The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is expected in Ireland in early 2023

Alfa Romeo Tonale Review

The Alfa Romeo Tonale will arrive in Ireland in early 2023 and marks a fresh start for the Italian car brand, now under the stewardship of Stellantis and a new Irish distributor, Gowan Auto.

The Tonale is one of the most important models for Alfa Romeo in years, a stylish new compact SUV to take on the likes of the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC40.

While pricing for the Irish market is yet to be announced, we do know a few things about the new Tonale. In Ireland, it will be available as a petrol hybrid and a plug-in hybrid with an electric driving range of up to 69 kilometres.

But what's it like to drive? Caroline travelled to Milan with Alfa Romeo Ireland to drive the new Tonale plug-in hybrid ahead of its official arrival in Ireland.

The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is expected in Ireland in early 2023
The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is expected in Ireland in early 2023

Styling

The new Tonale is a classy Italian compact SUV, with flamboyance and flair to its design that makes rivals look positively square. At the front, there is Alfa's characteristic V-shaped grille flanked by a striking set of LED headlights and customary offset number plate, lending the Tonale a serious face should you find one in your rear view mirror. Alloy wheel sizes will be available from 18-inch to 20-inch, with a classic Alfa 'telephone dial' style available. There will be two trim levels for Ireland - Ti and Veloce - with 18-inch alloys fitted as standard. The sporty elegant look is finished off with a dramatic LED light bar at the rear. There's a range of eye-catching metallic shades to choose from, showing off the Alfa's sleek surfacing.

Interior

Inside, the Tonale offers a snug and sporty cabin. It feels quite distinct for the segment, with a driver-focused layout that will have you aching to press the start button - conveniently located on the steering wheel. Quality takes a step up from the Giulia and Stelvio, with most of the touch points feeling good. You will find some cheaper plastics lower down and some of the buttons below the infotainment screen feel a little basic for a premium car. But generally, the Tonale lives up to its billing and feels far more special than anything we've seen from the brand in the last decade. There's a cowled digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a new 10.25-inch touchscreen.

The interior of the new Tonale
The interior of the new Tonale

Practicality

The Tonale is roomy in the back for a mid-size SUV, with good-sized footwells and plenty of headroom too for adult passengers. Petrol hybrids get the largest boot at a competitive 500 litres but plug-in hybrids can only muster 385 litres, which is about the same as many hatchbacks.

Engines

The new Tonale will be available in Ireland with a 1.5-litre petrol hybrid engine with 160hp (front wheel drive) or as a range-topping plug-in hybrid with 280hp and all-wheel drive.

Charging

It will take about 2.5 hours to charge the plug-in hybrid Tonale's battery to full at 7.4kW.

The Tonale is the first ever plug-in hybrid Alfa Romeo
The Tonale is the first ever plug-in hybrid Alfa Romeo

On the road

The Tonale feels immediately sporty and driver-focused behind the wheel - despite its height. It's one of the sharpest handling mid-size SUVs on the market. The Tonale plug-in hybrid feels agile and athletic though bends, with plenty of grip from the Alfa Q4 all-wheel drive system. The cabin feels nicely insulated, offering good refinement at high speeds on the motorway but it is quite firmly sprung, so can thud over imperfections in the road surface.

There is a classic Alfa 'D.N.A' driving mode selector and the Tonale is at its most comfortable in the Natural (N) setting. But in this mode the steering errs on the light side. So for any enthusiastic driving, you'll want to slip it into the Dynamic (D) mode, where the steering feels better weighted and the throttle response is sharper. The plug-in hybrid's 280hp feels fast with the 0-100 km/h sprint done in just over 6 seconds. But plant your foot on the accelerator hard in Dynamic mode and the engine does thrash a bit.

But in more relaxed driving, the Tonale is a perfectly behaved car that feels great on the road. When running in hybrid mode, it's quite efficient too. But plug-in hybrids are generally at their best when you have the desire and facilities to keep the battery charged and make use of the electric driving range of up to 69 kilometres.

Rear seating in the new Tonale
Rear seating in the new Tonale

Pricing 

Pricing will be announced closer to launch of the Tonale in Ireland. At the moment, Alfa's larger Stelvio SUV goes on sale from about €64,000.

Summary

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is a significant comeback for the Alfa Romeo brand in Ireland and Europe. When it arrives in Ireland in the first few months of 2023, it will be the brand's most competitive model in the Alfa line-up. There's great demand for mid-size SUVs and the Tonale will be a stylish alternative to more established rivals from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. What's more, it's competitive in key areas like practicality and interior technology. It has a snug and sporty cabin, though some rivals do feel more premium. While I'm yet to drive the petrol hybrid entry into the Tonale range, the range-topping plug-in hybrid offers a smooth and powerful drive with the flexibility of driving electric for a limited range. All in all, the Tonale is a stylish and fun to drive compact SUV and the brand's best chance yet to regain a foothold in the Irish market.

The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is a stylish and fun to drive SUV
The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is a stylish and fun to drive SUV

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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


The Jeep Compass on test for Changing Lanes

Jeep Compass Review

Read Caroline's Jeep Compass review for everything you need to know about Jeep's mid-size SUV in Ireland.

The Jeep Compass first arrived in Ireland in 2018 as a new mid-size SUV from the iconic Jeep brand. Though Jeep has some very strong roots as an American, four wheel drive specialist brand, the Compass was the brand's most European model to date when it went on sale. With high demand for family SUVs, today the Compass accounts for over 40% of the brand's sales in Europe, alongside models like the Renegade and the Cherokee.

The Compass was certainly one of the brand's most competitive models in recent years, with trendy 4x4 looks and a range of engines to meet the market demand. But 2018 feels like a long time ago now in the motor industry. Much has changed in the intervening years in Ireland and Europe. Jeep is now part of motoring giant Stellantis, and in Ireland it's joined motoring distributor Gowan Auto, who also import Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Peugeot, DS and Opel.

The Jeep Compass on test for Changing Lanes
The Jeep Compass on test for Changing Lanes

Now the Jeep Compass returns with a bit more than just a cosmetic update. Pricing starts from about €43,995 rising to about €54,995. New engines include a 1.5-litre petrol mild hybrid and a new plug-in hybrid that can be charged and driven electric for up to about 50 kilometres and a first for Jeep. Times are changing, with many more exciting models on the way, like the first ever electric Jeep - the new Jeep Avenger.

But for now, it's the Jeep Compass that goes up against some of the country's bestselling cars like the Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and the Hyundai Tucson.

What's so special about the Jeep Compass?

The Compass literally 'squares up' to the competition with classic Jeep design cues that lend a rugged look that's full of character and frankly far more authentic than a lot of what is on the market in this segment. There's the boxy proportions, reminiscent of many Jeeps of old, that never take the brand too far away from its roots as one of the world's best manufacturers of tough off-road vehicles.

At the front the seven slat grille is a big statement of intent and makes the Compass unmissable as anything other than just one great big Jeep. Along the side, there are some fabulous squared off wheel arches.

There are up to five trim levels in Ireland and each gives the Compass quite an individual look. Hybrids get a blue finish to the Jeep badge and the new '4xe' logo.

There are few brands quite as iconic as Jeep
There are few brands quite as iconic as Jeep

The entry into the range is the Night Eagle for example, which adds lots of gloss black trim to the exterior and 18-inch black wheels for a cool urban look. The Upland has bronze exterior trim and a black bonnet decal for a bespoke look. There's even a range-topping Trailhawk version, which maxes out the tough off-road look with special off-road bumpers and skid plate front and rear.

On test for Changing Lanes was the Compass S, which offers a clean, sporty look with 19-inch black alloy wheels, body coloured wheel arches and sills, and a black contrast roof.

Plug-in hybrid models are now exclusively four wheel drive, with a 1.3-litre petrol engine to power the front wheels and an electric motor to power the rear ones. It's the most powerful of the range with 240hp and includes a number of tools to assist drivers off-road. You can switch between modes like Auto, Sport, Sand/Mud and Snow and the car adjusts the settings for the best traction. There are also two different 4×4 traction modes for more advanced off-roading - 4WD Drive Lock and 4WD Low.

Inside the Jeep Compass

Having previously tested the Compass when it first arrived in 2018, it's clear that the interior has had a modern revamp since then. The quality of the materials has improved significantly with lots of soft touch materials as well as more modern digital features and more mature design. S models get leather upholstery for a high-end feel.

It's still not quite as stylish or high-tech as some of the best in class but a marked improvement. A new 10-inch touchscreen sits in the centre of the dash, with Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration. There’s also a new digital driver information display, though it's not the best designed when it comes to the size of the graphics and the way information is presented.

Latest Compass gets a high-end feel to the interior
Latest Compass gets a high-end feel to the interior

But all versions do come well-equipped with keyless start, parking camera, cruise control, climate control, and lots of safety features like lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition. A wireless smartphone charger is also standard on all but the entry model.

Slip into the back and the Compass feels spacious for its size too. There are large footwells and headroom is good for adults. Like competitors, the middle seat is a bit on the small side but it is comfortable with a flat space in front for more legroom.

The boot is not the largest in the class at 438 litres but it's a bit more than a lot of hatchbacks. And the plug-in hybrid has the same amount of boot space as petrol versions of the Compass. A powered tailgate is also available on some trim levels as standard.

Driving the Jeep Compass

Jeep hasn't tweaked the driving dynamics for this version but they have updated the engine range. It kicks off with the 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine with 130hp and a manual gearbox priced from €43,995. There's also the new 1.5-litre petrol mild hybrid that's priced similarly and has the same amount of power but comes with an automatic gearbox instead.

On test was the new plug-in hybrid, which offers the boon of four wheel drive but must be charged regularly to really get the best from it. When the battery is fully charged, there is up to 50 kilometres of driving electric possible but that is still off the pace of some of the best like the Toyota RAV4 and the Kia Sportage plug-in hybrids.

Trailhawk versions max out on the tough off-road look
Trailhawk versions max out on the tough off-road look

On the road, the Compass is swift when you want it to be, but it's not the smoothest or most refined plug-in hybrid available and it can get noisy when you accelerate hard.

Steering is very light, which makes it easy to manouvre around town but out on bigger roads it won't really award the keenest driver. In fairness, as a brand with such a stellar name for making off-road vehicles, sharp handling would not be high up the list of priorities. The Compass suits a more relaxed pace of driving and it's comfortable too for a family SUV.

Did you like it?

The Jeep brand is iconic and the Compass is surely something different in its segment. It does fall a little short of the best in class in some areas. The standard in this segment is very high these days with lots of very capable competitors.

Good news is none of them can compete with the Compass for outright authentic style and desirability. The Compass truly stands out for its classic Jeep styling that looks like it might enjoy going off-road and look good while doing it.

Jeep has always been positioned as a high-end brand and the pricing of the Compass surely reflects that. It might be a bridge too far, but if you're looking for something a little bit different in the mid-size family SUV segment, the Jeep Compass still has plenty of charm.

The Jeep Compass 4xe plug-in hybrid is on sale now
The Jeep Compass 4xe plug-in hybrid is on sale now

Model tested: Jeep Compass S 4xe plug-in hybrid
Price: 
€54,995
Engine:
1.3-litre petrol electric plug-in hybrid
Power: 240hp
Top speed: 200 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.3 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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


The Kia Niro on test for Changing Lanes!

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Review

Read Caroline's Kia Niro review for everything you need to know about buying Kia's new compact SUV in Ireland.

The Kia Niro was first introduced to Ireland back in 2016. It was a bit of a trendsetter at the time, an exciting new model for a Kia brand clearly on the way up.

Not only was it styled as a crossover - customers love them - but it also spawned a successful Niro plug-in hybrid and the jewel in the crown - the electric 'e-Niro'.

Now Kia has had a chance to revisit the Niro and create an all-new version. But electrification remains a key theme with plug-in hybrid and EV versions available, and an upcoming full hybrid.

But has the Niro now got the stylish design it deserves to really cement its position in the Irish market? Let's take a closer look to find out!

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

What's so special about the Kia Niro?

The new Kia Niro plug-in hybrid ('PHEV') tested for Changing Lanes goes on sale in Ireland priced from €39,700 -  and it's notable for having more power and more range in EV mode than the model it replaces.

The attraction of the plug-in hybrid is the all-electric driving range of now up to 59 kilometres. At the core of this car is a 1.6-litre petrol engine paired with Kia's second-generation six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

On the road, it's more refined than ever, while savvy buyers who can keep the battery topped up will enjoy very low running costs from Niro ownership.

What's more, the new Niro seems to look the part now of a small, trendy crossover. It's found direction within the brand's new generation of vehicles like the Sportage and EV6.

Kia's design has been evolving over the years and the Niro wears the brand's avant-garde new design language very well to stand out on the road as something a little bit different.

18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights come as standard for a stylish presence.

The new Niro will be offered as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric
The new Niro will be offered as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric

Inside the Kia Niro

Inside, there has been a transformation as well. Niro feels more modern and youthful than before, with some very impressive digital displays. A 10.25-inch touchscreen comes as standard and suitably modernises the cabin of the Niro. It's all very simple and intuitive to use, while the cabin quality feels good as well.

In Ireland the Niro PHEV is available in two trim levels, packed with equipment - the K3 (from €39,700) and the K4 (from €42,700).

Standard features on K3 models include heated front seats, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, wireless phone charger, and Apple Car Play and Android Auto with voice control. There are also lots of standard safety features like lane keep assist, lane follow assist, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot collision avoidance. The Niro is not cheap but that's a high specification.

Opt for the K4, and in addition there's power adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, head-up display, 10.25-inch LCD driver display screen and a powered tailgate.

The interior of the new Kia Niro
The interior of the new Kia Niro

The new Niro sits on a new platform and though it looks compact on the outside, it's surprisingly roomy inside. Naturally, it's not the widest car so three might feel a squeeze in the back. But for two adults or children, it does feel roomy. The boot can muster 348 litres of space in the plug-in hybrid -  some hatchbacks do it better, though it's still a decent usable space. The Niro EV actually has considerably more boot space!

On the road in the Niro PHEV

For this new generation of the Niro, Kia has made some suspension and steering improvements for a more enjoyable and responsive drive. There's also been the addition of more insulation and padding around the vehicle’s structure to reduce engine and road noise.

On the road the Niro PHEV does appear to have grown-up. It feels more driver-focused now despite its efficient powertrain. It's more refined than before so the cabin is more relaxing, and  comfortable for the most part too.

The power output of the hybrid is a healthy 183hp, and the Niro can certainly provide a good pick up in speed when you need it. The previous Niro hybrid felt less inclined to do this. There is still a bias to efficiency, but it's a good one - without charging the battery my fuel consumption was less than 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres, which is very impressive.

Rear legroom in the new Niro
Rear seating in the new Niro

Did you like it?

The Kia brand has real momentum in Ireland with bestsellers like the new Kia Sportage and the EV6. Now the brand has a real chance to make impact in the more compact side of the market, with the new Niro boasting some of the most sought after electrified powertrains on the market right now.

The Niro EV review is coming soon, where I will take a closer look at the new generation model that can travel up to 460 kilometres on one battery charge, and comes to market priced a little more than the Niro PHEV at €41,775.

But for now the Kia Niro PHEV moves the game on for the brand's plug-in hybrid range. Buyers can potentially run the Niro as an electric vehicle with regular charging. But in my experience, this car returns some excellent economy figures when ran even as a standard hybrid - though plugging in regularly is always the best option!

The Kia Niro has moved on a lot from the previous version in terms of design. It seems more comfortable in its skin now, with more kerb appeal. The design might not be for everyone, but it's a stylish and quirky crossover that has purpose.

Inside, the Niro packs in lots of equipment and a latest generation Kia interior with a modern, digital display. What's more, it's a practical offering in the segment.

These cars have excellent technology on board and don't come cheap. The bias here is still towards efficiency and that is something Niro does very well, in a number of different flavours for Irish consumers!

The Kia Niro plug-in hybrid is on sale from €39,700
The Kia Niro plug-in hybrid is on sale from €39,700

Model tested: Kia Niro K4
Price: 
€42,700
Engine:
1.6-litre petrol electric plug-in hybrid
Power: 183hp
Torque: 265Nm
Top speed: 161 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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


The new Renault Austral will arrive in Ireland in 2023!

Renault Austral Review

The Renault Austral is the Renault brand's new mid-size SUV and is expected in Ireland in spring/summer of 2023. Along with the recently launched Renault Megane E-TECH electric hatchback and the award-winning Renault Arkana - Irish Medium SUV of the Year 2022 - the aim is to regain the brand’s foothold in the C-segment, Europe’s most popular car segment. Sold exclusively as a hybrid, the new Austral replaces the Kadjar in the Renault line-up.

Caroline travelled to Madrid with Renault Ireland to drive the new Austral ahead of its arrival in Ireland in 2023.

Styling

The new Renault Austral will be one of the best-looking SUVs on Irish roads in 2023. It sports an evolution of Renault's design language seen in the Megane E-TECH, but wrapped up in the stylish, rugged body of an SUV. It's the second Renault model to wear the brand's new logo, which is framed by a striking set of LED headlights. There's a similarly stylish light signature at the rear. A sculpted bonnet adds even more attitude, fast becoming a new signature of Renault cars and SUVs. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 17-inch to 20-inch, most of which are diamond cut. Trim levels for Ireland are yet to be confirmed but it's highly likely that the new range-topping 'Esprit Alpine' version will reach here. Inspired by the sporty roots of Renault's legendary Alpine brand of performance cars, it's available in exclusive Satin Shale Grey matte finish with special badging and numerous design upgrades inside and outside the car.

The new Renault Austral will arrive in Ireland in 2023!
The new Renault Austral will arrive in Ireland in 2023!

Interior

The Austral follows the lead of the new Megane E-TECH when it comes to interior design and technology - and then takes it to the next level again. It's very stylish and high-tech inside, built around the large OpenR screen that combines a 12.3-inch instrument display with a 12-inch vertical multimedia screen and uses a Google operating system. Super glossy to look at, but it also works really well. For example, Google apps like Google Assistant, Google Play Store and Google Maps are integrated into it. This technology combines perfectly with the driver display, with a number of different views available - one which turns the whole thing into a mirror image of your route on Google Maps. There's also an excellent head-up display available. Ventilation controls are accessed through the screen but there are some nice tactile buttons below to bring up the menu and adjust the temperature quickly.

We were driving top of the range Esprit Alpine models, which get lots of beautiful Alcantara trim inside and blue contrast stitching. The quality of the interior appears to be even better than what we've seen previously from the brand in the new Arkana for example, so we just have to see will this stay consistent throughout the range when the Austral arrives in Ireland next year.

Practicality

The Austral has been designed as a practical, five-seat family SUV and feels roomy inside. Rear passengers will find knee-room that is on par with the best in class at 27.4 cm. There are practical storage compartment located throughout the interior amounting to about 35 litres of interior storage. Renault has also brought back the 60:40 sliding rear bench in the Austral. That means the rear bench can be adjusted to maximise legroom for rear seat passengers or boot space, expanding capacity from 430 litres to 555 litres.

The interior of the new Austral
The interior of the new Austral

Engines

In Ireland, the Renault Austral will be available exclusively as a hybrid. The new range-topping hybrid uses a 1.2-litre, three cylinder petrol engine, 2 kWh 400V battery and 50kW electric motor, and will put out 200hp in the version that reaches Ireland. In some markets, an Austral petrol mild hybrid will also be available.

The new hybrid is a significant evolution of Renault's hybrid technology and promises better performance and refinement than before, while also reducing fuel use and CO2 emissions - 105 g of CO2/km, pending certification.

On the road

The new Renault Austral is the first Renault to use the CMF-CD platform and also debuts Renault’s third generation four-wheel steering that has been steadily improved over the past 15 years - 4Control Advanced. It won't be standard on every model, but the cars we drove at the launch in Spain all featured it. It improves the car's agility and driver engagement, with a turning circle of just 10.1 metres, rivalling a supermini. The Austral chassis comes in two versions: flexible torsion beam for two-wheel steering models and a more sophisticated multi-link rear axle with 4Control Advanced for four-wheel steering models. With the addition of a steering actuator on the multi-arm rear axle, the steering angle of the rear wheels is now 5°. Combined with the Multisense system, there are also now 13 different setting options, up from three previously!

The Austral will be exclusively hybrid
The Austral will be exclusively hybrid

On the road, the Austral feels immediately sophisticated and powerful. The delivery of power is smoother and stronger than in the Arkana 1.6 hybrid for example. The extra power helps, and the new hybrid offers more refinement too. The Austral weighs about 1500 kg, which certainly makes for a nice experience behind the wheel. Granted all versions we tested featured four wheel steering, but the Austral offered a precise and fun driving experience around the mountain roads above Madrid. It grips willingly, while the four wheel steering and assorted driving modes with varying levels of assistance add to a sense of connection between the car and driver that is rare in the segment. It also rides very well on large wheels, but there is wind whistle around the wing mirrors on the motorway at high speeds. And we can't give a verdict on what front wheel drive models will be like without four wheel steering and the more sophisticated rear suspension.

So is it efficient? During my test drive, I saw consumption as low as 5.3 litres per 100 km and as 'high' as 6.1 litres per 100 km. The Austral hybrid does not need to be plugged in and charged to get the best efficiency from the vehicle.

Pricing and Equipment

Pricing and equipment for the Austral in Ireland will be confirmed closer to launch. The new Austral will slot into the range above the Arkana, which is currently on sale from €30,790 for a petrol mild hybrid and from €33,590 for a 1.6 hybrid.

The new Austral is packed with 32 advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), up from 26 in the Megane E-TECH and 16 in the Arkana. They include a latest-generation head-up display, level 2 driving automation with Active Driver Assist, a 3D camera for 360° vision, full park assist and a detection system that prevents the car from pulling out if another vehicle is overtaking.

Boot space in the new Renault Austral
Boot space in the new Renault Austral

Summary

The new Renault Austral arrives in a segment that has been steadily moving towards hybrid and alternatives to traditional diesel engines that used to reign supreme in this segment. It presents challenges to carmakers to create more efficient SUVs with less emissions, while also being practical and good to drive.

Renault chooses a standard hybrid approach for new Austral, which they propose as a more practical motoring solution for their customers - the relative simplicity of it, efficiency without caveats of daily charging, and it's light, bringing a natural edge to on the road performance and driver engagement.

So far the range-topping versions tested with Renault's third generation four wheel steering shine for that powerful hybrid and smooth, agile drive, while also returning the sort of efficiency that rivals some diesels and small petrol hatchbacks. So much so that I suspect you won't actually miss diesel from the range.

This will be a stylish offering inside and out, with a great cabin experience and step forward in connectivity that means it's light years away from the Kadjar it replaces.

Renault makes a welcome return to the mid-size family SUV segment with the Austral!

The new Renault Austral will be one of the most stylish SUVs on Irish roads in 2023
The new Renault Austral will be one of the most stylish SUVs on Irish roads in 2023

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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


The Volvo C40 on test for Changing Lanes!

Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Review

Read Caroline's Volvo C40 review for everything you need to know about buying Volvo's new electric SUV in Ireland.

Do you remember a time when Volvo was famous for estate cars? These days it's SUVs that have become synonymous with the Volvo brand - and good ones at that. In Ireland the XC60 is the brand's bestselling model, followed by the Volvo XC40 - a former Irish Car of the Year.

While the brand has truly embraced hybrids for some years now, it was the launch of the XC40 Recharge, the brand's first fully electric model, that has really put them on the path to becoming a fully electric car brand by 2030.

But these days, the market demands SUVs of all sizes and shapes. So Volvo has launched another - the new Volvo C40.

The Volvo C40 on test for Changing Lanes!
The Volvo C40 on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Volvo C40?

The C40 has been designed as an SUV coupé. So it has many of the familiar SUV design cues, but the tapering roofline offers a sleeker and more prestigious look.

SUV coupés are a major trend at the moment in the motor industry. The C40 looks high-end and premium, and carries a little more prestige than a traditional SUV with a boxy rear-end. While it shares a lot with the XC40 Recharge, the C40 manages to stand out as more of a style icon and warrants its place in the line-up.

Large wheels are part of the deal too - 19-inch and 20-inch are available. There's also a trendy black contrast roof, black door mirror caps, sporty boot and roof spoiler, and a distinctive LED rear light signature.

The new Volvo C40 is only sold as a battery electric vehicle. You won't find any fuel versions in the line-up. There are single and dual motor versions, badged C40 Recharge and C40 Recharge Twin respectively.

Single-motor versions go on sale from about €53,730 including the SEAI grant for electric vehicles. They use a 69kWh battery that can travel up to 433 kilometres (WLTP) on one battery charge. It’s available in two trim levels, Plus and Ultimate, and comes well-equipped. Dual motor versions get a slightly higher capacity 78kWh battery that can drive for up to 446 kilometres (WLTP) on a single battery charge. They are available from €61,930 with Core, Plus and Ultimate trim levels, and offer the best performance of the range.

Elsewhere, this car is practical, offering seating for five and a classic Volvo cabin - so that means it's a simple design with lots of clever technology and safety features on board.

The interior of the Volvo C40 Recharge
The interior of the Volvo C40 Recharge

Inside the Volvo C40

You sit high in the cabin of the C40, with a good commanding view of the road ahead. It does feel a little bit sportier behind the wheel than the Volvo XC40 Recharge, but the cabin design is much the same. That means the centre of the dashboard is dominated by a 9-inch portrait-style touchscreen. There are very few physical buttons but the Android operating system works excellently and it's simple to navigate. Google Maps is built into it, and it integrates perfectly with a full digital driver display.

The cabin quality is good, it feels high-end but not as luxurious as what you might expect. Volvo has used a lot of recyclable materials in the cabin, which goes some way to explain why that might be. For example, the fabric seats in my test car didn't seem the right fit for a car of this price.

There's lots of equipment including wireless smartphone charging, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, as well as a fixed panoramic glass roof.

The C40 has the same amount of leg and kneeroom as the XC40 Recharge so it offers decent accommodation, though a Volkswagen ID.4 does feel more spacious in the back. There's a little less headroom because of the sloping, coupé-style roofline - but that's about it. Rear doors don't open as wide as in some other family SUVs though.

Convenience features include a powered tailgate, which opens to reveal 413 litres of space, with some underfloor storage too. That's less than a Volkswagen ID.4 but the C40's trump card is a 'frunk' - a space under the bonnet where you can store the charging cables.

The C40 has been designed as a stylish SUV coupé
The C40 has been designed as a stylish SUV coupé

Driving the C40 Recharge Twin

Driving the C40 Recharge Twin is a lot like driving the electric XC40. They share the same batteries and underpinnings. It's solid and predictable on the road. It's a heavy SUV so there's a limit to its dynamism, but the dual motor version tested offers plenty of grip.

Single motor versions are the most efficient of the range and send 231hp to the front wheels. That should be enough performance for most, but the dual motor version does feel fast on the road when you want it. There's a whopping 408hp, more than a Volkswagen ID.5 GTX, and the C40 Recharge Twin will sprint to 100km/h in just 4.7 seconds.

The suspension has been firmed up to cope with the extra weight of the battery, but the C40 is still deemed a comfortable drive for the most part.

DC fast charging is possible with the C40 up to 150kW, so you can add 80% charge in just under 40 minutes at a high-power charging station. From a 7kW wallbox at home for example, it will take about 12 hours to charge the battery to 100%.

Every C40 also comes with a Plugsurfing card that allows you to use over 200,000 charge points across Ireland and Europe with just one access card.

Volvo C40 and XC40 charging
Pure electric Volvo C40 and XC40 Recharge

Did you like it?

Despite offering a more prestigious design and image, the Volvo C40 starts from the same price as the XC40 Recharge, Volvo's other electric SUV.

Just like the XC40, the C40 offers a classy cabin experience and a very user-friendly digital interface. It's the little things, like the integrated Google Maps, that make the C40 a smart companion on any journey.

The C40 looks great and is a prestigious electric SUV. It offers accommodation for five and a boot of over 400 litres, though some rivals do feel a bit more spacious in the back.

Dual motor versions offer excellent performance but the C40 is not dynamic enough for this to be a huge thrill beyond some hefty acceleration in a straight line. For that reason the 'entry level' single motor, front wheel drive C40 looks to be a more sensible option - unless four wheel drive is required.

This is a simple Swede to live with and stands out for its stylish good looks and relaxing cabin among other electric SUVs.

The new Volvo C40 Recharge Twin with dual motors priced from €61,930
The new Volvo C40 Recharge Twin priced from €61,930

Model tested: Volvo C40 Recharge Twin
Price: 
€68,950
Battery:
78 kWh
Range: 446 km (WLTP)
Power: 408hp
Torque: 660Nm
Top speed: 180 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 4.7 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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


The Opel Grandland on test for Changing Lanes!

Opel Grandland Review (2022)

Read Caroline's Opel Grandland review for everything you need to know about buying Opel's updated mid-size SUV in Ireland.

A few years ago it was clear that SUVs were the motor industry's next big thing. Any car brand worth knowing was producing them at pace to deal with consumer demand.

Opel has long been the purveyor of family cars like the Astra and the Insignia. Now SUVs have become a key part of the brand's range too.

2021 saw the successful debut of the  new Opel Mokka small SUV featuring Opel's distinct new design language.

The updated Opel Grandland is this year's follow-up. It gives the German brand a shot again at the popular mid-size SUV segment with a new look and a new interior.

The Opel Grandland on test for Changing Lanes!
The Opel Grandland on test for Changing Lanes!

What's new for the Opel Grandland?

The most welcome news for the Grandland is the bold new look at the front bestowed by Opel's 'Vizor' face. It gives the Grandland a much more distinct and modern presence in line with the new Astra and the Mokka.

Paint yours in a striking colour like Vertigo Blue and glam it up in SRI or Elite trim and you have one of the most handsome SUVs in the segment.

SRI models come with a Black Pack featuring a high gloss Opel logo and badging, contrast black roof and mirror caps, high gloss black roof rails, 18-inch alloy wheels and rear privacy glass.

Inside the interior has also been revised with a new digital instrument cluster on all but the entry model giving a more modern finish to the cabin. All but the entry model also get a wireless smartphone charger and 10-inch touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto (7-inch screen on SC models).

Segment first adaptive IntelliLux LED® Pixel Lights with high beam assist now feature as standard across the range.

The new Opel Grandland goes on sale in Ireland priced from €37,395 and is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The Grandland goes on sale from €37,395 in Ireland
The Grandland goes on sale from €37,395 in Ireland

Inside the Grandland

The Opel Grandland has a straightforward cabin that's easy to navigate and feels solidly built too. It might lack some of the glamour of the interior of the Peugeot 3008 for example. But some might actually prefer this more traditional layout.

It's a car that grows on you, the more time you spend in it. There's lot of standard equipment including a rear view camera, cruise control, active lane keep assist, side blind spot alert, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, and automatic dual-zone air conditioning.

The SRI models (from €40,195) get an AGR driver’s seat for more comfort and support, electrically adjustable driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, adjustable driver seat cushion extension, half leather-effect seat trim, and alloy sporty pedals on automatic versions.

Elite models (from €41,995) come as standard with keyless entry and start, heated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, electrically adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels and handsfree electric tailgate.

The Grandland has a spacious interior for this class of vehicle and will seat three in the rear, with the footwells offering plenty of legroom for adults. The boot offers just over 500 litres of space, which is good for the class too.

The interior of the 2022 Opel Grandland
The interior of the 2022 Opel Grandland

What's it like to drive?

There are three flavours for the Grandland: petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid. Buyers can choose from a 1.2-litre petrol with 130hp and the choice of a 6-speed manual gearbox or 8-speed automatic. There’s also a 1.5-litre diesel engine available with 130hp and an 8-speed automatic (from €41,695).

There are plug-in hybrid versions of the Grandland available but they are the most expensive of the range, starting from €48,295 for a front wheel drive version with 225hp.

But the Grandland 1.2 petrol on test for Changing Lanes with a 6-speed manual gearbox is nice to drive and offers adequate performance for a family SUV, while not costing the earth to run either. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.5 litres per 100km.

The Grandland moves effortlessly over the tarmac. It offers all you could need in terms of comfort and refinement, while the controls are light making it nice to drive around town too. It's not designed to be sporty, but the handling is fine with plenty of grip from those front tyres.

The Grandland is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines
The Grandland is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines

Did you like it?

The compact SUV class has seen a number of new entrants since the Grandland debuted for the first time in 2017, like the latest Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga.

The latest update gives the Opel Grandland more character. In the right colour, it's an eye-catching combination.

Inside, the cabin is not the most adventurous by design, but it's solidly built and calmly appointed to create a cocoon of comfort and safety that's a must for a family car like this. It's also well-equipped with plenty of comfort and safety features as standard.

Like all these SUVs, the Grandland has gone up in price. But buyers have shown that they are willing to pay more for a lofty driving position behind the wheel and chunky SUV looks. The Grandland feels spacious and practical, that's for sure and it's easy to see its appeal.

The Opel Grandland is a car that grows on you - now just more stylish and more digital than before!

The 2022 Opel Grandland is more stylish and digital than before
The 2022 Opel Grandland is more stylish and digital than before

Model tested: Opel Grandland 1.2 Elite
Price: 
€41,995
Engine: 
1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 130hp
Torque: 230Nm
Top speed: 188km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 10.4 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€270 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The Audi Q3 Sportback on test for Changing Lanes!

Audi Q3 Sportback Review

Read Caroline's Audi Q3 Sportback plug-in hybrid review for everything you need to know about Audi's new hybrid SUV in Ireland.

Audi is rapidly moving towards an electric future with the addition of new battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to the German brand's range of cars and SUVs.

The Q family was always the home of Audi's SUVs and now plug-in hybrid joins the Q3 range.

The Audi Q3 is a mid-size SUV that's also available as an even more stylish Q3 Sportback with a sloping coupé-like roof line and distinct rear styling compared to the standard Q3.

In this review we're going to take a closer look at the Audi Q3 Sportback, now available as a plug-in hybrid priced from €51,365.

The Audi Q3 Sportback on test for Changing Lanes!
The Audi Q3 Sportback on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Audi Q3 Sportback?

If you're looking for a classy and stylish SUV, look no further than the Audi Q3 Sportback. It slips into the Audi range above the Audi Q2 and is a premium compact family SUV capable of carrying five people.

At the front, the Q3 Sportback has a big, wide Audi grille that really sets the tone for a fashionable SUV. The Sportback certainly offers a more unique and prestigious design compared to the standard Q3, though you will pay a small premium for it.

It has the same height but the side profile shows off this car's coupé aspirations. The roof slopes elegantly to the rear of the car and around the back, there is a distinct rear end that you will never tire of looking at!

It's a classy car and is available in two trim levels in Ireland, which slightly alter the look of the vehicle. SE models come with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, roof rails and roof spoiler.

S Line models are sportier to look at with 19-inch alloy wheels and special S Line bumpers.

The interior of the Audi Q3 Sportback
The interior of the Audi Q3 Sportback

Inside there is a classic Audi cabin that is modern and elegant.

Audi sells the Q3 Sportback with a range of engine options. Choose from a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine (150hp), a 2.0-litre diesel (150hp) or the new 1.4-litre petrol-electric plug-in hybrid (245hp). The plug-in hybrid is one of the most powerful of the range. A battery on board means that it can be plugged in, charged, and driven electric for a range of up to 51 kilometres.

Inside the Q3 Sportback

The Q3 has a modern Audi interior that is packed full of digital features. It's a classy cabin with a solid build and upmarket finish that you would expect from a car at this price point.

There's a full digital driver display with crisp graphics and the centre of the dashboard houses a 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's lot of gloss black and high quality trim elements. Other standard features include cruise control, dual-zone climate control and lane departure warning.

S Line models have a slightly more sporty cabin ambience with front sports seats, stainless steel pedals, black headliner, S Line badged steering wheel and ambient lighting.

Audi has added a new plug-in hybrid to the popular Q3 range
Audi has added a new plug-in hybrid to the popular Q3 range

The wheelbase is the same as in the standard Q3 so interior space is just about the same. The rear is more suited to two rather than three. Then passengers can enjoy two large footwells. The large transmission tunnel in the middle puts legroom at a premium for a middle seat passenger.The sloping roofline does mean there is a bit less headroom in the Q3 Sportback.

Boot space is also compromised somewhat in the Q3 TFSI e by the hybrid powertrain. At 380 litres that's more akin to the average family hatchback, which may be enough depending on your needs. And we just love the powered tailgate!

Driving the Audi Q3 Sportback Hybrid

The Audi Q3 Sportback TFSI e uses a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, 13kWh battery and electric motor. The total power output is a healthy 245hp making the plug-in hybrid Q3 the most powerful of the range (other than the bonkers 400hp RS Q3!).

There's 400 Nm of torque and the Q3 Sportback will sprint to 100km/h in  7.3 seconds. An automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels.

On the road the Q3 Sportback hybrid feels smooth and agile with plenty of power available under your right foot. It's not the most fun to drive of these mid-size SUVs but does offer a relaxed and refined drive.

The S Line model on test rides on large wheels and a sports suspension and it's fair to say it's not the most comfortable configuration for the Q3 and you will feel some of the road surface beneath you.

Rear seating in the Q3 Sportback
Rear seating in the Q3 Sportback

Power is plentiful but you buy a plug-in hybrid for its ability to be more efficient and save you money on your fuel bills. So does the Audi Q3 Sportback TFSI e deliver?

Being a plug-in hybrid means you can plug this car in and charge the battery in a few hours. Electric driving can be prioritised from an EV mode button in the cabin. Otherwise this car will operate as a hybrid.

Certainly it's most efficient when the battery is charged. There is a limited range of up to about 50 km in the EV mode but that is best reserved for low speed driving around town. Without much charging, my average fuel consumption over a week of driving was 6.7 litres per 100 km.

Did you like it?

The Audi Q3 Sportback becomes an electrified Q model with the addition of a new plug-in hybrid. It gives buyers more options but the old caveat remains: plug-in hybrids are at their best in urban driving where you can make use of the electric driving range. Plugging in and charging should be mandatory to get the best from a car like this.

Otherwise the Q3 Sportback TFSI e offers plenty of power and performance in a stylish SUV-coupé package. This is a car you buy because you love the way it looks. The Sportback loses some practicality to the standard Q3, but not much, and makes up for it with gorgeous, sleek styling.

The Q3 is one of Audi's bestselling models in Ireland. It's not the most exciting car to drive but the classy cabin and power of the Audi badge still make it a highly desirable SUV. Now with a plug.

Gorgeous coupé crossover looks for the Audi Q3 Sportback
Gorgeous coupé-crossover looks for the Audi Q3 Sportback

Model tested: Audi Q3 Sportback TFSI e S Line
Price: 
€53,910
Engine:
1.4-litre petrol electric plug-in hybrid
Power: 245hp
Torque: 400Nm
Top speed: 210km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.3 seconds
Motor Tax: €140 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The Mercedes-Benz EQB on test for Changing Lanes

Mercedes-Benz EQB Review

Read Caroline's Mercedes-Benz EQB review for everything you need to know about buying the brand's new mid-size electric SUV in Ireland.

Mercedes-Benz is strengthening their 'EQ' range of electric cars and SUVs with the arrival of the new EQB.

Based on the Mercedes GLB that launched just a few years ago, the EQB is a charismatic, mid-size SUV with the added boon of offering two extra seats. That makes the EQB one of the few electric SUVs on sale with seven seats.

There are three versions of the EQB on sale now in Ireland, with the differences being between the number of driven wheels and the power output. But all versions use a 66.5kWh battery, with up to 435 kilometres of range (WLTP) possible on a full battery charge.

Pricing starts from €65,650 for the EQB250, from €68,675 for the EQB300 4Matic, and from €71,695 for the EQB350 4Matic.

In this review, we're going to take a closer look at the new EQB and of course drive it!

The Mercedes-Benz EQB on test for Changing Lanes
The Mercedes-Benz EQB on test for Changing Lanes

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

The Mercedes-Benz EQB carries all the class of the German brand packaged in a trendy SUV package. The EQB has a great stance with a boxy design and traditional SUV cues like cladding around the bumpers, sills and wheel arches, and roof rails that make it look like it's ready for adventure.

At the front the EQB features the typical Mercedes-EQ black panel grille with central star. The continuous light strip at the front and rear looks impressive when lit up and is another design cue that links all the brand's new EV models like the EQA and the EQE.

There are three trim levels - Progressive, Electric Art and AMG Line - which alter the appearance of the car somewhat with different trim elements and alloy wheel designs. But all versions get 18-inch alloy wheels that fill the arches nicely.

Behind the wheel, the upright windscreen and high seating position adds to the 4x4 charisma of this car. The secret is it's electric and zero emissions, offering a silent and smooth drive that defies how we might think of an SUV.

The EQB's interior is another strong point. It's not just practical; it's also got a gorgeous design and finish that makes it a compelling choice of premium compact SUV.

The interior of the Mercedes EQB
The interior of the Mercedes EQB

Inside the EQB

The EQB has a stunning interior with lots of good quality materials and glamourous ambient lighting and design features like the neat circular vents for the ventilation. Every EQB comes well equipped including lots of safety features, reversing camera, heated front seats, lumbar support and keyless go.

No one does compact premium interiors quite as good as Mercedes-Benz. The EQB is an expensive car but the quality and design of the interior certainly paints this car in good light. Leather upholstery comes as standard across the range.

The digital technology is some of the best we've seen in the segment and makes this car a pleasure to spend time in. Two 10-inch digital displays combine to give a slick widescreen effect and the MBUX infotainment system will respond to commands of 'Hey Mercedes'. The graphics look modern and it's all very easy to use.

The EQB shares its dimensions with the GLB and can accommodate seven people across three rows. Granted the EQB is at its best as a generously sized five seater with a big boot of over 465 litres. But the extra two seats are a great option for families. You can move the second row of seats forward to create a little more legroom in the third row. But it's still pretty tight back there so really only suitable for children.

A powered tailgate comes as standard.

Fast charging the Mercedes-Benz EQB
Fast charging the Mercedes-Benz EQB

Driving the Mercedes EQB

The range kicks off with the EQB250. It's front wheel drive only and offers 190hp. It is expected to be the most sought-after model in Ireland with pricing starting from €65,650 and a WLTP range of up to 426 kilometres.

The other two models in the range are four-wheel-drive. The EQB300 has 225hp, while the range-topping EQB350 has 288hp.

On test for Changing Lanes was the EQB300 4Matic. On the road the EQB impresses for its comfort and refinement, being one of the nicest electric SUVs to drive of its kind. It's a smooth and serene driving experience behind the wheel of the EQB. It's hardly sporty but there is plenty of power and grip, with the 0-100 km/h sprint done in 8 seconds should you feel like it.

Another impressive feature is the efficiency of the Mercedes-Benz EQB. Over a week of driving my average consumption was 19kWh per 100 kilometres, making it one of the most efficient electric SUVs I've tested in a while.

The EQB can charge at a maximum of 100kW, so you can get up to 80% charge in about 30 minutes at a high-power charging station. From a standard 7kW wallbox at home it will take about nine hours to charge to full. There's also an 11kW AC on-board charger, which can get the battery to full in about six hours with the right charger.

The Mercedes-Benz EQB offers a seven seat electric SUV option
The Mercedes-Benz EQB offers a seven seat electric SUV option

Did you like it?

The Mercedes-Benz EQB is the latest of the brand's electric EQ cars. It's more charismatic and spacious than the Mercedes EQA, with more traditional SUV styling and an interior design that really makes the most of the EQB's boxy dimensions.

It's certainly significantly priced but that's the price of zero emissions these days from a brand like Mercedes-Benz. There are plenty of other premium electric SUVs competing for the same market. But the EQB does shine for its elegance and refinement. It's truly a fantastic cabin experience that stands out head and shoulders above the rest.

What's more the EQB is well-equipped and genuinely efficient to run so you should see a good return on every battery charge.

Mercedes-Benz really has momentum now with a range of plug-in hybrids and full battery electric vehicles available spanning every segment of the market. The EQB is one of their best.

The EQB is one of the best premium electric SUVs you can buy
The EQB is one of the best premium electric SUVs you can buy

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz EQB300 4MATIC
Price: 
€68,675
Battery:
66.5kWh
Range: 431-435km (WLTP)
Power: 228hp
Torque: 390Nm
Top speed: 160km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The Mazda CX-5 Homura on test for Changing Lanes

Mazda CX-5 Homura Review

Read Caroline's Mazda CX-5 review for everything you need to know about buying Mazda's popular mid-size SUV.

The Mazda CX-5 has been a great success for the Mazda brand since it was first launched. Now in its second generation, the CX-5 is still Mazda's bestselling model in Ireland, ahead of the CX-30 and Mazda3.

Something about the Mazda CX-5's stylish SUV looks and spacious cabin keep it in the sweet spot of the market. Mazda also has a knack of treating the CX-5 to regular updates, which keep our attention on this vehicle.

In 2022, the Mazda CX-5 received an update and in this review we're going to take a closer look at what's new. And more importantly, is the CX-5 still a good buy as a five-seat, mid-size SUV?

Pricing starts from €36,745, with a range of trim levels and engines available.

The Mazda CX-5 Homura on test for Changing Lanes
The Mazda CX-5 Homura on test for Changing Lanes

What's new for the 2022 Mazda CX-5?

The Mazda CX-5 is one of the best-looking SUVs of its kind. It looks just as modern and stylish as it did when we first saw it at the European press launch in Barcelona in 2017.

Now in 2022, Mazda has added a little more distinct style to the CX-5. There are six trim levels available but some of the most notable in the latest series are the Newground, Homura and GT Lux.

However across the board all new CX-5s get a new grille and signature wing design, and new lights and bumpers. There’s also a new colour called Zircon Sand, but Soul Red Crystal and Polymetal Grey Metallic remain good options.

The Mazda CX-5 Newground starts from €38,745 and offers a more rugged 'outdoors' look to the CX-5's elegant lines. It gets silver underguard-style treatment to the front and rear bumpers and door garnishes, black door mirrors, lime green accents to the front grille and 19-inch black machine-cut alloy wheels.

The CX-5 Homura has also returned (from €43,895) and it's my pick of the range. It's a sporty look for the CX-5 with gloss black finish to the front grille, signature wing, lower bumper sections, wheel arches, door garnishes and door mirrors.There are also 19-inch alloy wheels finished in black metallic paint, and the front grille incorporates red accents.

The GT Lux (from €44,640) has a unified, one-colour exterior, matched with silver 19-inch alloy wheels for a high-end finish.

The interior of the Mazda CX-5 Homura
The interior of the Mazda CX-5 Homura

Inside the CX-5

The interior of the CX-5 is one of the most upmarket of the family SUV class. While the design has clearly aged, there's something timelessly classy about the Mazda's cabin. Sure newer rivals have more impressive digital displays and touchscreens at this stage but everything works in the Mazda just fine.

Infotainment is provided via a 10.25-inch centre display, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A heads-up display is available too. The seats have also been revised for more comfort. New equipment includes a four camera, 360 degree monitor and wireless phone charging.

Homura models get black leather seats with red stitching, which also features on the steering wheel, gear shift lever and door panels.

The CX-5 will seat five with good sized footwells in the second row. It might be tight for three back there, but children will be fine. There is over 500 litres of boot space, which is competitive for the segment and a powered tailgate comes as standard on some versions. Split folding rear seats boost practicality, with switches in the boot to let the seats down automatically The two-piece, reversible load-space floorboard and the tailgate sill are on the same level to help with loading.

The CX-5 has been updated for 2022
The CX-5 has been updated for 2022

Driving the Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 engine line-up in Ireland is exclusively petrol and diesel. There's no hybrid like what you will find in some of the rivals. The entry into the range is a naturally aspirated, 2.0-litre petrol engine with 165hp (‘Skyactiv-G’). Petrols are smooth and quiet but the performance can feel a bit uninspiring.

The 2.2-litre diesel with 150 hp in front wheel drive versions - and 184 hp in all wheel drive versions (‘Skyactiv-D’) - is more satisfying to drive because it has more torque and it offers the best economy of the range. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 5.7 litres per 100 km.

It has plenty of power so it never gets too noisy under acceleration. The diesel CX-5 is certainly one of the best diesel SUVs in the segment for its refinement. Diesels start from €40,625.

6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic gearboxes are available depending on model. Even manuals are a breeze to drive, with the CX-5's agile handling and well-weighted steering contributing to what is still one of the best SUVs to drive. There have now been further enhancements to the CX-5's suspension and NVH (noise vibration harshness) performance.

Boot space in the Mazda CX-5
Boot space in the CX-5

Did you like it?

Equipment levels are high across the 2022 Mazda CX-5 range. Even the GS-L entry into the range gets 17-inch alloys, 10.25-inch colour screen display, keyless entry, cruise control, automatic air con, automatic lights and wipers, and parking sensors.

The GT adds black leather upholstery to the spec with power control and memory function, as well as 19-inch wheels, heated front seats and heated steering wheel. A powered tailgate and rear parking camera are available from GT Sport and above.

The Mazda CX-5 has definitely matured but it still stands out for its stunning good looks and upmarket interior. The cabin experience is no longer the most modern in the segment, but still feels ‘a cut above’ many competitors from the driver’s seat.

It’s subtle things like the way you are positioned in relation to the steering wheel and the controls, and the slick action of the manual gearbox, the refinement of the transmission. Things that last the test of time and make every drive a pleasure.

The CX-5 range now has more options than ever with some very distinct new offerings including the CX-5 Newground and the CX-5 Homura.

It’s easy to spend a lot of money on a CX-5 (looking at you Homura), which would be my pick of the range for a truly premium finish.

The Mazda CX-5 proposes a simple line-up of petrol and diesel engines. Hybrid has become a bit of a trend in this segment but it's absent here. Diesel seems like the best buy in the CX-5 range, which might be against market trends but there is still something to be said for the efficiency and satisfying drive behind the wheel.

Of course, later this year Mazda will launch their first ever plug-in hybrid SUV, the new Mazda CX-60. But it will be larger than the CX-5 so this car remains very much a key part of Mazda's line-up.

The Mazda CX-5 still has a lot to offer SUV buyers
The Mazda CX-5 has a lot to offer SUV buyers

Model tested: Mazda CX-5 Homura 2.2 Skyactiv-D
Price: 
€47,775
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 150 hp
Torque: 380 Nm
Top speed:  204 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.9 seconds
CO2 emissions:
147 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€270 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The Nissan Juke Hybrid will arrive in Ireland later in 2022

Nissan Juke Hybrid First Drive Review

The Nissan Juke Hybrid will join the Nissan range in Ireland later this year.

The Juke is one of the brand's most successful models to date with over 11,000 finding homes in Ireland since it first went on sale in 2010. The second generation Juke launched in 2020. Now Juke goes hybrid for the very first time.

Caroline travelled to Milton Keynes with Nissan Ireland to drive the new Nissan Juke Hybrid.

The Nissan Juke Hybrid will arrive in Ireland later in 2022
The Nissan Juke Hybrid will arrive in Ireland later in 2022

Styling

The Nissan Juke Hybrid shares the same sporty crossover design as the rest of the Juke range. The Juke still looks modern and fresh with distinctive styling features including hidden rear door handles for a coupé style and a trendy contrast roof. Hybrid badges now feature on the front doors and the bootlid. The front grille of the Juke Hybrid displays the new Nissan brand logo and also features a strip of black gloss material where it meets the bonnet, a new feature of all electrified Nissan models including the upcoming electric Nissan Ariya. New two-tone 17" alloy wheels and 19" aero wheels will be available.

The Hybrid also gets a few design tweaks to improve aerodynamic efficiency including a new mesh grille with smaller holes. Modifications have also been made to the bodywork below the bumper to improve airflow. A radiator grille shutter has been added, allowing airflow to be automatically adjusted according to cooling needs. The rear spoiler has been restyled for cleaner airflow behind the car. And in front of the front wheels, the air deflectors have been reshaped and repositioned to clean the airflow. The rear axle has gained a cover to smooth the airflow under the car. Magic!

Interior

Inside the cabin, the Nissan Juke Hybrid has a sporty vibe with charismatic circular air vents and plenty of soft touch materials in our test vehicle. Hybrid models have an updated driver display including a power gauge and one for the battery's state of charge. A visual representation of the flow of power can be displayed on the 7" combimeter screen between the two dials. Infotainment is provided via an 8" touchscreen on top of the dash with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also a new button to activate e-Pedal one pedal driving on the centre console, as well as driving modes and an EV mode. It's a cool and modern cabin for this Juke.

The interior of the new Juke Hybrid
The interior of the new Juke Hybrid

Practicality

The Nissan Juke Hybrid is smaller inside than a Nissan Qashqai for example but it does offer similar space inside to many other compact crossovers on the market. It's possible for two adults to get comfortable in the rear. Headroom could be tight for taller adults but children will be fine. While the standard Juke petrol has an excellent boot volume of 422 litres, the hybrid loses some of that volume to accommodate the battery. It's down to 354 litres but that's still comparable to many hatchbacks.

Engine

The new Nissan Juke Hybrid uses a 1.6-litre four cylinder petrol engine, 1.2kWh battery and a 36kW electric motor. Power is up to 143hp, 25% more than what the 1.0-litre petrol Juke offers. According to Nissan, fuel consumption is reduced by 20% to between 5.0-5.2 litres per 100 km.

On the road

The Juke Hybrid starts in electric mode, moving off silently. Over our mixed test route across town, rural roads and motorway, we saw consumption as low as 5.6 litres per 100 km. It's a standard hybrid so no need to plug it in to get that sort of return on fuel consumption either.

On the road the extra power of the hybrid is apparent compared to the Juke 1.0-litre, offering pleasant acceleration and lively performance. The Juke's automatic gearbox seems to hold onto gears a bit longer than what you expect, no doubt to improve efficiency. There are no paddles or manual mode to override this. Though in Sport mode, the gear changes seem marginally quicker.

Elsewhere, the Nissan Juke Hybrid is a sporty and composed drive, offering lots of grip in cornering, and stability and refinement at high speeds on the motorway. It's compact and agile around town, though the ride seems firm over bumps.

Boot space in the Juke Hybrid
Boot space in the Juke Hybrid

Pricing & Equipment

Full pricing and equipment for the Nissan Juke Hybrid will be released later in the summer. The Nissan Juke 1.0-litre petrol currently starts from €25,745, so expect the hybrid version to carry a premium. Though Nissan Ireland say pricing will be competitive against hybrid rivals like the Toyota Yaris Cross and Renault Captur Hybrid.

Summary

The Nissan brand is gaining momentum again with the arrival of new electric and hybrid models like the electric Ariya and the Qashqai hybrid.

Now hybrid joins the Juke range, giving more options to buyers on the look out for a stylish and fuel-efficient compact crossover.

At Changing Lanes, we were already fans of the latest generation Juke. It's fun to drive and has a cool cabin and quirky coupé-inspired styling.

Thankfully these qualities have been retained in the new Juke Hybrid. It no doubt will be more expensive to buy, but the combination of more power and the ease of the automatic gearbox make it a more sophisticated offering.

The Nissan Juke Hybrid is a stylish and efficient compact crossover
The Nissan Juke Hybrid is a stylish and efficient compact crossover

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes