.

The Arteon handles predictably and contains itself well in corners despite being sized extra large. The steering weights up well in the corners but there is little feedback and buyers looking for any keen dynamism should look elsewhere.

Volkswagen Arteon review ireland
The Volkswagen Arteon is a large, long distance cruiser with plenty of kerb appeal

Standard equipment is very good including 18” alloys, adaptive cruise control, park distance control, rain sensing wipers, tri zone climate control and a three year free subscription to Car-Net ‘Security & Service’, a new concierge system that can call the emergency services should you have an accident and allow you to remotely check data about your car, among other functions. My Elegance test car (from €44,195) had leather/Alcantara upholstery, ambient lighting, voice control, digital instrument panel and rear view camera. R-Line models start from €45,995 with 19” alloys, sporty ‘R-Line‘ steering wheel and seats, running rear indicators, dynamic headlight range control with dynamic cornering function, and adaptive chassis control on the 240hp model.

The Volkswagen Arteon is a strikingly handsome car and the price is likely to keep it as a more exclusive offering in the Volkswagen range and add to the aura of desirability. The Arteon is a very handsome car and can certainly grab attention but can it keep it? Quality, space and comfort are the Arteon’s best attributes, but the Arteon falls short on the dynamic appeal that one might expect from a car that looks this good. But for Volkswagen fans happy to pay a premium, the new Arteon is a safe choice.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen Arteon Elegance 2.0TDI DSG 150hp
Price: 
€48,550 (Range starts at €41,495)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.1 seconds
Top speed: 220km/h
Economy: 
4.5l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
116g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


Opel Insignia Grand Sport Review Ireland

2017 Opel Insignia Grand Sport Review

The Opel Insignia has held its own well against the likes of the Ford Mondeo and the Volkswagen Passat in Ireland, being a particular hit among fleet buyers and those seeking a large family hatchback. An all-new model, now dubbed the Opel Insignia Grand Sport has just gone on sale here.

The ‘Grand Sport’ moniker implies that the new Opel Insignia has grown-up a bit and matured into something more niche and exclusive.

But with pricing starting from €27,350, any ‘notions’ the new Opel Insignia Grand Sport might have are at least not reflected in the pricing.

The new Opel Insignia Grand Sport is actually a longer car than the outgoing Insignia. It’s an imposing car in the metal but there is a coupé-like elegance to the new design. Inside there is more of a limousine feel than the old car, and this is most noticeable in the back where rear legroom has been significantly improved. Despite the coupé-like styling, headroom in the back is not bad at all, while three can sit there in reasonable comfort. The hatchback-style boot reveals a 490 litre boot. In my opinion, large enough to get lost in.

Opel Insignia Grand Sport Review Ireland
The interior of the new Opel Insignia Grand Sport

Grand by name but grand by nature? At least from the driver’s seat, the new Opel Insignia Grand Sport car feels every inch the grand tourer. The driver now sits lower and feels more integrated with the car, while the brand new interior wraps around the driver. The design is much improved, with a sleek look centred around the Intellilink infotainment system in the centre of the dash. The materials at eye level are all of good quality and the Nappa leather seats on the test car add to the premium feel. There is more scratchy plastic further down but the interior of the new Insignia feels anything but cheap.

The new Insignia is also available with a wide range of technology, driving aids and premium features depending on trim level including the Opel OnStar assistance service, a digital instrument panel, heads-up display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, LED matrix headlights, Bose sound system, AGR ergonomic seats, traffic sign recognition, lane change assist with side blind spot alert and lane keep assist.

The Insignia Grand Sport range is extensive with four trim levels, a number of petrol and diesel engines, manual and automatic gearboxes and even four wheel drive. Standard equipment includes Opel OnStar, air con, cruise control, 7″ touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto projection, 17″ alloys and keyless entry and start. SRi (from €29,350) includes navigation, front sports seats, climate control, 8″ touchscreen, rear spoiler and traffic sign recognition. SE (from €29,350) includes a 4.2″ colour information display, front and rear parking sensors and driver’s lumbar support. Elite models (from €31,595) include leather trim and Intellilux LED matrix headlights.

Opel Insignia Grand Sport Review Ireland
The new Opel Insignia Grand Sport is a striking machine with real kerb appeal

Power for the range comes from a new 1.5-litre (140hp) turbo petrol unit, the 1.6-litre diesel (110 or 136hp) and the 2.0-litre diesel (170hp). Both the 1.6-litre (136hp) and 2.0-litre (170hp) units are available with both manual and automatic transmission.

The Opel Insignia Grand Sport sits on a new chassis and though the overall car is bigger, it has lost up to 175kg of body weight. On the road it still feels like a large car but there is a deftness to the steering that makes it more than adequate in the handling stakes. It’s still not particularly sporty: the steering weights up at speed but the heaviness cannot be mistaken for real feedback. But in terms of comfort and refinement, this is a fine car for munching up the motorway miles. My test car had the optional adaptive dampers dubbed Flexride for an extra €1300. The car rides beautifully on them. A Tour mode is included that softens the ride even further.

Under the bonnet, my test car was powered by the 2.0-litre 170 hp diesel carried over from the previous model. The performance of this engine is very impressive with 400Nm of torque and a squeeze of the accelerator in any gear yields swift progress. Opel has bolstered insulation and wind noise is non-existent, but there is still a fair amount of diesel gurgle finding its way into the cabin.

Opel Insignia Grand Sport Review Ireland
The new Opel Insignia Grand Sport has grown in length and the interior is roomier

Opel has enhanced the kerb appeal of the new Insignia Grand Sport and the makeover inside and out will make the new car a compelling choice on dealer forecourts. In terms of technology, the new Insignia can be had with an impressive list of features, but this can quickly move the car up into premium price territory. The ride comfort and refinement of the car is truly impressive, while the 2.0-litre diesel will not leave you wanting for power. There is currently a squeeze on D-segment cruisers like the Insignia from SUVs, but as a good companion for the road, the Insignia never grows tired, and now has added prestige.

Model tested: Opel Insignia Grand Sport 2.0 170hp Turbo D Elite
Price: €36,095, €46,985 with options (Range starts at €27,350)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
170hp
Torque: 400Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.9 seconds
Top speed: 226km/h
Economy: 
54 mpg
CO2 emissions:  
136g/km
Motor tax:
€280 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a large diesel car, you might also like this review of the Ford Mondeo.


2017 Mazda6 review ireland

Mazda6 Review

2017 Mazda6 review ireland
The 2017 Mazda6

After dropping back the Mazda CX-5, I next picked up a Mazda6 for review. It was interesting to take these two cars back to back because you could consider the Mazda6 saloon now an old-fashioned format. SUVs are very much of the moment, and the CX-5 was certainly very impressive, so how would the Mazda6 follow?

The Mazda6 is one of the best-looking cars in its segment, in particular in the Soul Red signature colour, which shows off the cars flowing lines and elegance to great effect. The Mazda6 has the grandness of a large saloon, and the space to match, with generous accommodation in the front and back. The cabin is robustly made with plenty of soft touch materials that give the Mazda6 an unmistakably premium feel.

For 2017, Mazda has refined the Mazda6 slightly. There is not much to shout about in terms of updates to the design inside and out, but under the skin, Mazda has added something called G-Vectoring Control, more sound insulation and worked on the diesel engine to make it more refined.

In Ireland, the Mazda6 is offered with a 2.0-litre petrol with 145hp and a 2.2-litre diesel (150hp or 175hp). Manual and automatic gearboxes are available.

My test car had the 2.2-litre diesel with 175hp matched to an automatic transmission and it’s close to perfection in terms of power, refinement and the slickness of the automatic gearbox. Though in this combination, the Mazda6 is not cheap – my Platinum trim car has a list price of €38,695 - it’s truly premium levels of refinement in the cabin of the Mazda6.

2017 Mazda6 review ireland
The interior of the 2017 Mazda6

Sitting lower than in an SUV, a saloon like the Mazda6 immediately engages the driver. The Mazda6 is certainly one of the most accomplished large saloons in the handling department. Small movements on the steering wheel control the Mazda6 with ease and the responses are lightning quick. G-Vectoring Control monitors steering and throttle position when you enter a corner under power and for a moment reduces the amount of torque delivered to the front wheels, thereby transferring a fraction more weight onto the front axle which allows the front wheels to turn more precisely. The car grips willingly in corners and body roll is well contained making it a fantastic sporty drive.

On the motorway, the power and flexibility of the 2.2 diesel Mazda6 and the noise isolation in the cabin make it a serene and relaxing experience. The suspension is supple and works well over changeable Irish road conditions.

In terms of pricing, the Mazda 6 range kicks off at €29,295 for a 2.0 petrol and €29,995 for a 2.0 diesel in Executive trim. Standard equipment includes leather steering wheel, cruise control, air con, 7” inch colour screen and front fog lamps.

Executive SE models start from €31,295 and include parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, rear privacy glass, climate control and Smart City Brake Support.

2017 Mazda6 review ireland
The Mazda6 is a super refined and engaging large saloon

Platinum models start from €35,695 and include heated, electrically adjustable, front seats, heated steering wheel, LED headlights and rear lights, Bose stereo, reversing camera and keyless entry.

As a refined long distance cruiser the Mazda6 is faultless, but off the big roads the Mazda6 will engage the driver and flits around corners with style. The improvements in refinement bring the Mazda6 to truly premium levels of ease and comfort, and with the 2.2 diesel under the bonnet, there is power in spades without the diesel clatter. Saloons like the Mazda6 might be an endangered species but the Mazda6 is a joy to drive.

Model tested: Mazda6 2.2 SKYACTIV-D Platinum Auto
Price: €38,695 (Range starts at €29,295)
Engine: 2.2-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
175hp
Torque: 420Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.4 seconds
Top speed: 216km/h
Claimed Economy: 
4.8l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
127g/km
Motor tax:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd


Alfa Romeo Giulia video review

Alfa Romeo Giulia Video Review

Here's my video review of the much anticipated Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2-litre JTD 180hp!

You can read a full review of this car here.


Volkswagen Arteon

Volkswagen Arteon First Drive Review

The Volkswagen Arteon has just arrived in Ireland and is a new flagship model for the brand. This five seat ‘fastback’ sits above the Passat in the Volkswagen range. It might look like a logical replacement for the Passat CC, but Volkswagen does not see it as a direct successor, citing it as an entirely new model.

Styling

The styling is indeed a big step up from the Passat and they won’t be confused side by side. The new Arteon has elite styling and is the most avant garde model Volkswagen currently produces. The Arteon has the presence of a large business class ‘gran turismo’ on the road, with graceful coupé like styling. LED headlights and 18” alloys are standard. There are currently six colours available for new Arteon, including the striking Turmeric Yellow, with more to join later.

Interior

Inside, the cabin borrows a little from the Passat, but there is a greater feeling of space and width, and the driving position is more sporty. An 8” touchscreen comes as standard with a glossy black surround, though a larger 9.2” version is also available. An impressive full digital instrument panel (‘Active Info Display’) is standard on all but the base model. Alcantara and leather seats are standard on Elegance and R-Line, with full leather an option.

Volkswagen Arteon
The interior of the new Volkswagen Arteon

Practicality

The passenger space in the Arteon is very impressive and it is bigger internally than a Passat. There are large footwells in the back and the hatchback style boot holds 563 litres.

Engines

In Ireland, the Volkswagen Arteon is offered with a 2.0-litre diesel only with 150hp, 190hp or 240hp. The 2.0-litre TDI 150hp is expected to be the biggest seller and is available with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The other engines are exclusively fitted with DSG. The range topping model is the 2.0-litre TDI 240hp with 4MOTION all wheel drive. The 2.0-litre TDI 150hp falls into tax band A4 with motor tax of €200 per year and the official fuel economy is 4.5l/100km on DSG models.

On the road

I had limited time to test the new Arteon on the road, so I will share my driving impressions after carrying out a longer road test.

Equipment

The new Volkswagen Arteon is available in three trim levels in Ireland: Arteon, Arteon Elegance and Arteon R-Line. Standard equipment includes 8“ touchscreen with navigation and eight speakers, 18“ alloys, ErgoComfort seats, predictive cruise control, park distance control, rain sensing wipers, tri zone climate control and a three year free subscription to Car-Net 'Security & Service', a new concierge system that can call the emergency services should you have an accident and allow you to remotely check data about your car, among other functions. The Elegance model adds leather/Alcantara upholstery, ambient lighting, voice control, Active Info Display and rear view camera. R-Line models add 19“ wheels, sporty ‘R-Line‘ steering wheel and seats, running rear indicators, dynamic headlight range control with dynamic cornering function, and adaptive chassis control on the 240hp model.

Volkswagen Arteon
The Volkswagen Arteon has gone on sale in Ireland priced from €43,295

Pricing

The Arteon range starts at €43,295 for the Arteon 2.0-litre 150hp with a six-speed manual transmission and there is a €2,200 price walk to the DSG version. The 2.0-litre 150hp Elegance model with a manual transmission starts at €45,995. The 2.0-litre 190hp Elegance model comes with the 7-speed DSG transmission only and costs €50,195.  The top-of-the-range R-Line Arteon starts at €47,795 for the 2.0-litre 150hp with the 6-speed manual transmission and rises to €49,995 when a 7-speed DSG transmission is added. The Arteon R-Line with 190hp and the 7-speed DSG costs €51,995 and at the top of the Arteon range, the flagship version is the 240hp 2.0-litre TDI R-Line, which comes with the 7-speed DSG and 4MOTION all-wheel drive as standard, as well as Adaptive Chassis Control. This model costs €55,895.

Rivals

The Volkswagen Arteon is pitched against cars like the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé.

Verdict

The Volkswagen Arteon has enough prestige and kerb appeal to command its price tag and with generous space and spec, the new Arteon could work out as very good value indeed.

The new Volkswagen Arteon is in dealers now.

Caroline Kidd