The new Peugeot Rifter

2019 Peugeot Rifter Review

The new Peugeot Rifter
The new Peugeot Rifter

Caroline drives the 2019 Peugeot Rifter.

Van-based MPVs will never be the sexiest of people carriers. But what they do offer is outstanding practicality at good value pricing! The new Peugeot Rifter is a case in point. The replacement for the Peugeot Partner Tepee MPV sports new styling, a versatile and practical interior as well as the latest in Peugeot technology, engines and interior design.

With pricing starting from just €23,540, the new Peugeot Rifter is a boxy people carrier available with five or seven seats. There’s also a short wheelbase or long wheelbase variant. The Rifter is no oil painting but it does bear the look of the new generation of Peugeot models with a characteristic front end. It’s also available in a high spec GT Line (pictured), which gives the Rifter considerable more visual chutzpah at a price.

The Peugeot Rifter is exceptionally spacious and practical
The Peugeot Rifter is exceptionally spacious and practical

So what's so great about the 2019 Peugeot Rifter?

Still, beauty is hardly the point here. And you will certainly find a reason to smile when you see all the space inside of this vehicle! The van DNA means that the Rifter is primed for carrying people and their gear. Sliding doors feature and reveal wide openings that make access and egress very easy. There are three individual rear seats in row 2 and lots of leg and headroom.

There are many storage spaces around the cabin. The boot is simply magnifique at 775 litres with a very low sill and flat floor. The boot also doubles as a great place to relax should you wish to take a quick break on your road trip!  The large boot lid makes a great canopy also. The Rifter is sounding more like a great buy by the paragraph.

Inside, Rifter gets Peugeot’s new generation interior. You sit quite high in the Rifter but Peugeot has done a good job to make it feel more car-like with a well-finished dashboard and a nice mix of materials and colours on our GT Line test model. Peugeot’s compact steering wheel and digital instrument cluster feature and the infotainment screen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The interior of the new Peugeot Rifter
The interior of the new Peugeot Rifter

What are my options?

The new Peugeot Rifter is listed with a choice of three trims: Active, Allure and GT Line. Standard equipment includes 8” touchscreen, digital instrument panel, 16” wheels, full size spare wheel, air conditioning, Active Safety Brake, Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Recognition. My GT Line test car (from €28,400) adds 17” alloys, keyless access and start, High Beam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and Advanced Driver Attention Alert, dark tinted rear windows, front and rear parking aid, dual zone climatronic air conditioning and GT Line styling.

In Ireland the Rifter is offered with the 1.2 PureTech petrol 110bhp 6-speed manual; 1.2 PureTech petrol 130bhp automatic 8-speed automatic, a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 75bhp 5-speed manual; a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 100bhp 5-speed manual; a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 6-speed manual; and a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 8-speed automatic.

There are three individual seats in row 2
There are three individual seats in row 2

Driving the Peugeot Rifter

My test car was the 1.5-litre diesel with 130 hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox. It does well in the Rigter with reasonable refinement and plenty of power. Motor tax is €200 per year while over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.4l/100km.

On the road, the Rifter does a decent job of offering occupants a comfortable and refined drive. It’s agile around town with light steering and handles reasonably well for a van!

You soon settle into life with the Rifter. The big Peugeot has moved on in terms of offering buyers more refinement and cabin ambience. It’s hugely practical and spacious with a great range of engines. A petrol engine option also gives it an edge on rivals. Good value pricing and lots of equipment means that the Rifter is definitely worth a test drive if you are looking for a super practical and affordable way to carry people and their stuff.

The new Peugeot Rifter goes on sale in Ireland priced from €23,540
The new Peugeot Rifter goes on sale in Ireland priced from €23,540

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot Rifter GT Line 1.5 BlueHDi 130bhp 6-speed
Price:
€31,000 (Range from €23,540)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
130 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11.6 seconds
Top speed: 183 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
155 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class

2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Review

The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class
The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Caroline drives the 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class!

Five seat MPVs used to be very popular but in recent years the SUV has taken over. But when an MPV does come along in my test schedule, it’s a reminder that these vehicles still make quite a lot of sense for buyers who prioritise space and practicality. Mercedes-Benz is obviously a brand that still believes in the genre because they’ve just introduced the all-new B-Class.

As I was driving the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class, I looked around and began to see numerous examples of the previous generation of the car. Clearly the B-Class has quite a following! So why would you disappoint your core market and render it to the scrap heap?

What's new for the 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class?

Priced from €32,745, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class has a new look in line with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range and is spawned from the very stylish new A-Class that arrived in Ireland in 2018. The wheelbase is now longer with short overhangs and a slightly lowered roof line. The new B-Class is styled to maximise interior space, but it’s classy and discrete in that Mercedes-Benz way!

The new B-Class goes on sale from €32,745 in Ireland
The new B-Class goes on sale from €32,745 in Ireland

However it’s inside the new B-Class where the real Mercedes star shines. The B-Class has an all-new dashboard design that’s really impressive. The material quality is excellent and this car gives the occupants a feeling of wellbeing with a light and spacious feel. There’s a digital instrument panel and touchscreen with touchpad control that complete the modern look of the new B-Class.

It’s a far more practical car than the A-Class hatchback it’s based on with more headroom and legroom. The new B-Class is a bit wider than the car it replaces so there is more elbow room for everyone also. There are two deep footwells in the back making it a comfortable place to stretch out the legs for a long journey. The boot is also very practical for carrying things being large (455 litre capacity) with a wide opening and low sill.

In Ireland, the new B-Class is sold in Style, Progressive (from €34,969) and AMG Line (from €37,337) trims. Standard equipment includes 16” alloys, MBUX infotainment system, reversing parking camera, leather/fabric upholstery, active lane keeping assist and heated front seats. The AMG Line car I had on test has 18” AMG alloys, sports steering wheel, AMG bodystyling, AMG sports pedals, diamond radiator grille with single louvre, LED headlamps and dual zone climate control.

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

Driving the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class is powered by new, efficient engines, all compliant with new Euro 6d-TEMP regulations mandatory from next year. Petrols include the B180 and B200. Diesels are available from €35,300 and are badged B180d, B200d and B220d with a new 2.0-litre diesel making its debut in the B-Class range.

My test car was a B180 powered by a 1.3-litre turbo petrol with 136hp and mated to an automatic gearbox. The petrol engine is smooth and quiet, only getting noisy when you really accelerate hard. When taking off the automatic gearbox can be a bit slow, but out on the open road the power delivery is smooth and effortless. Manual gearboxes are also available. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.4l/100km with motor tax of €270 per year for the B180.

On the road the Mercedes-Benz B-Class offers excellent comfort and refinement. It handles and steers competently with some body roll owing to its height, but for MPV buyers comfort is far more important, and the B-Class delivers on that.

Five seat MPVs may no longer be fashionable, but there is no disputing their value to buyers who prioritise space, practicality and comfort. The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class is now more stylish than before with a fantastic cabin ambience and the latest range of petrol and diesel engines. The B-Class has compact dimensions on the road, but the interior is surprisingly roomy. The best quality is the comfort the B-Class offers on the move.

Owners of the previous generation of this car will love the new B-Class!

The new B-Class is a stylish and practical five seat MPV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz B180 Automatic AMG Line
Price:
€38,987 (range from €32,745)
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
136 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9 seconds
Top speed: 212 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.4-5.6 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
125 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

 


The Opel Combo Life goes on sale in Ireland priced from €21,800

Opel Combo Life 1.5 Diesel Review

The new Opel Combo Life
The new Opel Combo Life

Caroline drives the new Opel Combo Life.

The new Opel Combo Life solves that problem of needing to carry a lot of people, and needing to do it in the cheapest way possible. Available as a five or seven seat vehicle, in two different lengths, with pricing starting from just €21,800, the Opel Combo Life could be the bargain of the century.

In fact the Opel Combo Life has just won 'Best Buy Car of Europe 2019' at the authoritative Autobest awards. So the secret might be out already. But here’s what I thought of the Combo Life from an Irish perspective.

What is the Opel Combo Life?

While the Opel Combo Van has been sold for many years (this is actually its fifth generation), the Combo Life passenger vehicle is a new model for the Opel brand. Space, practicality, versatility and value are its key attributes in the market. To that end, the Combo Life is available in a standard length with five or seven seats or as a longer ‘XL’ model with seven seats.

The van DNA runs strong in the styling of the Opel Combo Life in that it’s boxy to maximise space, with plenty of squared off edges. But at the front it has the typical look of an Opel about it with a large front grille with two chrome wings around the Opel Blitz insignia. Style icon it is not, but at this price do you care?

The Opel Combo Life goes on sale in Ireland priced from €21,800
The Opel Combo Life goes on sale in Ireland priced from €21,800

How practical is the Opel Combo Life?

The van-like proportions and design of the Opel Combo Life make it an excellent people carrier. There is plenty of glazing and the large doors and high roof also give an airy, spacious feel to the cabin. There are also proper opening windows in the rear.

Access to the rear seats is through two sliding doors that open and close easily. I was driving a seven seat version of the standard length vehicle (from €23,800). There is excellent headroom all round and loads of legroom for passengers in row 2, with Isofix child seat brackets available. The seats split fold and are really easy to fold flat. Access to row 3 is simple enough, though there is not much legroom back there in the standard length vehicle so these two extra seats are more suitable for children or occasional use.

When the seats in row 3 are folded into the boot floor, you have a massive 597 litres of space in the standard length vehicle or 850 litres in the XL version. The boot opens wide, with a large square opening making it easy to load and stack to the roof should you need it!

Considering the Combo Life’s roots, the cabin is surprisingly well-appointed. It’s a straightforward Opel cabin that actually works really well here. The plastics are all hard but the quality looks fine. There are satin chrome accents on the steering wheel, on the door handles and in the air vents. The ergonomics are good with a steering wheel and instrument cluster that could have been lifted from an Astra or Grandland X. A smart 8” touchscreen comes as standard in the centre of the dash with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are numerous storage areas of different sizes that should also prove useful for a family on the move.

The interior of the new Opel Combo Life
The interior of the new Opel Combo Life

Is it well-equipped?

In Ireland the Opel Combo Life is sold in just one trim level called Energy. There’s a good spec including the 8” colour touchscreen, 16” alloys, rain sensitive windscreen wipers, front fog lights, automatic high beam assist, heated and electric door mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, electric front windows, 60/40 split folding rear seats, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, speed sign recognition, forward collision alert, emergency brake assist, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, automatic lighting control, driver drowsiness system, blind spot alert, and front and rear parking sensors.

There are also a number of options available for more comfort and convenience including reversing camera as part of the Parking Pack (€500), Winter Pack including heated seats and steering wheel (€250), head-up display (€455), and a Child Pack (€300) including rear-view child-minder mirror, rear side window sunblind, fold-flat passenger seat and a luggage restraint net.

Driving the Opel Combo Life

The fifth-generation Combo is based on a new architecture shared with the Peugeot Rifter and Citroen Berlingo, stablemates at the PSA Group that took over Opel in 2017. The Combo Life is naturally not the last word in sophistication and refinement on the road, but it's pleasant to drive for what it is. It’s comfortable and stable and not too noisy on the move. In fact, there is more of an MPV feeling behind the wheel than a van one.

The Opel Combo Life is available in two lengths, with five or seven seats
The Opel Combo Life is available in two lengths, with five or seven seats

Engine options include a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 110hp and a 6 speed manual (from €21,800), a 1.5 litre diesel with 100hp and 5 speed manual (from €23,050) and the same engine with 130hp and an 8 speed automatic gearbox (from €25,350). The seven seat standard length Combo Life is available with the 1.5 diesel, priced from €23,800. The Energy XL 1.5 diesel seven seat vehicle is available from €24,675.

My test car has the 1.5 litre 100hp diesel and it's adequate for the Combo Life. It only gets noisy when you really put your foot down hard - other than that it settles into the background. It’s not the speediest mover with a 0-100 kmh figure of 13.1 seconds, but it does the job. My fuel consumption over a few days of driving averaged at 5.8 l/100km and it is only €200 to tax per year.

What's the verdict?

It’s easy to approach the Opel Combo Life with a sprinkle of cynicism. But if you look beyond the boxy looks and are willing to sacrifice style, the Opel Combo Life is a spacious and straightforward people carrier. Opel Ireland is offering a simple range here with just one well-specced trim level available from just €21,800 as a five seat, or €23,800 as a seven seat.

The Opel Combo Life is neither exciting nor sexy, but it’s a good value seven seat MPV with impressive comfort, practicality and driver assistance and safety features.

The Opel Combo Life is a good value, practical people carrier
The Opel Combo Life is a good value, practical people carrier

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Opel Combo Life Energy 1.5 Turbo D 7-seat
Price: 
€23,800 (Range from €21,800)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
100hp
Torque: 250Nm
0-100km/h:  
13.1 seconds
Top speed: 172km/h
Economy: 
4.2/100km
CO2 emissions:  
111g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The Peugeot Rifter has just arrived in Ireland

2019 Peugeot Rifter First Drive Review

The Peugeot Rifter has just arrived in Ireland
The Peugeot Rifter has just arrived in Ireland

The new Peugeot Rifter has just arrived in Ireland and goes on sale priced from €23,540. The Rifter replaces the Partner Tepee MPV, with a focus on practicality and versatility at good value pricing. Caroline drove from Cork to Dublin in the new Peugeot Rifter at the recent Irish press launch.

Styling

The Peugeot Rifter is essentially a van-based MPV and there is only so much you can do to make a van attractive. But Peugeot has persevered, borrowing SUV characteristics from the 3008 and 5008 SUVs - a high ride height, large wheels, and wheel arch and rear bumper protection. It’s also available in a high spec GT Line, which gives the Rifter considerable more visual chutzpah at a price.

Interior

The interior of the new Peugeot Rifter does not betray its van roots – you’ll know you’re driving something a bit more basic. There’s loads of hard plastics and not much in the way of glamour. But the Rifter still gets a version of Peugeot’s quirky i-Cockpit and there is a slick looking touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard.

Practicality

Practicality is the Rifter’s middle name! The new Peugeot Rifter is available in two lengths, with 5 or 7 seats. This van-based MPV maximises space for occupants with its dimensions and boxy shape. There is loads of headroom and legroom and three individual seats in the rear. There is extra storage and cubby holes throughout the cabin. There’s a wide boot opening with a separate opening window, 775 litre boot and sliding side doors for ease of access.

The interior of the Peugeot Rifter
The interior of the Peugeot Rifter

Engines

There are two petrol engines and four diesel engines: a 1.2 PureTech petrol 110bhp S&S 6-speed; a 1.2 PureTech petrol 130bhp automatic 8-speed S&S (April 2019); a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 75bhp 5-speed; a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 100bhp 5-Speed; a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 6-Speed S&S; and a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp automatic 8-Speed S&S.

On the road

If you are used to driving a car, the Peugeot Rifter might feel peculiar for a bit. But after a while you soon settle in. The test car was powered by the 1.5-litre BlueHDI diesel with 100hp and a five speed manual gearbox. Power was adequate and in car refinement and comfort is fine for long journeys. We’ll be spending more time with the Rifter later in the year and will bring you a full road test and driving impressions then!

Equipment

Peugeot Ireland is selling the Rifter in three trims: Active, Allure and GT Line.

Standard equipment includes 8” touchscreen, digital instrument panel, 16” wheels, full size spare wheel, air conditioning, Active Safety Brake, Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Recognition.

The Allure gains 16” alloys, rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, leather steering wheel, front fog lights, folding front passenger seat, electric parking brake, 3 individual magic flat seats in row 2 and electric rear windows.

The GT Line adds 17” alloys, keyless access and start, High Beam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and Advanced Driver Attention Alert, dark tinted rear windows, front and rear parking aid, dual zone climatronic air conditioning and GT Line styling.

The Peugeot Rifter has many practical features including the rear tailgate window
The Peugeot Rifter has many practical features including the rear tailgate opening window

Pricing

Active models are available from €23,540, Allure from €25,570, and GT Line from €28,400.

Rivals

The Peugeot Rifter will go up against the Ford Tourneo, Opel Combo Life and Volkswagen Caddy Life.

Verdict

The Peugeot Rifter enters the MPV market with a price and engine range advantage over the Volkswagen and Ford rivals. On first glance, the Rifter deserves a closer look as the blend of space and practicality make it searingly good value. I look forward to bringing you a full report after a road test later in the year!

The new Peugeot Rifter is available from €23,540
The new Peugeot Rifter is available from €23,540

Caroline Kidd


2017 Renault Grand Scenic Review Ireland

Renault Grand Scenic 1.6dCi Review

At the beginning of 2017, Renault introduced two new MPVs to Ireland: the Renault Scenic and the Grand Scenic. These are two stalwarts of the MPV world but times have changed since the Scenic made its debut back in 1996.

Large SUVs with a bit more street cred have been encroaching on the family car market in recent years, with many manufacturers deserting the MPV format altogether.

But Renault believe that there is life left in the MPV. Seven seat MPVs are still hard to beat in terms of space and value for money, and with pricing starting from €28,400, the Renault Grand Scenic makes particularly good sense.

To boost desirability, the styling of the new Renault Grand Scenic has been beefed up and given a significant injection of attitude. The inclusion of 20” wheels as standard and contrasting roof/body colour add street cred.

Inside, the interior has been overhauled with a large portrait style touchscreen being the focal point in the centre of the dash on higher trimmed models. There are hard plastics but plenty more soft touch materials too in the important places that you see and touch regularly.

2017 Renault Grand Scenic Review Ireland
The interior of the 2017 Renault Grand Scenic

There is an excellent feeling of space in the cabin and great storage too. Standard equipment (Expression+, from €28,400) includes 20” Silverstone alloy wheels, LED DRLs, manual air conditioning, analogue dashboard, electronic handbrake, 7" touchscreen, FM/AM/DAB tuner, Bluetooth® audio streaming and handsfree calls, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, and automatic high/low beam.

Dynamique Nav starts from €31,500. My test car was a Dynamique S Nav  model (from €33,300) and equipment includes 20” Exception alloy wheels, colour head up display, rear parking camera with front and rear parking sensors, panoramic fixed glass sunroof with electric sunblind, contrasting roof and door mirror colour, and the R-Link 2 multimedia system with 8.7" touchscreen and navigation.

Top of the range Signature models start from €35,100.

The Renault Grand Scenic is very spacious inside. There are three individual seats in the back that can slide forward and back. The footwells are large and there is a flat space for the middle seat passenger to put their feet. Headroom is also beyond good. Things are a bit more cramped in the third row, but children will be fine here.

2017 Renault Grand Scenic Review Ireland
The Renault Grand Scenic is a very stylish seven seater

In five seat mode, the boot is a huge 596 litres and it’s a large and square space that will be easy to load. In two seat mode, there is a more paltry 233 litres available, but rivals don’t do much better.

In Ireland, the Renault Grand Scenic is available with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine (115hp), a 1.5-litre diesel (110hp) or a 1.6-litre diesel with 130hp or a 160hp version with automatic gearbox. My test car had the 1.6-litre dCi 130hp and it’s a robust engine for this car with plenty of power. It’s reasonably refined too, but makes itself known in the cabin when revved hard.

On the road, the Grand Scenic is more about being a comfortable and spacious people carrier, than a pin sharp sporty one but it does grip well and the steering is direct, albeit with little in the way of feedback. The Grand Scenic is more or less comfortable, except for some harshness over bumps.

2017 Renault Grand Scenic Review Ireland
Renault proves that there is still like left in the MPV format for sheer space and value for money

Renault has done a tremendous job to give the new Grand Scenic some credibility and as a family car it does tick the boxes exceptionally well for comfort, space and practicality. The MPV is an endangered species and the Renault Grand Scenic faces competition from seven seat SUVs.

But in terms of the available space and practicality in this price range, the Renault Grand Scenic is hard to beat, and when all those current owners decide it’s time for a trade in, the new Grand Scenic will be a pleasant surprise.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique S Nav dCi 130
Price: 
€35,475 (Range starts at €28,400)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
130hp
Torque: 320Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.4 seconds
Top speed: 190km/h
Economy: 
61mpg
CO2 emissions:  
119g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

If you are looking for a seven seat MPV you might also like these reviews of the Ford S-MAX and Volkswagen Touran.


2017 Renault Scenic Review Ireland

Renault Scenic 1.6dCi Review

It was only when I was driving the Renault Scenic that I noticed how popular this MPV model is in Ireland. There were Scenics of all generations everywhere I looked.

The 2017 Renault Scenic however is very much a car of the now and makes the previous generations look like dowdy relatives. The new Renault Scenic is another design creation from Laurens van den Acker, the man responsible for the stream of gorgeous models the brand currently produces.

With MPVs looking like an endangered species with family car buyers switching rapidly to the perceived ‘cooler’ SUV, Renault has attempted to reinvent the Scenic and boost its desirability.

The styling of the Renault Scenic has been beefed up and given a significant injection of attitude. It really works and the Scenic is a beautiful car. After a few days driving the test car in Honey Yellow, I even felt quite cool. Believe me that’s a rare feeling when driving an MPV!

2017 Renault Scenic Review Ireland
Interior of the 2017 Renault Scenic

The proportions are perfect and the standard 20-inch wheels and contrasting roof/body colour make other five seat MPVs like the Ford C-Max and Volkswagen Golf SV look dull.

Inside, the interior has been overhauled with a large portrait style touchscreen being the focal point in the centre of the dash on higher trimmed models. There are hard plastics but plenty more soft touch materials too in the important places that you see and touch regularly.

There is an excellent feeling of space in the cabin and storage is very good too. Standard equipment (Expression+, from €26,000) includes 20” Silverstone alloy wheels, cruise control, LED DRLs, manual air conditioning, analogue dashboard, electronic handbrake, 7" touchscreen, FM/AM/DAB tuner, Bluetooth® audio streaming and handsfree calls, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high/low beam.

Dynamique Nav starts from €29,100. My test car was a Dynamique S Nav model (from €33,300) and equipment includes 20” Exception alloy wheels, colour head up display, rear parking camera with front and rear parking sensors, panoramic fixed glass sunroof with electric sunblind, contrasting roof and door mirror colour, R-Link 2 multimedia system with 8.7" touchscreen and navigation.

2017 Renault Scenic Review Ireland
The Renault Scenic is a spacious and practical five seat MPV

Top of the range Signature models start from €32,700.

I was testing the five seat Scenic (from €26,000), but there is also a seven seat ‘Grand Scenic’ (from €28,400). The Renault Scenic offers generous space even as a five seater compared to say an equivalent five seat hatchback like the Renault Megane. There are three individual seats in the back that can slide forward and back. The footwells are large and there is a flat space for the middle seat passenger to put their feet. Headroom is also beyond good.

Move around to the boot and again you can see how this car is more practical than a hatch. The boot is a huge 572 litres and it’s a large and square space that will be easy to load.

In Ireland, the Renault Scenic is available with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine (115hp), a 1.5-litre diesel (110hp) or a 1.6-litre diesel with 130hp or a 160hp version with automatic gearbox. My test car had the 1.6-litre dCi 130hp and it’s a robust engine for this car with plenty of power. It’s reasonably refined too, but makes itself known in the cabin when revved hard.

On the road, the Scenic is more about being a comfortable and spacious people carrier, than a pin sharp sporty one - but it does grip well and the steering is direct, albeit with little in the way of feedback. It's more or less comfortable but there is some harshness over bumps.

2017 Renault Scenic Review Ireland
Renault has managed to make a 'cool' MPV with the new Scenic

Renault has done a tremendous job to give the new Scenic some credibility and as a family car it does tick the boxes exceptionally well for space and practicality. The MPV is an endangered species and the Scenic faces not just competition from other brands, but also from within the Renault camp: the five seat Kadjar SUV is similarly priced and arguably more engaging to drive.

But in terms of space and practicality at this price, the Scenic easily offers something different and when all those current owners decide it’s time for a trade in, the new Scenic will be a pleasant surprise.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Scenic Dynamique S Nav dCi 130
Price: €32,500 (Range starts at €26,000)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 130hp
Torque: 320Nm
0-100km/h: 11.4 seconds
Economy: 63mpg
CO2 emissions: 116g/km
Motor tax: €200 per year


2017 Opel Zafira Tourer Review Ireland

Opel Zafira Tourer Review

The Opel Zafira has been a common fixture of Irish roads since its launch in 1999. The latest generation of the popular MPV got an update at the end of 2016, with a refresh to interior design, exterior styling, infotainment and equipment.

At the moment Opel is getting ready for a major SUV offensive that will see the launch of the Crossland X this summer and the larger Grandland X in the autumn.

But there will always be demand for seven seaters like the Opel Zafira Tourer because they are very practical for large families.

Pricing starts at €29,995 for the Opel Zafira Tourer, and seven seats come as standard. In styling terms, the Zafira Toruer has been given a refresh around the nose area to keep it in line with the rest of the Opel range. The small changes actually make a big difference and the Zafira Tourer is easily one of the best looking large seven seat MPVs on the market.

2017 Opel Zafira Tourer Review Ireland
The interior of the Opel Zafira Tourer

There have also been some welcome changes inside. The new dashboard design is built around the Intellilink infotainment system, now compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. It’s stylish, well-built and easy to navigate. As you would expect from a family car, there are lots of storage spaces.

This is a very spacious family car and occupants in row 2 are well accomodated for. It should be no problem to seat three back here. There are three individual seats and they can be slid backwards and forwards. This is good because it means that when the two seats in row 3 are in use, more legroom can be made available. Row 3 is tight and will only suit children, but that’s common in this segment.

In five seat mode, the boot will accommodate a very generous 710 litres, but in two seat mode there is only 152 litres.

There are three trim levels for the Opel Zafira Tourer in Ireland: SC (from €29,995), SE (from €32,510) and Elite (from €37,050).

Opel Zafira Tourer Review Ireland
The Opel Zafira Tourer has flexible seating for seven

Standard equipment includes Opel OnStar, 7” touchscreen, air con, cruise control, four electric windows, 17” alloys and parking sensors. SE adds electric parking brake, climate control, navigation, front fog lights, auto lights and wipers, and a choice of 18” or 19” alloy. Top of the range Elite models have 18” alloys, leather seat trim, driver’s electric lumbar support, heated front seats, panoramic windscreen and sunroof.

Engines for the Opel Zafira Tourer include a 1.4-litre turbo petrol (140hp), and 1.6-litre (134hp) and 2.0-litre (170hp) diesels. My test car had the 2.0-litre diesel and it’s really excellent. The 400Nm of torque means that it pulls hard from low revs so will be well capable of carrying all the family on board and it’s refined too.

Behind the wheel, for a large MPV the Zafira Tourer is easy to drive with light controls. It feels agile around town and the steering is well weighted with lots of grip from the front end when you are pushing on. It feels firmer set than some other MPVs, which seems to be where the tight handling comes from, but it’s still the large, comfortable vehicle you would expect.

MPVs are not fashionable anymore and suffer a bit of an image problem but for families they still make a lot of sense and the Opel Zafira Tourer is a good example of the genre. Aside from the cavernous cabin and flexible seating, the Zafira Tourer is nice to drive with a pleasant cabin ambience. You wouldn’t really expect any more from a seven seat MPV.

Opel Zafira Tourer Review Ireland
MPVs are not fashionable anymore but the Opel Zafira Tourer is a good example of the genre

Model tested: Opel Zafira Tourer Elite 2.0CDTi 170hp
Price: 
€37,050 (Range starts at €29,995)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
170hp
Torque: 400Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.8 seconds
Top speed: 208km/h
Economy: 
54mpg
CO2 emissions:  
137g/km
Motor tax:
€280 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a seven seat MPV you might also like this review of the Ford S-MAX.


Volkswagen Golf SV review ireland

Volkswagen Golf SV 1.6 TDI Review

Volkswagen Golf SV review ireland
The Volkswagen Golf SV

In the mid-noughties, Volkswagen hopped on the trend for small MPVs and launched a five seat MPV version of the Golf. The early incarnations were called the Golf Plus; this small MPV has now evolved into the Volkswagen Golf SV.

Think of it as a plus size version of the popular Golf hatchback. Compared to a standard Golf, the SV is higher, longer and a bit wider, but the Volkswagen family DNA is still plain to see. The Golf SV is conservatively styled to blend in rather than stand out, and looks like a slightly smaller Touran MPV.

Inside, the interior borrows heavily from the Golf, sharing a lot of the same switchgear and the same basic dash layout. The centre console is dominated by a touchscreen that is one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems on the market. The material quality is good around the cabin but there is nothing really memorable about the interior. Yet the controls are all so perfectly placed and logical to use that the Golf SV is a car you soon feel at home in, even if it is not the most sensuous of homes.

But within the confines of the Golf SV's boxy body what you will find is comfortable 'living space'. The interior of the Golf SV is much more spacious than a Golf hatchback. There is a lot of extra headroom and a longer wheelbase means that there is really excellent legroom in the back. This car really scores as bright, family friendly transport, provided you have three kids not five, because this is strictly a five seater. You will need to step up to a Touran if you need those extra two seats.

Predictably for a car aimed at families, there are loads of clever storage spaces, pull down tables on the back of the front seats, and two Isofix child seat fixtures on the rear bench. The boot is 500 litres compared to 380 in the Golf hatch and can be expanded to 590 litres by sliding the rear bench forwards. There is a low sill that makes it easy to load and the boot is square in shape.

Volkswagen Golf SV review ireland
The interior of the Volkswagen Golf SV

The engine line-up for Ireland is made up of the 1.2-litre TSI petrol (85hp or 110hp), the 1.6-litre diesel (90hp or 110hp) and a top of the range 2.0-litre diesel (150hp). There are 5- and 6-speed manual gearboxes and a 7-speed DSG gearbox. The 110hp 1.6-litre TDI is the most efficient with emissions of 101g/km placing it in motor tax band A3 with annual motor tax of €190.

I tested the 1.6TDI with 110bhp and it’s nippy enough for the Golf SV. My test car had the 7-speed DSG gearbox and it was a reminder of just how good Volkswagen’s automatic gearboxes are. With this combination, the Golf SV is a smooth and relaxing drive. An on-throttle engine drone at high speeds is the only irritant.

Elsewhere, this is safe, predictable motoring. You sit high in the car, and there is great visibility all round. On the road, the Golf SV doesn’t feel as tight as a standard Golf and there is more body roll in the corners, but the steering is direct and accurate and there is good grip from the front end so it's still a nifty mover. The suspension also does a good job of isolating occupants from the worst of the bumps and uneven surfaces and this is largely a smooth way to travel.

In Ireland there are currently three trim grades for the Volkswagen Golf SV: Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Standard equipment includes electric windows, air conditioning, 5-inch touchscreen radio with Aux-In, SD card slot and Bluetooth, and an electronic parking brake with hill hold. Comfortline specification adds a leather multifunction steering wheel, 16” alloy wheels, drawers under the front seats, a larger 6-inch touch-screen radio, cruise control, front fog lights, front comfort seats and lumbar support, a rear centre armrest with load-through provision and a black radiator grille with chrome strips on the fins.

Volkswagen Golf SV review ireland
Volkswagen Golf SV: Plus-size five seat family transport

The top of the range Highline specification adds 17” alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, chrome strips on the side windows, rear privacy glass, ambient lighting, Alcantara trimmed seats, and a sports suspension. Volkswagen Ireland offer a number of 162 Innovation Packs, which add more equipment for just €162. Petrol models start at €23,025, while diesels start at €25,225.

The Volkswagen Golf SV is not glamourous or sexy, but it's big and honest. The boost up, out and at the back makes the Golf SV a very practical means of transporting a small family and their things.

Though some driving fun and style is compromised over a hatchback, the Golf SV is still a quality offering in this segment with decent refinement and on road driving manners.

Whether it's petrol or diesel you're after, there is an engine here that will prove frugal and capable, and Volkswagen's DSG automatic gearboxes are some of the best specimens should you wish for a super easy driving experience behind the wheel.

The Volkswagen Golf SV does little to excite but it’s got the bases covered as a dependable family car.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Volkswagen Golf SV Lounge 1.6TDI 110hp DSG
Price: 
€29,450 (Lounge trim discontinued, this is price for a similarly specced Comfortline)
Engine: 
1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
110bhp
0-100km/h:
11.3 seconds
Economy:
69mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
106g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year


Ford S-MAX car review ireland

Ford S-MAX MPV Review

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
The new Ford S-MAX

The Ford S-MAX has always been a popular choice with families in Ireland looking for a large family car, and even with the rise of the SUV, there’s still demand for a good, honest MPV, especially if it has seven seats.

The new S-MAX also does a good job of looking sleek and dynamic despite its hulking mass, and is a ‘good-looking bus’ which can’t be said for some boxy looking rivals. The current model arrived in 2015 and the styling is quite a gentle evolution of its predecessor, Ford’s new trapezoidal grille being the most striking change. All round it looks a bit more chiselled and defined.

The S-MAX is based on the Mondeo and the design and finish of the cabin is very similar. Ford has had a good shot of pushing the new S-MAX upmarket and it all looks pleasing to the eye and the material quality is good. In Titanium models, the dash is built around the Sync 2 infotainment system and touchscreen, which looks very well indeed.

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
Interior of the new Ford S-MAX borrows heavily from the Mondeo

There are three individual seats in row 2, all three with Isofix child seat fixtures, and these passengers get loads of legroom and headroom. The S-MAX has seven seats as standard, but is really what is known as a ‘5+2’: the two seats in the very back are for children rather than adults as the legroom is tight, though the seats in row 2 can be slid forward to create more room. The extra seats can fold into the floor when not in use and yield a large boot that can be easily stacked to the roof. With row 3 seats in place, boot space is impacted but there is still room for a few bags.

There are two trim levels for the S-MAX on the Irish market: Zetec and Titanium. Zetec models come well-equipped including 17” alloy wheels, fog lights, daytime running lights, quickclear windscreen, Ford Sync, front and rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel, dual zone air con and keyless start. Titanium trim adds Ford Sync 2 infotainment and touchscreen, LED daytime running lights, chrome door line finisher, auto lights and wipers, auto high beam, ambient lighting, lane keeping aid, and traffic sign recognition incorporating an Intelligent Speed Limiter. A useful option is the handsfree-tailgate, that allows the boot to be opened or closed using a kicking motion beneath the rear bumper.

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
The new Ford S-MAX shows why it's still a mighty titan in the seven seat MPV segment

Power for the range comes from a 2.0-litre diesel with 120PS, 150PS, 180PS or 210PS, and a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine (160PS). There are a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, and an all-wheel drive option.  The petrol S-MAX is available in Titanium only and has a list price of €38,835, while the diesels start at €35,860.

Sitting on the same platform as the very enjoyable Mondeo, the omens are good for the S-MAX. On the road, the S-MAX really does impress and even on a tight country road, the car feels good with direct, accurate steering that communicates the grip from the front wheels so well. And remarkably for such a large car,  body roll is not too alarming either and it feels quite taut and composed on the tight stuff, yet comfortable enough for the rough and tumble of Irish roads.

My test car had the 2.0-litre diesel with 180PS and it does a really good job of lugging the considerable weight of the S-MAX around. You can hear a bit of a diesel gurgle under acceleration but it never gets too raucous in the cabin and in this guise it's reasonably economical too returning up to 56mpg.

The new Ford S-MAX hasn't undergone any drastic changes but then it probably didn't really need them, being a tried and tested Irish family bus for many years now. But the enhancements in the styling, the cabin, and the update of tech and equipment will ensure it stays a competitive choice in the 7-seat MPV market. The S-MAX is still a mighty titan in this segment and now feels more upmarket than before, and while the average suburban parent may never fully exploit the handling, the S-MAX retains the competent driving character that marks out the best in the segment.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Ford S-MAX 2.0-litre TDCi Titanium
Price: 
€43,935 (Range starts at €35,860)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
180PS
0-100km/h:
9.7 seconds
Economy:
56mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
129g/km
Motor Tax: 
B1 (€270 per year)


Ford C-MAX review ireland

Ford C-MAX MPV Review

Ford C-MAX review ireland
The new Ford C-MAX

Ford is one of the leaders in the MPV segment and if you’re looking for a more practical car to carry your family around, chances are Ford will have something in their line-up for you.

The Ford C-MAX is based on the popular Ford Focus hatchback. In its basic guise, the C-MAX is a five seat MPV, but Ford also sell a ‘Grand C-MAX’ that houses two extra seats in the very back along with sliding rear doors for extra practicality.

The C-MAX currently on sale has been recently revised and the styling has been updated in line with the rest of the Ford range. The C-MAX looks more defined all round and now wears Ford’s new trapezoidal grille. The C-MAX has a neat, compact presence and is one of the prettier MPVs out there.

The cabin has also been given a makeover with a new dash design that looks more modern and also sees a step up in quality. Everything falls easy to hand and Ford’s Sync 2 infotainment system with touchscreen can be added as a cost option for €500. The older Sync 1 infotainment system comes as standard.

Ford C-MAX review ireland
Ford C-MAX: Interior has been revised and looks more modern and high tech when specced with the Sync 2 infotainment system (pictured)

So why choose a C-MAX over a Focus? Driver and passengers will enjoy the slightly elevated driving position and plenty of glazing gives everyone a good view out. The car feels  more spacious because of the extra headroom - there is seating for three in the rear, though the middle seat will be most comfortable for a child. The elevated height of the vehicle is more practical for parents getting children in and out of the car and the two outer most rear seats have Isofix child seat fixures.

There’s also a much bigger boot – 471 litres in fact. It’s got a wide opening and you can spec an electric tailgate for €450, which is actually very useful. It opens by a button on the key or by waving your foot underneath the rear bumper. The loading sill is also quite low so it’s altogether a practical space for carrying cargo. The rear seats can fold and tumble down or can be completely removed to create more cargo space.

Power for the C-MAX comes from a range of petrol and diesel engines: the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol (100PS or 125PS), and 1.5-litre (95PS or 120PS) and 2.0-litre diesels (150PS). The 1.5-litre diesel is new and replaces the old 1.6-litre diesel. It’s a more refined and efficient unit, and the 120PS version tested here works really well: it never feels under pressure and there's always power when you need it, an equally capable unit whether in town or on the motorway.  It goes about its business with little noise intrusion into the cabin and Ford has bolstered the sound insulation to make the C-MAX a more refined and relaxing drive.

Ford C-MAX review ireland
Ford C-MAX: New 1.5-litre engine with 120PS works very well here

The Focus DNA is evident in the way the C-MAX drives: there’s loads of grip at the front, and the steering is quick and accurate. The C-MAX does of course feel less sharp and driver focused than the Focus. There’s lean in the corners but because the car grips hard and the steering communicates it so well you can hustle the C-MAX along and quite enjoy it too.  It’s a refined and comfortable car for long journeys, smoothing out rough road surfaces to keep things pleasant for those on board.

The C-MAX range starts at €25,855 for the 1.0-litre EcoBoost 100PS petrol model, while the Grand C-MAX starts at €28,455. Diesels start at €26,600 for the C-MAX, and €29,200 for the Grand C-MAX.

There are two trims for Ireland: Zetec and Titanium. Standard equipment includes 16” alloys, front fog lights, quickclear windscreen, Sync 1, air conditioning, rear privacy glass, leather steering wheel, driver seat lumbar adjust and front electric windows. Titanium models add more equipment including climate control, cruise control, chrome door-line finisher, auto lights and wipers, LED daytime running lights, keyless start, driver and passenger seat lumbar adjust, ambient lighting, four electric windows, and hill start assist.

Ford C-MAX review ireland
Ford C-MAX: 5-seat MPV based on the Focus, and that's very evident in the way it drives

As a five seat MPV, the C-MAX’s spacious cabin and large boot are its biggest assets, with the Grand C-MAX covering the seven seat option for Ford in this compact MPV segment. If this is your first time to switch to an MPV, the C-MAX’s neat styling, compact size, great engines and good driving character will make this an easy transition. Though the shine has come off MPVs in recent years with the rise of the SUV and crossover, MPVs are still a great option for families for their pure family friendly features, and the C-MAX has all the qualities of a great family car.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Ford C-MAX 1.5 TDCi Titanium
Price: 
€30,100 (Range starts at €25,855)
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
120hp
0-100km/h:
11.3 seconds
Economy: 
69mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
105g/km
Motor Tax: 
A3 (€190 per year)