Mazda MX-30 (2020) First Drive Review

The new Mazda MX-30 on test for Changing Lanes in Dublin!
The new Mazda MX-30 on test for Changing Lanes in Dublin!

The new Mazda MX-30 is Mazda's first battery electric vehicle and will arrive in Ireland in February 2021. The MX-30 is a compact electric crossover and will go on sale here priced from €30,495 including grants and VRT relief. Powered by a 35.5 kWh battery, the new Mazda MX-30 has a range of up to 200 km (WLTP).

We took the new MX-30 for a test drive ahead of its official launch in Ireland in 2021. Here are our opening thoughts on Mazda's first electric car.

Styling

The MX-30 is a compact crossover with plenty of cool exterior features. It evolves Mazda's famed Kodo design philosophy that little bit further with a more expressive, 'friendly' design. LED headlights come as standard as does obligatory plastic cladding around the wheel arches, sills and bumpers, a crucial accessory for any bonafide urban crossover! There's also showstopper rear hinged freestyle doors that open outwards and invisible B pillar between the front and rear passenger compartment. Six body colours are available - Soul Red Crystal, Polymetal Grey, Machine Grey, Arctic White, Ceramic White and Jet Black - and contrasting roof finishes.

Interior

The Mazda MX-30 interior is a beauty to behold with a pleasing evolution of Mazda's typical driver-centric cockpit design. Everything is positioned for the comfort of the driver. The MX-30 furthers the concept of the horizontal layout to give the interior a simpler, wider look. To this end, the interior features a floating centre console that stands independent of the dashboard and adds additional storage. The introduction of a 7-inch touch-screen air-conditioning control panel is a first for Mazda too, and simplifies the dash layout even further.

The MX-30 adds an earthier feeling to Mazda's classically classy interiors with more intentional natural and recycled materials including a cork centre console and door trim made from fibres produced from recycled plastic bottles.

Elsewhere the dials and interface are conventional and easy to follow. Build quality is good too.

The cockpit of the new Mazda MX-30
The cockpit of the new Mazda MX-30

Practicality

The MX-30 has similar dimensions to the Mazda CX-30. It feels roomy up front with an airy lounge-like feel. The rear seating is accessed through freestyle doors. There's no B pillar to block access and egress. Novelty value for sure however rear legroom is on the tight side. The shape and position of the rear windows also mean occupants can feel a little restricted. Legroom will be tight for larger adults.

Battery, Range and Charging

The MX-30 uses a 35.5 kWh battery, with a WLTP range of 200 km. Mazda is on a 'right-sized' battery approach to building electric vehicles. That means that they haven't stuffed the MX-30 with a high capacity battery in a race to win range. Mazda cites this as more efficient electric motoring, avoiding the weight of a larger battery and reducing energy spend over the entire life cycle of the vehicle 'from well to wheel'. This strategy also keeps overall vehicle weight lower for better handling and agility, which is currently not the case for many EVs.

They make a good case for this but the MX-30's range can look a bit feeble against the competition in the electric crossover segment. Fast charging is available through a CCS charging adapter at 50 kW, giving 80% battery power in 36 minutes. It can be charged to full in as little as 5 hours at home.

The Mazda MX-30 is a new electric crossover from the Japanese brand
The Mazda MX-30 is a new electric crossover from the Japanese brand

On the road

At Changing Lanes, we had the opportunity to preview the MX-30's new electric powertrain when driving a prototype vehicle last December in Lisbon, Portugal. We reported an impressive display by the prototype with natural feeling responses and revving character through a sound actuator. So now we have the opportunity to drive the real thing on Irish roads!

With 145 PS and maximum torque output of 271 Nm, the front-wheel drive MX-30 will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 9.7 seconds. Though the 'MX' might imply something sexy and powerful, the MX-30 is not a sports car and doesn't need excessive power either. Yet there's pleasant kick from the accelerator should you want it.

To help the driver feel more connected to the car and driving process, aural feedback is provided via the audio system in sync with pressure applied to the accelerator. It's very impressive and gives that impression of revving an engine and moving through gears. Technologies such as electric G-Vectoring Control Plus (e-GVC Plus) ensure a natural feeling behind the wheel and stability while cornering.

The MX-30 feels at home in the urban environment of our test route. This was not a full test of battery performance however early indications were that the MX-30 uses energy cleverly.

Freestyle doors bring a distinct character to the new MX-30
Freestyle doors bring a distinct character to the new MX-30

Pricing & Equipment

In Ireland the new Mazda MX-30 will be available in four trim levels: First Edition, GS-L, GT and GT Sport.

GS-L models are available from €30,495. Features include radar cruise control, windscreen projected head-up-display, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights and a rear camera. Higher grades such as the GT Sport (from €34,795) will add equipment such as a 12 speaker Bose sound system, sunroof and 360° view camera.

There is also a GT model available from €31,595.

The First Edition models will be the first to arrive in Ireland from February and are priced from €31,795. Features include 8-way power driver seat with memory setting, adaptive LED signature headlights and a choice of dark or light leatherette and cloth interior. Higher grades such as the GT Sport will add equipment such as a 12 speaker Bose sound system, sunroof and 360° view camera.

The MX-30 is also the first in the Mazda range to benefit from the latest MyMazda app, which is now available for free from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. It now contains functions that are only possible on an electric vehicle including notifications if a driver forgets to plug in the charging cable, the ability to control charging using a timer, monitoring charging progress, and a range indicator. The MyMazda app also gives MX-30 drivers real-time information on charging point availability and location, allows them to view key information such as plug types and opening hours, and send the destination directly to the navigation system.

The MX-30 features a further enhanced suite of i-Activsense features. Turn-Across Traffic functionality has been added to the existing Smart Brake Support (SBS) system to help prevent collisions when turning across traffic at intersections. New technologies include Emergency Lane Keeping with Road Keep Assist, which helps keep the car on the right track even in the absence of lane markings, and Emergency Lane Keeping with Blind Spot Assist, which helps prevent collisions when changing lanes.

50 kW fast charging is available
50 kW fast charging is available

Rivals

The new Mazda MX-30 will compete against other compact electric crossovers such as the Kia e-Niro, Kia e-Soul, Hyundai Kona Electric, Peugeot e-2008.

Summary

The Mazda MX-30 is yet another addition to the growing range of electric vehicles now available to buy in Ireland. It adds electric power to the fashionable body of a crossover, with a modern urban look that's bound to draw attention.

Mazda enters the field of electric vehicles bringing its driver centric design philosophy. That's welcome in the electric vehicle space. The beautiful interior design and interesting material choices certainly differentiate the MX-30, as do the freestyle doors! We're not convinced yet of the practicality of the arrangement but it surely is different!

Behind the wheel Mazda delivers the same pedantic pursuit of driver pleasure as in any of their combustion engined cars. This is good for people who enjoy driving.

Which leaves us thinking about range. We are yet to fully put to the test the practicality of charging and living with the MX-30. Yet the 200 km range will be eclipsed by most rivals. There's a lot of logic to Mazda's approach but will it work for real people?

The Mazda MX-30 is thankfully well-priced and well-equipped so there's still plenty to play for.

Mazda MX-30 is one of the most exciting electric crossovers arriving in Ireland in 2021
Mazda MX-30 is one of the most exciting electric crossovers arriving in Ireland in 2021

Caroline Kidd


The new Honda e on test for Changing Lanes

Honda e (2020) First Drive Review

The new Honda e on test for Changing Lanes
The new Honda e on test for Changing Lanes

The new Honda e has arrived in Ireland and goes on sale priced from €29,995 including Government grants and VRT relief. It's the Japanese brand's first battery electric car, based on the Honda Urban EV concept car, which made a dramatic debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017 and has had tongues wagging ever since in anticipation of its cool retro-inspired styling and lounge-like interior.

With a WLTP range of 222 km, it is an all electric city car aimed at the urban dweller. It brings a number of innovations to the Honda brand, including Side Camera Mirror System. We had an opportunity to bring the Honda e for a test drive in Dublin. Here are our opening thoughts on the quirky Honda e.

Styling

The production Honda e retains most of the cool character of the original Honda Urban EV concept. Small in size, the Honda e is from the future and at home on city streets lit by neon lights. It's anything but ordinary. The clues are there as you approach. Traditional side mirrors have been replaced by cameras so the Honda e has 'no ears' per se, just small housing for the cameras protruding from each wing. At the front, there's a closed grille with those dazzling round headlamps deliberately styled to give the Honda e a friendly human face that you will just fall in love with instantly. Charging is via a remote controlled flap on the bonnet that opens to reveal a CCS port for fast charging and AC charging.

Quirky styling and laden with tech characterises the new Honda e
Quirky styling and laden with tech characterise the new Honda e

Interior

Inside Honda treats us to another glimpse of the future. Many manufacturers are showing us concepts of lounge-like interiors built around screens and more screens but Honda brings one to production in the year 2020. It's an elegant, classy and techy dashboard set-up with full-width LCD touchscreens and wood panelling that would not be out of place in an upmarket furniture store. Neither would the seat upholstery or bench-like seating in the rear. The Side Camera Mirror System means you get more screen action to show you what is going on around the vehicle. The compact cameras on the outside of the vehicle provide live images to two six-inch screens inside the vehicle. This camera technology is a first in the compact segment. Works beautifully we can confirm in daylight, though we haven't experienced it at night time yet. Standard kit too. Go up to the Advance model (from €32,995) and Honda will even up the ante with a Centre Camera Mirror System, which cleverly relays the image from a central rear-facing camera to the rear-view mirror display. It's an interior fitting of an up and coming electric city car. Analogue fans need not apply.

Practicality

The Honda e is a small car but can fit humans in it too and some of their gear. It's five door with four seat interior. Up front it feels roomy but legroom is on the small side in the rear and the boot has a capacity of just 171 litres. It's cool though, right?

Battery, Power and Range

The purpose built EV platform uses a 35.5 kWh battery, with a WLTP range of 222 km. The Honda e has 136 hp, while the Honda e Advance has 154 hp. Fast charging is available through a CCS charging adapter, with the opportunity to add 80% of charge in just 30 minutes. The Type 2 AC connection charges the car to full in 4.1 hours, with a 7.4 kW supply.

Inside the new Honda e
Inside the new Honda e

On the road

The excitement of setting off in the Honda e on a dull Monday morning in October just a few weeks before Lockdown 2.0! Bizarrely despite all that visible tech the Honda e is as easy as 1 2 3 to drive, or P R N D, considering it's controlled by a simple button gear selector that means you just press a button to put the car in Drive.

As well as Single Pedal Control, the Honda e also has two drive modes; Normal, for a quiet refined drive around town and Sport, for increased responsiveness.

Silence is the language of the Honda e. It's light and nippy and oh so modern. We felt a bit small on the motorway but could still keep up with the best of them. In typical urban driving it's that perfect slice of zero tailpipe emissions future motoring with instant acceleration and responsiveness. Buy the Honda e and that's 'now' motoring, but we expect more will join as Honda Ireland expects to sell their full allocation of 150 little e badged Hondas in 2021.

We had limited time to test the Honda e's consumption and efficiency but early indications are that it uses electricity cleverly. If buyers can charge every night at home you will set off each day on your commute with close to 170 km.

So much cool stuff in the cabin of the new Honda e
So much cool stuff in the cabin of the new Honda e

Pricing & Equipment

An enhanced suite of safety features sees the addition of three new safety technologies to the Honda e including Collision Mitigation Throttle Control, preventing sudden acceleration in either reverse or drive upon starting the car when there is an obstacle in the way; Low Speed Brake Function, which applies emergency braking while driving at low speed, and Lead Car Departure Notification System which notifies the driver when the car in front has started moving.

Another new feature is Honda Parking Pilot, which provides further driver support by monitoring for parking spaces and highlighting on the HMI screens a suitable position to begin assisted parking.

In Ireland the Honda e (from €29,995) comes as standard with Honda Sensing suite of safety features, 16" alloys, climate control with rear vent, automatic wipers, electric windows front and rear, heated front seats, parking sensors, rear view parking camera, ambient lighting, and panoramic glass roof.

Honda e Advance (from €32,995) adds an increased motor output, Centre Camera Mirror System, a more powerful audio system, heated windscreen and steering wheel, and the smart Honda Parking Pilot driver aid.

Honda in Ireland has chosen to sell the new Honda e from a number of urban Honda dealers nationwide, including Des Darcy Honda and Clonskeagh Motors Honda in Dublin, Kevin O’Leary Honda in Cork, and Sheils Honda in Limerick and Galway.

Rivals

The new Honda e will compete against other compact electric vehicles like the Peugeot e-208 and the MINI Electric.

Summary

The new Honda e hits the compact EV market at the premium end. Honda has many valid reasons for not using a larger capacity battery for more range but it will be tough for the Honda e in a market that fetishises range - the more of it the better seemingly and I might be saying the same thing after spending a week with the car.

The Honda e may not win the range race but what it does have is street cred that makes it serious eye candy for early adopters. If you're after a budget small car, the Honda e is evidently not for you. But the premium build, technology-laden Honda e is undeniably cool, adventurous and desirable.

A trendsetter we can fully get behind and look forward to delving deeper into the technology and practicality of living with a Honda e when we take it on an extended test drive in January 2021. Watch this space!

The new Honda e all electric compact now on sale from €29,995
The new Honda e all electric compact now on sale from €29,995

Caroline Kidd


The new Renault ZOE Z.E. 50 on test for Changing Lanes

Renault ZOE Z.E.50 (2020) Review

The new Renault ZOE Z.E. 50 on test for Changing Lanes
The new Renault ZOE Z.E. 50 on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the new Renault ZOE Z.E. 50!

The Renault ZOE debuted in Europe back at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, making the ZOE one of the veterans in this modern era of electric mobility. Now in 2020, Renault is back with a new generation of the car – the Z.E. 50, a name which reflects the car’s new battery size. In fact, this is a car that has been consistently tweaked and improved over the years since its launch. And unlike the sales curve of a traditional car, ZOE has increased sales gradually year after year.

In the last six years of Changing Lanes I’ve also seen a gradual shift that means that modern electric cars like ZOE now find themselves in the most receptive market in their history. The number of electrified models in my test schedule has accelerated since 2018. In late 2019 we saw an electric car take the title of Irish Car of the Year for the first time. Media coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fact that when you press pause on the economy, the environment benefits and air quality in cities improves. The idea of zero tailpipe emissions has never been more appealing. Just like smoking, cars with combustion engines could now become very unfashionable very quickly.

The Renault ZOE is already the bestselling electric car in Europe. With this car’s compact size and affordability, it’s easy to see why. Yet ZOE no longer has a monopoly on the compact electric vehicle space. New entrants like the Opel Corsa-e, Peugeot e-208, MINI Electric and forthcoming Honda e, mean that the ZOE will find itself coming under ever more scrutiny.

The 2020 Renault ZOE has a number of new features
The 2020 Renault ZOE has a number of new features

What’s new for the 2020 Renault ZOE?

In Ireland the Renault is the cheapest way into an electric vehicle with this new ZOE coming in a whisker below the starting price of its closest rivals with a sticker price of €26,990 after Government grants and VRT relief. That’s still considerably more than a 1.0-litre petrol Renault Clio for example, but let’s not forget the incentives, zero tailpipe emissions and savings you can make on running costs with an electric car. The new 52 kWh battery replaces the 41 kWh of the previous generation of the car, yet doesn’t take up any more space. It offers 25% more range than the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40, and is officially rated at 395 km (WLTP).

New safety technology has been incorporated into the ZOE’s platform along with a new regenerative braking ‘B Mode’. A 100 kW engine joins the range with 135 hp, giving the ZOE more maturity when it comes to motorway driving.

The ZOE’s versatile standard 22 kW AC Chameleon charger remains but there is 50 kW DC fast charging for the first time in the form of a new CCS adaptor, available as an option.

New paint colours include Celadon Blue (pictured), Flame Red and Quartz White. There’s also a brand-new interior that takes many cues from the new Clio, which improves the quality and technology of the vehicle considerably. We also welcome a new electronic “e-shifter” gear lever and automatic parking brake with auto-hold function.

Inside the new Renault ZOE
Inside the new Renault ZOE

What are my options?

Let’s take a closer look at the Renault ZOE Z.E. 50 range in Ireland to find out what’s available. There are three trim lines – Play, Iconic and GT Line. Two motors are available which give a different power output - the R110 motor (108 hp) and the new R135 motor with greater performance (135 hp).

The entry model into the range with that appealing sticker price (€26,990) has the R110 motor and in built 22 kW Chameleon charger. Equipment on this vehicle includes an impressive new 10-inch TFT instrument cluster, 7” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlamps, automatic lights and wipers, air conditioning, electric door mirrors, and cruise control.

The Iconic model is available from €28,990 with the R110 motor or from €30,990 with the R135 motor and opens up the option of the CCS adaptor.

The GT Line is the top of the range model and comes as standard with the R135 motor, available from €31,990. Visually this model gets more bling with tinted rear windows, 16” diamond cut alloy wheels, chrome stamped grille. While inside there is special part recycled, part synthetic leather seat upholstery. Equipment updates include rear parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot warning, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, traffic sign recognition,  9.3 inch portrait touchscreen, climate control and a wireless phone charger.

CCS fast charging is available for the first time in the 2020 Renault ZOE range
CCS fast charging is available for the first time in the 2020 Renault ZOE range

How practical is new ZOE?

The ZOE was designed from the start as an all-electric vehicle. Over the years, the brand has improved battery capacity without taking up more space inside the vehicle. In fact for a five door electric supermini, the ZOE does a good job. The boot is deep and has a capacity of 338 litres with a practical hatchback opening style. Up front the ZOE is roomy for two adults with lots of headroom and elbow room. It’s smaller in the back, feeling more suitable for two across the rear bench. However, Isofix child seat fixtures on outer rear seats and the front passenger seat boost practicality for young families or grandparents.

What’s it like inside?

The 2020 Renault ZOE debuts a brand-new interior. Quality has improved a lot making it feel like a more mature car in line with the Clio. The digital display for the driver is new and much more modern than what has come before. It displays information about things like your speed, range, power and efficiency. The new ZOE also benefits from Renault’s latest infotainment system that syncs easily to Apple and Android smartphones. There is no height adjustment lever on the driver’s seat but the steering wheel does adjust for reach and rake. There is also a more sophisticated gear selector to your left than what has come before.

Rear seating in the new Renault ZOE
Rear seating in the new Renault ZOE

Charging the Renault ZOE

For the first time, the ZOE will now be able to use Ireland’s fast charge network. A CCS adaptor is available from the Iconic level trim. It facilitates ZOE to charge at 50 kW at a fast charger on the ESB public charging network for example. After 30 minutes you could be on your way with an extra 145 km of range.

But don’t overlook the standard 22 kW AC Chameleon charger, which is actually a little bit of genius in its own regard. You can use any of the ESB’s more plentiful Type 2 chargers, often in town, and charge at 22 kW AC, and get a full charge in 2 hours and 40 minutes. I’ve seen this in action and in about an hour you can get 40% extra charge. A 7 kW wallbox unit at home for example charges the new ZOE in 9 hours and 25 minutes.

Driving the 2020 Renault ZOE Z.E. 50

The ZOE’s compact dimensions and electric powertrain work well together, particularly in the urban environment. You will be nipping around in no time and it’s here you really feel the benefit of ZOE's cool, linear acceleration. My test car had the R135 motor with 135 hp and you notice that extra zip. The electric motor gives instant response from a press of the throttle. The new B mode is a more aggressive regenerative braking system that allows near one pedal driving. This is because when you lift off the accelerator the car brakes itself quite rapidly so you can modulate the car's responses with just the accelerator pedal very easily.

I’ve tested the ZOE a few times in the last few years but this model seems to adapt to high speed motorway driving much better than before. This is down to improved refinement in the cabin and the higher powered motor.

You sit quite high in the ZOE, great for visibility but this car is not a sports car. The steering and handling does pass as feeling natural most of the time so there’s still all of the fun of driving a small car.

The new ZOE is available from €26,990 in Ireland
The new ZOE is available from €26,990 in Ireland

Did you like it?

The Renault ZOE has grown up again. The relative affordability of this car is important at a time when buyers will still find themselves paying a premium for a more environmentally friendly electric car. The ZOE now has a more mature feeling interior, while new technology features like the digital instrument display for the driver make for a much more modern and appealing driving experience.

CCS fast charging is a timely addition to the range, but it's not included as standard. Though there are benefits to upgrading to a higher spec ZOE with CCS, the appeal of the 22 kW on board charger should not be overlooked. It really does make charging quicker from the more plentiful Type 2 ESB chargers that you are more likely to encounter in Irish towns.

More range is always an advantage as it adds more flexibility and versatility to the routines of an EV owner, less time charging and more anxiety-free driving. Over 300 km is definitely feasible from new ZOE, especially if you stick to low speed city driving. What’s more, the higher capacity battery doesn’t drop kilometres from your range rapidly the minute you arrive on the motorway and squeeze the accelerator hard.

Like many manufacturers, Renault is moving fast now into electrifying popular models in their range. New hybrid versions of the Clio and Captur are expected this year. For buyers committed to full electric motoring, ZOE remains a charming tried and tested, tweaked and honed formula that balances affordability with practical charging and comfortable range.

Now watch my video for a closer look at the new ZOE's best features!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault ZOE Z.E. 50 R135 GT Line
Price: 
€31,990 (Range from €26,990)
Engine: 100 kW
Power: 
135 hp
Torque: 245 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.5 seconds
Top speed: 140 km/h
Motor Tax: €120 per year


The 2020 Hyundai IONIQ on test for Changing Lanes

Hyundai IONIQ Electric (2020) Review

The 2020 Hyundai IONIQ Electric on test for Changing Lanes
The 2020 Hyundai IONIQ Electric on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the new Hyundai IONIQ Electric.

Hyundai sashayed into the market for electric vehicles back in 2016 with the new Hyundai IONIQ Electric. In 2018, Hyundai’s electric offering was strengthened again by the arrival of the fashionable KONA Electric. While the brand also sells a range of hybrids and fuel powered cars, their electric offering has settled very well into the Irish market where buyers are ever more receptive to EV technology.

What's new for the 2020 Hyundai IONIQ Electric?

While the KONA Electric, is the trendy electric compact crossover, the IONIQ is the classic electric hatchback. Now in 2020 the Hyundai IONIQ Electric has been updated with a new battery giving more range and more power. This effectively keeps the IONIQ Electric at the races in a time when manufacturers are constantly improving and offering popular EV models with more range.

The 2020 Hyundai IONIQ Electric is available from €35,470 in Ireland including grant and VRT relief. The new model now has a 38.3 kWh battery with a range rated at 312 km (WLTP). The IONIQ is also available as a plug-in hybrid (from €34,995).

The updated IONIQ Electric now has more power and more range
The updated IONIQ Electric now has more power and more range

The Hyundai IONIQ Electric hatchback now has a redesigned closed grille with new distinctive pattern and active air flaps to assist in cooling. There are also new headlamps, rear lights, and new front and rear bumpers. It is quite an unusual design, not as trendy as the KONA, but there is the familiarity and sensible nature of a hatchback to it.

The interior of the IONIQ

Inside there has been a comprehensive redesign of the dashboard with upgraded materials and finishes, updated instrument cluster, cabin mood lighting and all new touch type temperature and multimedia controls. A new 10.25” widescreen navigation system comes as standard on the IONIQ Electric in Ireland. Hyundai interiors are generally quite conservative, so this is a really nice, modern feature for the car. The system allows the driver to easily find nearby charging stations. The IONIQ Electric’s standard high-resolution 7-inch LCD console display has also been improved with mood lighting to visualise the different drive mode themes – comfort, eco, eco + and sport. There’s also some nice blue ambient lighting in the cabin, visible at night.

Equipment includes cruise control, parking camera, keyless start and entry, 16” alloys, lane departure warning, heated front seats, climate control, LED headlights, high beam assist, wireless phone charging pad, and 10.25" Widescreen Navigation with Radio, RDS, DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The IONIQ interior has been revamped for 2020
The IONIQ interior has been revamped for 2020

In terms of space, the IONIQ is a relatively compact hatchback but interior space, especially in the rear feels more generous than the Hyundai KONA. The boot is shallow but large with a generous 455 litre capacity. It stretches back a fair deal and has a very practical hatchback opening.

Battery and charging my IONIQ

The 2020 IONIQ Electric now uses a larger battery, which has increased in size from 28kWh to 38.3kWh, and a more powerful 100 kW motor. There is also new fully adjustable regenerative braking with one pedal driving functionality and smart regenerative braking. This automatically regulates the regenerative braking power depending on road inclination and forward momentum to ensure the smoothest driving experience, while maximising efficiency and range.

The IONIQ can be charged at home or on the public charging network. a 7.2kW on-board charger is fitted as standard - an upgrade from current 6.6kW – for Type 2 AC charging.  A CCS adaptor means that the IONIQ can also make use of 50 kW fast charging on the public network. Hyundai says that the battery can be recharged from flat to 100% charge in 6 hours 5 minutes on a 7kW charger. Using a 50 kW charger, 80% charge can be got in just under an hour.

On the road the Hyundai IONIQ Electric is smooth and effortless to drive. There is no particular dynamic appeal to this car but the light steering and comfortable suspension set-up make it an easy companion to travel Irish roads in. There is now more power with an overall system output of 136 hp so it copes fine in that regard without anyone mistaking it for a hot hatchback. The braking action is smooth, while one pedal driving is a doddle in the IONIQ.

50 kW charging of the Hyundai IONIQ Electric on the ESB e-cars network
50 kW charging of the Hyundai IONIQ Electric on the ESB e-cars network

Hyundai IONIQ vs KONA Electric?

Hyundai has been ahead of many manufacturers with two fully electric compact models in their Irish line-up. Like all electric vehicles right now, these are more expensive cars for their size than their fuel powered stablemates. However the Hyundai IONIQ Electric does have a lower entry price than the Hyundai KONA.

Clearly these two cars offer something a little bit different in style and format, trendy crossover (KONA) vs. classic hatchback (IONIQ). The KONA has an entry price of €38,630, while the IONIQ Electric starts from €35,470. Both are well specced cars, yet the KONA does have a more powerful 64 kWh battery, which is good for over 400 km of range.

There is plenty of options for EV buyers out there and lots to think about in terms of the balance between price, range, style, longevity and lifestyle suitability. The Hyundai IONIQ Electric is the classic electric hatchback that benefits greatly from a larger battery. Seeing over 300 km on your dashboard every morning is reassuring and this car is a simple entry into electric motoring.  It’s now got a more modern infotainment system that lifts the interior, while it’s also practical and compact for town.

If you would like to read our review of the IONIQ’s sister car, click here to read our Hyundai KONA Electric Review!

The new Hyundai IONIQ Electric is available from €35,470 in Ireland
The new Hyundai IONIQ Electric is available from €35,470 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai IONIQ Electric Premium
Price: 
€35,470
Battery: 38.3 kWh
Range: 312 km (WLTP)
Power: 
136 hp
Torque: 295 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.7 seconds
Top speed: 154 km/h
Motor Tax: €120 per year


The new Audi e-tron

2020 Audi e-tron 55 quattro Review

The new Audi e-tron
The new Audi e-tron in Ireland

Caroline drives the 2020 Audi e-tron.

Audi has landed into the world of EVs with a big splash in the form of the flagship Audi e-tron SUV. With a massive 95 kWh battery, the e-tron is a technological achievement, a perfect embodiment of the Vorsprung durch Technik the brand is built upon. Progress through technology, the concept of the new e-tron is undoubtedly big, impressive and optimistic. Audi chose to conceive a large family SUV as the brand’s first ever fully electric production model. The new e-tron will spearhead an electric vehicle (EV) offensive for the brand that will see 12 production Audi e-models by 2025.

But the most important question for most EV buyers right now is – how far will it get me on one charge? While Audi quotes a WLTP range of up to 436 km, this reviewer can tell you that during our real world test during a cold spell in December, we travelled a reliable 300 km on a full charge.

What about performance?

In the metal the e-tron looks like the kind of vehicle that will make the ground shake when you start it up. But no twin turbos under the bonnet here. In fact, there is very little under the bonnet at all! Powerful front and rear electric motors energised by a large high-voltage battery, give the e-tron 55 quattro a power output of 402 hp and 664 Nm of torque and the 0 to 100 km/h sprint figure is 5.7 seconds. When you are swapping stats and stories at the EV fast charger, this will be met with a short intake of breath - but performance is not really the story here.

The interior of the new Audi e-tron
The interior of the new Audi e-tron

For sure the e-tron can move quickly. But what is more impressive and frankly enjoyable about this vehicle is the silky smooth refinement of the car. The way the controls feel, how it covers the tarmac so smoothly and effortlessly, all in silence.

Audi says the drive components are installed low and central for the best dynamic ability with the battery system located between the axles in the form of a flat, broad block beneath the passenger compartment. They say that this configuration makes the Audi e-tron’s centre of gravity similar to that of a saloon car. Axle load distribution is perfectly balanced at almost 50:50.

The Audi e-tron is very clever

Audi drive select allows driver to toggle between seven profiles depending on the driving situation, road conditions or personal preferences. The system also influences the standard air suspension with adaptive dampers. The pneumatic springs adjust individually to the road conditions depending on the speed and the driver’s preferences, varying the ride height by as much as 76 millimetres. At higher, motorway speeds on longer journeys the e-tron can sit lower on the road to improve aerodynamics and range. I drove it in the efficiency mode most of the time, with the most discernible difference being a less responsive throttle.

The 2020 Audi e-tron 55 quattro is powered by a 95 kWh battery
The 2020 Audi e-tron 55 quattro is powered by a 95 kWh battery

And when it comes to charging the mighty e-tron, there’s up to 150 kw charging, which I can tell you feels like magic. High speed 150 kw IONITY chargers arrived in Ireland in the summer at select Circle K stations and I’m lucky to have one in my area. There are fast chargers and then there are IONITY chargers. For €8 per use, I went from 10% battery power to 100% in 40 minutes. When I hopped back in the range read 314 km. At home with a 22 kw wallbox a full charge can be got in approximately 4.3 hrs or 8.3 hours with 11 kW charging.

Inside the 2020 Audi e-tron

Priced from €89,810 including grant reductions, the new Audi e-tron is an elite piece of kit. Inside, the e-tron is as salubrious as any other member of the Audi range. It features the latest in Audi interior design with a stunning digital cockpit. Material quality is excellent throughout and the space inside the vehicle is also used well. An electric tailgate reveals a boot volume of 600 litres.

Audi Ireland has also just recently announced the arrival of the Audi e-tron 50 quattro, which uses a 71 kWh battery and starts from €64,990 with a shorter WLTP range of 336 km.

The new e-tron 55 quattro available from €89,810 including grant reductions
The new e-tron 55 quattro available from €89,810 including grant reductions

The concept of the Audi e-tron is a true showstopper. Audi’s flagship electric SUV is a fantastic debut with the convenience of 150 kw charging and a genuine 300 km of real world range.

While the stats from the high voltage battery are impressive, the packing of this EV technology means that there is no denying the car feels heavy on the road and you will be acutely aware of carrying your battery when slowing down at a junction or for a roundabout. Dynamically, the e-tron does little to excite.

But the execution of this vehicle’s premium attributes, the attention to detail in the way it's been designed and built, and the smoothness of the cabin and ride is highly seductive. Hell, it’s an Audi after all. You will enjoy this car.

For eco-conscious trendsetters and EV evangelists, the e-tron brings huge bragging rights.

Caroline Kidd and the Audi e-tron
Caroline and the Audi e-tron

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi e-tron 55 quattro
Price: 
From €89,810 (including grants)
Battery: 95 kWh
Power: 
402 bhp
Torque: 664 Nm
0-100km/h:  
5.7 seconds
Top speed: 200 km/h
CO2 emissions:  
0 g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new LEAF 62 kWh has more range than ever before!

2020 Nissan LEAF 62 kWh Review

Caroline drives the 2020 Nissan LEAF 62 kWh.

The Nissan LEAF is one of Ireland’s most popular electric cars and a pioneer of mainstream electric motoring. Within the last year the number of electric vehicles available in Ireland has expanded and the LEAF has been under attack from some new rivals. However the high visibility of the LEAF in Ireland, all generations, is undeniable, and you are definitely likely to encounter one at your local EV charger. The LEAF has clearly penetrated the market here very well.

In 2018, Nissan launched an all-new LEAF hatchback with a 40 kWh battery with more power and a range in the region of 250 km. The car had evolved into something more desirable with modern design technology and safety features. In 2019, the LEAF got even better with the launch of the new longer range Nissan LEAF 62 kWh.

What's new for the 2020 Nissan LEAF?

Priced in Ireland from €37,840, the 62 kWh LEAF crucially has a 25% increase in energy density and 55% boost in energy storage capacity, giving the 62 kWh LEAF a power output of 217 PS and up to 385 km (WLTP) on a single charge compared to the 40 kWh Nissan LEAF. I tested the car in the cold weather of November and with 98% battery power when I picked it up, the range read about 340 km.

The new LEAF 62 kWh has more range than ever before!
The new LEAF 62 kWh has more range than ever before!

Other new features for the LEAF 62 kWh include the new NissanConnect infotainment system as standard, with Apple CarPlay® and AndroidAuto® for seamless smartphone connectivity. An upgraded navigation system also shows live traffic and nearby chargers. There’s also a new NissanConnect Services app that allows users to send navigation routes and preset air conditioning or heating.

Nissan so far has ignored the electric crossover/SUV trend and the LEAF remains a classic hatchback with the latest Nissan family face. The new battery retains a similar shape and size to the 40 kWh LEAF battery pack, so there is no detriment to interior space in this upgraded model. Interior accommodation is about average for a hatchback of this size and the boot is a very good size. There are special places to store the cables so the practicality of the space is not negatively impacted.

The interior of the LEAF

Inside, the LEAF 62 kWh has the same dash design as the new generation LEAF we tested in 2018. There is some new digital technology however already the graphics on the driver information panel and infotainment screen are looking a little dated. Still, functionality is okay and it's handy to be able to find nearby charging stations. You also sit a little higher in the LEAF than a standard hatchback because of the battery under the floor.

The interior of the new Nissan LEAF
The interior of the new Nissan LEAF

In Ireland, the new 62 kWh Nissan LEAF starts from €37,840 in SV grade with a high specification including Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition, Intelligent Trace Control, Moving Object Detection, Intelligent Lane Intervention, e-Pedal with regenerative function, front and rear parking sensors, Around View Monitor, 17″ alloy wheels, privacy glass, LED daytime running lights and LED rear signature lights.

The range-topping SVE 62 kWh LEAF is available from €40,500 and includes ProPilot, Bose Audio System, Intelligent Auto LED headlights, heated leather steering wheel and leather heated seats front and rear.

Driving the Nissan Leaf 62 kWh

On the road, the Nissan LEAF is nippy with 217 hp at its disposal. It handles well through corners and is smooth, refined and of course, quiet, on the move.

The extra range of this 62 kWh model is very welcome. The CHAdeMO type rapid charger is 50kW / 100kW compatible and will get you from 20% to 80% charge in about 90 minutes (50kW). Charging at home takes about 12 hours.

The new LEAF 62 kWh is still eclipsed by some rivals like the Kia e-Soul in terms of the range and how far it will go on one charge.

The Nissan LEAF is the original mass market electric vehicle, famed for its accessibility and affordable entry into electric motoring.

However, the new LEAF 62 kWh requires considerable investment and in range alone, there are some better competitors in this space.

LEAF buyers now have more options. Not everyone wants a crossover or SUV. Hatchback lovers still exist. The game is moving rapidly for EVs. The LEAF 62 kWh keeps up for now.

LEAF 62 kWh available from €37,840
LEAF 62 kWh available from €37,840

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Nissan LEAF 62 kWh SVE
Price:
€40,500
Battery: 62 kWh
Power: 
217 hp
Torque:  340 Nm
0-100km/h: 
6.9 seconds
Top speed: 158 km/h 
Range (WLTP):
385 km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


Caroline and the Mazda CX-30 EV Prototype

Mazda MX-30 EV Prototype First Drive Review

Caroline and the Mazda CX-30 EV Prototype
Caroline and the Mazda MX-30 EV Prototype

In 2020, Mazda will launch the brand's first ever electric vehicle, the Mazda MX-30 all-electric SUV. I had an opportunity to preview the new MX-30 in Portugal, and test drive Mazda's new EV technology in a prototype vehicle.

Mazda has set out to bottle up the company's Jinba Ittai - driver and car as one - engineering ethos, and produce an electric vehicle that delivers ‘outstanding driving pleasure’. The MX-30 will be the third new generation Mazda - after the 2019 Mazda3 and CX-30 - when it goes into production towards the middle of 2020.

At Mazda's Technology & Design Forum in Lisbon, we had the opportunity to speak in great detail with the MX-30 European product development team, led by the passionate and articulate Christian Schultze, Director and Deputy General Manager at the Mazda Motor Europe R&D Centre. Schultze has been working with Mazda in Europe since 1990 and told us about the product development that saw the European team in consultation with their Japanese colleagues from an early stage. The MX-30 will be a global car but will launch first in Europe in 2020 and has been developed for this market.

The new Mazda EV prototype in action in Sintra, Portugal
The new Mazda EV prototype in action in Sintra, Portugal

The MX-30 uses the brand's new Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture and employs a number of new technologies and innovations to create the most natural feeling EV powertrain. Electric G-Vectoring Control Plus (e-GVC Plus) is an evolution of a system already found in Mazda's fleet and promises a feeling of more natural feedback by precise torque control and sound that lets the driver know exactly what the car is doing. Mazda has developed its own bespoke motor pedal concept for the Mazda MX-30 for a more natural feel relative to the driver’s intended amount of acceleration and deceleration. They have also developed special sound or ‘aural feedback’ through the audio system corresponding to the driver’s pedal action that helps the driver to more precisely control vehicle speed and adds to the driving pleasure.

Power will come from a 35.5 kWh battery giving a power output of about 140 hp, torque of 265 Nm and an electric range estimated somewhere in the region of 200 km. Mazda engineers also spoke to us about the possibility of a rotary engine being installed as a range extender.

The test vehicle provided to us in Portugal on a bright December morning was an e-TPV (electric technology proving vehicle) using the chassis and body of a CX-30. The MX-30 and CX-30 are closely matched in size and wheelbase so this was a realistic preview of what the MX-30 is going to feel like on the road.

The interior of the prototype - don't touch the red button
The interior of the prototype - don't touch the red button

I was accompanied by a member of the Mazda event team who briefed me on the vehicle. He was monitoring the technical underpinnings of the car through a tablet and the big red button on the dash you can see in the photos was where he could cut the power to the car, should any warnings or faults appear on the system. Before we set off on the test route on a beautiful mountainous road through the Sintra region, he let me know that the only safety equipment the test vehicle had was ABS - no airbags, no lane departure warning, no ESC, etc. I looked down the ravine to the left and thought...okay... just before I met one of the locals who thought he was driving in my country.

I was so excited to be driving this new electric car from Mazda that feels like no other. The Mazda DNA is very quickly apparent. The steering was natural and fluid, the car willing to play ball among the twists and turns of our test route with a pleasant amount of grip through the front tyres in fast cornering.

The most interesting and frankly, brilliant, innovation here is the aural feedback from the car and sensations through the pedals as you accelerate and decelerate. Electric cars are typically devoid of any feedback through the pedals or controls. Not so with the CX-30 EV prototype. It feels and sounds not much different than a petrol CX-30 in typical stop/start driving. Up and down inclines, I had the opportunity to experience this new technology and I loved it: gurgles and resistance like a good old-fashioned ICE.

We test drove the Mazda EV prototype to preview MX-30's new EV technology
We test drove the Mazda EV prototype to preview MX-30's new EV technology

The nature of the weight distribution of an EV versus a front engined mid size SUV was apparent in the way the car shifted its weight around corners, but it was remarkably good to drive. Certainly I felt the relative 'low' power of the CX-30 EV prototype (140 hp) versus some of the similarly sized EVs I've driven at home, as it doesn't feel quite as lively off the line.

Mazda is persevering to push a 'right sized' battery approach that they claim is kinder to the environment when you look at where battery and EV technology is right now. But there are obvious shortcomings to this approach in an era where many rivals are pushing out EVs with 64 kWh batteries and range in excess of 400 km.

This wasn't an adequate test of battery range and practicality in every day life but from an engineering perspective, what we drove in Lisbon was really promising for the future of EVs and the Mazda brand. It's worth noting that the MX-30 is just one part of Mazda's 'multi-solution approach' to the debarbonisation of transport. The brand is also working on improving engine efficiency with innovations such as Skyactiv-X, the world's first petrol engine with compression ignition, and a new clean diesel coming next year. Mild hybrid technology has already begun to be rolled out in the brand's newest product ranges and Mazda will offer more electric, plug-in hybrid and range extender vehicles in the future.

Caroline KiddCaroline Kidd

 


The new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh

Kia e-Niro 64 kWh Review (2019)

The new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh
The new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh

Caroline drives the new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh!

As electric vehicles begin to come in from the periphery and demand grows, Kia turns out to be one of the brands that has the right models at the right time. In 2019, the Korean brand launched not one, but two electric vehicles and both are sized and packaged as fashionable crossovers. The subject of this review is the Kia e-Niro, however you might also be interested in this review of the Kia e-Soul.

The Kia Niro is a relatively new model in its own right for Kia. The brand already sells a popular Niro Plug-In Hybrid. Now it also comes in electric. The Kia e-Niro is sold in two flavours in Ireland: the mid range 35 kWh and the long range 64 kWh. My test car was the e-Niro 64 kWh with a range of up to 455 km on a single charge according to WLTP figures.

So how much is it?

Pricing starts from €37,495 for the Kia e-Niro 64 kWh, including VRT relief and government grants. The Kia e-Niro 35 kWh is available from €33,495 with a range up to 289 km. Standard features include 17” alloys, leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, 7” inch screen featuring Android Auto/Apple Car Play and Tom Tom navigation, lane keep assist, smart cruise control, forward collision-avoidance assist and autonomous emergency braking.

If the e-Soul is the funky one, then the e-Niro is the conservative one. The e-Niro is a roomy five seat crossover with a raised ride height. The Kia has a closed ‘tiger-nose’ grille with an integrated charging port and the electric Niro also has blue trim and arrowhead LED daytime running lights to differentiate it.

The interior of the new Kia e-Niro
The interior of the new Kia e-Niro

Inside the new Kia e-Niro

The interior design is plain but the cabin quality is good. The dashboard features bright blue trim around the vents, echoing the trim highlights found on the outside of the car. A digital instrument panel displays key data on the EV system including range and battery power. The central touchscreen shows where the nearest public charge points are and connects to Apple Car Play and Android Auto. However, the e-Soul has a more modern infotainment system and interesting cabin to this reviewer’s eyes! The e-Niro does get the same new ‘shift-by-wire’ rotator dial drive selector, which looks good, is easy to operate and frees up space for a large storage area beneath the centre console.

But the e-Niro wins hands down on space and practicality, making it more suitable for family buyers. When the Niro was first launched in 2016, its new platform was engineered to accommodate a variety of advanced powertrains so the introduction of a battery-electric powertrain has had minimal impact on packaging and versatility.

The rear passenger compartment is more generously sized, while the boot is also bigger and more practical. At 451 litres, it beats also many other mainstream electric vehicles and there is a dedicated storage area beneath the floor, providing space for owners to store the charging cable.

The e-Niro 64kWh has a 150 kw motor giving the car a power output of 204 hp and 395 Nm torque. The e-Niro accelerates from 0-to-100 kph in 7.8 seconds. The battery pack is located low down in the body to improve handling and the relatively wide stance also improves vehicle behaviour in cornering. The car is equipped with fully independent rear suspension, tuned to deliver high stability and immediate handling responses and filter out small vibrations at higher speeds when travelling over poor surfaces.

The Kia e-Niro is one of the more practical electric vehicles on the market right now
The Kia e-Niro is one of the more practical electric vehicles on the market right now

Driving the new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh

The e-Niro feels natural on the move and makes brisk progress, however the e-Soul feels a bit more fun to drive.

Thanks to a number of new measures to make the car more aerodynamic, there is very little wind noise entering the cabin.

I tested the car during a spell of cold weather in October. The environment certainly has impact on the range. When I got into the car with a full charge my range was 375 kilometres. That’s plenty for a lot of hassle-free driving if you are charging your car nightly at home, where it will take about 9 hours using a wallbox charger.

On the motorway the e-Niro holds on to its charge well but it really excels in this regard around town and at speeds up to 80 km/h. There’s also regenerative breaking with three different ‘strengths’, which the driver can toggle between using the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Cool!

Right now Kia Ireland is experiencing huge demand for a limited number of Kia e-Niros and e-Souls. The brand sold their 2019 allocation very quickly and are now seeking interest for 2020 deliveries.

The Kia e-Niro is a very welcome addition on the EV scene. Along with the new Kia e-Soul, these two really do offer a great package for buyers wanting to go electric.

The Kia e-Niro is reassuringly familiar with a tried and tested formula of space, practicality and simple styling that won’t raise any eyebrows! The 64 kWh battery gives an excellent range in excess of 350 kilometres. On the road the e-Soul is comfortable and refined. In fact, it feels just like a ‘normal’ car!

Right car at the right time and bound to do very well for Kia.

The new Kia e-Niro is available from €37,495
The new Kia e-Niro is available from €37,495

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia e-Niro 64 kWh
Price:
€37,495
Battery: 64 kWh
Power: 
204 hp
Torque: 395 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.8 seconds
Top speed: 167 km/h
Range (WLTP):
455 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
0 g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Kia e-Soul

2019 Kia e-Soul 64kWh Review

The new Kia e-Soul
The new Kia e-Soul

Caroline drives the 2019 Kia e-Soul!

The new Kia e-Soul is an exciting new electric vehicle to hit the market in 2019. We are entering a new era for mainstream electric vehicles with the availability of 64 kWh batteries. The new Kia e-Soul is a five seat crossover with a range in excess of 400 km. This makes a real difference when you are living with an electric vehicle daily.

However this battery technology still does not come cheap. The e-Soul is priced from €35,995 including VRT relief and Government grants for what is still a relatively compact car. But Kia has revived the funky Soul, this time exclusively as an EV. Not everyone will fall for its oddball looks but it adds some welcome character to the EV segment! There are four vibrant two tone exterior combinations available. You won't forget the e-Soul in a hurry.

The interior of the new Kia e-Soul
The interior of the new Kia e-Soul

The interior of the 2019 Kia e-Soul

The e-Soul has the elevated driving position of a crossover and gets Kia’s newest interior design, technology and infotainment. This is another big boon for the e-Soul compared to competitors like the Hyundai Kona EV and the Kia e-Niro. The cabin quality is good and there are lashings of gloss black around that cool new touchscreen, which has a wide screen and is easy to use. There are a number of well labelled shortcuts and EV menus, including a facility to find the nearest charging stations. It’s a very sophisticated system.

Standard equipment on the e-Soul includes the 10.25” touchscreen AV/nav display, 7” supervision cluster, lane keep assist, smart cruise control, front collison avoidance, full leather trim, Harmon Kardon sound system, heads up display and blind spot detection. The Kia e-Soul K2 is priced from €35,995, while the K3 with some more equipment is priced from €37,495, including VRT relief and government grants.

The e-Soul's boxy shape and squared off roofline is great for maximising interior space. The rear bench is a decent enough width with a good amount of legroom, though two will be more comfortable back here than three. However the boot is probably the stickiest point for family buyers. It’s just 315 litres and you will also find yourself storing the cables in here, which makes it more awkward.

The Kia e-Soul is a fashionable crossover priced from €35,995
The Kia e-Soul is a fashionable crossover priced from €35,995

So how far will it get you?

The 64kWh battery allows the Kia e-Soul to travel up to 452km according to the official WLTP rating. I achieved between 350 km and 400 km over a week of varied driving that saw me on the motorway, rural roads and in town. The powerful battery also means that the e-Soul holds onto its charge better, even on the motorway. As I zipped along the motorway at 120 km/h, I didn’t start to sweat with the apocalyptic loss of range that blights some EVs. The e-Soul feels like EV motoring with few compromises.

Ideally a Kia e-Soul owner will be charging their car overnight at home from a wallbox charger. Then the 400 km range is going to be very comfortable for most drivers. I say this because I again encountered difficulties with the public charging network – faulty chargers and chargers blocked by non-EVs. It’s a jungle out there, no doubts!

A Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charger is fitted as standard, which facilitates charging to 50% battery power in as little as 30 minutes. A normal charge is up to 9.5 hours. There are also a range of energy-recuperation technologies to maximise driving range including an energy efficient heat pump system and a regenerative braking system operated by paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

Boot space in the Kia e-Soul
Boot space in the Kia e-Soul

Driving the Kia e-Soul

The Kia e-Soul also happens to be a lot of fun to drive. It’s seriously agile and the battery torque means that this things bombs along with loads of punch no matter what speed you are driving at. Okay, so there is not much feedback reaching the rim from the tyres but there’s weight in the steering so it feels precise for an electric vehicle. The e-Soul 64 kWh will accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in just 7.9 seconds.

I really enjoyed driving the Kia e-Soul. It’s an electric vehicle with lots of character, and whether you like it or not, it says something about you. It’s also got a good cabin ambience with a very modern interior. It is clearly expensive for a medium sized crossover but that is the current price for this sort of technology.

The Kia e-Soul widens the playing field a little more for this new era of mainstream electric vehicles with over 400 km range.

The e-Soul combines the trend for crossovers with an electric powertrain
The e-Soul combines the trend for crossovers with an electric powertrain

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia e-Soul 64 kWh
Price:
€35,995
Battery: 64 kWh
Power: 
204 hp
Torque: 395 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 167 km/h
CO2 emissions: 
0 g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year

 


The new Mercedes-Benz EQC will have its official market launch in Ireland in October

Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC First Drive Review

The new Mercedes-Benz EQC will have its official market launch in Ireland in October
The new Mercedes-Benz EQC will have its official market launch in Ireland in October

I travelled to Stuttgart, Germany, to drive the new Mercedes-Benz EQC. The EQC is a significant new model for the brand because it’s Mercedes’ first all-electric model to be brought to market. The new SUV has arrived in Ireland and is available from €89,450.

Styling

The EQC is based on the Mercedes-Benz GLC, however classic Mercedes-Benz design has been given a fresh twist for this pioneering new electric model. This is a large and imposing car in the metal with an extended roofline and low waistline placing it visually between a conventional SUV and an SUV Coupé. A striking feature at the front is the large black-panel surface enclosing the LED headlamps and grille bearing the three-pointed star motif and bordered at the top by an illuminated optical fibre. The horizontal LED light bar at the rear also distinguishes this new model.

Interior

Inside, the EQC has a very conventional Mercedes-Benz interior that means that all the equipment, screens and controls will be familiar to any owners of the current generation of Mercedes’ models. Material quality is high and some new trim elements include rose gold accents on the air vents and a ribbed edge on the instrument panel. The MBUX multimedia system comes as standard and has ‘Hey Mercedes’ driver assist and command features. EQC-specific MBUX functions include display of range, charge status and energy flow.

Practicality

The EQC is a mid-size SUV with seating for five. The use of the GLC platform rather than a bespoke EV platform means that there have been some compromises to interior space including a large transmission tunnel in the rear. Still, two adults will be comfortable back here. The boot has a decent 500 litre capacity and an electrically opening tailgate of course! The EQC can tow up to 1800 kgs.

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz EQC
The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz EQC

Powertrain

The EQC has an 80 kWh battery and there are two electric motors mounted at each axle, front and rear. Together they generate 408 hp and a massive 765 Nm of torque! The WLTP range is rated between 374 and 417 km. The EQC is suitable for AC charging at home or using faster DC charging on the public charging networking using the CCS connector. According to Mercedes-Benz, a fast charge can increase battery power from 10 to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.

On the road

The EQC has a permanent all wheel drive system and selectable driving modes also feature. Battery recuperation is also possible using gearshift paddles located behind the steering wheel. On the road, the Mercedes-Benz EQC is powerful and extremely refined. Acceleration between 0 and 100 km/h is a brisk 5.1 seconds, while the EV transmission is effortless and smooth. Steering is fluid and intuitive. The EQC handled our twisty test route with ease though it does feel heavy and rolls a bit in the corners.

A fast charge can increase battery power in the new EQC from 10 to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.
A fast charge can increase battery power in the new EQC from 10 to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.

Pricing

The EQC 400 is available from €89,450 before Government grants and reductions (€79,450 after). With an AMG exterior, it costs €91,897, with an AMG Electric Art Interior (€92,713) and with full AMG Exterior and Interior fitments (€93,546). A limited edition EQC Edition 1886 model is available from €105,882 before grants and reductions. These models are available exclusively in metallic high-tech silver and include special badging, styling tweaks and equipment. The Edition 1886 recalls the year in which Karl Benz invented his famed Benz Patent Motorwagen.

A small number of dedicated EQ dealers will be appointed from the current Mercedes-Benz Irish dealer network.

Rivals

Mercedes-Benz is not the first premium brand to bring an electric SUV to market. Buyers may also be interested in the Tesla Model X, the Jaguar I-PACE and the Audi e-tron.

Verdict

The EQC is an exciting new pioneering model for Mercedes-Benz, marking the debut of the EQ brand and the first Mercedes-Benz electric production vehicle. The EQC is the trailblazer for what will be a growing family of all-electric vehicles to come from Mercedes-Benz under its EQ branding. And it’s a very good entrant into this new market, being stylish and innovative enough to turn heads, with a powerful battery delivering competitive range for these times and impressive performance. Mercedes-Benz values have not been compromised and the EQC is sophisticated on the road and in the cabin.

Ultimately, the EQC carries a premium but is a highly desirable all-electric SUV!

The new Mercedes-Benz EQC is expected to cost in the region of €90,000
The new Mercedes-Benz EQC is available from €89,450

Caroline Kidd