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


The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Caroline drives the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been the entry into the Mercedes-Benz range for 20 years. The A-Class started out as something of a mini MPV but morphed into a sleek, low slung hatchback in 2012. Now the A-Class is back for a second iteration in hatchback form and it’s looking better than ever. The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class has also seen a revolution in technology, so things are looking very shaky indeed for 'old' rivals like the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series.

Pricing for the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class range starts from €31,600 in Ireland placing the A-Class truly in the premium end of the hatchback market. But is it worth it? Is the new A-Class really a cut above?

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class brings its A game in the looks departments. Designers at Mercedes-Benz sharpened their pencils and got to work at making the new A-Class more chiseled and masculine than the car it replaces. The AMG Line models look particularly good with a sportier styling kit and 18” five spoke alloy wheels.

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class

What's it like inside the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class?

Things really get exciting when you slip inside the new A-Class. There’s a completely new interior and in terms of technology, style and premium finish, rivals like the A3 and 1-Series just don't serve up the same experience anymore. There's a fine mix of materials and striking new design elements like the sporty turbine effect air vents. The digital screens and instrumentation look amazing and the steering wheel is a masterpiece itself. It just makes everything else in the class seem really dated. The new MBUX infotainment system responds to commands of 'Hey Mercedes', but the swipe and tap controls on the steering wheel still do a neat job of controlling the infotainment system for this driver.

Ok, so that’s all very impressive but is the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class any good at carrying people? Typically your premium hatchback is style over space but the new A-Class has a longer wheelbase to improve interior space and there’s more shoulder, elbow and headroom. In the rear the legroom is looking a little more generous, though a large transmission tunnel and relatively narrow middle seat mean that this is still more of a place for two than three. The boot is now 29 litres larger than before at 370 litres, which not far off what you will find in a Volkswagen Golf.

Rear legroom in the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Rear legroom in the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class

What are my engine options?

There are also some nice engine options for the new A-Class including two new four-cylinder petrol engines (1.3-litre A200 with 163hp and 2.0-litre A250 with 224hp) and a new four cylinder diesel (1.5-litre A180d with 116hp). 6 speed manual and 7 speed dual clutch automatic gearboxes are available. An A160 and A160d will join the range later.

My test car was the new A200 model, which has an amazing 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine pushing out 163hp. The refinement is excellent, the power delivery with the automatic transmission simply amazing, and it has the ability to shut down two cylinders under low load to save fuel. My overall fuel consumption over a week of driving was 6.4l/100km and I was really enjoying this car! Motor tax for this model is €270 per year. The new A-Class also has selectable driving modes, including a sport mode that adds more urgency to the throttle response - though it's rarely needed.

So how much does this all cost?

Well the A200 AMG Line Automatic on test had a list price of €37,690, though petrol models start from €34,235. There are three trim levels - Style, Progressive and AMG Line - and the range kicks off currently at €31,600 for an A180d automatic in Style trim. Standard equipment includes 16″ alloys, air con, active lane keeping assist, digital instrument cluster, MBUX multimedia system with touchscreen and touchpad, cruise control, Dynamic Select, heated front seats, reversing camera and part leather upholstery.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class range starts from €31,600 in Ireland
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class range starts from €31,600 in Ireland

Progressive adds more chrome and carbon fibre effect trim to the cabin, automatic climate control, 17″ alloys, LED  headlamps, visible tailpipe trim elements and rear apron with trim in chrome.

AMG Line adds a sport steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals, direct-steer system, aluminium trim, sports seats, 18″ alloys, AMG bodystyling, and diamond radiator grille with chrome pins.

What's the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class like to drive?

On the road the new A-Class feels fun and sporty. There is the sensation of being pushed along, characteristic of rear wheel drive vehicles. The steering is light but precise and the car feels neat and agile through corners. Refinement and comfort are generally good though this sporty model had audible road noise at high speeds on the motorway and the sports suspension picks up more of the road surface beneath you. The A200 offers exciting performance while being reasonable to run as well.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class packages the quality and style of Mercedes-Benz with a surprising fun to drive character that makes it a must for a test drive! The new A-Class comes to market with impressive new technology, interior quality and design and all this makes rivals like the A3 and 1-Series feel a bit less salubrious than what they once were. Technology lovers will enjoy the new interior and infotainment, while the new engines are pretty much faultless too.

The baby Merc doesn’t come cheap and 'less premium' rivals would be more practical and comfortable. But for style and prestige in the compact segment, it doesn't come much better than this.

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sets new standards in the premium hatchback class
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sets new standards in the premium hatchback class

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG Line Automatic
Price: 
€37,690 (Range starts at €31,600)
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
163hp
Torque: 250Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.0 seconds
Top speed: 225km/h
Economy: 
5.2-5.6 l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
123g/km
Motor tax:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd


2018 Ford Focus

2018 Ford Focus International First Drive Review

2018 Ford Focus
The new Ford Focus at the international press launch in France

It’s 20 years since Ford first launched the Focus hatchback. The Ford Focus is now a household name and is consistently one of Ireland’s bestselling cars. A new Focus is big news.

Now Ford is back in summer 2018 with an all-new generation of the Focus hatchback and wagon. I travelled to Nice, France, to drive the new Ford Focus at the international press launch. The new Focus arrives in Ireland later in July.

Styling

The new Ford Focus is lower and wider than the car it replaces but keeps the same exterior dimensions. Visually it has a longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs. The A-pillar has also been pushed backwards and there is no side quarter glass. The new Focus has cleaner and more sophisticated styling overall and is now the most aerodynamic in its class. The Focus comes in a distinct ‘flavour’ depending on what trim you go for: the stylish Focus Titanium, sporty Focus ST-Line and upscale Focus Vignale. There will also be an all-new Ford Focus Active crossover model arriving in Ireland in early 2019. It has rugged SUV-inspired styling that includes a raised ride-height, roof bars and extra plastic cladding.

Interior

Inside, the Focus has a more modern and streamlined dashboard layout with 50% less buttons according to Ford. The dashboard has been pushed forward and the centre console is slimmer and lower. It’s a far more pleasing layout to the eye and the fit and finish has been improved also. A touchscreen is new in the centre of the dashboard and the new system has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Unique features and materials include fine-grain wood-effect finishes and premium leather for Vignale, sporty carbon fibre-effect finishes and red stitching for the ST-Line, and more rugged, textured materials and surfaces for the Active.

The interior of the 2018 Ford Focus
The interior of the 2018 Ford Focus

Practicality

The new Ford Focus feels roomier inside, especially in the rear. 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 boot volume is now up to 375 litres with a tyre repair kit. The impression of spaciousness is enhanced with a rear door design featuring windows that stretch further back.

Engines

The new Ford Focus will be available in Ireland with an upgraded 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine with 125hp and improved fuel efficiency and emissions. There’s also a new 1.5-litre EcoBlue turbo diesel with 120hp. Both are three cylinder engines and meet the very latest and most stringent emissions standards. In Europe a new 1.5-litre turbo petrol and 2.0-litre turbo diesel will also be marketed but these will be special order models for Ireland.

A six speed manual gearbox comes as standard while a new eight speed automatic gearbox is also available.

On the road

The new Ford Focus is lighter and stronger than the car it replaces. The steering is fluid and elastic and the car handles with real verve. There are now two different suspension set-ups in the Focus range. The more standard models get a lightweight twist beam while higher output vehicles and wagons get an independent rear suspension.

2018 Ford Focus
The new Ford Focus will go on sale in Ireland priced from €24,900 for a 1.0-litre petrol in Zetec trim

At the launch in France I drove a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol and 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel on the twist beam, and a 1.5-litre petrol on the independent rear suspension. The 1.0-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel are both refined units with good flexibility through the rev range while retaining the classic fun-to-drive quality the Ford Focus is famous for. The Ford Focus 1.5-litre had 182hp and ST-Line suspension tuning but it will be a niche car in Ireland. Still for enthusiasts it was nigh on perfect in terms of a controlled, engaging drive and power delivery.

The new Ford Focus now also features Drive Modes (Eco, Normal and Sport) that adjust the throttle response, shift timings, steering, traction control and adaptive cruise control.

Equipment

At launch in Ireland the new Ford Focus will be available in four trims: Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium and Vignale. The Ford Focus Active will arrive in Ireland in 2019.

The Focus Zetec features 16” alloys, LED daytime running lights, 6.5” SYNC 3 touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, selectable drive modes, cruise control, and pre-collision assist including vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist detection.

The Focus ST-Line adds 17” sport alloys, ST-Line body kit, twin polished tail pipes, keyless start, interior sports trim, and sports suspension.

The Focus Titanium adds front and rear parking sensors, 8” SYNC 3 with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, FordPass Connect, keyless entry and start, and LED rear lamps.

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

Adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist and speed sign recognition are available as an option pack.

The new Focus introduces FordPass Connect onboard modem technology for customers in Europe, turning the vehicle into a mobile WiFi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 devices. FordPass Connect also enables Live Traffic updates for the navigation system, and using the FordPass mobile app drivers can easily locate their car, check fuel levels, remotely lock and unlock their car, and even start it remotely.

2018 Ford Focus
The Ford Focus just got very competitive again

Pricing

The new Ford Focus will go on sale in Ireland from €24,900. More complete pricing detail will be issued when the car arrives in Ireland.

Rivals

The new Ford Focus will go up against rivals like the Volkswagen Golf, Renault Megane, Citroen C4 Cactus, Opel Astra and Toyota Auris.

Verdict

The Ford Focus has gone through a timely revolution with a significant technology, interior and space upgrade where the current car was really starting to fall behind newer rivals. Buyers can be confident that they are getting two of the best petrol and diesel engines on offer in this segment while both engines are 'future-proofed' for the forseeable future too. There's plenty to explore in this new Focus range from sporty ST-Line models to stylish and premium Titanium. I look forward to putting the Ford Focus through its paces on Irish roads later in the year.

Caroline Kidd


The 2018 Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf 40kWh Review

The 2018 Nissan Leaf
The 2018 Nissan Leaf

Caroline drives the 2018 Nissan Leaf.

Since its launch in Europe in 2011, the Nissan Leaf has done a lot to make electric vehicles more mainstream. The Leaf’s blend of compact, practical size, affordable pricing and zero emissions, all-electric powertrain has made it the most ubiquitous electric vehicle on Irish roads.

With the second generation of the new Nissan Leaf launched on the Irish market earlier in 2018, Nissan looks set to continue its strong position as a maker of smart electric vehicles for the masses.

Priced from €26,290 (including the €5,000 Government grant for electric vehicles), the 2018 Nissan Leaf offers a significant update over the previous model with new styling, more technology and a higher capacity 40kWh battery.

How far will the new Nissan Leaf get me on a full charge?

The range has increased by 50% to 378 kilometres on the NEDC cycle, which translates to between 250 and 270km in real world terms on 100% battery power. In my experience of driving the car, this makes the Nissan Leaf very convenient in day-to-day driving. Nissan Ireland cites that most buyers will make use of overnight home charging, so having 250km of range each day means a lot of anxiety-free driving.

The new Nissan Leaf now has more power and more range!
The new Nissan Leaf now has more power and more range!

It looks better too

The styling of the new Nissan Leaf is much cooler and more conventional than the outgoing model. The Leaf sports its own version of Nissan's 'V-motion' grille that sits well with the other cars in the Nissan range like the Micra, Pulsar and Qashqai. The grille has a blue colour, which is a new signature feature for Nissan’s electric vehicles. The floating roof and sleek headlamps add more style to what is a good-looking car.

Inside there is a new interior with smart soft touch materials, signature blue stitching and new switchgear. There is a touchscreen for infotainment on all but the entry model with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This system also gives information on active charging, eco-routing, driving range, and nearby charging stations. The driver information screen shows data on the EV system like range and battery power.

Being a five door hatchback, the Nissan Leaf is also a practical electric vehicle. The rear bench will seat three and the boot has a capacity of 435 litres.

Standard equipment includes air con, cruise control, Nissan Intelligent Key, push button start, lane departure warning, intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, intelligent lane intervention, cross traffic alert and high-beam assist.

The interior of the new Nissan Leaf
The interior of the new Nissan Leaf

There’s also a 6.6 kW on-board charger and 50kW ChaDeMo rapid charge port as standard, the latter which can give an 80% charge in as little as 40 minutes!

There are other trim levels for the 2018 Nissan Leaf including SV from €28,690, SV Premium from €29,940 and SVE from €32,600.

The model tested was SVE Premium and it has a very impressive list of equipment including a BOSE stereo, parking aids, leather heated front and rear seats, full LED intelligent auto headlights and the ProPILOT advanced driver assistance system.

What's the Nissan Leaf like to drive?

On the road the Nissan Leaf is nippy – power is now up to 150hp – and refined and comfortable across a variety of roads. You soon adjust to this silent motoring and the ritual of plugging in the car at charging stations for a top up where convenient. The Nissan e-Pedal is now a standard feature in the new Leaf and allows the driver to start from a standstill, accelerate, brake and even bring the car to a stop using just the throttle pedal. It’s very useful in traffic and intuitive to use.

The new Nissan Leaf range starts from €26,290 in Ireland
The new Nissan Leaf range starts from €26,290 in Ireland

Driving dynamics have been improved and while the Leaf could not be described as a sporty drive, it does handle itself confidently through corners.

Nissan has obvious expertise in building electric cars with mainstream appeal and pricing, and the new Leaf is the embodiment of that. This is a well-rounded electric vehicle that offers good accommodation in a smart conventional package, yet under the skin the Leaf's electric powertrain is anything but conventional! With more power and more range, there’s never been a better time to check out the new Nissan Leaf.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Nissan Leaf 40kWh SVE Premium
Price: 
€32,600 (Available from €26,290)
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 320Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 144km/h
CO2 emissions:  
0g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class First Drive Review

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The new 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has arrived in Ireland, priced from €31,600. Caroline has been driving the new A-Class hatchback at the Irish launch.

Styling

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has a sleeker and sharper appearance than the outgoing car, while the new grille and headlamps bring the car more in line with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range. The car is visually extended by the longer wheelbase and character line along the side. The new A-Class has all the presence of a smart, compact premium vehicle, with AMG Line models looking particularly good with a sportier styling kit and 18” five spoke alloy wheels.

Interior

The interior is completely new with some striking new design elements like the sporty turbine effect air vents and good quality materials making it a fit for the premium price tag. The new MBUX multimedia and infotainment system is the focal point, and there are a number of different screen combinations available depending on trim: two 7-inch displays, one 7- and one 10.25-inch display and two 10.25-inch displays. The MBUX uses artificial intelligence to learn and memorise instructions – in short it becomes familiar with the driver, making commands more intuitive. It can be operated via voice control and to get its attention all you have to say is ‘Hey Mercedes’ and your command!

Practicality

Inside the new A-Class feels roomier, with more space in the back too. There’s more shoulder, elbow and headroom. The boot is now 29 litres larger than before at 370 litres, which is competitive for the segment.

Engines

Engine options will include two new four-cylinder petrol engines (1.4-litre A200 with 163hp and 2.0-litre A250 with 224hp) and a new four cylinder diesel (1.5-litre A180d with 116hp). 6 speed manual and 7 speed dual clutch automatic gearboxes will be available, as will 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive.

At the launch I drove the A180d Automatic with the new 1.5-litre diesel engine. It’s very impressive with good refinement and plenty of power for this compact model.

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

On the road

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is nicely refined and sporty to drive. There is the sensation of being pushed along, characteristic of rear wheel drive vehicles. The steering is light but precise and the car feels neat and agile through corners. There are a number of driving modes to spice things up a little more, with Sport mode and the 1.5 diesel being a particularly good combination!

Equipment

In Ireland there are three trim levels: Style, Progressive and AMG Line. Standard equipment includes 16" alloys, air con, active lane keeping assist, digital instrument cluster, MBUX multimedia system with touchscreen and touchpad, cruise control, Dynamic Select, heated front seats, reversing camera and part leather upholstery.

Progressive adds more chrome and carbon fibre effect trim to the cabin, automatic climate control, 17" alloys, LED  headlamps, and visible tailpipe trim elements and rear apron with trim in chrome.

AMG Line adds a sport steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals, direct-steer system, aluminium trim, sports seats, 18" alloys, AMG bodystyling, and diamond radiator grille with chrome pins.

Pricing

At launch, only automatics are available. The A180d Automatic starts at €31,600 and the A200 petrol starts at €34,235. An entry-level A160 Petrol and A160d will arrive later with pricing expected to be around €30,000.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class goes on sale in Ireland priced from €31,600

Rivals

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class will go up against other premium compact rivals like the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-Series.

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz say that the new A-Class ‘raises the bar’ in the compact segment. It comes to market with impressive new technology and improved quality and design that really poses a threat to rivals like the 1-Series and A3. For buyers looking for an entry into the Mercedes-Benz brand, the A-Class packages the quality and style of Mercedes-Benz with a surprising fun to drive character and good standard spec.

Caroline Kidd


Honda Civic Diesel

2018 Honda Civic Diesel Review

Honda Civic Diesel
The new 2018 Honda Civic Diesel

Did someone tell you diesel was dead? Well Honda Ireland certainly doesn’t think so. The brand cheekily launched their new Honda Civic Diesel to the media earlier in 2018 with the tagline ‘Never Say (Die)sel'. And after recently driving the new Honda Civic Diesel myself, I can say that it’s no surprise that Honda are confident that this car has plenty more mileage left in it!

In 2017 Honda launched the new tenth generation Civic to widespread acclaim, with the car collecting the 2018 Irish Compact Car of the Year Award. The new Civic was launched with two new petrol engines: Civic 1.0-litre and Civic 1.5-litre, which are good engines, but we were promised a diesel in 2018. Now it’s here.

Does the Honda Civic Diesel make a good family hatchback?

The Honda Civic does a lot of things right. Honda has toned down the styling to make it more palatable but it’s still very sporty and avant-garde for the compact segment. The Civic is genuinely spacious inside and buyers get a lot of ‘bang for their buck’: the boot is 478 litres, one of the biggest in the class, and the rear foot wells are large also. Up front it feels like a larger car too when compared to many rivals.

Inside new Civic, Honda has toned down the confusing dash layout and screens of the previous model, instead opting for a more ordinary and conventional appearance. It's all the better for it. The material quality and build is very good, though a Volkswagen Golf is more premium feeling.

The interior of the Honda Civic Diesel
The interior of the Honda Civic Diesel

In Ireland the Civic range kicks off at €23,750 for a 1.0-litre petrol, while the Civic Diesel range kicks off at €25,550. Standard equipment includes 16” alloys, Bluetooth, parking sensors, and automatic air conditioning. Impressively, the Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment comes as standard including traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking system.

My test car was a 1.6 i-DTEC Smart Plus retailing at €27,950. It's not the cheap option for sure but there's more equipment including 17" alloys, Honda Connect infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual zone climate control, rear parking camera, privacy glass, fog lights, driver lumbar support, auto wipers and leather steering wheel.

What's the new Honda Civic Diesel like to drive?

The Honda Civic Diesel is also one of the best diesel hatchbacks to drive and very efficient. Over a few days of driving my fuel consumption was 5.3 litres per 100km and motor tax is just €180 per year. The diesel engine suits the Civic perfectly: there is great flexibility in the engine allowing for very smooth driving, while it has plenty of power to make the most of the Civic's agile handling and sporty steering. The Civic Diesel is refined on the move and not at all laboursome to drive, even with a 6-speed manual gearbox. A new 9-speed automatic is coming for the Civic Diesel this summer.

Honda Civic Diesel
The new Honda Civic Diesel range starts at €25,550

The new Honda Civic Diesel is not the cheapest diesel family hatchback you can buy, but on the whole in terms of space, equipment and safety features, it is good value. This is a fuel sipping hatchback that’s also great fun to drive. The Honda Civic Diesel has miles more life in it. It’s a fantastic diesel hatchback.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC Smart Plus
Price: 
€27,950 (Range from €23,750)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
120hp
Torque: 300Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.1 seconds
Top speed: 201km/h
Claimed Economy: 
3.5l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
93g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


Citroën C4 Cactus

Citroën C4 Cactus First Drive Review

Citroën C4 Cactus
The 2018 Citroën C4 Cactus

The new Citroën C4 Cactus will be arriving in Irish Citroen dealers in May. Since the quirky C4 Cactus arrived in Ireland in 2014, Citroen has had a rethink about the positioning of this car. For 2018, a new Citroën C4 Cactus arrives combining the best attributes of the C4 hatchback and the C4 Cactus crossover. Citroën says it’s moved the C4 Cactus from the B-segment to the C-segment. The car is now pitched as a hatchback but offers something completely different to rivals with its distinct crossover-like styling. Caroline attended the Irish launch of the new Citroën C4 Cactus in Dublin and Kildare this week and had an opportunity to drive the new car. The C4 Cactus goes on sale from €19,995.

Styling

The Citroën C4 Cactus is famous for its quirky design and protective ‘airbumps’. For the 2018 model, Citroën has toned down the look by moving the plastic cladding down the car. There is still cladding surrounding the whole car, which is a unique ‘crossover’ look for a C-segment hatchback. Though the C4 Cactus is pretty much the same size as the outgoing car, the styling update has been very successful: the C4 Cactus stands out as something really different from rivals without being too weird. The Citroën C3 influence is very evident, a car we like very much here at Changing Lanes. Customisation still features so there is the option to go discreet or more colourful. There are nine body colours to choose from and four colour packs.

Interior

The interior of the C4 Cactus is probably different to most cars you’ve sat into. Citroën is on a major mission to revolutionise car interiors and create calm, comfortable spaces that give a real feeling of well-being. The cabin of the C4 Cactus features a number of quirky features but is lacking some of the interior plushness and character of the baby C3 Aircross. There are a lot of hard plastics and weight saving measures meaning that in the rear there are still pop-out windows carried over from the outgoing model, and there is no rev counter. The new Advanced Comfort® seats are very comfortable. There are five cabin ‘ambiences’ that can be added, which are basically different colour schemes.

Citroën C4 Cactus
The interior of the Citroën C4 Cactus

Practicality

The Citroën C4 Cactus will seat five and feels spacious inside for this class of vehicle despite a compact footprint. The boot is a good size at 358 litres. There’s a relatively high load lip but it makes up for it in outright space, and a spare wheel included.

Engines

In Ireland the Citroën C4 Cactus is available with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol (110hp or 130hp) and a 1.6-litre diesel with 100hp. Manual or automatic gearboxes are available.

Citroën expects diesel to still take the lion’s share of sales but only just. At the Irish launch, I had the opportunity to test drive the 1.2-litre 110hp petrol and the 1.6-litre diesel. Emissions are low with motor tax for the range from €180 to €200.

The petrol engine really suits the car. It’s smooth and quiet on the move, nippy around town and refined for the motorway. The diesel is noisier and doesn’t feel as lively.

On the road

Citroën wants to be the benchmark for comfort in the compact class so aside from creating comfortable, calm interiors, the brand is also working on the suspension and driving character. The C4 Cactus is the brand’s first car in Europe to use a new suspension system with’ Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’. The car is beautifully soft over varied Irish road surfaces. The C4 Cactus is considerably lighter than rivals but it holds its own well on the road. The steering is light and easy making it great for urban driving. Through rural twisty roads there is some body roll and the light steering can feel a bit woolly when pushing on.

Citroën C4 Cactus
The Citroën C4 Cactus is back with a new look, more comfort, technology and refinement

Equipment

In Ireland, the new C4 Cactus is available in three trim levels: Touch, Feel and Flair. There are now 12 driver assistance systems on offer, including Active Safety Brake, Grip Control® and Lane Departure Warning. There are also two connectivity technologies including Citroën Connect Nav, and Mirror Screen functionality (Android Auto/Apple Carplay).

Standard equipment on Touch models includes cruise control, 7” touchscreen, front fog lights, air con and LED daytime running lights.

Feel trim adds some more styling, 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and reversing camera, and automatic air con.

Flair trim adds an exterior colour pack, front parking sensors, Active Safety Brake, driver attention alert, speed sign recognition, lane departure warning and keyless entry/push button start.

Pricing

Irish pricing starts at €19,995 for an entry level Touch 1.2 petrol model. Feel models start from €22,495. Flair models start from €24,495. Diesels start at €22,195.

Rivals

The Citroën C4 Cactus will face competition from traditional stalwarts of the compact hatchback class including the Peugeot 308, Renault Megane, Hyundai i30 and Ford Focus.

Citroën C4 Cactus
The Citroën C4 Cactus goes on sale in Ireland priced from €19,995

Verdict

Citroën may have diluted down the styling of the C4 Cactus somewhat but it’s looking all the better for it. The new positioning also makes a lot of sense and it looks like a quirky alternative to traditional hatchbacks in the C-segment. There are cost-cutting measures around the car and the cabin quality reflects the pricing, but it’s still a nice relaxing place to be behind the wheel. The C4 Cactus is soft and effortless to drive, practical and of course comfortable for the family on board. The petrol model is particularly good and there is value to be had in the range with generous equipment.

Caroline Kidd


The new Hyundai i30 Fastback that arrived in Ireland at the beginning of 2018

Hyundai i30 Fastback 1.0 T-GDI Review

The new Hyundai i30 Fastback that arrived in Ireland at the beginning of 2018
The new Hyundai i30 Fastback that arrived in Ireland at the beginning of 2018

Caroline reviews the Hyundai i30 Fastback.

The Hyundai i30 Fastback is the latest addition to the Hyundai i30 range in Ireland, joining the i30 hatchback and estate.

Hyundai pitches the i30 Fastback as “the first elegant five-door coupe to enter the compact segment”, with design being a key distinguisher for the Hyundai i30 Fastback within the i30 range.

In Ireland the Hyundai i30 range starts from €20,245 for the hatchback, while the i30 Fastback starts at €24,995. However, just one model is offered for the Fastback with a high specification and modern 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 120hp.

The Hyundai i30 Fastback is an elegantly styled car. The roof line is lower than the i30 hatchback, the front grille is lower and it has its own bespoke rear styling. This is probably the most successful part of the design, giving the i30 Fastback the appearance of a larger and more luxurious car when viewed from behind. 17” alloy wheels come as standard as do LED daytime running lights.

The interior of the Hyundai i30 Fastback
The interior of the Hyundai i30 Fastback

The i30 Fastback’s silhouette is more saloon-like but it still has a hatchback-style boot that lifts to reveal a generous 450 litres of space, though the more shallow nature of the boot and load lip may make loading larger items more difficult than in the i30 hatchback.

Inside the interior space is good by class standards. The rear bench will accommodate three while the footwells are of a decent size and even the middle passenger gets a flat space to put their feet.

The Hyundai i30 Fastback is undoubtedly elegant and classy on the outside but it’s more austere on the inside. The dash design is simple and well-laid out, however there is a lot of hard black plastic. The interior could do with some more plush materials to finish the cabin.

Equipment levels are good including four electric windows, cruise control, high beam assist, air con and reversing camera. Safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist and driver attention warning. Infotainment is provided via an 8” touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

Hyundai i30 Fastback
The Hyundai i30 Fastback is offered with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine in Ireland

The Hyundai i30 Fastback is available in Ireland with just one engine: a 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit with 120hp. Performance is competitive and with this engine and six speed manual gearbox the i30 Fastback is very pleasant to drive. It’s quiet on the move while good progress can be made in town and out on bigger roads. Emissions of 120g CO2 place it in tax band A4 with motor tax of €200 per year. My fuel economy was 6.3l/100km over a week of driving.

What's the Hyundai i30 Fastback like to drive?

On the road, the Hyundai i30 Fastback is a fuss-free drive with light steering and comfortable composure over a variety of roads. Compared with the hatchback, the chassis of the i30 Fastback has been lowered by 5mm and the stiffness of the suspension has been increased by 15%. The steering tightens up in corners to offer more resistance in spirited driving. The i30 is competitive in terms of driving dynamics without excelling in any one area.

The Hyundai i30 is a compelling proposition among rivals and even within the i30 range. With Irish buyers starting to reconsider if they really need a diesel car, carmakers offering good petrol powered compact cars like the i30 Fastback have an even better platform to sell cars. The Hyundai i30 Fastback carries a small premium over the equivalent hatchback, but it is a stylish car while still being practical for every day life.

Caroline Kidd

Hyundai i30 Fastback
The Hyundai i30 Fastback is available from €24,995

Model tested: Hyundai i30 Fastback 1.0 T-GDI
Price: 
€24,995 (i30 range from €20,245)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
120hp
Torque: 171Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.5 seconds
Top speed: 188km/h
Economy: 
5.2/100km
CO2 emissions:  
120g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

For more information visit www.hyundai.ie

You might also like this review of the Hyundai Kona, Hyundai's new compact SUV.


Ford Focus ST- Line diesel review ireland

Ford Focus ST-Line 2.0TDCi Review

Ford Focus ST- Line diesel review ireland
The Ford Focus ST-Line

The Ford Focus is one of Ireland’s favourite hatchbacks and has been a consistent bestseller since launch back in 1998. Though the current Ford Focus is due to be replaced before the end of 2018, the popularity of this model shows no signs of abating and there are deals to be had on a well-specced Ford Focus that make it look like very good value indeed.

In 2017, Ford added a new ST-Line sporty trim to key models like Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo and Kuga. I recently got behind the wheel of a Ford Focus ST-Line 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp.

ST-Line lends the Focus a very attractive sporty makeover with the addition of a body kit, rear diffuser, 17” ‘Rock’ metallic alloy wheels and black sports grille. Front fog lamps come as standard and the daytime running lights are LED.

Inside, there are sports seats with red stitching, a flat bottomed steering wheel, aluminium sports pedals and black headliner. Equipment includes manual air conditioning, heated windscreen, and electric windows, though my car had notables like cruise control (€150) and the SYNC 2 8” infotainment system (€575) added as options.

 Ford Focus ST- Line diesel review ireland
The interior of the Ford Focus

Under the skin there is a sports suspension but ride quality is still very good. On the road the Ford Focus shows real composure and finesse. The steering is fluid and elastic and the car changes direction with stunning precision and loads of grip. Refinement is also very good on the move, and the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel has a lovely spread of power.

Other engine options include the Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol with 100hp or 125hp, and a 1.5-litre diesel with 120hp. The best for economy is the 1.5-litre diesel with fuel economy a claimed 3.8l/100km.

It’s in the interior that the Ford Focus is starting to show its age, as the infotainment, quality and design is starting to fall behind newer rivals like the revamped Volkswagen Golf and Opel Astra. Still, it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and when specced with the right equipment the Ford Focus is still an appealing car. Interior accommodation is good but the boot falls some way behind class leaders at 316 litres with a mini spare wheel, but a more respectable 363 with a tyre repair kit.

It’s always a pleasure to get behind the wheel of the Ford Focus again. The car has aged but still remains competitive and it’s easy to see why it’s a consistent top buy for Irish motorists.

 Ford Focus ST- Line diesel review ireland
The Ford Focus remains a good value family car with plenty of trim and engine options

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Focus ST-Line 2.0TDCi
Price: 
€27,670 (Range from €25,175)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 370Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.9 seconds
Top speed: 212km/h
Economy: 
4.0/100km
CO2 emissions:  
105g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

 


Honda Civic 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo review ireland

Honda Civic 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo Review

Honda took a maverick approach to launch their new Honda Civic in early 2017 with just two petrol engines. That’s right no diesel. While a 1.6-litre DTEC diesel is to join the Civic range in Ireland in the spring of 2018, petrol has been the plat du jour in the Civic camp in 2017.

Lucky for Honda that the tide seems to be beginning to turn on diesel and the two engines are good in their own right. While we’ve already reviewed the Honda Civic 1.0-litre VTEC Turbo in detail, the subject of this review is the 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo.

Honda Civic fans seeking more power will find it in the 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo. Power is up from 127hp to 180hp. The 1.5 litre is also a four cylinder unit versus the three cylinder 1.0-litre Honda Civic.

On the road the 1.5-litre feels quick, mature and robust with 0 to 100kmh achieved in 8.2 seconds. The extra cylinder adds refinement and the engine does not need to be revved so much to pick up the pace. The handling is excellent and the steering direct, while the suspension is well damped for Irish roads. Emissions of 133g of CO2 per kilometre place the car in tax band B with motor tax of €280 per year, while this reviewer returned very close to the claimed 49mpg.

On the outside, the Honda Civic is already no shrinking violet with fake vents, spoilers and plenty of aggression in that front grille. The 1.5-litre adds a centrally mounted twin exhaust to the mix, with a black garnish on the front, rear, side sill and around the window frame.

Honda Civic 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo review ireland
The interior of the 2017 Honda Civic

Inside, the Civic’s cabin has matured and gained a more straightforward and sophisticated layout. The quality of the plastics has improved and all but the base model come equipped with a touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. In terms of space, the Honda Civic offers some of the best passenger space in the class and the 478 litre boot is huge too.

In Ireland, the 1.0-litre Civic range starts from €23,750 and is available in three trim levels: Smart, Smart Plus and Premium. The 1.5-litre Civic carries a larger premium starting at €28,550 and is available in three trim levels: S Design, GT Pack and Prestige Pack.

My 1.5-litre S Design came with LED headlights, headlight washers, LED front fog lights, Honda CONNECT with GARMIN navigation, rear parking camera, dual zone climate control, 17" alloy wheels, privacy glass, driver seat power lumbar adjust, alarm, leather steering wheel, alloy pedals, and rain sensing wipers.

The Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment is also standard across the range including traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking system.

Honda Civic 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo review ireland
The Honda Civic 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo offers power and mature driving character

So should you buy it? There’s no question that the new Honda Civic is a fine vehicle, a mixture of great space, equipment and a fun and engaging driving character. The 1.0-litre is already a great option with plenty of power and economy. The 1.5-litre offers a more mature and robust driving experience, but it still could not be deemed much of a hot hatch. For real fireworks behind the wheel, you’ll still be wanting the new Honda Civic Type R!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda Civic 1.5 VTEC Turbo S Design
Price: 
€28,550 (Range starts at €23,750)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
180hp
Torque: 240Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 220km/h
Economy: 
49mpg
CO2 emissions:  
133g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year