The new Mercedes-Benz GLE pictured in the Blackstairs Mountains!

Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d Diesel Review

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE pictured in the Blackstairs Mountains!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE pictured in the Blackstairs Mountains!

Caroline drives the new Mercedes-Benz GLE!

Did you ever wonder what it might be like to drive a luxury five star hotel on wheels? The new Mercedes-Benz GLE comes close. From my lofty position behind the steering wheel, I take a glimpse into a five star world. The new GLE is a physically impressive car. It knocks around in the car park of large premium SUVs – think BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Land Rover Discovery, Jaguar F-PACE and Audi Q7. It drips with premium features all wrapped up in sumptuous leather. There’s every comfort feature you could wish for along with a smooth and breezy ride comfort that marks out the very best.

Pricing starts from €78,965 and though it might be a bit tasteless to talk too much about value at this side of the market, Mercedes-Benz Ireland has positioned the GLE with considerable clout, loading on the spec to make a serious case for the GLE over rivals. Of course, Mercedes Benz owners will already be converted to the comfort, refinement and aura of the three pointed star brand. Riding high in the GLE, now with the option of seven seats for the first time, the GLE is surprisingly charismatic.

Styling has been spruced up to make the car more attractive. The wheelbase is 80 mm longer and the new SUV has a more rounded and elegant presence, with distinctive LED headlights and rear lights. 18” alloys come as standard, while AMG Line models add AMG bodystyling and 20” alloys. However, it’s probably the interior of this car that really steals the show.

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz GLE

Inside the new Mercedes-Benz GLE

First of all it’s huge inside, a proper large family SUV. The rear accommodation is excellent, generous in width and legroom. There is now the option of two seats in row 3 turning this into a seven seater. There is lots of electrical assistance to move the seats in row 2 forward and back with adjustable recline. The luggage capacity is up to 825 litres behind the rear seats, and up to 2,055 litres when the second seat row is folded down. A 72 mm increase in through-loading width allows bulky items to be stowed more easily.

Right, so up into the driver’s seat. Wow. The view is amazing with the new widescreen dashboard as standard with two 12.3 inch screens – one for the driver information display and the second for the infotainment. All the digital tech works seamlessly and is intuitive to use. It’s also super comfortable. The lofty high driving position is hard to beat.

The material quality is excellent throughout. Rectangular shaped air vents are a neat touch and there is a raised centre console between the driver and passenger with cupholders, storage and the controls for the MBUX infotainment system. Hey Mercedes!

The new GLE is available from €78,965
The new GLE is available from €78,965

What do I get for my money?

The range starts with the GLE 300d 4MATIC at €78,965. With an AMG Line exterior package, this model is available from €84,772. The AMG Line diesel is available from €85,332. The GLE 450 4MATIC petrol is available from €96,625.

Standard equipment on the GLE includes cruise control, 18” alloys, widescreen cockpit with two displays, dual zone climate control, MBUX multimedia system, Mercedes me connect, parking package with rear camera, Dynamic Select, leather upholstery, blind spot assist, attention assist, lane keeping assist and traffic sign assist.

The AMG Line exterior pack adds sport braking system, 20” alloys, diamond grille with chrome pins and AMG bodystyling.

AMG Line cars include interior equipment such as AMG floor mats in black velour, AMG sports pedals in brushed stainless steel with black rubber studs, ARTICO man-made leather/DINAMICA microfibre upholstery, Nappa leather dashboard, door panelling plus armrests in black ARTICO man-made leather, multifunction sports steering wheel in Nappa leather and sports seats for driver and front passenger.

The 7-seat package for €2,944 adds the two extra seats, 20” 5-spoke light-alloy wheels and electrically-adjustable rear seats.

Rear legroom in the new GLE
Rear legroom in the new GLE

Driving the new Mercedes-Benz GLE

4MATIC four wheel drive is standard on all models. In terms of engine, the big seller in Ireland will be the 300d with a 2.0-litre diesel putting out 245 hp. There is also a GLE 450 petrol powered by a six-cylinder engine with 48-volt mild hybrid technology. Motor tax ranges from €570 to €1200 for the GLE.

My test car was the GLE 300d and it performs well here with a 9-speed automatic gearbox. The engine is responsive and smooth, delivering its power with just enough urgency to feel brisk. The GLE is a big car but this engine does a fine job without making too much of a racket while it's at it. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 8.0l/100km.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE has a newly developed steel suspension, while there is also the option of a new AIRMATIC air suspension and E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL for engine variants with six and more cylinders. Even on standard suspension, the Mercedes-Benz GLE is a good companion, and reasonably easy to manoeuvre for its size also with a myriad of parking aids to get you in and out of the car park safely! On the road the new GLE prioritises comfort and refinement. It does feel large on the road and it's certainly not the sportiest of SUVs, but it's a pleasure to drive and will move passengers around in comfort and luxury.

And the verdict?

The new generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLE ups its game in terms of styling, interior finish, technology and connectivity, bringing modern Mercedes-Benz features to the large family SUV class. The seven seat option is new for the GLE and makes the whole package even more competitive than before. Mercedes-Benz Ireland is offering a generously equipped GLE 300d and this engine is a great match for the car.

The interior is a true high point for the GLE - modern and contemporary yet easy to use and navigate. This is a fantastic large family SUV with plenty of space and comfort features. The GLE has no aspirations to be sporty, but for pure luxury comfort and refinement, it’s a top player in this market.

Highly desirable and utterly capable.

Caroline and the Mercedes-Benz GLE
Caroline and the Mercedes-Benz GLE

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d 4MATIC AMG Line
Price:
€85,332 (Range from €78,965)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
245hp
Torque: 500Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.2 seconds
Top speed: 225 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP):
6.1 – 6.4 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
162 g/km
Motor tax: 
€570 per year

 


The new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh

Kia e-Niro 64 kWh Review (2019)

The new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh
The new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh

Caroline drives the new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh!

As electric vehicles begin to come in from the periphery and demand grows, Kia turns out to be one of the brands that has the right models at the right time. In 2019, the Korean brand launched not one, but two electric vehicles and both are sized and packaged as fashionable crossovers. The subject of this review is the Kia e-Niro, however you might also be interested in this review of the Kia e-Soul.

The Kia Niro is a relatively new model in its own right for Kia. The brand already sells a popular Niro Plug-In Hybrid. Now it also comes in electric. The Kia e-Niro is sold in two flavours in Ireland: the mid range 35 kWh and the long range 64 kWh. My test car was the e-Niro 64 kWh with a range of up to 455 km on a single charge according to WLTP figures.

So how much is it?

Pricing starts from €37,495 for the Kia e-Niro 64 kWh, including VRT relief and government grants. The Kia e-Niro 35 kWh is available from €33,495 with a range up to 289 km. Standard features include 17” alloys, leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, 7” inch screen featuring Android Auto/Apple Car Play and Tom Tom navigation, lane keep assist, smart cruise control, forward collision-avoidance assist and autonomous emergency braking.

If the e-Soul is the funky one, then the e-Niro is the conservative one. The e-Niro is a roomy five seat crossover with a raised ride height. The Kia has a closed ‘tiger-nose’ grille with an integrated charging port and the electric Niro also has blue trim and arrowhead LED daytime running lights to differentiate it.

The interior of the new Kia e-Niro
The interior of the new Kia e-Niro

Inside the new Kia e-Niro

The interior design is plain but the cabin quality is good. The dashboard features bright blue trim around the vents, echoing the trim highlights found on the outside of the car. A digital instrument panel displays key data on the EV system including range and battery power. The central touchscreen shows where the nearest public charge points are and connects to Apple Car Play and Android Auto. However, the e-Soul has a more modern infotainment system and interesting cabin to this reviewer’s eyes! The e-Niro does get the same new ‘shift-by-wire’ rotator dial drive selector, which looks good, is easy to operate and frees up space for a large storage area beneath the centre console.

But the e-Niro wins hands down on space and practicality, making it more suitable for family buyers. When the Niro was first launched in 2016, its new platform was engineered to accommodate a variety of advanced powertrains so the introduction of a battery-electric powertrain has had minimal impact on packaging and versatility.

The rear passenger compartment is more generously sized, while the boot is also bigger and more practical. At 451 litres, it beats also many other mainstream electric vehicles and there is a dedicated storage area beneath the floor, providing space for owners to store the charging cable.

The e-Niro 64kWh has a 150 kw motor giving the car a power output of 204 hp and 395 Nm torque. The e-Niro accelerates from 0-to-100 kph in 7.8 seconds. The battery pack is located low down in the body to improve handling and the relatively wide stance also improves vehicle behaviour in cornering. The car is equipped with fully independent rear suspension, tuned to deliver high stability and immediate handling responses and filter out small vibrations at higher speeds when travelling over poor surfaces.

The Kia e-Niro is one of the more practical electric vehicles on the market right now
The Kia e-Niro is one of the more practical electric vehicles on the market right now

Driving the new Kia e-Niro 64 kWh

The e-Niro feels natural on the move and makes brisk progress, however the e-Soul feels a bit more fun to drive.

Thanks to a number of new measures to make the car more aerodynamic, there is very little wind noise entering the cabin.

I tested the car during a spell of cold weather in October. The environment certainly has impact on the range. When I got into the car with a full charge my range was 375 kilometres. That’s plenty for a lot of hassle-free driving if you are charging your car nightly at home, where it will take about 9 hours using a wallbox charger.

On the motorway the e-Niro holds on to its charge well but it really excels in this regard around town and at speeds up to 80 km/h. There’s also regenerative breaking with three different ‘strengths’, which the driver can toggle between using the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Cool!

Right now Kia Ireland is experiencing huge demand for a limited number of Kia e-Niros and e-Souls. The brand sold their 2019 allocation very quickly and are now seeking interest for 2020 deliveries.

The Kia e-Niro is a very welcome addition on the EV scene. Along with the new Kia e-Soul, these two really do offer a great package for buyers wanting to go electric.

The Kia e-Niro is reassuringly familiar with a tried and tested formula of space, practicality and simple styling that won’t raise any eyebrows! The 64 kWh battery gives an excellent range in excess of 350 kilometres. On the road the e-Soul is comfortable and refined. In fact, it feels just like a ‘normal’ car!

Right car at the right time and bound to do very well for Kia.

The new Kia e-Niro is available from €37,495
The new Kia e-Niro is available from €37,495

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia e-Niro 64 kWh
Price:
€37,495
Battery: 64 kWh
Power: 
204 hp
Torque: 395 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.8 seconds
Top speed: 167 km/h
Range (WLTP):
455 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
0 g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Kia e-Soul

2019 Kia e-Soul 64kWh Review

The new Kia e-Soul
The new Kia e-Soul

Caroline drives the 2019 Kia e-Soul!

The new Kia e-Soul is an exciting new electric vehicle to hit the market in 2019. We are entering a new era for mainstream electric vehicles with the availability of 64 kWh batteries. The new Kia e-Soul is a five seat crossover with a range in excess of 400 km. This makes a real difference when you are living with an electric vehicle daily.

However this battery technology still does not come cheap. The e-Soul is priced from €35,995 including VRT relief and Government grants for what is still a relatively compact car. But Kia has revived the funky Soul, this time exclusively as an EV. Not everyone will fall for its oddball looks but it adds some welcome character to the EV segment! There are four vibrant two tone exterior combinations available. You won't forget the e-Soul in a hurry.

The interior of the new Kia e-Soul
The interior of the new Kia e-Soul

The interior of the 2019 Kia e-Soul

The e-Soul has the elevated driving position of a crossover and gets Kia’s newest interior design, technology and infotainment. This is another big boon for the e-Soul compared to competitors like the Hyundai Kona EV and the Kia e-Niro. The cabin quality is good and there are lashings of gloss black around that cool new touchscreen, which has a wide screen and is easy to use. There are a number of well labelled shortcuts and EV menus, including a facility to find the nearest charging stations. It’s a very sophisticated system.

Standard equipment on the e-Soul includes the 10.25” touchscreen AV/nav display, 7” supervision cluster, lane keep assist, smart cruise control, front collison avoidance, full leather trim, Harmon Kardon sound system, heads up display and blind spot detection. The Kia e-Soul K2 is priced from €35,995, while the K3 with some more equipment is priced from €37,495, including VRT relief and government grants.

The e-Soul's boxy shape and squared off roofline is great for maximising interior space. The rear bench is a decent enough width with a good amount of legroom, though two will be more comfortable back here than three. However the boot is probably the stickiest point for family buyers. It’s just 315 litres and you will also find yourself storing the cables in here, which makes it more awkward.

The Kia e-Soul is a fashionable crossover priced from €35,995
The Kia e-Soul is a fashionable crossover priced from €35,995

So how far will it get you?

The 64kWh battery allows the Kia e-Soul to travel up to 452km according to the official WLTP rating. I achieved between 350 km and 400 km over a week of varied driving that saw me on the motorway, rural roads and in town. The powerful battery also means that the e-Soul holds onto its charge better, even on the motorway. As I zipped along the motorway at 120 km/h, I didn’t start to sweat with the apocalyptic loss of range that blights some EVs. The e-Soul feels like EV motoring with few compromises.

Ideally a Kia e-Soul owner will be charging their car overnight at home from a wallbox charger. Then the 400 km range is going to be very comfortable for most drivers. I say this because I again encountered difficulties with the public charging network – faulty chargers and chargers blocked by non-EVs. It’s a jungle out there, no doubts!

A Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charger is fitted as standard, which facilitates charging to 50% battery power in as little as 30 minutes. A normal charge is up to 9.5 hours. There are also a range of energy-recuperation technologies to maximise driving range including an energy efficient heat pump system and a regenerative braking system operated by paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

Boot space in the Kia e-Soul
Boot space in the Kia e-Soul

Driving the Kia e-Soul

The Kia e-Soul also happens to be a lot of fun to drive. It’s seriously agile and the battery torque means that this things bombs along with loads of punch no matter what speed you are driving at. Okay, so there is not much feedback reaching the rim from the tyres but there’s weight in the steering so it feels precise for an electric vehicle. The e-Soul 64 kWh will accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in just 7.9 seconds.

I really enjoyed driving the Kia e-Soul. It’s an electric vehicle with lots of character, and whether you like it or not, it says something about you. It’s also got a good cabin ambience with a very modern interior. It is clearly expensive for a medium sized crossover but that is the current price for this sort of technology.

The Kia e-Soul widens the playing field a little more for this new era of mainstream electric vehicles with over 400 km range.

The e-Soul combines the trend for crossovers with an electric powertrain
The e-Soul combines the trend for crossovers with an electric powertrain

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia e-Soul 64 kWh
Price:
€35,995
Battery: 64 kWh
Power: 
204 hp
Torque: 395 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 167 km/h
CO2 emissions: 
0 g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year

 


The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review

The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV slipped quietly into the Irish new car market back in 2014 as an off-beat alternative that some people might buy instead of a diesel. The Outlander PHEV was ahead of its time, diesel was still king, and Ireland just wasn’t ready for a hybrid revolution. The plug-in hybrid Outlander was also significantly more expensive to buy than the diesel model.

But public interest in electrified powertrains and hybrids has increased dramatically in the intervening years, with much of the change happening in the last 12 to 18 months. Now we are in a situation where more people will buy the Outlander PHEV because governments and car manufacturers are starting to put an expiry date on diesel.

It’s good news that this corresponds with a major technical update for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The main aim of the 2019 update has been performance and efficiency, with a few cosmetic changes also.

In Ireland the new Outlander PHEV range starts from €39,900. With SEAI grants and VRT relief of €7,500 included, the PHEV range is now priced in the region of the diesel Outlander range. Though the caveat here is that the PHEV is five seat only to accommodate a 13.8 kWh battery under the boot floor, while the diesel model gets an extra two seats in the rear.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is available from €39,900
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is available from €39,900

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a relatively unique car in the market at its price point. 2019 has seen the arrival of what are probably the closest competitors: the new Honda CR-V Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. These cars straddle the same price range and are low emission SUVs. However, as a plug-in hybrid the Outlander PHEV can be driven on electric power alone for up to 45 km. This means that for buyers who regularly do short journeys and can charge on either end of that journey, there is potential to run the Outlander very cheaply indeed.

What’s new for 2019?

The 2.0-litre petrol engine has been replaced by a new 2.4-litre petrol engine that has more power (135 hp vs 121 hp), across a wider rev range. The electric powertrain has also been improved, with the rear electric motor now producing 95 hp and a battery capacity increased to 13.8 kWh.

Under the skin, the shock absorbers of the suspension have been revised to improve the low speed ride. The steering rack has been quickened and the power steering ECU re-mapped to offer more responsiveness and feel. There are also larger front brake discs for improved stopping power. A new ‘Sport’ mode gives more throttle response and grip from the all wheel drive system. With an electric motor on each axle, the Outlander PHEV can operate in 4x4 even in the electric mode. The all wheel drive system has a new ‘Snow’ mode to improve low grip launching and cornering.

Visually, the Mitsubishi has a strong road presence with a characteristic front end and redesigned grille with chrome elements and LED light signature. At the back, there is a redesigned rear bumper and a roof spoiler. The Outlander PHEV has quite a boxy and utilitarian shape, which means it’s a very spacious vehicle inside. Head and legroom are very good in the rear. The middle seat is quite narrow, but there is a flat floor. Despite housing a battery, the boot is still large and practical at 463 litres, with underfloor storage for charging cables.

The interior of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The interior of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The mid-range Instyle model I had on test (from €43,900) came very well equipped with 18” alloys, LED headlamps, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, rear parking camera, high beam assist, lane departure warning and forward collision mitigation.

A touchscreen comes as standard and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless integration with smartphones. There are a number of menus that can be accessed from the touchscreen and the instrument panel to inform the driver of such things as power flow, energy consumption and range.

The cabin quality is generally good but it’s not the most modern or distinct cabin among this class of vehicle, with some old-fashioned switchgear and graphics.

Driving the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

On the road, the Outlander’s hybrid powertrain is pleasantly smooth and refined. It’s not sporty but it is agile for its size and comfortable for long journeys. Performance is lively enough with a 0 to 100 kmh sprinting taking 10.5 seconds. The Sport mode offers a sharper throttle but it’s not really necessary for the most part, really just giving the driver more confidence in overtaking manoeuvres.

The Outlander PHEV has a new engine and improvements to hybrid powertrain
The Outlander PHEV has a new engine and improvements to the hybrid powertrain

CO2 emissions of just 46g/km mean that motor tax is just €170 per year. The Outlander PHEV offers a number of different driving modes including a pure EV mode, a normal hybrid mode and a battery save mode where you can save your electric range until you reach a low speed, urban environment, for example. You can charge the Outlander PHEV from a domestic mains supply using a three point plug (about 5 hours) or using the public charging system, where 80% battery power can be achieved in just 25 minutes.

I managed to travel 40 km on electric power only and I got into the habit of plugging in and keeping the battery charged up. In some scenarios where the car was working mostly on electric power, I saw consumption as low as 2 l/100km! However, on longer journeys working in hybrid mode, economy plummeted once the battery power was gone. In these scenarios, I saw fuel consumption as high as 7 l/100km.

Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Would you buy it?

For the right owner, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a large SUV full of potential to run cheaply. The ability to plug in the Outlander and drive it on pure electric power gives it an edge over other hybrid SUVs and makes this car a unique proposition in its price range. However, the Outlander PHEV becomes less efficient in motorway and long distance driving. So in these scenarios, there’s no real advantage to owning an Outlander PHEV.

Yet for drivers with regular commutes within that 40 km range who can charge on both ends of the journey, this is one large 4x4 SUV that can absolutely be run very cheaply. Mitsubishi has packaged the battery extremely well to provide a spacious five seat vehicle with a boot that’s still practical and competitive for this class of vehicle.

The hybrid powertrain is smooth and refined, while the interface to control the different driving modes is user-friendly. Mitsubishi has reputation as the manufacturer of off-road vehicles and the Outlander PHEV is not compromised in that regard. The Outlander PHEV has the surprising ability to blend 4x4 off-road ability with a silent EV stealth mode! Packaged within the fashionable exterior of an SUV, the Outlander PHEV is impossible to ignore for the technology it offers in its price range. For urban dwellers who desire the image of an SUV and need the space and practicality it offers, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV makes particular good sense.

The Outlander PHEV is a large family SUV with potential for very low running costs
The Outlander PHEV combines 4x4 off-road ability with EV motoring!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Instyle
Price:
€43,900 (Range from €39,900)
Engine: 2.4-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
135hp (engine), 82hp (front electric motor), 95hp (rear electric motor)
Torque: 211 Nm (engine only)
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 170 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP):
2.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
46 g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year

 


The new DS 7 Crossback

2019 DS 7 Crossback 2.0 Diesel Review

The new DS 7 Crossback
The new DS 7 Crossback

2019 marks something of a new era for the DS brand in Ireland. DS is not 100% new to Ireland, since Citroen did market a number of DS models here since 2010.  But at parent group PSA, DS has now been spun off into its own standalone, premium French brand. And that means that the 2019 DS 7 Crossback is the first DS to be developed ‘from the ground up’ as a contemporary French premium vehicle.

DS has chosen to make this grand entrance in the form of a very on trend, large SUV. Priced from €36,000, the DS 7 Crossback has presence, making it a suitable flagship for the brand. The new SUV gets the latest engines and technology from the PSA Group, yet the design is distinctly new and different also. The DS motto is 'the spirit of avant garde', and a lot of detail has gone into the design of the car. The signature diamond motif features from the grille to the rear lights and the theme continues inside. Some might call it busy, but there's no doubt that the DS 7 will not be mistaken for any other SUV.

Available as a five seat SUV only, the DS 7 Crossback is still very, very rare in Ireland - the DS brand will not be immediately recognised! The  Performance Line model I had on test is the sportiest of the trims and is distinguished by 19" 'Black Onyx', diamond-cut alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, and a large gloss black front grille. The striking LED light signature adds menace to this car, and the Black Perla finish gives the car just the right attitude!

The interior of the new DS 7 Crossback
The interior of the new DS 7 Crossback

Inside the new DS 7 Crossback

The interior of the 2019 DS 7 Crossback is a real treat in that you probably have never seen anything like it. The diamond motif synonymous with the new generation DS features heavily in the switchgear and textiles. Performance Line models get swathes of expensive-looking Alcantara, probably the most Alcantara you will find this side of €50,000! The DS 7 Crossback is a step up in quality and design on what has come previously from DS.

There are four interior ‘themes’, with different materials and finishing: Bastille, Performance Line, Rivoli and Opera. This is a highly detailed interior that might take you some time to find your way around. For example, while the metal buttons either side of the centre console look cool, it takes some fiddling to find out what they all do! The cabin is well kitted out in terms of digital technology with a full digital instrument panel and an 8” touchscreen display.

In Ireland the new DS 7 Crossback is offered in four trim levels: Elegance, Performance Line, Prestige and Ultra Prestige. Standard features include 18" 'Black Onyx' diamond-cut alloy wheels, LED rear lights, gloss black exterior door mirrors, 8” touchscreen display, electric parking brake, lane departure warning, driver attention warning, rear parking sensors, LED front foglights with cornering light function, 'Follow me Home' lighting, Active Safety Brake, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay, Bronze Harmony cloth, dashboard and door panels, and a leather steering wheel.

The Performance Line model on test added high beam assist, 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster, the DS Active Scan Suspension (2.0-litre diesel only), front parking sensors, reversing camera, Alcantara® dashboard and door panels with stitching, and an AGR–certified ergonomic driver’s seat.

The DS 7 Crossback is a new French premium SUV priced from €36,000
The DS 7 Crossback is a new French premium SUV priced from €36,000

How practical is the DS 7?

In terms of size, the new DS 7 Crossback straddles the C and D segment. It has a longer wheelbase than competitors so rear seating space feels much more generous. There's loads of headroom and large footwells. The boot is also very large and practical considering the price of the vehicle with 555 litres available.

DS is a sister brand to Peugeot and Citroen, which means that the brand has access to some popular and well proven engines. The DS 7 Crossback is available with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with 130hp, a 1.6-litre turbo petrol with 180hp, 1.5-litre diesel with 130hp or a 2.0-litre diesel with 180hp. There is a 6-speed manual gearbox or 8-speed automatic.  A DS 7 Crossback plug-in hybrid with 300hp and four wheel drive is on the way in 2020. Motor tax for the DS 7 ranges from €190 to €280 depending on engine and transmission choice.

My test car was a DS 7 Crossback Performance Line BlueHDi180 Automatic with a list price of €49,745. This model is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel and uses an 8-speed automatic.

Rear legroom in the DS 7 Crossback
Rear legroom in the DS 7 Crossback

Driving the 2019 DS 7 Crossback

The DS 7 Crossback is built on the EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform), which is used by other PSA Group models. However, DS has made some changes for their new DS 7. The flexible rear beam was replaced by a multi-arm rear suspension for a smoother ride and less noise. The wheelbase was also extended by 5.5cm and the front track is wider. High-end insulation is laid between the engine compartment and the cabin, in the wheel wells, beneath the bonnet, in the door panels, in the roof lining and underneath the carpeting. Some models also feature DS Active Scan Suspension as standard. This system improves ride comfort using a camera to anticipate defects in the road ahead and adjusting the four shock absorbers to make them firmer or softer in response.

On the road the DS 7 is agile for its size and holds the road well, though it could not be described as a sporty vehicle. The diesel engine has plenty of power with 180 hp, though the automatic gearbox is not the silkiest of transmissions. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.2l/100km. My test car had the Active Scan Suspension. The ride on the suspension is mostly good and the car reacts well in bends and changes in direction.

The DS 7 Crossback is the best product DS has produced to date with a significant enhancements in design and quality. The premium billing of the car raises standards considerably. In that regard, the DS 7 still has some way to go in terms of refining the driving character. Yet the DS 7 makes all the right moves in terms of a charismatic road presence - it is something distinctly different in the large SUV segment. DS 7 offers value in terms of space and specification, with some great petrol and diesel engines on offer. The DS 7 Crossback for now will be a more off-beat choice compared to traditional premium SUV rivals, but early adopters will find a stylish, bespoke SUV.

DS cars are exclusively sold from DS Airside in Swords, County Dublin, with two more stores planned.

Pricing for the 2019 DS 7 Crossback ranges from €36,000 to €60,245.

The DS 7 Crossback is a stylish new option in the family SUV market
The DS 7 Crossback is a stylish new option in the family SUV market

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: DS 7 Crossback Performance Line BlueHDi180 Automatic
Price:
€49,745 (Range from €36,000)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
180 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.9 seconds
Top speed: 216 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
173 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

 


The new Mazda CX-30 will arrive in Ireland by the end of 2019

2019 Mazda CX-30 First Drive Review

The new Mazda CX-30 will arrive in Ireland by the end of 2019
The new Mazda CX-30 will arrive in Ireland by the end of 2019

The Mazda CX-30 is a new compact SUV from Mazda that will slot between the CX-3 and CX-5 in the brand’s SUV line-up. The CX-30 is one of the new generation of Mazda vehicles alongside new Mazda3 and features the latest in Mazda design and technology, including the exciting new Skyactiv X engine. Caroline travelled to Girona, Spain, to test drive the new Mazda CX-30 ahead of its arrival in Ireland at the end of the year in time for January 2020 registrations.

Styling

The new Mazda CX-30 features an evolution of Mazda’s famed KODO designed language with more refined surfaces. Mazda use clay modelling to achieve the beautiful curved surfaces that distinguish Mazdas from other mainstream manufacturers. The CX-30 has a neat, compact profile and unique design features that make it stand out. In fact it’s more of a high riding hatchback in the metal than a chunky SUV. A thick piece of grey plastic cladding around the lower sills and wheel arches gives the CX-30 the attitude of a modern compact crossover. 16” alloy wheels and LED headlights feature as standard. Signature colours include Soul Red Crystal, Machine Grey and Polymetal Grey.

Watch a video of the new Mazda CX-30:

Interior

The interior of the Mazda CX-30 is a sophisticated and premium offering that is hard to find in this class of vehicle. The dashboard has a horizontal, minimalist design characterised by plenty of good quality soft dashboard panelling. The CX-30 features the latest Mazda infotainment system that comes with a slick looking, wide screen 8.8 inch central display that is controlled by a rotary controller with shortcut buttons to access different menus. A digital driver information panel is also included as standard. The new CX-30 is available in two colour schemes: Dark Brown or Dark Blue. Leather is available in Black or Pure White.

The interior of the new CX-30
The interior of the new CX-30

Practicality

The CX-30 is a five seat SUV. Mazda has delivered on the promise of creating a roomier SUV. The CX-30 is a more spacious and practical vehicle when compared to the CX-3, though there are other SUVs in this segment that feel more spacious in the rear. Access and egress is easy thanks to generous door openings and the positioning and shape of the seats in the vehicle. There is 430 litres of boot space, which is more than in the equivalent Mazda3 hatchback. A powered tailgate is available.

Engines

There are two petrol engines (Skyactiv G and Skyactiv X) and one diesel engine (Skyactiv D) available for new CX-30. CX-30 is a front wheel drive SUV, with all wheel drive (AWD) available as an option.

Skyactiv G is a 2.0-litre petrol engine with new Mazda M Hybrid Technology and Cylinder Deactivation systems. Skyactiv G has 122hp and is available with automatic and manual gearboxes. On the road, the Skyactiv G works well in the CX-30 being both refined and delivering smooth power. Over a short test drive over rural roads and a short motorway stint we averaged 6.8l per 100km.

Skyactiv D is a 1.8-litre diesel putting out 116hp and 270Nm of torque. The torque of the diesel offers a pleasant punch and this engine offers superb economy in the CX-30. We averaged 4.8l per 100km over a long, mixed test route. Skyactiv D is available with automatic and manual gearboxes.

We also had an opportunity to take Mazda’s exciting new Skyactiv X on a short test loop in pre-production vehicles. Mazda claims this engine combines the benefits of a spark-ignition petrol engine with those of a compression-ignition diesel engine, and is both fuel efficient and powerful. Skyactiv X also comes with the new Mazda M Hybrid System. The extra power is evident on the road (180hp) but we are still on the fence as to whether this engine fully delivers. We will reserve judgement until we have had an opportunity to take this car for a longer drive on Irish roads!

The new Mazda CX-30 is available with petrol and diesel engines
The new Mazda CX-30 is available with petrol and diesel engines

On the road

The new Mazda CX-30 is based on a new generation of Mazda’s Skyactiv Vehicle Architecture that also underpins the new Mazda3 hatchback. Front wheel drive models feature G-Vectoring Control Plus for better handling. A torsion beam at the rear provides better refinement over a variety of road surfaces. On the road the Mazda CX-30 is easily one of the most quiet and refined cars in its class with minimal road and wind noise entering the cabin. It's comfortable and good fun to drive with excellent composure through bends and well judged steering.

Equipment

For Ireland there will be a choice of four trim levels: GS, GS-L, GT and GT Sport. Standard equipment is expected to include air con, an 8.8-inch colour entertainment screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 7-inch digital dashboard, rear parking sensor, window projected colour Active Driving Display, 16” alloys, LED headlights with High Beam Control, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring with rear traffic alert, Traffic Sign Recognition, E-Call and Lane Keep Assist.

GS-L includes a reversing camera, smart keyless entry, front parking sensors, powered tailgate, dual zone climate control and heated front seats.

The GT model is equipped with 18” alloy wheels, heated steering wheel, power adjustable driver’s seat and a black leather interior.

At the top of the range the GT Sport adds adaptive LED headlights, front and rear signature LED lighting, frameless rear view mirror, rear privacy glass, piano black exterior detailing and Bose® twelve speaker audio system.

Pricing

Mazda Ireland has confirmed that the new CX-30 range will be priced from €29,495 to €43,115. The range starts at €29,495 for a 2.0-litre petrol Skyactiv G. Both the 1.8-litre diesel Skyactiv D and the new Skyactiv X petrol are available from €31,915.

Rivals

The new Mazda CX-30 will go head to head with the Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008, Toyota C-HR and segment leaders, Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson.

Verdict

The Mazda CX-30 fills a niche for customers seeking the compact dimensions of the CX-3 but with a more spacious and practical interior. The CX-30 delivers on that and features the same high-end design and finish that we have come to expect from Mazda.

It’s also one of the most fun and engaging crossovers to drive with excellent refinement on the move.

The CX-30 is now one of the most modern and advanced models in the Mazda range and features the full complement of Mazda engine technology – Skyactiv G, Skyactiv D and the new Skyactiv X.

Mazda Ireland expect the CX-30 to become its bestselling model and we can see why. This is the sweet spot of the market and the CX-30 is high in desirability.

We look forward to bringing you a full road test in 2020.

The new Mazda CX-30 will be in dealers from the December
The new Mazda CX-30 is expected be in dealers from December

Caroline Kidd


The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid Review

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Honda CR-V Hybrid!

Honda has electrified their new CR-V range with the addition of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid. Based on the new generation of the popular family SUV, the new CR-V Hybrid uses a petrol electric hybrid powertrain to deliver fuel consumption as low as 5.3l/100km and CO2 emissions of just 120g.

Priced from €38,000, the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid carries a premium over the new CR-V 1.5 VTEC petrol (from €33,500) but comes with a sophisticated hybrid powertrain and automatic transmission. Available with five seats only, the CR-V Hybrid is a large family SUV with plenty of kerb appeal. The evolution between the styling of this new CR-V and the previous generation has been quite gentle, but there are broader and more muscular wheel arches, sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, as well as the latest Honda headlight signature. LED lights and 18” alloy wheels come as standard.

If you don’t immediately fall in love with the CR-V on the outside, you certainly will once you sit inside. The Honda CR-V has a fabulous build quality and the interior is immaculately finished with plenty of soft touch materials, metallic trim and wood-effect inserts in the dashboard and doors. On all but the entry model, there is a stylish looking 7” touchscreen set in the dash with the Honda Connect infotainment system. It’s one of the best interiors in the business and large and comfortable too for a family on the move. The automatic transmission adds to the ease of use also. Headroom is excellent in the rear as are the passenger footwells and a flat floor means its not too bad for the middle passenger either. The boot is large too at 497 litres.

The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid

Driving the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 184hp and 175Nm of torque available in both the front wheel drive and four wheel drive model. The CR-V Hybrid puts its power to the road using a CVT automatic gearbox. The CR-V Hybrid is driven by Honda’s unique i-MMD technology, which intelligently and automatically switches between three driving modes – EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive – to optimise both performance and efficiency.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is one of the most aerodynamic cars in its class and features Honda’s Active Shutter Grille system to improve fuel efficiency. The hybrid system is operated via buttons rather than a traditional gear lever – Drive, Park, Neutral and Reverse. There is also a Sport mode button for a more responsive throttle input. A short range EV mode can be selected when in town and it gives about 2 km of pure electric drive, depending on battery charge and driving conditions.

The new CR-V Hybrid is a dream to drive, with a very natural and smooth hybrid drive. It’s not the kind of SUV you want to throw into bends but the steering has still got decent feel and it's easy to place on the road. It's comfortable on the move and there's not too much transmission whine so it's a quiet and refined drive. It’s very quiet, well-insulated and refined. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.5l/100km, and the car would make an excellent choice for urban families who need a large SUV for short, frequent trips.

Rear seating in the Honda CR-V
Rear seating in the Honda CR-V

What are my options?

Honda Ireland is selling the new CR-V Hybrid in four grades: Comfort, Lifestyle, Elegance and Executive. Standard equipment includes 18” alloys, keyless entry and start, emergency call, Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist system, driver lumbar support, climate control, and LED headlights.

Lifestyle models (€40,500) add equipment including rain sensing wipers, electrically folding side mirrors, leather steering wheel, dual automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and Honda Connect with 7” touchscreen.

The Elegance model (€43,500) has leather upholstery, front heated seats, active cornering lights and ambient lighting.

The Executive model (€49,500) has an opening panoramic glass roof, head-up display, heated steering wheel, electric tailgate and rear heated seats.

Prices quoted here are for front wheel drive models and include Government grants and reductions for hybrids. All wheel drive (AWD) models are available from €43,500.

The model I was driving was a fully loaded CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD with a list price of €49,500.

Hybrid power seems to be a rather natural fit for the new CR-V. The refinement and efficiency of the hybrid powertrain is impressive.

We liked the new Honda CR-V when we tested it last year with the 1.5-litre turbo petrol. However, while the new CR-V Hybrid is more expensive to buy it feels like a better investment for the efficiency and refinement it offers. The new CR-V Hybrid retains all of the CR-V's natural attributes: that is it's a big, comfortable family SUV with an excellent, almost premium feeling cabin. They hybrid powertrain feels like a natural fit for the CR-V and it's easily one of the best SUVs you can buy right now.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is available from €38,000
The Honda CR-V Hybrid is available from €38,000

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD
Price:
€49,500 (Range from €38,000)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
180 hp
Torque: 175 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
126 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

If you are looking for a hybrid SUV you might also like this review of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.


The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

The renaissance underway at Toyota continues in the SUV class. Not only has the brand ditched diesel power from the RAV4 line-up - and indeed the rest of their passenger car range in favour of hybrid - but there’s also a new platform that promises better driving dynamics.

The Toyota RAV4 was the original ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ (SUV). Now in its fifth generation, Toyota has reinvented the RAV4 upon the exciting new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). In Ireland the new Toyota RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain so from herein, it shall be known as the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

Priced from €35,900, the new RAV4 Hybrid has a stylish new look. It is a car transformed in styling terms. It is an altogether leaner and more angular SUV than the model it replaces, with more than a hint of the utilitarian design of the larger Landcruiser. It has an identity! In Ireland, 17” alloys and LED headlamps come as standard, while Sport models are available with a bi-tone paint option.

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available from €35,900
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available from €35,900

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4

Inside there is a new interior that has stepped up in terms of quality and design. The dashboard has a clean horizontal design with soft touch materials and satin chrome features. There is a more ‘rugged’ feeling to the cabin of the RAV4 than say the new interiors of the Corolla family, with some large knobs to twist for the ventilation controls. It’s a marked improvement on the old car but it’s not the most stylish of the class. There is an 8” touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, but the absence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a frustration.

However for buyers looking for a spacious family SUV, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid really does deliver. The new car has a longer wheelbase to create more interior space and there is generous seating in the rear for three with a flat floor. The opening angle of the rear doors has been increased so getting into and out of the vehicle and access to child seats has been made easier. The boot is also now a very generous 542 litres with a wide opening making it a practical space to work with. There is a height-adjustable, two-level deck board that can be reversed when dirty items need to be carried. The rear seats have a 60:40 split-folding function and there are storage nets on each side of the boot.

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Equipment and specifications

Toyota Ireland is selling the new RAV4 in five grades: Aura, Luna, Sol, Sport and Platinum. Standard features on Aura models (from €35,900) will include 17” alloys, LED lights front and rear, dual exhaust tailpipes, black roof rails, electric parking brake, automatic lights, 7” multimedia system, dual zone climate control with rear vents, folding mirrors, driving mode selector and rear view camera. Toyota Safety Sense 2 is also standard, adding safety equipment such as automatic high beam, driver attention alert, eCall emergency call system, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, road sign assist and lane trace assist.

The Luna model (from €37,590) will add dark grey painted upper front grille, silver front underrun, chrome interior trim, auto wipers, power tailgate, Smart Entry & Start, 8” multimedia system, front fog lamps, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Sol (from €39,590) adds 18” alloys, rear privacy glass, heated front seats, leather upholstery and satellite navigation.

Sport (from €42,240) adds 18” machine-finished alloy wheels, bitone roof, projector LED headlamps, painted lower bumpers and mouldings, painted front fog lamp surrounds, unique sport leather upholstery, black headlining, driver’s electric seat adjustment and lumbar support, and paddle gear shift.

Platinum (from €43,000) features include 18” alloy wheels, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, chrome outer door handles, leather seats, grey headlining, memory driver seat adjustment, luggage net and heated steering wheel.

Rear legroom in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Rear legroom in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Driving the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The 2019 RAV4 has a new, improved 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with more power and greater efficiency. Front wheel drive models now have 218hp, while all wheel drive models have 222hp. Power is put to the road through a CVT automatic gearbox.

Toyota has also done much with the new platform to improve the driving experience. The new RAV4 has a more rigid body and lower centre of gravity with every component lighter and located lower down in the vehicle for improved comfort and driving dynamics. The response from the electric power steering has also been improved.

On the road, the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid immediately feels more natural and balanced, handling confidently through corners with more fluid steering. It falls short of being one of the more engaging cars to drive in its class, but it's a pleasant and competent drive. You sit high in the RAV4 and the driving position has been improved so you feel "more at one with the car". It's comfortable over Irish roads and properly efficient now that Toyota has ditched diesel. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.8l/100km, which is very good considering this is a large SUV! The only bugbear is the refinement of the vehicle with some wind whistle around the wing mirrors at high speeds on the motorway and the CVT transmission can get quite noisy when you accelerate hard, working better when gentle throttle is applied.

Toyota has transformed the RAV4 Hybrid into a stylish and contemporary SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is a spacious SUV with a real individual and rugged look. With the absence of a diesel model, it's competing in a higher price bracket where standards are high. Inside there's a much improved interior, even if it is missing some sophistication. The efficiency of the vehicle is most surprising as Toyota has really delivered on creating a desirable and efficient hybrid large family SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is a car you would be proud to see on your driveway!

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a stylish, spacious and efficient large family SUV!
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a stylish, spacious and efficient large family SUV!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Sol
Price:
€39,590 (range from €35,900)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
218 hp
Torque: 202 Nm
0-100km/h:
8.4 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
105 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


The new Citroen C5 Aircross!

2019 Citroën C5 Aircross Review

The new Citroen C5 Aircross!
The new Citroën C5 Aircross!

Caroline drives the new Citroën C5 Aircross!

Citroën has totally reinvented the brand’s line up of cars in recent years with bold new family-focused vehicles that carry distinct styling. And now they’ve launched one of their most potentially lucrative models to date – the new Citroën C5 Aircross. With pricing starting from €26,495, the new C5 Aircross competes in the sweet spot of the market where family SUVs reside. Yet the C5 Aircross is the compact family SUV done in the Citroën way, with comfort, style and practicality being this car’s key attributes in the market.

In styling terms, Citroën designers may have applied an air pump to the smaller C3 Aircross because the C5 Aircross mirrors the styling of that vehicle. However, Citroen’s new design language really does sit well upon the larger dimensions of the C5 Aircross. It looks fresh and friendly with a design that moulds rugged style flourishes like wheel arch extensions and Airbump® panels, with soft, curvy surfaces. My test car was quite demure in silver, but a funky two-tone look is also available.

 

The Citroen C5 Aircross is available from €26,495
The Citroen C5 Aircross is available from €26,495

The interior of the new Citroën C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross is one of the longest and tallest cars in its segment and has a spacious and airy cabin. Citroën has focused on practicality so you will find three individual seats in the second row that can slide, fold and recline. There is plenty of leg and headroom for this class of vehicle with a flat floor in the rear. The boot is also one of the best in class at 580 litres.

There’s quite a rugged, durable look to the dashboard design, with some soft touch materials, but also some more sombre hard plastics throughout the cabin also. A touchscreen is included as standard and also houses the ventilation controls, which depending on what school of motoring you are from, may be a source of frustration. Storage is a high point for the C5 Aircross making it a great vehicle for a family on the move, including a large cubby in the centre console and a convenient tray for keys and phone. A 12.3-inch digital driver information panel is also included as standard and looks cool and modern.

 

The interior of the new Citroen C5 Aircross
The interior of the new Citroen C5 Aircross

In Ireland there are four trim levels for the C5 Aircross: Start (from €26,495), Touch (from €27,995), Feel (from €29,995) and Flair (from €33,695). The entry ‘Start’ trim level includes 8” touchscreen display, cruise control, active safety brake and air conditioning. The ‘Touch’ trim adds items such as 17” alloys, rear parking sensors, folding mirrors, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.

The ‘Feel’ model has 18” alloys, front parking sensor, privacy glass, wireless phone charging and active blind spot detection. ‘Flair’ is the top specification level and includes 19” alloys, Citroën connect navigation, keyless entry and keyless start, a Panoramic Sunroof with interior LED ambient lighting and various driver assistance systems such as park assist, active lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. ConnectedCAM, a factory fitted dashboard camera from Citroën, is also standard across the range.

On the road in the new Citroën C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross adopts the sofa-inspired seating of the C4 Cactus with thick, wide seats, and plenty of sound insulation measures to improve refinement. So this is a very comfortable car that provides a nice ambience for families on the move. It features Citroën’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension for a smoother and more comfortable ride. It translates well to the road, with the C5 Aircross being very soft and smooth over the road. The trade-off is that the C5 Aircross rolls in the corners a bit more than rivals and the steering set-up is not the sharpest either.

 

Rear seating in the C5 Aircross
Rear seating in the C5 Aircross

The Citroën has some excellent engines on offer. At launch there is the 1.2-litre 130hp Puretech petrol engine paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, or a 1.6-litre 180hp petrol, which comes with the choice of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. There is also a 1.5-litre Blue HDI 130hp diesel engine with the choice of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission, and a 2.0-litre 180hp unit, which comes as standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Motor tax ranges from €190 to €280 depending on model. A plug-in hybrid is on the way in 2020.

My test car was a 1.2 petrol with 130hp and I can’t recommend this engine enough. It makes the C5 Aircross more interesting to drive than the diesel, and always feels lively. Refinement is excellent also and running costs are competitive.

The Citroën C5 Aircross offers good value in the market being a spacious family vehicle with a good specification. It’s bold and friendly, comfortable and refined. The Citroën C5 Aircross is a quirky new entrant into the compact SUV segment and embodies the best of 21st century Citroën!

The Citroen C5 Aircross scores for comfort, space and practicality!
The Citroën C5 Aircross scores for style, comfort, space and practicality!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Citroën C5 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 Flair
Price:
€33,695 (range from €26,495)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
130 hp
Torque: 230 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 188 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.8 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
121 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

2019 Suzuki Vitara 1.0 Boosterjet Review

The 2019 Suzuki Vitara
The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

Caroline drives the 2019 Suzuki Vitara!

The Suzuki
Vitara has status as a bit of a legend. Debuting in 1988, early iterations of
the Vitara had boxy, utilitarian attitude by the bucketloads. In fact it’s not
uncommon to see some late 80s and early 90s models still on the road.

Over the years, the Suzuki Vitara has morphed to suit the rise in popularity of the ‘soft-roader’ and SUV. Softer around the edges, it’s probably reached its meekest form in the current generation of the car. That’s not an insult, and it’s great to see Suzuki adapting their Vitara to suit market trends. With pricing starting from €20,995, the Vitara is now scrapping it out with the other compact crossover. But while most of its competitors have been spawned from superminis, I was delighted to find that the Vitara still has a whiff of its tough early roots about it.

The Suzuki Vitara is available from €20,995
The Suzuki Vitara is available from €20,995

The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

In early 2019, Suzuki refreshed the Vitara range with styling upgrades, new engines and more technology and safety features. That’s good for Vitara fans.

On the
outside the 2019 Suzuki Vitara has a more elegant front face with redesigned
grille and lower bumper, and the rear lamps have now been redesigned with a
distinctive LED display. There is something charming about the Vitara’s
presence, and while the back of the car is a little too generic for my liking,
you can’t deny that there is a plucky toughness to this car that is missing
from many rivals.

There are also two new colours for 2019, including Solar Yellow Pearl and Ice Greyish Blue, the latter of which is particularly fashionable!

The interior of the 2019 Suzuki Vitara
The interior of the 2019 Suzuki Vitara

Inside the 2019 Suzuki Vitara

In Ireland the Suzuki Vitara is sold in three trim levels: SZ4 (from €20,995), SZT (from €22,995) and SZ5 (from €26,495).

Inside
there is new seat trim design and suede seat fabric fitted on SZ5 models. The
upper instrument panel is upgraded to a soft touch material and the instrument
cluster now features a central colour information display. There are still
plenty of hard plastics about the cabin but it’s simple and inoffensive with
good levels of standard equipment. Bluetooth, alloy wheels, electric windows,
cruise control and climate control are fitted as standard on all models, while
smartphone link audio and navigation is fitted as standard on SZ-T and SZ5
grade.

SZ5 also adds Dual Sensor Brake Support (also on SZ-T ALLGRIP models), Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Interior space is good for this class of vehicle. There is good room to stretch out in the back and there is also a practical 375 litre boot, comparative to any hatchback. Lots of headroom all round too.

Rear seating in the Suzuki Vitara
Rear seating in the Suzuki Vitara

What are my engine options?

Engines for the Vitara range now include the excellent 1.0-litre (111hp) and 1.4-litre (140hp) turbocharged petrol engines with Boosterjet technology, seen already on other models in the Suzuki range like the Swift and S-Cross. The 1.0-litre petrol comes with a 5 speed manual or automatic gearbox, while the 1.4 litre petrol is available with a 6 speed manual or automatic gearbox. ALLGRIP ‘Select’ four wheel drive is also available from €28,495.

My test car was the Suzuki Vitara 1.0 SZT with a list price of €22,995. This 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine suits the car well and has adequate power and performance. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.2l/100km.

Driving the Suzuki Vitara

You sit higher in the Vitara than in some of the more low slung hatchback-based crossovers. The little Vitara is fun to drive and grips the tarmac willingly with light but precise steering and not too much body roll. There is some road noise at high speeds and the suspension picks up some disturbances over uneven tarmac but overall the Vitara is a surprisingly good compact crossover.

The Suzuki Vitara is perhaps a slightly offbeat choice in the compact crossover segment. Yet it’s very enjoyable to drive and has its own charm. It’s good value with the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine and comes well equipped with plenty of space. If you are in the market for a small SUV, the Vitara is definitely worth a test drive – it could win you over very quickly!

The Suzuki Vitara is a fun little crossover for the compact class
The Suzuki Vitara is a fun little crossover for the compact class

Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Suzuki
Vitara 1.0 SZT
Price:
€22,995 (from €20,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
111 hp
Torque: 160 Nm
0-100km/h: 
12.5 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.7 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
121g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year