The new Dacia Sandero Stepway on test for Changing Lanes!

Dacia Sandero Stepway Review (2021)

The new Dacia Sandero Stepway on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Dacia Sandero Stepway on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Dacia Sandero Stepway!

In 2021 the new Dacia Sandero and Dacia Sandero Stepway arrived in Ireland. It's the crossover-inspired Sandero Stepway that's the subject of this review!

With pricing starting from €12,990 for the Sandero and from €15,990 for the Sandero Stepway, these twins remain truly affordable in today's new car market.

With a new platform, there are now more features for the Sandero including new engines including a Bi-Fuel LPG option, a new automatic transmission and new six-speed manual.

The Dacia Sandero Stepway is the more adventurous of this duo with standard features including a raised ride height, roof rails, skid plate and lashings of plastic cladding - mandatory for any hatchback masquerading as an SUV!

What's so special about the Dacia Sandero Stepway?

In truth we love the look of this new Sandero Stepway, especially in a bright hue like the Desert Orange of the test car. The raised ride height gives it more visual presence whether on the road or in the car park. It has a sort of plucky, robust charm that belies its budget beginnings. In fact the Stepway is already Ireland’s favourite version of the Sandero, representing over 60 per cent of all sales of the model in Ireland.

Exterior dimensions are similar to the previous generation of the car but there is a wider track and more pronounced wheel arches, a lower roof, sloped windscreen and smoother lines throughout. All versions feature LED lighting with a new Y-shaped LED signature at the front, and LED-effect four-element lighting signature at the rear. How glam!

The Dacia Sandero Stepway goes on sale priced from €15,990 in Ireland
The Dacia Sandero Stepway goes on sale priced from €15,990 in Ireland

What are my options?

In Ireland the Sandero Stepway is offered in three trim levels - Essential (from €15,990), Comfort (from €17,790) and Prestige (from €19,290).

All models feature automatic headlamps with improved visibility from the LED light units. Other features include emergency brake assist, hill start assist, blind spot warning and park assist.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, manual air con, DAB radio with steering wheel-mounted controls, display integrated into the dashboard computer screen, smartphone holder on the dashboard, 2 front speakers and Bluetooth® connection, while the Prestige model on test had soft feel steering wheel, front fog lamps, power mirrors, keyless entry, automatic wipers, 8″ touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, automatic air con and 16" diamond effect alloy wheels.

Engine options include a 1.0-litre TCe petrol with 90 hp and a CVT automatic gearbox or a 1.0-litre TCe BiFuel version (100 hp) with a petrol and LPG tank for even better value when it comes to running the car.

The interior of the new Dacia Sandero Stepway
The interior of the new Dacia Sandero Stepway

Inside the 2021 Dacia Sandero Stepway!

It's all looking good so far. The interior has also improved in design and quality. The new generation Sandero interior looks a lot more modern with an 8" glossy touchscreen on all but the very entry model that is compatible with smartphones, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Quality has been improved so Sandero is looking like an even better prospect. Hard plastics feature copiously but the addition of unique orange detailing on the air vents and orange stitching on the upholstery in the Stepway model brightens the interior. There are also some stylish fabric inserts on the dashboard. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake.

The cabin of the Sandero Stepway feels spacious for a compact vehicle. There’s an extra 42 mm of legroom in the rear and it is one of the most spacious in its class. The boot is perfect supermini size too! It has increased to 328 litres and passengers also have more space to put their belongings, with up to 21 litres of storage space dotted throughout the cabin.

The Sandero Stepway has crossover-inspired styling upgrades
The Sandero Stepway has crossover-inspired styling for a more adventurous look!

What's it like to drive?

The latest Dacia Sandero Stepway sits on a new platform and has been designed to deliver better handling, greater steering precision, more efficient engines and improved refinement over the previous model. The CMF modular platform underpinning this car combines greater resistance and rigidity with less weight. Sandero and Stepway models are fitted with a new front axle with rectangular suspension arms that provide more effective shock absorption and enhanced steering.

Anti-roll capacity has been improved and the wheelbase extended for greater cornering stability, while the track is 29mm wider on Stepway to improve handling and behaviour on the road. The new engine mount has been improved with a lighter and stiffer cradle to minimise vibrations in the cabin too.

Here’s where the Dacia Sandero Stepway gets really interesting! New engines including a three cylinder 1.0-litre TCe Bi-Fuel petrol engine with an LPG tank. It's matched to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

Dacia is the only car manufacturer to offer LPG and petrol Bi-Fuel options across its entire range of passenger cars. The cars are converted in the factory, guaranteeing safety and reliability with the LPG tank located in the spare wheel well and filling nozzle next to the petrol filler. LPG (liquid petroleum gas) is sold cheaper at the pump than petrol from some fuel stations around Ireland. The Sandero has 50 litres for petrol and 40 litres for the LPG tank.

The Dacia Sandero Stepway - surprise hit of the year
The Dacia Sandero Stepway - surprise hit of the year

Did you like it?

On the road the Dacia Sandero Stepway feels nippy and agile. It is softly sprung offering a very comfortable driving experience for a small car. It holds the road pretty well too. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.3 litres per 100 km.

The step up in quality and design is much welcome in the Sandero stable. The Stepway is a car that you won't just buy because of the sticker price; it looks really good too with very on-trend crossover-inspired styling cues.

Sandero and Stepway already have a loyal following of fans in Ireland who will be delighted with this new model.

The Dacia Sandero BiFuel is user-friendly despite the name and offers customers a petrol car with a good show of power and the benefit of an LPG tank – if you can top up with LPG locally this is surely a route to more efficient motoring, which should go down very well with savvy Dacia owners!

The Dacia Sandero Stepway is a charming city car with big attitude. It offers incredible value while improved design, refinement and interior quality and technology give it a much-needed boost of modernity. A surprise hit of the year.

Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway on sale now!
Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway on sale now!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Dacia Sandero Stepway BiFuel
Price: 
€19,290
Engine:
1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power:  100 hp
Torque: 160 Nm petrol/ 170 Nm LPG
Top speed:  175 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 11.6 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
130 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€270 per year


The MINI Convertible on test for Changing Lanes!

MINI Convertible Cooper Sport Review

The MINI Convertible on test for Changing Lanes!
The MINI Convertible on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 MINI Convertible!

Ireland’s heatwave of summer 2021 broke just as I was handed the keys to the Zesty Yellow MINI Convertible. It was probably a good thing, saving me the effort of applying sunscreen. In fact, the overcast skies proved a good match to convertible driving, a slight breeze adding even more atmosphere to what turned out to be an unexpected motoring highlight of the year.

MINI make good cars. I had forgotten just how good. Getting into the MINI Convertible is like discovering a part of you that disappeared when life got serious. It took ten years off me at least. The sheer fun of changing gears, the sporty steering, trendy cabin, and cool, classic good looks that have endeared the 21st century MINI to millions for now over two decades.

Reviving the MINI was a very good decision. Creating a fun and playful car that adults can enjoy whether you’re 25 or 85.

Priced from €34,424 for the day-glo MINI Convertible Cooper Sport on test, it's an expensive small car but actually seems like a bit of a bargain relative to the fun behind the wheel. Let me explain.

The MINI Convertible in Zesty Yellow

The MINI Convertible in Zesty Yellow

What's new for the MINI Convertible in 2021?

The revamp for the MINI Convertible in 2021 includes fresh new design and technology updates.

The front-view is dominated by a larger radiator grille and its black, hexagonal surround, and the hallmark round MINI headlights. The position lights have been replaced by vertical air inlets to optimise aerodynamics and the central bumper strip is now in body colour, rather than black. The wheel arch has new contours, the side indicators have been redesigned to feature LED technology and at the back of the car, the fog light is now integrated into the rear apron as a narrow LED unit. At the rear, LED lights in the Union Jack design are now standard for this market too. Zesty Yellow is an exclusive new colour option for the MINI Convertible.

Sport models like the one on test now offer Intelligent Adaptive Suspension as standard, Piano Black Exterior, additional John Cooper Works badging and Dinamica Leather upholstery. Rear Park Distance Control is also included as standard.

As part of the Piano Black Exterior option, the door handles, side scuttles, fuel cap, MINI logo on the bonnet and luggage compartment lid and model lettering and tailpipes of the exhaust system are now finished in high-gloss black, in addition to the surrounds of the headlights, radiator grille and rear lights.

The interior of the MINI Convertible
The interior of the MINI Convertible

Driving it!

Powered by a 1.5-litre three cylinder engine putting out 136 hp, this MINI Convertible will move you with great intent, with 0 – 100 kmh in 8.8 seconds. Driving the MINI is an experience, the famed go-kart handling a real thing, not a myth. This car is fun and tactile to drive. You must wrestle it a bit, pull a gear here and there, fling it in and out of the corners, with all the enthusiasm of a terrier after its favourite toy down the back of the sofa.

The six-speed gearbox is wonderfully notchy, the steering tight and sporty. There are few cars that feel this lively on the road any more, certainly in this price range. Refinement is as good as it should be for a car of this type, yet there’s a natural firmness to the suspension that adds to the atmosphere behind the wheel.

Is it practical? Well, it will happily fit you and your passenger up front but rear seating is not a strong point. If you regularly carry rear passengers, it’s going to be uncomfortable for them. The boot lid opens niftily, and will stow away a few things, but again awkward to access. But hell, it’s a convertible MINI! The fully electric roof also opens and closes in just 18 seconds. And that’s how long it takes for the real fun to begin!

The impossibly fun and glam MINI Convertible!
The fun and glam MINI Convertible Cooper Sport is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine with 136 hp

Inside the 2021 MINI Convertible

The interior is classic MINI – a vibe all its own – one of shiny gloss black, retro switches and that large circular binnacle still doing its job after all these years, just modernised enough for the digital era.

An 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display and Piano Black high-gloss surface are now standard and the audio control unit and function buttons for hazard warning lights and driver assistance systems are integrated more harmoniously into the circular control unit. Chrome elements have been significantly reduced throughout the interior with the two outer air outlets framed by black panels. The internal air vents have been completely redesigned and are now embedded to be flush with the interior surface. There’s also a newly-designed sports leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons. The digital display behind the steering is now standard.

Did you like it?

Yes, yes and yes! The MINI Convertible is flirty and superfluous on the surface. But then spend some real time with it. Find a deserted mountain road, let the roof down and enjoy some good, old fashioned motoring.

This car is an absolute hoot to drive even with the rather basic 136 hp 1.5-litre engine of our test car. It’s about the way you drive the car, the tactile nature of it, something that is gradually becoming rarer in modern cars.

Getting inside is like steeping into a nightclub – all shiny black surfaces and funky lighting. But it’s fun and mischievous, just like the car.

I’d choose the MINI again and again and again.

Behind the wheel of the new MINI Convertible!
Behind the wheel of the new MINI Convertible!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MINI Convertible Cooper Sport
Price: 
€34,424
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 136 hp
Torque: 220 Nm
Top speed: 208 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
118 - 123 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


The 2021 Dacia Sandero has arrived in Ireland!

Dacia Sandero (2021) First Drive Review

The 2021 Dacia Sandero has arrived in Ireland!
The 2021 Dacia Sandero has arrived in Ireland!

Dacia Ireland has launched a new version of the Dacia Sandero supermini here, with pricing starting from a 'shockingly affordable' €12,990. The latest Sandero and Sandero Stepway sport an all-new design with updated equipment and technology. The more 'adventurous' Stepway with rugged crossover charm is Ireland’s favourite version of the Sandero representing over 60 per cent of all Sandero sales in Ireland. We took the new Sandero and Sandero Stepway on a nifty test drive around Dublin to find out what's new.

Enjoy the latest of our Dacia reviews below with the 2021 Dacia Sandero, on Irish roads for the first time!

Looking for something a bit bigger? Read our latest review of the Dacia Duster.

Styling

Styling of the Sandero twins has been updated. Both cars now look even more modern, and, dare we say it, upmarket. Exterior dimensions are similar to the previous generation of the car but tweaks include more pronounced wheel arches, a lower roof, sloped windscreen and smoother lines throughout. A wider track and flush wheels contribute to the lower, more planted appearance on the road. Machine-stamped panels provide a seamless, higher quality fit. All versions feature LED lighting with a new Y-shaped LED signature at the front, and LED-effect four-element lighting signature at the rear. The Dacia Sandero Stepway gets a more rugged makeover with extra cladding, raised ride height, unique grille with Stepway logo, roof bars and metal skid plates. It's definitely the better looking of the two. Though compact, the Stepway simply has more presence and we can see it gaining even more fans with this latest version.

The Dacia Sandero Stepway has a more rugged crossover appearance
The Dacia Sandero Stepway has a more rugged crossover appearance

Interior

The interior has been revamped with enhanced materials and a new design. The very entry models do feel basic with mostly hard plastics and few frills. But the Stepway model we tested in Prestige trim had a more colourful and plush feel. We were impressed with the new infotainment screen (from Comfort trim up) and some new soft touch materials with interesting patterns. So on the surface this one looked good. The Stepway also adds unique orange detailing on the air vents and orange stitching on the upholstery. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake.

Practicality

The Sandero has not grown in size much but it's roomier on the inside. There's an extra 42 mm of legroom in the rear and it is one of the most spacious in its class. The boot is perfect supermini size too! It has increased to 328 litres and passengers also have more space to put their belongings, with up to 21 litres of storage space dotted throughout the cabin.

Engines

Here's where it gets really interesting! New engines including a three cylinder 1.0-litre TCe Bi-Fuel petrol engine, which can also run on LPG. We tested this model with 6-speed manual transmission at the launch and with 100 hp it feels nicely powerful on the road, more than enough for a Sandero's typical 9 to 5. It's the 'quickest' in the range with 0-100 kmh in 11.2 seconds! The LPG tank is located in the spare wheel well and the filling nozzle is next to the petrol filler. Running on LPG, the new Sandero Bi-Fuel releases on average 11 per cent less CO2 emissions than an equivalent petrol engine but is also capable of travelling more than 800 miles when utilising both petrol and LPG tanks – 50 litres for petrol (the same capacity as the tank on petrol-only variants) and 40 litres for the LPG tank. The manufacturer warranty period, servicing costs and frequency are the same as the petrol versions too.

We also tested the more basic 1.0-litre, three cylinder, SCe 65 (Sandero only), which didn't have a huge amount of zest or energy, but probably does the same 9 to 5 around town pretty reliably. It comes with a five-speed manual transmission. For an indication of performance, 0-100 kmh is 16.7 seconds!

There's also the TCe 90, a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit paired with a CVT automatic transmission.

The interior of the new Dacia Sandero Stepway
The interior of the new Dacia Sandero Stepway

Driving it

With a new platform, both Sandero models for 2021 have been designed for better handling, greater steering precision, more efficient engines and improved refinement. Redesigned wing mirrors reduce wind noise and improve cabin refinement. New Sandero and Stepway models are fitted with a new front axle with rectangular suspension arms that provide more effective shock absorption and enhanced steering. Anti-roll capacity has been improved and the wheelbase extended for greater cornering stability, while the track is 41 mm wider on Sandero and 29 mm on new Sandero Stepway to improve handling and behaviour on the road. The new engine mount has been improved with a lighter and stiffer cradle to minimise vibrations in the cabin too. It's fine to drive but on first impressions it did lack some of the refinement and sophistication of more expensive models like the Renault Clio for example.

Equipment

As the first Dacia models based on the CMF modular platform, the new Sandero and Stepway benefit from more active safety features than before. All models feature automatic headlamps with improved visibility from the LED light units. Other features include emergency brake assist, hill start assist, blind spot warning and park assist.

The Sandero is available in Essence, Comfort and Prestige (Stepway only) trim.

Standard equipment includes 15" steel wheels with covers, cruise control, air con, electric front windows, DAB radio with steering wheel-mounted controls, display integrated into the dashboard computer screen, smartphone holder on the dashboard, 2 front speakers and Bluetooth® connection.

The Comfort model adds 15" flex wheels with covers, front grille with chrome, soft feel steering wheel, satin chrome trim inside, front fog lamps, power mirrors, keyless entry, automatic wipers, 8" touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear parking sensors and rear view camera.

The Sandero Stepway is available from €15,990
The Sandero Stepway is available from €15,990 in Ireland

Dacia Sandero Pricing For Ireland

ENGINE TRIM ANNUAL ROAD TAX RRP
All-new Sandero
SCe 65 Essential €190 €12,990
TCe 100 LPG Essential €200 €14,490
TCe 100 LPG Comfort €200 €16,290
TCe 90 CVT Comfort €210 €18,290
All-new Sandero Stepway
TCe 100 LPG STEPWAY Essential €210 €15,990
TCe 100 LPG STEPWAY Comfort €210 €17,790
TCe 90 CVT STEPWAY Comfort €210 €19,790
TCe 100 LPG STEPWAY Prestige €200 €19,290
TCe 90 CVT STEPWAY Prestige €210 €21,290

Rivals

The new Dacia Sandero rivals cars such as the Kia Rio, Hyundai i20, Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta.

Summary

The new Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway are maturing in the right way with enhanced quality and technology. One can simply not argue with the price. At a time when cars are getting even more expensive to buy, the Sandero remains refreshingly simple and affordable. These cars look and feel better on the road with a new platform bringing more technology to the mix. Some engines offer more zest than others and the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel is certainly one to watch! We look forward to bringing you a more detailed review later in the year.

Caroline Kidd

Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway on sale now!
Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway on sale now!

The new Audi A1 citycarver on test for Changing Lanes!

Audi A1 Citycarver (2020) Review

The new Audi A1 citycarver on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Audi A1 citycarver on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Audi A1 citycarver.

In 2019, Audi launched a new generation of the A1 city car. At Changing Lanes, we really like the A1 for its new angular, sporty styling, nifty driving dynamics and one of the best interiors in the small car class, dripping with the latest Audi technology features. While this is a premium small car bearing a premium car price, we couldn’t see anyone being disappointed with the overall Audi A1 experience.

For the first time Audi has now added the new Audi A1 citycarver derivative to the A1 range. Described as ideal for navigating the urban jungle, the citycarver is inspired by trends for crossovers. So Audi has raised the ride height of their diminutive city car, and thrown some more outdoors apparel at it.

What's so special about the new Audi A1 citycarver?

There's four centimetres more ground clearance which gives the A1 citycarver more presence, along with classic Audi Singleframe grille with honeycomb pattern. Two characteristic slots above the grille differentiate it from the A1 Sportback. Wheel arch enhancements, redesigned sills in a contrasting colour, unique bumpers, 17” alloys, and different interior seat fabric also give it a more unique look. At the rear, a new look bumper echoes the robust look of the front end. A contrast roof is also included.

When you meet the Audi A1 citycarver for the first time, you might be hard pressed to see the changes but the extra ride height is probably most notable. I love the A1’s angular charm anyway and cool slotted bonnet. Under the skin, there's also a modified suspension.

The A1 citycarver is inspired by crossovers with more ride height and rugged styling
The A1 citycarver is inspired by crossovers with more ride height and rugged styling

Inside the new A1 citycarver

Inside, the Audi A1 citycarver has the same high quality cabin as the rest of the A1 range. I’m not shy to say it’s one of the best cabin experiences of any small car. It’s cool, grown up and sophisticated, taking features from larger Audis, like the 8.8” MMI infotainment screen and digital instrument panel with optional virtual cockpit. The instrument panel is tilted toward the driver. Aside from hard plastics in the door panels, the dashboard materials and switches look and feel good with lots of cool glossy black.

Aside from the digital tech, other features include LED headlights with dynamic rear turn signals, air conditioning, cruise control, Audi pre-sense front and lane departure warning

Inside it’s a nicely sized compact car with generous footwells in the rear and a 335 litre boot. Practical as it gets for a small car too. The luggage compartment package, features a net and is a handy feature for everyday life in the city!

The interior of the new Audi A1 citycarver
The interior of the new Audi A1 citycarver

Driving the Audi A1 citycarver

In terms of engines the A1 citycarver comes exclusively with the 30 TFSI, which is a good thing as the 1.0-litre TFSI has a decent 116 hp and running costs are competitive for a small car. It’s no sports car but is does feel nippy and fun to drive on the road. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 5.9 litres per 100 km, including some motorway driving.

There is a bit more lean in corners with that small extra ride height, but there is so much grip it hardly matters behind the wheel. Comfort levels are good too by small car standards.

The Audi A1 citycarver is a high spec vehicle and retails from about €29,350 under current 2020 pricing. The Audi A1 Sportback range kicks off at €24,810 for a less well-equipped model. But a high spec sporty S line model with the same 1.0-litre engine with 116 hp retails for roughly the same money as the A1 citycarver so it's a pretty straightforward choice for small car buyers who want something a little fun and exclusive.

The Audi A1 citycarver on sale from €29,350
The Audi A1 citycarver on sale from €29,350

The Audi A1 delivers on both counts. If you love the look of the A1 citycarver with its robust wheel arch cladding and contrast sills, then by all means this is a fabulous buy. At Changing Lanes we're more excited about the A1 S line's lowered, sporty look, but it is a matter of opinion and the citycarver certainly follows current market trends.

Not only does it look great, but it's also still agile and fun for the city. Parking is easy and this is a well equipped car with the latest in car technology and features. Yes you pay a premium for that Audi badge upon the grille but this is a top quality small car and a pure delight. Loved it.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi A1 citycarver 30 TFSI
Price: 
€29,650
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
116 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.4 seconds
Top speed: 203 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 6.1-6.4 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 139-145 g/km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year

The Audi A1 citycarver is expensive but cool and fun to drive
The Audi A1 citycarver is expensive but cool and fun to drive

The new Hyundai i10 on test for Changing Lanes!

Hyundai i10 (2020) Review

The new Hyundai i10 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Hyundai i10 on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the Hyundai i10.

The latest generation of the Hyundai i10 goes on sale in Ireland, priced from €14,800. Small and simple, the Hyundai i10 is the most popular city car on sale in the country. Now Hyundai has launched an all-new model, billing it as "the small car that makes the big statement." In Ireland the new i10 will build on the success of the previous generation, a former Irish Car of the Year category winner, which has established itself well in the A segment.

What's new for the 2020 Hyundai i10?

The i10 offers a lot for a starting price of just €14,800, rising to €18,450 for a top of the range automatic model. Hyundai promises a youthful spirit, and certainly in a bright colour like the blue of our test car, the i10 helps you find the bright side of life.

Hyundai has modernised the design of the i10 to provide maximum interior space within a small footprint. It is 20 mm wider and 20 mm shorter compared to the previous model, giving it a wider, sportier stance on the road. The belt line has been lowered to improve visibility for driver and passengers. The front end is quite distinct with a wide grille incorporating round LED daytime running lights with a honeycomb pattern. At the rear, two new horizontal creases lines break up the soft surfaces of the boot and run into the taillights. The X-shaped C-pillar is a nice touch especially in combination with the two tone roof option, drawing the eye to the pillar-mounted i10 logo.

The new i10 goes on sale from €14,800 in Ireland
The new i10 goes on sale from €14,800 in Ireland

What’s the range like in Ireland?

There is one petrol engine available for the new i10 in Ireland. It's a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre affair that falls into motor tax band A with annual motor tax of just €180 or €190 per year depending on trim and alloy wheel size. There are three trim levels - Classic (from €14,800), Deluxe (from €16,250) and Deluxe Plus (from €17,250). A five speed manual comes as standard with the option of an automatic. The Deluxe Plus model on test with a two tone roof retails from €17,650.

Standard features include leather wrapped steering wheel, split folding seats, driver’s height adjustment, cruise control, Bluetooth, electric front windows, driver attention warning, lane keep assist and forward collision warning. The Deluxe adds 15” alloys, electric door mirrors, manual air conditioning, rear privacy glass, front fog lights, and LED daytime running lights. Deluxe Plus adds 8” touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple Car Play, wireless charger and rear parking camera.

I was driving the i10 Deluxe Plus with two tone roof, which is clearly the cool one. The circular daytime running lamps, two tone roof and cheeky i10 scripted in a flick of black at the rear of the car bestow some character upon the smallest Hyundai. It’s visual stance is improved by its lowered roof and wider body.

The interior of the new Hyundai i10
The interior of the new Hyundai i10

Inside the new Hyundai i10

Inside, Hyundai designers have tried to give the i10 a youthful impression without compromising usability. The i10 is a well packaged small car with generous interior space for this class of vehicle and plenty of storage. The wheelbase has been increased by 40 mm for this new model, to create more interior space. At 252 litres, the boot is one of the largest in the segment. They have also lowered the lift-in height compared to the previous model and there is also a two-stage luggage board.

The interior feels good for a small car, and while there are a lot of hard plastics, at this price we don't really care. The 8" touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto comes as standard on the Deluxe Plus to give a pleasant technology upgrade.

There is also an impressive list of safety features available for such a small car. We couldn’t help but notice the little lane assist symbol making sure we had good lane discipline. We also noted the rear reversing camera. The new i10 is equipped with the latest Hyundai SmartSense active safety and driving assistance features including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), High Beam Assist (HBA), Lane Keep Assist System (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW) and the Intelligent Speed Limit Warning (ISLW).

The Hyundai i10 is powered by a small petrol engine
The Hyundai i10 is powered by a small petrol engine

Driving the i10

The new i10 has been designed, developed, and manufactured in Europe. The brand say handling has been improved through changes to the rear suspension and steering system. A small urban runaround powered by a simple 1.0-litre petrol engine with less than 70 hp, means that you won't be trying anything silly behind the wheel. But as a simple means of A to B, it does go and go. I had it on the motorway and it was not a problem.

This car is perfect for nipping to the shops and excels in the urban environment with its super compact dimensions making it easy to park. Controls are light, with not much weight in the steering at all. It’s far from a sports car but this makes it ideal for parking. The i10 covers town, country and even motorway without any fuss. The i10's small non-turbo petrol engine will have to work hard to get to 100 kmh – 14.6 seconds in fact - but once it gets there, it's quiet with a decent level of refinement and comfort for such a small car.

The Hyundai i10 has its market and the brand has modernised the i10 sufficiently to keep the target market happy with an improved interior and updated styling and equipment. The engine is not a performance star but it offers good economy and over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.0 litres per 100 km.

The i10 is easy to drive and park in its natural habitat around town, but behaves like a bigger car should you take it out onto major roads.

Hyundai has had great success in Ireland with their small car offering including the i10, i20 and Kona compact crossover. The i10 makes a great case on price and gear, making itself still very relevant to the Irish market.

Plenty of small car charm to be found in the new i10
Plenty of small car charm to be found in the new i10

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai i10 Deluxe Plus with 2 tone roof
Price: 
€17,650
Engine: 1.0-litre petrol
Power: 
67 hp
Torque: 96 Nm
0-100km/h:  
14.8 seconds
Top speed: 156 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 4.8-5.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 120 g/km
Motor Tax:  €190 per year


The Mazda2 on test for Changing Lanes in beautiful Soul Red Crystal!

Mazda2 (2020) Mild Hybrid Review

The Mazda2 on test for Changing Lanes in beautiful Soul Red Crystal!
The Mazda2 on test for Changing Lanes in beautiful Soul Red Crystal!

Caroline drives the 2020 Mazda2!

The 2020 Mazda2 is on sale in Ireland priced from €19,755. Mazda’s now well established small car debuts mild hybrid technology for the first time, along with a minor revamp to style and design. Always a little charmer, we were excited to meet the latest edition of the Mazda2.

I first encountered the Mazda2 back in 2016. In fact it was my first time to drive a Mazda. Since then I’ve had the pleasure to explore and discover the rest of the range. I’ve seen Mazda evolve and refine their brand character – sharp as a Samurai sword mix of premium style, quality interiors and top engineering inspired by the Jinba Ittai philosophy.

Mazda is proud of its Japanese heritage yet of all the brands rising from the Far East, Mazda is the one who has most successfully merged the form and function of a Japanese car with a more European style that makes their cars ultimately very desirable this part of the world.

The Mazda2 is on sale priced from €19,755
The Mazda2 is on sale priced from €19,755

What's new for the 2020 Mazda2?

So it is against this backdrop I meet the Mazda2 again. This is not a new generation model in line with the latest Mazda3 and CX-30. It is a revamp but the brand modernises the smallest in the stable with mild hybrid technology. Of course you are no one in the industry right now unless you are experimenting with mild hybrid tech in your combustion engines. It’s part of Mazda’s multi solution approach to reduce carbon emissions in their fleet; furthermore the brand’s first all-electric crossover the Mazda MX-30 is expected in Ireland in early 2021.

But as a nifty urban runaround, the Mazda2 gives us a neat naturally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol engine, throws in some mild hybrid tech and what comes out? On paper a very economical small car. We will get to its real world performance later in this review.

The Mazda2 of course pounces into my life in the glorious Soul Red Crystal, which will set you back €870. But there is no other way to make a statement with your Mazda. This colour suits the car’s exquisite surfacing perfectly. You can’t help but stand at different angles and admire the view.

Mazda has updated the front and rear bumpers, front grille, headlights and rear combination lights; but you would be hard pressed to know by looking at it. The grille design gets a new stud pattern while the lower front and rear bumpers feature horizontal chrome trim garnishes. There are also newly-designed 16-inch alloy wheels trimmed with high-gloss paint to heighten the premium appearance of the new Mazda2.

Mild hybrid technology debuts in the Mazda2 for the first time
Mild hybrid technology debuts in the Mazda2 for the first time

Inside the Mazda2

Inside the layout of the cabin remains the same with a super stylish horizontal layout. It’s a very handsome interior made all the more special by neat circular vents and soft touch padding stretching the width of the dash.

For 2020 there are three new, distinctive and individual interior schemes. They incorporate new leather upholstery, door and dash trim, and air-conditioning vent louvres to reinforce the premium visual and tactile quality of the updated cabin. For example my GT model featured an elegant navy blue theme.

Like all Mazdas, the controls feel good quality and premium. There is a different vibe to this Mazda2 than say a Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio. Yet the Mazda2 is now under pressure from contemporary rivals like the new Peugeot 208 for example. It’s nice but starting to feel a bit old fashioned in the cabin and the facelift doesn’t really fix that.

In terms of space, the Mazda2 is neither the biggest or smallest in this class of vehicle, but in terms of rear legroom it's not as cramped as you might imagine for a small car. The boot is 280 litres in total and has some depth to it.

The interior of the 2020 Mazda2
The interior of the 2020 Mazda2

What’s the range like in Ireland?

The range kicks off at €19,755, which is a little more than the cheapest rivals; though Mazda Ireland offers a premium level of standard kit. It’s offered with just one petrol engine with 75 or 90 hp depending on trim level. Trim levels include GS, GS Sport and GT.

GS models have engine start button, LED headlights, 15" alloy wheels and cruise control. The GS Sport (from €21,065) adds features such as automatic air conditioning, 16" alloy wheels as well as MZD Connect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The top of the range GT model on test (from €22,155) has lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and automatic lights and wipers.

Driving the Mazda2

Mazda has made a few engineering updates to improve the Mazda2 experience behind the wheel. The 2020 Mazda2 also adopts the latest developments in Mazda's Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture to enhance the Jinba-Ittai driving experience. An updated suspension system promises smooth vehicle movement and a comfortable ride - it works. There is also a new front seat design that Mazda says offers ideal occupant posture to reduce head sway and minimise fatigue for easier driving - that’s attention to detail! G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) that debuted on the Mazda3 back in 2019 also features for even more stable vehicle behaviour at speed.

Refinement has been boosted with a thicker cabin ceiling headliner, the addition of back door seal lips and vibration damping material on the inner rear wheel housing. Damper improvements and newly developed tyres also suppress road surface vibration and reduce road noise.

What results is one the most premium, refined and fun to drive small cars in 2020. Mazda makes much of their Jinba Ittai driving philosophy, which roughly translates to the feeling of oneness between a horse and its rider. This is how they want you to feel behind the wheel of a modern Mazda – whether it’s a supermini like the Mazda2 or the MX-5 roadster. I can tell you that you will enjoy driving your Mazda2 even if you’re not sure exactly why!

The controls all knit together exceptionally well. There is no flimsiness to this car. It’s solid…but fun. The gear change is so short and slick and satisfying, just like an MX-5! The car goes around corners like a pro skater, gliding, gripping effortlessly.

The Mazda2 has also had some improvements to the driving experience for 2020
The Mazda2 has also had some improvements to the driving experience for 2020

What's so great about Mazda mild hybrid?

The new Mazda M Hybrid system gives the 2020 Mazda2 MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle) capability. It combines electric motor assistance with recovered energy recycling to improve fuel efficiency, reduce CO2 and offer a smoother driving experience after start stop is initiated for example.

There is just one engine available in the Mazda2 - a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine with 75 or 90 hp that sees emissions as low as 94 g of CO2 with the addition of mild hybrid technology. This means in Ireland the Mazda2 qualifies for motor tax of just €180 per year. This car is also exceptionally frugal, with it very much possible to beat the 5.3 litre per 100 km official fuel consumption figure!

However efficiency is not the the only story to tell about this car. The engine in the Mazda2 is a bit of an enigma. You will love it for its quiet nature, the fact that it's smooth and efficient; but still long for a bit more drama when you press the accelerator. While rivals now offer more turbocharged small capacity petrol engines in superminis, Mazda goes no-turbo with a higher capacity engine. There is a fundamental difference in power delivery in that there is no low down shove of torque as you would get from a turbo unit that makes you think that you are flying. 0 to 100 km/h in the Mazda is 9.7 seconds, which is decent. But with just 148 Nm of torque available you will find yourself working the gearbox a lot while driving it.

It is fantastic at low speed urban driving, nipping in and around town. You don’t notice any real shortcomings and it is astonishingly efficient. But on motorways you can struggle to maintain a comfortable cruising speed on a long journey without dropping a gear or two to maintain revs.

Did you like it?

The Mazda2 will appeal to anyone who appreciates quality in their small car. This car feels wonderful on the road, fun to drive and refined. The engine available is super efficient and cheap to run, ideal for town or city use, but doesn’t offer the most thrilling performance.

With the spec and build of this vehicle, Mazda offers a good value small car all things considered. There is nothing radically new for this Mazda2, but buyers will find a solid small car with lots of style and class.

The Mazda2 is a super efficient small car with plenty of style and class
The Mazda2 is a super efficient small car with plenty of style and class

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mazda2 M Hybrid GT
Price: 
€22,155 (from €19,755)
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol
Power: 
90 hp
Torque: 148 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.7 seconds
Top speed: 183 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 120g/100km
Motor Tax:  €180 per year


The new Peugeot 208 on test for Changing Lanes in the Blackstairs Mountains

Peugeot 208 (2020) Review

The new Peugeot 208 on test for Changing Lanes in the Blackstairs Mountains
The new Peugeot 208 on test for Changing Lanes in the Blackstairs Mountains

Caroline drives the new Peugeot 208!

2020 sees the arrival of an all-new Peugeot 208 hatchback in Ireland. Headline features are a radical new look and stunning new interior concept that raises the game for small cars. Peugeot is also making waves with the debut of the first ever all electric, e-208, along with petrol and diesel variants. The 208 range starts from €18,300 in Ireland. Let’s take a closer look.

When Peugeot revealed the new latest generation of the 208 back in 2019, it was a radical departure in design for the French supermini. A slew of awards followed including European Car of the Year and a Red Dot Design Award. In January, the new Peugeot 208 made its debut in Ireland, so it is from an Irish context we review it now.

Peugeot in Ireland has seen their lion in ascent. The launch of the new generation 3008 in 2017 boosted the brand’s fortunes. This award-winner debuted stunning SUV style and innovative i-Cockpit interior arrangement.

What's so special about the new Peugeot 208?

Now these top-drawer Peugeot character traits have worked their way down to the 208. What results is a charismatic small car that brings new levels of engagement and presence to the B-segment. Just like the trendsetter 205 from 30 years ago, the Peugeot 208 disrupts any notion that small cars need be boring.

The new 208 is available with a choice of diesel, petrol or electric
The new 208 is available with a choice of diesel, petrol or electric

The new 208 is a fantastic piece of bold design. It has a strong image from the front with new Peugeot ‘face’ characterised by a distinct headlamp and LED light signature. At the rear, there is real design flair with the black band stretching the full width of the boot lid, P E U G E O T typed out across the boot lid, and '3-claw' LED rear light signature. The GT Line gets charismatic black wheel arches, a nice retro touch inspired by the legendary 205 GTi. There is also GT Line badging in the C pillar and on the rear of the car. Peugeot Ireland is offering Faro Yellow as a no cost option. It gives the car a really special vibe that turns heads wherever it goes!

Inside the 2020 Peugeot 208

Inside, the 208 has a brand new interior inspired by the brand’s larger models. The new generation cockpit sits very well here, translating perfectly to a small car. It feels very premium and stylish with a nice mix of materials. GT Line models have contrasting vibrant green stitching to add energy to the cabin. All new 208s get the Peugeot i-Cockpit arrangement - digital instrument panel, touchscreen with elegant piano key short cut buttons, and a compact steering wheel. We still lament the ventilation controls being wrapped up and controlled via the touchscreen but it's a minor annoyance in a cabin this glam.

But even more impressive is the 3D digital instrument cluster standard from Allure and above, where some information appears closer to you. It is an incredible piece of design and technology to find in a small car. Peugeot is really pulling out all the stops in their bid to move their brand upmarket, With this interior you don’t question it at all.

The 2020 Peugeot 208 is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor. Yet this is still a small car in the traditional sense and all the better for it. Proportions are perfect on the outside. Inside cabin space is competitive for the small car class. It's not the biggest inside but guess what - it's a small car! It doesn't have to be. The rear bench is probably best left to two people. The boot is 311 litres with considerable depth. Irish buyers get a spare wheel, which is becoming a rarity these days. But always very reassuring!

Inside the new Peugeot 208
Inside the new Peugeot 208

What’s the new 208 range like in Ireland?

In Ireland you can choose from three trim levels – Active (from €18,300), Allure (from €21,450) and GT Line (from €23,595). The e-208 is available in all three levels too, but also as a top of the range GT model (from €32,980).

If you want a combustion engine in your 208, you have good choice. There is a 1.2-litre entry level model with 75 hp and five speed manual gearbox. For a bit more power, enjoy the 1.2-litre turbo petrol with 100 hp (6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic) or 130 hp (8-speed automatic). There’s also a 1.5-litre diesel manual available with 100 hp and returning fuel consumption of 4.2 l/100 km (WLTP). The e-208 is powered by a 50 kWh battery with 136 hp and a WLTP range of 350 km.

The range kicks off at €18,300 for the 208 in Active trim with a 1.2-litre petrol engine (75 hp). The 1.2-litre turbo petrol with more power (100 hp) starts from €19,550. Diesels start from €21,750, while the electric range starts from €27,334, including VRT relief and Government grants.

Standard equipment includes 16” alloy wheels, spare wheel, multifunctional leather steering wheel, hands free start, air conditioning, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, auto headlamps, rear parking sensors and 7” touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

My 208 GT Line test car in Faro Yellow with a 1.2-litre 100 hp engine retails from €23,595. Equipment highlights include 17” alloys, frameless electro-chrome rear view mirror, full LED headlamps, LED side indicators, high beam assist, reverse camera with Visiopark 180, ambient lighting, GT Line badge and styling, automatic climate control, automatic lights and wipers, electric parking brake, and electric folding mirrors.

The 2020 Peugeot 208 is available from €18,300 in Ireland
The 2020 Peugeot 208 is available from €18,300 in Ireland

Driving the Peugeot 208

Built on the latest generation CMP platform, the new Peugeot 208 is 30 kg lighter than the car it replaces and comes with improved aerodynamics and reduced roll resistance. On the road, the new 208 feels tighter and more driver focused. The small, compact steering wheel lends a sporty feel but there are few sensations reaching the rim - instead moments of pleasure on a twisty road are delivered by a grippy front end. Refinement is very good for a small car and the 208 will take you from town to motorway with ease. Comfort is a little compromised by the GT Line model but it is the sacrifice you make for good looks!

The 1.2-litre petrol engine deserves a special mention because it is a delight to drive in the 208. It’s smooth and lovely, delivering 0 – 100 km h acceleration in 9.9 seconds. It feels lively and feisty, without ever getting too noisy while you're chasing revs. Over a week of driving, my average fuel consumption was 6.0 l/100 km, so it delivers good small car economy and running costs too.

Did you like it?

The new 208 has already won internationally for its bold design and innovation. Here it will stand out for the breadth of the range and value to be had. With so many options including petrol, diesel and electric, automatic and manual gearboxes, buyers will find the right balance for their budget and needs.

For the first time ever, there is an all electric 208 available. the new Peugeot e-208
For the first time ever, there is an all electric 208 available. the new Peugeot e-208

The Active models are the most affordable in the range, with a good standard specification and smart engines available. Going up the trim levels adds more stand out style and equipment. Particularly the GT Line model on test sits comfortably on par against premium rivals like the Audi A1. There is a market for posh superminis and the 208 is a sporty, stylish and individual contender.

On the road the 208 has been sharpened up, but the interior is the most outstanding feature of this car. The detail and arrangement is so modern and not like anything we’ve seen before in the small car class. The super glam look won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does grab your attention.

The 208 has stayed a small car in the race to be bigger. So if you're after the most comfortable supermini for rear passengers, this isn't it. But if you just want a cool small car, this is it.

2020 has also seen pace gathering in Peugeot’s move to electrification. Not only has the brand launched the first ever electric compact 208, but there are also more hybrids coming to market including the 508 and 3008 plug-in hybrids. The new Peugeot 2008 SUV range in dealers now will also add momentum.

The new Peugeot 208, designed to add energy to the B segment, marks a turning point for Peugeot once again.

The new 208 raises the bar for design in the B segment
The new 208 raises the bar for design in the B segment

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot 208 GT Line 1.2 Puretech 100 hp
Price: 
€23,595 (from €18,300)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
100 hp
Torque: 205 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.9 seconds
Top speed: 188 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.5-5/6 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 124-126g/100km
Motor Tax: €180 per year


The 2020 Renault Clio!

2020 Renault Clio TCe 100 Petrol Review

The 2020 Renault Clio!
The 2020 Renault Clio!

A new Renault Clio has just reached Ireland in time for 2020 new car sales! The fifth generation of the iconic small French hatchback has matured just like a fine Bordeaux that gets better with age. Priced from €17,195, the headline features for new Clio are refreshed looks, a new cabin, new petrol engine, new technology and a new trim line.

In the 30 years since the iconic supermini first went on sale, the Renault Clio has sold 55,000 models in Ireland with the previous generation Clio being the most successful - 12,000 units sold to date.

What's new for the 2020 Renault Clio?

The Clio has a new look but it's a gentle evolution of a very successful design. The previous generation Clio that debuted in 2012 was a dramatic departure of what had come before. It was top designer Laurens van den Acker's first masterpiece for Renault and was the start of a cascade of stylish new Renaults with clearly defined road presence depicted in sensuous curves and distinct light signature.

Inside the new Renault Clio
Inside the new Renault Clio

The 2020 Renault Clio matures with some stretching and refining of surfaces. The bonnet features sculpted ribs, while the grille is now bigger and the front bumper more pronounced.

The side profile is one of the best in the segment - sleek and stylish - with hidden window-mounted rear door handles giving the sporty look of a three-door model. Full LED headlamps are flanked by Renault’s C-Shaped daytime running light signature. The colour palette features the eye-catching Valencia Orange - specially treated for a radiant shine - and the classic 'looks good everywhere in every weather' Iron Blue.

Inside the new Renault Clio

However it’s inside where we see some really welcome changes. There’s a new interior design that has matured but is still textured enough to not be boring. Material quality has improved and the new driver instrument panel looks much better, along with a new infotainment system with either 7-inch or 9.3-inch touchscreen. You’ll still probably skip Renault's interface and head straight to Apple Car Play or Android Auto connectivity for ease of use.

The new Clio available from €17,195
The new Clio available from €17,195

Renault Ireland is offering new Clio in four trim lines: Expression, Dynamique, Iconic and a new sporty-looking R.S. Line. Full LED lights come as standard as do air con and cruise control with speed limiter, ADAS safety systems, electric windows and mirrors. Dynamique features the 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while Iconic’s EasyLink with built-in navigation includes intuitive Google address search. The R.S. Line has full exterior R.S. look, with 17” alloy wheels, special interior trim and the 9.3” EasyLink screen as standard.

My test car was a Clio 1.0 litre 100 hp in Iconic trim line with good specification and priced from €20,395.

Is it practical?

There’s also now more space than ever in the new Clio, despite being 12 mm shorter and 8 mm lower than its predecessor. The new front seat design gives more comfort and support but the design also frees up more legroom in the rear. Elsewhere, boot capacity has increased to 391 litres, and there's a further 26 litres of storage dotted around the cabin.

There's currently a line-up of small efficient petrol and diesel engines, though a 1.6-litre ‘E-TECH’ petrol-electric hybrid is on the way later in 2020. There's an entry level three-cylinder naturally aspirated SCe 75 with 72 hp, but the pick of the range is the new 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit with 100 hp ('TCe 100').

Renault has introduced an excellent new petrol engine into the Clio range
Renault has introduced an excellent new petrol engine into the Clio range

I absolutely adored this engine. It feels nippy and refined and is truly efficient. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was just 5.0l/100km! This engine is available on Dynamique trim and above from €19,095. It's fitted as standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, but the engine is also available with a seven-speed CVT gearbox.

There's also a 'TCe 130' turbo petrol engine with more power again and available exclusively with the seven-speed EDC dual-clutch transmission.

The 'Blue dCi 85' diesel is a 1.5-litre unit and has a six-speed manual gearbox. Official WLTP fuel economy figure for this model is just 4.2 l/100 km.

New 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
New 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Driving the 2020 Renault Clio

The 2020 Renault Clio sits on a new Renault CMF-B platform, which delivers improvements in space, safety, technology and weight saving. This car is light and athletic on the road. Refinement is also excellent and the Clio is as comfortable on motorway runs as it is in town or country road driving. The TCe 100 positively hums and is very efficient.

You quickly blend into the groove with the new Clio. There's good value to be had in the Clio range and it's a great all rounder. The cabin might not be the last word in luxury, but it's a much improved interior that's fun and cheerful to spend time in. The new 1.2-litre petrol engine is highly desirable and makes the car more versatile.

This is a really great small car!

Caroline and the new Renault Clio in Valencia Orange!
Caroline and the new Renault Clio in Valencia Orange!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Clio TCe 100 Iconic
Price: 
€20,395
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
100 hp
Torque: 160 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.8 seconds
Top speed: 187 km/h
Economy: 
5.2/100km
CO2 emissions:  
118g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year

 


The new 2020 Opel Corsa - it's hot!

Opel Corsa 2020 First Drive Review

The new 2020 Opel Corsa - it's hot!
The new 2020 Opel Corsa - it's hot!

There’s an all-new Opel Corsa arriving in dealerships now in Ireland. The Corsa is Opel’s most popular model worldwide and a household name since 1982. Now this historic supermini hero is in its sixth generation - but has never looked better! Built on a new platform, the new Corsa is lighter and more stylish than before with a welcome addition of new technology and equipment. Caroline travelled to Croatia with Opel Ireland to test drive the 2020 Opel Corsa.

Styling

The previous generation Corsa was rather disappointing in the style stakes but that’s been rectified. This new Corsa is seriously desirable in the metal – compact and sporty – with a raft of colour and trim options that depart a different vibe for whatever you’re having yourself. From sporty SRi to city smart Elite, hues ranging from cool grey to cheeky ruby red, the new Corsa has something for everyone! A contrast black roof is available on some models also.

Interior

The interior of the 2020 Opel Corsa has also been extensively modernised. Build quality is good and there is a grown-up feeling in here. It’s quite a conservative cabin so the red trim of the SRi model is a real fun and welcome addition. In Ireland, cars will be specced from standard with a 7” colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which will keep younger drivers very happy. Top of the range models get a 10” screen.

The interior of the new Corsa
The interior of the new Corsa

Practicality

The new Corsa carries pretty much the same dimensions as the previous generation of the car. Rear seating is okay for the supermini class but legroom and headroom are not the most generous in the class. The boot volume is up 24 litres to a total of 309 litres. The rear seats split fold 60:40.

Engines

At launch, the Opel Corsa is available in Ireland with a 1.2-litre petrol (75 hp), a 1.2-litre turbo petrol (100 hp) and a 1.5-litre diesel (102 hp). A new electric version, the Corsa-e, will arrive in Ireland in March with a range up to 330 km.

On the road

The new Corsa is lighter, lower and more rigid. The driving position has been much improved and it is now a more engaging car to drive. It sits on a new platform that it shares with the new Peugeot 208 however Opel engineers insist that they have tuned this car 'to be an Opel’.

We can believe it. Opel has such confidence in this car that they took us to the beautiful Dalmatian coast of Croatia and gave us roads that had many twists and turns, climbs and descents, to put the Corsa through its paces and have fun. The car was well set up for this. Yes the suspension is on the firm side but the Corsa is agile and fun to drive as small cars should be.

The Corsa is available with petrol and diesel engines, with a new electric Corsa-e on the way in March
The Corsa is available with petrol and diesel engines, with a new electric Corsa-e on the way in March

We sampled the new 1.2-litre turbo unit with 100 hp in Elite trim and the 130 hp version in the SRi spec. The 1.2 130 hp engine won’t make its way to Ireland. The 100 hp engine is very nice to drive, smooth and chirpy through the gears. A manual gearbox is standard on many models but there’s also a new 8-speed automatic, which we had the opportunity to test. For a small petrol auto combination, on a first encounter it performed well.

Equipment

In Ireland the new Corsa will be available in SC, SC Premium, SRi, SRi Premium and Elite.

The car will be well specced from base with standard equipment including 16” alloys, LED headlights, touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, air con, leather covered steering wheel, cruise control, electric door mirrors and front windows, high beam assist, lane departure warning with lane assist, traffic sign recognition and emergency city braking.

SC Premium will add heated front seats and steering wheel, automatic lights and wipers, anti dazzle rear view mirror and rear parking sensors.

Boot space in the new Opel Corsa
Boot space in the new Opel Corsa

SRi will add Opel Connect, sports style front seats, sport mode switch, LED tail lights, LED front fog lights, 16” Hurricane alloys, chrome tailpipe, black roof and rear privacy glass.

SRi Premium adds heated front seats and steering wheel, auto lights and wipers, keyless entry and start, electric parking brake and electronic climate control.

Elite models have 17” alloys, 10” infotainment screen, Multimedia Navi, heated front seats and steering wheel, auto lights and wipers, fabric and leather effect trim and rear view camera.

Pricing

In Ireland the new Corsa range kicks off at €17,975 for the SC, €18,875 for SC Premium, €23,000 for SRi, €24,300 for SRi Premium and €23,645 for Elite. The new 1.2-litre 100hp engine is available from €21,695 and the diesel from €21,645.

The Opel Corsa B of the 1990s was the most successful Corsa to date
The Opel Corsa B of the 1990s was the most successful Corsa to date

Rivals

Rivals include the Renault Clio, Peugeot 208, Citroen C3, Toyota Yaris and Mazda2.

Summary

The new Opel Corsa is a much improved car. Gone goes the frumpy look and in comes a stylish smart supermini with lots of kerb appeal. Technically, it’s lighter and more fun to drive than before. On price, it’s not the cheapest but when you dig a bit you can see that the entry model is a highly equipped car. The tastier SRi and Elite versions do carry quite a premium, however the Corsa feels fun and special enough to warrant a place in the higher end of the market for stylish, high spec superminis.

Welcome back Corsa!

 


The new Audi A1

Audi A1 1.0 TFSI (2020) Review

The new Audi A1
The new Audi A1 30 TFSI S Line

Caroline drives the 2020 Audi A1!

Priced from €24,650, Audi Ireland has just introduced the second generation of the Audi A1. With a stylish design, the latest technology and a sophisticated cabin, the A1 may be the entry into the Audi range but the essence of Audi desirability is compressed within that compact frame.

In fact, the Audi A1 has grown up considerably. It’s larger than before with a more angular and cooler design than before. According to Audi, the A1’s dynamic new styling has been inspired by the brand-defining Ur quattros of the Eighties. The more chiselled and serious appearance broadens the car’s appeal even more in my opinion. Matched to an eye-popping colour like Turbo Blue, and you have a car that makes a serious style statement. The S Line models add sportier styling including larger air inlets, additional sill trims, an elongated slit centrally below the bonnet with two fins and a larger rear wing.

The new Audi A1 is now sold solely as a practical five door hatchback and there’s more interior space than before, particularly noticeable in the rear. The boot is respectable for any small hatchback at 335 litres.

The Audi A1 range starts from €24,650 in Ireland
The Audi A1 range starts from €24,650 in Ireland

Inside the 2020 Audi A1

The 2020 Audi A1 has an all new interior and it really is a joy to behold! The cabin has a lovely snug and sophisticated feel with the latest infotainment and assistance features. There is a fully digital instrument cluster with a high-resolution, 10.25-inch display as standard. The Audi smartphone interface also comes as standard and integrates iOS and Android smartphones using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. For the full effect, you will want to spec MMI Navigation plus with a 10.1-inch MMI touch screen and the Audi Virtual Cockpit. Together it truly is one of the best small car interiors on the market right now.

It is pricey however, though that goes with the territory of a premium small car. In Ireland the A1 range is sold in Attraction (from €24,650), SE (from €26,550) and S Line (from €28,900). Standard equipment includes lane departure warning, air con, electric windows, 8.8” MMI display, 15” wheels and automatic lights and wipers. SE adds features such as 16” wheels, leather trim, cruise control and rear parking sensors. The S Line adds 17” wheels, LED headlights and rear lights with dynamic indicators, aluminium look interior (switches and buttons), S-Line exterior styling, sport seats and sports suspension.

The interior of the new Audi A1
The interior of the new Audi A1

Driving the new Audi A1

The 2020 Audi A1 range kicks off with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine with 116hp – the ’30 TFSI’. There’s a 6-speed manual gearbox and seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission available. Other engine options include a 1.5 and 2.0-litre TFSI. My test car was an Audi A1 30 TFSI with the 1.0-litre 116hp engine. It suits the A1 perfectly. It is so much fun on the road with plenty of power and always feels lively. It’s also reasonably efficient – over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.4l/100km.

As an alternative to the standard suspension on Attraction and SE, tauter sport suspension is fitted as standard to S line models. On the road the Audi A1 is a blast to drive. There is minimal body roll through corners and the steering is nicely weighted for a sporty drive. There are a number of driving modes to choose from, including a dynamic mode which is great for twisty roads! Generally the refinement and comfort is good for a small car, however on poor surfaces the firmer suspension and bigger wheels of the S Line model pick up more surface defects and road noise.

The Audi A1 may be the most compact Audi you can buy but there’s no doubt to this small car’s pedigree. It is obviously not cheap for what is still a compact car, but it is extremely stylish and desirable. There’s personality to it and this new generation interior is a treat also. You do have to pay a bit to get the full digital experience, but when you do, this car is streets ahead of the competition.

The new Audi A1 is a master stroke in small cars.

The Audi A1 is one of the most advanced small cars around!
The Audi A1 is one of the most advanced small cars around!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi A1 30 TFSI 116hp S Line
Price:
€28,900 (range from €24,650)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
116 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.5 seconds
Top speed: 203 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.7-5.8 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
128-131 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270-280 per year