The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

2019 Suzuki Vitara 1.0 Boosterjet Review

The 2019 Suzuki Vitara
The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

Caroline drives the 2019 Suzuki Vitara!

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

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

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

The 2019 Suzuki Vitara

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

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

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

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

Inside the 2019 Suzuki Vitara

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

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

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

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

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

What are my engine options?

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

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

Driving the Suzuki Vitara

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


The new Skoda Karoq Sportline

2019 Skoda Karoq Sportline

The new Skoda Karoq Sportline
The new Skoda Karoq Sportline

Caroline drives the 2019 Skoda Karoq Sportline!

Skoda has been competing in the compact SUV segment in Ireland with the new Karoq for over a year now. In 2019 the Karoq range has expanded again with the launch of the Skoda Karoq Sportline, which brings a little extra ‘oomph’ to the Karoq’s SUV offering!

Available from €34,100, the Karoq Sportline is positioned at the top end of the Karoq range and is available with a 1.5-litre TSI (150hp) turbo petrol engine, and 1.6-litre (115hp) and 2.0-litre (150hp) diesels. A 6 speed manual gearbox is standard but a 7 speed automatic transmission and four wheel drive are also available.

The Skoda Karoq Sportline starts from €34,100
The Skoda Karoq Sportline starts from €34,100

Sporty features inside and out

For a sporty appearance, the Karoq Sportline gets special sports bumpers including rear diffuser, black radiator grille, tinted windows, black door mirrors, black roof rails, LED headlamps and 18-inch ‘Mytikas’ black alloys wheels.

Inside,
there are front sports seats with contrasting silver stitch, a multifunction
sports steering wheel in perforated black leather, black headliner, carbon
effect inserts in the dash, LED interior lighting pack, aluminium door sills with
Sportline logo and aluminium sports pedals.

The interior of the Skoda Karoq has a simple layout built around an 8” touchscreen that pairs seamlessly with smartphones. The perceived quality is good for the segment and the Sportline treatment adds a pleasant injection of atmosphere to the cabin of the Karoq.

The interior of the Skoda Karoq Sportline
The interior of the Skoda Karoq Sportline

What do you get?

Standard equipment includes dual zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, parking camera and a driving mode selector. The test car had the Skoda Virtual Cockpit added as an option for €594. It adds a cool and modern finish to the cabin with five different views to choose from.

The Karoq
Sportline has been dolled up but thankfully retains all the practical features
of the standard compact SUV. It will seat five with plenty of head and legroom
in the rear. The boot is also very generous at 521 litres.

My test car was fitted with a 2.0TDI diesel with 150hp and in Sportline guise has a list price of €35,160. This engine has loads of power and flexibility, and offers decent refinement. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.0l/100km and motor tax is €270 per year.

The Skoda Karoq Sportline comes with petrol and diesel engine options
The Skoda Karoq Sportline comes with petrol and diesel engine options

Driving the 2019 Skoda Karoq Sportline

On the road, the Skoda Karoq Sportline delivers an agile and composed drive, as we have come to expect from Skoda. Comfort and refinement are also on par with rivals so it falls neatly into the segment, and should fit the requirements of most compact SUV buyers.

The Skoda Karoq Sportline adds a lot to the Karoq offering. Visually it’s a very appealing car, especially in red. It has loads of standard equipment and a suitably atmospheric interior also.

Underneath the Karoq has the basics covered in that it’s a spacious and comfortable family SUV. Sportline just gives it that extra bit of visual appeal to give it a hand to stand out in the segment.

The Skoda Karoq gets a pleasant injection of attitude in Sportline trim
The Skoda Karoq gets a pleasant injection of attitude in Sportline trim

Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Skoda
Karoq Sportline
Price:
€35,160 (Range from €28,350)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 340 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9 seconds
Top speed: 205 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.6 - 6.0l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
123g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


The new SEAT Tarraco!

2019 SEAT Tarraco 2.0 TDI Review

The new SEAT Tarraco!
The new SEAT Tarraco!

Caroline drives the new SEAT Tarraco!

In the last few years, SEAT has grown its portfolio of cars with the addition of a new family of SUVs, including the Ateca and last year’s compact Arona. But now it’s the arrival of the Tarraco that looks set to enhance SEAT’s prospects even more. The new SEAT Tarraco is not only the brand’s largest family SUV, available with five or seven seats, but it’s also a new flagship model for the brand.

With pricing starting from €34,700, the SEAT Tarraco enters a significantly crowded market of family SUVs. Yet the Tarraco is certainly one of the most spacious of its ilk so in that way it’s a properly accommodating family car. Five seat models are standard but you can get two extra seats in the rear for an additional €1000, turning your Tarraco into the seven seat family mover of your dreams.

The SEAT Tarraco is available from €34,700 in Ireland
The SEAT Tarraco is available from €34,700 in Ireland

Stylish and practical family SUV

The SEAT Tarraco hides its bulk well in the metal, being creased in all the right places for a classy, discrete presence. However to distinguish the Tarraco, there’s some more elaborate design touches synonymous with the ambitious Spanish brand. There’s drama in the big, upright grille and sharp LED headlights with SEAT’s triangular signature design, as well as a defining light strip along the rear of the car.

SEAT Ireland has launched the Tarraco in two trims, SE and Xcellence, with even SE models getting LED lights and 18” inch alloys. The Xcellence model I had on test (from €39,885) had 20” alloys added as an option but standard kit includes 19” alloys and a special Xcellence styling kit.

Standard equipment is very good across the range with SE models getting 8” touchscreen, cruise control, digital instrument panel, SEAT drive profile, tri zone climate control, keyless start, front assist, city emergency braking, lane keep assist and rear view camera. Xcellence models add electric tailgate, adaptive cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, and park assist.

The interior of the SEAT Tarraco
The interior of the SEAT Tarraco

Inside the SEAT Tarraco

The interior of the SEAT Tarraco has a simple and elegant design with a digital instrument panel as standard and 8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Quality is some of the best we’ve seen from SEAT to date. There are also some more distinct elements to this cabin like the stylish brushed chrome trim inserts and the digital instrument panel with unique graphics and three different views to choose from.

The cabin feels large and spacious and there is loads of space for second row occupants. There are two optional seats in row three. There is not a lot of legroom back there, but the split fold rear bench in row 2 can be slid forward and back to create more space. The boot is a huge 760 litres with a wide aperture and a powered tailgate is standard on Xcellence trim.

Rear seating in the SEAT Tarraco
Rear seating in the SEAT Tarraco

What are my engine options?

The new SEAT Tarraco is available in Ireland with a 1.5-litre TSI turbo petrol (150hp), a 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol (190hp) and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel. The 2.0-litre TDI is available with a manual gearbox with a power output of 150hp or in automatic DSG 4×4 guise with 190hp.

My test car was a 2.0-litre diesel with 190hp paired with a DSG automatic transmission and four wheel drive. It was a wonderful combination with smooth gearshifts and lots of power, making it an effortless drive whether in town or country. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.2l/100km, while motor tax is €390 per year for this model.

The SEAT Tarraco is built on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-A long wheelbase architecture but SEAT say that they have tweaked it to make it more like a SEAT, with a bit of sportiness and flair to the driving experience.

Boot space in the SEAT Tarraco when the seven seats are in place
Boot space in the SEAT Tarraco when the seven seats are in place

On the road in the SEAT Tarraco

The light controls make it easy work in the urban environment, while the diesel was smooth and refined around town. There is only so much that the Tarraco can do to disguise its size and weight in corners, but it handles with enough agility for this class of vehicle. The refinement and comfort of the car is truly special also and the Tarraco moves through the air with incredible ease.

The SEAT Tarraco is a real triumph for SEAT, showcasing some of the best quality, comfort and refinement the brand has to offer. It’s a spacious and practical vehicle with a versatile interior that should serve family well.

The Tarraco is stylish and well equipped with well proven engines on offer so it can truly command its position in the market as a stylish, quality and desirable SUV. This is such a pleasant car to drive every day, with ride quality and refinement that gives a surprisingly premium feel to the Tarraco. In that way SEAT has really delivered on the premise of a flagship model for their brand and the Tarraco is an aspirational vehicle that will turn heads.

The Tarraco is a real triumph for SEAT!
The Tarraco is a real triumph for SEAT!


Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Tarraco
2.0TDI 190hp DSG 4Drive Xcellence (7 Seat)
Price:
€51,460 (Range from €34,700)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
190 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8 seconds
Top speed: 209 km/h
Fuel economy:
37.2-38.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 
147g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


The 2019 Audi Q3

2019 Audi Q3 1.5 TFSI Review

The 2019 Audi Q3
The 2019 Audi Q3

Caroline drives the 2019 Audi Q3!

Audi’s Q
range of SUVs have never been so relevant as they are now. Naturally, Audi has
invested considerably in their Q range of SUVs in recent years, with new models
like the Q2 and Q8, as well as this all new generation of the Audi Q3 that recently
landed in Ireland.

The arrival of the more compact Q2 in 2017, means that the 2019 Audi Q3 is no longer the smallest SUV in the Audi range. In fact, for this generation, Audi has considerably reinvented the Q3 so that it can function better as a family SUV.

In Ireland, the 2019 Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600. There are a range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, as well as two trim lines, SE and S line. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available as is quattro four wheel drive, though standard models are front wheel drive.

The Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600 in Ireland
The Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600 in Ireland

What's new for the 2019 Audi Q3?

The Audi Q3 is a very smart looking SUV in the metal. Audi has given the new Q3 more definition and stance. Yet it’s still a relatively compact vehicle in the metal, but achingly stylish and desirable in that cool, understated Audi way. The new Singleframe grille has an octagonal design and eight ‘don’t mess with me’ vertical bars. The new wedge shape lights use LED technology in all versions and are paired with LED daytime running lights.

Slip inside the cabin of the 2019 Audi Q3, and it’s hard not to be instantly beguiled by the quality and technology at your fingertips. The cabin experience in the Q3 is one of the best in class. That’s down to how the digital instrument panel (Audi Virtual Cockpit, a 10.25 inch screen within the binnacle), and the new 10.1 inch MMI touch display, fit so comfortably into the cabin with seamless controls.

The interior of the new Audi Q3
The interior of the new Audi Q3

Interior and Equipment

The Q3's dashboard design is modern and cool with lashings of stylish high gloss black, while the material quality is good in just about all the places that matter. There’s also an optional ambient lighting package with 30 colour options for more wow.

The new Q3 comes with a number of active safety systems including pre-sense basic, pre-sense front, side assist, active lane assist and automatic emergency braking. Standard equipment on SE models includes 18” alloys, Audi drive select, Audi Virtual Cockpit and 10.1” MMI touch display, light/rain sensor, LED headlights, cruise control and manual air con.

S line models (from €42,550) add 19” alloys, S line body kit, S line interior including front sport seats and stainless steel pedals, LED interior pack and full LED headlamps with dynamic rear indicators.

Rear legroom in the new Audi Q3
Rear legroom in the new Audi Q3

Does the new Audi Q3 make a good family SUV?

The new
Audi Q3 is built upon the Volkswagen Group’s modular transverse matrix, which
means that the new Q3 has grown in size. It’s longer and wider than its
predecessor with a longer wheelbase also meaning that it is now more spacious
inside for five people and their gear. In the rear it feels noticeably bigger
with a welcome boost in knee room, headroom and elbow room that makes it more
competitive in its segment than ever before.

For extra practicality an electrically powered tailgate comes as standard. The new Q3 also has a bigger boot at 530 litres or 675 litres depending on the position of the rear seats and backrests.

The Audi Q3 35 TFSI features a 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine with efficiency boosting cylinder deactivation technology!
The Audi Q3 35 TFSI features a 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine with efficiency boosting cylinder deactivation technology!

Driving the 2019 Audi Q3

According to Audi, the suspension in the new Q3 has been tuned to be more comfortable, assured and responsive, helped by the latest car’s longer wheelbase. S line models have a sport suspension for an even more tightly controlled feel. Progressive steering comes as standard across the range, which gradually becomes more direct as the steering angle increases.

On the road, the new Audi Q3 is remarkably good. The most striking and pleasant feature is the silence and seclusion of the cabin while driving. The refinement of this car is just beautiful. The handling and steering are more than adequate, making progress pleasant and brisk in the new Q3.

The Audi drive select dynamic handling system comes as standard and includes six modes - auto, comfort, dynamic, offroad, efficiency and individual. These settings influence the throttle response, the steering, the shift characteristics of the S tronic and the damper control where this is fitted.

The new Audi Q3 is a stylish and fun family SUV
The new Audi Q3 is a stylish and fun family SUV

Diesel and petrol engines for the Audi Q3

In Ireland
the new Audi Q3 is available with three petrol options (150hp, 190hp and 230hp)
and two diesel options (150hp and 190hp). The entry-level engine is the
1.5-litre TFSI turbo petrol engine with 150hp and 250 Nm of torque, badged 35
TFSI. It uses the cylinder on demand technology to improve efficiency, which
temporarily switches off two cylinders at low load. This engine is really smooth
and powerful on the road. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged
at 7.5l/100km.

The new Audi Q3 sashays into a very competitive market but this modern interpretation of ‘Audiness’ that now pervades the brand’s newer models like the Audi A6, makes the Q3 instantly desirable. The Q3 has grown up and is now more practical than ever with more space and more presence. The real jewel in the crown however, is the latest generation Audi interior that sits so comfortably in the Q3, striking a perfect balance between comfort, quality and wow-worthy tech.  

The new Audi Q3 is astoundingly good!


Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Audi Q3 1.5TSI S line S-Tronic
Price:
€44,950 (Range from €38,600)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 211 km/h
Fuel economy:
7.4-7.7l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
169-176g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year


The new Mercedes-Benz GLE

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE First Drive

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has just arrived in Ireland,
priced from €78,395. This is a new generation of Mercedes-Benz large family
SUV, and there is a seven seat option for the first time. Caroline went to the
Irish press launch in Dublin to check out the new Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Styling

The GLE has been spruced up in
line with the brand’s current line-up of cars. The wheelbase is 80mm longer and
the new SUV has a more rounded and elegant presence, with distinctive LED
headlights and rear lights. 18” alloys come as standard, while AMG Line models
add AMG bodystyling and 20” alloys. The new styling has helped the GLE to
achieve the best aerodynamics in its segment, with a Cd figure
from 0.29.

Interior

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE features a widescreen cockpit as standard with two 12.3 inch screens – one for the driver information display and the second for the infotainment. The material quality is excellent throughout with the addition of some slightly more rugged looking features than a traditional Mercedes-Benz saloon - check out those rectangular shaped air vents. There is a prominent raised centre console between the driver and passenger housing cupholders, storage and the controls for the MBUX infotainment system. Hey Mercedes!

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz GLE
The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz GLE

Practicality

The GLE is now available as a five or seven seat SUV. The cabin is very spacious with lots of legroom in row 2. There is electrical assistance to move the seats in row 2 forward and back with adjustable recline. Space is tight in row 3 but is adequate for the extra versatility that these seats offer. When not in use they can be stowed into the floor. The luggage capacity is up to 825 litres behind the rear seats, and up to 2,055 litres when the second row is folded down. There has also been a 72 mm increase in loading width.

Engines

In Ireland the new GLE will be available with petrol and diesel engines in the 1950cc to 2999cc capacity range. A diesel plug-in hybrid will arrive before the end of the year with a pure electric range of up to 100 km. The big seller in Ireland will be the 300d with a 2.0-litre diesel putting out 245hp. Other diesels include the GLE 350d, GLE 400d and GLE 450d. There is a GLE 450 petrol available powered by a six-cylinder engine with 48-volt mild hybrid technology. Motor tax ranges from €570 to €1200. 4MATIC four wheel drive is standard on all models.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE range starts from €78,395
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE range starts from €78,395

On the road

The Mercedes-Benz GLE has a newly developed steel suspension, while there is also the option of a new AIRMATIC air suspension and E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL for engine variants with six and more cylinders. This is the only system in the market where the spring and damping forces can be individually controlled at each wheel to counteract body roll, pitching and squat, and take the GLE out of difficult off-road situations.

On a short drive on standard suspension, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d 4MATIC was a comfortable and refined companion, and easy to manoeuvre for its size. I look forward to bringing you more detailed driving impressions after a longer test drive later in the year.

Equipment

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

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

The GLE now comes with the option of seven seats
The GLE now comes with the option of seven seats

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

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

Pricing

The range starts with the GLE 300d 4MATIC at €78,395. With an AMG Line exterior package, this model is available from €84,202. The AMG Line is available from €84,762.

The GLE 450 4MATIC petrol is available from €95,995.

Rivals

Rivals for the new GLE include the Audi Q7 and the BMW X5.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE brings the latest Mercedes style and technology to the large family SUV class
The Mercedes-Benz GLE brings the latest Mercedes style and technology to the large family SUV class

Summary

The new generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLE ups its game in terms of styling, interior finish, technology and connectivity, bringing modern Mercedes-Benz features to the large family SUV class. The seven seat option is new for the GLE and makes the whole package even more competitive than before.

Mercedes-Benz Ireland is offering generously equipped GLEs undercutting their BMW and Audi rivals on pricing with the popular GLE 300d 4MATIC, though rivals do offer a bit more power like for like. I look forward to putting the GLE to the test at a later date to see how it stacks up against rivals!

Caroline Kidd


The new Range Rover Evoque in the Peloponnese region of Greece

2019 Range Rover Evoque First Drive Review

The new Range Rover Evoque in the Peloponnese region of Greece
The new Range Rover Evoque in the Peloponnese region of Greece

When the Range Rover Evoque debuted in 2011, it was a significant departure for the Land Rover brand. The Evoque was designed to appeal to a new and more urbane customer looking for a stylish, premium SUV. It also carried the prestige of belonging to the high-end ‘Range Rover’ family of vehicles. Now the Evoque is back for a second generation, with all the modernity and technology needed to carry itself successfully into a new era. Caroline travelled with Land Rover Ireland to Athens, Greece, to test drive the new 2019 Range Rover Evoque. The Evoque will officially arrive in Ireland in May, but a preview model is currently touring Land Rover dealerships nationwide.

Styling

The new Range Rover Evoque still carries the classic high beltline/sloping roofline silhouette that made the original Evoque a trendsetter. There are new super-slim Matrix LED headlamps, flush door handles and other new trim elements around the front and rear. The surfacing of the car has been refined for a clean and contemporary look. The wheel arches can house up to 21-inch wheels. The Evoque undoubtedly has kerb appeal.

The Range Rover Evoque goes on sale in Ireland officially in May priced from €42,845
The Range Rover Evoque goes on sale in Ireland officially in May priced from €42,845

Interior

The interior of the 2019 Range Rover Evoque has taken a step up in terms of quality and design, along with the integration of the latest driver assistance technologies and digital displays. There are soft touch materials aplenty. Land Rover has also come up with some alternatives to classic leather, including Kvadrat premium wool blend, Dinamica® suedecloth, and Eucalyptus fibre textiles, which are very tactile indeed.

The twin touchscreen Touch Pro Duo system comes as standard on some trim levels. Ventilation and other vehicle settings are controlled via the lower screen. It looks very impressive, though can be fiddly to use on the move. There is also an optional 12.3" Interactive Driver Display and Head-up Display for the full digital experience.

The interior of the new Range Rover Evoque
The interior of the new Range Rover Evoque

Practicality

The new Evoque is built on Land Rover’s new Premium Transverse Architecture. While the overall dimensions are near on identical, there is more interior space than before. A longer wheelbase yields 20mm extra rear kneeroom. The Evoque will seat five with reasonable rear leg and headroom for a compact SUV.  The luggage space is wider and 10 per cent larger than the outgoing car at 591 litres. The second row seats can be folded 40:20:40.

The new generation of the Evoque has a bigger boot
The new generation of the Evoque has a bigger boot

Engines

In Ireland the 2019 Range Rover Evoque will be available with 2.0-litre diesel and petrol engines with MHEV, a mild hybrid system that harvests and stores energy normally lost during vehicle deceleration to assist the engine to maximise efficiency. Power outputs for the diesel include 150hp, 180hp and 240hp, while the petrol will have outputs of 200hp, 250hp and 300hp. Front wheel drive and all wheel drive models are available. A manual gearbox comes as standard, with a 9 speed automatic also available.

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will join the range next year.

The new Range Rover Evoque will be available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, with a plug-in hybrid on the way in 2020
The new Range Rover Evoque will be available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, with a plug-in hybrid on the way in 2020

On the road

The new Range Rover Evoque sits on a new, more rigid platform. On our test drive, the Evoque handled very well through corners with excellent ride quality that means it can transition from off road to on road remarkably well. Optional Adaptive Dynamics alter the suspension damping rates depending on the road surface and deliver the optimum balance of comfort and agility.

The new Evoque now features Terrain Response 2 and a number of driving aids for off-road. You can hit the Auto button among the off-road settings and the SUV automatically detects the surface being driven on and adjusts the set-up accordingly. The Evoque can now wade through water up to 600mm (previously 500mm).

We had the opportunity to test the Evoque extensively on and off road in the rugged Peloponnese region of Greece. We drove through river beds, up steep inclines and down them, across rough terrain littered with ruts, stones and gullies, and even on a stage from the Acropolis Rally! We crossed the Corinth Canal on an old railway bridge, using the new ClearSight Ground View to guide us. This new feature effectively makes the bonnet invisible so you can see the ground between the wheels from a camera view transmitted to the screen in the centre console.

Crossing the Corinth Canal in the Range Rover Evoque
Crossing the Corinth Canal in the Range Rover Evoque!

The Evoque might be a stylish looking SUV for the city but its off-road capability is truly outstanding. Then the Evoque just effortlessly shrugged off the dust from its shoulders and glided out onto smooth tarmac roads once again.

We tested the 2.0 litre diesel 240hp and the 2.0 petrol 250hp all wheel drive models. Both were quiet on the move with plenty of power and flexibility through the rev range. I look forward to bringing my full driving impressions once we test the new Range Rover Evoque on Irish roads later in the year.

Equipment

In Ireland the 2019 Range Rover Evoque will be sold across a range of trim lines including entry, S, SE, and HSE and the sportier looking R-Dynamic, R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE and R-Dynamic HSE. Standard equipment includes dual zone climate control with rear vents, 17" alloys, LED headlights, cruise control, 10" touchscreen, push button start, ClearSight interior rear view mirror, rear camera, parking sensors and lane keep assist. Please visit landrover.ie for a list of equipment for each model.

The Range Rover Evoque can effortlessly transition from off-road driving to smooth, tarmac roads
The Range Rover Evoque can effortlessly transition from off-road driving to smooth, tarmac roads

Pricing

Pricing for the 2019 Range Rover Evoque starts from €42,845 for the front wheel drive 2.0-litre diesel model with 150hp and a 6 speed manual gearbox. All wheel drive diesel models with automatic gearbox as standard start from €49,595.

Rivals

The Evoque’s rivals include the Audi Q3, Volvo XC40 and Jaguar E-PACE.

Summary

The Evoque brings a certain level of distinction to the premium, compact SUV segment with cool good looks, Land Rover’s legendary off-road ability and the prestige of the Range Rover badge. The Evoque offers a smooth, quiet and sporty drive with on trend mild hybrid tech, while there is no mistaking the premium cabin ambience, enhanced with the latest digital screens and alternative fabric options. The Range Rover Evoque made its name as a trendsetter back in 2011; now it has successfully crossed into a new era of technology and modernity.

Caroline Kidd

Photos courtesy of Land Rover


The 2019 Renault Kadjar in Iron Blue

Renault Kadjar 1.5 Diesel Review

The 2019 Renault Kadjar in Iron Blue
The 2019 Renault Kadjar in Iron Blue

Caroline drives the new Renault Kadjar 1.5 diesel.

Since the Renault Kadjar was launched as Renault’s new compact family
SUV in 2015, it has become a firm favourite and familiar sight on Irish roads.
The Renault Kadjar was a well-judged entrant to a burgeoning market with its
curvy good looks and competitive pricing.

Now in 2019, Renault has looked at their Kadjar range once again and made a few updates to styling, equipment and engines.

What's new for the 2019 Renault Kadjar?

The Renault Kadjar now has a new front-end design and C-shape light signature in line with Renault’s other SUVs, the Captur and the Koleos. Some new trim elements and LED lights have also been added to the rear of the car. There are new alloy wheel designs and new colours for the Kadjar range including Oural Green, Highland Grey and Iron Blue.

The Renault Kadjar is available from €26,995 in Ireland
The Renault Kadjar is available from €26,995 in Ireland

Inside, the Kadjar always had a
straightforward cabin that was easy to feel at home in and a comfortable place
on the move. New satin chrome trim has been added to the interior and the
touchscreen for the infotainment system is now flush with the centre console.
Some of the dials and switches have been changed also. Redesigned seats feature
length adjustment on some models, double density foam to enhance comfort, and
firmer side reinforcements for more support.

Standard equipment now includes climate
control, 7” touchscreen with Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay®, alloy wheels,
parking sensors, and automatic lights and wipers. Other additions include
bigger cup holders, bigger bins in the front doors and two rear USB sockets.

Interior space is good for this class of vehicle and the Kadjar will seat five. There is a 472 litre boot with a large square opening.

The interior of the 2019 Renault Kadjar
The interior of the 2019 Renault Kadjar

Engines and Equipment

In Ireland the Kadjar is available now in four trim levels: Play, Iconic, S-Edition and GT Line. The range kicks off at €26,995. Iconic models start from €29,695 and add cruise control and speed limiter, parking camera, and keyless entry/start and privacy glass.

The new sporty S-Edition (from €31,395) adds a half leather interior, panoramic roof, and LED/Xenon lights. The top of the range GT-Line (from €33,995) adds 19” alloys, leather seats, full LED lights, auto park, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and automatic high/low beam. 

Rear legroom in the Renault Kadjar
Rear legroom in the Renault Kadjar

The Renault Kadjar range has also been refreshed with some new or updated engines. There’s a new 1.3 TCe turbo petrol engine with 140 or 160hp. The Kadjar also features an updated 1.5 Blue dCi 115 diesel engine. It’s the most efficient engine in the range. For customers requiring more performance, the new 1.7 Blue dCi engine is now available with 150hp and comes in 4×2 and 4×4. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. My test car was a Renault Kadjar GT Line 1.5dCi 115 with a list price of €35,995.

Driving the 2019 Renault Kadjar 1.5 diesel

On the road the Renault Kadjar 1.5 diesel is smooth and comfortable to drive. The updated Blue dCi 1.5 litre diesel engine is remarkably refined and economical, with my fuel consumption averaging at 5.1 litres per 100 km over a week of driving. It makes for a good combination, with the sort of pleasant driving character that is a must for a family car.

The Renault Kadjar is available with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines
The Renault Kadjar is available with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines

Renault has refined the Kadjar a little more to keep up with rivals. The Renault Kadjar with its redesigned nose is now arguably even more stylish than before, while the interior of the car has been given a better fit and finish also.

Underneath the Kadjar is still a practical and comfortable vehicle, with new engines meeting the latest emissions standards. Competition is of course fierce in the compact SUV segment but the Renault Kadjar brings some flair and passion with an utterly capable and enjoyable family vehicle.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Kadjar GT Line Blue dCi 115
Price:
€35,995 (Range from €26,995)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115 hp
Torque: 260 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.7 seconds
Top speed: 188 km/h
Fuel Economy: 
4.9l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
117g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The new Citroën C5 Aircross has just arrived in Ireland!

Citroën C5 Aircross First Drive Review

The new Citroën C5 Aircross has just arrived in Ireland!
The new Citroën C5 Aircross has just arrived in Ireland!

The new Citroën C5 Aircross has just arrived in Ireland with pricing starting from €26,495. This is an exciting new car for Citroën, competing in the ‘sweet spot of the market’ where family SUVs reside. Caroline went along to the Irish press launch in Kildare to test drive the new C5 Aircross.

Styling

Citroën has rolled out some very individual and stylish cars in recent years like the C3 and C4 Cactus. The C5 Aircross brings the same sort of distinct look to the larger five seat SUV segment. It is very much a Citroën to look at and it's unlikely to get lost in a crowd, especially if you go for a funky two tone look. Details include a two-tier light signature, wheel arch extensions and Airbump® panels available with personalised coloured inserts.

Interior

The cabin of the C5 Aircross combines the latest technology features with soft furnishings for an airy, lounge feel. The dashboard has a nice mix of materials with some soft touch parts, though there are plenty of harder plastics too. Aesthetically it all looks fine. There is a standard 8” touchscreen for the infotainment and it also houses the ventilation controls. A 12.3-inch driver information panel is also included as standard. There are plenty of storage spaces with the central armrest housing more practical storage compartments.The C5 Aircross adopts the sofa-inspired seating of the C4 Cactus with thick, wide seats.

Practicality

The Citroën C5 Aircross is one of the longest and tallest vehicles in its segment and feels very spacious inside. It has the largest boot of its competitors at 580 litres. Modularity is a key feature with three individual seats in the rear that can slide, fold and recline. There is also a flat floor in the rear making it more comfortable for carrying three people.

The interior of the new Citroën C5 Aircross
The interior of the new Citroën C5 Aircross

Engines

The C5 Aircross comes with two petrol and two diesel engines, with a plug-in hybrid on the way in 2020. Petrol engines include the 1.2-litre 130hp Puretech engine paired with a 6-speed manual transmission and a 1.6-litre 180hp unit, which comes with the choice of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. On the diesel side there is a 1.5-litre Blue HDI 130hp engine with the choice of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission, and a 2.0-litre 180hp unit, which comes as standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Motor tax ranges from €190 to €280 depending on model.

On the road

The Citroën C5 Aircross has laminated double glazed windows and an insulation layer to reduce road and wind noise. There has also been an emphasis on sound insulation in the engine compartment. This contributes to a refined cabin ambience. The new C5 Aircross also has Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension for a smoother and more comfortable ride. Whereas a conventional suspension system is made up of dampers, springs and mechanical bump-stops, the new Citroën system adds two hydraulic stops to each suspension unit – one for rebound and one for compression. It translates well to the road, with the C5 Aircross being very soft and smooth over the road. It's not the sharpest handling SUV, so if you hustle it on through corners there is more feeling of roll. At the launch I tested the 1.5 diesel and 1.2 petrol. Both are good engines with some of the best in class running costs and CO2 values.

The Citroën C5 Aircross goes on sale priced from €26,495
The Citroën C5 Aircross goes on sale priced from €26,495

Equipment

In Ireland there are four trim levels: Start, Touch, Feel and Flair.

The entry ‘Start’ trim level includes 8” touchscreen display, cruise control, active safety brake and air conditioning.

The ‘Touch’ trim adds items such as 17” alloys, rear parking sensors, folding mirrors, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.

The ‘Feel’ model has 18” alloys, front parking sensor, privacy glass, wireless phone charging and active blind spot detection.

‘Flair’ is the top specification level and includes 19” alloys, Citroën connect navigation, keyless entry and keyless start, a Panoramic Sunroof with interior LED ambient lighting and various driver assistance systems such as park assist, active lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

ConnectedCAM, a factory fitted dashboard camera from Citroën, is also standard across the range.

Pricing

Pricing for the C5 Aircross range starts from a competitive €26,495. Touch starts from €27,995, Feel from €29,995, Flair from €33,695.

The C5 Aircross has three individual seats in the rear
The C5 Aircross has three individual seats in the rear

Rivals

The Citroën C5 Aircross goes up against the Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tuscon, Peugeot 3008, among others.

Verdict

The Citroën C5 Aircross is a quirky new entrant into the highly competitive and lucrative compact SUV segment. The C5 Aircross makes a promising case for itself on price and spec. It's also a generously sized vehicle with engines that score well on emissions and running costs. I look forward to bringing you a full road test of the new C5 Aircross later in the year!

Caroline Kidd

The C5 Aircross is Citroen's take on the compact family SUV
The C5 Aircross is Citroën's take on the compact family SUV

The new Hyundai Kona Electric

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh Review

The new Hyundai Kona Electric
The new Hyundai Kona Electric

Caroline drives the Hyundai Kona Electric.

The range of electric vehicles (EVs) in Ireland is really starting to spread out with the Hyundai Kona Electric being an exciting new model, in more ways than one. The Kona Electric feels like something of an EV game changer for the mass market, with a real world range in excess of 400 km. And that’s thanks to a powerful 64 kWh battery.

The Hyundai Kona Electric also happens to be in the body of a very on-trend compact crossover and is the first fully-electric subcompact SUV on sale in Ireland and indeed Europe.

Since it debuted at the end of 2017, the Hyundai Kona quickly became Ireland’s bestselling compact crossover. Now the electric version opens up the playing field a little more.

Priced in Ireland from €37,630, including Government incentives, on the surface the Hyundai Kona Electric doesn’t come cheap. But the high-powered battery gives the Kona Electric right now a serious edge over competitors like the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Volkswagen e-Golf and even Hyundai’s own Ioniq. But more on that later.

The Hyundai Kona Electric has a powerful 64 kWh battery giving a real world range in excess of 400km!
The Hyundai Kona Electric has a powerful 64 kWh battery giving a real world range in excess of 400km!

What does it look like?

The Hyundai Kona Electric is a striking and fashionable compact vehicle, just like its fossil-fuel powered brothers. The crossover styling adds character to the Kona Electric, while the raised ride height gives it a confident presence on the road. There’s also some fun colour options and a two tone roof available (from €38,230). Front styling changes for the Kona Electric include a signature silver garnish, a closed grille incorporating the charge point and a redesigned front bumper with active air flaps. At the rear, the bumper has been redesigned for improved airflow. There are also special 17” alloy wheels, lower side skirts and wheel arch side claddings.

The dashboard and centre console of the Hyundai Kona have also been significantly redesigned for the Kona Electric, giving a more mature and premium feel to the cabin. The centre console is more pronounced between the driver and passenger. It features all the buttons required to operate the car with the ‘shift-by-wire’ gear control that has freed up space to house an extra storage space underneath.

There’s a new high-resolution seven-inch supervision cluster to display the different gauges to the driver, including the speedometer, battery charge level and energy flow. A head-up display projects driving information on the windscreen directly in the driver’s line of sight.

Standard equipment includes roof rails, rear privacy glass, leather upholstery, heated front seats, wireless phone charging pad, automatic lights and wipers, automatic air con, cruise control, heated steering wheel, parking camera, keyless start, 7" touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Keep Assist

The Kona Electric has a sophisticated electric vehicle powertrain but it is still a relatively compact vehicle. However the completely new platform of the Kona allows a space-saving integration of the battery packs without compromising interior roominess. The Kona Electric will seat five though realistically two will be most comfortable in the rear.  There is 332 litres of luggage space including storage of the charging cable and 373 litres without.

The interior of the new Hyundai Kona Electric
The interior of the new Hyundai Kona Electric

On the road in the Hyundai Kona Electric

The Hyundai Kona Electric is very nice to drive with a fun character and very sprightly acceleration. The 64kWh battery with 150kW motor provides a power output of 204 hp, with 0 to 100 km/h achieved in just 7.6 seconds.

The compact dimensions make the Kona Electric great around town and out on larger roads, it offers good stability and comfort. In the silence of the cabin of the Kona Electric, there is more pronounced road noise at speed, but the Hyundai's battery doesn't get absolutely jaded at motorway speeds offering more peace of mind when you set out to explore Ireland. On a full charge, the power meter read about 430 km and I was delighted with the Kona’s ability to get me around without the dreaded range anxiety. With a real world driving range in excess of 400 km (449km WLTP), there’s a lot of freedom that comes with the Kona Electric.

There's also an adjustable regenerative braking system to recuperate energy when possible. The driver can adjust the intensity of the regenerative braking by using the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel.

The Kona Electric can be charged at home or using the public charging point infrastructure with an AC or DC charger. According to Hyundai, charging the lithium-ion polymer battery up to 80% takes about 54 minutes using a 100 kW direct current (DC) fast charger.

Hyundai has successfully combined the two fastest growing automotive trends in the creation of the Kona Electric – electrification and SUV style. It is obviously expensive to buy for what is a compact vehicle, however the extra freedom the range from the powerful 64kWh battery brings cannot be underestimated. The trendy, crossover style of the Kona Electric gives the car more emotional appeal also.

The Hyundai Kona Electric combines two trends - electrification and SUV style
The Hyundai Kona Electric combines two trends - electrification and SUV style

The Hyundai Kona Electric is a remarkable new electric vehicle that really moves the game on.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Kona Electric
Price: 
From €37,630 with government incentives
Battery: 64 kW
Power: 
204 hp
Torque: 395 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.6 seconds
Top speed: 167 km/h
Range: 
449km (WLTP)
CO2 emissions: 
0g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Fiat 500X

2019 Fiat 500X 1.0 Petrol Review

The new Fiat 500X
The new Fiat 500X is on sale in Ireland now

Caroline drives the 2019 Fiat 500X!

The Fiat 500X landed in Ireland in 2015, just as the compact crossover boom was taking hold. There have been a host of new entrants since but the Fiat 500X does the compact crossover thing the cheeky Italian way. That means that the 500X has oodles of style and charm inherited from the very successful Fiat 500 city car. But being a larger vehicle altogether makes it much more practical. There’s more space and more doors.

The 500X uses a clever formula, at least on paper. At some point Fiat 500 owners were going to outgrow the city car and need more space, and why not get it in the trendy skin of a crossover?

What's new for the 2019 Fiat 500X?

And now the Fiat 500X has recently received a mid-life refresh with updates to styling, interior, equipment and the debut of a new family of turbo petrol engines. On the outside, there are new LED daytime running lights, LED headlights and rear lights, while the cockpit has also been updated to integrate more technology, improve ergonomics and refresh interior trims.

In Ireland pricing kicks off at €21,795, and the 500X comes in three trims or flavours: Urban, City Cross and Cross.

The Urban model comes with a decent standard specification including 16-inch alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, body-coloured dashboard, air conditioning, cruise control and an electric parking brake. There’s also safety equipment like Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist and Lane Assist driving assist systems standard on all versions, as is the Uconnect 7-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The interior of the 2019 Fiat 500X
The interior of the 2019 Fiat 500X

The City Cross (from €23,395) adds a few more aesthetic bits including 17-inch alloy wheels, satin chrome inserts, body-coloured door mirrors and front and rear grey skid plate. There are also front fog lights, a 3.5-inch colour TFT monitor, automatic climate control and rear parking sensors.

The range topper is the Cross as tested here (from €24,995) with 18-inch alloy wheels, roof bars and dark tinted rear windows. Inside, it adds TomTom navigation to the 7-inch touchscreen, along with Parkview rear parking camera, dusk sensor and front armrest.

There is a choice of 14 different colours, including the new tricoat Ivory, metallic Blue Italia and Techno Green.

The interior of the Fiat 500X

Inside the Fiat 500X is a colourful and cheerful place. The body coloured dash panel is a classic touch of the 500 family and a lot of the switchgear is shared between the two cars. The plastics are mostly hard around the car but there is some more soft touch panelling also and overall quality is not a problem. You sit surprisingly high in the 500X also so there is a nice commanding driving position too.

The 500X is a compact vehicle so by its nature the interior space is not that much more accommodating than your average supermini. Four will be comfortable inside and the boot is very good for this class of vehicle at 350 litres.

The Fiat 500X has a new family of turbo petrol engines available
The Fiat 500X has a new family of turbo petrol engines available

The new engine line up for the Fiat 500X is petrol only, but the big news is that Fiat has introduced two new turbo petrol units to the range. Buyers can choose from a three-cylinder 1.0-litre powerplant that delivers 120hp and 190Nm of torque and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission, as well as a four-cylinder 1.3-litre engine with 150hp and 270Nm of torque, combined with a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT).

There is also an entry level 110hp 1.6 E-Torq, combined with a manual transmission.

On the road in the Fiat 500X

My test car was a Fiat 500X Cross 1.0-litre 120hp turbo petrol model with a list price of €24,995. These small 1.0-litre turbo petrol engines are ideal for this size of vehicle, and it’s no different for the Fiat 500X. There is plenty of power and refinement is also good across town and motorway, with no vibration at all coming through to the cabin. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.1l/100km and motor tax is €280 per year for this model.

Elsewhere, the Fiat 500X is an easy drive with light steering that makes it great for urban environments. On the motorway it’s very stable and composed, with only very rough road surfaces catching it out. The 500X is sadly not as fun to drive as the Fiat 500 city car, with the taller SUV body making it feel a bit more clumsy in corners.  But for this class of vehicle, it’s all perfectly adequate.

The Fiat 500X is a cheerful and colourful character for the compact crossover segment
The Fiat 500X is a cheerful and colourful character for the compact crossover segment

The Fiat 500X takes many style cues from the 500 city car, which is a good thing. Putting it in a larger and more practical body with chunky crossover style should make it searingly popular. However the compact crossover segment is vast and it’s easy for the 500X to be overlooked. Yet this cheeky Italian is stylish and comes well-equipped, while the new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine really feels like it belongs here. And though there may be a few niggles, with that face it’s impossible to be angry with the 500X for long!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Fiat 500X Cross 1.0 120hp
Price: 
€24,995 (Range starts at €21,795)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
120 hp
Torque: 190 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 188 km/h
Economy: 
5.8-6.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
133-139g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year