The latest Suzuki Vitara on test for Changing Lanes!

Suzuki Vitara (2021) Hybrid Review

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

Caroline drives the 2021 Suzuki Vitara!

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

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

What's new for the 2021 Suzuki Vitara?

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

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

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

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

What's on offer?

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the Suzuki Vitara

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

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

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

Driving the Vitara Hybrid

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

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

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

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

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

Did you like it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


The new Kia Sorento on test for Changing Lanes!

Kia Sorento (2021) Review

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

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

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

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

What's new for the 2021 Kia Sorento?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the new Kia Sorento

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

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

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

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

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

More technology on board

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

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

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

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

How practical is it as a 7-seat SUV?

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

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

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

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

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

Driving the 2021 Kia Sorento

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

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

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

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

What's next?

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

Did you like it?

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


The new Ford Kuga diesel on test for Changing Lanes!

Ford Kuga (2021) Review

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

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

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

Hybrid power joins Kuga range

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

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

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

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

Inside the 2020 Ford Kuga

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

Inside the new Ford Kuga
Inside the new Ford Kuga

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

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

How practical is it?

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

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

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

Driving the new Kuga

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

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

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

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

Did you like it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


The new Peugeot 2008 on test for Changing Lanes

Peugeot 2008 1.2 Petrol Review

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

Caroline drives the new Peugeot 2008!

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

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

Say hello to the new Peugeot 2008

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

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

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

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

Petrol power & the 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's new for the 2020 Peugeot 2008?

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

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

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

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

Inside the new Peugeot 2008
Inside the new Peugeot 2008

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

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

Did you like it?

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


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

Volvo XC40 (2020) T5 Hybrid Review

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

Caroline drives the new Volvo XC40 T5 hybrid!

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

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

What's so special about the Volvo XC40 T5?

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

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

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

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

So what do you get for your money?

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

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

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

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

Driving the Volvo XC40 T5

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

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

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

So did you like it?

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid

Hyundai Kona Hybrid (2020) Review

The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid
The new Hyundai Kona Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Hyundai Kona Hybrid.

Hyundai hit the jackpot when they launched the new Kona back in 2017. Riding on a wave of success with the popular Tucson family SUV, the Korean brand took a grip on the compact crossover class with the Kona and hasn’t let go since. It’s slipped quietly into a top 5 position as one of Ireland's bestselling cars and trounced all upon the competition.

So what's so special about the Hyundai Kona?

The Hyundai Kona offers buyers an on-trend compact car with rugged crossover-inspired styling and stance. But aside from aesthetics, it also offers buyers impressive choice. In what is still unusual for the compact crossover class, the Kona is now available in Ireland as a hybrid, electric vehicle or with a simple combustion engine (petrol or diesel).

The Hyundai Kona Electric has been a favourite at Changing Lanes since we drove it in 2019. We were impressed with how well the electric powertrain blended with the charismatic crossover and a range in excess of 400 km made range anxiety a thing of the past.

Now in 2020 the Hyundai Kona Hybrid comes to market with a 1.6-litre petrol electric powertrain that means emissions are rated at just 101 g/km. Fuel consumption is quoted by the manufacturer as 5.0 l/100km under WLTP. With the Kona Hybrid, buyers who require a traditional fuel powered car can now reconcile their conscious with a more fuel efficient hybrid.

The new Kona Hybrid goes on sale from €29,050, using a 6-speed automatic gearbox to deliver power to the front wheels. For reference, the Hyundai Kona 1.0-litre petrol manual goes on sale from €21,400, while the diesel range starts from €23,400. At the top of the range, the Hyundai Kona Electric retails from €39,300 including grants and VRT relief.

The Kona Hybrid is cheap to run with lower emissions
The Kona Hybrid is cheap to run with lower emissions

What's new for the 2020 Hyundai Kona Hybrid?

Hybrids are all the rage at the moment. The Kona Hybrid packs this technology into an already successful compact. On the outside a discreet hybrid logo at the rear and new 18" alloy wheels differentiate it from the rest of the combustion engined Kona range. Yet the Kona's rugged good looks are retained, along with distinct front end lighting, robust plastic cladding around the sills, bumpers and wheel arches, and two tone colour combinations.

The Kona Hybrid still rides a little bit higher than a standard hatchback, but drives pretty much like the latter - part of its appeal. It's also a practical vehicle, though being compact by dimensions means that legroom can get tight in the back for taller passengers. Boot space hasn't been impacted and it remains akin to any family hatchback with 361 litres and a flat loading sill.

The interior of the 2020 Hyundai Kona Hybrid
The interior of the 2020 Hyundai Kona Hybrid

Inside the Kona Hybrid

The Hyundai Kona Hybrid has an identical interior to the rest of the Kona combustion engine range. Everything is simple and logically laid out, with a few additional interfaces to relay information to the driver about the hybrid system and power flow between engine, battery and electric motor.

Hard plastics do feature a lot, though the Hybrid does get its own dedicated interior colour pack to add interest to what is otherwise a relatively subdued affair. There are white accents around the air vent surrounds and gear shift bezel, as well as glossy black accents on the door handles and steering wheel.

There is a good level of standard equipment: 7" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, climate control, electronic parking brake, cruise control, rear view camera and wireless phone charger.

Kona Hybrid on sale in Ireland priced from €29,050
Kona Hybrid on sale in Ireland priced from €29,050

Driving it

On the road the Kona takes off in near silence, benefiting from that electrical assistance from the hybrid powertrain. The dual clutch automatic gearbox makes driving in town easy, while the Kona is naturally agile in that environment. It also performs well on larger roads despite its compact proportions, with decent levels of comfort and refinement.

The hybrid powertrain itself uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, 1.56 kWh battery and 32 kW motor to deliver a maximum hybrid system power of 141 hp and 265 Nm to the front wheels. The bias in the transmission is to efficiency so it would be foolish to expect exciting performance from this car. But buyers should be more interested in how they can save fuel using the Kona Hybrid and drive in an eco-friendly manner. In that regard the hybrid does deliver and with a patient right foot, we achieved average fuel consumption of 5.4 litres per 100 km. Motor tax for this model is currently just €190 per year.

Hyundai is a brand keen to try new things and embrace trends in the motor industry. In many ways, they are one of the driving forces behind innovation in the motor industry right now, offering alternative technologies to more people, while creating stylish, practical vehicles that sit comfortably among consumers.

At Changing Lanes, we adore the Kona Electric yet the nature of the technology and powerful 64 kWh battery means the price tag still puts it out of reach of buyers of small crossovers.

At the entry into the range, the 1.0-litre petrol Kona will satisfy the needs of many compact crossover buyers at very competitive pricing.

The Kona Hybrid offers cheaper running costs yet the price positioning opens the field to more competition from the family crossover/SUV segment that may see it overlooked for more spacious vehicles. Yet the Kona Hybrid is undeniably an efficient vehicle using the latest hybrid technology, and we look forward to seeing it evolve into 2021.

Once of the few hybrid compact crossovers on the market, the Kona is a stylish and fuel efficient way to travel
Once of the few hybrid compact crossovers on the market, the Kona is a stylish and fuel efficient way to travel

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Kona Hybrid with 2 tone roof
Price: 
€29,650
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
141 hp
Torque: 265 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.6 seconds
Top speed: 160 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 101 g/km
Motor Tax:  €190 per year


The 2020 Toyota C-HR on test for Changing Lanes!

Toyota C-HR (2020) Review

The 2020 Toyota C-HR on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2020 Toyota C-HR on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2020 Toyota C-HR.

The Toyota C-HR marked a turning point for the Toyota brand when it was first launched back in 2016. The coupé crossover heralded the arrival of a new generation of Toyota cars built upon the TNGA platform, with more dynamism and style.

The C-HR was a dramatic departure in styling for the brand, and continues to command attention on Irish roads. Now it’s the turn of the 2020 model, mildly facelifted for this model year and also introducing some new features and powertrain options.

The  Toyota C-HR has been a huge success in Ireland and is now the Japanese brand’s 2nd bestselling model in Ireland after the new Toyota Corolla. Priced from €30,370, the C-HR has moved up a gear in 2020 and is now exclusively sold as a hybrid.

However Toyota has also widened the range with the arrival of a new 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain. It offers even more performance than the 1.8-litre hybrid version that helped the C-HR to establish itself in Ireland over the last four years.

The C-HR is now available with a 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with more power and performance
The C-HR is now available with a 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with more power and performance

What's new for the Toyota C-HR in 2020?

The C-HR’s dramatic coupe-like styling and crossover stance remain a stand out feature. For 2020 there is new LED technology in the headlights and rear lights, with the daytime running lights (DRLs) and indicators combined into one frontal projector emitting a single smooth line above the main beam. At the rear, the new combi lamps are connected by a new gloss black spoiler.

There are four trim levels – Luna, Sport, Luna Sport and Sol – with varying levels of bling applied to the car depending on trim level, from different alloy wheel designs to the bi tone roof option. My test car was the Launch Edition finished in exclusive metallic orange and shod with black, 10 spoke 18” alloy wheels.

Inside, Toyota has trimmed the interior with some new fabrics and materials for the 2020 model year. However the cabin remains stylish and contemporary with an intriguing diamond motif theme throughout. It appears in for example the shape of the control buttons for the media system, and even as an embedded pattern in the roof of the car.

The interior of the 2020 Toyota C-HR
The interior of the 2020 Toyota C-HR

Behind the wheel of the C-HR

The driving position in the C-HR is very comfortable, with plenty of adjustment in the seat. There is some elevation to it though overall the driver feels very snug and cosseted in the seat, like a hatchback, as opposed to feeling perched upon the vehicle.

Apple Car Play and Android Auto are now available and there is a large touchscreen as standard. Material quality is good inside with our Launch Edition model getting some black perforated leather trim with diamond pattern and dark brown upper dashboard area.

Other equipment highlights include Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety equipment including traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor, JBL premium sound system, dual zone climate control, cruise control, ambient lights, parking camera and heated front seats.

The C-HR will seat five with reasonable space for rear occupants. The beautiful coupe style on the outside means that the rear can be quite dark for passengers but there is competitive legroom. A powered tailgate is available and the boot has a capacity of 377 litres.

The 2020 Toyota C-HR is available from €30,370
The 2020 Toyota C-HR is available from €30,370

Tell us about the hybrid

The 1.8-litre hybrid (122hp) is now joined by a higher powered 2.0-litre hybrid with 184hp in the 2020 Toyota C-HR. Fuel consumption is quoted as low as 4.8 litres per 100 km in the entry level 1.8-litre hybrid C-HR. On test, we drove the Launch Edition sold exclusively with the more performance oriented 2.0-litre hybrid.

On the road the Toyota C-HR 2.0-litre hybrid feels robust and well balanced in terms of power and its delivery through a CVT automatic gearbox. Refinement has been improved with less interruption from the CVT gearbox to ensure a smooth, calm and quiet presence in the cabin. At low speeds in town for example or when parking, the electrical assistance kicks in ensuring that overall, we returned an impressive 5.5 litres per 100 km on our test drive.

Toyota has made some dynamic upgrades for 2020 include a modified EPS tuning for improved steering feel. The 2.0-litre hybrid also gets a new suspension design that improves ride comfort while retaining the Toyota C-HR’s handling capabilities. All variants also feature an upgraded Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH) pack to further reduce cabin noise.

As a result the C-HR is comfortable to drive on the road and one of the brand’s most premium vehicles in terms of behaviour. It’s competent on the road and in this class of vehicle it feels responsive and agile in terms of controls and how it responds to driver inputs.

Toyota has considerable experience in hybrid and it shows in the C-HR
Toyota has considerable experience in hybrid and it shows in the C-HR

Did you like it?

The Toyota brand's strong presence in Ireland means the C-HR has established itself quickly in the market as an alternative to the familiar family SUV pack. There are more practical crossovers available in this price range but the C-HR is one of the most premium feeling models in the Toyota range, with design and style going some way to justify its positioning in the market. Add in an ultra trendy hybrid powertrain that genuinely delivers good return on economy and you can understand this car's appeal.

The Launch Edition 2.0-litre hybrid has a hefty price tag (€38,515) but there is better value to be had elsewhere in the range, with the C-HR coming well-equipped from entry.

The 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain will suit most motorists, but at Changing Lanes we did enjoy the power and refinement of the C-HR 2.0-litre hybrid. The addition of Apple Car Play and Android Auto is a welcome technology update and the C-HR's cabin still looks stylish and contemporary in 2020 against the competition.

It's very easy to see the appeal of the C-HR from behind the wheel and we enjoyed our time spent with the car. As more hybrids come to market, the sophistication of the hybrid powertrain and Toyota's experience in this area shines through.

Toyota C-HR is a stylish and efficient crossover
Toyota C-HR is a stylish and efficient crossover

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota C-HR Launch Edition
Price: 
€38,515
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 190 Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 119 g/km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year


Mercedes-Benz GLB (2020) Review

The new Mercedes-Benz GLB on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLB on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Mercedes-Benz GLB.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB debuts in 2020 as a new compact SUV for the German brand.

Mercedes-Benz' compact line-up has expanded rapidly in recent years with spin-offs such as the CLA, A-Class, B-Class and the GLA designed to attract younger buyers to the brand.

But SUVs are a particularly lucrative venture. Did you know one in three Mercedes-Benz cars is now an SUV, and one in four a compact model? So the GLB combines all the success factors of the company's highest-volume segments.

What a package it is. The GLB is already establishing itself as one of the hottest models in the line-up, eclipsing the GLA and the B-Class for character and style. In fact it offers buyers even more space and practicality but in a classic SUV shape that makes the GLB reminiscent of Mercedes’ legends like the G-Wagen and GLS. That’s not bad for a compact SUV with a starting price of €42,350. Short overhangs, boxy silhouette, upright front end and plastic body cladding all bestow the GLB with irresistible off-road character.

The new GLB is available as a 5 or 7 seater family SUV
The new GLB is available as a 5 or 7 seater family SUV

What's the Mercedes-Benz GLB range like in Ireland?

At launch the GLB goes on sale with a range of petrol and diesel engines, and is available with 5 or 7 seats. In Ireland it is marketed in two trim lines – Progressive and AMG Line – with the latter adding an attractive set of 19” alloys, chrome studded diamond grille, aluminium roof rails and larger air intakes at the front.

The interior of the new GLB also brings the strengths of the current compact-class generation from Mercedes-Benz. This is contemporary luxury at its best with lots of high quality soft touch materials and a design that balances style perfectly with functionality and the latest technology features. The driver faces a widescreen cockpit, with control and display via MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), which responds to commands of ‘Hey Mercedes’. A new feature is the characteristic off-road tubular element in an aluminium look which rounds off the lower section of the instrument panel and houses the three round centre air vents.

Other equipment on the AMG Line test car included Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, stainless steel sports pedals, AMG multifunction steering wheel in Nappa leather, cruise control, powered tailgate, heated front seats, parking sensors, reversing camera, and automatic climate control.

Inside the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB
Inside the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB

How practical is it?

The GLB has ten centimetres more wheelbase than, for example, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class MPV, so offers a slightly roomier cabin and the option of an additional two seats in the rear for an extra €1509 on the sticker price. These seats are only suitable for children, and when in use boot space is dramatically reduced. However many families will enjoy this extra flexibility on board.

The rear bench can also slide forward and back, while the backrests have a number of different positions also. When the rear bench is slid back, you have a particularly roomy feeling SUV with a generous boot of over 500 litres. However when the the two extra seats in the rear are in use, some cabin space for passengers in row 2 will be compromised. But what a fashionable way to travel! When not in use the two extra seats fold neatly into the boot floor, with a separate space to store the parcel shelf too.

The GLB gets all the technical highlights of the current compact-class generation from Mercedes-Benz. The four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines were updated to relaunch the compact model series with more power, improved efficiency and lower emissions.

The GLB is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines
The GLB is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines

What are my options?

The GLB is front wheel drive as standard but four wheel drive is available, to live up to those rustic good looks. In Ireland the GLB 180 (136 hp) and GLB 200 use a 1.3-litre four cylinder petrol engine with different power outputs. In the GLB 200, it puts out 163 hp and this was the model we had on test for Changing Lanes.

This engine is a real marvel, and never feels under pressure in the GLB, while also been smooth, quiet and refined. All engines come with an automatic gearbox, 7 or 8-speed depending on engine. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 7.1 litres per 100 km while motor tax is €390 per year. So for the best economy or for drivers who spend a lot of time on the motorway, you will need to take a look at one of the diesels. The most popular will be the GLB 180d and GLB 200d, which use a 2.0-litre diesel engine.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB has the option of two extra seats
The Mercedes-Benz GLB has the option of two extra seats

Driving the new GLB

On the road the GLB brings classic Mercedes values of comfort and refinement to the compact SUV class. Despite the origins in the brand's compact line up of cars, the GLB feels like a bigger machine on the road and settles right into the line-up as one of the best. The GLB is not too far removed from the GLC with arguably more distinction and character.

Mercedes-Benz has done a fine job bringing the GLB to market. It takes one of the best interior concepts of the compact class and 'roughs it up' beautifully to bestow it upon the more rugged GLB. We love this car's boxy looks and it's a genuinely practical car. Family buyers will love the option of two extra seats though we personally prefer it as a more spacious five seater.

There is a familiar line-up of engines with the GLB 200 being a fun and robust partner to this car, though it won't be the most efficient in this considerable brute of a car.

We expect the GLB will be a huge success for Mercedes-Benz Ireland and deservedly so.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB on sale now from €42,350
The Mercedes-Benz GLB on sale now from €42,350

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLB AMG Line Automatic
Price: 
€45,425
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
163 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h: 9.1
seconds
Top speed: 207 km/h
Fuel economy: 5.9-6.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 134-141 g/km
Motor Tax:  €390 per year


The new Nissan Juke on test for Changing Lanes

Nissan Juke (2020) Review

The new Nissan Juke on test for Changing Lanes
The new Nissan Juke on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the 2020 Nissan Juke.

The Nissan Juke has stepped back into the compact crossover segment in 2020 with a new generation of this popular model. Originally devised as a compact follow-up to the highly successful Nissan Qashqai back in 2010, the Juke was a pioneer of the small SUV, a segment which has now really taken off in Ireland in Europe. The first generation Nissan Juke went on to sell 1.5 million around the world and has been a hit in Ireland too, with this car maintaining high visibility on Irish roads.

What's new for the 2020 Nissan Juke?

Now it’s back with a contemporary new look, new interior and more technology than before. Power comes from a petrol engine, with the choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. Customisation is still a feature with colour packs available and a contrasting roof option. The range kicks off from a competitive €21,995.

Touted as a ‘coupé crossover’, design is a key strength of the new Nissan Juke. It stands out in the small SUV/crossover segment for a strong, characterful design that is anything but boring. Split level headlights give the Juke a mature and unmissable road present, with the iconic circular lamps now featuring a Y-shaped LED signature.

A range of 11 body colours are available with 3 contrasting roof colours available. The N-Design grade on test for Changing Lanes (from €26,950) allows customers to personalise the appearance of their car. 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels complement a range of two tone colour options, including a different coloured roof, bumper trims and other highlighted exterior parts.

The Nissan Juke is powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine
The Nissan Juke is powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine

Inside the new Nissan Juke

The 2020 Nissan Juke has an all-new interior and it is a welcome improvement. It’s cool and concise, and befitting of a modern crossover. All but the very entry model have an 8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Nissan is offering more style and comfort with ambient lighting and new soft-touch materials on the dashboard, door trim and footwells feel. Monoform seats with a single-piece backrest add a sporty look and can be trimmed in Alcantara® or leather.

The new Juke is now more spacious inside than its predecessor. Rear seat knee room has been increased by 5.8 cm while there is about 1cm more headroom. The boot volume is up by 20% to 422 litres.

The interior of the 2020 Nissan Juke
The interior of the 2020 Nissan Juke

What’s the Juke range like in Ireland?

The new Nissan Juke goes on sale in Ireland with a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with 117 hp. It’s paired with a six-speed manual gearbox or a new seven-speed dual clutch automatic.

There are five trim levels - XE, SV, SV Premium, SVE and N-Design. Standard equipment on Nissan Juke XE (from €21,995) includes 16-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, air-conditioning, a 4.2-inch TFT screen between the dials on the instrument cluster, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, cruise control and hill start assist.

The SV model (from €23,650) adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear view camera, a Wi-Fi hotspot, touchscreen and voice control recognition.

The mid-range SV Premium (from €24,650) adds LED fog lights, tinted rear windows, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, and electric/heated door mirrors. Analogue dials are swapped for a seven-inch digital instrument cluster. There’s also an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic climate control, ambient lighting, TomTom sat-nav and a leather trimmed steering wheel and gear knob.

Nissan then splits the range into two – SVE and N-Design.  Both models are priced from €26,950 and get 19-inch alloy wheels as standard – but both models are pitched to appeal to two different types of customers. The SVE model is pitched as the ‘tech’ one with equipment including heated semi-leather front seats, a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, an advanced driver monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, Park Assist technology and Nissan’s Pro-Pilot system as standard. N-Design is the sporty one with contrasting roof and customisation options.

Design is a key strength for the new Juke in the compact crossover segment
Design is a key strength for the new Juke in the compact crossover segment

On the road in the Nissan Juke

Nissan is launching the Juke with just one engine in this generation – an on-point 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine. It is well up for the job and actually a highlight of this new Juke. Running costs are low with motor tax of €200 per year and over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.1l/100km. It is responsive and fun to drive, matched well with new Juke’s new chassis and revised driving dynamics.

This car holds the road well with limited body sway and light, but precise steering. The suspension can pick up some harshness from the road surface but generally this Juke can keep up with the best of them, while showing its fun and agile side too.

Nissan has successfully reimagined the Juke for the 2020s. At Changing Lanes, we love the Juke’s new look and innovative coupé crossover style.

Inside the Juke gets a welcome addition of modernity. It’s not the most upmarket of its rivals but cuts a good compromise between style, quality and affordability.

Boot space in the new Juke
Boot space in the new Juke

Pricing is very competitive and while there is only one engine available, it happens to be a highlight for the Juke. Fun and responsive with low running costs, the 1.0-litre petrol suits the small SUV market very well.

We were pleasantly surprised by the Juke’s ability to entertain behind the wheel. This is a genuine fun to drive small crossover.

The crossover class of 2020 is an impressive bunch but the 2020 Nissan Juke brings its own distinct character to this segment ensuring continued success for this compact model.

The Juke is on sale in Ireland priced from €21,995
The Juke is on sale in Ireland priced from €21,995

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Nissan Juke 1.0T N-Design
Price: 
€26,950 (from €21,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
117 hp
Torque: 180 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.4 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 135 g/km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year


The new Audi Q3 Sportback on location for Changing Lanes!

Audi Q3 Sportback (2020) Review

The new Audi Q3 Sportback on location for Changing Lanes!
The new Audi Q3 Sportback on location for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2020 Audi Q3 Sportback.

The Audi Q3 Sportback has arrived in Ireland, the follow-up to last year's new Audi Q3 SUV. The Sportback inherits much of the Q3's quality, engineering, design and technology - but with a stylish, coupé-like twist. This is an all-new model for the German brand and goes on sale in Ireland priced from €40,400, carrying a small premium over the Q3 it is based on.

The Q3 Sportback's coupé notions add instant character, while the latest Audi technology and infotainment features inside. Power comes from a well-proven line-up of petrol and diesel engines.

Let's rewind a little!

The 2019 launch of the new Audi Q3 was a spectacular hit for the brand in the mid-size SUV segment. The Irish Car of the Year jury rated the Q3 so highly that it went home with the 2020 Continental Tyres Medium SUV of the Year award. Practical, stylish with exceptional good quality and technology in the cabin makes it a car that is very easy to recommend.

Audi has always been one to innovate and in recent years they have delved and dived into new parts of the premium market, to expand their line-up and satisfy customer needs for style and exclusivity. Now they bring more innovation to the mid-size SUV segment with the arrival of the new Audi Q3 Sportback.

The new Q3 Sportback is stylish and practical
The new Q3 Sportback is stylish and practical with a unique SUV-coupé design for the segment

What's so special about the Audi Q3 Sportback?

The €1000 premium you pay for the Sportback over the Q3 gets you a design that looks cooler, more expressive and interesting. There are two trim levels, SE and S Line, with the latter getting a sportier makeover. The Singleframe grille has a sporty honeycomb-effect design, while trapezoidal air inlets also add presence. LED light technology is standard across the range. SE models have 18" alloys, while S Line models get 19" inch alloys, rear privacy glass, and exclusive design for the bumpers, sill trims and diffuser. A roof edge spoiler completes the look.

Compared to the Q3, the Sportback is 16 mm longer, 49 mm lower and 6 mm slimmer. The wheelbase remains the same so there is no compromise in the passenger compartment. The Q3 Sportback will seat five, though the middle seat passenger will have to find their way around the transmission tunnel. There is a 530 litre boot that is easy to load. Audi has done a good job of not sacrificing practicality for style in the design of the Q3 Sportback. The powered tailgate is a premium feature that comes as standard making it super easy to open and close the boot.

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

Inside the 2020 Audi Q3 Sportback

Behind the wheel you will find an elevated seating position that makes these crossovers so desirable. The Audi Q3 Sportback interior is beautifully designed to distinguish it from rivals, with superb quality throughout. Technology is a highlight with a stunning looking 10.1" MMI display in the centre of the dash surrounded by high gloss black trim. Together with the air-conditioning control unit located beneath it, the display is ergonomically tilted towards the driver. Various functions are displayed on the MMI Touch display and in the Audi virtual cockpit with its 10.25-inch screen in the instrument binnacle, which is also standard.

What’s the range like in Ireland?

Buyers can choose from petrol and diesel engines, including the 1.5-litre TFSI petrol with 150 hp (35 TFSI), the 2.0-litre '45 TFSI' petrol with 230 hp, and the 2.0-litre '35 TDI' diesel with 150 hp. Four wheel drive quattro models are available, though standard variants are front wheel drive. 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic S Tronic gearboxes are available.

The petrol range starts from €40,400, while diesel models kick off from €42,565.

The SE trim level includes 18" alloys, powered tailgate, 10.1" MMI display and virtual cockpit, automatic lights and wipers, automatic air conditioning and lumbar support.

The S Line models (from €44,350) add 19" alloys, full LED headlamps with dynamic indicators, LED interior light pack, S Line styling, front sports seats, stainless steel pedals, illuminated matt brushed aluminium inlays, black headliner and sports suspension.

The Q3 Sportback is available with petrol and diesel engines
The Q3 Sportback is available with petrol and diesel engines

On the road in the Q3 Sportback

My test car was an Audi Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI powered by the 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with 150 hp. This engine is a marvel in itself featuring cylinder-on-demand technology, which at low and medium loads deactivates the second and third cylinders to reduce fuel consumption.

When combined with the S tronic automatic transmission, it also now features mild-hybrid technology (MHEV). A 48 volt on-board electrical system reduces fuel consumption by recovering up to 12 kW of power during deceleration via its belt alternator starter and feeding this into a compact lithium-ion battery.

On the road the Audi Q3 Sportback is notably agile and refined. The petrol engine delivers smoothly with plenty of power for swift acceleration and overtaking manoeuvres. Steering is well-judged and the Q3 Sportback covers the road well, even on large wheels and sports suspension fitted to S Line models. There is some lean in corners but it is very composed overall.

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

Did you like it?

The Audi Q3 Sportback is elegant and refined on the road, just like the Audi Q3 SUV. In terms of image and style, it edges ahead for this reviewer with a unique coupé-like look for this segment.

The beauty is that Audi has sacrificed very little practicality for this style. So the Q3 Sportback balances the head and heart with plenty of interior space and a big boot.

Inside, the Sportback has one of the best cabin experiences in the class. Equipment levels are good with plenty of technology coming as standard on the vehicle.

The Audi Q3 Sportback adds even more prestige to the Q3 range in a desirable SUV-coupé format.

The Audi Q3 Sportback is on sale in Ireland priced from €40,400
The Audi Q3 Sportback is on sale in Ireland priced from €40,400

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI S Line S tronic
Price: 
€46,450 (Range from €40,400)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 204 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 6.8-7.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 154-162 g/km
Motor Tax:  €280 per year