The Hyundai Kona on test for Changing Lanes

Hyundai Kona Hybrid Review (2023)


Read Caroline's Hyundai Kona review for everything you need to know about buying Hyundai's compact crossover in Ireland.

The second generation Hyundai Kona has just gone on sale in Ireland, priced from about €30,895.

At launch, buyers can choose between a simple 1.0-litre petrol engine or a hybrid.

A new all-electric Kona is expected to go on sale before the end of the year with a range in the region of 500 kilometres.

The Hyundai Kona on test for Changing Lanes
The Hyundai Kona on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Hyundai Kona?

The Kona is a small SUV-style vehicle that slots into the Hyundai range between the Bayon and the Tucson. It has been a big success for Hyundai Ireland since it launched here in 2017. Kona is a consistent bestseller, only outsold in the Hyundai range by the mighty Tucson.

Now Kona has grown up. The second generation Kona is a significantly bigger car than before - it's longer, wider and taller - which makes it a lot more spacious and practical than the previous version. It should perform now better as a small family car.

The styling is quite a radical evolution, taking inspiration from the brand's latest models with dramatic lighting and even more pronounced squared-off wheel arches finished in thick cladding for a classic crossover look. It certainly commands attention on the road and there's a premium touch to how K-O-N-A is spelt out across the boot lid.

There are three trim levels available for the petrol Kona - Signature, Elegance and a sporty N Line. There's just two for Kona Hybrid - Signature from about €34,000 and Elegance from about €36,000.

Wheel sizes vary from 16- to 18-inch, depending on trim level.

The cabin of the new Kona
The cabin of the new Kona

Inside the Kona

The new cabin also shows Kona's maturity and growing stature within the Hyundai range. The cabin feels more upmarket than before with a focus on improving the cabin quality, design and technology. The finish is excellent with a leather wrapped steering wheel as standard and plenty of soft touch materials, including nice fabric panels in the doors.

There has also been an upgrade in the digital tech. Kona gets a new touchscreen with intuitive design, modern graphics and over-the-air updates. It's easy to sync with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A full digital driver display comes as standard on all but the entry model.

The shift-by-wire gear selector has been moved to a stalk behind the steering wheel, creating more space in the centre console.

All Konas come very well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, cruise control, high beam assist and a parking camera.

Elegance models add features like heated front seats, heated steering wheel, driver lumbar support and wireless smartphone charging.

The new Kona is more spacious and practical than before
The new Kona is more spacious and practical than before

Is it practical?

Yes, the cabin is much more spacious than before. There's a longer wheelbase so legroom has improved a lot. It's also a bit wider so even seating three across the rear bench from time to time should not be a problem. There's a centre armrest, USB ports and separate vents for rear seat passengers.

Hyundai has also improved the boot space on offer. The volume has increased from about 361 litres to 466 litres in the new version. That makes the Kona now one of the best of the segment for boot space. There's also a false floor that can be used to create a flat loading sill.

Driving the Kona Hybrid

The entry into the range is a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine with 120hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox.

Then there's the Kona Hybrid, which is a 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. It's a standard hybrid so does not need to be plugged in to get the best efficiency from it. With 141hp, it offers more power than the petrol Kona and the smoothness and ease of use of an automatic, which is very useful in traffic or town driving.

The refinement of the hybrid is excellent, aided by the dual clutch transmission that keeps everything very smooth and quiet. The driver is barely aware of any transitions between the EV and hybrid drive.

There are a few driving modes like Eco for the best efficiency, Sport for livelier acceleration and Snow mode for extra traction in low grip conditions.

Rear seating in the new Kona
Rear seating in the new Kona

The Kona Hybrid returns excellent economy, with my fuel consumption averaging at about 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres during my time with the car.

The Kona is smooth and easy to drive, with the compact dimensions and light steering making it feel very agile. It handles the road well, feeling secure and planted. It's comfortable by class standards with just more audible road and wind noise at high speeds on the motorway.

Did you like it?

Hyundai has made a very popular model more practical and upmarket than before. This car has seriously grown up and will now function very well as a small family car.

Elsewhere, the new styling is futuristic but might be a little divisive. Yet it's a car that really makes a statement.

The hybrid is a smooth and agile drive that consistently delivers good fuel economy - without trying too hard. For that, it remains a very good choice in the market and offers customers real options when it comes to finding the best power option - whether that be petrol, hybrid or the forthcoming electric model. It is a brilliant all-rounder that still manages to offer good value in the market.

Model tested: Hyundai Kona Hybrid Elegance
Price: 
€36,545
Engine:
1.6-litre petrol-electric hybrid
Power: 141hp
Torque: 265Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 11.2 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Hyundai Kona range will soon be joined by a new electric version
The Hyundai Kona range will soon be joined by a new electric version

The new Volkswagen e-Up on test for Changing Lanes!

Volkswagen e-Up Review

Read Caroline's Volkswagen e-Up review for everything you need to know about buying Volkswagen's electric city car in Ireland.

Volkswagen's ID range of electric cars has been grabbing all the headlines with the success of the Volkswagen ID.4 in Ireland and the high profile launch of the ID.Buzz, Irish Car of the Year 2023.

With strong momentum in the market and increased consumer appetite for EVs, the brand has finally brought the e-Up to Ireland, which is definitely cause for celebration!

The Volkswagen Up was on sale in Ireland for many years as a small petrol city car. Now Volkswagen has made the decision to replace it with the electric version - the cutely named 'e-Up' - which has been on sale in Europe for a few years now.

Priced at €29,313 on the road including delivery charges, the e-Up is now one of the cheapest electric cars on sale.

The new Volkswagen e-Up on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Volkswagen e-Up on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Volkswagen e-Up?

Launched back in 2013, the e-Up was Volkswagen’s first mass-produced electric vehicle. Since then, over 80,000 e-Ups have been sold around the world. At the end of 2020, such was demand for the e-Up that Volkswagen had to halt taking orders for a while to catch up with production and deliver cars to customers.

Hidden beneath those compact dimensions is a 32 kWh battery, which gives the e-Up a range of up to 253 kilometres (WLTP). That's plenty for a small car that is designed primarily for town and city driving. Being light (1,160 kg) means it's an efficient way to travel too.

In Ireland the e-Up is available in just one trim level called Style. It's a smart looking car, despite the Up being an ageing design now. It also comes with the practicality of five doors, which gives it an advantage over its closest rival, the Fiat 500e.

There's some elegant blue trim as well to highlight its EV status and Volkswagen's C-shaped LED daytime running lights, used to highlight the brands electrified models like the Golf GTE.

15-inch alloy wheels come as standard, with the option to upgrade to a sportier 16-inch design for €375. There are six colours to choose from and a black roof comes as standard on the Style trim.

There's also a quality and solid feel to the e-Up that can be hard to find in small cars.

The cabin of the Volkswagen e-Up
The cabin of the Volkswagen e-Up

Inside the e-Up

The e-Up has an older generation Volkswagen cabin with a clear and logical layout. You use a key to start the car and there's also a mechanical handbrake.

Compared to the cabin of the Fiat 500e, it is quite old-fashioned, lacking glossy touchscreens and digital tech. But the e-Up makes up for it in quality. This car feels solidly built with no squeaks or rattles.

There's a leather wrapped steering wheel as standard and a lovely gearshift lever in leather too. The grey cloth seats with integrated headrests look and feel good too. Both front seats get height adjustment. The steering wheel only adjusts for rake (up and down).

There's no touchscreen but there is a Bluetooth connection as standard and a smartphone cradle. You can download a 'Maps + More' app to use your phone as a sort of entertainment and navigation screen. Other standard equipment features include automatic lights and wipers, heated front seats, laminated heated windscreen, automatic climate control, small parking camera and cruise control.

There's more room in the back than in a 500e and the five doors make access easier too. Still, it's a city car so a Polo is far roomier in the back.

The boot is also small at 251 litres, though it has some depth so there's enough room for a few bags and a hidden place to store the charging cables. Quite clever really.

Rear passenger space in the e-Up
Rear passenger space in the e-Up

Driving the e-Up

On the road, the e-Up's solid feel pervades.

Moving to electric certainly benefits the driving experience. The e-Up feels more mature and powerful on the road than how I remember the Up petrol. Joining motorways is less frantic, with smooth delivery of power to the front wheels from an 82hp motor and 210Nm of torque. 0 to 100km/h is still a leisurely - 11.9 seconds - but the e-Up feels faster than what numbers might suggest on paper.

A single gear automatic transmission is great for town use. There is a B mode to enhance regenerative braking and a few different driving modes like Eco and Eco+. Eco mode limits the motor’s power and torque, reduces the top speed and switches off the air conditioning. The stricter Eco+ mode reduces these figures even more to maximise the battery range.

The electric Up is nimble and agile to drive, though not quite as fun to drive as the old petrol Up. It feels heavier for a start and the acceleration a little less fizzy. But the extra weight does make it feel more stable in cornering so there are benefits after all. There are no modifications to the suspension but it does feel comfortable for a small electric car.

The range may seem quite mediocre at 253 kilometres but with consumption as low as 14.7kWh per 100 kilometres, you might be surprised how far this Up can go per battery charge. Particularly when you stick to its natural habitat of town and city.

When it comes to charging, it takes 5.5 hours to charge the battery to full from a 7kW wallbox at home. There is a CCS port for fast charging, but DC charging is only possible up to 40 kW. So it will take roughly one hour to charge an empty battery to 80%.

The new e-Up has a range of up to 253 km from a 32 kWh battery
The new e-Up has a range of up to 253 km from a 32 kWh battery

Did you like it?

The Up was always a great city car. The electric version is no different. It feels more mature than ever, with a nice solid feel from behind the wheel.

Like its rivals, it's expensive for a small car, especially compared to the petrol Up that used to be on sale. The cabin is not the most modern in terms of the in-car tech, but it really does make up for it in quality and comfort.

The e-Up is also very practical for its size, with the boon of five doors and decent enough space for two rear passengers from time to time.

It's a car that is at home in town and city driving. So if you're willing to pay for something small, stylish and electric for mostly that sort of driving, the e-Up is a great buy!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen e-Up
Price:
€29,313 OTR
Battery: 32kWh
Power:
82hp
0-100km/h:
11.9 seconds
Top speed: 130 km/h
Motor tax: 
€120 per year

The Volkswagen e-Up is a great buy for a small electric car
The Volkswagen e-Up is a great buy for a small electric car

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The Volkswagen Polo on test for Changing Lanes

Volkswagen Polo Review

Read Caroline's Volkswagen Polo review for everything you need to know about buying the small hatchback from Volkswagen in Ireland.

The Volkswagen Polo is one of Ireland’s favourite small cars and has been for many years. Sales of small hatchbacks like the Polo have been in decline as customers switched to more fashionable SUVs and crossovers. But the humble hatch still has a lot to offer buyers.

Now Volkswagen has streamlined the Polo line-up in Ireland, which coincides with an update for the classic small hatchback that sees even more sophisticated style and high-tech equipment as standard than ever before.

The latest Volkswagen Polo goes on sale priced from €23,840 and is powered by a simple 1.0-litre petrol engine.

So is the Polo still up to the job? Let's take a closer look to find out.

The Volkswagen Polo on test for Changing Lanes
The Volkswagen Polo on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Volkswagen Polo?

The Volkswagen Polo is one of the classiest small cars you can buy with handsome but understated style, and the theme continues inside.

Over the years it has grown in size, to a point where it's roomy enough inside now to function as a small family car.

In Ireland, the Polo range is very simple. There's the Polo Life priced from €23,840, the Polo Style from €26,995 and the Polo R-Line from €25,840. All cars come with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 95hp. Automatic versions are available for about €2,000 more.

The styling updates have been very successful, with now a more mature-looking front end. LED headlights are standard across the range and some versions get more advanced matrix LED units.

At the back, there's a new set of lights with a horizontal design that adds width and elegance to the Polo's road presence. Wheel sizes vary from 15- to 16-inch, with the option of a 17-inch set.

The R-Line model on test is the sportiest of the bunch with standard kit including 16-inch ‘Valencia’ alloy wheels, sportier bumpers, and exterior trim and roof spoiler finish in gloss black.

The cabin of the latest Volkswagen Polo
The cabin of the latest Volkswagen Polo

Inside the Volkswagen Polo

The Polo has one of the best cabins you will find in a small car. It's solidly built and reassuringly simple in its design. Yet all the modern features are here - a full digital instrument panel and touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto as standard. Entry level Life models make do with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, but Style and R-line versions get a more impressive 8-inch unit.

Some small car interiors like the Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 feel a little more glamourous, but the Polo interior is a sound and comfortable place to spend time in.

Other standard features include air conditioning, leather wrapped steering wheel, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. The Style trim adds a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control. R-line versions have a slightly sportier ambience with sports seats, black roof liner, and stainless steel pedals.

It feels really roomy inside too, with one of the largest cabins in the segment. It's comfortable in the back for passengers with plenty of headroom and large footwells. It definitely feels more spacious than a Peugeot 208 or a Toyota Yaris. The rear doors open wide and there are Isofix child seat fixtures on the two outer seats and the front passenger seat.

The Polo also has one of the largest boots in the class at 351 litres, with practical features like a two-position floor and a spare wheel.

The Polo range in Ireland has been streamlined with just one petrol engine on offer
The Polo range in Ireland has been streamlined with just one petrol engine on offer

Driving the Polo

On the road, the Polo drives pretty much the same as it looks. It's a solid and steady drive, offering plenty of comfort for those on board and impressive refinement on the move - even on the motorway.

It's not the most fun to drive small car with the steering being a little on the light side for that. But it's perfectly agreeable with a robust quality that sees it move effortlessly from town to motorway and rural roads.

When it comes to power, there's no choice other than the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 95hp. But it's actually an ideal engine for the Polo and feels lively enough whether in town or on the motorway. A five-speed manual gearbox comes as standard but there is the option of a 7-speed automatic.

The five-speed manual gearbox has to be worked at times to keep the engine in its sweet spot, but it settles down well to a cruise on the motorway, so you won't actually miss a sixth gear. It’s also efficient by class standards.

Rear passenger space in the Volkswagen Polo
Rear passenger space in the Volkswagen Polo

Did you like it?

In recent years, many buyers have switched to small crossovers and SUVs like the Volkswagen Taigo and T-Cross for example, but there is still a lot to be said for a hatchback like the Polo.

The Volkswagen Polo is an easy car to recommend. These days it's never looked better, with smart styling that looks good just about everywhere.

The Polo is easily one of the most upmarket small cars on the market in Ireland, with a classy cabin that's comfortable and well-equipped.

What's most impressive is the space and practicality the Polo offers inside, making it very good value indeed. On the road, it's comfortable and refined.

Overall, the Polo is a great all-rounder and a smart choice of small car.

The Volkswagen Polo is one of the best small cars you can buy
The Volkswagen Polo is one of the best small cars you can buy

Model tested: Volkswagen Polo R-Line
Price: 
€25,840
Engine:
1.0-litre petrol
Power: 95hp
Torque: 175Nm
Top speed:  187 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h):  10.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The Toyota Aygo X is now on sale in Ireland

Toyota Aygo X Review

Read Caroline's Toyota Aygo X review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota's small car in Ireland.

For over 15 years, the Toyota Aygo has been Toyota's answer for the city car segment. Now Toyota has launched a new version of the Aygo and given it a rugged makeover.

The new Toyota Aygo X is something of a small crossover for the city car class and goes on sale in Ireland priced from €19,370, making it one of the most affordable new cars you can buy in today's market.

Powered by a small petrol engine, it goes up against other city cars such as the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto. But with its crossover inspired styling, this new Aygo X has arguably more style and presence than rivals.

So is there any substance behind that style? Let's find out.

The Toyota Aygo X is now on sale in Ireland
The Toyota Aygo X is now on sale in Ireland

Styling

The new Toyota Aygo X is styled as a small urban warrior with lots of rugged design features to help its crossover credentials. It's a bit longer and wider than the old Aygo and it also sits higher off the ground. At the front it looks a bit more modern and chunkier, with a high bonnet and large headlights (some versions get full LED). Big wheels are also part of the deal. 17- or 18-inch are fitted depending on the trim level and they fit the flared wheel arches beautifully, adding to the little Toyota's chunky charm. Other crossover-inspired design cues include cladding around the sills and wheel arches. Some versions of Aygo X get a contrast coloured roof, which extends to the rear wings of the car for even more style. At the back, it still bears a resemblance to the old Aygo city car with a full glass boot lid and signature light design.

Interior

Toyota has given the new Aygo X a fun and colourful cabin, that feels very solid and well-built for a small car. There are three trim levels for the Aygo X in Ireland: Pulse, Design and Envy. The size of the touchscreen differs depending on which version you go for. The standard size is 7-inch but top of the range models get an impressive 9-inch screen. It also offers wired or wireless smartphone connectivity via Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay®, depending on which trim level you go for. Manual air conditioning is included as standard, while top of the range models get climate control and wireless smartphone charging.

The Aygo X also takes a big step forward in terms of safety by introducing Toyota Safety Sense as standard including Pedestrian Detection, daytime Cyclist Detection, Collision Mitigation Support, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Trace Assist and Emergency Steering Assist.

The interior of the new Aygo X
The interior of the new Aygo X - modern and colourful

Practicality

The Aygo X comes with five doors as standard, which makes it more practical than a Fiat 500 for example. Albeit, the rear doors don't open very wide and when you do squeeze into the back, you'll find just two seats and pop-out windows. It's possible to seat adults in the back but there's really not a huge amount of legroom or headroom. If rear passenger space is a priority in your small car, you might want to step up to the larger Toyota Yaris. The Aygo X has a bigger boot than the previous Aygo and is up about 60 litres to 231 litres, which is acceptable for a city car and not too far off the boot volume of a Hyundai i10. With the rear seats down, the boot space increases to 829 litres.

Engines

There's just one engine available. Toyota is famous for hybrid but the Aygo X uses a simple 1.0-litre petrol engine with 70bhp. The 0 to 100km/h benchmark is a leisurely 15.5 seconds, but it manages to feel nippy around town at low speeds and can even hold its own on motorways once cruising speed is reached. However, it can run out of power quickly on more challenging uphill roads so frequent gear changes will be required from the 5-speed manual gearbox to keep it in its sweet spot. The Aygo X is relatively efficient and cheap to run. There's also the option of a CVT automatic gearbox.

The Aygo X gets some crossover-inspired styling
The Aygo X gets some crossover-inspired styling for this version of the popular city car

Driving

The Aygo X is built on the same platform as the Yaris and the Yaris Cross. On the road the Aygo X feels light and agile; it’s everything you could want from a city car. The steering has been tuned for city driving so it’s easy to park and manoeuvre, while also offering a tight turning circle of just 4.7 metres. You also sit higher than in the previous Aygo so you get a better view out of the road ahead.

There’s more sound insulation than before to create a quieter cabin, while the suspension has also been tuned to improve comfort. It's surprisingly fun to drive too, with good road-holding ability through bends.

The Aygo X's small petrol engine makes it naturally best in town and city driving, as the revs run high on the motorway making it quite noisy at high speeds. The Toyota Yaris might be a better option if you will spend a lot of time on bigger roads by providing more power and comfort for passengers.

Pricing

The Toyota Aygo X Pulse is available from €19,370. The Aygo X Design is available from €20,565. The top of the range Aygo X Envy is available from €22,245.

Boot space in the Aygo X
Boot space in the Aygo X

Summary

The city car class has been in decline in recent years, so Toyota has made a smart move by turning their smallest car into an attractive small crossover.

The crossover makeover gives the Aygo X bags more visual appeal than some of its competitors. It has more presence and it's a stylish option in the city car class, with the strength of the Toyota badge.

If you're willing to spend a bit more on a small car like this and go for one of the higher trim levels, the Aygo X does boast some great features and all versions come with lots of standard safety equipment.

It's a small car so there are limits to its comfort and practicality, but the Aygo X is ideal for drivers who spend a lot of time in town.  Sturdy and stylish, the Aygo X is now one of the best city cars you can buy.

The Toyota Aygo X is a sturdy and stylish car for the city
The Toyota Aygo X is a sturdy and stylish car for the city

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Ora Funky Cat

Ora Funky Cat Review (2023)

The Ora Funky Cat is a new compact electric car expected to arrive in Ireland before the end of the year. The Funky Cat will be available with two different battery sizes and will go on sale priced from €31,995, including the grant for electric vehicles.

Ora is a Chinese car brand that's part of the Great Wall Motor (GWM) group and it's one of the newest car brands to arrive in Ireland and Europe. The IM Group will be responsible for distributing the new Funky Cat in Ireland, adding to their brand portfolio that already includes Subaru.

Caroline travelled to Birmingham to drive the new Ora Funky Cat ahead of its official arrival in Ireland.

The new Ora Funky Cat
The new Ora Funky Cat expected in Ireland before the end of the year

Styling

The Ora Funky Cat is designed as a compact hatchback - but a very stylish one. It might look like a supermini but it's actually similar in size to a Volkswagen ID.3. At the front, there are striking details like the circular headlights, reminiscent of another famous small car! The bonnet has some quite sporty looking detail and there is a sleekness and shine to this car that will surely put a smile on your face. The Ora logo is an enigmatic exclamation mark and appears on the bonnet and the alloy wheel caps. Like every fashionable small car, there is the option of a contrast white roof or black roof, and a palette of colour choices from metallic to pastel. 18-inch alloy wheels come as standard across the range. At the back, there is an unusual fully integrated light bar in the windscreen and a mid-mounted fog lamp finishes off the upscale look. Later in 2023, a GT model will become available with more sporty features.

Interior

Ora pitches the Funky Cat as an upmarket compact car and the interior certainly mostly lives up to that. It strikes a good balance between feeling spacious, but also cosy and well-appointed. A black interior comes as standard, while there is the option of two-tone colour schemes that add a fashionable bespoke look to the cabin of the Funky Cat. Stylish touches include the rotary dial for the gear selection and the chrome switches in the dash. There is some stylish quilting in the doors, suede-style fabric finish to the dashboard, and the quilted leatherette seats are another highlight.

Where the Funky Cat really excels is in onboard technology. There is a widescreen set up behind the steering wheel that incorporates the digital driver display and the touchscreen for the infotainment and voice control that responds to commands of 'Hello Ora'. Wireless smartphone charging is also included as standard as well as high-tech features like a reversing camera, 360 degree surround cameras and even facial recognition to personalise your settings to the car.

The interior of the new Funky Cat
The interior of the new Funky Cat

Practicality

The Ora Funky Cat comes with five doors as standard. It feels roomy up front for a compact car, while the back seat is much more spacious than small electric cars like the Fiat 500e and the Peugeot e-208. The Funky Cat is built on a dedicated electric vehicle platform and the floor in the back is flat giving everyone on board some great legroom. It doesn't feel too cramped for headroom either.

The boot measures 228 litres, which is small for a compact car. It's bigger than a Fiat 500e, but smaller than something like a Peugeot e-208 and significantly smaller than the likes of a Renault Megane E-TECH, MG4 or Volkswagen ID.3. Still, it will work for some lifestyles and you can let the rear seats down. There is also a small bit of underfloor storage for a set of charging cables.

Battery

The Funky Cat is available with two different battery sizes. The range kicks off with the 48 kWh 300 PRO (priced from €31,995) with a range of 310 kilometres (WLTP). The price rises to €39,995 for the 63 kWh 400 PRO+ with a range of 420 kilometres (WLTP).

Charging

The new Cat can charge up to 11kW (AC) and up to 67kW (DC). A standard CCS port comes as standard for all Funky Cats sold in Europe.

The Funky Cat is available from €31,995 in Ireland
The Funky Cat is available from €31,995 in Ireland

On the road

The Ora Funky Cat uses a 171hp motor to send power to the front wheels, making it a secure and swift compact hatchback on the road, no matter which version you go for. There's 250Nm of torque available and the 0-100 km/h sprint can be done in just over 8 seconds, going on to a top speed of 160 km/h. There's certainly power when you want it, and it feels nippy and capable, whether in town or on the motorway. It rides well for a small electric car too, offering a smooth and comfortable drive for the most part. Refinement out on the motorway could be better, with a fair bit of noise entering the cabin at high speeds. Steering provides some feel and there's lots of front end grip. Despite some lean in corners, it remains a fun and agile compact electric car. I was driving the 48 kWh 300 PRO version, which showed about 300 kilometres of range when I got into to it with a full battery. It seems reasonably efficient as well, averaging about 17.4 kWh per 100 kilometres during my time with the car.

Pricing 

The Ora Funky Cat goes on sale priced from €31,995 including grants for the 300 PRO version with a 48 kWh battery and 310 km (WLTP) of range. It's exceptionally well-equipped with lots of high-tech interior features, safety equipment, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The 400 PRO+ version is available from €39,995 including grants with a 63kWh battery and 420 km (WLTP) of range. It has even more luxurious features as standard including heated steering wheel, heated front seats with massage function, powered tailgate and a panoramic glass roof.

Rear seating in the Ora Funky Cat
Rear seating in the Ora Funky Cat

Summary

In Ireland, expect a dealership to open in Dublin very soon where the Ora Funky Cat will be available for test drive, followed by locations in Cork and Galway before the end of the year.

The Funky Cat is a stylish and charismatic addition to the market for compact electric cars in Ireland. It's a car that leads with style and high-tech features as standard, while the interior fit and finish with its myriad of colour options give it an upmarket feel.

Depending on which version you go for, the Funky Cat falls into two arenas when it comes to rivals. At the lower end of the scale it compares well to small EVs, offering bespoke style, a high specification, and a lot more passenger room in the back. The battery range is competitive as opposed to outstanding, but the Funky Cat has enough charm to be in contention.

Go for the more expensive version with the larger battery, and there's a more impressive 420 kilometre range yet the Funky Cat's small boot may hold it back from family buyers in the market for a good value, compact electric vehicle.

Ora is positioned as a more premium brand in the market so for buyers looking for a stylish and well-appointed small electric car that's a little bit different to the competition, then the new Funky Cat is definitely worth a look.

The Ora Funky Cat is a trendy compact car available in a variety of colours
The Ora Funky Cat is a trendy compact car available in a variety of colours

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The Fiat 500e on test for Changing Lanes!

Fiat 500e Review

Read Caroline's Fiat 500e review for everything you need to know about buying Fiat's new electric city car in Ireland.

The Fiat 500 has been a huge success for Fiat since it was relaunched as the new 500 back in 2007. It's stayed popular throughout, while only being mildly revised over the years. Various special editions and cosmetic updates have kept it just as desirable as the day it was launched. It's clearly one of the most recognisable small cars on Irish roads.

At Changing Lanes, I've had the opportunity to follow the story of the 500 since about 2013 when I first tested the petrol version and since then I've tested it in many of its different iterations.

The 500 is the quintessential city car and now it's back for a new generation. The big news is that Fiat has taken the plunge and created a fully electric version of the 500 - the new Fiat 500e. Let's take a closer look.

The Fiat 500e on test for Changing Lanes!
The Fiat 500e on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Fiat 500e?

There are two battery sizes available - 24kWh and 42kWh. Go for that Fiat 500e 24kWh and you have one of the cheapest electric cars on sale right now. It's priced from just €24,995 including grants and VRT relief. The catch? The range is just 190 kilometres (WLTP). It might work as a second car or if the car will stay in the city only.

The Fiat 500e 42kWh offers more flexibility with a projected range of up to 320 kilometres (WLTP) and is priced from €29,995.

This is one of the most stylish small electric cars on sale right now. It sits on a new platform. It's a bit longer, taller and wider...but still tiny, measuring less than four metres in length. That makes the 500e the ideal city car, zero tailpipe emissions too. It's easy to park and manoeuvre around tight city streets.

The car has also matured well in terms of design. There's no mistaking it's a 500 but it somehow has more presence and a cooler stance on the road.  At the front, there is a new split lighting design that adds character, while at the rear, there's a big bumper and new lights.

There are three trim levels - Action, Icon and La Prima - with wheel sizes varying from 15- to 17-inch depending on what model you go for. There's even a very striking Red special edition of the car that comes packed with equipment.

So a charismatic small car that also happens to be electric.

The Fiat 500e is available with two battery sizes
The Fiat 500e is available with two battery sizes

Inside the Fiat 500e

The Fiat 500e has a brand new interior that has been modernised in line with this car's new status as a battery electric vehicle. There's a new two-spoke steering wheel and digital instrument cluster for the driver displaying relevant information including the status of the battery.

On all but the entry model there is an impressive 10-inch touchscreen using Fiat's Uconnect system. It has lots of functionality and all versions get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cabin is bright and airy thanks to large windows and windscreen.

There is quite a lot of exposed hard plastic in the cabin but that's mixed with some nicer materials like fabric trim in the dashboard panel and some lovely eco-leather seats in top of the range La Prima models. Some of the fabrics available across the range are made from recycled materials too.

This is a small car but up front it feels roomy for two people with some handy storage compartments. In the back it's a different story, but children should be fine. There's Isofix on the two seats in the rear but it's hardly a car you buy if you use the back of the car regularly as legroom and headroom are in short supply. There's also Isofix on the front passenger seat.

The boot is about standard for the city car class at 185 litres and is enough to carry a few bags.

The interior of the Fiat 500e La Prima
The interior of the Fiat 500e La Prima

Driving the 500 Electric

Versions with a 24kWh battery have 95hp, while versions with a 42kWh battery have 118hp. Yet there's not much between them in terms of real on the road performance and the Fiat 500e feels nippy and capable. In fact if you're used to driving a petrol 500, the electric version feels so much more responsive and smoother to drive.

The steering is light as you would expect from a city car and the Fiat 500 electric is fun to drive just by being a small car. It's not the most comfortable small car on the market and it does bounce around a bit over any bumps or imperfections in the road surface. It's not a dealbreaker if you like the car, but certainly frustrating over a long journey on a motorway for example. Yet this is a city car and that's where it's really at its best.

In real world driving, 270 kilometres is definitely possible on a full battery and driving at low speeds around town will prolong your range for longer. Fast charging is available up to 85kW getting you to 80% battery charge in about 35 minutes. While it takes just over six hours to charge the 500e to full from a standard 7.4kW wallbox at home.

There are also driving modes included - Normal, Range and Sherpa. The Range mode is like one pedal driving so you can control the car with just the accelerator. When you lift off the accelerator, the car will gradually bring itself to a stop. It makes city driving effortless.

The Sherpa mode is used to conserve your range when you find yourself trying to reach your destination on the last few kilometres of range. It turns off the air conditioning and reduces the top speed of the vehicle to 80km/h.

Fast charging is available for the 500e up to 85kW
Fast charging is available in the 500e up to 85kW

Did you like it?

The Fiat 500e is one of the most stylish small electric cars on sale right now. Fans of the petrol 500 will just love this electric version. It looks better and is even more enjoyable to drive now.

The interior has also had a great revamp and there are lots of nice trims available and cool digital features like the 10-inch touchscreen.

Like all these small electric cars, you will still pay more for one of these than the equivalent small petrol car. The 500 is certainly not the most practical small electric car on sale at the moment. Some others are bigger and nicer to drive too overall.

Yet, the Fiat 500 was always the car you bought because you wanted a small, trendy car to drive around town in. It still very much is, though not as cheap as before. Except now it's ready for the future too.

Model tested: Fiat 500e 42kWh La Prima
Price: 
€33,495
Battery:
42kWh
Range: 320km (WLTP)
Power: 118hp
Torque: 220Nm
Top speed: 150km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes

 


The Peugeot e-208 on test for Changing Lanes!

Peugeot e-208 Review

Read Caroline's Peugeot e-208 review for everything you need to know about Peugeot's electric supermini on sale in Ireland.

Peugeot is fast pursuing the electric dream with a slew of new hybrid and pure electric models. Many of the French brand's key models now offer some sort of electrified option - from the smallest 208 to the popular 3008 SUV and new Peugeot 308 hatchback and estate.

The Peugeot e-208 offers a pure electric drive in Peugeot's compact and stylish small hatchback. It goes up against other small EVs such as the Opel Corsa-e, Renault Zoe and Mini Electric.

But is it any good? In this review we're going to take a closer look to find out.

The Peugeot e-208 on test for Changing Lanes!
The Peugeot e-208 on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Peugeot e-208?

The e-208 looks good from all the angles. Peugeot's latest models are some of the most stylish out there. The e-208 has a gorgeous design, making it one of the most desirable small electric cars.

There's sporty elegance to the e-208 with a compact stance and distinctive light signature front and rear. If you want a car with 'fangs' this is the one for you - check out those striking daytime running lights at the front. While Peugeot's trademark 'tri-claw' taillights complete the feline theme at the rear.

There are three trim levels available in Ireland - Active, Allure Pack and GT. The GT model on test is surely the sportiest of them all with 17" diamond cut alloy wheels, gloss black around the wheel arches, black roof and a chequered flag effect grille.

Electric badging is subtle - just a small 'e' on the C-pillar and tailgate, and a blue finish to the Peugeot lion on the front grille.

With pricing starting from €28,730 including all relevant grants and VRT relief, the Peugeot e-208 is also keenly priced among small electric cars. Granted it will cost more to buy than petrol and diesel versions of the 208.  And the glorious e-208 GT on test looks great and is packed full of equipment but will set you back €33,285.

The Peugeot e-208 is also one of the most fun to drive small electric cars, with a range of up to 362km measured by industry standards. Though in real world driving, 280km seems more realistic once factors such as the time of year and your driving style are taken into account. For example, certainly at low speeds around town you'll get farther on your battery charge.

The interior of the e-208
The interior of the e-208

Inside the e-208

The cabin of the Peugeot e-208 stands out for its quality, with an upmarket feel that can be hard to find in the very smallest electric cars. There's lots of gloss black accentuating the cabin's stylish design and the beautiful Peugeot i-Cockpit.

In the centre of the dash there is a 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though Allure Pack and GT models get a more impressive 10" touchscreen. The ventilation controls are in the screen, but the elegant piano key underneath offer a shortcut to switch between menus quickly. Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, push button start and cruise control.

The e-208 is a small car so rear legroom is limited, though it's not impossible to carry adults. With the position of the battery in the e-208, Peugeot has managed to keep interior space and boot space the same as petrol and diesel 208s. The boot is compact too at 311 litres, but you can let the rear seats down for carrying larger items.

Driving the e-208

The e-208 is good fun to drive with agile handling and light steering. The 136hp motor in the e-208 provides enough power and the car moves effortlessly from town to rural roads to motorways.

On short journeys and in town driving the e-208 really shines, with the range of the car offering plenty of comfort between charging. The range diminishes more rapidly in high-speed motorway driving, but with a stop planned for charging, it's still a decent enough performance for the e-208.

And when it comes to charging, the e-208's 50kWh battery is pretty swift at adding the kilometres. With a 7kW wallbox installed at home it will take about 7.5 hours to charge the e-208 to full. Rapid DC charging is also possible using the standard CCS adaptor. Charging at the maximum 100kW, the e-208 can be 80% charged in 30 minutes.

The Peugeot e-208 is one of the best small electric cars
The Peugeot e-208 is one of the best small electric cars

Did you like it?

Electric suits the 208 very well. The Peugeot e-208 is super stylish, with a beautiful interior that feels more upmarket than much of the competition.

The e-208's 50kWh battery offers decent performance, particularly in the town and city environs where these small cars really feel at home. You couldn't find a better companion for city life.

I still think the Peugeot e-208 makes a great introduction to electric motoring. Like competitors, it is more expensive than an equivalent petrol or diesel car but there are many benefits to switching to electric at this time.  The e-208 is a very likeable small car that just happens to be electric too.

Model tested: Peugeot e-208 GT
Price: 
€33,285
Battery:
50 kWh
Range: 362km (WLTP)
Power: 136 hp
Torque:  260 Nm
Top speed:  150 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.1 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

The Peugeot e-208 is on sale now from €28,730
The Peugeot e-208 is on sale now from €28,730

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The Suzuki Swift Hybrid is on sale now

Suzuki Swift Hybrid Review

Read Caroline's Suzuki Swift review for everything you need to know about buying Suzuki's classic supermini in Ireland.

The Suzuki Swift is a perennial of the supermini class. It's been around for years, offering a simple and efficient way of getting around. With some considerable style.

And it's not even trying to be a crossover or SUV, leaving that remit to the likes of the Suzuki Vitara, Ignis and S-Cross.

Now in its third generation, the Swift has been updated with revised front-end styling, more standard equipment, and even further emphasis on safety equipment levels across the range.

All models are now also fitted with Suzuki’s enhanced 12V Hybrid system for improved efficiency.

It goes on sale in Ireland from €17,775, making it now one of Ireland's most affordable small cars.

The Suzuki Swift Hybrid is on sale now
The Suzuki Swift Hybrid is on sale now

What's new for the Suzuki Swift?

Not much has changed in terms of design. The Swift still looks great, with a squat and sporty look to it. While most of the rivals appear to be getting bigger, the Swift is not trying to masquerade as anything other than a small car.

The front grille and headlamps have been gently restyled for the latest version. There's also a new colour - Flame Orange Pearl Metallic - which can be combined with a Super Black roof on SZ-T and SZ5 models. All models now have LED headlamps and rear combination lamps as standard equipment.

Suzuki expects the new high specification SZ-L grade to become the volume selling model for the Swift range. That's good news; it's the entry into the range at €17,775.

For that you get Radar Brake Support (automated emergency braking), Adaptive Cruise Control, LED headlights, air conditioning, DAB radio, privacy glass, 16-inch polished alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone link fitted as standard. Under the bonnet there's a 1.2-litre petrol engine, matched to a 5-speed manual gearbox.

There's also the SZ-T from €19,180, and the SZ5 from €21,320.

The new Swift goes on sale from €17,775
The new Swift goes on sale from €17,775

Inside the latest Swift

Inside, the Swift has a straightforward interior that hasn't changed much over the years. For this reason it is starting to look a little old-fashioned in its design.

But all the key equipment is here, including a touchscreen that connects easily to smartphones, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There's lots of hard plastic but it's a solidly built car interior, still with robust Suzuki character.

The car feels roomier inside than what you might expect in the front and the rear. By lowering the seat positions in the original, the Suzuki Swift has a surprising amount of headroom.

Rear legroom is also good for a compact car, though two will be more comfortable than three.

While the cabin is roomier than what you might expect from the Swift's compact stance, the boot is not. It's on the small side at 265 litres, though still practical in everyday use.

The cabin of the 2022 Suzuki Swift
The cabin of the 2022 Suzuki Swift

Is the Suzuki Swift Hybrid good?

Suzuki first introduced its 1.2-litre Dualjet technology (K12C) in 2014. Initially in the Swift, and then in the Baleno and Ignis.

This engine is now replaced by the new K12D Dualjet unit which offers greater fuel economy and even lower CO2 emissions.

The maximum power output for this engine is 83 hp with a torque figure of 107 Nm at 2,800 rpm. The engine has a new dual injection system for more responsiveness and more fuel efficiency.

The self-charging hybrid system is powered by a new lithium-ion battery with capacity upgraded from 3Ah to 10Ah to improve energy recovery efficiency. The upgraded 12V Hybrid system incorporates an Integrated Starter Generator (known as ISG), which acts as both a generator and starter motor. The ISG is belt driven and assists the engine during vehicle take off and acceleration and also generates electricity through regenerative braking.

The Swift is built on a platform that is light and highly rigid. In fact, this car weighs just 911 kg in front wheel drive manual versions, contributing to lower fuel consumption.

The Suzuki Swift Hybrid uses a 1.2-litre petrol engine
The Suzuki Swift Hybrid uses a 1.2-litre petrol engine

Did you like it?

In combination with the latest K12D 1.2-litre Dualjet Hybrid four-cylinder engine, the Swift is one of the most efficient small cars on the road.  Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was just 5.3 litres per 100 km, with plenty of high speed motorway driving included.

Performance is fine, with the Swift feeling nippier than what the 83 hp might suggest. It's ideal in urban environments, and the five speed manual makes it fun to drive, though revs run high in motorway driving. The Swift rides the road well and is comfortable by small car standards too. A new CVT automatic gearbox is also available on SZ-T and SZ5 models.

The Suzuki Swift is one of Ireland's most affordable small cars. It offers a simple and straightforward package, with a genuinely efficient petrol engine that is still responsive and fun to drive. Swift offers value for money as well as high levels of standard equipment.

In a world where cars are getting increasingly complex, the Swift stays refreshingly simple.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Suzuki Swift 1.2 Dualjet Hybrid SZL
Price:
€17,775
Engine: 1.2-litre petrol
Power: 
83 hp
Torque: 107 Nm
0-100km/h:
13.1 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
106 g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The MINI Electric on test for Changing Lanes

MINI Electric Review

Read Caroline's MINI Electric review for everything you need to know about buying the electric MINI in Ireland.

Even icons like the MINI must face an electric future. The challenge for MINI? To create a fun to drive, all-electric version of the famous hatchback that dilutes nothing of the famed MINI driving character.

We recently reviewed the MINI Hatch for Changing Lanes with a petrol engine providing the power.

Now it's the turn of the MINI Electric. It's the brand’s first battery electric vehicle based on the iconic three door hatchback and goes on sale from €35,715. But with VRT rebate reducing the purchase price, and a further SEAI government supported grant of €5,000 available, the MINI Electric range is competitive.

The MINI Electric on test for Changing Lanes
The MINI Electric on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the MINI Electric?

For this new era of electrification, the electric MINI gets a 32.6 kWh battery with an electric range of 235-270 km measured by WLTP industry standards. It's not the best on the market in range for a small electric car, but MINI has a plan.

At a weight of 1,365 kg, this one is just 145 kg heavier than the current MINI Cooper S Hatch with automatic transmission. New suspension technology designed for the electric MINI helps retain and enhance the brand's famed fun driving dynamics.

With a centre of gravity that is at least 30 millimetres lower than in the MINI Cooper S and the reduced weight over the front wheels thanks to the electric motor, the MINI Electric's weight distribution promises a fun to drive small electric car. There's also an innovative Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system on board, which improves traction as you set-off and stability in brake energy recovery mode, as well as when accelerating out of tight bends.

MINI has retained the classic shape and character of the iconic hatchback for this all-electric version. So MINI Electric is everything we love about MINI, with a sporty, fun look and eye-popping colour splashes of Energetic Yellow on the front grille and wing mirrors.

There's also an embossed electric logo on the car’s side scuttles, as well as on the tailgate and front radiator grille. The front grille features the hallmark hexagonal shape but is closed, as the car requires less cooling. There are also some quirky wheel covers available that resemble a three point plug.

The electric MINI goes on sale in Ireland from €35,715
The electric MINI goes on sale in Ireland from €35,715

What's it like inside?

Inside the cabin is once again reassuringly classic MINI. Quality is excellent. There's a boutique feel to the cabin. The large central binnacle houses the infotainment, and is compatible with smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There's a new digital dashboard with a 5.5-inch colour screen behind the steering wheel, with information on available range and charge level of the battery relayed to the driver. Standard equipment on Level 1 models (from €28,215 on the road) includes sports seats, automatic air conditioning, cruise control, Connected Navigation including Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI), and LED lights front and rear.

Level 2 includes a cloth/leather-look upholstery, additional exterior body colour and wheel options, as well as rear Park Distance Control (PDC), rear parking camera, heated front seats, and Driving Assistance Pack.

Level 3 includes front PDC, Park Assist, Harmon Kardon sound system, head-up display, panoramic sunroof, matrix LEDs and an 8.8” infotainment touch screen. Wireless phone charging is also included, as is leather upholstery, a choice of five alloy wheels and six exterior body colours.

The MINI is super stylish but this is a small car and not the most practical on the market. It's fine up front but rear seating is limited, with not much legroom available. The boot is also small at just 211 litres, but there is no compromise between petrol versions and electric versions. They all get the same interior and boot space. At least it expands to 731 litres when the rear backrests are folded down. Which split fold 60:40 by the way!

The interior of the new MINI Electric
The interior of the new MINI Electric

Driving the MINI Electric

The MINI Electric sacrifices little of the car's bewitching fun to drive character in the pursuit of zero tailpipe emissions. For MINI fans, this electrified model is a dream come true. It may be carrying a battery on board but it still feels light and agile on the road. It's naturally engaging to drive with a swift delivery of power to the road. The electric motor provides 184 hp and 270 Nm of torque. Acceleration is a brisk 7.3 seconds from 0 to 100km/h. The motor is the latest, powerful version of the synchronous electric motor developed by the BMW Group.

The car offers as standard four MINI Driving Modes. SPORT mode has more direct steering and a more rapid power delivery. The MID setting has less aggressive steering, while GREEN mode features more gentle accelerator response. In GREEN+ mode, some comfort functions such as air conditioning are limited or deactivated to save further power and increase range.

You can also select the intensity of power regeneration, which recharges the battery when the driver lifts off the accelerator, preserving energy, and acts as a braking force.

The car comes with both home and public charging cables as standard, designed for AC and DC charging using Type 2 and CCS Combo 2 plugs. 50 kW DC fast charging is available, giving 80% charge in about 36 minutes. The new MINI can get a full charge at home in 4 hours and 20 minutes using 7.4 kW AC charging.

50 kWh DC fast charging is available
50 kWh DC fast charging is available

Did you like it?

Like all MINIs, the MINI Electric is a hoot to drive, sacrificing none of its fun to drive character for battery power.

The downside for the electric MINI is range. Less than 200 km in real world driving just doesn't give enough wiggle room on longer journeys.

In fairness the MINI is a real city car anyway, and a very trendy one at that. So as a second car confined to driving around town it could work very well. It's a more exclusive small car, and it is priced pretty well for a small electric car of this standard that is far nicer to drive than the competition.

This is a premium small car, undeniably stylish and desirable. A status symbol now electrified. MINI Electric makes a successful debut, though battery range will limit its appeal.

MINI Electric is super stylish and fun to drive electric small car
MINI Electric is super stylish and fun to drive electric small car

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MINI Electric Level 2
Price:
€30,503 (including SEAI grant and VRT relief)
Battery: 32.6 kWh
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 270 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.3 seconds
Top speed: 150 km/h
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Review

Read Caroline's Toyota Yaris Hybrid review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota's small hatchback in Ireland.

The Toyota Yaris is one of Ireland's most loved small cars. It's been around for over 20 years and is a consistent top 10 bestselling car in Ireland. In 2020 Toyota launched an all-new generation of the popular Yaris and it was quick to snatch the award of European Car of the Year 2021.

In 20 years, the Yaris has become Toyota’s most important model in Europe, steadily increasing both its sales volume and its market share.

The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Toyota Yaris Premier on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the new Toyota Yaris?

There's something major happening at Toyota in recent years. It's called TNGA or Toyota New Global Architecture. If you thought Toyotas were boring cars, you need to drive their new generation vehicles.

The new Yaris is the first small Toyota to be built on Toyota New Global Architecture. The GA-B platform is central to the car’s improved dynamic performance, giving a lower centre of gravity and much greater body rigidity. A range of Toyota Safety Sense active safety systems come as standard, including Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) such as Lane Trace Assist and Emergency Steering Assist.

The Yaris Hybrid is more powerful and efficient than before
The Yaris Hybrid is more powerful and efficient than before

The latest Yaris is also a much cooler looking car than the model it replaces. It's a far more energetic and dynamic design. A bi tone roof is available with alloy wheel sizes up to 17" and new LED light technology.

Inside the Yaris

Toyota has transformed the interior of the latest generation Yaris. Quality and design have taken a real step up in line with this car's cooler and more youthful image.

The interior has a more open and spacious feel when compared to the outgoing model. The driving position is better, sportier.

There are more soft touch materials and cool ambient lighting available on some models. There are 7" and 8" touchscreens available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The steering wheel is smaller and sportier. New auxiliary buttons have a greater tactile quality.

The new GA-B platform allowed for a reduction in the car’s overall length, making it the most compact model in its class, but with an increase in its wheelbase for more space and comfort for everyone on board. The new Yaris has more space and elbow room - an extra 20 mm between the driver and front passenger. The boot is nowhere near class-leading but it has some depth and offers an adequate 286 litres of space.

Inside the 2020 Toyota Yaris
The interior of the new Toyota Yaris

In Ireland the Toyota Yaris is available in five trim levels –  Aura, Luna, Luna Sport, Platinum and Premier. The 2022 Toyota Yaris range kicks off in Ireland with a 1.0-litre petrol with 72 hp, while there is also a 1.5-litre petrol manual and a 1.5-litre hybrid auto.

Pricing starts at €20,140 for the Yaris Aura petrol, while the Toyota Yaris Hybrid pricing starts from €23,990 in Luna trim.

How economical is the Toyota Yaris Hybrid?

The new Toyota Yaris uses the latest, fourth-generation Toyota hybrid technology. New components have been engineered to be compact, lightweight and efficient. The focus in the development of this car was not just to make it more efficient, but to also make the car more enjoyable to drive.

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid now offers EV driving for longer periods in urban traffic. CO2 emissions have dropped, while it's more efficient than before too. Under the bonnet there's a 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain to improve efficiency by 20% and put out even more power at 116 hp. It's quicker and more responsive to the throttle.

Behind the wheel, the new driving position gives you a greater sense of control and connection with the car, supporting the fun-to-drive character of the new Yaris. The car feels more agile and engaging at the wheel. The steering is quicker and more direct. The hybrid delivers the power in a smoother, quieter and more refined way than the previous generation of the Toyota Yaris Hybrid.

While built for efficiency, the Yaris Hybrid feels natural on the road, like any petrol driven small car. A revised suspension set-up means it covers the tarmac better, with a softer and smoother ride. In town driving it can run up to 80% of the time on electric power, with the engine only cutting in when needed. So in urban environments it helps your eco-credentials, while sipping at the fuel.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 5.5 litres per 100 km, with some long distance motorway runs included. So this is a good return on fuel economy for a small car.

The new Yaris is a radically improved car
The new Yaris is a radically improved car

Did you like it?

The new Toyota Yaris is far more desirable than the car it replaces. It has truly blossomed as a small car on the new TNGA platform. It looks great and even quite sporty in higher trim levels like the top of the range Premier model on test for Changing Lanes.

Already an award winner, the new Yaris has been suitably revamped inside and now feels a lot more competitive in its segment with the latest technology and digital features.

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid has also been greatly improved. It's much more refined now on the road to drive. The car is more fun to drive than it was before. It's comfortable by small car standards too. It is more expensive to buy than the petrol models in the range, but the car has power and feels good on the road.

Toyota has just welcomed the new Toyota Yaris Cross to Ireland, an SUV spin off of the Yaris sharing much of the same DNA but in more of a crossover style.

The Yaris picks up the baton as a small simple efficient hatchback, with good value and choice available in the range.

It's a classic and reliable choice of small car but the Yaris now feels truly competitive in its class of vehicle and one you can pick with your heart too.

A transformation for one of Ireland's favourite cars.

The Yaris Hybrid is available from €23,990
The Yaris Hybrid is available from €23,990 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Yaris Hybrid Premier
Price:
€27,680
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
116 hp
0-100km/h: 
9.7 seconds
Top speed:  175 km/h
CO2 emissions: 
88 g/km
Motor tax:
€160 per year