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


The 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Review

The 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo
The 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Caroline drives the 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo!

The Skoda Fabia has gained popularity over the years because it packages the simple and straightforward ethos of the Skoda brand with good value pricing and a raft of engines derived from the Volkswagen Group. Now Skoda has revisited the Fabia in their line-up, and refreshed the model with a number of updates.

What's new for the Skoda Fabia in 2019?

The Fabia range is available in Ireland from €15,600 and features a new line-up of all petrol engines, including a 1.0 MPI unit offering 75hp and a 1.0 TSI unit with 95hp or 110hp. The 110hp engine is also available with the option of DSG automatic transmission.

Styling has been tweaked also and the facelifted Fabia includes a redesigned radiator grille, alterations to the front and rear bumpers, new headlights and tail lights with optional LED technology. But Fabia’s quite quirky squared off profile remains. The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo as tested (from €19,425) gives the Fabia a more individual look, with a black roof (optional) and door mirrors, 16” black alloys, tinted glass, black rear spoiler and black front grille surround.

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is the sportiest variant in the Fabia line-up!
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is the sportiest variant in the Fabia line-up!

The interior of the 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Inside, Skoda has refreshed the cabin of the Fabia with a newly designed instrument cluster and seat upholstery. The Skoda Fabia has a straightforward cabin that’s easy to find your way around. The cabin quality is good though there are some cheaper plastics used. The thing I did notice is that it’s starting to look a little dated in comparison to newer competition, but there is a 6.5” colour touchscreen infotainment unit standard from the middle of the range with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

I do like the sporty ambience of the Monte Carlo models with their special seat upholstery, a flat bottom sports leather steering wheel, chrome pedals and red stitching.

The interior of the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo
The interior of the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Does it come well-equipped?

There are four trim levels for the Fabia in Ireland: Active, Ambition, Monte Carlo and Style. Standard equipment includes 14” steel wheels, a Blues radio unit with Aux-In, USB port and SD slot, electric front windows, height adjustable driver’s seat, and electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors.

The
mid-level Ambition (from €16,725) adds 15” alloy wheels, a Swing 6.5” colour
touchscreen infotainment unit, Smartlink including Apple Car Play and Android
Auto, leather multi-function steering wheel and front fog lights.

The Style trim (from €18,815) adds air conditioning, rear electric windows, front arm rest, keyless entry and keyless start, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and a height adjustable passenger seat.

The sporty Monte Carlo version is available from €19,425 with the equipment highlights listed above.

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is available from €19,425
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is available from €19,425

Is it practical?

The Fabia will seat four reasonably comfortably, five at a push. The two footwells in the rear do seem quite large for a supermini and headroom is good too because of that squared off roofline. The boot is also excellent for this class of vehicle at 330 litres.

The Fabia Combi is available for an extra €745 across the range and comes with even more boot volume.

Rear legroom in the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo
Rear legroom in the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Driving the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

I was test driving the 2019 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo with the 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine with 110hp. The Fabia is fun to drive with light steering and an agile driving character. The engine provides peppy performance in the low gears, only running out of puff in the top gears. The Fabia is comfortable on the move and stable on the motorway, with just a hint of road noise at high speeds. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.3l/100km, while motor tax is just €190 per year.

While this updated Skoda Fabia is not a new, new model – it’s merely a facelift with some cosmetic changes - the Fabia is still a very enjoyable small car. It’s practical for its size and nice to drive. Though it’s starting to feel a little old inside, this is not a huge frustration really since it’s still a nice cabin to spend time in. For me the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is the pick of the range, because it really makes a statement!

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is a really fun small car with a very individual look!
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is a really fun small car with a very individual look!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 1.0 TSI
Price:
€21,435 (Range from €15,600)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
110 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 195 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.6l/100km

Motor tax: €190 per year


The 2019 Renault ZOE Z.E. 40

2019 Renault ZOE Z.E. 40 Review

The 2019 Renault ZOE Z.E. 40
The 2019 Renault ZOE Z.E. 40

Caroline drives the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40 kWh!

The electric vehicle (EV) space is heating up with a host of new entrants to the market, as well as Government commitment in recent weeks of €20 million in the public charge point infrastructure.

But some brands like Renault are already quite established players in the EV market and keep improving their current product. Take for example the Renault ZOE I was driving recently. The Renault ZOE debuted in Ireland in 2014, but since then it has already been updated with a more powerful 40 kWh battery to give owners a real world range in excess of 200km.

What's new for the Renault ZOE in 2019?

Now in 2019, Renault Ireland has made a few more changes to the line-up to offer customers an even better EV experience. The Z.E. 40 battery is now standard across the ZOE range. They’ve also added a R110 version with more power and greater acceleration, with no detriment to range.

The improved range Z.E. 40 kWh battery is now standard across the ZOE range
The improved range Z.E. 40 kWh battery is now standard across the ZOE range

What are my options?

Let’s recap a little on pricing and specs. The Renault ZOE is an all-electric supermini with pricing starting from €24,990 in Ireland now for the Expression R90, after VRT relief and SEAI grant. The ZOE Expression R90 includes the 22kW Chameleon charger, heat pump climate control and R-Link navigation with 7” touch screen as standard.

A new, more powerful R110 motor is available
on both Dynamique Nav (from €27,790) and Signature Nav (from €30,290) versions
of the Renault ZOE, putting out 110hp. The Dynamique Nav version also offers
rear parking sensors, hands-free key card entry as well as automatic lights and
wipers, while Signature Nav trim includes leather seats, parking camera and
BOSE audio as standard.

The Renault ZOE is a cute and futuristic looking small car. It has seating for five but that might be wishful thinking. Two people will fit more comfortably across the narrow rear bench, though tall passengers will find it tight! The ZOE makes an absolutely epic car for a singleton or couple however, and the 338 litre boot is not bad either.

The Renault ZOE is available from €24,990 in Ireland
The Renault ZOE is available from €24,990 in Ireland

Inside the 2019 Renault ZOE

The interior of the ZOE is basic and
comfortable. There are quite a lot of hard plastics but the digital screen with
driver information looks really cool. Infotainment is controlled via the Renault
R-Link multimedia system and operated using a 7” touchscreen that includes
Bluetooth and navigation. The driver instrument display shows information
regarding speed, battery power and an econometer that shows you how efficient
your driving is - all useful when you are trying to get the most out of your
range!

On the road, the 2019 Renault ZOE feels agile and reasonably energetic, with light steering that’s great for a city car. It’s not the sharpest in terms of driving dynamics but it’s still fun to drive in its own little way. Out on bigger roads it offers decent refinement, comfort and stability for a small car.

The interior of the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40
The interior of the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40

How far will the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40 get me?

When I got into the car on a full battery, the available EV driving range was at 238km and I was getting the guts of 200km out of the car in real world driving. Renault say that in the summer months you can get up to 300km out of a single charge.

The wonderful thing about the ZOE – and what saved me a lot of stress – is the Chameleon charger. It means that you can get the best out of whatever charge point is available, even the more plentiful Type 2 chargers, because it’s always available to charge at maximum power. You can get a full charge in as little as 2 hours and 40 minutes from a 22kW charger or in 1 hour and 40 minutes from a 43kW.

The beauty of the ZOE is the Chameleon charger that means you can make the most out of whatever charger you encounter
The beauty of the ZOE is the Chameleon charger that means you can make the most out of whatever charger you encounter on your journey

So what's the verdict?

The ZOE is a stylish and quirky electric vehicle. The threat of range anxiety may still put off buyers with frequent long commutes, but in reality the Chameleon charger makes a difference when you are out and about trying to grab some extra range whenever you can on the public charging network.

The Renault ZOE is clearly expensive for what is still a small car. However, it makes a surprisingly pleasant companion and entry into electric motoring.

The ZOE is a stylish and surprisingly desirable small electric vehicle!
The ZOE is a stylish and surprisingly desirable small electric vehicle!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault ZOE Signature Nav R110 Z.E. 40 kWh
Price:
€30,290 (Range from €24,990)
Battery: 40 KW
Power: 
110 hp
Torque: 225 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.4 seconds
Top speed: 135 km/h
Range: 
(WLTP) 300km summer, 200km winter
CO2 emissions: 
0g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Ford Fiesta Active

2019 Ford Fiesta Active Review

The new Ford Fiesta Active
The new Ford Fiesta Active

Caroline reviews the 2019 Ford Fiesta Active.

The Ford Fiesta is one of Ireland’s favourite small cars with the sort of ubiquity that’s both very reassuring but also quite tiresome if you want a small car that is more original. But buyers now might find that individuality in the new Ford Fiesta Active.

The Ford Fiesta Active is the first of Ford’s new Active series, where they take regular models like the Fiesta and Focus and give them an SUV-inspired makeover.

I didn’t think I would like the Fiesta Active much to be honest, expecting it just to be a more expensive Fiesta with a mediocre styling kit. But the little quirky Fiesta that thinks it’s an SUV is actually a very smart buy indeed.

The Fiesta range currently kicks off at €15,377, with the five door Active model starting from €18,885 for Active 1, and €20,150 for Active 2, as tested here. Under the bonnet you get Ford's excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine (85hp or 100hp) mated to a six speed manual gearbox, as opposed to the naturally aspirated 1.0-litre in some of the entry models.

The Ford Fiesta Active comes with Ford's excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine
The Ford Fiesta Active comes with Ford's excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine

What does the Ford Fiesta Active look like?

Ford has raised the Fiesta Active up a little so that it has more presence on the road and added a host of extras for a rugged, off-road look. Cosmetic updates include roof rails, black roof and door mirrors, and dark cladding that flows from the front bumper lip, through the wheel arches and side profile to the rear. There’s also a front and rear scuff plate and a black grille with a unique mesh pattern. The look is finished off with 17" five-spoke alloy wheels with a Shadow Black machined finish. The Frozen White body colour set off the styling kit nicely but there’s also a special launch colour, Lux Yellow.

Inside, the 2019 Ford Fiesta Active is bright and funky with an orange accent colour used in the seat upholstery and on other trim elements. The Fiesta is kitted out well with technology features and there’s a mature feel behind the wheel with a good quality finish. It’s just very easy to feel at home in here. The Active 2 model on test also has a B&O Play Premium Audio System with 10 speakers, 8” touchscreen, cruise control, auto high beam, driver alert, traffic sign recognition and rain sensing wipers.

Interior dimensions remain the same but the Fiesta is a comfortable and practical small car. It will seat five and feels roomy and practical for this class of vehicle.

The interior of the new Ford Fiesta Active
The interior of the new Ford Fiesta Active

What's different about the Ford Fiesta Active?

The Ford Fiesta Active ride height has been increased by 18 millimetres over the standard Fiesta and it has a wider track by 10 millimetres. This gives the car more presence on the road as well as greater rough road capability and a higher driving position.

Under the skin, Ford has made a few changes to the Fiesta Active to cope with the raised ride height and add some more utility over slippery surfaces. Optimised front shock absorbers feature a new hydraulic rebound stopper to smooth out bumps or jolts when driving over rough surfaces. Unique knuckle geometry for the suspension and bespoke settings for the springs and shock absorbers combine with revised electric power-assisted steering and electronic stability control (ESC) tuning for enhanced comfort and responsiveness across a multitude of surfaces.

The Fiesta Active also features ‘Drive Mode’ technology that allows drivers to choose between Normal, Eco and Slippery modes with the press of a button. Slippery mode is ideal for surfaces with reduced grip such as snow and ice. It reduces wheel spin, including when pulling away from stationary.

The Ford Fiesta Active is on sale priced from €18,885
The Ford Fiesta Active is on sale priced from €18,885

Driving the 2019 Ford Fiesta Active

On the road, the 2019 Ford Fiesta Active immediately impresses. It delivers everything you could want from a small car including a perky engine and agile driving character, great for nipping around the place. Even beyond the confines of town, the Fiesta is also a great motorway companion with good stability and refinement. It is a fun, fun car to drive. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.2l/100km.

The Ford Fiesta is deservedly one of Ireland’s best-loved small cars and the Active model adds a very appealing SUV-inspired look to the Fiesta. There are no sacrifices to the Fiesta’s practicality and there are no surprises either in that the Fiesta’s magic formula appears only to have been enhanced with a more individual look. Ford Ireland is offering this high spec vehicle now at a good price considering the level of equipment and the addition of the powerful and fun 1.0 EcoBoost petrol engine. All of this makes the Ford Fiesta Active a very smart buy indeed!

The Ford Fiesta Active is a fantastic small car with a very individual look
The Ford Fiesta Active is a fantastic small car with a very individual look

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Fiesta Active 2 1.0-litre EcoBoost
Price: 
€20,150 (Range from €15,377)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
100hp
Torque: 170Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Economy: 
5.7-6.0/100km
CO2 emissions:  
128-135g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


The new Volkswagen Polo

2018 Volkswagen Polo 1.0-litre Review

The new Volkswagen Polo
The new Volkswagen Polo

Caroline drives the new Volkswagen Polo.

The Volkswagen Polo is one of the perennials of the supermini class: it's been around for years and it's as popular with young drivers as it is with retirees. In late 2017, Volkswagen introduced the sixth generation of their evergreen supermini.

Built on the Volkswagen Group’s new MQB AO platform, Volkswagen is taking the Polo into a new era with more space and improved technology. The new Volkswagen Polo range goes on sale from €16,795, and it's now five door only.

The Volkswagen Polo has always felt more mature compared to competitors, but the competition is closing in fast, even from within the Volkswagen Group’s own stable. The SEAT Ibiza uses the same platform while new generations of the Ford Fiesta and Citroen C3 launched in the last 18 months each form compelling cases for themselves.

The Volkswagen Polo has great interior space

The use of the MQB AO underpinnings has allowed Volkswagen to create significantly more dynamic proportions for the new Polo, with a long wheelbase and short body overhangs. The body panels all sit well on this new frame, with the sort of reserved confidence that Volkswagen is known for.

The interior of the new Volkswagen Polo
The interior of the new Volkswagen Polo

The new Polo is longer and wider with a lower overall height but improved headroom versus its predecessor. Up front the Polo is one of the most spacious cars of this ilk. In the back the footwells are generous, as is headroom. Of course, it's still going to be on the uncomfortable side for a middle passenger but the use of space is excellent on this new platform. The boot volume has grown 25% from 280 litres to 351 litres.

The interior is well-made and sturdy with familiar Volkswagen switchgear. It’s a little dull but coloured dashpads are available, which would go some way to brighten the cabin. Volkswagen is keen to stress that this Polo is the one for the digital era, so that means slick infotainment systems, seamless integration with smartphones and the option of a flashy new digital instrument cluster, available for the first time in this class.

How much does the new Volkswagen Polo cost?

So far the Volkswagen Polo serves up a mature small car experience - but you will also pay a bit more for it. Several rivals undercut the Polo's starting price of €16,795 and that's for a very basic 1.0-litre, naturally aspirated three cylinder petrol engine with 65 hp. A 75 hp version of the same engine will set you back €17,350 while the tastier 95 hp 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit starts from a more prohibitive €21,995 - though it does come in a more well equipped Comfortline spec. There is a 1.6TDI diesel with 80 hp priced from €20,195.

The Volkswagen Polo starts from €16,795 in Ireland
The Volkswagen Polo starts from €16,795 in Ireland

The entry level Trendline models come with 15” steel wheels, four electric windows, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency breaking, pedestrian monitoring, auto headlights, 6.5” Composition Colour radio system with four speakers and Bluetooth. The Comfortline model is a much nicer equipped car with air con, cruise control, 15” alloy wheels, front fog lamps, 8” touchscreen with clear glass surround and 6 speakers, voice control and App connect.

My test car was a 1.0-litre 65hp Comfortline model with a list price of €18,695. The test car had a Technology upgrade for €499 with 16” alloys, parking sensors, lights and vision package, folding mirrors, driver alert system, and a space and weight saving spare wheel. With this engine, the Volkswagen Polo is very efficient and my fuel consumption over a week of driving was 5.2 litre/100km. Motor tax for this model is €190 per year.

The Volkswagen Polo 1.0 shines in the town and city

Power is not a strong point for this model. The 65 hp and 95 Nm of torque translate to lethargic performance on the road that will require some serious planning for overtaking manoeuvres! But for town driving, this 1.0-litre Polo is completely adequate.

Elsewhere, steering is light but precise, and the Polo is agile and fun within urban surroundings. The three cylinder engine transmits some vibration through the pedals at idle though generally refinement on the road is good with decent sound insulation for a small car. The Polo is also one of the most comfortable and compliant small cars. This makes it very likable.

The Volkswagen Polo: the mature small car!
The Volkswagen Polo: the mature small car!

The Volkswagen Polo is a safe choice of supermini and that is what has made it a household name over the past 40 years. It does require some investment and there are quite boring but efficient engine choices to kick the range off. The biggest threat to the Polo is the SEAT Ibiza with its more value pricing, exciting persona and similar hardware underneath that makes it equally spacious.

But realistically the Polo doesn't have much to break into a sweat about; there will always be a market for the quiet, comfortable and dependable Volkswagen Polo!

Model tested: Volkswagen Polo 1.0-litre Comfortline
Price: 
€18,695 (Range starts at €16,795)
Engine: 1.0-litre petrol
Power: 
65hp
Torque: 95Nm
0-100km/h:  
15.5 seconds
Top speed: 165km/h
Economy: 
4.7/100km
CO2 emissions:  
108g/km
Motor tax:
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd


Ford Fiesta review ireland

2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Review

Ford has taken the softly softly approach with their new generation of the bestselling Ford Fiesta. Now on its seventh generation, the development of the new Ford Fiesta was more of a refining exercise than a radical overhaul.

But why mess too much with a winning formula? The Ford Fiesta was Ireland’s bestselling small car in 2017 and the car has the sort of name recognition that many can only dream of. The Irish public have been on first name terms with the Fiesta since it first arrived over 40 years ago and Ford has made the package that little bit more appealing again for 2018.

The Fiesta’s styling has been tweaked to accommodate a slightly wider and longer body, while the introduction of new circular LED daytime running lights at the front are a sharp new distinguishing feature. At the back the rear light clusters are horizontal rather than vertical.

In latter years, the interior of the Ford Fiesta had started to look very old and dated so out goes the old and in with a new, more modern layout for generation seven. All but the entry level model come with an 6.5” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The interior of the Fiesta now looks less drab and of better quality.

Up front shoulder room is good for driver and passenger. There is more legroom for rear seat passengers but against rivals like the Honda Jazz and Skoda Fabia, the Ford Fiesta doesn’t look particularly generous in that regard. The boot is an average 292 litres though it’s by no mean impractical.

Ford Fiesta review ireland
The interior of the Ford Fiesta

In Ireland engine choices for new Fiesta include 1.1-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines with 70 or 85hp, a 1.0-litre turbo petrol EcoBoost with 100hp and a 1.5-litre diesel with 85hp. My test car was powered by the 1.0-litre EcoBoost and it’s nippy around town while also carrying enough robustness and flexibility for strong performance out of town on bigger roads and motorways. It scores well for refinement with no infuriating noise or vibration and I returned about 47 mpg over a week long test drive.

The new Ford Fiesta seems to have taken a step forward in comfort and refinement in this new generation. On the move, it’s very stable and settled, but it’s also good fun when the roads get a bit twistier. There’s a new suspension and cornering grip has been improved by 10%, while braking distances have been improved by 8%. The car moves through bends at speed with minimal body roll and with unrivalled steering precision.

In Ireland the new Fiesta goes on sale from €16,650 for a Zetec model that includes 15” steel wheels with covers, electric/heated mirrors with indicators, Lane-Keeping Alert, Lane-Keeping Aid, Speed Limiter, auto lights, ESP with Hill Start Assist, MyKey, Ford AM/FM radio with 4.2” TFT screen, Bluetooth with My Ford Device Dock, manual air conditioning, electric front windows and remote central locking.

Ford Fiesta review ireland
The Ford Fiesta is a small car with universal appeal

Titanium models start from €19,050 and include 15” alloys, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights with cornering lights, chrome belt line finisher, chrome upper grille, Ford SYNC 3 DAB radio with 6.5” touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Quickclear heated windscreen, 3-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls and a Thatcham alarm.

There’s also a sporty looking ST-Line range from €19,850 and an upscale Vignale range from €26,530.

The Ford Fiesta is not the poshest supermini and it’s not the biggest but the Fiesta’s comfort, refinement and mature road manners give it universal appeal. The modern interior and addition of more technology once again make the Ford Fiesta a formidable contender in its segment.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost 100hp Titanium
Price: 
€20,150 (Range from €16,650)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
100hp
Torque: 170Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Economy: 
4.3/100km
CO2 emissions:  
97g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


renault zoe review ireland

Renault Zoe Z.E. 40 Review

I took the Renault Zoe for review with a little trepidation. Without the reassurance of a petrol or diesel engine under the bonnet I was imagining my week being a little more difficult than usual. Think more planning and fretting.

I shouldn’t have worried. I was testing the Renault Zoe Z.E. 40, which is the Zoe with the new longer range battery. The theoretical range is 400km but Renault say 200 to 300km is more realistic. When I got into the car with a full battery, the range read 240km. There’s still plenty of panic free driving in that.

The Renault Zoe is Renault’s all-electric supermini. It’s been on the market a few years now but the 22kwh battery’s quoted 240km range looks measlier compared to the 400km of the new Renault Zoe Z.E. 40.

Zoe is cute. This is a compact car for the city but my white test car was a chic companion. Inside the dashboard and centre console design is similar to the Renault Clio, and infotainment is provided via the Renault R-Link multimedia system and operated using a 7” touchscreen that includes Bluetooth and navigation. Sombre black plastics feature a lot in the cabin and they do look cheap in places. There is seating for five, but this is a small car so rear seating space will be tight for tall passengers. The boot is a good size for a supermini at 338 litres.

Renault Zoe review ireland
The interior of the Renault Zoe

But of course the beauty of the Renault Zoe is that it's guilt free, zero emissions motoring. Motor tax is just €120 per year and you never have to see your money burned up by a combustion engine again. The Zoe can be charged from any of the 1200 public charging points in Ireland or from a domestic mains supply or wall charger. Charging is very simple and Zoe can get a full charge in as little as 2 hours and 40 minutes from a quick charger.

The Zoe produces 92hp from its electric motor and 220Nm of torque. This translates into a zippy ride around town and I can confirm that Zoe will easily win traffic light drag races such is the immediacy of the electric torque. 0 to 100kmh is a more leisurely 13.5 seconds and out of the confines of city driving Zoe likes to take her time to pick up speed. The Zoe is quiet and refined with just some audible road noise. On larger roads, the Zoe feels stable and secure, though motorway driving at high speeds will see the range drop more quickly. For a small car the steering is not overly light, so it doesn’t feel lost on tight, twisty rural roads, and handles predictably in corners, if not dynamically exciting.

In Ireland, the Renault Zoe comes in three trims: Expression Nav model costs €23,490 including grants but does not have the new battery. Dynamique Nav with the Z.E. 40 400km battery costs €27,490, while Signature Nav costs €29,990. All prices include the battery, so there is no additional expense for battery lease.

Renault Zoe review ireland
The Renault Zoe Z.E. 40 makes a great entry into electric motoring

My test car was the Dynamique Nav model with climate control, R-Link and cruise control, 16” alloys, rear parking sensors, chrome front grille surround, auto lights and wipers and four electric windows. Signature Nav adds leather upholstery, parking camera, BOSE sound system, heated front seats and some bronze interior detailing.

€27,490 is a lot of money for a small Clio-sized car and Zoe’s interior quality certainly would not make that any sweeter of a pill to swallow. But for buyers looking to dip their toes into electric motoring the longer range Renault Zoe Z.E. 40 offers real comfort in day to day driving. Charging up didn’t feel like too much hassle and I really enjoyed my time with the Renault Zoe.

Model tested: Renault Zoe Z.E. 40
Price: €27,490 (Range starts €23,490)
Power: 
92hp
Torque: 220Nm
0-100km/h:  
13.5 seconds
Top speed: 135km/h
CO2 emissions: 
0g/km
Motor tax:
€120 per year

Caroline Kidd