The new Mercedes-Benz EQA

Mercedes-Benz EQA Review (2022)

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz EQA review for everything you need to know about the German brand's new electric small SUV on sale in Ireland in 2022.

The EQA is the first all-electric model in the Mercedes' compact car range. It's a close relation of the GLA, the popular compact crossover available here for some years now.

Mercedes-Benz has been on a mission to bring a whole range of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to market. We have seen a slew of plug-in hybrid models reach these shores including the GLC 300 de, the E-Class 300 e and the GLC Coupe 350 de.

Then there has been the brand's first full battery electric vehicle, the EQC, followed by the EQV and now this, the EQA!

The new Mercedes-Benz EQA
The new Mercedes-Benz EQA

What's so special about the Mercedes-Benz EQA?

The EQA was conceived as an all-electric small SUV from the brand's EQ family of electric vehicles. Based on the GLA class, the Mercedes-Benz EQA goes on sale in Ireland priced from €56,120.

It's a full battery electric vehicle powered by a 66.5 kWh battery with a claimed range of 426 km (WLTP) and 190 hp at its disposal.

In design, it does bear a resemblance to the GLA but with a more futuristic look around the front end in particular. Plus a striking light signature that's become a standard of Mercedes EQ vehicles.

The EQA may be described as compact. But it does have a considerable presence when you meet it for the first time. The front end stands out for a closed black panel radiator grille with large central Mercedes star. There are also EQ blue headlamp strips and a distinctive fibre-optic strip running along the front and at the rear.

In Ireland the new EQA goes on sale in three trim lines: Progressive, Electric Art and AMG Line. The Progressive line is expected to be the most sought-after model here. All-wheel-drive models will join the range at a later date with more power, including one version with a WLTP range of over 500 km.

The EQA is on sale in Ireland from €56,120
The EQA is on sale in Ireland from €56,120

Inside the EQA

Inside the EQA, convention is at work. We get a classic Mercedes-Benz compact car interior. The brand's new generation compacts lead the way in contemporary luxury. It's no different here. Everything is familiar Mercedes-Benz territory.

There is no compromise to quality. Everything feels good to use. Digital technology is on-point. There's a 10" digital instrument panel for the driver and a 10" touchscreen housing the MBUX infotainment system that responds to 'Hey Mercedes' commands.

It also feels spacious inside the EQA for a compact, with generous footwells in the rear and plenty of headroom. Boot space has taken a hit however to accommodate the EV powertrain. It's down to 340 litres. Though a low loading sill and wide opening boost practicality. There's also space to store charging cables under the boot floor.

Standard specification is good on the Progressive model. Features include high-performance headlamps with Adaptive Highbeam Assist, electrically operated tailgate, light 18-inch alloys, 64-colour ambient lighting, adjustable lumbar support, reversing camera and leather sports steering wheel.

The interior of the new EQA
The interior of the new EQA

Driving the Mercedes-Benz EQA

The new EQA is built on the GLA platform. But the combustion engine has been replaced by a 66.5 kWh battery and an electric motor that sends power to the front wheels (190 hp). Performance is fine, in line with the EQA's relaxed and premium feel behind the wheel. It will hardly throw you back in your seat every time you touch the accelerator. But handling is quite neutral as opposed to sporty, so efficiency is key here.

Mercedes has worked to improve the efficiency of the car with aerodynamic features like front and rear aprons, smooth underbody, closed cooling air system, and wind-optimised wheels with spoilers. There is a quoted range of over 400 km with average energy consumption of 17.6 kWh. During my time with the car, my average consumption was 20.8 kWh. The heat pump uses waste heat from the electric motor to warm passengers, increase range and reduce the draw on battery power.

The new electric Mercedes moves off effortlessly in silence. Refinement is a strong point for the EQA, no matter the road or road surface. The electric motor is isolated from the chassis and body to improve comfort and reduce noise and vibration. Numerous damping measures have been designed to prevent the transmission of airborne sound so the EQA can offer a premium driving experience in the compact electric SUV space.

The new EQA is the brand's first electric compact
The new EQA is the brand's first electric compact

Did you like it?

The Mercedes-Benz EQA moves the German brand into the competition for a compact premium electric vehicle. It's now the most affordable electric EQ model in the line-up based on the stylish and popular GLA. The EQA offers a competitive range of over 400 km, though that will depend on your driving style and other factors like the ambient temperature and the speed you are driving at.

The EQA has the advantage of an 11 kW on board charger allowing more flexibility in AC charging. While up to 100 kW DC fast charging is available, so you can get 80% battery charge in around 30 minutes at a motorway charger for example.

Mercedes trump card is the interior of the EQA. All the factors that make their compact car interiors so desirable are here with an 'EQ' branded twist to reflect the electric powertrain. Quality is excellent, equipment levels high.

For Mercedes fans seeking an electrified driving solution, the brand has also recently brought a GLA 250 e plug-in hybrid to market in Ireland. Priced from €48,690, the car's 15.6 kWh battery allows owners to sample driving electric for a range of up to 61 km, with the back up of a 1.3-litre petrol engine.

The EQA is a considerable investment but it fills a gap in Mercedes' portfolio and will be joined soon by the all-electric EQB.

The Mercedes-Benz electric charge continues in 2022 with the launch of the new EQS and EQE!

Mercedes-Benz is on a mission with a new range of EQ vehicles
Mercedes-Benz is on a mission with a new range of EQ vehicles

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 Progressive
Price:
€56,120
Battery: 66.5 kWh
Power:
 190 hp
Torque: 375 Nm
0-100km/h: 
8.9 seconds
Top speed: 160 km/h
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 on test for Changing Lanes!

Hyundai IONIQ 5 Review (2022)

Read Caroline's latest Hyundai IONIQ 5 review for everything you need to know about Hyundai's exciting new electric car in Ireland in 2022.

The Hyundai IONIQ 5, the first model from Hyundai’s new IONIQ electric vehicle-exclusive brand, arrived in Ireland in 2021. The IONIQ 5 goes on sale priced from €37,995, with two batteries available - a 58 kWh with up to 384 km of range and a 72 kWh with up to 481 km of range (WLTP).

With striking good looks, revolutionary Hyundai interior, long range and fast charging, the IONIQ 5 makes a dramatic debut!

The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 on test for Changing Lanes!

Hyundai as a brand has an impressive pedigree in electric vehicles already with the Hyundai Kona Electric being one of Ireland's most popular compact electric vehicles. The small crossover was a game changer when it arrived in Ireland at the end of 2018, with an electric range in excess of 400 km.

Since then the electric vehicle market has got even more competitive, but Hyundai strikes back with the launch of the IONIQ 5. It's a larger car than the Kona Electric. In fact the space inside is more comparable with the Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai's large family SUV. Let's take a closer look.

What's so special about the Hyundai IONIQ 5?

The IONIQ 5 marks a new direction for Hyundai in design. It is built on Hyundai Motor Company’s dedicated battery electric vehicle architecture called Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), which allows it to have unique proportions on an elongated wheelbase.

The IONIQ 5 looks like a concept car. It's a fresh new look for the Hyundai brand, with a futuristic presence on the road. The front of the car has Hyundai’s first clam shell bonnet that minimises panel gaps for the best aerodynamics.

The Hyundai IONIQ 5 is very striking and interesting to look at
The Hyundai IONIQ 5 is very striking and interesting to look at

The front bumper has an eye-catching V-shape incorporating distinctive daytime running lights that provide an unmistakable light signature unique to IONIQ 5. Small pixel-like light clusters also appear at the rear of the vehicle. Auto flush door handles provide clean surface styling and enhanced aerodynamic efficiency. It's a beautiful car that really makes a statement.

Inside, the IONIQ 5 has a lounge-like feel. The dedicated electric vehicle platform has allowed for an innovative use of space inside the vehicle. There's great width to the cabin and loads of space beneath the dashboard and where a centre console traditionally lies.

It's a new interior design concept for Hyundai - futuristic but functional. Yet it's easy to get comfortable in here. The controls are all intuitive to use. The quality is worth a mention too. It's truly excellent. Everything feels good to touch from the dials and switches, to the inside surfaces of the doors.

Digital technology is on point as you would expect from a trendsetter like the IONIQ 5. Two 12.3” LCD screens give an almost widescreen effect - one for the driver information display and one for multimedia. There's also wireless phone charging for compatible devices, a rear view camera and smart navigation-based cruise control.

Inside the new Hyundai IONIQ 5
Inside the new Hyundai IONIQ 5

Is it practical?

Hyundai pitches the IONIQ 5 between the Tucson and Santa Fe in size. In fact space inside is more comparable to the Santa Fe. There's loads of room in the front of the cabin.

Hyundai has reduced the thickness of the front seats by 30 percent, providing more space for those seated in the second row. You can also recline almost flat in those front seats!

Rear leg room is really excellent because of the stretched wheelbase. The rear seats split fold 60:40 and also slide as standard. There's a flat floor too making it more comfortable for a middle passenger.

The boot has over 500 litres of space and a traditional hatchback-style opening. There's also a handy space under the boot floor to store charging cables away cleanly. There is a small amount of extra storage under the bonnet too.

What's available in the IONIQ 5 range in Ireland?

In Ireland there is a choice of three battery and drive types for IONIQ 5: a 58 kWh, single motor, rear wheel drive; a 72 kWh, single motor, rear wheel drive; or a 72 kWh dual motor all-wheel drive model.

The 58 kWh model on test for Changing Lanes is single motor and sends 170 hp to the rear wheels. There's 350 Nm of torque available, with 0 to 100 km/h achieved in 8.5 seconds. The electric range of this model is up to 384 km (WLTP) and it's priced from €37,995, including all relevant grants and reductions.

The 72 kWh, single motor IONIQ 5 starts from €44,995. The same car with all wheel drive is available from €64,995 with the best performance of the entire range - 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds.

There are four trim levels in Ireland: Executive, Executive Plus, Premium and Premium Plus, with high levels of equipment across the range. Standard equipment includes 19” alloy wheels, interior mood lighting, 12.3” LCD audio, visual and navigation system with DAB, Apple Car Play™ and Android Auto™, LCD drivers instrument cluster, and wireless phone charging for compatible devices. There's also a rear view camera, LED Multi-Faceted Reflector headlamps, LED stop, tail and turn lamps, rear parking sensors. Highway Drive Assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Following Assist.

Charging the Hyundai IONIQ 5
Charging the Hyundai IONIQ 5

Driving and charging the Hyundai IONIQ 5

On the road, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 58 kWh is swift and supple. There's a natural feeling to this car on the road that is very pleasant; it doesn't feel too heavy. It's not designed to be sporty but it is still agile and well-balanced through corners.

The transmission is very refined. The IONIQ 5 is quiet and comfortable on the move with little transmission noise entering the cabin. It's capable of driving long distances on one charge, while being comfortable too for an electric car with a balanced ride quality.

IONIQ 5 features 800V charging as standard, which makes it one of the best EVs on the market right now for charging. Of course this depends on the infrastructure available to you but the IONIQ 5 has a lot of things in its favour. If you can find an IONITY station, you can charge at the IONIQ 5's maximum charging rate of 220 kW, and get 80% battery charge in just 20 minutes.

There is also a powerful 11 kW on-board charger with more flexibility for AC charging. It allows the IONIQ 5 to charge almost twice as fast as a lot of other EVs on the market using those 22 kW public chargers in Irish cities and towns.

WATCH MY VIDEO OF THE NEW IONIQ5 !

Did you like it?

Hyundai has already proven itself as a front runner in the race to electric with the launch of the Kona Electric back in 2018 and its stellar electric range for a sub-premium compact.

But IONIQ 5 brings the game on again for the Korean car brand. The IONIQ 5 feels fresh, new and a generation ahead with its innovative design and 800V fast charging capabilities.

The 11kW on board charger brings even more flexibility in AC charging and is a great feature to have as standard.

It's no doubt an unusual car, more a hatchback than an SUV. Though the raised ride height will make it popular among drivers seeking a more crossover-style vehicle.

The IONIQ 5 deserves to draw attention to itself with its futuristic design, considering what Hyundai has packed into this car. All things considered, the IONIQ 5 58 kWh is well-priced, loaded with equipment and technology, and a sound buy. The 72 kWh version will bring even more comfort when it comes to range, with over 400 km available on a full battery charge.

The new Hyundai IONIQ 5 is just one more reason why electric is closer than you think.

The Hyundai IONIQ 5 on sale now from €37,995
The Hyundai IONIQ 5 on sale now from €37,995

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai IONIQ 5 58 kWh Premium
Price:
€44,995
Battery: 58 kWh
Power: 
170 hp
Torque: 350 Nm
0-100km/h:
8.5 seconds
Top speed: 185 km/h
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Arkana Review (2022)

The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Thinking of buying a new Renault Arkana in 2022? Check out Caroline's latest Renault Arkana review for everything you need to know about the brand's exciting new mid-size SUV!

What's so special about the new Renault Arkana?

The Renault Arkana arrived in Ireland in 2021 and is a mid-size SUV priced from €30,340, with a hybrid available. This exciting new SUV coupé for the French brand will go on sale alongside the popular Captur and Kadjar SUVs, with Renault's latest mild hybrid and E-TECH hybrid powertrains making up the range.

The Kadjar is to be replaced in 2022 by a new SUV called the Austral so for the moment the Captur and the Arcana are the most up to date SUVs in the Renault range featuring the best of the brand's design, technology and innovation.

Renault we know already make some of the best-looking cars on the road and the Arkana is no different. SUV coupés used to be something premium brands brought to market to help their customers feel a little more unique and different to their SUV cousins.

Now Renault brings this design concept to the mass market with a very stylish Arkana. It particularly 'pops' in a bright colour like Valencia Orange and is certainly easily distinguishable from a Kadjar for example. The side profile is sporty with typical Renault flourish to the LED light signatures front and rear. Tinted windows, chrome trim on the wing badging, 3D rear LED lighting and 17-inch diamond-cut ‘Bahamas’ alloy wheels all feature on entry-level Iconic models, plus body-colour door handles with chrome and black lower door protection.

WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW OF THE NEW ARKANA!

Inside the Arkana

The Arkana gets a new generation Renault interior. It makes all the difference to the desirability of this new model. The design is nice and there is a good fit and finish to the interior. It's probably the best quality we have seen in a Renault SUV to date.

There's also a significant digital presence in the cabin. Iconic models kick off the range with a 7.0-inch display with DAB radio and Bluetooth functionality, while S Edition and R.S. Line models have a 9.3-inch portrait screen featuring navigation with live traffic services and weather information, Google address search and 4G connectivity and automatic update services for three years. The 9.3 inch screen is worth the upgrade. It looks more modern in the centre of the dash and is nice to use. Arkana S Edition and R.S. Line models also feature a 7.0-inch TFT Driver Information Display ahead of the driver.

Arkana R.S. Line models like the one on test start from €35,140 but it's an even better looking car with a really great cabin. The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line stands out with special R.S. Line sports seats upholstered in leather and suede-effect, complemented by red stitching that also extends to the door panels, gear lever and central armrest. Red detailing is also found on the leather steering wheel with unique R.S. Line marker. Completing the interior enhancements are aluminium pedals, a carbon-effect dashboard panel with full-width red trim, plus black headlining. It's just a nice cabin to spend time in and interact with.

The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line
The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line

It looks great but is it practical?

The Renault Arkana has not compromised space for style despite the sloping roofline and trendy SUV coupé looks. The Arkana belongs to the C segment and offers reasonable accommodation for a family with enough headroom in the rear and legroom for two adults to be comfortable.

Based on the CMF-B modular platform, the Arkana is longer than the Kadjar. It offers a high driving position popular with drivers of Renault’s SUVs. The boot is surprisingly large too, packing in 480 litres in E-TECH hybrids, and 513-litres with a variable-height boot floor in 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol versions. For maximum interior space, the rear seats fold, leaving a level, flat load area for bulkier items. 

The Arkana was built to be a hybrid from the start of development and is a key model to push forward the broadened electrification of Renault’s model range. The brand's new E-TECH hybrid powertrain features across every trim level. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, 1.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and two electric motors, with a power output of 145 hp.

Renault Ireland think it will be the engine of choice in the line-up for the majority of customers. It's proposed as the most efficient of the range, returning consumption as low as to 4.8l/100 km (WLTP). Arkana will also be available in Ireland with the TCe 140 petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology. This 1.3-litre engine has 140 hp and fuel consumption is officially rated at 5.8l/100km (WLTP). Both offerings are automatic by default. No manual gearboxes or diesel on offer in this range. 

The Renault Arkana R.S. Line in Valencia Orange
The Renault Arkana R.S. Line in Valencia Orange

Driving the Renault Arkana Hybrid

The Renault Arkana feels immediately mature and confident on the road. The handling is good with a nice flowing character through bends and body roll kept in check. On the motorway the Arkana cruises well with excellent refinement. It's a very comfortable car too, even on 18" wheels.

The Arkana Hybrid is a truly impressive car on the road. It feels more powerful than what 145 hp might suggest on paper. Then there's the way the power is delivered. There's no lumpiness to the transmission, just power delivered solidly and confidently. The batteyr boost makes it very responsive to the throttle.

But is it efficient? Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.1 litres per 100 km. So not quite as efficient as Renault claim but still good for a petrol driven mid-size SUV.

Did you like it?

Yes! The Renault Arkana is one of the best cars I drove in 2021. It looks great and for the moment remains quite a distinctive presence in the C-SUV segment with its sporty SUV-coupé looks. R.S. Line models are hugely desirable for their sporty inspired looks and the superbly finished cabin.

The Arkana is mature and confident on the road. Hybrid power suits it very well. While fuel efficiency is not quite diesel rivalling for drivers who regularly take long motorway commutes, it is a good hybrid SUV debut by Renault and there are no ugly surprises here when it comes to fuel consumption.

Around town the Arkana will do even better, running on electric power more but always with the back-up of the petrol engine. There is no charging involved of this E-TECH hybrid - which can be very convenient in its own way.

With SUVs still being the hot spot of the market, it seems there can never be too many available and the Arkana brings a typically premium SUV coupé style to the mass market - with considerable style.

The Renault Arkana on sale in Ireland priced from €30,140
The Renault Arkana on sale in Ireland priced from €30,140

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid R.S. Line
Price:
€36,540
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
145 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.8 seconds
Top speed: 172 km/h
CO2 emissions:
109 g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé Review

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé review for a definitive verdict on the brand's new diesel plug-in hybrid SUV.

What's so special about the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé?

Mercedes-Benz adds a new diesel electric plug-in hybrid powertrain to the GLE Coupé. Spawned from the GLE large, premium SUV family that debuted an all-new generation vehicle in 2019, the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé offers a more stylish and exclusive design. It is the ultimate SUV-coupé, with a well appointed interior featuring Mercedes show-stopping quality and technology.

With hybrid continuing to grow in popularity across different market segments, now Mercedes-Benz drops a diesel hybrid into the GLE and GLE Coupé. Badged GLE 350 de, this model combines the long distance motorway economy of a diesel with zero emissions electric driving around town for a distance of up to 100 kilometres. Large SUVs have often had a poor image for environmental concerns but with plug-in hybrid technology, there is now a real viable option to charge the vehicle and drive on cleaner power and limit environmental impact, while still enjoying the convenience and economy of a diesel engine on longer runs.

Priced at €98,065, the GLE 350 de Coupé sits in truly premium territory but it's a wonderfully made SUV. It oozes class and sophistication, while comfort is in a completely different arena too, even on the large 21" wheels of the test car.

Currently accounting for around one third of Mercedes-Benz sales, SUVs are of increasing importance to the brand with a global customer base of over six million owners spread across an eight model range that includes GLA, GLB, GLC, GLC Coupé, GLE, GLE Coupé, GLS and G-Class.

The GLE Coupé is now available as a hybrid
The GLE Coupé is now available as a hybrid

Inside the GLE Coupé

The GLE Coupé is every inch the large luxury SUV but with a more exclusive design to the GLE, which has more traditional and boxy SUV lines.

Inside there is some trade-off in the practicality stakes - that sloped roofline will mean a bit less headroom for rear passengers - but this is still a large SUV by anyone's standards. The rear footwells are large, while the middle passenger gets a relatively flat space for their feet too, along with their own ventilation controls.

The boot has a powered tailgate and opens to reveal a large boot of 510 litres that goes back a good deal but wouldn't have same depth as the standard GLE for example. The diesel plug-in hybrid system also eats into the space somewhat compared to a standard diesel model by about 100 litres. But a special rear end design and a modified rear axle create space for the large battery housed beneath the floor of the boot. This attention to detail means there is a flat floor and no step in the luggage compartment, like the E-Class hybrids for example.

The interior of the GLE Coupé is an absolute marvel. You are happily ensconced in comfortable supportive sports seats with full leather and power control. Heated of course! There are two large 12.3" screens that blend together perfectly with modern graphics and lots of functionality. The latest generation ‘Mercedes me’ and MBUX infotainment system responds to voice commands and is easy to use.

The interior of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe
The interior of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe

How does the diesel hybrid work in the GLE?

The diesel hybrid GLE 350 de uses a 2.0-litre diesel engine, 31.2 kWh lithium ion battery and 100 kW electric motor. Power is transmitted by the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. There's a healthy 320 hp while there is 700 Nm of torque available giving 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in just 6.9 seconds. Impressive for a hulking machine like the GLE Coupé!

Despite its considerable size (over 2500kg in kerb weight), the GLE Coupé feels nothing short of swift and responsive to the throttle. It masks its weight reasonably well too, feeling agile and sure-footed in most situations. It's a fabulous SUV to drive with precise and weighty steering, and super supple ride quality. It handles the road well, with a sporty edge to it. Whether cruising on the motorway or following a twisty road through the mountains, the GLE Coupé adapts to each with aplomb. Driver and passengers sit high up with a commanding view over the road.

The diesel plug in hybrid powertrain also happens to be very successful in the GLE. Handling and driving dynamics don't feel impacted in any negative way. There's no lumpiness to the transmission, just smoothness and thick syrupy power delivered with no fuss or wheel spin. Delicious! 4MATIC fully-variable all-wheel drive with torque on demand truly helps with that too.

The hybrid system helps eke out better fuel economy. Even without charging I managed a respectable 6.7 litres per 100 km. The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging, which is quite unusual for a plug-in hybrid. It will take about half an hour. The GLE Coupé has a towing capacity of up to 3500 kg also as a plug-in hybrid.

The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging
The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging

Did you like it?

More tightly tailored than the GLE, the GLE Coupé does offer a more stylish and exclusive design with a small compromise to space and practicality. This is a wonderful large SUV for those lucky enough to own one.

The GLE and GLE Coupé both have one of the best car interiors in the class. It's a fine example of contemporary premium. The widescreen digital effect is just stunning, while there are so many gadgets and tools on board for a full on luxury liner experience.

There's a fine balance between comfort and sportiness behind the wheel. The GLE 350 de Coupé is supremely quiet and smooth-running.

The diesel plug in hybrid does work well here in the GLE 350 de. Motor tax for this behemoth is just €140 thanks to the low emissions and it offers new levels of flexibility and less environmental impact around town for example. But the battery will need to be kept charged up and the SUV driven on electric power to reap these benefits.

Hard to find fault with this machine!

The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is a high end SUV-coupé
The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is a high end SUV-coupé

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLE 350de 4MATIC Coupé
Price:
€98,065
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel electric plug-in hybrid
Power:
320 hp
Torque: 700 Nm
0-100km/h: 
6.9 seconds
Top speed: 210 km/h
CO2 emissions:
23 g/km
Motor tax: 
€140 per year


The new Ford Mach-E!

Ford Mustang Mach-E Review

The new Ford Mach-E!
The new Ford Mach-E is now on sale in Ireland!

The Ford Mustang Mach-E has finally arrived in Ireland! It feels like we have been waiting for this car for so long. There is huge anticipation around the Mach-E, Ford's first serious attempt at a mass production battery electric vehicle. Was it worth the wait? Caroline took the new Mustang Mach-E for a test drive to find out.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E goes on sale in Ireland priced from €53,100 including the SEAI grant. There are rear wheel drive and all wheel drive variants, two battery sizes and a range topping Mach-E GT with 487 hp!

Styling

The Mach-E carries the famous Mustang name and the iconic pony badge. It's something of a crossover-style vehicle with the raised ride height of an SUV. It looks sporty and purposeful. It's a very successful electric vehicle design. The front end of the car is just gorgeous with that curved closed grille and thin, aggressive headlamps. Around the rear there is homage to the classic Mustang coupé with trademark tri-bar taillamps.

Interior

The interior of the Mustang Mach-E marks a new generation interior for a Ford car. There has been a significant digital upgrade to anything we've seen previously from the brand including a new digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a show-stopping 15.5" portrait-style touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. It's a blend of old and new, with enough traditional switchgear inside to not frighten any Ford customers! A wireless charging pad for smartphones also comes as standard.

Quality seems generally good but it's not quite a premium billing for new Mustang Mach-E. The rotary selector for the automatic lacks a satisfying click into gear. Leather seats and other cabin materials have a red stitching finish and with that iconic pony logo on the steering wheel, you won't forget the Mustang Mach-E's sporty roots.

The new Mach-E goes on sale from €53,100
The new Mach-E goes on sale from €53,100

Practicality

The Mach-E has seating for five and space inside is about comparative to a mid-size SUV. There is a 402 litre boot and a 'frunk' (front trunk storage unit) with an additional 81 litres of storage space. The front trunk is also drainable for added convenience!

Battery 

There are standard (70 kWh) and extended-range (91 kWh) battery options available. There is a choice of single-motor rear-wheel drive and dual-motor all-wheel drive performance. The 70 kWh rear wheel drive entry model has a range of 440 km (WLTP) and 269 hp. The Mustang Mach-E First Edition on test for Changing Lanes features all-wheel drive and extended-range battery as standard (540 km WLTP) and 351 hp.

Charging

Ford is offering Mustang Mach-E customers an optional 7.4 kW Ford Connected Wallbox. The wall-mounted charger can top up the Mustang Mach-E battery from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 8 hours. Mustang Mach-E customers also currently receive as standard two charging cables. The 6-metre Ford Public Charge Cable is compatible with the common charging standard in Europe, enabling customers to easily connect to AC chargers without an integrated charge cable. The 6.7-metre Universal Home Charge Cord enables connection to either a standard domestic socket or 32 A blue industrial socket.

DC fast-charging compatibility is also standard with charging up to 150 kW possible, using an IONITY charger for example.

The interior of the new Ford Mustang Mach-E
The interior of the new Ford Mustang Mach-E

Driving it

Mustang Mach-E’s all-new platform has been developed by Ford Team Edison to take full advantage of the performance-enhancing weight distribution and torque delivery of an all-electric powertrain. The lithium-ion battery is located centrally between the axles and beneath the floor for a low centre of gravity to support sporty driving dynamics.

The high-performance batteries – tested at temperatures as extreme as minus 40 degrees Celsius – are secured inside a waterproof case surrounded by crash absorption protection. An advanced active liquid heating and cooling system regulates battery temperatures for optimised performance in extreme weather, improved charging times and sustained high-speed driving.

Battery power is transferred to an all-new, oil-cooled, rear-mounted AC motor to drive the rear wheels, and an additional front-mounted motor for models equipped with the all-wheel drive system. The permanent magnet, synchronous rear motor enables peak torque in 0.5 seconds for ultimate responsiveness.

The available all-wheel drive system applies torque independently to the front and rear wheels for improved acceleration and handling. Unique settings for shock absorbers, springs, anti-roll bars, steering and powertrain have been tailored for the European market.

Mustang Mach-E also offers One Pedal Drive capability that helps return more kinetic energy to the battery, for greater efficiency.

There are new selectable drive modes - Whisper, Active and Untamed - the latter which unleashes the full potential of the Mustang Mach-E; sharpening the steering, enhancing the throttle response and even giving the driver the feel of downshifting on deceleration. Matched to the performance is a boosted interior sound, sporty orange lighting, and dynamic sense lines on the driver display that reflect the acceleration and cornering forces being experienced.

The Mach-E has two battery sizes available - 71 kWh and 90 kWh
The Mach-E has two battery sizes available - 70 kWh and 91 kWh

The Mustang Mach-E First Edition on test for Changing Lanes features all-wheel drive and extended-range battery as standard for 351 PS/258 kW, 580 Nm of torque and 0-100 km/h acceleration in 5.1 seconds.

On first impressions the Mach-E has been well engineered for a sporty and natural drive. It doesn't feel too heavy on the road and is fun to drive with lightening quick responses. There is a firm edge over bumps in the road and uneven surfaces, but on the smooth stuff all is good.

The range-topping Mustang Mach-E GT features all-wheel drive and extended-range battery as standard for 487 PS, 860 Nm of torque and 0-100 km/h acceleration in 3.7 seconds 

Equipment

In Ireland, Mustang Mach-E is offered in three series: RWD, AWD and GT, as well as a limited number of First Edition vehicles available at launch.

Mustang Mach-E RWD Standard Range / Extended Range Spec:

18” 5-spoke silver alloy wheels; LED reflector headlamps; LED Mustang signature tail lights; body colour bumpers; body colour headed mirrors with puddle light Mustang logo projection; side cladding and wheel arches in black; brace front grille design; heated driver and passenger seats; next generation SYNC 4A; FordPass Connect (embedded modem); e-latch keyless entry system including b-pillar keypad access; front trunk; selectable drive modes (Active, Whisper, Untamed); 10.2" Full Digital Cluster & 15.5" Central Touch Screen; One Pedal Drive; Pre-Collision Assist: includes Collision Mitigation, FCW (Forward Collision Warning), DBS (Dynamic Brake Support), AEB (Automated Emergency Braking), DA/DI (Distance Alert/Distance Indication), ESA (Evasive Steer); Ford VariPower charging cable; high power charging cable; 115kw high-powered charging (Standard Range model); 150kw high-powered charging (Extended Range model).

Mustang Mach-E AWD Standard Range / Extended Range adds:

19” black machined alloy wheels; red brake calipers; side cladding and wheel arches piano black; blade front grille design; black perforated full Sensico trim with red stitching; rear view camera; hands free tailgate; 360-degree camera; B&O Premium Sound System 10-Speaker inc. Dashboard Sound Bar; advanced active park assist; full panorama roof; dual motor permanent all-wheel drive.

Mustang Mach-E GT adds:

20” cast aluminium wheels; unique GT front grille design; Brembo brakes with red calipers; unique Pirelli tyres; unique GT bumpers; wheel lip mouldings – body colour and door cladding painted black; GT performance seats; 860 Nm of torque; 487PS/358 kW maximum power; MagneRide suspension; GT scuff plates.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E is fun to drive
The Ford Mustang Mach-E is fun to drive

Pricing

SeriesBodystyleBatteryTransmissionPrice*
Mustang Mach-E RWD5 door70kWh (75kWh) Standard Range1 speed auto€53,100
Mustang Mach-E RWD5 door91kWh (98kWh) Extended Range1 speed auto€64,400
Mustang Mach-E AWD5 door70kWh (75kWh) Standard Range1 speed auto€68,550
Mustang Mach-E AWD5 door91kWh (98kWh) Extended Range1 speed auto€76,100
Mustang Mach-E GT5 door91kWh (98kWh) Extended Range1 speed auto€82,100

*Gross Retail Prices including VAT and SEAI grant

Summary

The Mustang returns! But as Ford's first proper attempt at a full battery electric vehicle. There's no Ford badge anywhere on this car except on the key. We know the Mustang badge is cool. The Mach-E makes a great first impression.

With pricing starting from €53,100 and rising too €82,000 for the range-topping Mustang Mach-E GT, this is new territory for Ford and there is plenty of competition now in this price range.

The Mustang Mach-E bites back with cool crossover styling, the iconic badge and a car that is truly enjoyable to drive.

The interior of the Mustang Mach-E blends old and new, with an exciting new look but it's also entirely practical and functional. Cabin finish falls short of premium, but the Mach-E excels behind the wheel.

Battery range is not an issue here. There is plenty to be comfortable and battery performance is impressive. The car handles the road naturally, it's an electric car you will enjoy driving.

While it's odd to have a car with a Mustang badge and no rumble from under the bonnet, the world has changed and I'm glad Ford is now making electric vehicles with a little bit of personality. Mach-E is cool, no doubts!

The range-topping Mustang Mach-E GT
The range-topping Mustang Mach-E GT

Caroline Kidd.


The new Hyundai Bayon!

Hyundai Bayon Review (2022)

The new Hyundai Bayon!
The new Hyundai Bayon!

Hyundai broadens the appeal of the brand's small car line-up with the arrival of the new Hyundai Bayon in 2021.

It has been designed for Europe and has been given a European name to reflect that – Bayon is inspired by ‘Bayonne’, the capital of the French Basque Country. With on-trend crossover styling, it is now the most compact of Hyundai’s SUV family – joining the popular Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe.

Responding to trends in the market for crossover-style vehicles, the brand launched the Kona compact crossover in Ireland back in 2017 and it has been a great success with electric, hybrid and petrol variants, starting from €24,395. Hyundai now has a young range of compact cars with the new Hyundai i10 and Hyundai i20 on sale here since just 2020.

Where does the Bayon sit in the Hyundai range?

The Bayon now slips in to the Hyundai range just below the Kona, offering a more crossover-inspired design to traditional small cars like the i10 and the i20, with an attractive entry price of €20,795.

New Bayon on sale in Ireland from €20,795
New Bayon on sale in Ireland from €20,795

Though based on the i20 supermini, the Bayon looks like a more substantial car in the metal with a slightly raised ride height and some characteristic new generation Hyundai design cues like slim headlights and arrow-shaped lights at the rear. It's longer and higher than an i20 with roof rails giving the required injection of attitude for the urban crossover.

Keeping things simple is the order of the day with just petrol power for the new Bayon -  a choice of a 1.2-litre petrol manual or a 1.0-litre automatic. There are two trim levels - Comfort Plus and Executive - with a two tone roof option available for Executive models.

Inside the Hyundai Bayon

Inside the Bayon has a simple cabin design that's easy to navigate. There is lots of hard plastic but at this price that goes with the territory and it feels solid and well made throughout. Simple and functional, drivers will enjoy a slightly elevated ride height behind the wheel.

The instrument cluster is fully digital (10.25") while Executive models (from €22,795) come with an 8" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The interior of the new Bayon
The interior of the new Bayon

The interior of the new Bayon has been designed to be clean, roomy, and well-lit with ambient lighting available as standard on Executive models. This is a small car but there is a good use of space inside the vehicle with rear legroom and headroom decent for a compact. There has been a focus on maximising front and rear passenger comfort and increasing boot space, with 411 litres available, excellent for a car of this size.

Standard equipment includes roof rails, air con and Bluetooth, while the Executive model adds 16″ alloys, heated from seats, automatic air con, 8″ touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charger and digital instrument panel.

In Ireland, the new Bayon launched with a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 84 hp and a 5-speed manual gearbox. Motor tax is €200 per year for the Bayon 1.2 manual. The 1.0-litre automatic joins the range in time for January 2022. Motor tax is €210 per year for the Bayon 1.0 automatic.

The Bayon is the smallest crossover in Hyundai's range
The Bayon is the smallest crossover in Hyundai's range

Driving the Bayon

On the road the Bayon feels light and easy to drive. It provides comfort for passengers over a variety of roads and road surfaces.

The 1.2-litre engine is a simple naturally aspirated affair with 84 hp, while 0 to 100 km/h is 13.5 seconds. This makes it ideal for driving around town where it is smooth and free-revving.

The Bayon feels less at home out on larger roads where the revs run high at cruising speeds on the motorway. It is a four cylinder engine so the refinement is good inside the vehicle with not too much intrusive engine noise. It is a cheap car to run. My fuel consumption averaged at about 5.3 litres per 100 km during my time with the car.

Rear seating in the Hyundai Bayon
Rear seating in the Hyundai Bayon

Did you like it?

Hyundai has had a busy year with a number of new product launches including a facelifted Hyundai Kona, new Tucson and Santa Fe. There was also the arrival of the all-electric IONIQ 5.

New Bayon strengthens the compact portfolio while meeting consumer demand for more crossover-inspired vehicles.

The Bayon surprises with its practicality and comfort. It is a simple and straightforward motoring experience in these days where everything seems to be either hybrid or electric.

While those needs are catered for elsewhere in the Hyundai range, the Bayon offers a practical and comfortable small car at just over €20,000. Executive models offer the full digital experience, with even wireless smartphone charging included.

Cheap to run, Bayon is an ideal city car with a little more crossover style!

The Bayon is an ideal city car with a little crossover style
The Bayon is an ideal city car with a little crossover style

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Bayon Executive
Price: 
€22,795
Engine: 
1.2-litre petrol
Power:  84 hp
Torque: 118 Nm
Top speed: 165 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 13.5 seconds
CO2 emissions:
 128 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW iX3 Review

The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

In 2021, BMW has strengthened its portfolio of electric vehicles considerably with the arrival of the new BMW iX3, an electric version of the popular BMW X3 mid-size SUV. This year has also seen the launch of the flagship electric iX large SUV and the i4 electric sports saloon.

What's so special about the new BMW iX3?

But there's a familiarity to the iX3 that's sure to help it penetrate the market here, a market that is becoming ever more receptive to battery power.

With pricing starting from €74,815, the BMW iX3 is perched predictably in the higher end of the market. But in recent years rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz have been bringing their electric flagship SUVs to market, spearheading change that's rippling throughout every corner of the industry.

The development of the BMW iX3 was based on the experience amassed by the BMW i brand since 2011.

The iX3 is a pipe dream for many, but it's surprisingly effective and desirable for its market with robust range from a 80 kWh battery. Official data says the range is up to 460 km (WLTP) on a single charge, but most drivers won't emulate quite that. Still over 300 km is achievable and there's a lot of comfort and confidence driving on a full charge because of that.

The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery
The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery

Visually there are a few little hints to the iX3's electric underpinnings. Granted on test is the fully loaded 'Premier Edition Pro' that looks equally smart and sinister with bespoke modifications to the front and rear apron, enclosed front kidney grille and 20" black aerodynamic alloy wheels. But it's stout and squat like a good old-fashioned BMW SUV, many of which had found a home in Ireland since the X5 started it all.

Inside the new BMW iX3

Slipping inside the new BMW iX3 is a very pleasant experience. The cabin quality is excellent, the design sturdy and reassuring. There's no compromise in quality, everything looks and feels great, like any other X3 in the range. There's a full digital experience with a digital instrument cluster for the driver. It's a proper luxury liner.

The interior of the car also contains blue accents as a reference to the electric drive system. These can be found on both the Start/Stop button and the gear selector lever. Other model-specific cues include the model lettering on the centre console, door sill plates bearing the BMW i logo, the screens in the cockpit and Control Display adapted to the presence of an electric drive system as well as the standard-fitted ambient lighting, which provides blue illumination in its default setting.

Standard equipment for the new BMW iX3 includes BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto preparation and the digital services from BMW Connected Charging.

The interior of the new BMW iX3
The interior of the new BMW iX3

The BMW iX3 Premier Edition includes 20” black aerodynamic wheels, automatic tailgate, adaptive suspension and panoramic sunroof. Vernasca leather is available in a choice of four colours, along with Sensatec dashboard, sun protect glazing, ambient lighting and electric seats. Additional standard features include wireless phone charging, heated front seats and the brand’s very latest driver assistance technology, including Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant and BMW Live Cockpit Professional.

Additional standard features on the Premier Edition Pro include BMW head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, gesture control, Parking Assistant Plus, automatic high beam assistant, and lumbar support.

Is it practical?

The iX3 remains a practical family SUV with little compromise on space inside the vehicle. The driver, the front passenger and the three occupants in the rear have almost exactly the same levels of space as in a conventionally powered BMW X3 variant.

Boot capacity also matches that of combustion-engined BMW X3 models, while the boot floor lifts up to reveal a stowage compartment for the charging cable or luggage compartment cover. Thanks to the 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrest, load space can be expanded as required. The load capacity of the new BMW iX3 is between 510 and 1,560 litres.

The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW
The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW

The new iX3 is capable of charging at 150 kW at DC fast-charging stations, with recharging from 0 to 80 per cent taking just over 30 minutes in these instances. When using AC terminals, there's single-phase charging available at up to 7.4 kW and three-phase charging at up to 11 kW.

Driving the BMW iX3

So is it still the ultimate driving machine with a battery? There's a healthy 286 hp and 400 Nm from a newly designed fifth-generation BMW eDrive electric motor. But that will be needed to haul the hulking iX3 at over 2.2 tonnes. Still the iX3 manages a 0 to 100 kmh sprint in just 6.8 seconds.

Power is transferred to the rear wheels and adaptive suspension fitted as standard optimises sporting responses and comfort. There's no four wheel drive option and ground clearance is not a strong point so don't try anything too adventurous with it.

The BMW iX3 has a unique rear axle subframe and bespoke chassis integration to help it meet the particular demands on a pure electric vehicle. The iX3 feels good on the road with the comfort and refinement we expect from a premium SUV. Handling and grip is fine but the weight of the battery and its distribution appears to take the edge off BMW's famed sporty handling characteristics, while the steering remains quite neutral too.

BMW enters the arms race with the iX3
BMW enters the electric premium SUV arms race with the iX3

Did you like it?

More than I thought I would. The iX3 is a brilliant electric SUV. Yes you pay for it but the quality and execution of this car is top notch. It remains comfortably familiar BMW territory - a beautiful interior, classic BMW design cues, and utterly seducing from the moment you slip behind the wheel and put it in Drive.

With over 300 km possible on one battery charge, I did many journeys with no charging required between them, including motorway journeys.

While ultimate 'ev' driving machine might be a stretch too far for this reviewer, comfort and refinement remain reassuringly premium and a good omen for the future of electric BMWs. The iX3 is another surprise hit of the year for Changing Lanes.

The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV
The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW iX3 Premier Edition Pro
Price: 
€76,067
Battery:
80 kWh
Power:  286 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 180 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year


The new Citroen C4 on test for Changing Lanes!

Citroen C4 Review (2022)

The new Citroen C4 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Citroen C4 on test for Changing Lanes!

Thinking of buying a new Citroen C4 in Ireland in 2022? Read Caroline's Citroen C4 review for everything you need to know about the new hatchback from the French car brand.

The Citroen C4 made a return to Ireland in 2021 with an all-new look and a complete line-up featuring petrol, diesel and electric for the very first time.

It's the first significant new model launch from Citroen in a while. But with good looks and affability on its side, the new Citroen C4 deserves its time in the spotlight.

What's so special about the new Citroen C4?

Priced from a very competitive €24,740, the C4 brings unique style to the C-segment where the traditional family hatchbacks reside. Yes it's still a hatchback but it's so adventurous in its design. There’s an SUV-coupé flourish to it, especially around the rear. Crossover-inspired plastic cladding and a raised ride height complete the look.

What's even more interesting is that Citroen have taken the C4 as the opportunity to launch their first all-electric model in a long time! The e-C4 goes on sale priced from €31,730 with a 50 kWh battery and up to 350 km range (WLTP). But it's the Citroen C4 petrol that's the subject of this review.

The new C4 range goes on sale priced from€24,740
The new C4 range goes on sale priced from €24,740

Inside the Citroen C4

Inside, Citroen interprets the modern car interior with a digital upgrade for the C4 incorporating a new digital display for the driver and 10" infotainment screen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - all fitted as standard. Cabin quality is okay with some soft touch panels in the doors for example, but there are quite a lot of hard dark plastics in the cabin of the Citroen C4, which make it feel a little on the austere side – at odds with the adventurous exterior looks!

The new C4 has a bigger footprint than most family hatchbacks. There is a spacious feel in the cabin for a family vehicle with plenty of generous storage. The seating position is higher than in other C-segment hatchbacks, giving a noticeable SUV feel behind the wheel. There’s loads of headroom and the foot wells are generous in the rear for this class of vehicle. Boot volume is 380 litres, which is on par with hatchback rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus.

Standard equipment is good including 18” alloys, automatic LED headlights, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, rear parking sensors and camera, lane keep assist and automatic air conditioning. The Flair model on test has diamond cut alloy wheels, speed sign recognition, blind spot detection, front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry/start.

Inside the 2021 Citroen C4
Inside the 2021 Citroen C4

Driving the new C4!

Petrol and diesel models for the moment offer a lower entry into the C4 range than the electric C4 and there is a good selection available. Engine options include the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine with 100, 130 or 155 hp or the 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel with 110 or 130 hp. 6-speed manual and EAT8 automatic gearboxes are available for both engines.

The 1.2-litre petrol with 130 hp I drove in the C4 is hard to fault. It has enough power to feel swift and capable on the road. Yet it's frugal too with fuel consumption averaging at 5.7 litres per 100 km over a few days of driving - and that was with an automatic gearbox.

Comfort was a huge focus in the new C4's development and it delivers, covering the Irish tarmac well with a 'cushioned' feel. That’s because the new Citroen C4 uses the Citroen Advanced Comfort® programme featuring suspension with Progressive Hydraulic Cushions and Advanced Comfort Seats to ensure the renowned Citroen driving comfort.

Steering is light making the car agile around town or in the car park. Out on the road, the C4 is pleasant to drive, but with the set up of the car, it’s more about comfort than sportiness. Some rivals are sharper to drive.

The entry point into the C4 range is the 1.2 litre Puretech petrol with 100 hp in Feel trim for €24,740. Step up to the same engine with 130 hp in Feel Pack trim with more gear for €27,620. Flair models start from €29,190 and Flair Pack from €33,640. Diesels start from €26,790.

The new Citroen C4 brings adventurous design to the family hatchback market!
The new Citroen C4 brings adventurous design to the family hatchback market!

Did you like it?

Citroen cars in Ireland now have a new distributor and with the new C4, there’s certainly energy and momentum in the brand again for the Irish market. The C4 makes a wonderful comeback to the C-segment with eye catching design that takes cues from the trend for crossovers and SUVs.

Visually the new Citroen C4 is a catch for sure. Inside it's spacious and family-friendly, and while technology is up to date, it doesn't feel as plush as rivals.

C4 kicks back with a very impressive engine and powertrain range with the all-important, all-electric C4 available for the very first time in this new generation of the car. The 1.2-litre petrol engine with 130 hp is genuinely efficient for what it is with no hidden surprises in terms of running costs.

If you are looking for a genuinely comfortable car in this segment, the C4 could be it.

Spacious, friendly and comfortable, the new C4 is a real boost for the Citroen brand in Ireland!

Exciting new electric Citroen e-C4 to debut in 2021
Exciting new electric Citroen e-C4 now on sale too

Model tested: Citroen C4 Flair Puretech 130 Automatic
Price: 
€31,690
Engine: 
1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power:  130 hp
Torque: 230 Nm
Top speed: 209 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.4 seconds
CO2 emissions:
130 g/km
Motor Tax:
€200 per year


The Nissan Qashqai on test for Changing Lanes!

Nissan Qashqai Review (2021)

The Nissan Qashqai on test for Changing Lanes!
The Nissan Qashqai on test for Changing Lanes!

The Nissan Qashqai is back in 2021 with an all-new generation model. The Qashqai started the trend for crossovers and quickly rose to fame here, for a time Ireland's bestselling car and a former Irish Car of the Year.

What's new for the 2021 Nissan Qashqai?

Now in its third generation, the Nissan Qashqai has grown up. More visually imposing than the previous generation of the car, it has the kerb appeal of a top SUV. Following on from the 2020 launch of the all-new Nissan Juke, the new Qashqai translates Nissan's new design language and technology to the family SUV segment with great success.

Pricing kicks off from €30,500 for the range in Ireland, with all models powered from launch by a 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine with mild hybrid technology.

The Qashqai fits the brief for a family car better than ever with a new platform yielding a more spacious cabin as well as a number of practical features.

Driving dynamics have also been significantly improved. Qashqai matures for a new era of electrification in the motor industry and will debut more hybrid options in 2022.

The Qashqai is maturing beautifully
The Qashqai is maturing beautifully

Inside the latest Nissan Qashqai

Inside the Qashqai benefits from a new interior that feels a lot more modern than the previous generation of the car. The quality of the materials has also moved up another gear, with a solid fit and finish that will weather family life for many years to come.

Qashqai gets a suitable digital upgrade too with a digital instrument panel for the driver and a slick looking infotainment screen that's smartphone ready. The interior could perhaps do with a more distinctive character with more Nissan brand defining features, but the premium feeling cannot be denied.

Standard equipment levels are very good with the list including LED headlights, auto headlights with high beam assist, rear parking sensors, 8" infotainment screen and wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Safety features include blind spot intervention, traffic sign recognition, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, and Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking.

The SV Premium model on test (from €37,395) includes a wireless phone charger, 9” touchscreen, 18" alloys, panoramic glass roof, rear view camera and rear privacy glass.

The interior of the 2021 Nissan Qashqai
The interior of the 2021 Nissan Qashqai

Is it practical?

The Qashqai has grown in stature, which benefits passenger space too. The new car is a bit wider and has a longer wheelbase than the car it replaces, so you will find good sized footwells in the rear as a result. It feels more spacious inside than the previous Qashqai.

There's also 50 more litres of boot space and the boot has a number of clever features to boost practicality - a false floor that can be used to separate items or give a flat loading sill. A powered hands-free tailgate is also available.

The most impressive feature is refinements to the ergonomic design of the door openings - the rear doors now open to 90 degrees, making it easier to step in and out of the vehicle or manoeuvre child seats into position. Small things but it helps Qashqai function better as a family car than ever before.

Driving the Nissan Qashqai

The 2021 Nissan Qashqai sits on a new platform. My test car was powered by the 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The overall impression is of agility and comfort on the road. Despite the overall increase in stiffness, the new Qashqai is over 60 kg lighter than the car it replaces.

Front wheel drive Qashqais uses a torsion beam rear suspension layout, upgraded from the outgoing Qashqai to reduce vibration and ensure better bump absorption and a smoother ride, as well as providing better roll control.

Boot space in the 2021 Nissan Qashqai
Boot space in the 2021 Nissan Qashqai

The steering is faster, more defined and responsive thanks to the power assistance motor now moved to directly adjacent to the steering rack. This has reduced the feeling of friction through the steering wheel, but gives a more natural increase in steering effort as more steering lock is applied.

For a large SUV it's surprisingly agile and easy to drive with the manual gearbox, though a CVT automatic is also available (from €36,700). It's very comfortable, even on large wheels. The engine is refined and there is plenty of power from the 156 hp unit. It is very pleasant to drive. Nissan says the manual gearbox has been enhanced for a quicker, more direct and sportier shift feeling, and I can say it certainly felt good from behind the wheel.

This is the only engine option for now. Some buyers might lament the demise of the diesel Qashqai. Certainly my average fuel consumption over a week of driving of 6.8 litres per 100 km cannot rival diesel for efficiency over long distances at least. But the arrival of a new Qashqai 'e-POWER' hybrid in early 2022 will be one to watch, using the petrol engine to generate electricity, while the wheels are completely driven by the electric motor.

The Qashqai is a stylish and practical family car
The Qashqai is a stylish and practical family car

Did you like it?

The Qashqai has been an amazing success in Ireland since it launched here, with over 50,000 already on the road and a further 20,000-30,000 estimated to have been imported here in the car’s 14 year history.

Nissan has sold over 3 million units of the car in Europe since its launch 13 years ago. It's an incredibly important car for Nissan.

The new generation model has seriously grown up with the presence of a larger SUV on the road. At launch the engine range does look very narrow but the 1.3-litre petrol is fun to drive and refined, though the upcoming hybrid should be cheaper to run.

Space matters and the Qashqai has grown in all the right directions. This car is a stylish buy with a well-finished cabin to see it into the next few years. Nissan has upped the quality of this car considerably.

Competition is stiff in this segment but the Qashqai has serious reputation and recognition in the Irish market - it remains a solid and reliable buy in 2021.

The new Nissan Qashqai is available from €30,500
The new Nissan Qashqai is available from €30,500

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Nissan Qashqai SV Premium
Price: 
€37,395
Engine:
1.3-litre turbo petrol
Power:  156 hp
Torque: 260 Nm
Top speed:  206 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.5 seconds
CO2 emissions:
145 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€270 per year


The 2021 Dacia Duster now on sale in Ireland

Dacia Duster Review

The 2021 Dacia Duster now on sale in Ireland
The 2021 Dacia Duster now on sale in Ireland

The Dacia Duster is back with a comprehensive suite of updates to keep Dacia's bestselling compact SUV at the top of its game. Caroline travelled to Paris, France, to drive the latest Duster.

The Duster has been an unbridled success in Ireland and Europe since it was launched. The Duster story in Ireland begins in 2013 and since then over 14,000 of them have found homes here. The second generation model launched here in 2018, to build on the success of the first with more style and modern features.

At the launch of Duster 'Phase 2' in Paris, Christophe Lavauzelle from Dacia Europe referred to the Duster as an 'icon'. True, this unlikely hero has endeared itself to millions in a few short years, with a sort of transcendent charm that seems at odds with the bare essentials beginnings of the Duster.

Dacia also unveiled a new brand identity in Paris that echoes the brand's growing appeal among nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts. This clear direction in a market already in love with crossover-style vehicles will help differentiate the brand further among competitors. To that end an all-new Dacia Duster Extreme will go on sale in early 2022 - a top of the range trim level featuring more rugged, exclusive styling features.

The latest Duster available from €19,990
The latest Duster available from €19,990 in Ireland

Design

Dacia say customers love the chunky, rugged design of the Duster so the facelift sees only minor changes. New light units include Y-shaped daytime running lights, which look more contemporary and seem to fit better, especially at the rear. This new shape also inspired the new 3D chromed radiator grille. Front LED direction indicators debut here for the first time in the Dacia range. There's also a new colour - Arizona Orange - that really makes the Duster pop. Duster’s aerodynamic performance has been improved with the simple design of the new rear spoiler and 16/17-inch alloy rims.

Interior

The main change to the interior of the latest Duster is a new 8" touchscreen with more modern graphics and a glossier finish, replacing the old 7" unit. It lifts the cabin though the Duster interior is still very much a hard plastic affair in line with the brand's more budget position in the market. The USB ports have moved to a neater location further down in the centre console so the cable no longer dangles across the touchscreen. The cruise control buttons have been moved to a stalk on the multifunction steering wheel. There's also new upholstery and new slimmer headrests. Some models also get a new high centre console with a wide retracting armrest housing over one litre of storage and two USB charging sockets for the rear passengers.

Practicality

Dimensions have not changed but the Dacia Duster's boxy shape still makes it great value for the money. Duster will seat five, with the rear footwells offering more space than many more salubrious rivals in the B-SUV segment. The high roofline gives loads of headroom, adding to that feeling of space. The boot is also a good size with up to 478 litres available in two wheel drive models, and 467 in four wheel drive Dusters. Isofix child-seat mounting points are fitted to the outer rear seats.

The interior of the 2021 Dacia Duster
The interior of the 2021 Dacia Duster

Engines

The new Duster is available in Ireland with petrol, diesel and bi-fuel (petrol-LPG) engines. The range kicks off with the 1.0-litre TCe 100 hp bi-fuel engine, which Dacia Ireland pitches as a petrol car - but with the benefits of having an LPG tank. LPG (liquid petroleum gas) is sold cheaper at the pump than petrol from some fuel stations around Ireland. The capacity of the LPG tank on the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel Duster has been increased by 50 per cent, to nearly 50 litres in this latest version. Combined with the petrol tank, the range of the car is 1,225 km! This entry model is two wheel drive only and uses a six-speed manual gearbox. The LPG tank is fitted beneath the floor of the boot, in place of the spare wheel.

There's also the 1.5-litre dCi 115 hp diesel available in either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, combined with a six-speed manual gearbox.

With a bit more power, Duster is offered with a 1.3-litre TCe 150 hp petrol, which is two wheel drive only and combined with a six-speed dual clutch automatic EDC gearbox.

The 2021 Dacia Duster in Arizona Orange
The 2021 Dacia Duster in Arizona Orange

Driving it

On the road the Duster is pleasant and confident. It ticks the boxes for the segment - the seating position is high, the ride is comfortable, the steering is light. Duster's all-electric power steering has been recalibrated on medium and high speed driving so from 70 km/h, the steering becomes slightly harder. Still it's not the sharpest performer with lean in corners and rather loose steering but it never really wanted to be, nor does it have to be. All the engines we tested offered plenty of power and adequate performance, with even the entry level bi-fuel option offering a smooth and cohesive drive matched to a 6-speed manual gearbox, defying its somewhat lacklustre performance figures. The automatic also does well with its 150 hp offering a more powerful, confident drive.

We also tested diesel 4x4 models on a special off-road course where the Duster showed off its very impressive ability to traverse difficult terrain. The 4x4 Monitor as standard on these models has a number of 'toys' for extra security while off-road in difficult terrain; lateral inclinometer that shows the angle between the left and right-hand sides of the vehicle; pitch angle, keeping the driver informed during steep descents and climbs; compass and altimeter - a must for any Duster adventures!

The latest Duster features a new type of tyre, no matter which version a customer opts for. The two-wheel drive version is fitted with ‘green’ CO2-optimised tyres as standard, said to give a 10 per cent reduction in rolling resistance. On the 4x4 version, the tyres meet the official 3PMSFA (three-peak mountain snowflake) required performance criteria in snow testing to be considered severe snow service-rated so winter tyres are no longer necessary - not that they are ever really necessary in Ireland!

The Duster is available with petrol, diesel and bi-fuel (petrol/LPG) engines
The Duster is available with petrol, diesel and bi-fuel (petrol/LPG) engines

Equipment

The latest Duster is offered in three trims in Ireland from launch - Essential, Comfort and Prestige.

The Duster Essential has steel wheels, automatic headlights, and black roof bars, while inside there’s a height and reach-adjustable steering column, cruise control with speed limiter, seven-function on-board computer, DAB Radio and manual air conditioning.

Available from €22,090, Comfort adds 16-inch alloy wheels, black-painted heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, body-coloured door handles, front fog lights, and hill descent control. The interior, meanwhile, gains upgraded upholstery, height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, leather steering wheel, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors with rear camera, and an 8-inch Media Display infotainment system complete with Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay®.

At the top of the range, from €23,990, the Prestige adds 17-inch alloy wheels, Grey Quartz door mirrors and roof bars, dark-tinted rear windows, and an acoustic windshield. Inside there's automatic air conditioning, keyless entry, Multiview camera, front parking sensors, blind spot warning system, heated seats, and an 8-inch Media Nav on-board navigation system with wireless smartphone connectivity for Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay®.

The new Duster Extreme limited edition will be available in six different body colours: Glacier White, Pearl Black, Comet Grey, Iron Blue, Arizona Orange, and the exclusive Urban Grey. Orange inserts feature both outside (front grille, side-mirror housing, roof rails, and tailboard) and inside (air-vents, door panels, and centre console). There's also special fabric/TEP upholstery with orange stitching and exclusive black aluminium rims.

Boot space in the Dacia Duster
Boot space in the Dacia Duster

Pricing

Essential models go on sale from €19,990, Comfort from €22,090, and Prestige from €23,990 - all prices quoted for the entry level bi-fuel engine with 100 hp. Four wheel drive versions are available from €28,290 and automatics are available from €27,490. Motor tax ranges from €200 to €270 depending on model.

Summary

Following on from the launch of the Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway earlier in the year, now it's the turn of Dacia's star Duster. This is a series of timely enhancements to see Duster into 2022 and beyond.

The Dacia Duster has capably carved out its own niche in the small SUV segment - in fact there's a certain aura of desirability around those boxy looks that is seeing the brand invest further in the off-road image with the new Extreme version due also in 2022 and the offer of genuinely purposeful four wheel drive models.

Inside the Duster gets a much needed boost in the shape of the brand's latest infotainment system that surely lifts what is a sombre but durable cabin. Dacia Ireland is happy to be able to offer a petrol automatic in the range once again, while the Duster Bi-Fuel offers buyers an entry level petrol with the benefit of an LPG tank - if you can top up with LPG locally this is surely a route to more efficient motoring, which should go down very well with savvy Dacia owners!

Still charming, we shouldn't like it so much, but we do. The updated Dacia Duster is on sale in Ireland now.

The Duster 4x4 off-road showing all the other SUVs how it's done!
The Duster 4x4 off-road showing all the other SUVs how it's done!

Caroline Kidd