The new Peugeot 508 PSE on test for Changing Lanes!

Peugeot 508 PSE Review (2022)

Read Caroline's Peugeot 508 PSE review for everything you need to know about buying Peugeot's new flagship high performance hybrid in Ireland.

Peugeot is striking the Irish new car market with a range of new hybrid and electric models. Key model ranges like the 208, 2008, 3008 and 508 now all contain some sort of 'electrified' model, be it a full battery electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid.

The soon-to-arrive new Peugeot 308 range will also have a hybrid available for the very first time.

It's an exciting time for Peugeot passenger cars. But their high performance division is also undergoing a revival. Peugeot Sport brought us so many epic performance cars like the legendary 205 GTi and recent hits like the 208 GTi and the 308 GTi.

The new Peugeot 508 PSE on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Peugeot 508 PSE on test for Changing Lanes!

But times are changing and Peugeot Sport must reinvent itself for this new era of hybrid and electric power, while bringing exciting performance cars to market that blend efficiency with performance and dynamism to thrill even the most hardened petrolheads.

A big challenge for any brand, and for one with a sporting heritage like Peugeot. So they have created a new brand - Peugeot Sport Engineered (PSE) - and the first model to come to market is the Peugeot 508 PSE.

What's so special about the Peugeot 508 PSE?

Based on the 508, Peugeot's stylish executive car, the 508 PSE is a high performance hybrid that can drive on electric power for a range of up to about 42 km.

Available as a 508 PSE Fastback or SW (estate) with a list price starting from €70,405, this car has a premium billing. It's the most powerful production Peugeot has ever made and probably the most expensive too!

The 508 was a stunning car to begin with. The 508 PSE adds an aggressive, sporty look very befitting of a high performance car. PSE models are available in Perla Nera black, Pearl white or exclusive Selenium grey. The new PSE brand adds lime green accents and 'claw' marks around the car. There is an aggressive bodykit with very distinctive winglets, a black diffuser at the rear, and 20" wheels.

WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW OF THE NEW 508 PSE

Inside the 508 PSE

There's a premium price tag for the 508 PSE but the interior does not disappoint. Peugeot has been on a move upmarket for years now, and the product reflects that.

Inside the Peugeot 508 PSE manages to feel even more special and sporty than standard versions of the 508. There are beautiful sports seats as standard and lime green stitching. Peugeot's iCockpit still looks great with a 12.3" digital instrument panel for the driver and a central 10" HD touchscreen for the infotainment and other functions. The compact steering feels great in the hands, adding to your sense of control over the vehicle. You sit low and sporty, with plenty of adjustment in the steering wheel and seat.

This is a big car, with the SW model being the more practical of the two. Thankfully the design of the hybrid has not impacted boot space or passenger space in either vehicle.

Two adults will be comfortable in the rear. The boot of the SW has a 467 litre capacity, wide opening area and low loading sill making it ideal for carrying gear!

The interior of the Peugeot 508 PSE
The interior of the Peugeot 508 PSE

Driving the 508 PSE Hybrid

Under the bonnet there is a familiar 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, derived from a few of our favourite Peugeot hot hatchbacks. But there's more: two electric motors - an 80 kW at the front and an 83 kW at the rear. So this halo car for the Peugeot range is all wheel drive with 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque. Power is put to the road through an 8-speed automatic gearbox that never misses a beat. Acceleration is hot hatchback quick: 5.2 seconds. While the top speed is an electronically limited 250 km/h.

The performance stats are certainly stunning but theses days they don't tell the full story. The question is how good does the Peugeot 508 PSE feel on the road?

PSE has taken a Peugeot 508 and given it a high performance makeover to handle 360 hp. They have worked on the chassis, it has a lower and stiffer suspension, wider track, sticky Michelin tyres and very strong performance brakes. All wheel drive helps with the power distribution to the road. There are driving modes and adaptive suspension. Modes include hybrid, electric and sport. The latter gives a more responsive throttle, tighter steering and adjusts the adaptive suspension settings. There's also some augmented engine noise in the cabin when you hit the accelerator, which is realistic and does add to the excitement behind the wheel.

This car has a number of different sides to it and it transitions seamlessly between them. Refinement and comfort is excellent, making this car a great all rounder.

The 508 PSE has 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque
The 508 PSE has 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque

But Sport mode is maximum attack mode, where you access the car's exciting performance character and efficiency goes out the window! The car handles the road sublimely well. There is instant throttle response, pushing you all the way to the back of your seat. But the cornering performance is something to behold. The steering has been vastly improved over a standard 508 so all the sensations reach your fingertips. It feels more fluid, precise and well weighted. This car dips and dives into corners like a car half its size. Despite weighing 1850 kg with all its hybrid 'gear' on board, it behaves like a hot hatchback in corners. A good one.

Fuel consumption does differ from about 5.5 litres per 100 km in a cruise on the motorway, to up to 8.5 litres per 100 km in full attack mode. But with the opportunity to charge the battery and run the car on electric power, the efficiency of this vehicle and its running costs are truly up to you.

Did you like it?

Yes, yes and yes. Peugeot Sport has done a wonderful job with this car. It's the first performance Peugeot in about 5 years. It has a lot to live up to. Frankly I did not quite expect such a visceral experience from a hybrid performance car. Peugeot has done it with the 508 PSE.

It a very expensive Peugeot. But when you look at the quality of the car, the engineering and the performance on the road, it all makes absolute sense.

Peugeot has been on a move upmarket. The 508 PSE is the best of Peugeot at the moment. A very interesting car that is practical and fun to drive. Certainly one to aspire to and a halo car for the entire Peugeot range.

The Peugeot 508 PSE is a master of hybrid performance
The Peugeot 508 PSE is a master of hybrid performance

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot 508 SW PSE 
Price:
€71,890
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power:
360 hp
Torque: 520 Nm
0-100km/h: 
5.2 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
CO2 emissions:
42 g/km
Motor tax: 
€140 per year


The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Review (2022)

Thinking of buying a new Toyota Yaris in 2022? Read Caroline's Toyota Yaris Hybrid review for everything you need to know about Toyota's small hatchback.

The Toyota Yaris is one of Ireland's most loved small cars. It's been around for over 20 years and is a consistent top 10 bestselling car in Ireland. In 2020 Toyota launched an all-new generation of the popular Yaris and it was quick to snatch the award of European Car of the Year 2021.

In 20 years, the Yaris has become Toyota’s most important model in Europe, steadily increasing both its sales volume and its market share.

The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the new Toyota Yaris?

There's something major happening at Toyota in recent years. It's called TNGA or Toyota New Global Architecture. If you thought Toyotas were boring cars, you need to drive their new generation vehicles.

The new Yaris is the first small Toyota to be built on Toyota New Global Architecture. The GA-B platform is central to the car’s improved dynamic performance, giving a lower centre of gravity and much greater body rigidity. A range of Toyota Safety Sense active safety systems come as standard, including Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) such as Lane Trace Assist and Emergency Steering Assist.

The Yaris Hybrid is more powerful and efficient than before
The Yaris Hybrid is more powerful and efficient than before

The latest Yaris is also a much cooler looking car than the model it replaces. It's a far more energetic and dynamic design. A bi tone roof is available with alloy wheel sizes up to 17" and new LED light technology.

Inside the Yaris

Toyota has transformed the interior of the latest generation Yaris. Quality and design have taken a real step up in line with this car's cooler and more youthful image.

The interior has a more open and spacious feel when compared to the outgoing model. The driving position is better, sportier.

There are more soft touch materials and cool ambient lighting available on some models. There are 7" and 8" touchscreens available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The steering wheel is smaller and sportier. New auxiliary buttons have a greater tactile quality.

The new GA-B platform allowed for a reduction in the car’s overall length, making it the most compact model in its class, but with an increase in its wheelbase for more space and comfort for everyone on board. The new Yaris has more space and elbow room - an extra 20 mm between the driver and front passenger. The boot is nowhere near class-leading but it has some depth and offers an adequate 286 litres of space.

Inside the 2020 Toyota Yaris
The interior of the new Toyota Yaris

In Ireland the Toyota Yaris is available in five trim levels –  Aura, Luna, Luna Sport, Platinum and Premier. The 2022 Toyota Yaris range kicks off in Ireland with a 1.0-litre petrol with 72 hp, while there is also a 1.5-litre petrol manual and a 1.5-litre hybrid auto.

Pricing starts at €20,140 for the Yaris Aura petrol, while the Toyota Yaris Hybrid pricing starts from €23,990 in Luna trim.

How economical is the Toyota Yaris Hybrid?

The new Toyota Yaris uses the latest, fourth-generation Toyota hybrid technology. New components have been engineered to be compact, lightweight and efficient. The focus in the development of this car was not just to make it more efficient, but to also make the car more enjoyable to drive.

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid now offers EV driving for longer periods in urban traffic. CO2 emissions have dropped, while it's more efficient than before too. Under the bonnet there's a 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain to improve efficiency by 20% and put out even more power at 116 hp. It's quicker and more responsive to the throttle.

Behind the wheel, the new driving position gives you a greater sense of control and connection with the car, supporting the fun-to-drive character of the new Yaris. The car feels more agile and engaging at the wheel. The steering is quicker and more direct. The hybrid delivers the power in a smoother, quieter and more refined way than the previous generation of the Toyota Yaris Hybrid.

While built for efficiency, the Yaris Hybrid feels natural on the road, like any petrol driven small car. A revised suspension set-up means it covers the tarmac better, with a softer and smoother ride. In town driving it can run up to 80% of the time on electric power, with the engine only cutting in when needed. So in urban environments it helps your eco-credentials, while sipping at the fuel.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 5.5 litres per 100 km, with some long distance motorway runs included. So this is a good return on fuel economy for a small car.

The new Yaris is a radically improved car
The new Yaris is a radically improved car

Did you like it?

The new Toyota Yaris is far more desirable than the car it replaces. It has truly blossomed as a small car on the new TNGA platform. It looks great and even quite sporty in higher trim levels like the top of the range Premier model on test for Changing Lanes.

Already an award winner, the new Yaris has been suitably revamped inside and now feels a lot more competitive in its segment with the latest technology and digital features.

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid has also been greatly improved. It's much more refined now on the road to drive. The car is more fun to drive than it was before. It's comfortable by small car standards too. It is more expensive to buy than the petrol models in the range, but the car has power and feels good on the road.

Toyota has just welcomed the new Toyota Yaris Cross to Ireland, an SUV spin off of the Yaris sharing much of the same DNA but in more of a crossover style.

The Yaris picks up the baton as a small simple efficient hatchback, with good value and choice available in the range.

It's a classic and reliable choice of small car but the Yaris now feels truly competitive in its class of vehicle and one you can pick with your heart too.

A transformation for one of Ireland's favourite cars.

The Yaris Hybrid is available from €23,990
The Yaris Hybrid is available from €23,990 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Yaris Hybrid Premier
Price:
€27,680
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
116 hp
0-100km/h: 
9.7 seconds
Top speed:  175 km/h
CO2 emissions: 
88 g/km
Motor tax:
€160 per year


The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé Review

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé review for a definitive verdict on the brand's new diesel plug-in hybrid SUV.

What's so special about the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé?

Mercedes-Benz adds a new diesel electric plug-in hybrid powertrain to the GLE Coupé. Spawned from the GLE large, premium SUV family that debuted an all-new generation vehicle in 2019, the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé offers a more stylish and exclusive design. It is the ultimate SUV-coupé, with a well appointed interior featuring Mercedes show-stopping quality and technology.

With hybrid continuing to grow in popularity across different market segments, now Mercedes-Benz drops a diesel hybrid into the GLE and GLE Coupé. Badged GLE 350 de, this model combines the long distance motorway economy of a diesel with zero emissions electric driving around town for a distance of up to 100 kilometres. Large SUVs have often had a poor image for environmental concerns but with plug-in hybrid technology, there is now a real viable option to charge the vehicle and drive on cleaner power and limit environmental impact, while still enjoying the convenience and economy of a diesel engine on longer runs.

Priced at €98,065, the GLE 350 de Coupé sits in truly premium territory but it's a wonderfully made SUV. It oozes class and sophistication, while comfort is in a completely different arena too, even on the large 21" wheels of the test car.

Currently accounting for around one third of Mercedes-Benz sales, SUVs are of increasing importance to the brand with a global customer base of over six million owners spread across an eight model range that includes GLA, GLB, GLC, GLC Coupé, GLE, GLE Coupé, GLS and G-Class.

The GLE Coupé is now available as a hybrid
The GLE Coupé is now available as a hybrid

Inside the GLE Coupé

The GLE Coupé is every inch the large luxury SUV but with a more exclusive design to the GLE, which has more traditional and boxy SUV lines.

Inside there is some trade-off in the practicality stakes - that sloped roofline will mean a bit less headroom for rear passengers - but this is still a large SUV by anyone's standards. The rear footwells are large, while the middle passenger gets a relatively flat space for their feet too, along with their own ventilation controls.

The boot has a powered tailgate and opens to reveal a large boot of 510 litres that goes back a good deal but wouldn't have same depth as the standard GLE for example. The diesel plug-in hybrid system also eats into the space somewhat compared to a standard diesel model by about 100 litres. But a special rear end design and a modified rear axle create space for the large battery housed beneath the floor of the boot. This attention to detail means there is a flat floor and no step in the luggage compartment, like the E-Class hybrids for example.

The interior of the GLE Coupé is an absolute marvel. You are happily ensconced in comfortable supportive sports seats with full leather and power control. Heated of course! There are two large 12.3" screens that blend together perfectly with modern graphics and lots of functionality. The latest generation ‘Mercedes me’ and MBUX infotainment system responds to voice commands and is easy to use.

The interior of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe
The interior of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe

How does the diesel hybrid work in the GLE?

The diesel hybrid GLE 350 de uses a 2.0-litre diesel engine, 31.2 kWh lithium ion battery and 100 kW electric motor. Power is transmitted by the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. There's a healthy 320 hp while there is 700 Nm of torque available giving 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in just 6.9 seconds. Impressive for a hulking machine like the GLE Coupé!

Despite its considerable size (over 2500kg in kerb weight), the GLE Coupé feels nothing short of swift and responsive to the throttle. It masks its weight reasonably well too, feeling agile and sure-footed in most situations. It's a fabulous SUV to drive with precise and weighty steering, and super supple ride quality. It handles the road well, with a sporty edge to it. Whether cruising on the motorway or following a twisty road through the mountains, the GLE Coupé adapts to each with aplomb. Driver and passengers sit high up with a commanding view over the road.

The diesel plug in hybrid powertrain also happens to be very successful in the GLE. Handling and driving dynamics don't feel impacted in any negative way. There's no lumpiness to the transmission, just smoothness and thick syrupy power delivered with no fuss or wheel spin. Delicious! 4MATIC fully-variable all-wheel drive with torque on demand truly helps with that too.

The hybrid system helps eke out better fuel economy. Even without charging I managed a respectable 6.7 litres per 100 km. The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging, which is quite unusual for a plug-in hybrid. It will take about half an hour. The GLE Coupé has a towing capacity of up to 3500 kg also as a plug-in hybrid.

The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging
The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging

Did you like it?

More tightly tailored than the GLE, the GLE Coupé does offer a more stylish and exclusive design with a small compromise to space and practicality. This is a wonderful large SUV for those lucky enough to own one.

The GLE and GLE Coupé both have one of the best car interiors in the class. It's a fine example of contemporary premium. The widescreen digital effect is just stunning, while there are so many gadgets and tools on board for a full on luxury liner experience.

There's a fine balance between comfort and sportiness behind the wheel. The GLE 350 de Coupé is supremely quiet and smooth-running.

The diesel plug in hybrid does work well here in the GLE 350 de. Motor tax for this behemoth is just €140 thanks to the low emissions and it offers new levels of flexibility and less environmental impact around town for example. But the battery will need to be kept charged up and the SUV driven on electric power to reap these benefits.

Hard to find fault with this machine!

The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is a high end SUV-coupé
The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is a high end SUV-coupé

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLE 350de 4MATIC Coupé
Price:
€98,065
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel electric plug-in hybrid
Power:
320 hp
Torque: 700 Nm
0-100km/h: 
6.9 seconds
Top speed: 210 km/h
CO2 emissions:
23 g/km
Motor tax: 
€140 per year


The new SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV on test for Changing Lanes

SEAT Leon Sportstourer Hybrid Review

The new SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV on test for Changing Lanes
The new SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the SEAT Leon Sportstourer plug-in hybrid!

SEAT has used the launch of the latest generation Leon as an opportunity to bring the brand's first plug-in hybrid model to the Irish market. Combining a petrol engine, battery and electric motor, the new Leon e-Hybrid range is a nod to the future of motoring, a starting point for the electrification of the SEAT brand.

Hybrid power for the Leon

Available as a hatchback or a Sportstourer estate, the new SEAT Leon e-Hybrid can be plugged in and charged, allowing owners to drive on electric power for up to 60 km. This is designed for drivers who do short commutes or spend a lot of time driving in town and can really make the most of the pure electric range and zero tailpipe emissions that go with it. Yet the back up of the combustion engine is always there.

The e-Hybrid range kicks off from €33,615 in Ireland for the hatchback and from €35,065 for the Leon e-Hybrid Sportstourer tested here for Changing Lanes.

The fourth generation Leon has been designed, developed and produced in Barcelona, at the company’s headquarters in Martorell. It turns out to be a very handsome car on approach for the first time. The Leon Sportstourer is arguably even better looking than the new generation Leon hatchback. Longer proportions give elegance and sportiness to this car. In sporty FR trim and finished in Mystery Blue, it has real presence.

Leon Sportstourer PHEV on sale from €35,065
Leon Sportstourer PHEV on sale from €35,065

Inside the SEAT Leon Sportstourer

The interior of the new SEAT Leon Sportstourer has been designed to be sleek and minimalist. Decorative mouldings surround the dashboard and continue through the front doors. A digital instrument cluster and 10" infotainment screen take centre stage with functionality including natural voice control as well as gesture recognition to simplify user interaction. It also gives information about the e-Hybrid system including what mode the vehicle is running and battery state of charge.

Equipment levels are good with e-Hybrid models, coming in high spec Xcellence and FR trims only. Highlights of the FR model on test include 18" machined alloy wheels, keyless engine start, rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beam.

The Leon Sportstourer proves itself to be a comfortable family car with seating for five and the added practicality of an estate-style boot. While the hybrid packaging does impact boot volume in the Leon e-Hybrid models given that the battery pack is located under the boot floor, the Sportstourer accommodates it better with 470 litres available compared to just 270 litres in the Leon e-Hybrid hatchback.

Inside the SEAT Leon Sportstourer

Driving the SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV

The new Leon plug-in hybrid uses a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine, electric motor and 13kWh lithium-ion battery pack to produce a healthy 204 hp and 350 Nm of torque. Power is put to the road through a 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The e-Hybrid system requires more space than a traditional combustion engine but it’s been packaged to maximise dynamics so the chassis isn’t forced to compensate, with weight balanced between the front and rear of the vehicle.

On the road the new SEAT Leon Sportstourer feels quick and sophisticated. The hybrid powertrain suits it remarkably well adding a premium feel to the driving experience. Power delivery is strong and linear while the automatic gearbox never misses a beat. The car handles the road confidently and is comfortable too. My average fuel consumption was a remarkably efficient 5.4 litre per 100 km without any charging. Motor tax is €140 per year.

The Leon e-Hybrid can switch instantly between the different driving modes – whether powered solely by the combustion engine, a mixture of both combustion and electric energy, or only by electricity. The plug-in hybrid version provides an all-electric range of up to 60 km (WLTP) using the energy stored in the vehicle’s battery, for increased efficiency, or to travel around city streets.

The driver can choose to maintain the battery’s state of charge, saving it for situations when zero emission driving is ideal. When the battery is running low, the powertrain switches back to hybrid mode. Once you’re near a power source, the battery can be plugged in and replenished in 3-4 hours using a 3.6 kW wallbox charger.

The Leon e-Hybrid can be charged and driven on electric power around town
The Leon e-Hybrid can be charged and driven on electric power around town.

Did you like it?

The SEAT Leon has always been a core pillar in the brand’s product range, with more than 2.3 million sales since its introduction in 1999. The fourth-generation SEAT Leon hits the market perfectly with modern design and technology, as well as the addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the very first time.

Turns out to be remarkably successful in the Leon. The Sportstourer e-Hybrid makes a very appealing prospect. It's not just gorgeous to look at, but the estate-style design makes up well for the loss in boot volume that comes with the hybrid models.

Buyers will pay a premium in the Leon range for the hybrid models but these are high spec models and a good introduction to electrified motoring. Equipment levels are very good and the Leon e-Hybrid can be a truly efficient vehicle to run.

What's more it feels good on the road, sophisticated and premium, and one you will enjoy driving.

Plug-in hybrid suits the Leon Sportstourer very well
Plug-in hybrid suits the Leon Sportstourer very well

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV FR
Price: 
€35,065
Engine: 
1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power:  204 hp
Torque: 350 Nm
Top speed: 220 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.7 seconds
CO2 emissions:
26-28 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid

Toyota Corolla Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid
The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid

Thinking of buying a new Toyota Corolla Hybrid in 2022? Read Caroline's review of the latest Corolla hatchback for everything you need to know about one of Ireland's bestselling cars.

Toyota Ireland promised us a ‘hybrid invasion’ , and it has come to pass with popular models like the Corolla and RAV4 now exclusively hybrid. The new generation of the Toyota Corolla, one of Ireland’s best-loved cars, arrived here in 2019 and is available as a hatchback, saloon and estate. Toyota has also introduced a Corolla GR Sport with sporty trim elements. There is also now the option of a 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre hybrid engine for even more performance and refinement.

Ever since Toyota Global President, Akio Toyoda, declared "no more boring cars!" from the brand, there has been something of a renaissance underway at Toyota. That’s thanks to Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that is underpinning this new generation of models.

A new SUV based on the Corolla will be launched in Ireland in late 2022 - the new Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.

What's so special about the latest Toyota Corolla?

Available from €27,605, the new Toyota Corolla Hybrid hatchback model is pitched as the compact, sporty one within the new Corolla family. Certainly, the car has undergone a terrific makeover. The new Corolla hatchback is longer and lower than the Auris hatchback it replaces, with a snug, sporty stance on the road. Exclusive to the segment, there are also four optional bi-tone colour schemes available from launch. They combine the body colour with a metallic black finish to the roof, roof front and rear pillars, and the door mirrors.

The Toyota Corolla Hatchback range goes on sale from €24,,380 in Ireland
The Toyota Corolla Hatchback range goes on sale from €24,,380 in Ireland

What are my options?

The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback is offered in Ireland for 2022 in four grades: Luna, Luna Sport, Sol and GR Sport. Standard equipment includes 16″ alloys, Toyota Safety Sense including adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist, LED headlights/fog lights and 8″ Toyota Touch.

The Corolla Luna Sport model has a list price of €31,220 and features include rear view camera, Toyota Touch® 2 multimedia system, bi beam LED headlamps, LED front fog lamps, 17” black machined alloys, black contrasting roof, black roof spoiler, rear privacy glass, red dashboard trim and blue ambient lighting.

The design and quality of the interior of the new Toyota Corolla has improved almost as dramatically as the exterior styling of the car. There are plenty of soft touch materials inside. Plus a number of technology features including the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen for the infotainment. From 2020 all new Toyota Corollas come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Corolla Hatchback will seat five with reasonable accommodation for the compact class. The Hatchback sits on a slightly shorter wheelbase to the Saloon and Touring Sports. So if rear space is a priority, buyers will appreciate the more spacious feeling in the back of those models. The boot is about average for the segment at 361 litres.

The interior of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The interior of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Driving the Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Toyota has made much of the newly adopted Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-C platform and rightly so. Key concerns for engineers were to make this Corolla safer and more engaging to drive than anything that has come before. The GA-C platform guarantees a more rewarding driving experience. That's thanks to a centre of gravity that is lowered by 10 mm, a multi-link rear suspension fitted as standard across the model range, and a 60% more rigid body shell through the use of high strength steel as reinforcement in key areas. According to Toyota, these contribute to better handling and stability. All without compromising ride and comfort and also reducing high frequency vibration for an increased feeling of quality.

This new generation of the Corolla uses a revised 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain putting out 122 hp. However, the hatchback is also available with a more high performance 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with 178 hp.

I was immediately impressed by the smoothness and refinement of the new Toyota Corolla Hybrid on the road. The hybrid powertrain means that the car uses a CVT automatic gearbox, but Toyota has considerably improved the refinement of the transmission and also invested in better cabin insulation.

Rear legroom in the new Corolla Hatchback
Rear legroom in the new Corolla Hatchback

How efficient is the Corolla Hybrid?

The Hatchback feels agile and dynamic on the road. Steering responses are fluid and direct. There's good body control through corners. Over a week of driving the hybrid delivered fuel consumption of 4.5/100 km. Low emissions mean that motor tax is €180 per year.

Around town the hybrid frequently dips into EV mode, which makes this hybrid a very efficient solution for drivers who do short commutes and plenty of town and city driving. On the motorway at high speeds, the Corolla will become less efficient. But it has been markedly improved in these circumstances, as seen in my overall average fuel consumption that was rated with about 300 km of motorway driving.

The latest Corolla is a stylish and desirable hatchback on par with rivals in terms of interior finish, technology and its ability to engage the driver. It remains a competitive choice of new car in 2022.

Rear legroom is a little tighter compared to the Saloon and Touring Sports.

The Corolla hatchback is dubbed as the sporty one of the family. The shorter wheelbase does make it feel more dynamic on the road. Toyota has also improved the hybrid powertrain. From my time driving the car, there are certainly savings to be made in terms of efficiency, particularly for urban drivers. There is a lot riding on this new generation of one of Ireland’s best loved cars, but the new Corolla Hybrid has been transformed!

The Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid is a stylish and efficient compact car
The Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid is a stylish and efficient compact car

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Hatchback Luna Sport
Price:
€29,610 (from €27,605)
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 142 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Claimed fuel economy:
3.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
83g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The CUPRA Leon on test for Changing Lanes!

CUPRA Leon e-Hybrid Review

The CUPRA Leon on test for Changing Lanes!
The CUPRA Leon on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 CUPRA Leon

CUPRA turns on a charm offensive in 2021 with a stellar line-up of new models including the Formentor, the brand’s first standalone model, and the new CUPRA Leon. The all-electric CUPRA Born is due here also.

The CUPRA portfolio is expanding, and the brand is finding its feet quickly, offering an exciting suite of cars that major on design and a sporty premium feel from behind the wheel. All good things!

Now it’s time to take a closer look at one of the new arrivals – the 2021 CUPRA Leon. Of course, these two have history, with the Cupra badge strapped to many high-performance versions of the SEAT Leon in previous generations.

The Leon has been tipped over to the CUPRA brand for a shape-up. The results are indeed very impressive.

What's so special about the CUPRA Leon?

Priced from €46,210, the CUPRA Leon on test here is a plug-in hybrid – a sporty one.

This car looks good, very good. The matte grey paint of the test car gives it a real sporty and exclusive image with chrome accents becoming a CUPRA defining feature on the road. The look is completed with magnificent 19” alloys on our test car.

Sporty features include a large front splitter, larger air intakes, side skirts, dark chrome front grille frame and side mirrors that contrast with the body colour. At the rear the plug-in hybrid has two individual tailpipes, a diffuser and spoiler.

CUPRA Leon on sale in Ireland priced from €46,210
CUPRA Leon on sale in Ireland priced from €46,210

The CUPRA Leon e-Hybrid is sold with a 1.4-litre petrol electric powertrain with 245 hp, certainly giving acceleration like a hot hatchback - 6.7 seconds to 100 kmh. But there’s none of the drama or emotion that you might get with a hot hatchback that traditionally uses a combustion engine. It’s more the hot hatchback of the future – the one that is quick but doesn’t make any noise.

If you want the full fat experience, CUPRA will plant a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine in the Leon for you, with an inspiring 300 hp (priced from €54,245).

But hybrid is for sure where things are at these days. The e-Hybrid has a 13 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It can be plugged in and charged via a 3.6 kW AC wall box charger, taking about 3.5 hours to get a full charge. When fully charged, the e-Hybrid can be driven on pure electric power for a range of up to 59 km, otherwise it works as a hybrid drawing power from both the engine and electric motor. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.1 litres per 100 km, without a whole lot of charging.

Driving the 2021 CUPRA Leon

The new CUPRA Leon is designed, developed and produced in Barcelona at the brand’s Martorell facilities. The chassis and steering have been tuned to make the car more distinct and engaging to drive. The Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system comes as standard - it constantly monitors the road surfaces and driver inputs, making imperceptible changes to the setup in milliseconds for the most engaging drive. The CUPRA Leon’s dynamics can be altered somewhat through the four different driver profiles: Comfort, Sport, CUPRA and Individual.

The CUPRA Leon plug-in hybrid has 245 hp
The CUPRA Leon plug-in hybrid has 245 hp

At the front there is a MacPherson strut suspension and a multi-link system at the rear for a refined ride and sharper handling. There's also Brembo brakes worthy of any performance car! The CUPRA Leon is also 25mm lower on the front axle than the SEAT its based on, and 20mm lower at the rear, meaning a lower centre of gravity for better handling.

On the road, CUPRA’s tuning has transformed the Leon for this occasion. Steering is sharper than the standard Leon from sister brand SEAT. The ride is more soft, premium, yet the handling tighter and more responsive. This one feels like a more sophisticated machine on the road, as it should for the CUPRA badge and price.

What’s it like inside?

Inside the cabin has been glossed over with more CUPRA branding and trim elements. The dashboard and door mouldings are finished in brushed dark aluminium, with copper and dark chrome featuring to define the brand. Illuminated CUPRA sill plates in the front doors complete the look.

The CUPRA Leon is pleasant and sporty behind the wheel with plenty of digital technology in the form of the digital driver instrument display and 10” touchscreen. Bucket seats come as standard setting the right note in terms of comfort and ambience. The Formentor feels a little more special inside, though the cabin design is closely related. It’s still very much a Leon cabin, it doesn’t have the advantage of the Formentor’s distinctness as an all-new standalone model.

The interior of the CUPRA Leon
The interior of the CUPRA Leon

With a five door, five seat hatchback arrangement, the Leon offers standard accommodation for five inside. The car’s platform makes good use of interior space so rear footwells are good for this class of vehicle. However, the Leon’s boot has taken a hit in terms of outright space to accommodate the battery. It is shallower at 270 litres, a bit off the class average. There’s also a CUPRA Leon Sportstourer with a more respectable 470 litres.

Did you like it?

The world is changing rapidly. The hot hatchback must evolve also. The CUPRA Leon performs well as a plush hatchback with plug-in hybrid technology. It’s swift on the road with sophisticated ride over whatever Irish tarmac has to offer.

It looks gorgeous and sporty; the CUPRA badge adds exclusivity and can only grow in recognition now the cars are here, and more good stuff coming.

Yet you will be sorely disappointed if you are expecting thrill, drama, and engine noise! The CUPRA Leon e-Hybrid is too well-behaved for that. The car looks the business but it’s so healthy for the planet when running, it just won’t quite thrill you like Cupra badged SEATs of old!

Still it’s a sign of the times. There is no doubt that this is a desirable car and a pleasant debut for hybrid in the CUPRA Leon range.

CUPRA has transformed the Leon in all the right ways
CUPRA has transformed the Leon in all the right ways

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: CUPRA Leon e-Hybrid 245 hp DSG
Price: 
€46,210
Engine: 
1.4-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 245 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 225 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.7 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
30 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW 330e Review (2022)

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

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

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

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

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

What's so special about the BMW 330e?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the BMW 3 Series

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

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

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

Driving the BMW 330e

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you like it?

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

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

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

The 3 Series is a legend and deservedly so!

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

Caroline Kidd

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

 


The BMW 5 Series has been updated for 2021

BMW 530e Review (2022)

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

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

What's so special about the BMW 5 Series?

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

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

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

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

What’s new for the BMW 5 Series?

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the BMW 5 Series

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

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

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

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

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

What are my engine options?

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

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

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

Driving the BMW 530e

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

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

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

Did you like it?

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


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

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review (2022)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Inside the latest E-Class

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

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

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

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

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

Hybrid power in the E-Class

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

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

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

Simply gorgeous!
Simply gorgeous!

Driving the Mercedes-Benz E 300 e

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

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

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

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

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

Did you like it?

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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

 


The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

Volvo XC40 (2020) T5 Hybrid Review

The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes
The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the new Volvo XC40 T5 hybrid!

This week on Changing Lanes we test the new Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid. Volvo’s compact SUV has been a great success for Volvo and is now the bestselling model in the Volvo range in Ireland since it launched here in 2018. A former Irish Car of the Year winner, the Volvo XC40 has established itself as formidable competition in the premium compact SUV segment.

Launched with petrol and diesel engines, Volvo continues the Swedish brand’s journey to electrification with the arrival of plug-in hybrid technology to the tune of the new Volvo XC40 T5. Volvo already sells plug-in hybrids in other models in the range, including SUVs, so this is a continuation of a similar theme. While an all-electric XC40 is expected in 2021.

What's so special about the Volvo XC40 T5?

In the T5 ‘Twin Engine’, this compact SUV model uses a three cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine supported by a battery and electric motor to reduce emissions and give the XC40 the capacity to drive on pure electric power for a short range. This is ideal for city dwellers with short commutes and ability to charge their car between journeys.

The T5 is not only the first hybrid powertrain in the XC40, it’s also the first to be engineered for use in Volvo's CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform and uses a front-wheel drive layout. The powertrain is supported by a new seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission, featured for the first time in a new-generation Volvo model.

While the Volvo XC40 range kicks off from about €38,297, buyers will pay from about €47,700, including grants and VRT relief, for this ability to embrace a modern plug-in hybrid powertrain in their new Volvo SUV.

The Volvo XC40 is the bestselling Volvo in Ireland
The Volvo XC40 is the bestselling Volvo in Ireland

So what do you get for your money?

Power output is an impressive 262 hp, while CO2 emissions are just 48 g CO2 meaning buyers will pay €170 per year at the moment in motor tax. A 10.7 kWh lithium-ion battery on board means that the new XC40 T5 can be driven on electric power only for a range of up to 46 km.

The Volvo XC40 is a fine piece of design. The Recharge branding appears for the first time on the C pillar to indicate the electrified powertrain underneath and there is a recharging outlet positioned under a flap on the front wing.

Inside, the Volvo XC40 is still a masterclass in design in its segment. The layout is simple and stylish, while the quality is just superb. The car comes equipped with digital instrument panel and portrait style infotainment system and it still feels modern, with smartphone connectivity available. Passengers are well accommodated for with large footwells in the rear, while there is also a good-sized boot with 460 litres making it an ideal fashionable family car.

The interior of the Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro
The interior of the Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro

Driving the Volvo XC40 T5

On the road, the XC40 T5 is a dream to drive. Its hybrid powertrain means it runs super silently whether in town or on the motorway. The power delivery is smooth and urgent, with a pleasant kick when you press the accelerator. It’s 262 hp after all! Handling is positive though under hard braking you will feel the weight of the vehicle. Though the electric motor is helping particularly at low speeds in town, where it is most efficient, on the open road you call more on the engine. While the onus is on drivers to charge up to improve the efficiency of the vehicle, without charging regularly I achieved an average fuel consumption of 6.9 litres per 100 km.

The T5 is available in a range of trim levels including R-Design and Inscription with Pro editions of each. Our test car was a beautiful Inscription Pro that comes with luxurious features such as 19” alloys, leather upholstery, heated front seats, ambient lighting, powered tailgate and a show-stopping Orrefors Crystal glass gear selector.

The XC40 plug in hybrid can be driven on pure electric power up to about 46 km.
The XC40 plug in hybrid can be driven on pure electric power up to about 46 km.

So did you like it?

The Volvo XC40 is a proper premium SUV, nothing has changed when you add a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It’s impressively refined and covers the road smoothly and comfortably, leaving little to disagree with.

It is a pricey vehicle, and plug-in hybrids are still not for everyone. Yet economy returns are promising and charging after each journey will make a lot more sense.

The cabin is comfortable and well appointed with a good use of space. The plug-in hybrid technology hasn’t put the XC40 at a disadvantage when it comes to providing the space and practicality required of the compact SUV segment.

Volvo is pushing electrification strongly in their range, giving buyers more options and settling one’s conscious of driving an SUV in the city. With hybrid power and the ability to drive on electricity only, it feels like the right thing to do for urban dwellers. But if you are not quite sold on hybrid for your motoring needs, the XC40 is still a very good SUV with plenty to discover across the range.

New Volvo XC40 T5 available from about €47,700 after grants and VRT relief
New Volvo XC40 T5 available from about €47,700 after grants and VRT relief

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro
Price: 
€50,100 after grants and VRT relief
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
262 hp
Torque: 425 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.3 seconds
Top speed: 205 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 2.4 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 55 g/km
Motor Tax:  €170 per year