The Audi Q7 review

Audi Q7 3.0 TDI S Line Review (2015)

The Audi Q7 review
The Audi Q7 review

It’s Tuesday morning and I’ve just arrived at Tankardstown House near Slane in Co. Meath for the Irish press launch of the new Audi Q7. I’m excited about this one. I’ve been reading the product guide to get some of the headline detail and now I’m keen to see for myself where Audi is taking the second generation of their flagship luxury SUV.

After a quick cup of tea and a brief chat with some of the Audi Ireland team, I’m ready for the road. I hop into the next available Q7 and get familiar with the switchgear and displays before I set off. I instinctively put my hand under the seat to move my seat forward. Nothing. Of course not! It’s electrically adjustable and operated from the buttons on the side of the seat. This is a luxury SUV after all.

It’s keyless start and on the console of the centre tunnel I notice a special little place to slot the key fob while driving. I like that attention to detail.

Inside the Audi Q7

For a car with so much tech on board, the Q7 is still easy enough to just sit in, adjust your seat and mirrors, and drive off. The cabin is a lesson in minimalism with clean lines, discreet buttons and a top notch quality look and feel.

The MMI monitor pops up James Bond-style above the centre of the dash when I start the car. A quick look through the menus via a rotary dial and touchpad, with the addition of some useful shortcut buttons on the centre console, and I’m flicking through functions soon like this is my daily drive.

The Q7 comes in three trim levels on the Irish market: SE, SE Business and S Line. The Q7 I’m driving today is the top of the range S Line model, and has Audi’s virtual cockpit - a full LCD screen that replaces traditional instrument dials, and of course the piece of kit that blew the tech bods away when it was first shown in the TT at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2014.

The Q7 takes off smoothly and we’re gliding down the avenue of Tankardstown House to meet the first challenge for the Q7 - the narrow, gated entrance to the estate that was probably designed for a horse and carriage, rather than a twenty first century SUV. The Q7 is 5.05 metres in length and 1.97 metres wide, so a bit larger than your average family car. Still, there is good visibility to the front corners of the car so it’s no problem to position the Q7 appropriately to exit. The Q7 is also available with the option of four wheel steering for greater manoeuvrability.

Driving the 2015 Audi Q7

Now we’re out in the middle of the Meath countryside, moving swiftly down narrow rural roads. The Q7 3.0TDI diesel put its 272bhp to the road via an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox and famous Audi quattro four wheel drive (standard across Q7 range). There’s a drive select system as standard and you can toggle between efficiency, comfort, auto, dynamic, individual and offroad modes.

The power delivery is smooth, the automatic gearbox changes gear slickly and all is serene in the cabin of the Audi Q7, with engine noise well suppressed, even under heavy acceleration. There is also a 3.0TFSI petrol (333bhp) available for the Q7. The same 3.0 litre diesel engine driven here, with a lower 218bhp power output, is expected for January 2016 deliveries.

The test car is fitted with the optional adaptive air suspension (€3,274), which is designed to improve comfort while also delivering on tauter handling. The ride comfort seems excellent.

The big story with the new Q7 is the weight saving - Audi has shaved an amazing 325kg off the weight of the car, which reaps benefits in terms of overall agility and efficiency. Some of the biggest weight saving has been in the front and rear axle, and even the seats. The 3.0TDI (272bhp) has an official economy of just under 50mpg, and with CO2 emissions of 153g/km, this one is €390 to tax per year. The 21" wheels added to my S Line model push the CO2 emissions into Band D, with motor tax of €570 per year and an official economy of about 46mpg.

Inside the Audi Q7
Inside the Audi Q7

Anything else?

The Audi Q7 shimmies around potholes for me, appearing to change direction neatly and predictably, and feels athletic on its springs going around a corner. It’s all that weight saving surely.

A few more kilometres of this and I reach the main road that will bring me back to Slane. It’s time to put the foot down. The official 0-100km/h figure is 6.5 seconds, and the Q7 feels every bit as fast as that, with a whopping 600Nm of torque available.

Back in Slane village, the Q7 negotiates the mid-morning traffic well. Stopped at the traffic lights, the kids from the third row of the MPV in front wave at me. I’m sure they’re thinking how they would love to be ensconced in the luxury of the third row of the Q7.

It’s time to check out that space. I find somewhere to pull in off the road and get out to inspect the passenger space in the Q7. The Q7 for the Irish market is a seven seater as standard.

How big is the Audi Q7?

The two seats in the third row are full size and when in place, there is still 295 litres of boot space, about the same as what you will find in a supermini. I’m really impressed with the buttons you can press from just inside the boot opening to electrically move the third row seats up or down. You can also do this from buttons just inside the rear doors. With those third row seats stowed away, there’s a massive 770 litres of space.

Second row space is very good and you can slide each of the seats forwards independent of one another to give the passengers in the third row a bit more leg room. I sit into the third row and as an average sized female I fit ok, but it’s not quite armchair comfort like in the rest of the car, being a bit tight on legroom.

Now back into the driver’s seat and I’m on the final stretch back to Tankardstown House. I have to bring the Q7 to a halt to allow a herd of cattle to cross the road. When they’re gone the farmer beckons me and I move forward, but then just as I’m about to drive by he puts up his hand. I stop and roll down the window, wondering what’s up.

The Audi Q7 is an epic large SUV!
The Audi Q7 is an epic large SUV!

Did you like it?

For sure the Q7 is every inch the luxury barge in the metal so you kind of expect people to want to get a better look. With Audi’s trademark understated elegance, the four rings on the new grille announce to the world the Q7’s arrival. Quattro badging on the back and on the side of the car hint at the car’s four wheel drive prowess. And in S Line trim, the car looks particularly well with LED headlights as standard, 20” alloy wheels and special S Line bumpers.

Well, I’m probably the seventh or eighth Q7 he’s seen this morning and all he wants to know, like any inquisitive person, is “what’s going on up at the House today”. So I tell him. And then I ask him what he thinks of the car. He loves it and would like to add it to his line-up of machinery. I’m stopped on the road, but otherwise I might have given him a demonstration of the trailer assist feature that takes all the hassle out of hitching a trailer, and manoeuvring it. I keep going, back through the gate again and up the drive to the house to deliver the Q7 back.

With the cars so neatly lined up it seems only right to reverse the Q7 back into a space in the fleet, and the rear camera view pops up on the MMI monitor to help. A quick look at the spec sheet for the car states that this model, with over €15,000 of extras, is €104,376. But the Q7 is every inch the luxury SUV.

The new Audi Q7 range starts at €72,125.

Audi Q7 Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BABm2PDM3Io]

Caroline Kidd


Opel Astra SRi Limited Edition car review

Opel Astra Diesel Review (2009-2015)

The Opel Astra is due to be replaced before the end of the year by an all-new car. But while we wait, Opel Ireland has introduced a new sporty trim to tempt buyers into the current model, the SRi Limited Edition. And with Opel’s new 1.6 CDTi diesel unit under the bonnet that promises more power, economy and refinement, don’t write this Opel Astra off just yet.

Read our latest review of the Opel Astra here.

Scroll down for the full review or watch my video review below!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPgvvzanzXE]

The Opel Astra is one of the best looking in its class, very well proportioned. In SRi trim it looks even better with a lower stance, body kit and huge alloys. There are pretty 18” alloys as standard but my test car had 19” inch bi-colour alloys added as an option for €595, which give it serious street cred.

Inside the Opel Astra

Inside there is a high quality feel to the cabin of the Astra. The build quality is very good and there are nice touches like gloss black on the door handles, chrome trim around the instrument dials and the leather covered steering wheel feels good in the hands. The seats you get in the SRi are a real highlight - they really hug you! I was less keen on the chrome-effect plastic around the centre console.

Where the interior starts to show its age is in the centre console. The competition has moved on to a more streamlined look with less buttons and functions controlled via a touchscreen. The fan and heat control are easy to find and operate, but things get a bit more complicated when you go to change the radio channel or type something into the sat nav for instance. You use a little rotary dial to navigate between selections, which can be a bit fiddly to use on the move, and then you have to check the screen to make sure you have selected the right thing. Steering wheel mounted controls make things a bit easier.

The boot is 351 litres so that’s better than some rivals and not as big as others. The space in the cabin is good and it’s no problem to sit four adults.

Opel Astra SRi Limited Edition
The interior of the 2015 Opel Astra SRi

Driving the Opel Astra

The Astra SRi Limited Edition gets a sports suspension as standard, which is stiffer and lower than in a standard Astra. But even when combined with those big wheels, the ride comfort hasn’t been too adversely affected. The Astra doesn’t crash over bumps. The handling is tight, it feels controlled around corners and it changes direction well. It’s just lacking somewhat that connected to the road feel that you get in a Ford Focus. The extra feedback that reaches the steering wheel in the Focus makes it a bit more fun to drive.

My test car had Opel’s new 1.6 CDTi ‘whisper diesel’ with 110PS and a six speed manual gearbox. You can get the Astra SRi with the same engine tuned to produce 136PS or a 2.0 litre diesel with an automatic gearbox. But really the 1.6 CDTi (110PS) diesel is the best compromise in terms of performance, price and economy.

Opel call it their ‘whisper diesel’, presumably to emphasise its refinement and low noise credentials. When you are stopping and starting around town it’s more of a grumble than a whisper (but definitely not agricultural!). But out on the open road, it really is very quiet. There’s a bit of life in it too. It has loads of power and torque with good flexibility in all the gears so it makes a good diesel hatchback.

The Astra SRi Limited Edition 1.6CDTi (110PS) has emissions of just 100g/km, so it will cost €180 to tax each year. It will return up to 74.3mpg.

Opel Astra SRi Limited Edition car review
The Opel Astra diesel in an efficient family car

What are my options?

Standard equipment on the SRi Limited Edition includes air con, cruise control, Bluetooth, digital radio, centre console with ambient lighting, front fogs and LED daytime running lights. There is also satellite navigation system with 7” colour monitor, sports-style front seats, leather covered steering wheel,  front electric windows,  body kit, 18” alloy wheels, sports suspension and alarm.

The Opel Astra is a bit of an alternative choice in the five door hatch segment. The SRi Limited Edition is a last hurrah for the current Astra before it is replaced by an all-new model.

But I just might be a little bit seduced by its pretty face and the huge wheels and body kit on the SRi Limited Edition. The Astra makes a good every day kind of driving car. And though not the most thrilling car to drive in its class, it will still play ball if you want it to.

Where this outgoing model shows its age most is in the interior. The competition has moved on in terms of infotainment and usability. But you cannot deny that the fit and finish in the Astra’s cabin is very high.

The big wheels and sports suspension don’t all that adversely affect the ride comfort and the extra goodies on the SRi make it a good buy. And with that strong 1.6CDTi diesel under the bonnet, there are still lots of reasons to like the Opel Astra.

This is a great generation of the Astra

Model Tested: Opel Astra 1.6CDTi SRi Limited Edition Hatch
Price: €23,995
Engine: 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 110PS
0-100km/h: 11.6 seconds
Economy: 74.3mpg
CO2 Emissions: 100g/km
Motor Tax: €180 per year

Caroline Kidd


The Ford Mondeo Estate from 2015

Ford Mondeo Estate (2015) Review

The Ford Mondeo is back with a new look, new interior, more technology, and being all new from the ground up, it should be even better to drive than before.

Here I test drive the new Mondeo in estate format (or Wagon as Ford refer to it as). The estate is a great option if you need a more practical boot than what the Mondeo hatchback offers, or if you like the looks and image that goes with an estate car.

Scroll down for the review or watch a video of the new Ford Mondeo estate:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND1gomdA6r8]

The first thing that gets you with the new Mondeo is the new trapezoid grille – it’s mightily impressive and gives the car a real premium presence. The silhouette is beautifully sleek, while new tail lights at the rear finish things off nicely. The silver roof rails add to the trendy lifestyle image.

Inside the 2015 Ford Mondeo Estate

Inside, the interior of the new Mondeo has gone upmarket with a new centre console design and a visible improvement in the quality of the materials used. It's usurped by arch rival, the Volkswagen Passat, in terms of quality and aesthetics; still it’s very comfortable behind the wheel and everything is at hand. A new Sync 2 infotainment system ramps things up a notch for the Mondeo, as does the digital element to the instrument dials, and other great tech on board my Titanium trimmed car, like a lane departure warning system and traffic sign recognition.

The Mondeo estate is very spacious inside and rear seat passengers can really stretch their legs out. There is more rear headroom in the estate compared to the hatchback. But this is an estate car so it’s all about the boot space. The boot is actually slightly larger in the hatchback at 541 litres vs 500 litres in the estate.

The interior of the 2015 Ford Mondeo Estate
The interior of the 2015 Ford Mondeo Estate

But the boot in the estate has a much more practical shape, with great width and depth, which makes it a winner if you have a lot of stuff to carry around regularly. The estate version trumps the hatchback in terms of capacity when you let the rear seats down – 1605 litres vs 1437 litres in the hatchback.

On the road in the 2015 Ford Mondeo Estate

Did you think an estate car would be dull and boring to drive? Well the Mondeo estate will banish any of those thoughts as soon as you slip behind the wheel.

Despite my test car weighing just over a tonne and a half, it feels agile and light on its feet (or should that be wheels?).  It’s not a labour to drive it – it’s actually quite a thrill. The Mondeo grips the road so well and there is no real wallow of its body weight in the corners.

My only niggle, and it’s a small one, was that I became aware that the steering was a tad light at speed, I would like a bit more heft to it to enhance that connected to the road feel.

It’s poised and controlled on the motorway, a country road or in town – I think you can throw anything at the Mondeo and it won’t let you down. The sound insulation has also been improved, which does a good job of isolating you from road, wind and engine noise.

There are three engine choices for the new Mondeo – a 1.6 litre diesel with 113 bhp, a 1.5 litre EcoBoost petrol with 158 bhp, and a 2.0 litre diesel with 148 bhp. There’s an option of an automatic gearbox with the 2.0 litre diesel and that’s the car I was driving.

Ford’s Powershift automatic transmission is a dual clutch system, so essentially there are two clutches: one looks after even gears, and the other looks after the odd gears. This makes the gear changes that bit quicker and smoother.

The Ford Mondeo Estate is an excellent buy!
The Ford Mondeo Estate is an excellent buy!

Should I choose a Mondeo automatic?

With the automatic gearbox, the 2.0 litre diesel will sprint to 100kmh in 10 seconds. It’s a powerful engine, well up for the job, and refined too; there’s a bit of diesel gurgle when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator, but it’s not unpleasant.

An automatic gearbox is handy but bear in mind that it’s more expensive to buy than the manual version, and the CO2 emissions and mpg are impacted. The 2.0 litre diesel in the Mondeo with the automatic transmission costs €270 to tax and returns up to 59mpg, while the same engine with a manual gearbox will cost €200 to tax per year and return up to 63mpg.

There are three trim levels for the Mondeo on the Irish market – Style, Zetec and Titanium. Zetec and Titanium have most of the goodies with alloy wheels, fog lamps, dual zone climate control, four electric windows and cruise control.

The Titanium model has a little more tech on board, with a digital element to the instrument dials, a lane departure warning system, traffic sign recognition, parking sensors and Sync 2, Ford’s updated infotainment system that comes with an 8” colour touchscreen. My test car had the option added of Ford’s new inflatable rear seatbelts for €200 that inflate in a collision to reduce head, neck and chest injuries in rear seat passengers.

Is the Ford Mondeo Estate a good car?

The Mondeo has gone upmarket with its clean, simple interior, classy looks and lots of great tech on board. The interior does not have the classy finish of a Passat, but it’s still a step up for the Mondeo and the Sync 2 system is definitely worth speccing to improve the overall interior look and functionality.

The Mondeo estate is a great choice if you need a more practical boot than what the hatchback can offer, but still want a really good driver’s car. It’s dynamic and sporty looking too, but that’s not a smokescreen – it’s a genuine fun car to drive with great grip and body control. Despite its size, the Mondeo estate is an easy car to drive and manoeuvre (though parking sensors do help!) and it was this agility that impressed me the most.

The Ford Mondeo Estate from 2015
The Ford Mondeo Estate from 2015

The automatic transmission made this car a dream drive, with smooth, quick shifts and plenty of poke from the 2.0 litre diesel to pick up speed seamlessly.

So to sum up the new Ford Mondeo Wagon Automatic: it’s the automatic for the people!

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Ford Mondeo Wagon 2.0 TDCi Titanium Automatic
Price: 
€37,795 (Range starts at €27,645)
Engine: 
2.0 litre four cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 
148bhp
0-100km/h:  
10 seconds
Economy: 
59mpg (4.8l/100km)
CO2 Emissions:  
128g/km
Motor Tax: 
€270 per year


The 2015 Opel Karl

Opel Karl 2015 First Drive Review

The 2015 Opel Karl
The 2015 Opel Karl

I’m just back from the Netherlands where I was driving the new Opel Karl 2015 model. Karl is Opel’s new five door city car, and slots in below the Adam and the Corsa in Opel’s small car range.

While the Adam rocks great style and customisation options, the Karl is a simpler car that does the things that 3 door Adam doesn’t do so well – space and practicality. It’s a cheaper car to buy too and will take on the likes of the Suzuki Celerio, Volkswagen Up!, and Hyundai i10 in the busy city car segment when it arrives in Ireland this August.

Design

At the launch, one of the Opel executives described Karl as a “good looking chap without ostentation and no bling bling”. It’s a good description. The Karl is smart looking without drawing much attention to itself.

Karl comes with five doors as standard and Opel is keen to emphasise that there are three designated seats in the back, which you don’t find in all city cars. The middle seat is small so it’s more suitable for occasional use or for a child. The boot is 206 litres, which is better than some of its rivals, and not as good as others. The rear bench split folds 60:40 as standard.

The interior will be familiar in its style if you’ve seen the Adam and new Corsa. It’s got a solid and quality feel without too much glam, though a new Intellilink infotainment system with a  7” touchscreen is coming next year.

The steering wheel and dials look mature, like that from the larger Corsa so you don’t feel like you’re behind the wheel of a budget car. I counted three cupholders in the Karl and there’s storage in the glovebox to stow away a few items, a shelf above it and the door pockets take a good bit of stuff as well. An extra boon is that there is not a pop out window to be seen, as can be common in city cars – there are proper winders for the windows in the back. Hallelujah!

The interior of the Opel Karl
The interior of the Opel Karl

Driving

Our test route took us out of the airport on the outskirts of Amsterdam, as far as Edam north east of the capital, and to our hotel in the city of Zaandam. Driving in this region is like driving in extended suburbia punctuated by some short bursts of motorway driving. The Karl was easy to drive and manoeuvre, but I came back with an overriding feeling of solidness that I love finding in this segment. The steering has enough weight in it not to feel like you are fluttering around the place, especially during fast, motorway driving.

Opel wants to keep the range simple and the price low so there is just one engine for Karl. It’s Opel’s new 1.0 litre three cylinder petrol engine that does without a turbo in the Karl and produces 75hp in its naturally aspirated state, putting its power to the road with a five speed manual gearbox. The performance is not exhilarating but it is adequate, the refinement good and it's not too noisy at speed.

Economy

The 1.0 litre engine produces 104g CO2/km so when it arrives in Ireland it will cost €190 to tax. The official economy is 62.8mpg.

Equipment

For the Irish market there will be three trim levels, S, SC and SE. Standard equipment on S model includes 6 airbags, Hill Start Assist, tyre pressure monitoring system, an electric driver’s window, trip computer, remote central locking and 14” steel wheels.

SC gets both front windows electrically operated, a lane departure warning system, City mode to lighten steering from a button on the dash, electric door mirrors, cruise control, driver’s seat height adjustment, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and front fog lights.

SE adds climate control, USB port, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, rear tinted windows and 15” alloys.

The Opel Karl is a good value city car
The Opel Karl is a good value city car

Price 

Karl S from €11,995

Karl SC from €13,695

Karl SE from €14,695

Caroline Kidd


The Opel Adam Rocks!

Opel Adam Rocks 1.0L Turbo Review

The Opel Adam Rocks!
The Opel Adam Rocks!

The Opel Adam Rocks is a new addition to the Adam city car family and it is what Opel is branding as an “urban mini crossover”. The changes are largely cosmetic. But the launch of the Adam Rocks coincides with the arrival of Opel’s new 1.0 litre three cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. So it’s kind of like meeting the Adam for the first time all over again!

With a second chance to impress, this is what we really need to find out. Is it worth forking out just under €21,000 for a trendy small car like Opel Adam Rocks?

Watch the video review of the Opel Adam Rocks, or scroll down for the written review:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muNy4-SzvW8]

What's new for the 2015 Opel Adam Rocks?

Well on looks alone, it’s a definite yes. Opel Adam Rocks really stands out so be warned this car is not for shy types who don’t like drawing attention to themselves! Opel has lashed on some extra grey plastic cladding along the lower sills and around the wheel arches. They have raised the ride height by 15mm. The results give the Adam Rocks real attitude, with a wider, more aggressive stance than a standard Adam. There are still loads of customisation options to choose from so change the wheels, colour of the roof, or add a few stickers at your will!

Inside, the cabin has a real boutique feel. Every inch of it has been styled, with bits of body coloured dash and textured plastics making it feel a bit special. Your friends will definitely know this is no budget city car when they sit in. Adam Rocks comes with the addition of a full length panoramic canvas roof that can be opened at the touch of a button from the cabin. It gives the Adam Rocks a bit of a novelty value and it looks very cool when let back - while also flooding the cabin with light.

The small dimensions are great for parking and manoeuvrability but not so good for space for carrying rear passengers or cargo. The space inside is more comparative to a Fiat 500 than the larger MINI Hatch and DS 3. The boot is small at 170 litres with a typical narrow but deep shape. While you will fit two adults in the back, the space is tight back there. But if you drive solo most of the time, or with a friend occasionally, you won’t care.

The interior of the Opel Adam Rocks
The interior of the Opel Adam Rocks

Driving the Adam Rocks

To accommodate the higher ride height, parts of the chassis, suspension and steering have been retuned. The Adam Rocks is all the better for these changes. It’s more comfortable out on the open road. It’s still quite a firm ride but you only notice this over very poor road surfaces. That kind of goes with the territory of a small sporty hatch like the Adam Rocks.

I was really impressed with how the car performed on the motorway for a car with such a short wheelbase. It feels stable and planted like a larger car. A bit of added weight to the steering makes the Adam Rocks feel less nervous at speed. It feels gloriously agile around town and accurate steering, lots of grip and a nice, connected to the road feel make it a fun drive through the bends out of town.

There is a little more outdoor noise reaching the cabin with the full metal roof lacking in the Opel Adam Rocks. But it’s not much of a compromise in the grand scheme of things.

Engine options

My test car was fitted with Opel’s new 1.0 three cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and it’s a little gem. It pumps out 115PS and there’s lots of low end torque so it pulls really hard from low revs. It feels really fast, though petrolheads will probably think I’m crazy. 0-100kmh in 9.9 seconds is hardly blistering by today’s standards but somehow it feels potent in a small car like this.

Refinement is also very good for this three cylinder engine. You can barely hear the engine ticking over when the car is idling. You only really hear it when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator. Which you will be doing because you’re having so much fun - and then it’s a nice noise! There is also a 1.4 litre petrol engine with 100PS available. But if your budget can stretch at all, I would highly recommend the turbo unit.

The official economy for Opel Adam Rocks with the 1.0 litre Turbo engine is just over 55mpg. I managed 47mpg over about 500kms of driving on a mixture of roads. Road tax for this model is €200 per year.

The 2015 Opel Adam Rocks is available with a fabulous 1.-0 litre petrol engine
The 2015 Opel Adam Rocks is available with a fabulous 1.0 litre petrol engine

Is it well specced?

In addition to the visual and mechanical updates outlined above, Adam Rocks comes with 17” alloys, air conditioning, leather covered steering wheel, CD player with USB and Aux-in connection, Bluetooth, digital radio, and LED daytime running lights and tail lights.

Opel’s Intellilink infotainment system can be added as an option and adds a touchscreen in the centre of the dash.

The Opel Adam Rocks is competing in a segment where style and image are more important than space and practicality. For a trendy car like the Adam Rocks - the chunky good looks, polished interior, funky colour options and canvas roof - you do pay a price premium. But is it worth it?

Well, yes, because when you take away all the cosmetic stuff, the Adam Rocks is still a great car to drive. It's up there in terms of driver enjoyment with the DS 3 and MINI Hatch. It’s got that sporty edge to it - the zippiness and taut handling. But the engineering is sophisticated enough under the skin to make the car feel solid and dependable for the long haul. In terms of space, the Adam Rocks is more comparative to a Fiat 500, but it is a far more mature and cultivated drive than the tiny Fiat.

Is the Opel Adam Rocks a good small car?

The extra few thousand euro you pay over a standard Adam for the Adam Rocks is well-rewarded in terms of the image upgrade and a better driving car with superior ride and handling. Engine choice does play a factor however. The new 1.0L Turbo is an ideal mate for Adam Rocks, with more life in it than the old 1.4 litre petrol can muster.

Opel is onto a winner with this car. As far as I can see the only challenge for Opel is to get the target market out of their MINIs and into this!

The Opel Adam Rocks is a fantastic small car!
The Opel Adam Rocks is a fantastic small car!

Now check out our review of the super hot Opel Adam S!

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Opel Adam Rocks 1.0 litre Turbo
Price: 
€20,995
Engine: 
1.0 litre three cylinder turbocharged petrol
Power: 
115PS (113bhp)
0-100km/h:  
9.9 seconds
Economy: 
55.4mpg (5.1l/100km)
CO2 Emissions:  
119g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost (125PS) Review

Car Review: Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost (125PS) 5 Door Hatch Titanium

It’s hard to believe that the Ford Focus has been with us since 1998 but the ubiquity of all three generations of this car on our roads is evidence of its popularity with the Irish motorist. The Ford Focus is consistently one of Ireland’s bestselling cars but this is no fluke or product of clever marketing – it’s one of the finest handling hatchbacks around and has been since its 90’s debut.

But there has to be more to the Ford Focus than just great handling to ward off the competition in the hotly contested medium sized hatchback segment. And that’s what Ford has addressed with the new Focus, by sharpening up the styling and improving the interior, both areas where the car was starting to lag behind rivals.

You can watch a video review of the Ford Focus belowRead more


Ford Fiesta vs Opel Corsa Twin Test Review!

Ford Fiesta vs Opel Corsa (2015) Review

Ford Fiesta vs Opel Corsa: Small Hatchback Twin Test

The Ford Fiesta vs the Opel Corsa in my small hatchback twin test!

The Ford Fiesta is consistently one of the bestselling small cars in Ireland. Sometimes popular cars are not always the critic’s choice, but no worries about the Fiesta - it’s universally regarded as a damn good supermini.

The Opel Corsa is another perennial favourite and with the recent arrival of the fifth generation Corsa, I thought it would be a good time to compare these two small hatchbacks side by side.

Models tested:

Opel Corsa 1.4 litre (90PS) Excite

Ford Fiesta 1.0 litre EcoBoost (65PS) Zetec

Click on the links above to read the individual reviews or scroll down for the twin test.

Note: The Opel Corsa and Ford Fiesta models I drove are not direct rivals in terms of engines and power outputs, but I will make allowances for that below.

The lovely Ford Fiesta!
The lovely Ford Fiesta!

Who is the prettiest of all the superminis?

In 2013, the Ford Fiesta got a facelift, making it the first in the European Ford range to wear Ford’s new trapezoidal grille. The effect of this facelift should not be underestimated; the new grille lifts the whole look of the car.

And that’s something that can be said for the Opel Corsa too. The Corsa’s new wider, lower grille is the most obvious exterior styling change for the new Corsa and it gives the car so much more presence compared to the old model. Elsewhere, new body panels with more sculpting, and new rear light clusters, give the Corsa some contemporary style.

So Ford Fiesta vs Opel Corsa: who is better looking? I couldn’t possibly say but both definitely sport an attractive design so no one’s a loser.

Inside the Ford Fiesta and the Opel Corsa

Inside, things are much easier to call. The Opel Corsa has a brand new interior that feels classy, well-built and contemporary. The cabin in the Fiesta looks more austere when compared with that in the Corsa, and a myriad small buttons to operate the radio is off-putting. Still, the controls and switches in the Fiesta are nicely damped, and the white illuminated dials with blue needles step things up a notch in the Fiesta's favour.

But the interior of the Opel Corsa just feels a bit cooler, a bit more premium, especially with the touchscreen fitted as part of the Intellilink infotainment system.

Both cars are available as three or five door models, and the two tested here are five door models. Space-wise, up front there is little to differentiate the Corsa from the Fiesta, but in the rear the Corsa feels more spacious and the higher roof line allows very generous headroom.

The boot is a teeny bit larger in the Corsa compared to the Fiesta (285 litres vs 276 litres), but both have a high load lip, and the Ford carries a spare wheel, while the Corsa goes with just a tyre repair kit. The rear seats can be folded down in both cars, but they don’t fold down flat in either and a 60/40 split folding rear bench is not standard on the Corsa. With the rear seats folded, the Corsa offers a bit more space at 1100 litres, compared to 960 litres in the Fiesta.

The 2015 Opel Corsa
The 2015 Opel Corsa

Driving the Fiesta and the Corsa

I was really impressed with the Corsa’s road-holding ability, comfort and steering. Opel has given the Corsa a new chassis, suspension and updated the steering, so all together, it’s a more sophisticated drive for the Corsa compared to the previous model. The Ford Fiesta is still the more fun to drive of the duo; it feels more elastic, more agile and the steering is sharper.

There is a good choice of diesel and petrol engines available for both the Corsa and the Fiesta (see Engines & Economy below) and a manual or automatic gearbox is available for both. The Fiesta I drove had the 1.0 litre 65PS EcoBoost (non-turbo) petrol engine, and despite only 65PS and a 0-100kmh sprint time of a lazy 16.8 seconds, this engine is so much better than you would think. It has a lovely three cylinder thrum, loves to be revved and is really brilliant around town. In official terms, it returns just over 65mpg, though rev it too much and you will see a dip in economy. Turbo versions of the award-winning 1.0 litre EcoBoost are available for the Fiesta, but they do command quite a high list price.

My Corsa was fitted with the 1.4 litre 90PS petrol engine that has been brought forward from the old model and sits alongside the old 1.2 litre petrol and 1.3 litre diesels. Two new 1.0 litre turbocharged petrol engines have been added to the Corsa range with 90PS or 115PS. They sit at the top of the range so are quite pricey - though they are very enjoyable to drive. Nonetheless, the 1.4 litre petrol does a good job in the Corsa. There’s plenty of power for town and motorway driving, it’s nicely refined too and returns 55mpg.

The interior of the 2015 Opel Corsa
The interior of the 2015 Opel Corsa

(Some are model specific so check availability with manufacturer)

Ford Fiesta

Opel Corsa
EngineFuelCO2EconomyEngineFuelCO2Economy
1.0 EcoBoost 65PSPetrol99g/km65.7mpg1.2i 70PSPetrol126g/km52.3mpg
1.0T EcoBoost 100PSPetrol99g/km65.7mpg1.4i 90PSPetrol120g/km55.4mpg
1.0T EcoBoost 125PSPetrol99g/km65.7mpg1.0i Turbo 90PSPetrol104g/km64mpg
1.25 60PSPetrol122g/km54.3mpg1.0i Turbo 115PSPetrol115g/km57.7mpg
1.25 82PSPetrol122g/km54.3mpg1.3CDTi 75PSDiesel100g/km74.3mpg
1.5 TDCi 75PSDiesel98g/km76.4mpg1.3CDTi 95PSDiesel87g/km85.6mpg
1.6 TDCi 95PSDiesel95g/km85.6mpg

What are my options?

There are four trim levels for the Opel Corsa –  S, Excite, SE and Limited Edition – and four for the Ford Fiesta – Fiesta, Zetec, Zetec-S and Titanium. Base models for both Corsa and Fiesta get notables like tyre pressure monitoring system, front electric windows and mirrors, and hill start assist, though the Corsa gets remote central locking – you will have to stick the key in the lock to engage the central locking on the entry level Fiesta! But the Fiesta has steering wheel mounted audio controls as standard – you have to go up a trim level for those in a Corsa.

Still there are more treats in both once you start going up the trim levels. Just one step up from entry level, the Fiesta Zetec I drove had notables like alloy wheels, front fog lights, and Bluetooth. The Corsa does slightly better when you take a step up from entry level to Excite trim – as well as the alloy wheels, Bluetooth and front fog lights, you get LED daytime running lights and cruise control. Cruise control is an option for the Ford Fiesta. Air con is standard on SE trim in the Corsa and Titanium trim in the Fiesta.  With regards to infotainment, I find Opel’s Intellilink to have a more attractive interface and be a bit more user friendly than Ford’s Sync system. Both are standard on some models, or can be added as an option.

The interior of the 2015 Ford Fiesta ST - the high performance one!
The interior of the 2015 Ford Fiesta ST - the high performance one!

Which did you prefer?

The Ford Fiesta vs Opel Corsa are equally capable superminis in terms of space, practicality, and drive but there are a few marked differences between them. The Corsa has a more attractive and functional interior and is that bit more spacious in the back. Both are good cars to drive, but the Fiesta is more exciting. The two are competitively priced and you can pick up a well-specced Corsa or Fiesta in the region of €16,000-€18,000. But you will likely want to spend a bit extra for a car with more equipment.

Now which are you going to buy? Well, you may indeed fall for the charms of the Opel Corsa’s cabin. It’s where you spend most of your time for sure and the quality, attractive design, straightforward infotainment and overall execution is a major plus for the Corsa. The improvements to the car under the skin and availability of good, frugal engines mean the Opel Corsa is a far from disappointing drive.

However, if you are the type of driver that wants the best driving small hatchback, the one with that extra bit of sparkle, there’s only one option and that’s the Ford Fiesta. It feels far sportier than its demure exterior might suggest; there is athleticism about the way it dances around corners and pin sharp steering enhances your connection to the road. There is a good engine line-up too and one of the EcoBoost petrols would make a perfect mate for this baby Ford!

Opel Corsa 1.4i ExciteFord Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost (non-turbo) Zetec
Price€16,495€16,850
Engine1.4 litre four cylinder petrol1.0 litre three cylinder petrol
Power90PS65PS
0-100kmh13.2 secs16.8 secs
Economy55.3mpg65.7mpg
CO2119g/km99g/km
Tax€200 per year€180 per year

 

We really liked the little Ford!
We really liked the little Ford!

Caroline Kidd


The 2015 Opel Corsa

2015 Opel Corsa 1.4-litre Petrol Review

The 2015 Opel Corsa
The 2015 Opel Corsa

The pretty cobbled streets and tree-lined avenues of Paris were a fitting location for the debut of the stylish, new fifth generation Opel Corsa just before the 2014 Paris Motor Show. The launch was a real statement of intent by Opel and all the stops were pulled out to give the fifth generation of Opel’s bestselling small hatchback the best possible start in the world.

Aside from the smarter looks and a brand new interior, we were promised a driving experience more comparable to a larger, more expensive car in terms of comfort and precision, with a new chassis, suspension, steering and engines to deliver the goods.

I got a good impression of the car on our first drive of the Corsa in Ireland at the launch in November. Now it’s time to find out if the new Opel Corsa can really deliver, as I give it a thorough road test on Irish roads.

Opel Corsa Video Review

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7B-hyOOs1U]

I’m happy to report that the new Opel Corsa can now definitely hold its own in fashionable company. The new lower, wider grille and new ‘wing’ shape headlamps at the front are a real highlight and give the Corsa the presence it needs to stand out and be memorable. I love the sculpting along the sides of the car (all the body panels are new), and there’s more definition at the rear too with new light clusters that lift the look of the car.

The test car was finished in a lovely metallic grey blue, which is more interesting to look at than grey and gave the car a grown-up, chic look. For the bold, you can choose red, lime green and even yellow - as well as some more conservative body colours. If you are prepared to sacrifice rear doors, the three door model looks particularly sporty with a more coupé-style roof line.

But stick with the five door model and you will be amazed by the rear headroom and easy access to the rear from the wide-opening doors. There is also generous legroom and a good sized boot of 285 litres. I would have no complaints about space in the Corsa by supermini standards.

Inside the 2015 Opel Corsa

The jewel in the crown is the Corsa’s brand new interior. It’s youthful , fresh and trendy with an interesting mix of surfaces and materials used, including classy gloss black and satin chrome. It looks particularly good with the 7” touchscreen fitted as part of the Intellilink infotainment system (more on that later). There’s a cool simplicity to the white-illuminated instrument dials and sporty steering wheel. For me, the essence of what makes it a great interior is that it’s glam without being over the top, and simple without being boring.

The interior of the 2015 Opel Corsa
The interior of the 2015 Opel Corsa

Out on the road, the Corsa feels very solid and stable at speed and through corners. The car has a new chassis and Opel engineers have lowered the car’s centre of gravity by 5mm to make the car more stable.

There is also a new speed sensitive power steering system and Opel have worked hard to give us more “feel” in the steering. This was best tested on some of the country roads I always drive the test cars on – the kind of roads that swiftly show you how good a car’s steering and handling is. When you turn into a corner, the Corsa holds the road well and you can really feel the connection between the inputs you are putting on the steering wheel and what the wheels are doing. It’s very precise – I like that.

Driving the Opel Corsa

The Corsa has a new suspension and Opel has tweaked the damping characteristics to make it more comfortable. They’ve improved the roll behaviour and while there is a limit to how much speed the car can comfortably take as you are cornering, certainly on a country road driving within the speed limits you will not be disappointed. If it’s comfort you’re after, the Corsa coped well over pock marked roads and it took motorways in its stride too.

My test car was powered by a punchy 1.4 litre 90bhp petrol engine that has been brought forward from the old car. It’s well up for the job, with enough zip in the lower gears to make it nippy around town and it picks up speed easily on the open road with a good bit of flexibility in the gears so you are never too far away from the power.

Following the trend for squeezing more power from a smaller engine with the aid of a turbocharger, Opel has added a brand new 1.0 litre turbocharged petrol to the Corsa range, available with 90bhp or 115bhp. Both are mated to a new generation six speed manual gearbox. You can read more about what I thought about Opel’s new engines here. On paper, they are more economical, faster from 0-100kmh, and have a raspier engine note which petrolheads will love - but they are also more expensive and only available on top level trims in three and five door Corsa models.

The Corsa is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines
The Corsa is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines

What are my options?

There are a range of petrol and diesel engines with good economy and low running costs available for the Corsa. The 1.3 litre diesels have been reworked to make them more refined and responsive, and the 95bhp version has CO2 emissions as low as 87g/km. My 1.4 litre 90bhp petrol test car returns just over 55mpg from official sources and real world economy was not too far off that.

There are four trim levels: S, Excite, SE and Limited Edition. Excite trim is expected to be popular with a spec including cruise control, alloys, front fog lights, LED daytime running lights and Bluetooth included as standard. SE is a bit posher again and adds more equipment, and is exclusive to the five door model. Limited Edition is exclusive to the three door model and is OPC inspired with sporty touches to the interior and exterior, and a sports suspension under the skin.

The Intellilink infotainment system is standard on SE and Limited Edition, though it can be added as an option for €350. It offers connectivity with your smartphone and access to a selection of apps from a 7” touchscreen.

Our test car had a “Winter Pack” added for an extra €395 that included a heated steering wheel and heated front seats (awesome). It was also fitted with an electrically operated sunroof for €961. Though that might be an expensive treat too far, it did make the cabin brighter.

High performance versions like the Opel Corsa GSi are also available
High performance versions like the Opel Corsa GSi are also available

Are Opel Corsas good cars?

The supermini segment is an extremely competitive one so does the Corsa have what it takes to compete at the top of its class?

I think so. There is a touch of class to the styling, while inside the cabin seems to combine the best parts of simple, intuitive design with a bit of glitz and glam. There are a great choice of engines, from frugal diesels to sparkly petrol power. It is a shame that the new turbo engines will be a little out of the budget range for most Corsa buyers but that said, I didn’t feel let down by the 1.4 litre petrol I tested, with enough power at disposal, matched with decent economy and refinement.

Best of all, the new Corsa feels like a very well-engineered car, without any of the compromises one might expect in ride quality for its small size - and steering that is as sharp as any keen driver would expect. In that respect I think Opel has achieved what they set out to do with this new Corsa – deliver a driving experience more comparable to a larger, more expensive car in terms of comfort and precision. The Corsa really has grown up.

Caroline Kidd

Price: €16,495 (Corsa range starts at €14,895)
Engine: 
1.4 litre four cylinder petrol
Power: 
90bhp
0-100km/h:  
13.2 seconds
Economy: 
55.3mpg (5.1l/100km)
CO2 Emissions:  
120g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


The 2014 Renault Twingo!

2014 Renault Twingo Review

The 2014 Renault Twingo!
The 2014 Renault Twingo!

Caroline reviews the 2014 Renault Twingo.

Renault failed to make much of an impact on the Irish city car market with the last Twingo.  For some of you, this might be the first time you’ve even heard of a Renault Twingo! Clio yes, but Twingo?

Well sit up there, because Twingo is back with a bang. While everyone else is making front wheel drive city cars with the engine under the bonnet, Renault has moved the engine to the boot. They have made the Twingo rear wheel drive in the hunt for a roomier cabin, more agility and more manouvrability around town. Could this be the perfect city car?

Read my full Renault Twingo review and then watch my video to see the Twingo in action.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erwRBKzznEM&w=560&h=315]

Renault has done a wonderful job designing the new Twingo. With no engine to accommodate under the bonnet, the Twingo has a little pert nose. It does look different to other cars of its size because the proportions are different with that teeny little bonnet.

It’s also the first Twingo to have five doors but the handles are cleverly hidden in the window frame. The front is boldly dominated by the large Renault lozenge at the centre of the grille. I love the casual nod at the rear to one of Renault’s other much loved small cars, the classic Renault 5. You can see that resemblance in the broad shouldered stance of the rear of the car.

A roof spoiler is a sporty addition. Altogether, it’s a bold new face for Twingo, and it stands out in the city car class for its curvy, cute looks.

What's so cute about the 2014 Renault Twingo?

Another boon is that you can customise the Twingo to make it your own. Maybe change the colour of the door mirrors or add a coloured strip along the shoulder line of the car? To simplify the process, there are a number of personalisation packs to choose from. They have cool names like ‘Retro Racer’, ‘Techno’ and ‘Casual Chic’ and each with their own unique colour scheme.

The cool, funky feel continues inside with a smart cabin trimmed in black and white, though you can add pops of blue or red. It’s smart, uncluttered and modern. There is just one circular cowl housing the speedometer and there is no rev counter on the instrument panel. Though you can access one from your smartphone in a cradle on the dash via the free R&Go Renault app. More on that app later.

The driving position is good because you sit high up and it’s a very easy car to get in and out of. Visibility is great all round and the A pillar causes no problems when turning left or right. Great for town driving.

I wouldn’t expect too much storage from a city car and door pockets and a glovebox would be enough. But there is a really useful ‘bin’ with lid just below the centre console that will absorb clutter. There are no door pockets on the insides of the rear doors as standard but rear passengers do get a cupholder to fight over! The pop out windows are a bit of a disappointment but they are common in city cars.

Inside the Renault Twingo
Inside the Renault Twingo

What about space?

That was one of the reasons why Renault put the engine in the boot in the first place. The new Twingo is 10cm shorter than its predecessor but the wheelbase has grown by 12cm to make the cabin roomier.  It feels bright and airy up front and there is a bit of extra height in the roof over the front of the cabin that benefits front occupants. Legroom is also good for passenger as the glovebox is quite recessed so doesn’t eat into their legroom. In the rear I could comfortably sit behind the driver’s seat in my preferred position without a squeeze.

The risk of putting the boot in the rear is that it will use up valuable boot space and for sure the volume is down on the class leaders at just 188 litres. But it’s actually a really usable space with a wide opening, practical shape and a flat, high sill that means you can slide things in and out at arm level - no scrambling in the deepest recesses of the boot. The rear seats also fold down flat or can be easily fixed in an upright position to increase the load volume to 219 litres though this would make rear passengers uncomfortable. In a first in the city car segment, you can fold the front passenger seat down flat to carry longish items. But remember, it’s no Ford Transit!

So by this stage are you expecting rear wheel drive frolics from dear Twingo? Well I’m sorry, the Twingo isn’t really about that.

Driving the Renault Twingo

But wow is it manouvrable. The short bonnet, and the fact that the engine is in the boot has allowed space to be freed up under the bonnet. So the front wheels can turn 45 degrees, giving the Twingo the shortest turning circle in the city car class. It is very obvious that the wheels can turn that bit further than most cars. It makes turning and getting out of parking spaces really easy. The steering is also finger light around town. You will be parallel parking like a boss very quickly in this.

The new 70bhp non turbo 1.0 engine is perfectly adequate for town with enough pull in the lower gears to feel quick. Even though a 0-100km/h sprint is actually 14.5 seconds. All this and that little bit of whirr behind your ears from the engine as you rev it around town makes driving the Twingo a fun experience. This car will make you smile.

Take it out of its natural environment, and that tiny 1.0 litre begins to feel more sluggish. The lack of flexibility in the higher gears will mean plenty of gear changes should you need to pick up speed quickly. There is a surprising amount of grip in those front wheels. Decent steering means that you can take on the corners on those back roads quite enthusiastically.

It’s a relatively comfortable car too - with a suspension that’s not too soft or not too stiff. Though on rougher rural roads, it feels less sure of itself and a bit skittish. Take it out of town and you also notice that there is a fair bit of road and wind noise coming into the cabin.

The Twingo is a fun, rear wheel drive city car
The Twingo is a fun, rear wheel drive city car

What's it like on the motorway?

Ok, so a motorway is not the ideal environment for a car that touts itself as city car. but you may need to pop “down the country” the odd weekend.  Above 100km/h on a motorway I found the Twingo was less comfortable to drive. It feels less planted on the road. There’s that wind noise coming into the cabin and the steering lacks a weightiness to make you feel 100% connected to the road. But if you like to cruise through life at 100km/h it’s not a bad place to be at all.

The 1.0 litre 70bhp engine can return up to 63mpg and costs just €190 to tax per year.

There are three trim levels for the 2014 Renault Twingo – Expression, Play and Dynamique. All cars get LED Daytime Running Lights, speed limiter and front electric windows. The next trim level up is Play and that’s a good one to go for as it comes with air con and a useful height adjustable driver’s seat. Though sadly not electrically operated door mirrors! Top level Dynamique trim adds notables like alloys, electric heated mirrors, cruise control and also opens up engine choices. You can choose the SCe 70 with start stop and marginally lower running costs than the model we had on test, or a 1.0 litre turbocharged 90bhp petrol unit.

There is an optional folding fabric panoramic electric sunroof for some open top driving thrills. Connectivity is standard through the radio with Bluetooth and a smartphone cradle on the dash. You download a free app and then you can use your smartphone to listen to music, look at maps, make calls or use as a trip computer to look at info about your journey. It’s a good system, it doesn’t use data on your phone, it’s easy to use and the only issue I found is glare on the screen in sunlight.

Did you like the Twingo?

This Twingo pops and fizzes along - it's got buckets of character.  The engine makes a fuss in the rear as you rev it to get the best out of it but the Twingo is still enjoyable to drive. Though it does lack that “big car feel” that makes rivals like the Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Up! more comfortable out on the big roads. Believe me when I say this is a small car and it feels like a small car. That’s no bad thing and this is arguably more stylish and cool than rivals with more mature road manners.

You see the Twingo is pretty much the perfect car for around town. That's thanks to the amazing manouvrability that goes that extra turn, the compact dimensions, small bonnet, great visibility, frugality. While still offering the creature comforts and practicality of a five door car with space for four and a few bags of shopping. The styling is A1 – it’s cute, sporty and with a myriad of customisation packs, Twingo can be made your very own whether that is casual chic or retro racer (!).

I can see Twingo appealing to the young, hip crowd. But also to older drivers who will love the high driving position, compactness and the boot that allows you to load and unload at arm level. With the new Twingo, Renault has managed to combine the bread and butter stuff like practicality with some of that style, fun and youthful image of trendy but less practical 3 door rivals like the Fiat 500 and the Opel Adam.  If you are looking for a small car under €15,000, the Renault Twingo has to be on the list.

Read a review of our latest Renault review, the 2020 Renault Clio!

The Twingo is smaller and cheaper than a Renault Clio
The Twingo is smaller and cheaper than a Renault Clio

Model tested: Renault Twingo SCe 70 Play
Price: 
€14,590 (Twingo range starts at €13,990)
Engine: 
1.0 litre, three cylinder petrol
Power: 
70bhp
0-100km/h:  
14.5 seconds
Economy: 
62.8mpg (4.5l/100km)
CO2 emissions:  
105g/km
Tax band: 
A3 (€190 per year)

Caroline Kidd


The Opel Corsa 2014 model

Opel Corsa 2014 First Drive Review

The Opel Corsa 2014 model
The Opel Corsa 2014 model

Caroline drives the Opel Corsa 2014 model at the Irish press launch in Dublin with Opel Ireland.

The Corsa is an important car for Opel. Its all-round appeal makes it Opel’s bestselling model - it's the type of car that can take on many roles - a car for singles, for young families, a first car or a car for downsizers.

The new Corsa was unveiled just ahead of this year’s Paris Motor Show and the fifth generation of Opel’s evergreen supermini has just had its market launch in Ireland. I went along to the Irish launch to see the car for myself.

While there is nothing radical about the styling of the new Corsa, all the body panels are in fact new. To the untrained eye, aside from a new lower and wider grille, the fifth generation Corsa is identical to its predecessor.

But look a little bit closer and you will see more sculpting along the sides of the car and those new bulbous ‘3D effect’ light clusters at the back combining to give the Corsa a more chiselled look. The 5 door sacrifices some style for the practicality of rear doors and a higher roofline to the rear of the car, but the 3 door is particularly sporty and stylish.

What's new for the Opel Corsa 2014 model?

The ‘newness’ of the Corsa may not be immediately obvious from the outside, but it certainly is inside. There is a new dashboard and centre console with an interesting mix of surfaces and an appealing curvy design. It’s modern and sophisticated and particularly impressive with the 7” touchscreen fitted as part of the Intellilink infotainment upgrade (standard on higher trimmed models).

There are improvements under the skin that promise to make the Corsa better to drive. There is a new chassis, new damping characteristics for more comfort, new steering geometry and a speed-sensitive electric power steering system, and new transmissions.

The interior of the 2015 Opel Corsa
The interior of the Corsa

One of the most exciting developments for the new Corsa is the introduction of a new turbocharged petrol unit. Opel is following the trend for squeezing more power and economy from a small engine with their new 1.0 litre turbo petrol engine. It comes in two formats (90bhp and 115bhp) but its availability is model specific.

In the sporty 3 door Limited Edition model, it comes with 115bhp and returns up to 58mpg and road tax is €200 per year. The new turbo engine is also available in the five door premium SE model in a 90bhp variant and will cost €190 to tax per year, returning 64mpg. Other engine options are the existing 1.2i (70bhp) and 1.4i (90bhp) petrol engines, and the 1.3 CDTi diesel in 75bhp and 95bhp variants.

Driving the new Corsa

There was a selection of Corsas to drive at the launch with various engines and trim levels. Early indications would suggest the new turbo engine is a peach, nippy and refined, but it is more expensive than the other engines in the range. I drove it in both the 90bhp and 115bhp variants but they both felt equally capable.

Aside from the new engine power casting a warm glow on the new Corsa, it seems like a very capable little car and on the launch it transitioned seamlessly across a variety of roads from motorway, city, and more rural roads without any screams for a breather. It was comfortable for driving and for being a passenger in, with good space front and rear.

The trim levels are S, Excite, SE and Limited Edition, the latter which is a sporty 3 door model. Prices start at €14,895 for the entry level 3 door model in S trim with a 1.2 litre petrol engine.

At the launch I got a closer look at the SE trim and the Limited Edition model. SE has a smart feel with nice seat covers and black and grey interior and pretty much all the equipment you will need.

Did you like it?

Limited Edition is just gorgeous, inside and out. There is a swathe of gloss black across the dash and a red strip integrated into it to match the sporty character of this OPC-inspired model. It’s also the most expensive 3 door model in the Corsa range at €19,395.

Opel Ireland expect Excite trim to be the bestseller here and the spec includes alloy wheels, front fog lamps, Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted audio controls, cruise control, LED DRLs, leather covered steering wheel and height adjustable driver's seat on top of standard equipment like electric front windows and door mirrors, and hill start assist .

Intellilink, Opel’s infotainment system with digital radio, USB and Bluetooth with voice control, comes as standard on SE and Limited Edition trim.

While I think the new grille design is a great addition to the new Corsa, I would have liked to have seen a little more adventure in the styling of the rest of the car. But I can’t fault the Corsa on the smart new interior and first impressions would indicate that this little German model is now an even better all-rounder than before.

New Corsa on sale in Ireland now
New Corsa on sale in Ireland now

Caroline Kidd