The new Citroen e-C3

Citroen e-C3 Review (2024)

Read Caroline's Citroen e-C3 review for everything you need to know about Citroen's new compact electric car expected in Ireland before the end of the year.

The new Citroen e-C3 is likely to be one of the most affordable electric cars on sale when it arrives in Ireland later in 2024.

Citroen has a history of building brilliant small cars like the 2CV, Saxo and previous generations of the C3.

The brand is keen to offer choice to buyers in the market for a small car and so the new C3 will be offered with a choice of petrol, mild hybrid and electric.

The new e-C3 uses a 44kWh battery with a range up to 320 kilometres (WLTP) and is designed for more space, more comfort and more character.

I was in Austria with Citroen Ireland to take a closer look.

The new Citroen e-C3
The new Citroen e-C3

Styling

Citroen has completely reimagined the C3 and e-C3 for this new generation of the small car. Though it has similar dimensions to the previous model, it's taller and squarer overall with a strong SUV influence to its design. That means it sits higher off the ground than before, has a higher bonnet and more rugged styling cues like skid plates and wheel arch covers. Designed in France and built in Slovakia, the new C3 and e-C3 are also the first Citroens to get the brand's new oval logo. There are a range of colours available as well as contrasting roof colours and clips in the front fascia and C-pillar. Wheel sizes vary from 16- to 17-inch. LED headlamps come as standard.

Interior

The C3 and e-C3 get a brand new cabin design that's pared back to give driver and occupants a feeling of peace and relaxation. Highlights include the new Citroen 'Advanced Comfort' seats, which have thicker foam and add to the lounge-like feel finished in cool grey and black. There is a plush grey fabric material in the dashboard that adds some style though there are scratchier black plastics in the doors. But for a budget car, that's acceptable and there's no squeaks or rattles in this cabin.

The cabin of the new Citroen e-C3
The cabin of the new Citroen e-C3

Citroen has also introduced a new compact steering wheel and a digital head-up display that works very well. There's also a new 10.25-inch touchscreen though that won't be standard on the entry level trim. Instead there will be a docking station for a smartphone and access to music and maps will be through an app. It's probably worth stretching to the touchscreen as it looks more impressive and is nice to interact with. It also comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless connectivity. Other features include wireless smartphone charging and automatic climate control.

Practicality

The new C3 is about 100mm higher than the previous car so it's easier to get in and out of. It's a particularly nice small car for carrying rear seat passengers and feels notably spacious. It's a bit wider than before and has more headroom, legroom and elbow room. The two tone interiors make it a welcoming place to sit and there are useful features for rear seat passengers like two USB-C ports, pockets in the back of the seats and door bins.

At 310 litres, there's just about 10 litres more boot space in the new car - though it's good to know it hasn't lost any space in exchange for its new electric powertrain. The boot has some depth and is a good shape for carrying things. There are no clever features like a split level boot floor to hide away charging cables, but the rear seats do split fold 60:40.

The Citroen e-C3 is expected in Ireland at the end of 2024
The Citroen e-C3 is expected in Ireland at the end of 2024

Battery

The new e-C3 uses a new 44kWh battery with a range up to 320 kilometres (WLTP). It's an LFP battery, chosen because it is more cost-efficient and Citroen is the first to use it among the Stellantis Group of car brands. A heat pump is not included but the e-C3 proved to be very efficient during my time with the car avergaing just 11.5 kWh per 100 kilometres.

A smaller capacity battery will join later with a range in the region of 200 kilometres.

Driving

The C3 and e-C3 are built on a new platform called the Smart Car Platform. It's very efficient and flexible enough to house combustion engines too. On the road the e-C3 offers a smooth and comfortable drive - if not a particularly fast one. It uses a 113hp electric motor and 0-100kmh is a leisurely 11 seconds. That's reasonable for a small car though not fast for an electric one! It's clearly an efficiency and comfort-biased small car. For the first time the C3 gets Citroen's suspension system with progressive hydraulic cushions so this is a car that covers the road softly. The raised height also offers a more comfortable drive over speed bumps and potholes in urban and suburban driving. The electric version adds a reassuring weight from behind the wheel so feels solid in cornering though it's not a particularly fun car to drive. Still for a budget car that's likely to spend most of its time in town and suburbia, it offers an affable drive.

Rear seating in the Citroen e-C3
Rear seating in the Citroen e-C3

There will also be new safety features like Active Safety Brake, Active Lane Departure Warning and Speed Sign Recognition. A new 'e-Routes' app will allow you to plan journeys, monitor charging status and battery level. The MyCitroën App will manage charging schedules and pre-heating or pre-cooling of the vehicle.

Charging

7.4 kW AC charging comes as standard. DC fast charging is up to 100 kW, which translates to a 20-80% battery charge in just 26 minutes.

Pricing

There will be three trim levels for Ireland: You, Plus and Max with varying levels of equipment. Pricing will be announced closer to launch in Ireland in November of this year.

The new e-C3 is an efficient and practical small electric car
The new e-C3 is an efficient and practical small electric car

Verdict

We're starting to see the rise of the budget-friendly small electric car like the Dacia Spring and the BYD Dolphin. The Citroen e-C3 is part of a wave of new European designed and built small electric cars that are going to make electric motoring even more affordable and accessible.

In Europe, the e-C3 goes on sale for less than €25,000. While pricing is yet to be confirmed in Ireland, it will likely be one of the most affordable electric cars on sale.

Offering buyers choice is also a key part of Citroen's philosophy with this car so it's good to know that Irish buyers will be able to choose from a petrol manual or petrol mild hybrid automatic if you like the look of the car but don't want to go electric.

At its core, this is a small car full of character with trendy small SUV-inspired looks that should see it do well in the market and garner quite a few fans. It's also a great small car for carrying passengers with a decent sized boot and bright, airy rear bench.

The new Citroen e-C3 scores for practicality and efficiency, while also being incredibly cute and rugged! If it's priced well, it will be a compelling choice in the new car market.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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


The new Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift Review (2024) | The affordable small car

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

The Suzuki Swift is one of the perennials of the small car class. It's been around for years and it's known for being simple, affordable and fun to drive.

Some manufacturers are moving their small cars to hybrid and full electric - adding the Euros in the process. Others are killing them off altogether, like the Ford Fiesta.

Suzuki is taking a more relaxed approach. The company is launching its new Swift in 2024 as a petrol mild hybrid with a starting price of just €21,495.

And this approach could pay dividends for the Japanese car brand, which has already been growing in Ireland over the last few years. As the race to electric gains pace, buyers seeking simple, affordable motoring need to look elsewhere - likely falling into the arms of Suzuki, among others, whose entire range of cars come under the €35,000 mark new.

The new Suzuki Swift
The new Suzuki Swift

Suzuki bestsellers include the Vitara and the iconic Swift. The new Swift is expected in Ireland in April and could be the perfect antidote if you're fed up of crazy car prices.

Styling

The new Swift sees an evolution of its styling so it's still very recognisable. The car hasn't changed much in its dimensions and takes up a similar footprint to before. It looks a little more grown-up thanks to a new front end, gloss black grille and new lights with L-shaped daytime running lights. The Suzuki badge has been moved from the grille to the bodywork. There's also a new bonnet that doesn't appear to sit completely flush with the car leaving a slightly awkward panel gap.

The standard wheel size is 16-inch across the range. Like before, you can opt for a contrast roof. There's a great selection of colours too including the new Frontier Blue and Cool Yellow. The Burning Red Pearl Metallic and Frontier Blue Pearl Metallic colours consist of a three-layer coating for a richer finish.

Around the back, there are more 3D-style light clusters and a wide rear bumper. The Swift's classic sporty stance is complete. It's lost a bit of its cuteness overall but this more mature look is what's required of a global car that will sell in many markets around the world.

Interior

The cabin of the previous Swift was looking quite tired and basic. Thankfully this new one comes on in leaps and bounds. The new two tone pale grey and black interior makes this far more appealing. There are still lots of hard plastics but they are disguised well and don't look as cheap. There's a sporty steering wheel and old-fashioned analogue dials. A new 9-inch touchscreen comes with wireless smartphone connectivity and is a big improvement on the previous version. But no wireless smartphone charging option is a disappointment.

The cabin of the 2024 Suzuki Swift
The cabin of the 2024 Suzuki Swift

Otherwise it's an exceptionally well equipped car. Just two trim levels, Motion and Ultra. Standard equipment includes a reversing camera, push button start, four electric windows, heated front seats, automatic air con and lots of standard safety features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and traffic sign recognition.

Practicality

The boot can only muster about 265 litres, which is a good way off the best in class. Still it will fit a few bags or suitcases and the rear seats can split fold. The Swift is surprisingly roomy in the back with decent headroom and legroom for adults from time to time, though children should be fine. It's short on amenities or storage with just space in the doors for a bottle. However, in a smart move Suzuki has given the Swift conventional rear door handles rather than the hidden ones from the previous car, which makes access in and out easier - particularly for small children.

Engine

The engine in the Swift is brand new. It's a 1.2-litre mild hybrid just like before, but it's gone from four to three cylinders. It offers about 82hp and fuel consumption as low as 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres. A little more torque makes it more responsive to drive than before though 0-100 km/h is a leisurely 12.5 seconds. Motor tax is €180 per year for the manual or €190 per year for the CVT.

The new Swift is one of the most affordable cars on sale
The new Swift is one of the most affordable cars on sale

Driving

Still it feels a lot quicker on the road. That's because the Swift is a true lightweight. It weighs less than one tonne. It comes with a five speed manual gearbox or a CVT automatic and is an absolute hoot to drive.

Suzuki has reduced the roll in corners and the Swift is mighty fun out on the open road. It's not too noisy thanks to a bit more sound insulation and offers a nicely cushioned ride for a small car.

We didn't get to test it out on the motorway but it excelled on rural roads and in suburbia.

Pricing 

The 2024 Suzuki Swift 1.2 Motion goes on sale from €21,495 with a manual gearbox or from €23,495 with a CVT. The Ultra model with more equipment is available from €22,695.

Rear seating in the new Swift
Rear seating in the new Swift

Verdict

Suzuki sells the Swift in 169 countries and it has sold over 9 million units since it became a global model in 2004.

In Ireland it's one of the brand's bestsellers and has been for many years.

Suzuki is not in a hurry to go electric but its entire range now has some sort of hybrid assistance to boost efficiency. We are likely to see the brand's first EV in 2025 but the Swift still satisfies a market looking for a simple, affordable fuel-powered car.

And let's not forget the Suzuki Swift is still astoundingly good value for a small car in 2024. The interior and equipment levels are a massive improvement over the old car. It's reasonably practical too.

Cheap to run and fun to drive, the new Swift is one of the surprise highlights of the year so far.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The 2024 Suzuki Swift is a fun and efficient small car
The 2024 Suzuki Swift is a fun and efficient small car

The 2024 Mazda2 Hybrid

Mazda2 Hybrid Review (2024) | Fuel-sipping hybrid

Read Caroline's 2024 Mazda2 Hybrid review for everything you need to know about buying Mazda's hybrid small car in Ireland.

The Mazda2 Hybrid joined the Mazda range for the first time in 2022. Sold alongside the Mazda2 petrol, the Mazda2 Hybrid is essentially a rebadged Toyota Yaris.

The hybrid supermini is an important step in helping the Japanese brand to reduce emissions and offer customers a fuel-sipping hybrid option (without the cost of developing its own).

Toyota is a leader in hybrid for over 25 years so this car certainly has good provenance. But is it distinct enough?

Now in 2024, Mazda seeks to distinguish this car a little more with a few styling tweaks from its own European Design Studio.

I travelled to Barcelona to take a first look at the new Mazda2 Hybrid, ahead of its arrival in Ireland this March.

The 2024 Mazda2 Hybrid
The 2024 Mazda2 Hybrid

Styling

The Mazda2 Hybrid is a Yaris in disguise but this time around Mazda has done a little more than a simple rebadging exercise. Mazda's version of the famous small car gets a new face with a unique bumper and Mazda five-point grille. At the back, the light clusters are separated by a body coloured garnish. Black side mirrors come as standard. The Homura models add glossy black trim, LED headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels. This is a very convincing spec for the Mazda2 Hybrid, with a sporty, squat stance on the road. Glass Blue is added as a new colour.

Overall the design tweaks do give the Mazda2 Hybrid a modicum more style than before, yet it still looks more like a Toyota than a Mazda. This may be disappointing for Mazda fans but doesn't take away from the fact that it's a very accomplished small car underneath.

Interior

Again, there's very little inside to distinguish the Mazda2 Hybrid from the Yaris, except for a Mazda badge on the steering wheel and printed on the mats. It's a solid, well-made interior - though it lacks the artistic flair of a true Mazda cabin. It benefits from the same digital upgrade the Yaris receives this year, including larger and more modern touchscreens (9” to 10.5”) with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and the availability of an impressive full digital driver display.

Standard features include a reversing camera, leather steering wheel, electric windows, automatic air con and adaptive cruise control. Going up the trim levels adds things such as smart keyless entry, parking sensors, wireless mobile phone charging and even a head-up display and panoramic roof on the very top of the range Homura Plus model.

Inside the 2024 Mazda2 Hybrid
Inside the 2024 Mazda2 Hybrid

Practicality

At 286 litres, the boot is average for a small car but will fit two cabin bags side by side. The rear seats also split fold 60:40. Rear legroom is on the tight side so it's certainly one of the more compact models on sale - though you will get adults in there from time to time and children will be fine.

Engine

The Mazda2 Hybrid uses Toyota's 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid with 116hp, just like the latest Yaris. It's incredibly frugal with fuel consumption quoted between 3.8 - 4.2 litres per 100 kilometres. Real world consumption is not too far off that, though consumption naturally increases at high speeds on the motorway.

Driving

The Mazda2 is a solid and capable small car on the road. It handles well without being particularly fun to drive. But the hybrid does feel more lively overall than a Mazda2 petrol, which can feel a bit lethargic, particularly on motorways. The Mazda2 Hybrid has no problem keeping up with the best of them on the motorway though it does get quite noisy with a lot of tyre and wind noise at high speeds. It's at its best in town and city driving when the hybrid drive really comes into its own. At low speeds, it frequently dips into EV mode, running silently on the power from its electric motor with no emissions from the exhaust. For this reason it's a very convenient option for buyers who want to be a little more environmentally conscious but without the need for chargers and charging - the small capacity battery is topped up in braking and deceleration.

Boot space in the Mazda2 Hybrid
Boot space in the Mazda2 Hybrid

Pricing

There are four trim lines confirmed for Ireland: Centre-line from €27,700; Exclusive-line from €29,550; Homura from €32,300; and Homura Plus from €34,700.

Verdict

It's challenging to put an individual stamp on a car as popular and well-known as a Toyota Yaris. Mazda has tried again with the 2024 Mazda2 Hybrid and the results are more convincing than before, particularly in the sporty Homura trim line. It's an attractive car though Mazda fans are likely to be a little underwhelmed by it overall as it lacks the artistic flair and craftmanship of a true Mazda. But, it's not a bad car: it's incredibly frugal and well-made with a modern, digital cabin and plenty of high-end safety features. It's lack of distinction from the Yaris might let it down in the wider market. But within Mazda's range, it's a frugal and lively compact car.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The Mazda2 Hybrid is incredibly efficient
The Mazda2 Hybrid is incredibly efficient

The new Renault Clio - delightfully chic

Renault Clio Review (2024) | A brilliant small car

Read Caroline's Renault Clio review for everything you need to know about buying Renault's popular small car in Ireland.

The Renault Clio is an international bestseller and one of the French brand's best loved small cars. It's recently been updated to keep it competitive with a few small tweaks to the styling, addition of a new Esprit Alpine trim level and some enhanced equipment onboard.

Available as a simple petrol manual or as an even more fuel efficient hybrid, the 2024 Renault Clio range kicks off from €24,845.

The new Renault Clio - delightfully chic
The new Renault Clio - delightfully chic

What's so special about the Renault Clio?

There are few small cars as chic and stylish as the Renault Clio. The facelifted Clio gets a new front end that gives it a meaner and sportier look, particularly in the top of the range Esprit Alpine - inspired by Renault's Alpine brand of sports cars.

The grille now stretches the full width between the LED headlights, while the new F1-style blade in the front bumper is finished in grey on the Esprit Alpine. Another striking feature is the new half diamond shaped LED daytime running lights that give it some real dynamic appeal.

Alloy wheel sizes start at 16-inch, with the Esprit Alpine getting a fancier 17-inch diamond cut set with blue or grey centre caps, depending on the body colour.

There are new clear covers for the rear lights but otherwise it's business as usual for the Clio. It's still one of the best looking small cars on sale.

There are a few tweaks inside too. Nothing major but the Esprit Alpine replaces the old RS Line and has a few sporty additions.

The cabin of the 2024 Renault Clio
The cabin of the 2024 Renault Clio

Inside the Clio Esprit Alpine

The Clio's cabin has matured very well with impressive digital tech on board and an upmarket feel - particularly in the new Esprit Alpine (from €28,345).

Front sports seats come with blue contrast stitching and Alpine logos to add a sporty feel. There's a fabric dashboard panel with a French flag to remind you what you're driving and Tricolour stitching in the steering wheel too.

Entry level models come with a 7-inch digital driver display and 7-inch touchscreen that's easy to use, with now wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make smartphone integration even simpler. The Esprit Alpine gets the flashier 10-inch digital driver display and 9.3-inch portrait-style touchscreen.

Standard features on the entry level Evolution model include keyless entry, automatic air con and rear parking sensors. The Techno adds a reversing camera and wireless smartphone charging, while the Esprit Alpine is the most luxurious of all with heated steering wheel/heated front seats and safety equipment like adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.

The Clio Hybrid is brilliant in town and very fuel-efficient
The Clio Hybrid is brilliant in town and very fuel-efficient

The Clio feels roomy enough inside for a small car though the back seat will be more comfortable for two rather than three. The petrol models are best for boot space with a Golf-beating 391 litres. Opt for the hybrid and this goes down to 301 litres. But it's still a practical space for a few suitcases or shopping bags.

Driving the Clio Hybrid

The Clio is available with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 90hp and a 6-speed manual or as a 1.6-litre hybrid that promises even greater fuel efficiency.

The hybrid is more expensive to buy (from €30,545) but offers a few benefits particularly in town driving where it can run for up to 80% of the time on its small capacity battery alone powering just the electric motor to turn the wheels - just like a Toyota Yaris Hybrid. Nor does it require a plug, with the battery being topped up during braking and deceleration.

It's smooth to drive with a multimode automatic transmission making it simple too. It has more power (145hp) than the entry level petrol and contributes to a more mature feeling on the road. Slot it into the ‘B’ mode to increase regenerative braking and you can adjust the driving behaviour somewhat with the Multisense driving modes.

Rear seating in the Clio
Rear seating in the Clio

Over my time with the car, average fuel consumption was 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres, making it cheap to run too.

The Clio is good fun to drive with direct steering and good body control through bends. Comfort and refinement levels are pretty good for a small car though it does get noisy over coarser road surfaces and doesn't do much to take the edge off the bumps and holes of Irish rural roads.

Did you like it?

It's an easy yes! It's hard not to find yourself endeared by the Clio's charm. It's compact enough to be fun, yet big enough to offer some decent practicality. It's super stylish and well-equipped making it one of the most desirable small cars on sale.

It's hard to justify the hybrid's price tag over the basic petrol though it is a more sophisticated offering overall, cleaner and more efficient.

Either way, the Clio is still one for the shopping list.

The brilliant Renault Clio
The brilliant Renault Clio

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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


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