The new Opel Crossland on test for Changing Lanes!

Opel Crossland (2021) Review

The new Opel Crossland on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Opel Crossland on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Opel Crossland!

Someone got a new face! The Opel Crossland returns to Ireland to start a new life in the blossoming Opel range of crossovers and SUVs. A snazzy facelift for the Crossland in the shape of Opel’s new ‘Vizor’ face gives Crossland a more contemporary look, with no compromise to its spacious and practical cabin.

On sale from €22,795, the Crossland range speaks simplicity with a choice of petrol and diesel engines. It sits alongside the new Opel Mokka in Opel’s range, but offers a different vibe with more focus on practicality and some good value pricing in a simple range with three trim levels – SC, SRI and Elite.

What's new for the 2021 Opel Crossland?

You may recall the Opel Crossland X debuted in Ireland back in 2017. Now it’s dropped the ‘X’ from its name and the latest version arrives in Ireland at a time of rejuvenation in the Opel house. The new Opel Mokka, which we reviewed earlier this year for Changing Lanes, is the true style-setter and renaissance car for the brand. But the Crossland will carry the baton for a more traditional customer who values simplicity, practicality and ‘bang for your buck’.

The new Crossland goes on sale priced from €22,795 in Ireland
The new Crossland goes on sale priced from €22,795 in Ireland

The Crossland range kicks off with a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 83 bhp and a five speed manual gearbox. There is also a 1.5-litre diesel with 110 bhp and a petrol automatic with 130 bhp.

The Vizor face is striking and will only grow in recognition as this new generation of Opels hit the road over the coming months. There are some rugged crossover-style features like a silver skid plate and cladding around the wheel arches. The new Crossland also promises extra comfort, technology equipment and features an improved chassis.

What's it like inside?

The cabin is straightforward but features a touchscreen as standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. There is an elevated driving position behind the wheel, with large windows and windscreen making it bright and welcoming. A high roof line gives a real feeling of space and buyers will find a generous passenger compartment considering the price point of this car. The rear footwells are a good size for a compact. The boot also offers depth and a handy hatchback-style opening with capacity of 410 litres.

Standard equipment includes hill start assist, cruise control with speed limiter, lane departure warning, enhanced traffic sign recognition, 6 airbags, leather steering wheel, manual air conditioning, rain sensing windscreen, automatic lights, 7” touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, DAB radio, USB connectivity and 12-volt socket.

Inside the new Opel Crossland
Inside the new Opel Crossland

The SRi model has park assist front and rear, rear view camera, AGR driver’s seat, 8-way driver seat adjustment with driver seat cushion extension and lumbar support, ambient white LED cabin lighting, driver’s armrest, half-leather effect upholstery trim, a painted two-tone roof, tinted rear privacy windows, silver skid plates, 16” alloy wheels and LED front fog lamps.

The range-topping Elite trim includes leather upholstery, AGR driver’s seat and passenger seat, 8-way passenger seat adjustment with seat cushion extension and lumbar support, heated front seats, heated leather steering wheel, electronic dual zone climate control, an upgraded central console with lidded storage, sliding split folding rear seats with armrest, a 3.52 colour driver instrument display, a rear 12-volt socket and 16” alloy wheel upgrade.

Driving the Opel Crossland

My test car was powered by the 1.2-litre petrol engine with 83 bhp. It’s a basic engine but it does return competitive economy for a small petrol crossover. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.1 litres per 100 km, while motor tax for this model is €210 per year.

It gets by on performance, with 0 to 100 km/h a leisurely 14 seconds in this entry level petrol model.

This car can amble along fine but if you do more motorway driving, the diesel will keep the revs down at cruising speeds. Certainly, keener drivers will favour the sharper and more fun to drive Opel Mokka.

The new Crossland offers buyers a simple and practical compact crossover
The new Crossland offers buyers a simple and practical compact crossover

Did you like it?

The Opel Crossland gets a little more than we usually expect when it comes to a revamp. The new Vizor face gives the car a more contemporary presence, but with no compromise to that practical interior.

The Crossland offers a simple range powered by petrol or diesel, but there is certainly value to be found here. With a good level of standard equipment, even entry models offer the essentials.

With a focus on space and practicality, the Crossland’s roots are more mini-MPV than SUV. This means the car’s design offers buyers a more spacious and practical vehicle.

It may not have the outright star appeal and uber-modern design of the Mokka, but Opel is confident that there is still a place for the Crossland in the showroom.

The new Opel Crossland on sale in Ireland now
The new Opel Crossland on sale in Ireland now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Opel Crossland 1.2 Elite 
Price: 
€25,795
Engine: 
1.2-litre petrol
Power: 
83 hp
Torque: 
118 Nm
0-100km/h: 
14 seconds
Top speed: 
170 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.6-4.7 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
135 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€210 per year

 


The Dacia Duster on test for Changing Lanes!

Dacia Duster (2021) Review

The Dacia Duster on test for Changing Lanes!
The Dacia Duster on test for Changing Lanes!

Say hello to the 2021 Dacia Duster!

The Dacia Duster is maturing. Launched in Ireland back in 2012, it quickly gained notoriety as a ‘no nonsense’ budget SUV. Some canny pricing and a tough off-road look did the Duster a lot of favours. Just as the market was becoming saturated with B-segment crossovers, the Duster’s angles and honest charm wriggled its way into the hearts of more than a few Irish buyers.

That’s right, over 10,000 Dusters have found a home in Ireland. Now in its second generation, the latest Dacia Duster has the exterior sheen of the trendy suburban compact SUV to it, magnified by a glossy metallic finish! It’s come a long way. With the last significant update to the car in 2018, the Duster looks like it's ready for the Dakar Rally. Larger than life roof rails, plastic cladding and squared off wheel arches make the Duster just so…tough!

In fact, I’d missed the honest charm of the Duster. Slipping in behind the wheel, and it’s fair to say that the Duster is not trying to seduce you with sophistication. The cabin is a hard-plastic affair with some more dated switchgear than the most style conscious of the small SUVs. Superficially, you might dismiss the Duster for its lack of glossy surfaces, glittering technology, and digital interfaces. But there is a lot of substance to this car. This is why you will find a small army of Dusters already holding their own on Irish roads.

Pricing for the Duster starts from €18,795 in Ireland
Pricing for the Duster starts from €19,365 in Ireland

What are my options?

With pricing starting from €19,365, the Duster offers a compact SUV stance for supermini money. Standard equipment is basic but the Essential model includes LED daytime running lights, Emergency Brake Assist, 16-inch steel wheels and DAB radio with steering-column mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity.

You will find a more comfortable home in Comfort trim (from €21,365) - still 'shockingly affordable' - including cruise control, 16" alloy wheels, soft feel steering wheel, trip computer, satin chrome roof bars and skid plate, manual air con, electric rear windows, rear parking camera and sensors, and the MediaNav 7″ touchscreen multimedia system.

Top of the range Prestige models like the one on test for Changing Lanes start from €23,665. Word has it that Dacia buyers do tend to go for the higher trim levels in this car for maximum goodies. The Duster Prestige looks the business, adding 17-inch alloy wheels, multi-view camera, blind spot warning, climate control and keyless entry.

Front wheel drive and four wheel drive models are available. Power comes from the trusty 1.5-litre dCi diesel or a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine.

The interior of the 2018 Dacia Duster
The interior of the latest Dacia Duster

Inside the latest Duster

The Dacia Duster has a plain cabin with little of the glitter or glamour we have come to expect from a small SUV. That wouldn’t sit well with the Duster’s image now would it? It appears solidly built and practical. There’s a multimedia touchscreen display in the centre of the dash but the graphics do look quite dated. Yet with Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, it’s not likely to matter too much.

Where the Duster really shines is when you consider the space available inside the vehicle at this sticker price. Duster will seat five, with the rear footwells offering more space than many rivals. The high roofline gives loads of headroom, adding to that feeling of space. The boot is also a good size at 445 litres. The Duster's boxy goodness reaps dividends. Isofix child-seat mounting points are fitted to the outer rear seats.

The Duster holds a 3-star Euro NCAP safety rating with some safety equipment like lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking still absent.

The Duster is available with petrol or diesel engines
The Duster is available with petrol or diesel engines

Driving the Dacia Duster

The driver enjoys a high seating position behind the wheel giving the feel of an authentic off-roader. Steering is light making the car easy to park and drive around town. The Duster handles the road safely though it’s not the sharpest driver of them all in its class, with more body roll than some more low slung competitors. Yet it's comfortable where it matters over long distances and copes with rougher surfaces on rural roads and in town reasonably well.

The diesel engine in our test car is a 1.5-litre affair with 115 hp. It gives a nice bit of pulling power without getting too raucous under acceleration. It returns good economy with my average fuel consumption coming in at 5.4 litres per 100 km over a week of driving. Motor tax is €200 per year for this model. There’s also a 1.0-litre petrol available with 100 or 130 hp.

The Duster is missing some polish but at this side of the market and at this price, it's clearly not a deal breaker.

The Duster offers great space for the money in the small SUV market
The Duster offers great space for the money in the small SUV market

Did you like it?

The Dacia Duster is the darling of the Dacia range. The Duster offers excellent value but also happens to be quite the charismatic car. The modern, squared off look gives Duster a leg up in the crowded SUV market.

Inside the Duster provides the convenience features one would expect of a compact SUV - if you avoid the very entry model - but without the gloss or sophistication of the best of the rivals. But everything works and it’s comfortable and fun to drive in a basic and authentic way.

On the road the Duster makes good progress backed up by strong engines.

No disparaging remarks are needed. The Dacia Duster is a rough diamond, but a good one.

The Dacia Duster makes a great, affordable small family car
The Dacia Duster makes a great, affordable small family car

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Dacia Duster dCi 115 Prestige
Price: 
€23,665
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115 hp
Torque: 
260 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 
179 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.9-5.5 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
111 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


The new Hyundai Tuscon on test for Changing Lanes!

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid (2021) Review

The new Hyundai Tuscon on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Hyundai Tucson on test for Changing Lanes!

The Hyundai Tucson has undoubtedly been a huge success for the Korean brand. Since it launched back in 2004, more than 7 million units have been sold worldwide, with the Tucson becoming something of an Irish sweetheart too. This car really hit its stride in 2015 with the launch of the third generation model. Almost immediately it took a stranglehold of the Irish new car market, closing in on established bestsellers and retaining the title of Ireland's bestselling car for much of the last few years.

Late in 2020, an all-new generation of the Hyundai Tucson arrived. Similar patterns are emerging with this car already securing the position of Ireland’s bestselling car so far in 2021.

What's new for the 2021 Hyundai Tucson?

It’s out with the old and in with the new. The previous generation of the Tucson has great notoriety on Irish roads, but the 2021 model will lift things up a gear with Hyundai taking it to the next level with bold design and electrified powertrains for the first time.

Convention has gone out the back window with more angles, curves and dramatic light signatures that give the fourth generation Hyundai Tucson the taste of the avant-garde for the first time. Yes competition is fierce in the family SUV segment and the new Tuscon does not want to be vanilla.

With pricing starting from €33,595, the Hyundai Tuscon is moving up a gear yet presence, design, technology and quality speak volumes about this car.

Sportier and more dynamic proportions have been made possible by the new platform. On approach the car is characterised by a striking light architecture dubbed 'Parametric Hidden Lights’ that means the lights blend into the grille to give a jewel-like effect.

The new Tucson is available from €33,595 in Ireland
The new Tucson is available from €33,595 in Ireland

Inside the new Hyundai Tucson

New Tucson marks a significant change in design direction for Hyundai and the theme continues inside. The brand has done a wonderful job transforming the cabin and the Tuscon now reflects a more premium experience inside. It’s a combination of lots of soft touch materials, glossy digital screens for the infotainment and digital instrument panel, ambient lighting, and neat design touches like a rather avant-garde steering wheel!

Smartphones connect seamlessly to the infotainment system via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The new 10.25-inch screen fills the centre of the vehicle. This is the first Hyundai model to feature a full touchscreen console with everything controlled from it but it is intuitive to use.

There are three trim levels, Comfort Plus, Executive and Executive Plus. Standard equipment includes 17″ alloys, heated front seats with electric lumbar support for the driver, automatic lights, high beam assist, reverse parking camera, 8″ touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and safety equipment including lane keep assist, driver attention alert and forward collision alert.

The interior of the new Hyundai Tucson
The interior of the new Hyundai Tucson

Is it practical?

The 2021 Hyundai Tucson is longer and wider than the car it replaces, and the wheelbase has also been increased by 10 mm so passengers can enjoy more space inside the vehicle. Boot space has been increased, offering up to 620 litres overall.

The new interior feels open and roomy. There is 26 mm of additional legroom in the rear. The rear seats of the all-new Tucson can now be folded in a 4:2:4 ratio with folding levers located on the side walls of the boot for extra convenience. This is a versatile family SUV, comfortable to travel in with competitive space on board for this class of vehicle.

The clever packaging of the battery for the hybrid means that there is no difference in interior space between diesel and hybrid models.

Boot space in the new Tucson
Boot space in the new Tucson

What's on offer?

On that note, the new Tucson completes the electrification of Hyundai’s SUV fleet in Europe, with mild hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid available as well as a trusty diesel/diesel mild hybrid.

The diesel Tucson range uses a 1.6-litre engine and is available from €33,595 rising to €46,745 for a fully loaded four wheel drive model. Diesels cost between €210 and €280 to tax in Ireland.

The new Tucson petrol hybrid is available from €37,195 rising to €48,745. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, electric motor, and 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery to reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and motor tax ranges from €200 to €210 per year in Ireland for this model.

A plug-in hybrid will join the new Tucson range in 2021, with 265 hp and the ability to drive for short ranges on electric power only.

Driving the new Hyundai Tucson

The 2021 Hyundai Tucson has been developed and tested in Europe. The conventional dampers on the suspension use a new valve technology that offers more tuning flexibility. A MacPherson strut on the front and multi-link suspension on the rear are designed to ensure good levels of comfort and handling. The Tucson’s steering features a new generation Belt Drive steering gear for more smooth and connected steering.

The hybrid version I was testing uses a new 1.6-litre T-GDI turbo petrol engine, 44.2 kW electric motor and a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission (6AT). The system is the most powerful in the 2021 Hyundai Tucson powertrain line-up, with a combined output of 230 hp.

The new Tucson offers buyers more powertrain options than ever before
The new Tucson offers buyers more powertrain options than ever before

On the road, we can say that the new Tucson feels more premium than ever before. The cabin ambience is hugely rewarding, with a more comfortable and stable drive across motorway, town and rural roads. It’s comfortable for long distance motoring, while the Tucson's hybrid transmission is seamless at work in the background.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.7 litres per 100 km. There is plenty of power and smoothness from the accelerator, with an amazing 230 hp available. The Tucson Hybrid is quiet around town and we think the fuel economy is respectable. But for high mileage motorway users, the diesel will still return the best economy.

Did you like it?

The Hyundai Tuscon has enjoyed an impressive drive to notoriety in Ireland and Europe. This new generation looks set to make this car an even more compelling choice than ever before. This SUV icon has been suitably modernised to help it lead in its segment and command its price.

The outside of the car is smart and stylish, making a statement like never before. The interior of the car is a revelation, bringing a new premium style to the Tucson and a much anticipated digital upgrade.

This now feels like a design-led car. The ambition of Hyundai is palpable but it’s backed up by real choice in the powertrain department – with mild hybrid, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and diesel offering buyers amazing choice in the segment. This hybrid gives the Tucson some great credentials as an alternative to diesel.

The Tucson sells itself with a reputation that precedes. But now it really delivers. Tucson can enjoy the time at the top; it won’t be going anywhere else anytime soon.

Tucson is now more premium than ever before!
Tucson is now more premium than ever before!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Tucson Executive Plus HEV
Price: €42,195
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 230 hp
Torque: 265 Nm
0-100km/h:  8 seconds
Top speed: 193 k/h
Economy (WLTP): 5.7 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 130 g/km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year

 


The MG ZS on test for Changing Lanes!

MG ZS EV (2021) Review

The MG ZS on test for Changing Lanes!
The MG ZS EV on test for Changing Lanes!

It’s not every day a new car brand enters the Irish market! But last November, MG announced they were making a return to Ireland. This time with a range of pure electric and hybrid vehicles.

Now under the stewardship of the Frank Keane Group, the brand has already appointed a 6-strong MG dealer network with retailers around the country in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

MG was originally a British brand with numerous MG cars marketed in Ireland over the years. But now the parent company is SAIC Motor (Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation). SAIC is the 7th largest car manufacturer in the world and was the first automobile group in China with annual sales of more than 7 million units.

So it's a completely fresh start for MG Motor Ireland with some very on-trend new models that combine SUV-style with new electrified powertrains.

The MG ZS is the brand's first all-electric SUV to market here in 2021
The MG ZS is the brand's first all-electric SUV to market here in 2021

What’s so special about the MG ZS?

At Changing Lanes, we are meeting the MG ZS EV for the first time, which looks to be one of the brand’s most important new launches here. The all-electric compact SUV retails from a headline grabbing €28,995 including Government grants and VRT relief.

Powered by a 44.5 kWh battery, giving a range of 263 km (WLTP), the ZS makes a strong statement about the affordability of electric cars that are also capable of realistically supporting the needs of a family.

The MG ZS is launched on the market as a compact SUV, and people love these at the moment, right? MG looks to be finding its niche with design but as a new brand, it may not be immediately recognisable on the road. At the front there is a large MG badge to dominate the front grille, flanked by headlights with LED daytime running lights.

It sits well among the other SUVs, and with that sort of pricing it should gradually become a more familiar presence on Irish roads. MG is the fastest growing car brand in the UK and growing across Europe with sales in a number of markets.

Inside the new MG ZS EV
The interior of the new MG ZS EV

Inside the new MG ZS

With the new MG ZS, we are encountering a new brand for the first time at Changing Lanes so first impressions will account for a lot as we get to know the MG way of doing things. The interior of the ZS makes a good impression. The perceived quality is good with a mixture of cabin materials and soft touch surfaces, finished with detail stitching. In fact, it’s all a bit sporty inside here! Exclusive versions have leather-style upholstery.

MG has gone with more traditional analogue dials for the driver but there’s a familiar touchscreen to the driver’s left that keeps things modern. It can be on the slow side to respond to touch presses, but Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility mean you are unlikely to be frustrated too much.

The feeling of space inside the MG is excellent for a B-segment SUV. There is lots of headroom and large windows, which makes it bright and spacious feeling. The rear will seat three, though most comfortable for two and the rear footwells are a decent size for this class of vehicle. The feeling of space makes it simply family friendly, and there are plenty of storage places in the cabin also. Buyers will also find a good boot of 448 litres. The split folding rear seats enable you to expand this to 1,116 litres. Charging cables can be stored neatly under the boot floor leaving the boot clear of any apparel for charging so you can get on with your life!

The new MG ZS electric retails from €28,995 in Ireland
The new MG ZS electric retails from €28,995 in Ireland

Standard equipment (Excite trim) includes air conditioning, keyless entry with push button start, adaptive cruise control,  electric windows, 8" colour touchscreen, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, traffic jam assist, high beam assist, rear parking sensors and 17" alloy wheels.

The Exclusive model (from €31,995) adds equipment such as rear parking camera, silver roof rails, panoramic opening glass roof, rain sensing wipers, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert, electrically adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, and leather style upholstery.

Powering the MG ZS EV

The MG ZS EV is powered by a strong 143 hp (105 kW) electric motor and combined with the 44.5 kWh lithium-ion-battery gives a WLTP range of 263 km. Maximum torque is 353 Nm, so the MG feels nifty once you hit the accelerator, with 0-100 km/h in 8.1 seconds.

Real life driving range is very realistic with over 200 km possible and my Dublin-Wexford drive done with range to spare. Charging is super easy using the fast charge network for example to pick up 80% charge in 40 minutes using the CCS charge port that lives behind a panel in the front grille. Charging at home takes about 6.5 hours using a 7kW wallbox charger.

Charge the MG ZS EV at home or on the public charging network
Charge the MG ZS EV at home or on the public charging network

On the road, the MG ZS EV makes good progress moving effortlessly from town to motorway. There are no large drops in range out on the motorway and losses in range are accurately reported to the driver. Regenerative, 3-level braking is also included and the automatic transmission can be set to Eco, Normal or Sport mode.

Steering and controls are light, while the automatic transmission makes it simple to drive too. It’s easy to drive around town and compact enough to be simple to park. It's not quite as cohesive a drive as some rival electric crossovers like the Peugeot e-2008 and the Opel Mokka-e, but the higher SUV stance of the MG goes some way to explain this more languid feeling behind the wheel.

Did you like it?

The MG ZS follows the rules of a classic B-segment compact SUV – raised ride height, chunky styling, big windows and some attitude. But with a twist. The fully electric powertrain and very nice range of over 200 km is likely to get the attention of many buyers.

So is the starting price. On closer inspection, the MG ZS EV can do a fine job of carrying people and their things in comfort. Perceived quality is also good, though it's not the most sophisticated drive or cabin in this segment.

The MG brand makes an electrified return to the Irish market. We expect the brand will hit its stride quickly with its range of new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The MG ZS could quickly become the star of the range with its delicate entry into the electric SUV market and attention grabbing starting price.

A great start for MG in Ireland once again!

The MG ZS EV gets the MG brand off to a great start in Ireland
The 2021 MG ZS EV gets the MG brand off to a great start in Ireland

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MG ZS EV Exclusive
Price: 
€31,995
Battery: 44.5 kWh
Power: 
143 hp
Torque: 353 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 140 km/h
Range (WLTP): 263 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
Motor Tax:  €120 per year


The new Opel Mokka-e on test for Changing Lanes

Opel Mokka-e (2021) Review

The new Opel Mokka-e on test for Changing Lanes
The new Opel Mokka-e on test for Changing Lanes

The Opel Mokka-e is Opel's new all-electric crossover. It will go on sale in Ireland in April, with petrol and diesel versions also available. Caroline tested the 2021 Opel Mokka-e around Dublin and Wicklow to find out more about this exciting new model for the Opel brand in Ireland! Opel has marketed the Opel Mokka in Ireland since 2012 and at Changing Lanes, we've been lucky to follow the Mokka's journey since the beginning. Enjoy the latest of our Opel Mokka reviews below with the 2021 Opel Mokka-e, on Irish roads for the first time!

Styling

The Opel Mokka has radical new styling that is a new direction for the German brand. The car has a lighter, sportier and slimmer appearance; in fact it's now more of a crossover than an SUV, with a hatchback-style. But there's been a heavy addition of attitude: plastic cladding around the wheel arches, angular blacked out grille, two tone roof and optional black bonnet. The Mokka was lacking distinction in the popular B-SUV segment. Not any more!

Interior

The theme of renewal continues inside with an all-new interior for the 2021 Opel Mokka. It will be recognisable as an Opel to any previous Mokka owners who sit in, but it's had a detox in line with a bright new future. A full digital instrument panel keeps the driver updated with relevant information like speed and battery range. There is also a new touchscreen angled towards the driver, compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The interior is well-built with our test car sporting some stylish grey panelling and fabric inserts on the doors. Everything works and functions correctly with spot on material quality - we would just love to see a little more character inside the car in line with that exterior fizz.

The interior of the new Opel Mokka-e
The interior of the new Opel Mokka-e

Practicality

The Opel Mokka is a five seat crossover that has been built upon a bespoke multi-energy platform that can accommodate petrol, diesel or electric powertrain. This is important because it means there is no compromise to passenger space and boot volume inside the car, regardless which model you go for. The Mokka-e is a compact vehicle, but as an average sized female adult, I felt comfortable in the back. Taller passengers may feel more squeezed for legroom and headroom. The new Mokka is a little bit wider than the car it replaces so there's plenty of elbow room upfront. Rear seats split fold and there is also a false floor in the boot for added practicality. The volume is 350 litres - not huge but practical enough for day to day needs.

Battery, Range & Performance

The new Opel Mokka-e uses a 50 kWh battery with a system output of 136 hp. There are a number of driving modes to alter performance and efficiency - Sport, Normal and Eco. The WLTP range is 324 km but bear in mind how many kilometres you can get from the car will depend upon things like the ambient temperature, driving style and the speed. Opel offers an eight-year/160,000km warranty for the battery.

Charging

If stopping to use the public charging points, the Mokka-e's battery can be fully charged to 80% in about 25 minutes with a 100 kW charger or 80 minutes with a 50 kW charger. Charging at home is most efficient using a wallbox, which can charge the car in about 7 hours using the 7 kW onboard charger. Or try 22 hours with a three point plug!

The new Opel Mokka-e has an estimated range of 324 km on electric power
The new Opel Mokka-e has an estimated range of 324 km on electric power

Other engines

The new Mokka is also available with petrol and diesel engines. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is available with 110 hp or 130 hp, while the 1.5-litre diesel is available with 110 hp. 6-speed manual and 8-speed automatic gearboxes are available. Of the combustion engines, the diesel is the best for economy with fuel consumption of 4.5l/100km and CO2 emissions of 118g/km.

Driving it

The Opel Mokka is the second model in the Opel range to use the CMP platform from parent company PSA, after the launch of the all-new Corsa in 2020. It's lighter by up to 120 kg on some of the models in the range, while rigidity is up by 15%. It's clear to see that the new Mokka is a far more efficient design, more aerodynamic with a lower centre of gravity. Opel engineers have worked hard to reduce squeaks and rattles and improve the acoustic quality, with an acoustic pack fitted as standard to further reduce road noise. Being German it's Autobhan proof too! This translates on the road to a steady secure feeling from the steering that keeps the car in lane easily. Compared to the previous Mokka, this car is a revelation thanks to its new platform and 'weight loss'. It feels fun and agile on the road, while the Mokka-e goes about its business silently, with smooth responses from the controls.

Equipment

According to Opel Ireland, standard equipment will include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED lamps at the front and rear, an electric parking brake and traffic sign recognition. More information on trim levels and equipment will be announced closer to the launch. Dependant on trim, other available features will include six-way ergonomic seats, heated leather seats, massage function, a 180-degree panorama rear-view camera, navigation, Advanced Cruise Control, Active Lane Positioning, wireless smartphone charging, and glare-free, IntelliLux LED® matrix lights, unique to the segment.

100 kW high speed charging is possible with the new Mokka-e
100 kW rapid charging is possible with the new Mokka-e

Pricing

Official pricing has not been released yet but indicated pricing is from €23,500 for the 1.2-litre petrol (110 hp) manual, and from €33,000 (including VRT relief and SEAI grant) for the Mokka-e all-electric version, which will be sold exclusively in the high spec SRi trim.

Rivals

The new Opel Mokka and Opel Mokka-e will take on some established competition like the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008/e-2008, Nissan Juke, and Hyundai Kona/ Kona Electric.

 

 

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Summary

The new Opel Mokka and Opel Mokka-e will be an exciting new addition to the Opel range, in the popular B-SUV segment. The Mokka will build on the success of the Opel Corsa in 2020, but this could arguably be Opel's year to go stellar.

The Mokka is now a car transformed with character and presence that will command attention on the road. The new interior is smart and well-appointed, with the addition of a new digital instrument cluster and touchscreen giving an on-trend, widescreen effect.

Opel is leading the renewal of their brand in Ireland with a clever multi-energy platform that sees buyers presented with more choice than ever before - petrol, diesel or electric. We expect the Mokka-e to be one to watch, combining the striking looks with an exciting new EV powertrain and range of up to 324 km.

Welcome back Mokka!

The new Mokka will put Opel on the map again
The new Mokka will put Opel on the map again

Caroline Kidd


The latest Suzuki Vitara on test for Changing Lanes!

Suzuki Vitara (2021) Hybrid Review

The latest Suzuki Vitara on test for Changing Lanes!
The latest Suzuki Vitara on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Suzuki Vitara!

The Vitara is an icon of the Suzuki range that has managed to stay relevant throughout its 33 year career in the automotive industry. That means that over the years it's been repositioned and softened to appeal to the compact SUV market that has emerged. Now the Vitara evolves again with the addition of some mild hybrid technology to the mix.

To backtrack a little, Suzuki has been dabbling in 12 volt mild hybrid technology for some years now before it was even fashionable to lend a little electrical support to reduce emissions and eke out better fuel consumption. In fact at Changing Lanes we've always been impressed with the real world economy of Suzuki vehicles like the latest Swift, Ignis and S-Cross. No fibbing from Suzuki. The cars always deliver what matters.

What's new for the 2021 Suzuki Vitara?

Now the Japanese brand is excited to tell us about the 48 volt mild hybrid technology that now feature across the Vitara and S-Cross ranges. Well frankly everyone is excited about hybrid these days.

The Vitara has stayed relevant since it was first launched back in 1988
The Vitara has stayed relevant since it was first launched back in 1988

In Ireland the Vitara now comes exclusively with a new 'K14D' Boosterjet petrol engine with 1.4-litre capacity and 48 volt mild hybrid technology, which replaces the old 1.4-litre Boosterjet derivative. The new hybrid powertrain is said to offer up to 20% lower CO2 emissions, a greater level of torque and 15% overall improvement in WLTP combined fuel consumption.

The new system is similar in basic principle to the 12V Hybrid SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) system that Suzuki debuted in 2016 on the Swift. The newly developed 48V hybrid powertrain remains very lightweight in design and the components add less than 15k g to the overall weight of the vehicle. Could it be magic? You will have to read on to find out!

What's on offer?

The Vitara itself had a minor facelift back in the beginning of 2019. It remains the most popular Suzuki on sale in Ireland. With pricing starting from €23,230, it is also competitively priced to compete in its segment. The range kicks off with the SZ4, followed by the SZ-T from €25,750, and the SZ5 from €27,760.

The interior of the 2021 Suzuki Vitara Hybrid
The interior of the 2021 Suzuki Vitara Hybrid

Standard equipment on the new Vitara for 2021 includes automatic climate control, 16" alloys, and LED headlamps. There is also a standard safety equipment including Dual Sensor Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Cruise Control.

In our eyes, the SZ-T remains a sweet spot of the range with touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, rear parking camera and 17" alloys.

All models are front wheel drive as standard though 4x4 is available from €29,745.

Inside the Suzuki Vitara

In the last revamp, Suzuki gave the Vitara's cabin a little upgrade in quality, with the upper instrument panel now finished in a soft touch material. The interior is basic but cheerful enough, just like the rest of the car. There is a plucky spirit to the Vitara that remains after all these years. Buyers will love the authentic small SUV feeling from behind the wheel thanks to a genuinely elevated driving position. And of course it looks different from the outside too, with a boxy charm that hasn't really changed much. It's definitely a tad dated, but Vitara's loyal customers don't seem to care.

Interior space also remains good for this class of vehicle. It may be compact but it's not cramped, like some rivals. There is decent enough legroom in the back, and it feels roomy up front. The boot is 375 litres and well capable of most tasks, with split folding rear seats.

New Vitara Hybrid range on sale from €23,230 in Ireland
New Vitara Hybrid range on sale from €23,230 in Ireland

Driving the Vitara Hybrid

The 1.0-litre turbo petrol is now gone from the Vitara line-up in Ireland, leaving the more powerful new 1.4-litre with 129 bhp, paired to a 6-speed manual gearbox. It's a lively companion for the Vitara, feeling nippy and capable whether in town or on the motorway. The added electrical assistance adds smoothness to take off and low speed manouvres.

And what about that fuel consumption? Over a few days driving the Vitara Hybrid, my average fuel consumption was 6.6 litres per 100 km.  I found this a little disappointing considering the high billing of the mild hybrid technology, but otherwise I would probably say it was acceptable for a petrol powered compact crossover.

On the road, once again the Vitara proves to be more fun than you might expect from the little Japanese compact. Steering is light making it agile around town, but out on the open road it is entertaining to drive. I took it the long way home through the Wicklow Mountains and I was suitably impressed with the smiles per mile!

It's no hot hatch or even hot SUV, but it brings some rudimentary joy. Well up for a jaunt down a twisty road. Not that Vitara owners are interested in such frivolous fun(!). Are maybe they are? You tell me. But it's nice to know it can. Again Vitara punches above its weight in this department. Always full of surprises. There are a few refinement issues, like road noise at high speeds, but it's comfortable for the most part.

Suzuki adds mild hybrid technology to the Vitara
Suzuki adds mild hybrid technology to the Vitaranology to the Vitara

Did you like it?

Do we like the Suzuki Vitara? Yes we do! It's an honest little compact SUV with big attitude. It performs well on practicality, offering better space inside than many rivals. It's not the most luxurious inside, but it's not trying to be either. Pricing remains competitive for the segment with a decent level of standard equipment.

Suzuki continually impresses us with its engine technology and real world fuel consumption. Again the Vitara gets their most modern mild hybrid technology. Is it a success? Perhaps expectations were too high but we did anticipate a better return on economy than what we got, which seemed about average for a petrol powered compact of this size.

It is roaring fun to drive. You certainly wouldn't think it to look at it, but some rivals are sheer boring beside it.

The Vitara is showing its age though it remains a subtle but solid buy with plenty of fans out there.

There's still lots more to discover in the Suzuki range in 2021, with a newly facelifted Ignis that we will be driving soon, along with a refreshed version of the fabulous Suzuki Swift supermini.

The Vitara is a subtle but solid buy in its class
The Vitara is a subtle but solid buy in its class

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet Hybrid SZ-T
Price:
€25,745
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
129 hp
Torque: 235 Nm
0-100km/h:
9.5 seconds
Top speed: 190 km/h
Fuel economy: 
5.7 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
128g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The new Kia Sorento on test for Changing Lanes!

Kia Sorento (2021) Review

The new Kia Sorento on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Kia Sorento on test for Changing Lanes!

The Kia Sorento has long been a popular model for the brand in Ireland. With demand for 7-seater SUVs, the Sorento always filled the gap perfectly with family-friendly seating all wrapped up in a cool SUV exterior.

In 2020, the brand launched an all-new generation of the Kia Sorento. With the model first appearing in 2002, Sorento is now in its fourth generation. Together with the popular Kia Sportage, it brought the Kia brand to prominence here in Ireland and throughout Europe.

The formula remains much the same - big family SUV with seating for seven. However from whatever angle you look at this Sorento, the jump appears big. Kia is seriously stepping up the game with the new Sorento, which should seriously worry any other brand trying to sell a 7-seat SUV.

What's new for the 2021 Kia Sorento?

Appearances matter. And Kia has done a wonderful job with the new Sorento. Inspired by the uber-big Kia Telluride, an SUV available in other markets like North America, the new Sorento has much stronger and serious design language. There is indeed more than a slice of Americana about the big, blocky grille and squared-off rear, but still the typical flair we expect from the Korean brand in this century. Cue the interesting light detail at the rear, and S O R E N T O spelled out in large letters.

The 2021 Kia Sorento raises the bar for design in the 7-seat SUV segment
The 2021 Kia Sorento raises the bar for design in the 7-seat SUV segment

Kia also is one of the brand's at the forefront of electrification, with no delays on rolling out electrified powertrains, even to their biggest SUV on sale in Europe. You could say they are ahead of the curve and have been for some time. Can you see why other brands might be worried?

For the first time, this behemoth will be available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. In Ireland this model will go on sale from February, priced from €50,000 and exclusively all wheel drive. So what we find in the Changing Lanes garage to review today is the new Kia Sorento diesel, now on sale priced from €51,600.

Another reason why this Sorento impresses so much on a first encounter is the way the interior is kitted out and the technology on board. As I cruised down the M11 after picking the Sorento up in Sandyford, Dublin, I felt like I was driving a Korean Range Rover. I'm not making fun of Kia as only fools would do that with a brand that has become such a powerhouse. And Ireland clearly loves Kia.

The Kia Sorento is available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time in 2021
The Kia Sorento is available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time in 2021

Inside the new Kia Sorento

You sit high in the 2021 Kia Sorento. From your armchair you are met with an all-new dashboard design that is a sign of great things to come. It really does feel like a fresh start for the brand once again. This will be Kia’s most high-tech car ever, thanks to new connectivity features, driver assistance and infotainment technologies including an impressive twin digital screen display.

For Kia's flagship SUV in Ireland, a 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster is twinned with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system at the centre of the dashboard. These display information clearly within the driver’s line of sight, and create a cool wide-screen user experience.

Quality goes up another level again inside the new Sorento; another reason for competitors to worry if they are not 100 per cent on their game, and focusing too much on trying to cut costs.

But what is most impressive is the attention to detail, the way the ambient lighting cuts through the elegant design of the dash and door panels. The glossiness of it all. And the slickness of the new digital instrument panel with its funky fuchsia pink detailing. As I was changing lanes, my speedometer turned into a camera view of my blind spot. How clever.

The interior of the 2021 Kia Sorento
The interior of the 2021 Kia Sorento

More technology on board

That's because the Sorento is equipped with Kia’s new Blind-Spot View Monitor. When you indicate to change lane, the system displays a high-resolution video feed on the left or right side of the TFT-LCD instrument cluster. The video feed comes from discreet wide-angle, high-resolution cameras, hidden in each of the door mirror housings. These provide a wider viewing angle than the door mirrors, giving drivers a clear view of any approaching vehicles.

In Ireland the entry into the range is the K3 model. It is a well-equipped car that comes as standard with 18” alloys, the twin digital screens display with telematics, rear view camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and charge ports on all three rows of seats. Safety features include Bind Spot Detection, Front Collision Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Smart Cruise Control, and Highway Drive Assist.

The K4 model on test adds even more comfort and safety features including a panoramic sunroof, driver and passenger power seats, 12 speaker Bose sound system, rear heated seats, power opening tailgate, the Blind-Spot View Monitor, Around View Monitor and Parking Collision Avoidance.

Generous 7-seat accommodation inside the new Kia Sorento
Generous 7-seat accommodation inside the new Kia Sorento

How practical is it as a 7-seat SUV?

The Sorento is huge inside with seating for seven. It's built on Kia’s new-generation midsize SUV platform, so is larger again with a longer wheelbase to maximise interior and boot space. The platform ensure the Sorento is one of the most versatile and spacious three-row SUVs on the market.

We can believe it. The rear bench will accommodate three easily and rear legroom in row 2 is very generous. The 2021 Kia Sorento is a proper family car with plenty of storage and other convenience features for all three rows of seats.

Access to the third row of seats is also very easy, with the second row seats released forwards with just the touch of a button.

The seats in the very rear will be most suitable for children, but the Sorento does better than a lot of rivals on space. And in five seat mode you get a huge boot, and more than a token boot space in seven seat mode. Cowabunga!

The new Kia Sorento goes on sale in Ireland priced from €51,600
The new Kia Sorento goes on sale in Ireland priced from €51,600 for the diesel, from €50,000 for the hybrid

Driving the 2021 Kia Sorento

The 2.2-litre diesel in the Kia Sorento is new and avoids being a rumble in the jungle. 202 hp ensures it's no lazy elephant either, with 0 to 100 km/h achieved in 9 seconds. It's remarkably refined, another ode to Kia's ambition for their brand. The Sorento is a fabulous way to travel, smooth and comfortable. Power is directed to the front wheels only in diesel spec using a new 8-speed automatic gearbox. Over a few day's driving my average fuel consumption was 6.7 litres per 100 km, while this model will cost €420 to tax per year. The diesel Sorento can also tow up to 2.5 tonnes.

In development of this new generation of the Sorento, Kia engineers worked to reduce the effect that road surface imperfections have on the body, and to reduce noise and vibrations through the suspension, while also improving body control and steering responses under cornering. This has been achieved with a series of geometry changes and new components, as well as improvements to the structure of the suspension system. The 35 mm longer wheelbase also contributes to an overall improvement in cruising comfort, while a more rigid bodyshell results in lower body vibrations.

Handling is predictable for a large SUV. It's not sporty, as much as the driving modes would like you to believe. But it is an easy beast to manoeuvre around tight country roads and delivers the necessary comfort and refinement this segment requires, without cartwheels or fanfare. We did note some road noise at motorway speeds, but other than that the new Sorento is a charming large SUV that can fully command its sticker price.

The Sorento diesel provides a reliable source of power and economy for long distance or rural users
The Sorento diesel provides a reliable source of power and economy for long distance or rural users

What's next?

A new Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid will join the range in Ireland in February. It will be powered by a 1.6-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine paired with a high-capacity 13.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and a powerful electric motor. Together the petrol electric hybrid powertrain in the Sorento will produce up to 265 hp and 350 Nm torque. The plug-in hybrid Sorento will come with a 6-speed automatic and will be all wheel drive exclusively. The boon for this model with urban users is a pure electric range of up to 56 km and low emissions of just 50 g - meaning motor tax of just €140!

Did you like it?

The new 2021 Kia Sorento is a serious sign of intent from the Korean brand. Kia has a great track record in Ireland selling SUVs, and the Sorento will continue the fine tradition in the large family SUV category. All things considered it is still remarkably good value, considering the space on board the new Sorento, and the level of equipment and technology.

Buyers will have more options now when it comes to powertrain. While we are yet to test the Sorento hybrid, we can confirm the diesel is a star performer. The new diesel engine is more refined and has plenty of power and torque to make the Sorento drive effortless and something to be enjoyed. Towing capability is strong but buyers may lament the loss of four wheel drive from the Sorento diesel range. That will be reserved for hybrid models.

The biggest recommendation for the Sorento is the space inside the vehicle and the living room feel. It's more and more like a luxury hotel on wheels. Who could believe we would be saying these things about a Kia? But times have changed and the Sorento will woo buyers from other brands, no problem.

This is a truly impressive SUV and one of our favourite cars of the past year.

The stunning new Kia Sorento raises the game in design and quality for the Korean brand
The stunning new Kia Sorento raises the game in design and quality for the Korean brand

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia Sorento 2.2 diesel K4
Price: 
€56,500
Engine: 2.2-litre turbo diesel
Power:
202 hp
Torque: 440 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9 seconds
Top speed: 202 km/h
Economy (WLTP):
6.1-6.4l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
165 g/km
Motor tax: 
€420 per year


The new Ford Kuga diesel on test for Changing Lanes!

Ford Kuga (2021) Review

The new Ford Kuga diesel on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Ford Kuga diesel on test for Changing Lanes!

The Ford Kuga has long been a favourite with the Irish public. The Kuga was the brand's first SUV in Europe and launched in the market back in 2008. It quickly becoming popular for its chunky good looks, as buyers began to abandon large family saloons. Ford has sold more than 1 million Kugas in Europe since 2008. Ford's form in SUVs has been a bit hit and miss ever since, but the Kuga has always maintained its position as one of Ireland's favourite new and used family cars.

But even the mighty Kuga is not immune to changes in market trends. 2020 saw Ford really get their act together in terms of hopping on the back of electrification and launching mild hybrid vehicles, with more exciting models to come in 2021. We loved the Ford Puma we tested earlier in the year, and this sleek compact crossover is a return to form for the Ford brand in Europe. Mild hybrid versions of the Fiesta and Focus are now available, while next summer will see the arrival of the new all-electric Mustang Mach-E.

Hybrid power joins Kuga range

The march continued in 2020 with the arrival of the all-new third generation Kuga, available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time and a trusty diesel, with a regular hybrid to join the Kuga range in 2021. The Kuga diesel is available from €34,581, while the Kuga plug-in hybrid is available from €43,017.

The new Ford Kuga is on sale in Ireland priced from €34,581
The new Ford Kuga is on sale in Ireland priced from €34,581

The Ford Kuga really needed some attention as it was languishing behind newer rivals in terms of design and quality, as well as those all-important electrified powertrains.

Ford has bounced back with a nicely styled mid-size SUV that bears their new design language. It loses the awkwardness of the previous version, instead morphing into a lighter-looking, athletic SUV that's much easier on the eye. Alongside the Puma, these two are worth paying a visit again to your local Ford dealer.

Inside the 2020 Ford Kuga

The theme of brand renewal continues inside with an all-new interior. It's a big improvement in design with a slimmer and more lightweight feel to the dashboard layout. It's quite similar to the Focus inside, with now familiar apparel like the touchscreen perched on the dash, and an indigo backlit digital driver's display that we first saw in the Puma earlier this year. Quality is nothing special for the class with almost a too generous hand with the hard plastic, but it's great to see the Kuga going in a more modern direction at last.

Inside the new Ford Kuga
Inside the new Ford Kuga

The Ford Kuga is sold in four trim lines: Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X and Vignale. The ST-Line is the pick of the range (from €36,723) with a sportier exterior finish including 18” rock metallic alloy wheels and red brake calipers, black roof rails, ST-Line full body styling kit and large rear spoiler.

Inside there is a flat-bottomed steering wheel with red stitching, alloy pedals, and ST-Line sport seats. The Ford Kuga ST-Line also gets the full digital 12.3” instrument cluster as standard. The ST-Line X model on test adds full LED headlamps, automatic high beam and an excellent B&O premium audio system.

How practical is it?

As a family car, the Kuga performs very well with a spacious interior and seating for five. Footwells in the rear are generous and the doors open out wide. The rear bench also has good width for the middle passenger to get a decent amount of wriggle room. The 2020 Ford Kuga is 44 mm wider and 89 mm longer than the outgoing model. The second row of seats can be moved backwards to improve legroom or forwards to increase boot space. It's a huge boot either way.

At launch in Ireland, the range is based around the 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel with 120 hp and the new 2.5-litre petrol electric plug-in hybrid with 225 hp. The diesel is a well-proven Ford powerplant that appears in other models too. On paper, its performance credentials look a little lacklustre but it feels more powerful on the road than 120 hp. In Ireland diesel manuals are sold, with automatic transmission reserved for the hybrid.

Plenty of legroom and a huge boot in the 2020 Ford Kuga
Plenty of legroom and a huge boot in the 2020 Ford Kuga

Driving the new Kuga

Diesel has always been the default choice for family SUVs and it's easy to see why. The Ford Kuga diesel returns excellent economy and over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 5.3 litres per 100 km. It's smooth and refined on the road, and the Kuga works well with the manual gearbox. You can exploit that surprisingly sporty feel behind the wheel.

Ford has once again done a great job with the Kuga's handling. There are selectable drive modes included and I would recommend a stint in Sport mode. On a twisty road the more responsive throttle and stiffer suspension make for an entertaining drive. I was having far more fun than I should have in a diesel family SUV. There's loads of front end grip and quite weighty steering. Comfortable too though we did note some road noise over coarser asphalt at motorway speeds.

For buyers ready to try hybrid the Kuga plug-in hybrid will offer them the opportunity to plug in and charge the battery to exploit an up to 56 km WLTP electric range. CO2 emissions are rated at just 32 g per kilometre, while there is potential to run the car very cheaply indeed with regular charging. Next year's Kuga hybrid won't come with a plug, but it looks still to offer a fuel efficient drive.

The Ford Kuga offers customers choice of diesel or petrol hybrid powertrains
The Ford Kuga offers customers choice of diesel or petrol hybrid powertrains

Did you like it?

The new Ford Kuga was one of 2020's big releases. Along with the Ford Puma, these two new models are a return to form for the brand in Europe. The Kuga has a great customer base, and meets the needs of a lot of people in a real sweet spot of the market.

This is a much improved car now with a modern interior update and all the latest technology features. It's got a cool new look and ST Line models look really great on the road.

The Ford Kuga is still amazing fun to drive on a twisty country road. It stands out among rivals for this character trait. It shouldn't be this fun and be able to carry five people comfortably! All with a diesel engine!

The Kuga is one of the most spacious SUVs at its price point.

While we are yet to sample the hybrid Kuga, this Kuga diesel gets a thumbs up and delivers great economy.

Quality could be better in the Kuga so as long as you're not expecting the last word in luxury, the Kuga is back in the game. Welcome back!

The Kuga is practical and fun to drive
The Kuga is practical and fun to drive

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBlue ST-Line X
Price: 
€39,134 (Range starts at €34,581)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
120 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.7 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Economy (WLTP):
5.1l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP):
127 g/km
Motor tax:
€200 per year


The new Peugeot 2008 on test for Changing Lanes

Peugeot 2008 1.2 Petrol Review

The new Peugeot 2008 on test for Changing Lanes
The new Peugeot 2008 on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the new Peugeot 2008!

Peugeot launches an all-new generation of the popular 2008 compact SUV with a radical new design, new interior and a range of petrol and diesel engines. 2020 also saw the launch of the first ever electric 2008, the e-2008. Together with the 208 supermini, the Peugeot 2008 spearheads a new strategy for the brand that allows customers to choose the powertrain that best suits their budget and lifestyle, without compromising style or practicality.

It’s a clever strategy. Things are beginning to change fast in the motor industry. The market now demands electrified powertrains including greater choice in hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. In 2020, Peugeot in Ireland made serious moves into this market with the launch of the e-208, e-2008, and 508 and 3008 plug-in hybrids, with more exciting models to come. New facelifted versions of the equally popular 3008 and 5008 family SUVs are arriving in dealers now too, just in time for 211 registrations.

Say hello to the new Peugeot 2008

Peugeot revolutionised the design of their cars several years ago with new design language focused around strong, confident lines, eye-catching lighting signatures and styling details inspired by premium vehicles. Now they are revolutionising what’s under the bonnet and how it is pitched to the customer.

The 208 supermini was the first new generation model in the Peugeot range to be launched giving customers the choice between petrol, diesel or electric. The platform the car is built on is designed from the start to be suitable for a combustion engine or electric powertrain.

Now Peugeot brings the same smorgasbord of choice to the 2008 compact SUV range.

The new Peugeot 2008 goes on sale in Ireland from €24,450
The new Peugeot 2008 goes on sale in Ireland from €24,450

Petrol power & the 2008

In this review I’m taking a closer look at the Peugeot 2008 1.2-litre petrol with 130 hp. Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to drive the new Peugeot 2008 diesel, which impressed us for its long distance economy.

Yet petrol power still makes a lot of sense in these small crossovers, with many spending most of their time in low speed, urban driving. The 2008 petrol range starts from €24,450 and comes from the award-winning Puretech family of engines. In the 2008 it’s available with 100 hp, 130 hp or 155 hp, with a 6-speed manual or the option of 8-speed automatic (130 hp and 155 hp engine only). It’s a smooth and quiet engine that purrs away beautifully under the bonnet.

Yet compared to the diesel we drove earlier in the year (from €27,100), it will mean more time at the pumps. During our extended test drive over a few weeks we averaged 7.0 litres per 100 km. From January, motor tax will be €200 per year for this model.

The e-2008 uses a 50 kWh battery with a WLTP range of 310 km and retails from €31,262 including VRT relief and SEAI grant.

On the road, the 2008 has matured in terms of the comfort it offers occupants and the refinement of the drive, particularly in this petrol model. The suspension strikes a balance between decent handling ability and a compliant suspension, so it avoids the brittleness over bumps that can plague some compact crossovers. The compact steering wheel gives the car an added boost in low speed urban manoeuvres.

Strong confident stance for the new 2008
Strong confident stance for the new 2008

What's new for the 2020 Peugeot 2008?

In design the Peugeot 2008 has also matured and now looks more like a mini-3008. It has a great presence in the car park or on the road, with character defining lines, a striking LED light signature and strong confident grille. As you go up the trim levels, more bling gets added including larger alloys and roof rails, bringing the 2008 into premium territory.

Inside Peugeot has upped cabin quality and ironed out the finer details of the i-Cockpit arrangement. That’s the unique interior concept to Peugeot where you look over the compact steering wheel at the instrument binnacle. To your left, there is a slick looking touchscreen that connects to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2008 has increased in size somewhat so there is more room now inside the vehicle. You will certainly notice it in the rear, where there is more legroom making it one of the most generously sized of the compact SUVs. The boot is also a decent size (360 litres) with a practical flat loading sill. It’s definitely bigger inside than the 208. There are also two Isofix child seat fixtures in the rear.

Standard equipment includes 16” alloy wheels, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, rear view camera, LED headlights, front fog lamps, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, automatic headlights and wipers, and touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Inside the new Peugeot 2008
Inside the new Peugeot 2008

Allure models (from €26,100) add items such as 17” alloys, passenger seat height adjustment, rear privacy glass and 3D effect i-Cockpit.

The GT model (from €30,280) adds heated front seats, 10” touchscreen, black roof, front parking sensors, high beam assist and contrasting lime stitching to the interior.

Did you like it?

The new Peugeot 2008 once again executes the compact SUV concept with a flourish that keeps it one of the most distinct of its class. Built to be practical and stylish, the new model will build on the success and customer base of the first, but with more maturity, refinement and style that makes it stand out.

Inside buyers will find a well appointed cabin and a decent small family car with generous kneeroom and a practical boot.

Granted the most desirable Allure and GT models do push the 2008 out of the budget side of the market, yet add considerable image and desirability to the popular French crossover in the process.

Equipment levels are good, even from entry. Peugeot truly offers something for everyone with a range of proven petrol and diesel engines, and of course the arrival of the e-2008. With electric cars having a bit of a moment right now, Peugeot has the compact side of the market covered.

The new 2008 is available in petrol, diesel or electric
The new 2008 is available in petrol, diesel or electric

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot 2008 GT 1.2 Puretech
Price: 
€30,280
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
130 hp
Torque: 230 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.8 seconds
Top speed: 198 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.5-5.6 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 127 g/km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year


The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

Volvo XC40 (2020) T5 Hybrid Review

The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes
The Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the new Volvo XC40 T5 hybrid!

This week on Changing Lanes we test the new Volvo XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid. Volvo’s compact SUV has been a great success for Volvo and is now the bestselling model in the Volvo range in Ireland since it launched here in 2018. A former Irish Car of the Year winner, the Volvo XC40 has established itself as formidable competition in the premium compact SUV segment.

Launched with petrol and diesel engines, Volvo continues the Swedish brand’s journey to electrification with the arrival of plug-in hybrid technology to the tune of the new Volvo XC40 T5. Volvo already sells plug-in hybrids in other models in the range, including SUVs, so this is a continuation of a similar theme. While an all-electric XC40 is expected in 2021.

What's so special about the Volvo XC40 T5?

In the T5 ‘Twin Engine’, this compact SUV model uses a three cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine supported by a battery and electric motor to reduce emissions and give the XC40 the capacity to drive on pure electric power for a short range. This is ideal for city dwellers with short commutes and ability to charge their car between journeys.

The T5 is not only the first hybrid powertrain in the XC40, it’s also the first to be engineered for use in Volvo's CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform and uses a front-wheel drive layout. The powertrain is supported by a new seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission, featured for the first time in a new-generation Volvo model.

While the Volvo XC40 range kicks off from about €38,297, buyers will pay from about €47,700, including grants and VRT relief, for this ability to embrace a modern plug-in hybrid powertrain in their new Volvo SUV.

The Volvo XC40 is the bestselling Volvo in Ireland
The Volvo XC40 is the bestselling Volvo in Ireland

So what do you get for your money?

Power output is an impressive 262 hp, while CO2 emissions are just 48 g CO2 meaning buyers will pay €170 per year at the moment in motor tax. A 10.7 kWh lithium-ion battery on board means that the new XC40 T5 can be driven on electric power only for a range of up to 46 km.

The Volvo XC40 is a fine piece of design. The Recharge branding appears for the first time on the C pillar to indicate the electrified powertrain underneath and there is a recharging outlet positioned under a flap on the front wing.

Inside, the Volvo XC40 is still a masterclass in design in its segment. The layout is simple and stylish, while the quality is just superb. The car comes equipped with digital instrument panel and portrait style infotainment system and it still feels modern, with smartphone connectivity available. Passengers are well accommodated for with large footwells in the rear, while there is also a good-sized boot with 460 litres making it an ideal fashionable family car.

The interior of the Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro
The interior of the Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro

Driving the Volvo XC40 T5

On the road, the XC40 T5 is a dream to drive. Its hybrid powertrain means it runs super silently whether in town or on the motorway. The power delivery is smooth and urgent, with a pleasant kick when you press the accelerator. It’s 262 hp after all! Handling is positive though under hard braking you will feel the weight of the vehicle. Though the electric motor is helping particularly at low speeds in town, where it is most efficient, on the open road you call more on the engine. While the onus is on drivers to charge up to improve the efficiency of the vehicle, without charging regularly I achieved an average fuel consumption of 6.9 litres per 100 km.

The T5 is available in a range of trim levels including R-Design and Inscription with Pro editions of each. Our test car was a beautiful Inscription Pro that comes with luxurious features such as 19” alloys, leather upholstery, heated front seats, ambient lighting, powered tailgate and a show-stopping Orrefors Crystal glass gear selector.

The XC40 plug in hybrid can be driven on pure electric power up to about 46 km.
The XC40 plug in hybrid can be driven on pure electric power up to about 46 km.

So did you like it?

The Volvo XC40 is a proper premium SUV, nothing has changed when you add a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It’s impressively refined and covers the road smoothly and comfortably, leaving little to disagree with.

It is a pricey vehicle, and plug-in hybrids are still not for everyone. Yet economy returns are promising and charging after each journey will make a lot more sense.

The cabin is comfortable and well appointed with a good use of space. The plug-in hybrid technology hasn’t put the XC40 at a disadvantage when it comes to providing the space and practicality required of the compact SUV segment.

Volvo is pushing electrification strongly in their range, giving buyers more options and settling one’s conscious of driving an SUV in the city. With hybrid power and the ability to drive on electricity only, it feels like the right thing to do for urban dwellers. But if you are not quite sold on hybrid for your motoring needs, the XC40 is still a very good SUV with plenty to discover across the range.

New Volvo XC40 T5 available from about €47,700 after grants and VRT relief
New Volvo XC40 T5 available from about €47,700 after grants and VRT relief

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volvo XC40 T5 Inscription Pro
Price: 
€50,100 after grants and VRT relief
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
262 hp
Torque: 425 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.3 seconds
Top speed: 205 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 2.4 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 55 g/km
Motor Tax:  €170 per year