The Peugeot 308 on test for Changing Lanes!

Peugeot 308 Review

Read Caroline's Peugeot 308 review for everything you need to know about the latest version of Peugeot's popular hatchback to reach Ireland.

The new Peugeot 308 launched in Ireland earlier in 2022 and marks a new chapter for the French brand. Peugeot has chosen the new 308 as the first model to wear the brand's new 'lion shield' logo. Combined with a striking new design, digital interior and a range of on-point engine options, the 308 heralds a new generation of Peugeot cars that move the brand on once again in terms of design and quality.

It's been a long journey but Peugeot has been on the rise for some years now. Models like the Peugeot 2008 and the 3008 have become a regular sight on Irish roads, while the brand has also fully embraced the electric revolution with a range of new electric and hybrid models including the Peugeot e-208 and the 3008 Hybrid.

The Peugeot 308 on test for Changing Lanes!
The Peugeot 308 on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the new Peugeot 308?

The latest generation of the 308 makes strides forward in design, technology and powertrain, with the introduction of a new plug-in hybrid for the very first time. We can also expect a full electric 308 before the end of 2023.

The new 308 goes on sale in Ireland priced from €31,765, which is a bit more than rivals like the Ford Focus or Opel Astra. But the 308 is more upmarket than both when it comes to the finish of the car. And all 308s sold in Ireland now come as standard with an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Blessed by good looks, the new 308 has an immediately arresting presence. At the front, the grille is large and impressive, wearing the new Peugeot lion shield logo. LED headlamps and dramatic hook-like daytime running lights add impact. It's a little bit lower than the car it replaces, and appears sleeker and sportier. At the rear, there are new light clusters. Look closely and you'll see that they have a new 'claw' effect signature.

Olivine Green is a signature colour for the new 308 and comes as standard at no extra charge. All versions get alloy wheels, with mid-range Allure models sporting some lovely 17-inch diamond cut alloys.

Inside we see the next generation of the sporty Peugeot 'i-Cockpit', with a glossy new touchscreen and digital driver display.

Plug-in hybrids are the most expensive of the range but you can charge the battery and drive the 308 hybrid on electric power only for a range of up to about 60 kilometres.

But what's the 308 like in its simplest form, with a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 130hp? There was only one way to find out.

The new 308 goes on sale in Ireland from €31,765
The new 308 goes on sale in Ireland from €31,765

Driving the 308

The new 308 sits on a new multi-energy platform that means it can be sold with petrol and diesel engines, as a plug-in hybrid, and as an upcoming electric e-308.

So the 308 offers buyers lots of options, if you like the look of the car. The entry into the range is the 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with 130hp. It's an award-winning engine and one we've tested many times in various different vehicles.

But it suits the 308 exceptionally well, feeling more powerful than what you might expect from a small capacity engine. Nippy and responsive, the 308 offers a new found maturity on the road. It's not the sharpest handling of these hatchbacks - an Opel Astra or a Ford Focus feel a bit more athletic on the road.

But the Peugeot majors on comfort and refinement, offering quite a high-end driving experience from behind the wheel, with the ease of an 8-speed automatic.

It's efficient too for a petrol automatic, averaging about 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres during my time with the car. But if you do a lot of high speed motorway driving, you might be interested in the 1.5-litre diesel with 130hp.

The 308 hybrid uses a 1.6-litre petrol electric powertrain and is available with two different power outputs - 180hp or 225hp.

The interior of the new Peugeot 308
The interior of the new Peugeot 308

Inside the Peugeot 308

The new Peugeot 308 is available in Ireland in three trim levels – Active, Allure and GT. It goes on sale priced from €31,765 for a 308 Active 1.2 petrol automatic with 130hp.

The mid-range Allure model is one of the best equipped and goes on sale from €35,705. But all versions get a new 10-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Allure models also get new 'i-Toggle' switches so you can create easy shortcuts to popular menus, like the ventilation controls for example.

Behind the wheel, the new 308 feels very upmarket and driver-focused. A lot of that is down to the new version of the Peugeot 'i-Cockpit'. You look over a new compact steering wheel at the new digital driver display. The graphics have been updated and there are a number of different views available. The driving position is unique but different, so worth getting in behind the wheel to make sure it's comfortable for you.

The design of the dashboard and centre console is stylish and quite avant-garde for the segment. The material quality also makes it feel a cut above some more mainstream rivals. Allure models get lovely ambient lighting and part-leather upholstery to make it feel more high-end.

The 308 will seat five but a longer wheelbase means there is now a bit more legroom than before. It's not the largest C-segment hatchback on the market, but it does offer adequate seating for adults in the rear. The boot opens to reveal 412 litres in petrol and diesel models, which is good for the segment. But in 308 hybrid models that is reduced to 360 litres. There's also the Peugeot 308 SW estate on sale that offers just a bit more practicality and looks great too.

The 308 offers a great choice of engines
The 308 offers a great choice of engines and hybrid for the very first time

Did you like it?

The Peugeot 308 has grown up and matured. It's one of the best-looking cars in the class, and that's probably a big reason why you will be attracted to it in the first place.

On looks alone, it can compete with other high-end hatchbacks like the Mazda 3 and Audi A3.

While it now commands a higher list price than some key rivals like the Astra and Focus, it's in the cabin where your money goes. The 308 offers a much more salubrious cabin experience, with a cosseted, quality feel throughout. The new i-Cockpit and 10-inch touchscreen look more stylish and modern than many rivals too.

The new 308 offers a great complement of practical power options, while being comfortable and refined. But it makes a lot of sense in its simplest form as a lively 1.2 petrol. The 8-speed automatic adds the premium touch.

The Peugeot 308 has come a long way. It's now one of the most stylish and quality hatchbacks you can buy, and a compelling alternative to the usual suspects in the compact class.

The new Peugeot 308 is a stylish companion to modern life
The new Peugeot 308 is a stylish companion to modern life

Model tested: Peugeot 308 1.2 Allure
Price: 
€35,705
Engine: 
1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 130hp
Torque: 230Nm
Top speed: 210km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.7 seconds
Motor Tax: €200 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Suzuki Swace on test for Changing Lanes!

Suzuki Swace Review

Read Caroline's Suzuki Swace review for everything you need to know about buying Suzuki's new estate car in Ireland.

Suzuki has launched a series of new models in Ireland this year, expanding into new segments and building their hybrid portfolio.

The Suzuki Swace has just gone on sale in Ireland this summer and is the Japanese brand's first ever estate car. Built as the result of a collaboration with Toyota, the new Swace shares a lot with the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports.

Priced from €30,995, there's just one version of the Swace on sale in Ireland and it comes very well-equipped.

So the Swace is shaping up to be a practical and stylish alternative to an SUV at a great price. In this review we're going to take a closer look at Suzuki's new car.

The new Suzuki Swace on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Suzuki Swace on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Suzuki Swace?

Suzuki has some great cars in their line-up like the Swift and the Vitara. The Swace feels like an entirely different prospect because it shares so much with the Toyota Corolla, which has already been a big hit in Ireland.

On the outside the Swace is a sleek and good-looking estate. The car received many admiring glances during my time with it. In fact the position of the Suzuki badge on the bonnet gives the Swace an ever so slightly more appealing look when viewed head-on compared to the Corolla. LED headlights come as standard as do LED daytime running lights. There's also a big glossy black mesh grille.

Other standard features includes five-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, body-coloured door handles, and rear privacy glass. The Swace has the classic elongated shape of an estate car with quite a sporty rear end. At the back, the rear bumper gets a glossy black tip.

Estate cars like the Swace are a great alternative to an SUV. The Swace offers a great sized boot at 596 litres. It's only about 40 litres less than the boot in the Skoda Octavia Combi.

Swace is also fuel-sipping hybrid. And that means a lot these days. During my time with the car, I saw consumption as low as 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres, without trying very hard.

The interior of the new Swace
The interior of the new Swace

Inside the Swace

As we've discussed, the exterior of the new Suzuki Swace lacks originality. Inside it's pretty much the same story. Everything from the steering wheel to the dashboard, switchgear and infotainment comes from the Corolla. That's no bad thing as the design and quality of the Swace's interior does feel a step up from other cars in the Suzuki range.

The touchscreen and digital instrument cluster are borrowed from the Corolla too. The touchscreen comes as standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means you can avoid the dull interface of the native system.

The Swace is only sold in one trim level and the good news is that it comes loaded with comfort features including dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, driver’s seat electric lumbar support, radar cruise control, reversing camera and push button start.

The Swace has a lot to offer anyone looking for a practical family car. The cabin is a bright and spacious with good headroom and legroom in the rear for a compact estate car. The rear bench can even seat three in reasonable comfort with enough legroom for all three passengers. There’s also separate ventilation controls in the back and Isofix anchors on the two outer seats.

The boot offers a lot of flexibility with a low sill, two position floor with reversible waterproof side. You can use the two position floor to create a flat loading sill or place it in the bottom of the boot to maximise the space available. Another handy feature are the switches in the boot to let down the rear seats, expanding the load carrying abilities to over 1600 litres.

The boot in the Suzuki Swace estate
The boot in the Suzuki Swace estate

What kind of hybrid is the Swace?

The Suzuki Swace has the advantage of being a fuel-sipping hybrid - but it's not a plug-in hybrid. It's a petrol-electric hybrid that doesn't require you to plug it in and charge it to return excellent economy. There's a low capacity battery on board that helps the car to run more efficiently, particularly in low speed town driving.

The Swace uses the same 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain as the Toyota Corolla and can return some impressive economy figures. There's a modest 122hp sent to the front wheels through a CVT automatic gearbox.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres, and that included some motorway runs. It's one of the most efficient cars I've driven in a while.

On the road the Swace is a steady and reliable drive. The automatic transmission makes it all rather effortless, though the CVT gearbox can get noisy under hard acceleration.

Instead, the Swace hybrid is more suited to a gentler pace, where you can enjoy this car for being a comfortable cruiser.

The Swace is on sale now priced from €30,995
The Swace is on sale now priced from €30,995

Did you like it?

In 2022, Suzuki has added a new S-Cross and Vitara Hybrid to the Suzuki range. The Swace is a brand new model and very accomplished.

While the brand hasn't done much to make the Swace stand out from the Corolla, they've taken a good car into the Suzuki stable and not done anything design-wise that would impact what a fabulous efficient car this is.

Suzuki in Ireland is selling the Swace in just one trim level and it's packed with equipment. It's just a few hundred euro less than a similarly specced Corolla estate.

Still, it's arguably got a slightly more appealing, high-tech appearance and will never be quite as ubiquitous as the equivalent Toyota.

And if you love Suzukis, you'll definitely enjoy this new addition to the range because it really has some of the best quality and design wearing a Suzuki badge.

The Swace has broad appeal and certainly offers a good value alternative to an SUV in a sleek and stylish estate car with a big boot.

Practical; efficient; stylish - it's the new Suzuki Swace!
Practical; efficient; stylish - it's the new Suzuki Swace!

Model tested: Suzuki Swace SZ-T
Price: 
€30,995
Engine: 
1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 122hp
Torque: Nm
Top speed:  km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h):  seconds
CO2 emissions:
103g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Opel Astra on test for Changing Lanes!

Opel Astra Review

Read Caroline's Opel Astra review for everything you need to know about buying the popular Astra hatchback in Ireland.

The Opel Astra returns in 2022 with a new generation of Opel's perennial hatchback. Since the last version of the Astra was launched, Opel is now part of the Stellantis Group so this is a real fresh start for the Opel Astra. In Ireland, Opel also has a new distributor.

In recent years, SUVs have put the squeeze on cars like the Opel Astra and key rivals like the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla. But before SUVs and crossovers became fashionable, many kids would have grown up in the back of hatchbacks like this.

These days hatchbacks like the new Opel Astra look like good value beside a similarly sized SUV. In Ireland, the new Opel Astra goes on sale priced from a very attractive €27,995.

There are petrol and diesel engines from launch, but a hybrid is expected soon and a full electric Astra by the end of 2023.

The new Opel Astra on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Opel Astra on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Opel Astra?

Just look at it! The Astra is now one of the best looking hatchbacks you can buy. Since last year's Opel Mokka, Opel seems to have real direction now when it comes to styling. The design language is sharp and sporty, and the new Astra gets the new Opel 'face'. The brand calls it the 'Vizor' face and it's a gamechanger for Opel.

The Astra kind of harks back to some of the great Opels of the past, while being really modern too. A black panel stretches across the front of the car with the Opel blitz blacked out in SRI models like the one on test for Changing Lanes. There is a sharp charismatic crease in the bonnet that brings the front of the car together in a perfect V. The 'gill' effect in the C pillar is a nod to the Kadett, the Astra's predecessor.

LED lighting front and rear completes the great new look for the Opel Astra.

There are three trim levels - SC, SRI and Elite - which all alter the look of the new Astra somewhat. But SRI models (from €31,995) look the best to our eyes and offer a good compromise between price and equipment. They get sporty black 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, black wing mirror caps, and a black contrast roof, as well as that blacked out Opel blitz at the front and rear of the car.

There's also a brand new interior and Opel has tuned the Astra 'to make it an Opel' though it shares much in common with other cars from the Stellantis Group like the recently launched Peugeot 308. Has it worked?

The interior of the new Opel Astra
The interior of the new Opel Astra

Driving the Opel Astra

The most affordable entry into the new Astra range is the 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with 110hp or 130hp, and a 6-speed manual gearbox or an 8-speed gearbox (130hp only).

On test for Changing Lanes was the Opel Astra SRI 1.2 petrol with 130hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox. It's a fabulous option for this new Astra, well-priced and offering lively performance and reasonable economy for a petrol hatchback too. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.2 litres per 100 kilometres.

But the best thing is just how fun this car is to drive. For sure, I don't drive many manuals these days with the rise in electric cars and hybrids. There is something distinctly tactile and engaging about driving this Astra manual. The handling is sharp and composed, and the car grips well through corners.

Being an Opel and a German car, it's also 'Autobahnproof' so stays nice and steady on the motorway too! Refinement has been improved over the previous generation of the car, and the Astra has excellent road manners.

The 1.5-litre diesel with 130hp will offer better economy if you do a lot of high speed motorway driving for example.

We can also expect a new hybrid at some point over the next few months with two different power outputs -180hp and 225hp - and the ability to be plugged in, charged and driven electric for up to 60 kilometres.

The new Astra goes on sale priced from €27,995
The new Astra goes on sale priced from €27,995

Inside the new Astra

The interior of the new Astra has also been transformed into a modern, digital cabin. One of the first things that strikes you is just how good the seats are. They are 'AGR' approved, which means they are some of the best you will find in the compact class.

Cabin quality is about 'middle of the road' we would say. Everything in your direct line of sight looks good but the fit of some of the buttons below the infotainment screen and the exposed hard plastics in the door panels seem at odds with how polished this car is in other areas.

Still, the Astra interior seems to vibe nicely with this car's modern, sporty styling on the outside. There's a new steering wheel and new digital instrument cluster for the driver. Combined with the new 10-inch screen for the infotainment in the centre of the dash and you have a kind of wide screen effect that is very fashionable at the moment.

There's also a wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto connection. Standard equipment is good and other features include climate control, cruise control, leather steering wheel, keyless start, and parking sensors.

SRI models get a sportier cabin ambience with some red detailing as well as alloy pedals, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, and heated front seats.

So is it practical? The Astra will seat five and though some rivals offer a little more headroom and legroom in the back, you will be able to sit adults back there and children will be fine. There is Isofix on the two outer seats and a USB-C port for connecting devices. The 422-litre boot is one of the biggest in the class and also has a handy two position floor.

Rear seating in the new Astra
Rear seating in the new Astra

Did you like it?

The new Opel Astra is one of the most anticipated new cars of 2022 and it delivers. The Opel brand is really gaining momentum again with new models like the Mokka and now Astra.

The new Astra has got the modern update it needed. It is a car you'd like to be seen in, with a sporty and distinct design that helps it to stand out in the compact class.

Inside it comes well-equipped with all the technology features we expect from a car like this. The finish is a bit disappointing in places but when you consider the price and equipment of each model, it's easy enough to overlook any shortcomings.

For people who enjoy driving, this Astra is simple and engaging to drive. The 1.2-litre petrol might not sound high tech in a world where the next big thing is either hybrid or electric, but for many people it's the most affordable way to drive a new car.

So if you're looking for a simple hatchback that drives well, looks good and is well-equipped, you really need to check out this new Astra.

The new Astra will soon be available for the first time as a plug-in hybrid
The new Astra will soon be available for the first time as a plug-in hybrid

Model tested: Opel Astra SRI 1.2
Price: 
€31,995
Engine: 
1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 130hp
Torque: 230Nm
Top speed: 210km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.7 seconds
Motor Tax: €200 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The new Cupra Born on test for Changing Lanes!

Cupra Born 58kWh Review

Read Caroline's Cupra Born review for everything you need to know about buying Cupra's new electric car in Ireland.

The new Cupra Born makes Cupra one of the most exciting new entrants to the electric vehicle market in Ireland. A market we know is growing.

But the Born is a welcome addition, making a bold statement with its hot hatchback inspired looks. It's a compact EV with presence that's sure to turn heads.

The new Cupra Born goes on sale in Ireland in 2022 with a choice of two batteries: a 58kWh and a 77kWh, though a Born 45kWh is expected to join soon.

The new Cupra Born goes on sale priced from €36,360 (including grants and VRT relief) for the 58kWh version with a range of 425 kilometres measured to WLTP industry standards. Expect the Born 45kWh to be a bit cheaper when it arrives here and compromise some range for that too.

The new Cupra Born on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Cupra Born on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Cupra Born?

First it's electric. And anything with a battery is hot these days. But there's clearly more to the Born than just being a BEV.

Rewind a little. Cupra began as the performance arm of the Seat brand. So you might remember hot hatchbacks like the Seat Leon Cupra and a personal favourite of mine, the Seat Ibiza Cupra.

But then Cupra became its own brand. And in 2021 they brought us their first car that wasn’t just a rebadged Seat, the Cupra Formentor, which turned out to be a really good car.

Now they’re back with this, the new Cupra Born, and it’s the Spanish brand’s first electric car. It shares a lot with the Volkswagen ID.3, because all these brands are part of the Volkswagen Group.

But the Cupra Born has been designed to be sportier and more dynamic. And it certainly looks the part.

The dimensions of the Born might be the same as the Volkswagen ID.3 but Cupra has really put their stamp on this car. It has a much more youthful and sportier appearance than the ID.3. Wheel sizes are available up to 20-inches; 18-inch come as standard. There's a range of unique colours available including the signature Aurora Blue pictured.

The car is full of sporty details, like a flowing aerodynamic side sill element and copper accents, now a signature of the Cupra brand. The Born looks strong, unique and desirable, though the loud styling and big wheels won't suit everyone. There are full LED headlamps at the front and a charismatic full length light signature at the back. A body-coloured, integrated diffuser adds a final sporty flourish.

The Cupra Born is a new compact electric vehicle
The Cupra Born is a new compact electric vehicle

Inside the Born

The cabin of the Born is very stylish and well-appointed. It's quite a minimalist design - a small digital screen displays relevant battery and driving information to the driver, while a 12-inch infotainment screen comes as standard and takes centre stage in the centre of the dash. There are few buttons, which may or may not be your thing. There are also touch sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, but they are not the most satisfying to use.

Standard equipment levels are high including wireless smartphone charging, heated, Cupra-branded bucket seats, heated steering wheel, rear view camera and adaptive cruise control.

The car certainly has a high-end, sporty ambience with more signature Cupra brand copper accents inside, good quality materials, and those gorgeous bucket seats.

This is a compact car but it has been designed from the very beginning to be an electric vehicle - born to be a BEV if you will. So there’s a good use of space inside. You can sit three in the back and legroom is particularly good. Though the large bucket seats up front make it a little less friendly for children in the rear maybe.

There is a 385-litre boot, which is competitive for a hatchback like this one and a place for the charging cables under the boot floor.

Inside the new CUPRA Born
Inside the new CUPRA Born

Driving the Cupra Born

The Cupra Born uses Volkswagen Group’s MEB architecture and comes with a choice of batteries shared with the Volkswagen ID.3. I drove the Born 58kWh, and it’s a good compromise between price and range. It starts from about €36,000 and the real world driving range is about 350 kilometres, which makes every day driving very comfortable.

There’s also a Born 77kWh available at the moment. It costs a bit more to buy (from €44,100). But offers a longer range - 548 kilometres measured to WLTP industry standards.

The Born 58kWh is available with a choice of two electric motors that alter the performance somewhat. I was driving the standard 204hp version, but if you go for the e-Boost package you’ll have 231hp. The Born 77kWh is sold by default with the e-Boost package.

Cupra is keen to highlight the performance of the Born and it's fair to say it's quick regardless of which version you go for. It's very responsive off the line, with the 204hp Born 58kWh hitting 100km/h in just 7.3 seconds. In all models, power goes to the rear wheels.

Yet this is hardly a hot hatchback. For sure Cupra has tuned the car somewhat and it does handle in a natural way, with good pedal feel. When the Performance mode is selected, there's a more defined feel to the steering, which makes it a bit more fun to drive down a twisty rural road.

Cupra Born in Vapor Grey
Cupra Born in Vapor Grey

Out on the open road, the Born proves comfortable and refined. It is a good car but not as 'racy' from behind the wheel as what you might expect from those good looks.

The CUPRA Born can be plugged in to both AC (up to 11kW) and DC charging networks (up to 170kW depending on the model). The Born 58kWh can fast charge up to 125kW so you can get to 80% battery charge in about 35 minutes at a high power charging station. It will take about nine hours to charge the battery to full at home using a standard 7.4kW wallbox or about six hours at 11kW.

Did you like it?

If you’re looking for one of the coolest electric vehicles on the market right now, this might be it.

It’s not quite hot hatchback thrills behind the steering wheel. But for an electric car at this price point, the Cupra Born is fun to drive and super stylish.

If you're just looking to drive an electric car that has a bit of style and charisma, then the Cupra Born fits the bill. It's finished well inside and offers a spacious interior for a small family.

Cupra is growing in profile with a suite of exciting new models on the way and a strategic dealer network developing in Ireland. The Born should help accelerate growth of the Cupra brand in Ireland, in a market growing increasingly comfortable with an electric future.

The Born is another exciting new electric car to arrive in Ireland
The Born is another exciting new electric car to arrive in Ireland

Model tested: Cupra Born 58kWh
Price: 
€36,360
Battery:
58 kWh
Range: 427 km (WLTP)
Power: 204hp
Torque: 310Nm
Top speed: 160 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.3 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes

 


The new MG 5 on test for Changing Lanes!

MG5 EV Review (2022)

Read Caroline's MG5 review for everything you need to know about buying MG's electric estate car in Ireland in 2022.

MG returned to Ireland at the end of 2020 with a new suite of electrified vehicles. Under a new distributor, the brand has launched three new models here - the MG ZS electric SUV previously reviewed for Changing Lanes, the MG HS plug-in hybrid SUV, and this, the MG5, an all-electric estate car for the Irish market.

Now in 2022, MG has updated the ZS and the MG5 with a new long range battery to give buyers more comfort and convenience behind the wheel.

The MG5 launched in Ireland for the first time in 2021 with a 52.5 kWh battery giving a range of up to 345 km (WLTP).

It's replaced now by the MG5 EV Long Range with a 61 kWh battery that bumps the range up to 403 km (WLTP) - and the price. It's now available from €30,645.

Let's take a closer look.

The new MG 5 on test for Changing Lanes!
The MG5 is an electric estate car for the Irish market

What's so special about the MG5?

Well first of all it's an estate car, and an electric one at that. For the moment it's the only electric estate car you can buy on the Irish market.

We don't hear much about estate cars these days as the market is obsessed with SUVs and crossovers. Yet estate cars were always the default choice for buyers seeking a lifestyle vehicle that can fit the dog and some gear. While also giving a more active image than a saloon or hatchback.

But SUVs these days seem to capture most of that market. Though it's debatable how well they fit the brief for space and practicality.

The new MG5 has the classic silhouette of an estate car and is discreet in its styling. It's clearly not as trendy as the MG ZS, which has more fashionable SUV styling. But it's cheaper to buy and gets almost as much range on a full charge.

The MG5 sits quite low for an electric car, with the water-cooled battery pack integrated into the car’s chassis. There are dynamic benefits here too, with the low centre of gravity influencing how the car feels on the road.

With pricing starting from €30,645 for the Excite model and from €33,895 for the Exclusive model with more equipment on board, the MG5 remains affordable in today's EV market.

The MG5 Long Range on test for Changing Lanes
The MG5 Long Range on test for Changing Lanes

What's it like to drive?

The MG5 EV Long Range on test uses a 61.1 kWh battery with up to 403 km (WLTP) of range available. There's a 115 kW motor on board, equivalent to 156 hp.

The performance figures are good and the MG5 feels swift and responsive on the road. It is agile and simple to drive with a very conventional layout to the controls used to operate the vehicle and monitor its progress. The low centre of gravity means it feels planted at all times, behaving in a natural way in response to driver inputs.

The car is comfortable in driving on its 16" wheels and will cruise happily on the motorway. In that way it can't be faulted. The MG5 is predictable in charging and there are no massive drops in range when you get it out on the motorway.

Ownership of the electric MG5 of course will mean acquainting yourself very quickly with charging. With a 7 kW wallbox installed at home for example, a full charge can be got in about 9.5 hours or overnight.

The MG5 is also equipped with a CCS charging port so can avail of fast charging, gaining 80% in about an hour from a public 50 kW fast charge point. The charging port is easily accessed from the front of the car behind the MG badge.

From a 100 kW rapid charger, it will take about 40 minutes to charge the MG5 to 80%

The interior of the MG5
The interior of the MG5

What's it like inside?

Inside the MG5 there is a traditional dashboard layout with all the controls logically laid out. The cabin is nicely appointed for the price point of the vehicle. The layout and design is more traditional than avant garde. But the rotary gear selector on the centre console is a neat feature.

Standard equipment includes the 8" colour touchscreen and Android Auto/Apple Car Play, auto air con, parking sensors and rear view camera. There's also a full suite of safety equipment 'MG Pilot' including lane keep assist, lane departure warning, traffic jam assist and high beam assist.

The MG5 Exclusive has plenty of nice features like heated front seats, keyless entry and electrically adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support.

However, it doesn't get MG's latest infotainment system as seen in the new MG ZS, which is more modern and responsive. Or a digital instrument cluster for that matter.

There's a natural sense of practicality to the MG5 because it's an estate car. Rear legroom is good for the C-segment also. There's plenty of headroom from that tall roof line.

Buyers will be pleased to note that there's 464 litres of space available up to the luggage cover, or 578 litres up to the roof. Other advantages include a wide loading area. There is a bit of a lip between the boot opening and the boot floor. A flat loading area would have been an even greater advantage and more practical for an estate car. The rear seats also split fold 60:40 for even more space.

Practicality is a key feature of the MG5 estate
Practicality is a key feature of the MG5 estate

Did you like it?

Estate cars often get overlooked in favour of SUVs. But the MG5 is a practical family car that just happens to be electric too.

Still, the MG5 lacks contemporary style and does feel a generation behind in terms of its styling and interior. It does without MG's latest interior digital technology and app. But thankfully it's not behind in battery technology and charging.

The new battery in the MG5 gives buyers that little bit more comfort between charges. The MG5 behaves in a predictable way on the road, with high equipment levels and a comfortable ride.

Though the entry price into the range has gone up, the MG5 still offers a lot of car for the money in today's market. It undercuts the more fashionable MG ZS on price.

At a time when it's getting even more expensive to run and own a fuel car, the MG5 is a good value entry into electric motoring.

The MG5 is a new electric estate car from the MG brand
The MG5 is a new electric estate car from the MG brand

Model tested: MG5 EV Exclusive
Price: 
€30,645
Battery:
61.1 kWh
Power: 156 hp
Torque: 260 Nm
Top speed: 185 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.7 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The Mercedes-Benz CLA Hybrid on review for Changing Lanes

Mercedes-Benz CLA Hybrid Review (2022)

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz CLA 250e review for everything you need to know about buying the new CLA hybrid in Ireland in 2022.

Mercedes-Benz has been adding new hybrids to the brand's range of hatchbacks, saloons and SUVs in recent years. The shift offers buyers even more options when it comes to Mercedes most popular models like the A-Class, GLA, C-Class, GLC, E-Class and GLE, among others.

The all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA launched in Ireland in 2019. It was another step forward for the elegant four door, coupé-like saloon.

Now it's the return of the CLA to Changing Lanes, this time as a hybrid.

The Mercedes-Benz CLA Hybrid on review for Changing Lanes
The Mercedes-Benz CLA Hybrid on review for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Mercedes-Benz CLA Hybrid?

Mercedes-Benz is completing the range of EQ Power models in the brand's compact-car family with the CLA hybrid, which uses the brand's third-generation hybrid system. Badged CLA 250e, this stylish Mercedes hybrid uses a familiar 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine, battery and electric motor.

The power output is 218 hp making it one of the most powerful versions of the CLA in the entire range. Yet there's also the ability to plug the CLA in and drive it electric for a range of up to 70 km.

The CLA range starts from €45,370 in Ireland for a CLA 180 with a 1.3-litre petrol engine (136 hp). The diesel range starts from €46,935 for a CLA 180d. And now the CLA 250e plug-in hybrid starts from €48,785 in 'Progressive Premium' trim. While in 'AMG Line Premium', it starts from €51,355.

So Mercedes is 'gearing up' the hybrid CLA to make it a compelling prospect in the range.

This is a very handsome car. The CLA carries more prestige in the Mercedes-Benz range than the A-Class for example on which it is based. Described as compact, the presence of the car is much bigger than that when you meet it in the metal for the first time. Frameless windows and that long, elongated coupé look add prestige to this car. The hybrid gets a subtle EQ Power badge and an extra flap for the charging ports. 18" alloys come as standard.

The CLA is available as a hybrid for the very first time
The CLA is available as a hybrid for the very first time

Inside the CLA

Inside, the CLA still blows the competition away with an elegant and exclusive look. The seats are sporty and cosseting. Leather comes as standard. The cabin comes alive at night with cool ambient lighting. The design is just slick and premium.

The hybrid gets the full digital experience - a 10.25" media display and 10.25" digital instrument display as standard, as well as an advanced sound system with ten speakers. The digital screens for the driver and infotainment are effortlessly cool for the compact class. The MBUX infotainment system responds to commands of Hey Mercedes.

The car is roomy up front, but some practicality is sacrificed for style and that sloping roof. Rear legroom is okay for the compact class. There has been a small impact on boot space in the hybrid but there remains a flat floor. There's 390 litres, but the saloon style opening does limit practicality somewhat. There's also a CLA Shooting Brake available, which offers more estate-style load-lugging abilities! It's also available as a hybrid.

The interior of the Mercedes CLA Hybrid
The interior of the Mercedes CLA Hybrid

Driving the CLA Hybrid

On the road, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250e performs very well, with high levels of refinement from the four cylinder engine combined with the power and responsiveness aided by the electric motor.

The 8 speed automatic works very well here. The CLA hybrid loses none of the elegance of the CLA in other petrol variants like the CLA 180 we tested in 2019. In fact with start up and take off on electric, this hybrid is even more serene and refined from behind the wheel. It's a real viable option now in the CLA range.

It's efficient too with my average fuel consumption over one week averaging at 6 litres per 100 km. But there is the option to run the CLA 250e more efficiently by charging the 15.6 kWh battery and driving electric for a limited range of up to 70 km. It can be charged at home for example using a 7.4 kW wallbox in 1 h 45 min from 10-100 percent.

Did you like it?

The CLA is a stunning and very desirable car among the Mercedes-Benz range of compact cars. Though as we've clarified, the CLA has a the presence of a larger car.

Inside it's one of the best among rivals with a latest generation Mercedes interior dripping with cool digital technology and connectivity.

Behind the wheel, the Mercedes-Benz CLA offers a comfortable and refined driving experience. There's plenty of power here and the car handles the road well.

The new CLA Hybrid gives buyers more options, offering more power and equipment. With regular charging, this car can be ran like an electric vehicle for a limited range. Ideal for short commutes or urban motorists.

The CLA is still lovely after all these years. Even now with a plug!

The Mercedes-Benz CLA 250e is on sale in Ireland now
The Mercedes-Benz CLA 250e is on sale in Ireland now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz CLA 250e Progressive
Price:
€48,785
Engine: 1.3-litre petrol electric plug-in hybrid
Power: 
218 hp
Torque: 450 Nm
0-100km/h:  6.8 seconds
Top speed: 240 km/h
CO2 emissions: 
23 g/km
Motor tax: 
€140 per year


The new Opel Astra will arrive in Ireland in June

Opel Astra Review (2022)

Read Caroline’s Opel Astra review for everything you need to know about the new Astra ahead of its arrival in Ireland in June of 2022.

The Opel Astra is one of Opel's core models, with over 9,000 Astras registered in Ireland in the last 7 years. It's been around since the early 1990s and before that it was the Kadett. Together both cars give Opel 86 years of experience in the compact class.

Opel is enjoying a revival at the moment, which started with the launch of the new generation Opel Corsa in 2019 but really accelerated with the arrival of the new Opel Mokka and Mokka-e in Ireland in 2021.

The new Opel Astra continues the trend with on-point electrified powertrains, new design and the latest interior technology features. I travelled to Lisbon in Portugal with Opel Ireland to discover more about the new Astra and drive it for the first time ahead of its arrival in Ireland.

The new Opel Astra goes on sale for the first time as a plug-in hybrid, with petrol and diesel options also available. An all-new electric Opel Astra-e will debut in 2023. Pricing and specifications will be announced closer to launch.

The new Opel Astra will arrive in Ireland in June
The new Opel Astra will arrive in Ireland in June

Styling

Designed, developed and manufactured at Opel's headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany, the new Opel Astra impresses on approach. The Astra's all-new look is characterised by the striking new Opel family face at the front - the Opel Vizor. The blacked out grille area with vents looks ultra modern but surely retro inspired, while there is homage to the Kadett in the black 'gills' in the C pillar to the rear of the car. An optional two-tone paint finish adds even more character. At the rear, the centrally mounted Opel 'Blitz', the vertically aligned high-mounted brake lamp and the slim horizontal LED tail lamps further showcase the new Opel Compass design language. The surfacing of the car looks sheer and taut, shown off expertly in the exciting new Cult Yellow. Each trim level will distinguish the car a little more. SRI will be the sportiest in Ireland, but full specifications are yet to be confirmed for the Irish market.

WATCH A VIDEO

Interior

Inside, the Astra has an all-new interior built around Opel's new 'Pure Panel' design philosophy. Two 10" screens come as standard creating a full digital, widescreen experience - a digital instrument panel for the driver and a second screen for the infotainment system. Smartphones can be charged and connected with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly. Key settings such as climate control can still be operated via physical switches and buttons.

There's also a new steering wheel with a chrome third 'spoke' that adds some distinction to this new Astra. The centre console is quite high, adding a sporty wraparound feel from the driver's seat.

The perceived quality of the cabin is good with soft touch plastic in the important places like on the top of the dashboard and the top of each door. More prominent hard plastic appears in the door panels but it is offset against some more plusher fabrics and trim.

Comfort has been a priority and the Astra’s front seats, developed in-house, are AGR (“Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V.” / “Campaign for Healthy Backs”) certified, for optimum comfort and support. They are available optionally in Alcantara or leather.

The interior of the new Opel Astra
The interior of the new Opel Astra

Practicality

The Opel Astra has seating for five. Measuring 4,374 mm long and 1,860 mm wide, it is only 4 mm longer than the previous model, yet the wheelbase has increased by 13 mm to 2,675 mm. The car is roomy up front but rear legroom is not the most generous of the compact class. The new Astra boot has an adjustable floor and offers 422 litres of capacity in petrol and diesel models. However, boot volume is reduced to 350 litres in the Astra plug-in hybrid, though that's still acceptable for the compact class.

The Opel Astra Sports Tourer will arrive in Ireland by the end of the summer and will offer more practicality, while a longer wheelbase should offer rear passengers more legroom. There will be over 600 litres of boot space.

Engines

The new Opel Astra will be available from launch in Ireland with the choice of petrol and diesel engines, and a new Astra Hybrid. A full electric Astra-e will arrive in 2023 with more details expected later in 2022.

The latest generation of the Astra debuts for the first time as a plug-in hybrid with two performance levels (180 hp at launch, 225 hp to join before the end of the year). Both models use a 1.6-litre, four cylinder turbo petrol engine, 12.4 kWh battery and electric motor. The new Astra Hybrid can be charged and driven electric for up to 60 km. Versions with petrol and diesel engines are available with six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions. The petrol line-up is comprised of the 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with 110 hp or 130 hp. There's also a 1.5-litre diesel with 130 hp.

The petrol manual was a blast to drive on the tight, twisty roads along the coast above Lisbon and through the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The diesel automatic offered great refinement and economy, averaging 4.8 litres per 100 km on my test drive.

The plug-in hybrid with 180 hp is currently the most powerful of the range and feels it on the road. There is a silky delivery of robust power, it's super responsive to the throttle and very quiet on the road. On first glance, very efficient to run too, even in hybrid mode.

The new Astra is available for the first time as a plug-in hybrid
The new Astra is available for the first time as a plug-in hybrid

On the road

The new Astra is based on the third generation of the Stellantis Group's EMP2 multi-energy architecture. But Opel engineers have tweaked it to make the Astra feel like an Opel. Some of the team's goals during development were to create a car with handling that is composed as well as dynamic, and “Autobahnproof”, with high-speed capability a primary development objective.

The steering and lateral stiffness of the chassis – McPherson strut suspension at the front, torsion bar at the rear – are designed for high yaw control (damping of the movement around the horizontal axis). Under braking, the new model delivers strong stopping power and remains highly stable in curves as well as in a straight line. The torsional rigidity of the new Astra is 14 per cent higher than that of the previous model.

The team wanted to create a car with sporty driving dynamics to match the Astra's cool new look. And the Astra certainly delivers with fabulous body control through tight, fast corners for a front wheel drive family hatchback. The steering is quick and nicely weighted, firming up at speed for a precise and defined feel that makes motorway driving a breeze. The refinement and acoustic comfort behind the wheel is a big step up for the latest Astra. All cars get laminated glass in the windscreen and the high spec models on test had it in the front passenger windows too. It creates a delightful cocoon inside the cabin.

The Astra has been tuned for composure and dynamism
The Astra has been tuned for composure and dynamism

Equipment

While specifications and trim levels for the Irish market are yet to be confirmed, we do know that the new Opel Astra will have two 10-inch widescreen displays as standard, as well as wireless smartphone charging.

Other top fetaures will vary depending on trim level but they include the latest version of Opel’s adaptive Intelli-Lux LED® Pixel Light for even greater visibility in night driving, already available on Opel’s Grandland SUV and Insignia flagships. Featuring a segment-leading total of 168 LED elements, 84 in each ultra-slim headlamp, the main beam adjusts seamlessly in milliseconds, without glare for other road users. Approaching or preceding traffic is “cut out” precisely.

Assistance systems include front collision warning with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and drowsiness detection, all of which are standard equipment in every version. A large head-up display, adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function and Intelli-Vision, a camera and radar-based system for easier parking, are also available.

Summary

The launch of the 2022 Opel Astra is a fresh start for the perennial Opel compact car. The new Astra has flourished into a sporty, desirable and distinct hatchback for the compact class.

The Astra's stand-out design and new Vizor face give it real character now among competitors and make it instantly recognisable as a new generation Opel.

Inside, Opel is finding its feet with the new Pure Panel interior design concept. It's the best cabin yet of the new generation Opel cars with a well defined digital set up characterised by the two 10" widescreen displays as standard. With wireless smartphone charging as standard and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, the Astra is geared up for the digital generation.

The Astra will offer a tremendous spread of choice for the compact class when it comes to powertrain. With diesel, petrol and plug-in hybrid available from launch, and the electric Astra-e from 2023, this car has a lot to offer. From the simplicity of a petrol manual to the power and flexibility of the plug-in hybrid, Astra is breaking new ground for Opel.

While the popularity of hatchbacks has been dwindling as SUV sales soar, the new Opel Astra offers a sporty, fun to drive alternative that looks great with plenty of options for individualisation. Now we just have to wait for the pricing!

The new Astra is expected in Ireland in June
The new Astra is expected in Ireland in June

Caroline Kidd


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 Citroen C4 is on sale in Ireland now

Citroen C4 (2021) First Drive Review

The Citroen C4 is on sale in Ireland now
The 2021 Citroen C4 is on sale in Ireland now

The Citroen C4 and electric Citroen E-C4 have arrived in Ireland - here to reinvent the hatchback! With a new SUV-inspired design and an electric model available from launch, the new C4 is certainly worth a headline or two. The range will go on sale in Ireland from a very competitive €24,740 for the C4, or from €31,730 for the E-C4 with a 50 kWh battery and up to 350 km range (WLTP). Caroline was at the press launch in Dublin to find out more about the new C4 range and bring it for a first drive on Irish roads.

Styling

The Citroen C4 has evolved in many directions over recent years but it seems to have finally found a sweet spot in this new generation. It's pitched against family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, but it clearly takes a whole new design direction to this class of vehicle. From the outside it is tastefully designed with some SUV-inspired styling. It has the height and ground clearance of a crossover. A bright colour palette and many customisation options add to the fun and colourful image of this car. Could be a huge success on looks alone.

Interior

Inside it feels more like a hatchback. But an airy one with lots of expansive glazing and a high roof line. The new generation interior is pared back but big on digital. The 10” colour touchscreen infotainment screen comes as standard with a digital instrument cluster for the driver too.

The interior of the new Citroen C4
The interior of the new Citroen C4

Practicality

The C4's dimensions mean it feels more spacious inside than other hatchback rivals. There's loads of headroom and the footwells are generous for this class of vehicle. Boot volume is 380 litres, which is on par with rivals.

Engines

The new C4 will be available with petrol and diesel engines, or with an electric powertrain in the e-C4. Engine options include the  PureTech petrol engine with 100, 130 or 155 hp or the BlueHDi diesel with 110 or 130 hp. 6-speed manual and EAT8 automatic gearboxes are available for both engines.

The E-C4 uses a 50 kWh battery to produce 136 hp and a range of up to 350 km (WLTP). Charging to 80% battery power is possible in 30 minutes at 100 kW, while an 11 kW 3-phase charger will charge to 100% in 5 hours. The car can be charged from a 32-amp domestic wall box in 7.5 hours. E-C4 customers that move their energy account to Energia will also receive a free home charger plus 20% off their electricity tariff, while a 30% discount will apply if a wall box is already fitted to the home.

Driving it

On the road the Citroen C4 is affable, soft and comfortable. Well it should be - comfort is a strong theme these days at Citroen! The new Citroen C4 uses the Citroen Advanced Comfort® programme featuring suspension with Progressive Hydraulic Cushions and Advanced Comfort Seats to ensure the renowned Citroen driving comfort. Steering is very light making it ideal for town and tight manoeuvres. It can hustle through corners confidently enough, but with the set up of the car it's more about comfort than sportiness. The E-C4 impressed on a short run, though we didn't get to fully test the battery power and range of the car. The 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine with 130 hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox is a reliable companion to the new C4, with plenty of performance and competitive efficiency for this class of vehicle.

The new C4 range goes on sale from €24,740
The new C4 range goes on sale from €24,740

Pricing

The entry point into the C4 range is the 1.2 litre Puretech petrol with 100 hp in Feel trim for €24,740. Step up to the same engine with 130 hp in Feel Pack trim with more gear for €27,620. Flair models start from €29,190 and Flair Pack from €33,640.

Diesels start from €26,790.

The E-C4 starts from €31,730 including Government grants and VRT relief.

Equipment

The C4 and E-C4 are available in four grades for Ireland: Feel, Feel Pack, Flair and Flair Pack. Standard equipment is good including 18” alloys, automatic LED headlights, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, rear parking sensors and camera, lane keep assist and automatic air conditioning.

The Feel Pack adds Citroën Connect Nav, Citroën ConnectedCam, Citroën Smart Pad support and Head up display.

Flair models have diamond cut alloy wheels, speed sign recognition, blind spot detection, front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry/start.

The E-C4 has a range of up to 350 km (WLTP) from a 50 kWh battery
The E-C4 has a range of up to 350 km (WLTP) from a 50 kWh battery

The range-topping Flair Pack adds the EAT8 gearbox as standard, Citroën HiFi System, leather interior, heated seats and highway driver assist.

Unique to the E-C4, standard equipment includes a mode 3 charging cable for on-street charging, while the My Citroën app allows for pre-condition of cabin temperature and remote charging options. The E-C4 Flair Pack trim also adds a heated steering wheel.

Summary

Citroen cars in Ireland now have a new distributor and with the new C4, there's certainly energy and momentum in the brand again for the Irish market.

The Citroen C4 appears to tick many boxes but has the visual appeal and stance of an SUV that is sure to gain it some attention on the forecourt.

Slotting between the refreshed C3 supermini and C3 Aircross on the compact side, and the C5 Aircross on the larger side, the C4 brings a full battery electric vehicle to the Citroen range for the first time.

Spacious, friendly and well-priced, the new C4 could change everything for Citroen in Ireland.

We look forward to bringing you a full road test review later in the year!

Caroline Kidd

The Citroen C4 is a friendly and spacious family car
Copyright William CROZES @ Continental Productions