The new Audi A1

2019 Audi A1 1.0 TFSI Review

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

Caroline drives the 2019 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 2019 Audi A1

The 2019 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 2019 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


2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland

2017 SEAT Ibiza Review

SEAT is currently a brand on a big mission. In the last 18 months, they’ve launched their first SUV, the Qashqai rivalling SEAT Ateca, and there’s the soon-to-arrive, all-new compact Arona SUV. On top of that, the much-acclaimed SEAT Leon hatchback had a facelift in 2017 and this summer also saw the arrival of a new SEAT Ibiza supermini.

The new SEAT Ibiza has the privilege of being the first car in the Volkswagen Group to use the all-new MQB A0 platform for small cars. That’s a big boon for the Spanish brand, and with trademark sporty SEAT styling and affordable pricing, the new Ibiza could be on to something big.

And big it is. The new SEAT Ibiza has really grown up. The styling has matured and while all the curves and angles we’ve come to associate with the SEAT Ibiza are there, this wider, lower Ibiza looks better than ever. Inside, a longer wheelbase means there is more passenger space, and this is now one of the roomiest small cars out there. A 355 litre boot tops it off.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
The interior of the 2017 SEAT Ibiza

In terms of trim, buyers can choose from the more standard S (from €14,995) and SE (from €17,335), but for more uniqueness there is an XCELLENCE model (from €18,745) with more kit, and the sporty FR (from €19,465).

Standard equipment includes Front Assist, remote central locking and touchscreen but SE cars add 15“ alloys, front fog lights, LED DRLs, rear LED lights, air con and Bluetooth.

Xcellence adds a leather pack, cruise control, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, and folding electric mirrors. FR features 17“ alloys, dark tinted rear windows, SEAT Drive Profile, and sportier styling features.

My FR trim car was finished in Desire Red with optional 18” alloy wheels added and it looked very ‘desirable’ indeed.

The interior of the new SEAT Ibiza has had a thorough makeover and the previous car’s drab slab of grey plastic has been broken up with a new interior panel that is finished in gloss black in FR trim cars. A large touchscreen with glossy black surround is the focal point in the centre of the dash. The cheap looking circular air vents have been replaced by rectangular vents that look of better quality. While hard plastics still dominate and the cloth seat material looks a little cheap, overall the quality and design has stepped up in new Ibiza.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
SEAT Ibiza FR models are the sportiest of the range with sports suspension and styling updates

The new SEAT Ibiza is still offered with the old 1.0-litre MPI petrol with 75hp. For perkier performance buyers can choose from the new three cylinder turbo 1.0-litre TSI petrol with 95 or 115hp.  Joining later will be a new 1.5-litre TSI 150hp four cylinder turbo petrol and 1.6-litre diesels (80 and 95hp). A DSG automatic gearbox is available paired with the new 1.0-litre 115hp engine.

My test car had the new 1.0-litre TSI with 115hp and first off for a three cylinder unit it’s remarkably smooth and refined with little vibration coming through the pedals. The turbo petrol gives faultless performance with lots of in-gear punch and 0-100kmh achieved in 9.3 seconds. This unit is naturally cheap to run as well with an average consumption of 4.7l/100km and CO2 emissions of 108g/km. The Ibiza 1.0 TSI is available from €18,065 in SE trim.

On the road, the new SEAT Ibiza is smooth and agile with nicely sharp steering and well contained body roll. The car is lacking the steering feel of the Ford Fiesta that makes it the handling star of the class, but this car is pure and sharp to drive.  The FR model has a number of driving modes including a Sport mode, but these do little to alter the driving experience. The firmer suspension of FR models makes these cars noticeably firmer over changeable Irish roads than other models in the Ibiza range.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
The new SEAT Ibiza is one of the most practical, spacious and stylish small hatchbacks

The small car from SEAT first launched in 1984 has come a long way and while 2017 has felt like the year of the small car with numerous new models arriving here, the Ibiza is one of the best all rounders. The new SEAT Ibiza’s class leading ability boils down to the new platform, which makes this car more practical and spacious, but the drive is nigh on faultless too for a small, affordable car. The new 1.0-litre TSI is up with the best of the small turbo petrols in the segment. The SEAT Ibiza has a strong image and this new sharp suit its wearing should appeal to a variety of buyers but crucially I think we can say that the SEAT Ibiza is cool!

Model tested: SEAT Ibiza FR 1.0TSI 115hp
Price: €20,185 (Range starts €14,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
115hp
Torque: 200Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.3 seconds
Top speed: 195km/h
Claimed Economy: 
4.7l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
108g/km
Motor tax:
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd


2017 Toyota Yaris review ireland

2017 Toyota Yaris Hybrid Review

At Toyota, hybrid power has spread in recent years beyond the Prius to SUVs like the Toyota C-HR and RAV4, and the Toyota Yaris supermini.

With pricing starting from €19,575, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid is an entry point into hybrid motoring. For 2017, Toyota has revised the whole of the Yaris range, with updated styling, interior revisions, new equipment and a new 1.5-litre petrol engine. Toyota has used this update to also work on the refinement of the Yaris Hybrid, so it was worth a closer look.

Part of the brief for this facelift was to make the Yaris a little more dynamic looking. The test car’s grey brown colour finish was probably not the best showcase for a car trying to impart a sporty image, but the nose and rear have been significantly revised. Two new colours have been added to the range – Hydro Blue and Tokyo Red – while higher trimmed models have a chrome insert on the lower side doors and a black rear pillar finish.

2017 Toyota Yaris review ireland
Interior of the 2017 Toyota Yaris

Inside new Yaris, there is now more choice in terms of interior finish, with new, co-ordinated upholstery and trim colour options. The dials and switches are all large and easy to read, and there are some soft touch materials among the harder plastics of the cabin. All but the entry model have the ‘Toyota Touch® 2’ touchscreen infotainment system. Interior space is good for this size of car with good headroom all round and plenty of legroom too, while the 286 litre boot has quite a high load lip but otherwise does the job.

The 3-door Toyota Yaris range kicks off at €15,950 for a 1.0-litre petrol, while the 5-door range starts at €16,950. There are five trim levels: Terra (from €15,950), Luna (from €17,575), Sol (from €19,450), Aura (from €19,575, hybrid only) and Luna Sport (€22,750).

Mid-range Luna models have a good mix of equipment including 15” alloys, touchscreen with Bluetooth, front fog lamps, rear view camera, leather steering wheel and a 4.2 inch information screen for the driver.  Automatic High Beam and Pre Collision System are standard on all grades, while Lane Departure Alert and Road Sign Assist are standard on Luna, Luna Sport and Sol.

2017 Toyota Yaris review ireland
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid has a low emissions powertrain

Engine options for the 2017 Toyota Yaris range include a 1.0-litre petrol engine, a new 1.5-litre petrol, 1.4-litre diesel and a hybrid. According to Toyota Ireland, hybrid currently accounts for more than 35% of Yaris sales in Ireland, so this is a genuine option for Toyota buyers. The Yaris Hybrid uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor, with a CVT automatic gearbox.

Efficiency is a key priority for hybrid buyers and the Yaris Hybrid has emissions of just 82g C02 so motor tax is €170 per year. In real life driving, upwards of 50mpg is easily achievable, and the car is exceptionally efficient in low speed town and city driving, switching seamlessly between silent electric power and engine power as appropriate.

The Yaris Hybrid rides and handles pretty well too and Toyota has reengineered the Hybrid for quieter performance. Under light to moderate acceleration, it is very smooth and quiet but hit the accelerator hard to pick up speed quickly out of town for example, and the engine will hold onto the revs onto you reach your desired speed in the familiar manner of a CVT gearbox.

2017 Toyota Yaris review ireland
The Toyota Yaris is available from €15,950, with hybrids starting from €19,575

The Yaris Hybrid carries a premium over the smaller petrol models in the Yaris range, but it’s a properly frugal small car and is especially worth considering for urban motorists. Toyota has updated the styling and the interior, but the Yaris is still lacking that touch of desirability that Nissan for example has added to their radical new Micra. Yet the Yaris is spacious, comfortable and perfectly functional so it won’t be toppled from its position as one of Ireland’s favourite superminis any time soon!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Yaris Hybrid Sol
Price: 
€21,600 (Yaris from €15,950)
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
100hp
Torque: 111Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.8 seconds
Top speed: 165km/h
Claimed Economy: 
84mpg
CO2 emissions:  
82g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year

If you are looking for a hybrid car for the city, you might also like this view of the Kia Niro.


2017 Suzuki Swift review ireland

2017 Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet Review

The Suzuki Swift has had many design iterations since its 80’s launch but in the 2000s, Suzuki really nailed it with a styling blueprint that was made fashionable by the relaunched BMW MINI in 2001.

The Suzuki Swift’s squared off roofline, sporty stance, large headlamps, optional bonnet stripes and bi colour finish held it to good stead: the design remained largely unchanged for ten years, yet still managed to look cool and modern.

This year, an all-new Suzuki Swift has arrived in Ireland sitting on Suzuki’s latest small car platform that also underpins the Baleno and the Ignis.

But while the Suzuki Baleno is unfashionably practical and the Ignis is fashionably weird, the Swift is designed to be the model with the most ‘emotional appeal’ in Suzuki’s small car line-up.

And this is an attractive five door supermini. The styling has evolved gently, while bi colour options remain. So far so good for new Swift.

Inside hard plastics prevail in the new interior but aesthetically they don’t look bad at all and there is no arguing that this is a well-built cabin with an intuitive layout. The car is now wider by 4cm and the front seats have been moved further apart to give more shoulder room. Headroom is very good all round and the footwells in the back are bigger than in the old car. The boot is now over 50 litres bigger at 265 litres, though still some way off the class best.

2017 Suzuki Swift review ireland
The interior of the new Suzuki Swift

Suzuki is also offering a good standard specification including air con, 15” alloys, DAB radio, Bluetooth, LED DRLs, leather steering wheel, front electric windows and rear privacy glass (SZ3 from €14,995). A rear view camera and touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto is available one trim level up (SZ-T from €16,995). Top spec SZ5 models (from €18,995) have an impressive list of technology on board including forward collision alert, navigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and high beam assist.

That start price of €14,995 will get you a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine with 90hp. However an even better engine for the new Swift is the 1.0-litre turbo petrol Boosterjet engine that packs 111hp and is available from €16,995. In light of competition from turbo petrol variants of the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and SEAT Ibiza, this one is good value.

On the road, progress in the Suzuki Swift 1.0-litre is brisk, especially around town, while out of town the turbo adds extra flexibility and helps the car pick up speed quickly.  It’s also a very refined unit with little vibration. I returned close to 50mpg on my test drive and emissions are low at just 97g of CO2 per kilometre.

The Suzuki Swift has lost weight and has a kerb weight as low as 890kg on some models. But rigidity has been increased and the Swift handles with aplomb. The steering is quick and the car enters corners eagerly but with some body roll it’s not as tight through corners as a Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza. The cabin is mostly quiet but at high speed there is some more noticeable road and wind noise. Comfort is generally good but the Swift feels more rudimentary over larger imperfections in the road surface.

2017 Suzuki Swift review ireland
The Suzuki Swift is a good value small car with plenty of kerb appeal

The Suzuki Swift is one to watch out for among superminis. The new car has benefited from some modernising inside and out. It’s not the plushest supermini out there or the most spacious, but the technology and new Boosterjet engine make it a formidable competitor in its price range.

Model tested: Suzuki Swift 1.0 SZ5 SHVS Boosterjet
Price: 
€18,995 (Range starts at €14,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
111hp
Torque: 170Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.6 seconds
Top speed: 195km/h
Economy: 
65.7mpg
CO2 emissions:  
97g/km
Motor tax:
€180 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a fun, small petrol car, you might also like this review of the SEAT Ibiza.