The new Skoda Scala has just arrived in Ireland priced from €23,650

Skoda Scala First Drive Review

The new Skoda Scala has just arrived in Ireland priced from €23,650
The new Skoda Scala has just arrived in Ireland priced from €23,650

The all-new Skoda Scala has just arrived in Ireland. It’s Skoda’s new five door family hatchback that slots in between the Fabia and the Octavia. It effectively replaces the Rapid. Caroline went to the Irish press launch to test drive the new Scala. It’s on sale in Ireland now priced from €23,650.

Styling

The Skoda Scala is a straightforward, five door hatchback. It’s actually one of the largest cars in its segment measuring 4.4 metres in length, but the wide and low stance hides the length. There’s little extravagant flourish to the styling of the Scala but it is the first Skoda to have S K O D A spelt out in individual letters across the rear! Mid-range cars get 16” alloys and LED taillights with dynamic indicators, while top of the range Style models have 17” wheels and full LED headlights.

Interior

The Skoda Scala has a new generation interior for a compact Skoda. That means that there has been a step up in quality and design. The Scala is the first car in the Volkswagen Group family to receive the third and most advanced generation of infotainment systems known internally as MIB3. The benefits of the new MIB3 units include a much cleaner cockpit as former infotainment, and air-conditioning buttons move to controls operating from very sophisticated looking 6.5”, 8.0” or 9.2” colour touch screens. There’s also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and wireless phone charging available. The cabin is a mixture of soft and hard plastics with the Style model getting a particularly stylish pearl-effect dash panel insert.

Practicality

It’s one of the longest cars in the class, so it’s also generously sized inside for a five door family hatchback, particularly for rear seat passengers. The rear footwells are impressively large. Boot capacity is 467 litres so it’s one of the best in class.

Engines

Engine options for new Scala include a 1.0 TSI 115bhp and 1.5 TSI 150bhp petrols, and a 1.6 TDI 115bhp diesel is also available with both manual and DSG automatic transmissions.  A lower powered 1.0 TSI 95bhp petrol unit will be offered at a later date.

The interior of the new Skoda Scala
The interior of the new Skoda Scala

On the road

We took a Skoda Scala 1.0-litre TSI for a drive around Kildare. It’s smooth with light controls for an easy, affable driving nature. The 1.0-litre petrol does the job here without feeling under pressure on our test route across motorway and rural roads. My first impressions were that the Scala doesn’t feel as sporty on the road as a Ford Focus for example and there was some audible road noise coming into the cabin, but it certainly feels up to class standards.

Equipment

At launch the Scala will be available in Ambition and Style specifications with an Active entry version to be added by the end of 2019. The Ambition equipment includes 16” alloy wheels, dynamic rear LED indicators, air-conditioning, cruise control, electric windows, rear parking sensors and a 6.5” colour touch screen unit. The Image Package, which consists of the glass tailgate, will be provided as standard from Ambition. The Style model gets 17” alloy wheels, full LED headlights, dual zone climate control, rear view camera, keyless entry, auto lights, rain sensor and 8” infotainment unit.

Pricing

The Scala range starts from €23,650 for the 1.0 TSI 115bhp. Diesels start from €26,475. When the Active model arrives, it will undercut these.

Rivals

Skoda points to the Ford Focus, Renault Megane, Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed as key rivals for the new Scala.

Verdict

The Skoda Scala replaces the Rapid and goes more upmarket in the process. The Scala is aimed at a younger buyer looking for a more stylish vehicle and it certainly offers a very smart new generation interior with the latest in infotainment and connectivity. The Scala carries the Skoda value proposition of being generously sized for carrying passengers and their things. I look forward to bringing you a full road test report later in the year!

The Skoda Scala is available with petrol and diesel engines
The Skoda Scala is available with petrol and diesel engines

Caroline Kidd

 


The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid Review

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

Caroline drives the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback!

Late last year, Toyota Ireland promised a ‘hybrid invasion’ in 2019. It’s not surprising they were feeling confident – this year new cars from the Toyota brand have been arriving thick and fast, including the new generation of the RAV4 Hybrid and the return of the Camry.

But 2019 has also seen the arrival of a new generation of the Toyota Corolla, one of Ireland’s best-loved cars. The Corolla family – hatchback, saloon and estate – are all available now as hybrids. It was time I took this new Toyota Corolla Hybrid for a test drive!

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.

Available from €24,380 with a 1.2-litre petrol engine or from €26,370 as a petrol electric, self-charging hybrid, the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback is pitched as the compact, sporty one within the new Corolla family. Certainly, the new Corolla Hatchback 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

Equipment and interior

The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback is offered in Ireland in three grades: Aura, Luna (from €26,995), Luna Sport (from €29,620) and Sol (from €30,115). Standard equipment includes 16″ alloys, Toyota Safety Sense including adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist, LED headlights/fog lights and 8″ Toyota Touch. My Corolla 1.8 Hybrid Luna Sport model had a list price of €29,620 and features included 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 and a number of technology features including the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen for the infotainment. However, technology buffs may be disappointed with the lack of 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

On the road in the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

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 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 without compromising ride and comfort, as well as 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 122hp. However, the hatchback is also available with a more high performance 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with 178hp. It retails from €32,915.

I was immediately impressed by the smoothness and refinement of the new Toyota Corolla 1.8-litre 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 it?

The Hatchback feels agile and dynamic on the road with fluid and direct steering responses and good body control through corners. Over a week of driving the hybrid delivered fuel consumption of 4.5/100km, while 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 again 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 Toyota Corolla has been one of the most anticipated new cars of 2019. It’s now a stylish and desirable hatchback on par with rivals in terms of interior finish, technology and its ability to engage the driver. Rear legroom is a little tighter compared to the Saloon and Touring Sports, but the Corolla is dubbed as the sporty one and the shorter wheelbase does make it feel more dynamic on the road. Toyota has also improved the hybrid powertrain and 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 Hatchback 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 €24,380)
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 new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Caroline drives the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports!

The Toyota Corolla is one of Ireland’s best loved cars and is now in its 12th generation. 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 a whole new generation of models including C-HR and Prius, and now in 2019, Camry, RAV4 and the new Toyota Corolla family.

The new Toyota Corolla is now available in Ireland as a saloon, hatchback and estate (‘Touring Sports’). I recently took the Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid for a test drive. Available from €28,420, the Corolla Touring Sports comes exclusively as a petrol electric, self-charging hybrid. In this new generation of Corolla it uses a revised 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain putting out 122hp.

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is available from €28,420
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is available from €28,420

Sporty and stylish family car

In the metal, the new Corolla really makes a style statement. The Touring Sports is particularly successful in my opinion. In fact, the hatchback, saloon and estate have all been given an individual look because the new platform gave the designers the freedom to do that.

The Touring Sports is available in the entry Luna trim and in Sol trim with a bit more gear (from €31,990). But even the entry model comes exceptionally well equipped with 16” alloys, LED headlamps/fog lamps, 8” Toyota Touch, rear view camera, dual zone climate control, and Toyota Safety Sense with adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist.

For the extra spend, Sol adds 17” alloys, a chrome window frame, rear privacy glass, rain sensor, Smart Entry & Start, navigation, textured chrome inserts to the interior, grey lower dashboard, ambient lighting, heated front seats and driver lumbar support.

The interior of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
The interior of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Inside the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

The design and quality of the interior of the new Toyota Corolla has improved dramatically. There are plenty of soft touch materials and a number of technology features including the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen for the infotainment, though technology buffs will be frustrated by the absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The interior of the car is nicely spacious too with decent accommodation for the compact class. The estate is the obvious choice in this new trio of Corollas if you need more space and a bigger boot. The boot aperture opens wide for easy loading with a low, flat load lip. At 598 litres, there’s also 237 litres more boot volume than in the hatchback.

Boot space in the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
Boot space in the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Driving the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

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 promises a more rewarding driving experience 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 without compromising ride and comfort, as well as reducing high frequency vibration for an increased feeling of quality.

I was immediately impressed by the smoothness and refinement of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 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.

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a stylish and practical estate car
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a stylish and practical estate car

How fuel-efficient is the new Corolla?

The Touring Sports has adequate power for driving and overtaking manoeuvres. However, as a hybrid it really needs to deliver on fuel efficiency. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.6 l/100 km, and I saw a return of over 60 mpg on some journeys. The hybrid system works particularly well in town and promotes a more relaxed mode of driving that helps to deliver on efficiency. Low emissions mean that motor tax is €180 per year.

There has been much anticipation for this new generation of the Corolla. But until we drive it we can never be sure if it will deliver on all that is promised. However I’m happy to report that the new Toyota Corolla has improved considerably in just about every way, and it’s also got super competitive again in the compact class.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a very handsome vehicle and the most practical member of the new Corolla family. It's genuinely efficient, spacious and pleasant to drive making it a great family car.

No more boring cars!

The 2019 Toyota Corolla is a car transformed
The 2019 Toyota Corolla is a car transformed

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Sol
Price:
€31,990 (from €28,420)
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 142 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.5 – 5.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
87g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year

 


The new Kia ProCeed!

2019 Kia Proceed 1.4 GT Line

The new Kia ProCeed!
The new Kia ProCeed!

Caroline drives the 2019 Kia ProCeed!

Over the last few years, Kia has really put itself on the map as one of the most modern and progressive car manufacturers. Not content with raising standards across their range of hatchbacks, SUVs and saloons in recent years, the ambitious Korean brand has also pushed itself into new segments. Last year it was the stunning Kia Stinger GT stealing all the headlines for its evocative design and high-performance engine. This year it’s the return of the Kia ProCeed. But not as we know it!

The Kia ProCeed entered the market a number of years ago as a sporty, three door hatchback. But there is no longer much of a market for cars like that. So Kia has reimagined the ProCeed as a “shooting brake” to coincide with the new generation of the Kia Ceed family that arrived in Ireland in 2018.

The Kia ProCeed is a prestigious "shooting brake" for the compact class
The Kia ProCeed is a prestigious "shooting brake" for the compact class

The 2019 Kia ProCeed

The new Kia ProCeed is a cross somewhere between an elegant hatchback and a practical estate. It now sits at the top of the Ceed range, with a list price of €28,946. For reference the Ceed hatchback range kicks off at €22,695 and the SW range at €25,295.

However, the Proceed range is very simple in Ireland in that Kia Ireland is offering just one model with a high specification – GT Line. The 2019 Kia ProCeed GT Line has a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet putting out 140hp. A six speed manual gearbox comes as standard while there is a 7 speed automatic version available for €30,445.

The interior of the Kia ProCeed
The interior of the 2019 Kia ProCeed

Stylish and practical

The 2019 Kia ProCeed is a design-led concept merging style and practicality. The ProCeed is lower and longer than both the Ceed five-door hatchback and Sportswagon and so carries its own unique identity within the Ceed family. In fact it’s quite unique in the family car segment with a striking raked back silhouette, sharing only its bonnet and front wings with the Ceed five-door.

The ProCeed name is spelled out in capitals across the centre of the tailgate, beneath LED tail-lights which span the width of the tailgate, giving the car a unique light signature. The ‘tiger nose’ front grille is finished in high gloss black with satin chrome, with matching high gloss black door mirrors and side sill mouldings. The air intake has a lower lip with black accent, and the rear spoiler is body coloured with high gloss black trim.

The ProCeed is every bit the head turner especially finished in Infra Red, but it’s also versatile with a 594 litre boot. The boot is bigger than in the Ceed hatchback and just a few litres shy of the SW in that regard. It’s also easy to load and access the space too. The sloping roofline means that in the rear, there is some impact on headroom, but otherwise this is a competively sized car for the compact class.  

Rear seating in the Kia ProCeed
Rear seating in the Kia ProCeed

The interior of the Kia Proceed

The interior is almost a carbon copy of the Ceed on which it is based, though the ProCeed does have a black headliner, special upholstery and a D-shaped sports steering wheel. It’s a comfortable cabin with some stylish brushed chrome and gloss black to add interest. Considering the premium buyers pay for this model, it would be nice to see some more higher quality materials or a more individual design. A small frustration really.

Standard equipment on the ProcCeed GT Line includes 17” alloys, automatic headlights, front projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights with a full-width LED brake light, front fog lights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, rear privacy glass, wireless phone charger, reversing camera with rear parking sensors, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Lane Keeping Assist with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.

The Kia ProCeed is available from €28,946 in Ireland
The Kia ProCeed is available from €28,946 in Ireland

Driving the Kia ProCeed

Kia has made a few changes to the ProCeed under the skin for a sportier and more engaging drive. This has been achieved by using stiffer front and rear springs to increase body control and improve steering inputs, and softer front and rear anti-roll bars to keep its inside wheels in contact with the road, even under hard cornering. 

On the road the ProCeed immediately feels tauter and more engaging with loads of front end grip and minimal body roll making it a very accomplished car to drive. There is a firmer edge to the suspension but it’s by no means uncomfortable. There was quite a lot of audible road noise however on our test drive.

The 1.4-litre engine does perform well in the ProCeed with good power and performance, reaching 100kmh in just 8.8 seconds from a standstill, and smooth power delivery through the six speed manual gearbox. There is no diesel engine available in the ProCeed in Ireland so running costs will be a little higher. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption was 6.9l/100km and motor tax is €280 per year.

The new ProCeed is design triumph for Kia!
The new ProCeed is a design triumph for Kia!

Verdict

The new Kia ProCeed makes a style statement, while also being practical, so it's a compelling alternative to the family hatchback or SUV. The ProCeed does command more investment over the Ceed hatchback and SW, but it’s a prestigious vehicle and fun to drive also. Another stunning and ambitious car from Kia!

Model tested: Kia ProCeed 1.4 T-GDi GPF Petrol 140 hp 6MT
Price:
€28,946
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
140 hp
Torque: 242 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.8 seconds
Top speed: 209 km/h
Fuel economy:
45.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 
132g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year


The 2019 Renault Mégane Coupé

2019 Renault Mégane Grand Coupé Review

The 2019 Renault Mégane Coupé
The 2019 Renault Mégane Coupé

Caroline drives the new Renault Mégane Grand Coupé.

A Renault Mégane saloon has always done well in Ireland, with us being a nation of ‘big boot out the back’ lovers. Saloon sales are on a squeeze from SUVs, but Renault Ireland still believes in the value of the compact saloon in the Irish market. In 2017, the new Renault Mégane Grand Coupé (fancy name too!) arrived in Ireland to join the Mégane hatchback and Sport Tourer (estate).

Renault was right to defy market trends. The Renault Mégane Grand Coupé is now the bestselling model in the Mégane range in Ireland, outselling the hatchback and Sport Tourer.

The Renault Mégane Grand Coupé brings considerable style and space to the range
The Renault Mégane Grand Coupé brings considerable style and space to the range

What’s new for the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé in 2019?

Now in 2019, Renault Ireland has refreshed the Grand Coupé line-up. There are now three trim levels as opposed to four - Play, Iconic and Signature. And a petrol engine has joined the range for the first time. The new 1.3 TCe 140 engine is available in the Grand Coupé with a 6-speed manual or new 7-speed EDC automatic gearbox.

Renault’s 1.5 dCi engine has also been enhanced in 2019 with increased power at 115hp and is also available with 6-speed manual and 7-speed EDC gearboxes.

The Mégane Grand Coupé is available from €23,940 in Ireland
The Mégane Grand Coupé is available from €23,940 in Ireland

Style and space in the Mégane Grand Coupé

Renault has strapped the Grand Coupé moniker onto the Mégane saloon, which implies that this car has ‘notions’. But it’s not difficult to understand the popularity of the Mégane Grand Coupé. It’s a good looking car with design flair and elegant proportions giving it the presence of a larger and more expensive car.

The Renault Mégane Grand Coupé range starts from €23,940 in Ireland, which is an €1800 premium over the Mégane hatchback. But Grand Coupé buyers actually get a more spacious car because the wheelbase is longer than that of the hatchback. The rear legroom is more accommodating. The boot has a capacity of 503 litres, bigger than the hatchback, with reasonably good access for a saloon. Also since I last tested the car there is now a release button on the boot lid, which is great.

Rear legroom in the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé
Rear legroom in the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé

Equipment

The Play trim level (from €23,940)
replaces both the Expression and Dynamique Nav trims. Equipment includes Apple
CarPlay® and Android Auto®, 7” touch screen, climate control and parking
sensors.

The Iconic (from €26,140) replaces
the Dynamique S Nav and has built-in navigation (7” screen), Multi-sense
driving modes and the Visio Active safety system.

The sporty GT Line is preserved for the hatch, while the Grand Coupé gets the ‘grander’ Signature trim (from €28,440). This model has leather interior, 18” diamond cut wheels, 8.7” navigation screen and full LED lights.

The interior of the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé
The interior of the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé

The interior of the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé

The Renault Mégane Grand Coupé has a
lot of rasmatazz on the outside but it’s a bit plainer on the inside. The most
striking feature is probably the portrait style touchscreen which is quite
unique in the segment. The interior is hardly the last word in sophistication with
quite a few hard, scratchy plastics, but it’s perfectly acceptable.

The new petrol engine is a great addition to the Mégane Grand Coupé range. It’s a 1.3-litre turbo petrol unit that’s popping up in other Renault models too like the Kadjar. It’s got lots of power at 140hp and over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.3 l/100km, with motor tax of €270 per year. There is also a 1.5-litre diesel engine with 110hp, which is the best for economy.

Boot space in the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé
Boot space in the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé

Driving the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé

On the road the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé 1.3 TCe is nippy and refined. The car moves well through corners with precision and good cruising ability on the motorway too. The gear change feels a bit slack but other than that I really enjoyed my time with this car. The ride comfort seemed more cosseting this time round too.

The Renault Mégane Grand Coupé is very impressive with this new petrol engine. This is a stylish saloon and while competition is fierce in the compact segment, the Grand Coupé has really hit its stride in terms of spec, comfort and refinement. The figures don’t lie. It’s Ireland’s favourite iteration of the Mégane and the addition of this smart little petrol engine should enhance its prospects even more.

The Renault Mégane Grand Coupé is available for the first time in Ireland with a petrol engine in 2019
The Renault Mégane Grand Coupé is available for the first time in Ireland with a petrol engine in 2019

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Megane Grand Coupé Signature
TCe 140 GPF
Price:
€28,440 (Range from €23,940)
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
140 hp
Torque: 240 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.7 seconds
Top speed: 203 km/h
Fuel Economy: 
5.7l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
130g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


The new Volkswagen e-Golf

2019 Volkswagen e-Golf Review

The new Volkswagen e-Golf
The new Volkswagen e-Golf

Caroline drives the 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf.

The Volkswagen e-Golf has been at the forefront of Volkswagen’s electric vehicle offering since it was launched in 2014. While next year Volkswagen will launch the first model in their new fully electric I.D. range of cars, the e-Golf has been a most palatable bridge to a future of electric motoring.

And that’s because the Volkswagen Golf is one of the most iconic hatchbacks on the planet. Based on the award-winning Mark 7 Volkswagen Golf, the current generation of the Volkswagen e-Golf compromises virtually none of the comfort, refinement, class and quality of one of Ireland’s favourite hatchbacks. In my opinion, that’s probably the e-Golf’s massive USP as an electric vehicle.

While electric vehicles still account for low numbers on Irish roads, there’s more interest and registrations were up a massive 540 percent in the first two months of 2019 (1127 electric cars registered versus 176 in Jan/Feb 2018). New EV models have arrived in the last 12 months and there are more on the way. So how does the Volkswagen e-Golf stack up?

The Volkswagen e-Golf received an upgrade in 2017
The Volkswagen e-Golf received an upgrade in 2017 with a new battery, more power and more range

How far will the Volkswagen e-Golf get me on a full charge?

The Volkswagen e-Golf received the same cosmetic and equipment tweaks as the rest of the Golf range in 2017. But there was also an increase in the energy capacity of the e-Golf’s lithium-ion battery from 24.2 kWh to 35.8 kWh. The e-Golf now has more power at 136 hp. But crucially the range was boosted to 230 km when measured on the new WLTP. And in real world driving, range is not far off that with between 200 and 220 km, depending on driving style, weather conditions and the use of the fans and air conditioning.

On the outside the only clues to the electric powertrain underneath are some subtle e-Golf badges, unique front C-shaped LED daytime running lights, and a set of aerodynamic 16” ‘Astana’ alloy wheels. A blue signature trim line also runs across the grille and into the headlights. Other than that the e-Golf is the sharp dresser that looks good just about anywhere.

Inside, the e-Golf has a perfectly appointed cabin with dials, switches and screens in all the right places, just like the rest of the Golf range. It’s very easy to slot yourself from a Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI to the e-Golf for example, because the controls are mostly the same. The driver’s instrument panel displays a few different gauges for the EV system, but even these are displayed in a rather conventional way. For example where you might see the level of your fuel tank is now a display of how much ‘juice’ you have left in your battery.

In practical terms, the interior space of the e-Golf remains unchanged as a standard five door family hatchback. However boot volume is down from 380 to 341 litres.

The interior of the Volkswagen e-Golf
The interior of the Volkswagen e-Golf

Pricing and Equipment

Equipment levels are good. Volkswagen Ireland offers the e-Golf in Ireland in two trims: an entry e-Golf priced from €35,995 including government incentives and a more salubrious Executive Edition priced from €39,495.

The glossy 9.2” Discover Pro navigation system with clear glass touchscreen comes as standard. Other highlights include adaptive cruise control, front assist with pedestrian monitoring, rear parking sensors, and dual zone climate control.

The Executive edition adds 17-inch ‘Madrid’ alloy wheels, LED tail lights with running indicators, a full leather interior with sports comfort seats in front, Active Info Display, rear view camera, heated front seats, tinted rear windows and keyless access.

The Volkswagen e-Golf can be charged at home or on the public charging system
The Volkswagen e-Golf can be charged at home or on the public charging system

Driving the Volkswagen e-Golf

On the road, the e-Golf is a slick mover. The cabin ambience is quiet and serene around town but even on the motorway, the e-Golf is a very polished electric vehicle with excellent refinement. The steering and handling is also fluid and precise, so it feels as if the e-Golf owner sacrifices very little in terms of the natural dynamic character of the Golf.

Really your main concern when buying the e-Golf is the range of 200km to 220km and does that make it suitable for your lifestyle? The e-Golf is at its best on those round trips that fall comfortably within the car’s range, or where you can reliably charge at both ends of your journey. At motorway speeds, battery power will dwindle more quickly.

There are three driving modes to the Volkswagen Golf – Normal, Eco and Eco+ - which do effect how much you can get out of a single charge. There is also a ‘B’ mode that can be engaged from the gearbox , which quite aggressively brakes the car when you lift off the accelerator, to recuperate energy.

The Volkswagen e-Golf is available from €35,995 in Ireland
The Volkswagen e-Golf is available from €35,995 in Ireland

Through the touchscreen you can find the nearest charge points easily. When the e-Golf needs charging the battery can go from empty to 80 per cent full in just 45 minutes when a 40 kW DC rapid charger connection is used.

During a week with the e-Golf, local trips were not a problem but I did encounter some issues on longer journeys when I needed to use the public charge points to top up my range to get home comfortably. I encountered frustrations such as faulty chargers, queues at chargers and non-EVs blocking access.

There are numerous incentives and advantages to owning an electric vehicle in Ireland right now. The current generation of the Volkswagen e-Golf with its real world range of roughly 200-220 km is now being outrun by a number of competitors like the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Kona Electric. They are different vehicles but range has to be a number one concern for most drivers.

But if you can work with the e-Golf's range in your daily life, then the quality, refinement and class of the e-Golf offering just feels unrivalled right now in the EV space.

The Volkswagen e-Golf is a lovely car to drive and spend time in
The Volkswagen e-Golf is a lovely car to drive and spend time in!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen e-Golf
Price: 
From €35,995 with government incentives
Battery: 35.8 kW
Power: 
136 hp
Torque: 290 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 150 km/h
Range: 
230km (WLTP)
CO2 emissions: 
0g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Kia Ceed SW

2019 Kia Ceed SW 1.0 Petrol Review

The new Kia Ceed SW
The new Kia Ceed SW

Estate cars have never been big sellers in Ireland but the new Kia Ceed SW (Sportswagon) just might make you fall in love with the estate’s humble practicality. In fact Kia has a decent enough record in the sale of previous generations of the Ceed SW here in Ireland.

Now hot on the wheels of the new generation of the Kia Ceed hatchback that arrived in Ireland in summer 2018, the new Kia Ceed SW goes on sale with its ace card being a huge 600 litre boot within a sleek and elegant body.

Let’s not forget that this is still a compact car. The new Ceed SW is lower and wider with a longer rear overhang than the car it replaces but certainly from the driver’s seat, the car proves to be agile and easy to manoeuvre with good visibility all round and a parking camera as standard.

But space of course is a key selling point for estate cars. The Ceed SW had a fantastic practical boot for its size with a wide opening and flat loading sill that makes it excellent for carrying things.

The interior of the Kia Ceed SW
The interior of the Kia Ceed SW

Inside the Kia Ceed SW

The new generation of the Kia Ceed SW also has a new interior. Fit and finish is markedly improved. There are plenty of soft touch materials punctuated with stylish chrome, while the cabin is kept fresh and modern with the latest Kia infotainment system.

The extra width in the new Ceed SW creates more shoulder room for rear passengers and a 15mm-lower seating position in the rear means that there is more knee and leg room too.

Kia Ireland has kept the new Ceed SW range very simple in that there are just two models available: a choice of 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine (from €25,295) or a 1.6-litre diesel (from €27,595).

The Ceed SW is sold in the K3 trim meaning that the car is well specced by default with 16″ alloys, electric windows, rear privacy glass, auto lights, 7″ touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, parking camera, air con, wireless phone charger, cruise control, keyless entry, lane keeping assist, high beam assistant and forward collision avoidance system.

The Kia Ceed SW goes on sale from €25,295
The Kia Ceed SW goes on sale from €25,295

On the road in the Kia Ceed SW

My test car was powered by the 1.0-litre turbo petrol with a list price of €25,295. The 1.0-litre engine has 120hp and a pleasant amount of power for the Ceed SW. It only really runs out of steam in sixth gear, but that’s more of a cruising gear for the motorway anyway, and the Ceed SW does that with aplomb. Motor tax for this model is €200 per year and over two weeks of varied driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.4l/100km.

Elsewhere, the Ceed SW handles well, just like the hatchback version. The SW’s rear suspension has been subtly tuned to accommodate the longer rear overhang of the boot, and the potential for heavier luggage loads. It’s still fun to drive with good body control through corners and nicely weighted steering. Comfort and refinement are also very good for the class.

The Kia Ceed SW has a very practical boot of 600 litres
The Kia Ceed SW has a very practical boot of 600 litres

After spending an extended break with the Kia Ceed SW, this car really endeared itself to me. I love how practical this car is and that boot is just really great for carrying all sorts of cargo. It’s a nicely equipped car and this generation of the Ceed SW has more cabin comfort and fun driving character. While SUVs and even Kia’s own Sportage will seem like trendier and more desirable options, the Kia Ceed SW would make an excellent family car.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia Ceed SW 1.0 K3
Price: 
€25,295
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power:
120 hp
Torque: 172 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 187 km/h
Economy: 
5.3l/100km
CO2 emissions:
120 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

The Kia Ceed SW makes a great family car!
The Kia Ceed SW makes a great family car!

The 2018 Ford Focus has arrived in Ireland

2018 Ford Focus 1.0 Review

The new Ford Focus has arrived in Ireland
The new Ford Focus has arrived in Ireland

Caroline drives the 2018 Ford Focus.

Can you believe the Ford Focus is 20 this year? In 1998, the new Ford Focus came to replace the old Escort and it was like drinking a glass of refreshing cool water at the time, quickly establishing itself for its ‘New Edge’ styling and fun driving character. The Ford Focus is a perennial of the compact class, though the battleground has changed a lot in the past 20 years with the current squeeze on the compact class coming from SUVs.

But as the new 2018 Ford Focus clearly demonstrates, there is still a place in the world for a well-executed hatchback. I was lucky to drive the first examples of the new Focus in France over the summer, yet nothing can compare to driving the car for an extended period on Irish roads. And very quickly I realised that there is still something very safe and familiar about the Ford Focus. It's less like a glass of cool water these days and more like a comforting cup of tea. But as any Irish person will tell you, there are few things in life as good as a strong cup of tea after a hard day!

Available as a five door hatchback or a wagon, this is the fourth generation of Ford’s popular mid-size car. More than 129,000 Ford Focus models have been sold in Ireland since its original launch in 1998, making it one of our most popular cars.

The interior of the new Ford Focus
The interior of the new Ford Focus

What's new in the 2018 Ford Focus?

Ford Ireland has just announced new reduced pricing for the Focus as we approach the 191 registration period with a lead in price of €22,495, which means it looks like good value too.

In styling terms the 2018 Ford Focus has a much slimmer and neater silhouette. It’s far classier and more delicate looking than the car it replaces when you see it in the metal. It’s lower and wider but keeps the same exterior dimensions. Visually it has a longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs.

Inside, the interior has also been overhauled for a more modern and clean look. A smart-looking touchscreen sits high in the dash and the ‘clutter’ around the centre console has been removed for a more open and spacious feel.

Cabin space and boot space have also been improved. There is more than 5 centimetres additional length between the front and rear wheels so rear seat passengers get more legroom and all occupants benefit from the wider interior – there’s 6 centimetres more shoulder room in the rear. The rear footwells are a nice size with a relatively low transmission tunnel, while the boot is now a more competitive 375 litres.

The Ford Focus goes on sale in Ireland priced from €22,495
The Ford Focus goes on sale in Ireland priced from €22,495

Engines and equipment for the 2018 Ford Focus

The 2018 Ford Focus goes on sale in Ireland with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125hp petrol engine (from €22,495) and a new 1.5-litre EcoBlue 120hp diesel engine (from €24,368). Every model now features Drive Modes as standard that adjust the car’s characteristics to match the driving situation, including Sport, Eco and Normal driving modes. A six-speed manual transmission comes as standard while there is also a new eight-speed automatic gearbox available.

The 2018 Ford Focus is available in four trim levels: Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium and Vignale. My test car was a Ford Focus Titanium 1.0T EcoBoost 125PS with a 6-speed manual gearbox (from €24,495). This model comes with extensive standard spec including front and rear parking sensors, 8” SYNC 3 with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, FordPass Connect embedded modem, keyless entry/start and LED rear lamps.

Standard equipment on the Focus Zetec includes 16” alloys, LED daytime running lights, 6.5” SYNC 3 with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, cruise control with lane-keeping aid and pre-collision assist.

The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is a great match for the new Ford Focus
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is a great match for the new Ford Focus

The Focus ST-Line (from €23,495) adds 17” alloys, ST-Line body kit, twin polished tail pipes, large rear spoiler, keyless start, interior sports trim, sports suspension and ST-Line scuff plates.

The Focus Vignale (from €28,495) adds 18” alloys, unique Vignale body-styling, 8” SYNC 3 B&O Play with navigation, Android Auto & Apple CarPlay, full leather seats and armrest, head up display, privacy glass and Vignale chrome tail pipes.

On the road in the new Ford Focus

The new Ford Focus is lighter and stronger than the car it replaces and you certainly feel this on the road. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is a wonderful match for the car – it’s smooth, refined and robust with plenty of power. The Ford Focus purrs along so nicely and it’s comfortable, yet composed through corners with tactile steering. My fuel consumption over a week of driving was 6.1l/100km, while road tax for this model is just €190 per year.

The Ford Focus is a great choice of five door family hatchback
The Ford Focus is a great choice of five door family hatchback

It's fair to say that the Ford Focus just got very competitive again in its class. There is something safe and familiar about the Focus that draws you in, while with a new, modern interior, you will probably want to stay there too. It’s just a nice car to live with day by day.

The improvements in interior design, space and technology are timely and mean that the Focus can be highly recommended without any caveats. There’s plenty to explore in this new Focus range from sporty ST-Line models to stylish and premium Titanium, while the 1.0-litre petrol is still a peach. Good value pricing means the new Ford Focus is just impossible to ignore as a compact family hatchback.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Focus Titanium 1.0T EcoBoost
Price: 
From €24,495 (Range from €22,495)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power:
125 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10 seconds
Top speed: 200 km/h
Economy: 
4.8//100km
CO2 emissions: 
108 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


The new Honda Civic Sedan

2018 Honda Civic Sedan Review

The new Honda Civic Sedan
The new Honda Civic Sedan is now on sale in Ireland

Caroline drives the Honda Civic Sedan.

Many Honda enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that a saloon version of Honda’s well-known compact car has now arrived in Ireland. Based on the tenth generation of the Civic that launched in Ireland in 2017, the Civic Sedan, as it is officially known, goes on sale here priced from €24,750.

That’s just a €1000 premium over the equivalent hatchback and the four door Civic Sedan is arguably a ‘grander’ alternative to the Civic Hatchback, with more physical presence from that carefully designed elongated rear end. In fact, the size and shape of this vehicle surely makes it a worthy successor to the Accord, which is no longer sold here.

Mature elegance in the Honda Civic Sedan

Thankfully, the Civic’s fantastic recipe of quality, refinement and driving fun has not been diluted in the saloon version. When you sit into the Civic Sedan you are met with the same mature looking dashboard design. From the driver’s seat, the Civic gives the impression of being behind the wheel of a larger machine. It’s very spacious in the rear with two large footwells and the boot in the saloon comes in at 519 litres, which is 41 litres more than the Civic Hatchback.

The interior of the Honda Civic Sedan
The interior of the Honda Civic Sedan

In Ireland, the Civic Sedan comes in three trims: Smart, Smart Plus and Premium. The Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment comes as standard including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition. The popular Smart Plus model (from €27,250) gets features such as 17” alloys, Honda Connect with 7” touchscreen, rear parking camera, parking sensors, dual zone air conditioning, and leather steering wheel.

The Premium model on test (from €31,150) had a blind spot monitor, keyless entry and start, full leather interior, heated front seats, sunroof and premium audio system with 10 speakers.

What engine options are available?

The Honda Civic Sedan is available in Ireland with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 126hp or the 1.6-litre diesel with 120hp. A six speed manual gearbox comes as standard, while there is also the option of an automatic gearbox.

My test car was the 1.6-litre diesel and it is a very efficient unit with motor tax of just €180 per year and my fuel consumption over a week of driving was 5.2 litres.

The Honda Civic Sedan range starts at €24,750
The Honda Civic Sedan range starts at €24,750 in Ireland

On the road in the Honda Civic Sedan

The diesel engine also happens to suit the Civic Sedan very well. There’s loads of flexibility and power and the engine is refined and never gets too raucous. As we've noted in previous variants of the new Civic, the ride and handling of this generation is superb, with the car being both comfortable and fun to drive. The steering is direct and nicely weighted and the Civic goes around corners with aplomb.

The Honda Civic Sedan, especially in diesel form as it is tested here, is very easy to recommend. In Sedan form, the Civic gains an air of grandeur with the presence and style of a larger car. Once inside, it's the quality, space and refinement of the Civic Sedan that seals the deal. I have no problem saying that the Honda Civic is still one of the best cars launched in Ireland in the last 18 months!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda Civic Sedan 1.6 i-DTEC Premium
Price: 
€32,950 (Sedan range from €24,750)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power:
120 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10 seconds
Top speed: 201 km/h
Economy: 
3.4l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
91 g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year

The Honda Civic Sedan offers plenty of style and space in the compact class
The Honda Civic Sedan offers plenty of style and space in the compact class

The 2018 Kia Ceed on sale in Ireland now

2018 Kia Ceed 1.0 Petrol Review

The new Kia Ceed is now available in Ireland
The new Kia Ceed is now available in Ireland

Caroline drives the new 2018 Kia Ceed.

A new generation of the Kia Ceed has recently gone on sale in Ireland priced from €22,695. The third generation of Kia’s family hatchback has been produced to strengthen Kia’s presence in the C-segment in Europe. The new Ceed has been designed, developed, engineered and built in Europe and continues the brand’s onslaught of stylish, design-led models.

They say we eat with our eyes - well I’m pretty sure we buy cars with them too and the 2018 Kia Ceed definitely scores high on the desirability stakes. It’s lower and wider than the car it replaces, with a longer rear overhang. Within the confines of the shell of a five door hatchback, there really is not much room to be adventurous, but the Ceed has a satisfying design with Kia’s emblematic tiger nose grille, neat profile, tasteful detail and creases in all the right places.

What's it like inside the 2018 Kia Ceed?

Slip inside the new Kia Ceed and again you are met with an interior that appears considered with style and attention to detail. The hard plastics are balanced with plenty of brushed satin chrome, gloss black detail and soft touch materials for a result that would put some rivals to shame in the style stakes. The ‘floating’ touchscreen looks fantastic set high in the dashboard and connects seamlessly to smartphones.

The interior of the 2018 Kia Ceed
The interior of the 2018 Kia Ceed

The Ceed’s new platform has allowed for a more spacious interior. The wider body means there’s more shoulder room, while a 16mm lower seating position in the rear creates more legroom and headroom for passengers. The boot is now up 15 litres to 395 litres, which is very competitive for this size of vehicle.

What are my options?

In Ireland, the 2018 Kia Ceed will be sold in four trim levels – K2, K3, K4 and K5. Engine availability depends on trim level but Kia Ireland is selling the 1.0-litre turbo petrol (120hp), a new 1.6-litre diesel (115hp) and a new 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine (140hp).

Safety equipment like Forward Collision Assist, Lane Keep Assist, High Beam Assist and Driver Attention Warning are standard across the range, as well as 16” alloys, leather wrapped steering wheel, 7” display, Bluetooth with voice recognition and a reversing camera.

K3 adds equipment including LED headlamps and rear lamps, wireless phone charger, electric parking brake, half leather seats and parking sensors. K4 equipment adds 17” alloys, 8” display, rain sensing wipers and automatic temperature control. K5 models include heated leather seats, front ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, and push button start, blind spot collision warning, and parking distance warning.

The Kia Ceed range kicks off at €22,695 in Ireland
The Kia Ceed range kicks off at €22,695 in Ireland

My test car was a Kia Ceed 1.0 petrol, 6 speed manual, in K4 trim with a list price of €25,695. Diesels in the Ceed range are available from €26,595 while the new 1.4-litre petrol is only available in the top level trim and is priced from €28,595. A ‘mild hybrid’ is promised in 2019.

Is the Kia Ceed nice to drive?

For this new generation of the Kia Ceed, Kia has tuned the ride and handling for European roads and drivers to make it more dynamic and engaging. There has also been a focus on eliminating noise and vibrations from the cabin.

On the road the 2018 Kia Ceed is stable, comfortable and refined. The steering is light when you need it, but the resistance builds as you head into a corner so the new Ceed is fun and sporty in its own way too. The 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine spins nicely, providing plenty of power for overtaking manouvres with 120hp and only running out of puff in the top cruising gear. There is a little vibration through the pedals at idle when cold and it can get noisy when pushed hard, but it is a joyful engine that suits the car. Over a few days of driving my fuel consumption was 7.2l/100km while motor tax is €270 per year.

Would you buy it?

The Ceed consistently ranks alongside the Sportage as one of Kia’s bestselling models in Europe and the new generation of the Ceed is evidence that Kia remain committed to the C-segment hatchback. In terms of style and quality the Ceed has taken another step forward, while the new car is also to be praised for its on the road driving manners. The Ceed remains competitive in space terms too for the class, with engine/trim options that make sense financially. If you are in the market for a new hatchback, there really is no reason not to check out the new Kia Ceed!

The Kia Ceed is a stylish five door hatchback that can compete with the best of them
The Kia Ceed is a stylish five door hatchback that can compete with the best of them

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia Ceed 1.0-litre T-GDi K4
Price: 
€25,695 (Range from €22,695)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power:
120hp
Torque: 172 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 190 km/h
Economy: 
5.4 to 5.6 100km
CO2 emissions: 
127 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year