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


2017 Honda Civic review ireland

Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo Review

The Honda Civic has been a steady seller for Honda in Ireland and accounts for over 50% of Honda’s sales here. The Honda Civic has its own loyal following of fans and though the Civic has always been a little alternative, they’ve stuck with it through some of the more challenging design iterations.

Generation ten, which landed in Ireland earlier in 2017, will challenge them yet again. Honda takes a more contrarian view to design, showing complete disregard to the mid-sized ‘box’ culture that other manufacturers take when designing a new mass market hatchback. The wedge-shaped weirdness of the previous generation has evolved into something far more aggressive and sporty. The pronounced wheel arches, spoiler, swept back headlamps and large intakes set in the bumpers front and back combine to make rivals look meek in comparison.

Inside new Civic the quality of the materials has improved, and the confusing multiple screen and digital display layout is gone.  It looks grown up and upmarket, and there is loads of space. The second generation Honda Connect infotainment system is standard on all but the base model, and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2017 Honda Civic review ireland
The interior of the new Honda Civic

The new Honda Civic is a very generously proportioned car. There’s almost a bit of class blurring going on here, such is the substantial feeling to this car. The rear bench feels more accommodating than most of the rivals and the footwells are very large. Step around to the boot and you will find one of the best in class at 478 litres. Due to a new rear suspension design, the innovative ‘magic seats’ feature is gone: you can’t slap up the rear bench to hold a pot plant (!) for example, but this new car is so good to drive that I think you will agree the sacrifice for a better suspension was a much better investment.

On the road, the new Honda Civic is a smooth, smooth operator. That’s in part because Honda has launched the car with solely petrol engines (though a diesel will follow later). But the whole execution of the car feels tight and composed. The steering is fluid and direct and the front end grips willingly with amazing stability from the car even when pushing on. Comfort has not been sacrificed and the new Honda Civic deals very well with Ireland's changeable road quality.

The new Civic is currently on sale with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 127hp, which will suit the needs of most buyers, while there is also a more powerful 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with 180hp. When revved the 1.0-litre has a familiar three cylinder thrum, but it settles down well to a cruise and it is a very flexible engine being one of the most powerful of the 1.0-litres in this class. It works exceptionally well with Honda’s 6-speed manual gearbox. Motor tax is €200 per year for this model and it returns a claimed 55mpg, with real world economy not far off that.

2017 Honda Civic review ireland
The Honda Civic is available with choice of two turbo petrol engines, with a diesel on the way in 2018

Pricing for new Civic starts at €23,750 for a 1.0-litre in ‘Smart’ trim. Standard equipment includes 16” alloys, Bluetooth, parking sensors, automatic air conditioning and the Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment. Impressively traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking system all come as standard.

The model tested was a ‘Smart Plus’ 1.0-litre (€26,250) and includes Honda Connect with navigation, rear parking camera, 17” alloys, front fog lights and auto wipers. ‘Premium’ models with leather interior, heated seats, opening glass roof, adaptive dampers, 11 speaker audio system and keyless entry and start are priced from €30,150,  while ‘Premium Plus’ (from €31,650) includes wireless charging, LED headlights and LED fog lights, and headlight washers.

The 1.5-litre 180hp range starts from €28,550, rising to €32,550.

The new Honda Civic is an exciting new launch for the Japanese carmaker and is definitely worth sampling if you are in the market for a new hatchback. The new Civic arrives in our diesel-biased market with two brand new petrol engines, but for many people a petrol powered hatchback will meet their needs. The new Civic is one of the most comfortable and refined cars of its class, and a genuinely good drive, while a high standard spec including democratising safety equipment and a spacious cabin to boot, mean that the Civic has all the right ingredients to make an excellent family car.

2017 Honda Civic review ireland
The Honda Civic is now one of the best in the segment

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo Smart Plus
Price: 
€26,250 (Range starts at €23,750)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
127bhp
Torque: 200Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 203km/h
Economy: 
55mpg
CO2 emissions:  
117g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

If you are looking for a petrol hatchback, you might also like this review of the Volkswagen Golf TSI.


2017 Skoda Octavia review ireland

Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 150hp Review

The Skoda Octavia is one of Ireland’s favourite cars and does well with buyers seeking a spacious family car without the high price tag.

But even heroes like the Octavia need a refresh every now and then so for 2017, Skoda has treated the current generation of the Octavia to a facelift with tweaked styling and some other updates to the range.

There’s a new radiator grille at the front and controversially, they’ve split the Octavia’s familiar block headlights. But I get the feeling that Octavia buyers really won’t let the small matter of some split headlights come between them and their next car and elsewhere the Octavia holds a familiar presence on the road.

It's easy to feel at home in the cabin of the Skoda Octavia with its straightforward layout and reassuringly good build quality. The only major changes inside are new infotainment systems in the centre of the dash that look a bit glossier and more up to date. Smartlink+ with Apple Car Play and Android Auto is now standard across the range.

2017 Skoda Octavia review ireland
The interior of the Skoda Octavia

In Ireland the Skoda Octavia comes in three familiar trims - Active, Ambition and Style - and the more salubrious Laurin & Klement. The Ambition model is the sweet spot priced from €22,250, with air con, electric windows front and rear, 16” alloys, cruise control and reversing camera as standard.

Style models like the one on test (from €24,750) have an impressive 9.2” Navigation & Infotainment system as standard, with 4G LTE SIM card slot to enable a high speed Wi-Fi hotspot within the car (data plans sold separately), and a host of additional connected services from Skoda Connect.

The Park Assist feature has been improved for 2017 and Trailer Assist, Predictive Pedestrian Protection, Blind Spot Detect and Rear Traffic Alert are all available as options.

Interior space remains one of the largest in the class with the hatch retaining boot space of 590 litres and 610 litres in the Combi estate.

The Skoda Octavia has a reliable suite of engines on offer too including the 1.2TSI (86hp), 1.0TSI (115hp), 1.6TDI (90 and 115hp) and 2.0TDI (150hp). Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, as is 4×4.

2017 Skoda Octavia review ireland
The Skoda Octavia comes in four trim levels and is priced from €19,750

I drove the Skoda Octavia 1.0TSI earlier in 2017 and while it is impressive for low mileage/urban drivers, the 2.0-litre TDI with 150hp in my test car left little to complain about with excellent performance and economy over a week of driving. There is engine noise making its way into the cabin but it’s muted and the Octavia is just a fantastic companion for travelling long distances.

This car is not allergic to a rural road either and grips well with weighty, direct steering inspiring confidence behind the wheel. The Octavia is generally as comfortable as you want from a family hatchback but it is a bit noisy and harsh over big bumps and ruts in the road surface, especially around town, implying that it lacks that extra layer of refinement and comfort that marks out the very best rivals.

Yet on a whole the Octavia is one very impressive car and there is no arguing with the fact that it is an absolute bargain if you really value the amount of space you are getting for your money because it dwarfs the competition in this regard. Stoic and sensible, the Skoda Octavia won’t be toppled from its position as one of Ireland’s favourite hatchbacks any time soon.

Caroline Kidd

2017 Skoda Octavia review ireland
The Skoda Octavia is one of Ireland's favourite cars and it's easy to see why

Model tested: Skoda Octavia Style 2.0TDI 150hp
Price: 
€29,050 (Range starts at €19,750)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.4 seconds
Top speed: 218km/h
Economy: 
66mpg
CO2 emissions:  
113g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

If you are looking for a spacious family car, you might also like this review of the Toyota Corolla.


Renault Megane Grand Coupe review ireland

Renault Megane Grand Coupe 1.5dCi Review

In Ireland we love our saloons and that’s why car manufacturers can sell cars here that they wouldn’t elsewhere. Renault has recently launched a car here that not all our European neighbours can enjoy. It’s the new Renault Megane Grand Coupe, which sounds rather grand, but isn’t really.

It’s the saloon version of the all-new Renault Megane that arrived as a hatchback in Ireland in 2016 and it is the spiritual successor to the popular but uninspiring Renault Fluence.

Renault has strapped the Grand Coupe moniker onto this model, which implies that this car has ‘notions’. But the saloon style sits rather well on the new Megane and yes, it looks a bit ‘grander’ than the hatchback, which obviously we will love here in Ireland.

The Grand Coupe has an ace card up its sleeve. I grumbled a little about the rear legroom in the Megane hatchback but luckily the Grand Coupe sits on a longer wheelbase, and there is noticeably more rear legroom.

Renault Megane Grand Coupe review ireland
The interior of the Renault Megane Grand Coupe

The boot is also bigger than the hatchback at 503 litres, but obviously the narrow aperture characteristic of the saloon body style makes the space a bit more awkward to access. There is also no release button on the boot lid: you need to press the button on the key or flick a switch in the cabin.

Inside, the Megane Grand Coupe has the same dash design as the rest of the Megane range. A portrait style touchscreen dominates in the centre of the dash on higher spec models. It looks impressive but it can be frustrating to switch between menus. The ambient lighting on my Signature test car is lovely and adds sophistication along with some brushed chrome effect panel inserts, but the plastics on the lower end of the dash are very hard and scratchy.

In terms of price, the Megane Grand Coupe range starts at €21,990, with just a small premium over the hatchback. The trim levels and equipment are just about the same between the two ranges but the sporty GT Line is preserved for the hatch, while the Grand Coupe gets the ‘grander’ Signature trim.

Base models have 16” steel wheels with wheel trims, LED DRLs, manual air conditioning, analogue dashboard, and Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming.

The top of the range Signature model I drove (from €27,290) has 18” alloy wheels, full LED headlights, hands-free boot opening, leather seats, electro chrome rear view mirror, 8.7” touchscreen R-Link 2, front and rear parking sensors and a rear view camera.

Renault Megane Grand Coupe review ireland
The Renault Megane Grand Coupe has a bigger boot and more leg room than the hatchback

There is no petrol option for the Grand Coupe but instead there is a choice of 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre diesel engines, and the option of the EDC automatic gearbox on the 1.5. My test car was the 1.5-litre EDC. This is an engine that impressed me in the Megane hatchback and the Captur, and it’s no different here. I was truly surprised at what a great combination this diesel made with the automatic gearbox and the emissions are impressively low too at 95g. The power is more than adequate and this is a pleasant, quiet car on the move. The handling is predictable and the front end grip inspires confidence behind the wheel. All sounds good?

Not quite. The ride comfort in my test car's configuration on 18" wheels was disappointing for a car that really does not need to be this firm.  Bumps and other changes in the road surface transferred too much noise and harshness to the cabin.

But if you can get over the bump bump feeling over anything other than smooth tarmac, the Renault Megane Grand Coupe is a stylish and good value saloon.

Caroline Kidd

Renault Megane Grand Coupe review ireland
The Renault Megane Grand Coupe is a stylish and good value saloon

Model tested: Renault Megane Grand Coupe Signature dCi 110 EDC
Price: 
€28,990 (Range starts at €21,990)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
110hp
Torque: 260Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.6 seconds
Top speed: 190km/h
Economy: 
76mpg
CO2 emissions:  
95g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year

If you are looking for a compact saloon you might also like these reviews of the Toyota Corolla and Skoda Octavia.


2017 Volkswagen Golf review ireland

2017 Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI Review

The Volkswagen Golf needs little introduction. It’s one of Ireland’s bestselling cars, and in 2016 Volkswagen Ireland sold just under 5000 of them here, only falling second to the Hyundai Tucson.

But even hatchback heroes like the Golf need a refresh every now and then, so the seventh generation has undergone a revision exercise for 2017 to keep it competitive.

On the outside there has been some subtle restyling including new bumpers, new radiator grille, new glass headlight covers that extend further up the wing, and more chrome detailing at the front and back. All models have LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights.

2017 Volkswagen Golf Review Ireland
The interior of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf

Inside, the changes are more obvious. The current generation of the Volkswagen Golf already had a great cabin that was well-built and easy to navigate, but now the infotainment and its surround has been updated. It’s a glossy black affair that does a lot to lift the interior and make it feel more premium. The digital instrument cluster we’ve seen already in the Tiguan SUV now appears for the first time in the Golf. It’s standard on Highline models.

Elsewhere, the Volkswagen Golf is a hatchback that will accommodate passengers well. Rear legroom is good for the class, as is headroom.  The boot at 380 litres is also still competitive in the segment.

Volkswagen has also used the 2017 update as an opportunity to add a new engine to the Golf range. The new three cylinder 1.0-litre TSI is starting to appear across the Volkswagen Group, replacing the 1.2-litre TSI. In the Golf it’s available with 85hp or 110hp. Other engine options include the 1.4-litre TSI petrol with 150hp, the 1.6-litre diesel with 90hp or 115hp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp.

The Volkswagen Golf needs little introduction. It’s one of Ireland’s bestselling cars, and in 2016 Volkswagen Ireland sold just under 5000 of them here, only falling second to the mighty Hyundai Tucson. But even hatchback heroes like the Golf need a refresh every now and then, so the current award-winning seventh generation has undergone a revision exercise for 2017 to keep it competitive. On the outside, there has been some subtle restyling including new bumpers, new radiator grille, new glass headlight covers that extend further up the wing, and more chrome detailing at the front and back. All models have LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights. Inside, the changes are more obvious. The current generation of the Volkswagen Golf always had a great cabin that was well-built and easy to navigate, but now the infotainment and its surround has been updated. It’s a glossy black affair that does a lot to lift the interior and make it feel more premium. The digital instrument cluster we’ve seen already in the Tiguan SUV now appears for the first time in the Golf. It’s standard on Highline models. Elsewhere, the Volkswagen Golf is a hatchback that will accommodate passengers well. Rear legroom is good for the class, as is headroom. The boot at 380 litres is also still competitive in the segment. Volkswagen has also used the 2017 update as an opportunity to add a new engine to the Golf range. The new three cylinder 1.0-litre TSI is starting to appear across the Volkswagen Group, replacing the 1.2-litre TSI. In the Golf it’s available with 85hp or 110hp. Other engine options include the 1.4-litre TSI petrol with 150hp, the 1.6-litre diesel with 90hp or 115hp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp. My test car had the new 1.0-litre TSI 110hp turbo petrol engine and it’s a smooth and elegant drive. The engine offers good flexibility and never feels too breathless. If compared to the 1.6-litre TDI 115hp it’s a little down on power and torque, but marginally quicker to 100kmh, at 9.9 seconds. In terms of economy, it will return a claimed 4.8l/100km versus 4.1l/100km in the diesel, but on my test drive I returned closer to 7.0l/100km. The new engine suits the Golf’s refined character very well and makes the most of the car’s agile but precise handling. The lower list price compared to the diesel is attractive too. The new Golf with the 110hp 1.0-litre starts from €22,895, while the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel starts from €24,995 for a five door. My test car in Highline trim had a list price of €27,295. Standard equipment on Trendline models includes four electric windows, 6.5” touchscreen, air con and electronic parking brake. Comfortline models add 8” touchscreen, 16” alloys, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, and forward collision warning. Highline models add 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, sports suspension, parking sensors and the digital instrument cluster. The current Volkswagen Golf may be aging but it remains one of Ireland’s favourite cars. Volkswagen has used this latest update to refine the package a little more, which has been done very successfully with the updates to the infotainment and centre console, and also the introduction of the digital instrument cluster for the first time. For buyers thinking about switching to a petrol hatchback, the new 1.0-litre TSI is one of the best on the market. Model tested: Volkswagen Golf Highline 1.0 TSI 5-door 110hp Price: €27,295 (Range starts at €20,895) Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol Power: 90hp Torque: 120Nm 0-100km/h: 11.1 seconds Top speed: 166km/h Economy: 60.1mpg CO2 emissions: 106g/km Motor tax: €190 per year Caroline Kidd If you are looking for a five door hatchback you might also like this review of the Audi A3 Sportback.
Volkswagen has added a new 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine to the Golf range

My test car had the new 1.0-litre TSI 110hp turbo petrol engine and it’s a smooth and elegant drive. The engine offers good flexibility and never feels too breathless. If compared to the 1.6-litre TDI 115hp, it’s a little down on power and torque, but marginally quicker to 100kmh, at 9.9 seconds. In terms of economy, it will return a claimed 4.8l/100km versus 4.1l/100km in the diesel, but on my test drive I returned closer to 7.0l/100km.

The new engine suits the Golf’s refined character very well and makes the most of the car’s agile and precise handling. The lower list price compared to the diesel is attractive too. The new Golf with the 110hp 1.0-litre starts from €22,895, while the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel starts from €24,995 for a five door. My test car in Highline trim had a list price of €27,295.

Standard equipment on Trendline models includes four electric windows, 6.5” touchscreen, air con and electronic parking brake. Comfortline models add 8” touchscreen, 16” alloys, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, and forward collision warning. Highline models add 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, sports suspension, parking sensors and the digital instrument cluster.

2017 Volkswagen Golf review ireland
Volkswagen has refined the Golf package a little more, and it remains a great choice of hatchback

The current Volkswagen Golf may be aging but it remains one of Ireland’s favourite cars. Volkswagen has used this latest update to refine the package a little more, which has been done very successfully with the updates to the infotainment and centre console, and also the introduction of the digital instrument cluster for the first time. For buyers thinking about switching to a petrol hatchback, the new 1.0-litre TSI is one of the best on the market.

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf Highline 1.0 TSI 5-door 110hp
Price: 
€27,295 (Range starts at €20,895)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
90hp
Torque: 120Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 166km/h
Economy: 
60.1mpg
CO2 emissions:  
106g/km
Motor tax:
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a five door hatchback you might also like this review of the Audi A3 Sportback.


Renault Megane GT Review Ireland

Renault Megane GT Review

The all-new Renault Megane launched in Ireland in summer of 2016 and has been well-received, being a notable improvement on its predecessor. But for power hungry petrolheads, for who a 1.5-litre diesel will just not suffice, there’s the Megane GT and it’s the first of the new generation of the Megane to get the Renault Sport treatment. The Megane RS is yet to arrive, but the GT is a mild hot hatch, wrapped up in a chic French suit.

Priced from €30,690, the Renault Megane GT is a nice half way house with 205hp, sporty styling, lots of equipment, and some exclusive engineering for a more performance-oriented drive.

But at its heart the Megane GT is a five door hatchback so it brings all the comfort and practicality of the standard car. The boot is good for the segment at 384 litres and the car will seat five, though rear legroom is a little behind the class best.

The interior of the Renault Megane GT benefits from some exclusive badging, ambient lighting and blue trim, while Renault’s R-Link 2 8.7” portrait style touchscreen with navigation comes as standard. The infotainment looks impressive but is a little frustrating to switch between different functions.

Renault Megane GT Review Ireland
The interior of the Renault Megane GT

Elsewhere equipment includes 18”diamond cut alloy wheels, GT steering wheel with paddle shift, aluminium sport pedals, full LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, and launch control for quick starts!

The Renault Megane GT is front wheel drive and comes with a seven speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Under the bonnet there’s a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 205hp and 280Nm of torque. 0-100kmh is 7.1 seconds, and it goes on to a top speed of 230kmh. The power delivery is spirited without being crazy, but enough to add excitement to your average commute.

There are a few different driving modes, and in sport mode you get a sharper throttle response and heavier steering, while it also changes how the automatic gearbox behaves.  The automatic gearbox is not 100% satisfactory because it is slow to react and holds onto the gears too much. Thankfully the gearbox behaves more naturally in normal mode, and you can still change up and down gear yourself using the paddles on the steering wheel.

Renault Megane GT Review Ireland
The Renault Megane GT has 205hp and will hit 100kmh from a standstill in 7.1 seconds with launch control engaged!

The Renault Megane GT also has a stiffer suspension than your standard Megane so the car holds the road better when you’re pushing on through a series of corners and it’s still quite a comfortable car, though you notice the extra firmness over rough and uneven surfaces. Refinement is really good, and the cabin is well insulated from road and wind noise, making it a great companion for daily driving.

The novelty value with the Megane GT is that is has four wheel steering, which you won’t find in any rivals: it’s a class first. At low speeds the rear wheels can turn a little to make the car more manoeuvrable and give it a tighter turning circle. At higher speeds, it increases cornering grip and agility.

It feels a little weird at first and not fully intuitive because you don’t need as much steering lock as you think you do. But show the Megane GT a series of corners and you can see the system's merits. You just need small, quick movements on the wheel to get around corners, and these quick responses are matched with grip almost like a four wheel drive car. You can feel the back wheels hugging the road surface and that allows you to get back on the throttle early and accelerate out of the bend. It's really quite stunning.

No, the Megane GT is not the full hot hatch experience because it’s just not powerful or raw enough for that. But it’s not priced like one either and in terms of comfort and refinement, this car is as easy to live with on a daily basis as a diesel Megane; just less efficient. There are some frustrations to this car, but overall it’s entertaining enough to be tempting!

Renault Megane GT Review Ireland
The Renault Megane GT is not a full-on hot hatchback but the handling really is stunning

Model tested: Renault Megane GT Nav 205 EDC
Price: 
€30,690 (Range starts at €19,490)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
205hp
Torque: 280Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.1 seconds
Top speed: 230km/h
Economy: 
47mpg
CO2 emissions:  
134g/km
Motor tax:
€280 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a sporty hatchback you might also like this review of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.