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


The new Peugeot 2008 is now on sale in Ireland

Peugeot 2008 (2020) Review

The new Peugeot 2008 is now on sale in Ireland
The new Peugeot 2008 is now on sale in Ireland

Caroline drives the new Peugeot 2008!

The new generation Peugeot 2008 arrived in Ireland earlier in 2020, the follow up to the newly launched 208 in Peugeot's range of compacts. The 2008 small SUV is arguably a bigger star than the 208 supermini from which it was first derived back in 2013, and still shares much of the same DNA that has seen the 208 quickly become an award-winner - bold design, innovative interior and multi energy platform that means customers can choose from petrol, diesel or electric.

What's so hot about the Peugeot 2008 small SUV?

The 2008 was an all new model for the brand in the burgeoning compact crossover segment at launch in 2013. It arrived in Ireland at a time when this trend was taking off and became part of Peugeot's growing SUV family alongside the larger 3008 and 5008. Together these three drove significant growth for the French brand in Ireland. And in the compact segment the Peugeot 2008 struck the right chord with Irish buyers on price, styling, equipment, running costs and practicality.

In 2020, compact crossovers and small SUVs have become unashamedly part of Irish life. So naturally at Changing Lanes we were excited to meet generation 2 of the Peugeot 2008.

The new range kicks off in Ireland at €23,900. Petrol and diesel feature, as well as an all-new e-2008 with electric powertrain. These are exciting times for Peugeot with a growing electrified range. 2020 has already seen the launch of the Peugeot e-208, along with 3008 and 508 plug-in hybrids.

Yet the Peugeot must still deliver a lot to a lot of people in this sweet spot of the market. It’s against this backdrop we meet again and review the all-new Peugeot 2008!

Glorious SUV style and presence is the name of the 2008's game
Glorious SUV style and presence is the name of the 2008's game

What does it look like?

Peugeot has hit its stride when it comes to design, and the 2008 bears all the wondrous design of the current generation of vehicles from the French brand.

The 2008 has clearly grown up inhabiting a new skin more akin to a mini-3008. In fact unless you are a Peugeot design expert you could easily mistake one for the other. That's a triumph for designers and the 2008 wears its proportions exceptionally well. It's equal parts neat and purposeful.

It seems silly even to compare it any more to the 208 as these now are two very distinct looking vehicles. The 2020 Peugeot 2008 frankly looks like nothing else on the road, save for another Peugeot SUV. There are character defining lines all over the car, a large confident front grille bearing the Peugeot lion, and at the rear we see the bold black strip and LED light claw effect that has become a key feature of the brand’s latest models.

Even entry models get LED headlights and alloys. Allure models add roof bars and 17" alloys, while GT Line models have a sportier appearance.

Inside the 2020 Peugeot 2008
Inside the 2020 Peugeot 2008

What's it like inside?

The Peugeot brand has been on a bid to move upmarket in recent years and it’s great to see even the compact models in the Peugeot range all onboard for this. The quality of the cabin is excellent in the 2008. You close the door and feel nicely cocooned in a mature feeling vehicle.

A compact steering wheel sits before you with the digital driver’s instrument panel set above it. To your left you will find the touchscreen with elegant piano style shortcut buttons underneath. This is the Peugeot i-Cockpit. It’s unique for the segment and sits well in the 2008.

Practicality is also on the agenda for the 2008. What results is a nicely sized car for this segment - in fact it's one of the best performing. We were impressed with the rear legroom, size of the footwells and headroom once the doors are closed. Whereas this is a sticky point in the new Peugeot 208, buyers will find a much more accommodating family vehicle in the 2008. Of course you do pay a premium for the 2008 so it's good news that it is a more spacious vehicle. There are also two Isofix child seat fixtures in the rear.

The Peugeot 2008 is also versatile with a two position boot floor on this Allure model. This means that you can position the boot floor in a way that gives you a flat loading area or you can slip it into the very base of the boot to exploit all 360 litres of space available. Peugeot Ireland also includes a spare wheel as standard.

Boot space in the new Peugeot 2008
Boot space in the new Peugeot 2008

What’s the range like in Ireland?

In Ireland the new Peugeot 2008 is offered in four trim levels – Active, Allure, GT Line and GT. The Active model kicks off from €23,900 for what is a well-equipped car - 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.

The model I had on test was a 2008 Allure, available from €25,850. Equipment highlights include 3D instrument panel, 17” alloy wheels, roof bars, electric folding door mirrors, front parking sensors, rear privacy glass, automatic climate control, passenger seat height adjustment and electric parking brake.

The GT Line version is available from €28,380 with more sporty luxurious features, while the top of the range GT trim, from €34,950 is available on the electric e-2008 and a high spec petrol model.

The petrol range kicks off at €23,900 for a 1.2-litre PureTech turbo petrol unit with 100 hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The same engine is also available with 130 hp or 155 hp and an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Diesel cars are available from €25,900 in the form of a 1.5-litre BlueHDi with 100 hp and a 6-speed manual.

The new e-2008 is arriving in dealers this autumn and goes on sale from €31,845.  It uses a 50 kWh battery with a power output of 136 hp.

The new 2008 is built on a multi energy platform - choose from petrol, diesel or electric
The new 2008 is built on a multi energy platform - choose from petrol, diesel or electric

Driving the new Peugeot 2008

My test car was powered by the 1.5-litre diesel, which is a star performer in terms of economy. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 4.8 litres per 100 km, while motor tax is €180 per year for this model. It's also relatively civilised - though the petrol models will be quieter. With 100 hp and a healthy amount of torque available you can make decent progress with 0 to 100 km/h completed in 10.2 seconds.

On the road the Peugeot 2008 brings hatchback-style driving behaviour and character to the small SUV class. The seating position is slightly raised in the style of a crossover. However you always feel at one with the car, and the cabin fits snugly around you. This is a lovely car to drive, with nice handling and steering. It’s not sporty but it is enjoyable to drive. It feels refined and mature on the road, with a comfortable ride that takes it easily from town to motorway.

Did you like it?

The Peugeot 2008 is a very successful compact crossover. In generation 2, it's more appealing with an individual design and improved quality. It’s an attractive prospect within the Peugeot SUV range, being compact, good to drive and practical.

An upmarket interior and quality build means than Peugeot can hit the market at a higher end without any fingers wagging. The 2008 is not the cheapest in the segment but entry level cars still offer great value with good specification.

Choice is another top feature of the Peugeot 2008 range with modern petrols, efficient diesel and the first ever electric e-2008. The diesel offers good economy and is relatively refined for this class of vehicle, yet the petrol engines will offer a quieter cabin experience.

This is another great car from Peugeot offering space, equipment and choice. The 2008 has matured into a fantastic looking small SUV that should have the competition watching closely.

The 2008 has matured into a fantastic small SUV
The 2008 has matured into a fantastic small SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Peugeot 2008 Allure 1.5 BlueHDi
Price: 
€27,850 (from €23,900)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
100 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.2 seconds
Top speed: 185 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 4.5-4.6 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 118-120g/100km
Motor Tax:  €180 per year


The 2020 Renault Captur now on sale in Ireland!

Renault Captur (2020) Review

The 2020 Renault Captur now on sale in Ireland!
The 2020 Renault Captur now on sale in Ireland!

Caroline drives the new Renault Captur!

The 2020 Renault Captur arrives in Ireland to build on the success of generation #1 of the popular Renault small SUV. Styling has been modernised in line with other models in the Renault range and a brand-new interior delivers more maturity and better quality finish. There are new trim levels and engines, with Captur in Ireland powered by petrol, diesel, and a plug-in hybrid soon to arrive. Customisation remains a key component of the Captur’s approach to the segment. In Ireland the Captur range begins from €21,995. In this Irish review, I’ll be testing the new Renault Captur for the first time on Irish roads!

Captur success story in Ireland

When the first generation of the Renault Captur arrived in Ireland in 2013, compact SUVs and crossovers were still very much a novelty. The motor industry was dipping a toe into this segment, which we were promised would just grow and grow. And so it came to pass. Like our neighbours in Europe, we too have a special grá for these SUV-inspired small crossovers.

Since then we have seen an explosion in the market with every brand worth its salt launching one. However, in a relatively short space of time the Captur has gained notoriety that many can only dream of. The Captur has always worn its colours boldly, a fun, cheerful Clio-based small SUV that quickly became a hit. For a time it was Ireland’s bestselling B-SUV. Such popularity cannot be ignored but the Captur was starting to be eclipsed by newer rivals.

And so enters generation #2 of the Renault Captur! Earlier in 2020, Changing Lanes was very impressed with the new Renault Clio. Now can Renault capture the same sparkle?

The new Captur is available in three trim levels with petrol and diesel engines
The new Captur is available in three trim levels with petrol and diesel engines

What's new for 2020?

Approaching the Captur for the first time and you notice just what a good looking car this has become. It’s matured and has a great presence on the road and in the car park. The Captur knows who it is and really convinces with a stylish, but rugged new shape.

The details really make it – a bold colour palette, two tone roof, plastic cladding and of course a very daring light signature at the front and the rear. You’ll know when you’ve been Captured!

The length of the vehicle has increased by 110 mm, while there is also a higher waistline. It's a true SUV stance emphasised by tough-looking front and rear protection skid plates, chunky protective mouldings that run the length of the lower body, and pronounced wheel arch extensions.

Full-LED headlamps are now standard across the range. Renault’s trademark C-shaped daylight running light signature raises the Captur's game for 2020 and there is a similar C-light signature at the rear.

Inside the 2020 Renault Captur

Inside, Renault has taken the same upmarket approach. The previous generation of the car had a cheaper, supermini feel to it. But now the Captur feels like a stand alone model in the Renault range that doesn’t need to be compared to the Clio. A lot of this is down to the raised seating position and arrangement of the instruments in the car, in what Renault calls the 'Smart Cockpit'. You sit high in the Captur compared to some more crossover-like rivals, and the gear lever is raised in the centre console to your left.

There has also been a huge improvement in quality and technology, which adds even more pleasantries to the cabin of the Captur. There are new 7" and 9.3" touchscreens as well as a digital information display for the driver available. The top of the range S-Edition on test for Changing Lanes is loaded with equipment including ambient lighting to bathe the interior in a soft glow at night. But a special mention must be made for the seats with super stylish upholstery any trendsetter will love.

Soft-touch plastics and satin finishes are used throughout, while the front seats have an entirely new design for more comfort.

The interior of the 2020 Renault Captur
The interior of the 2020 Renault Captur

Is it practical?

Practicality has always been a core strength of the Renault Captur, and this model is one of the best in class for interior space and clever features. The Captur is bigger inside that the Clio, with more headroom and legroom in the rear. Rear legroom has been boosted by 17 mm, thanks in part to re-designed front seats that also benefit from slimmer headrests to improve visibility. The middle seat is small but that goes with the territory of these small SUVs.

The designers have managed to create 81 more litres space in the boot, and its width and depth make it ideal for families. There is also a false floor, which can be moved around in a number of configurations. The pièce de résistance is a sliding rear bench that can be moved to create even more space in the boot (maximum of 536 litres).

What’s the range like in Ireland?

In Ireland the Captur is sold in three trim levels – Play (from €21,995), Iconic (from €23,645) and S-Edition (from €25,645). This is spot on pricing territory for this class of vehicle and the Captur is a substantial car.

Standard equipment on Play models includes 7” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED lights, climate control and 17” alloy-look flex wheels, auto lights and wipers, lane assist, traffic sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking.

Iconic models add keyless entry, navigation, parking sensors, roof rails and the two-tone paint look. The top of the range S-Edition on test for Changing Lanes features a 9.3” portrait multimedia screen, parking camera, part leather seats, auto high beam, and much more.

There are a range of bold colours available for the new Captur including Atacama Orange
There are a range of bold colours available for the new Captur including Atacama Orange

Customers can choose from 11 exterior colours and four roof finishes. The test car was finished in an Alabaster White body colour with a Black Pearl roof. Magnifique!

At launch the Captur is available with a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 100 hp or 1.3-litre turbo petrol with 130 or 155 hp. For buyers looking for the best economy there is a 1.5-litre diesel with 95 or 115 hp. Diesel models are available from €23,995. Manual and EDC automatic gearboxes are available. Motor tax ranges from €190 to €270. There is also a petrol plug-in hybrid expected in Ireland before the end of the year, though pricing has not been confirmed yet.

Driving the new Renault Captur

The new Captur is built on a new platform that also underpins the 2020 Renault Clio. Engineers have worked to improve safety and dynamic performance with a strengthened body structure that uses high-tensile steel and structural adhesive for improved bonding of the panels. The new architecture is also lighter and more aerodynamic. Special attention has been paid to reducing noise inside the cabin, with materials providing greater insulation and soundproofing, especially in the engine compartment.

This means that the Captur slips effortlessly from town to motorway, feeling robust and refined. On the road the Captur is set up for comfort, with a compliant suspension that does a great job of making this a relaxed drive. The steering is light and there is not a hint of sportiness to the way this car handles but comfort should be a high priority in this segment.

In terms of engines, the petrol line-up starts with the 1.0 TCe 100 hp turbocharged three-cylinder unit first used in the Clio. It's paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Performance can feel a bit sluggish in the Captur 1.0-litre with 0 to 100 km/h in 13.3 seconds, but it's economical and decent progress can be made. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.1 l/100 km and motor tax is €200 per year.

The next step up in the petrol range is the four-cylinder 1.3 TCe 130 with more power and stronger acceleration. It's available with a standard six-speed manual gearbox or optional 7-speed EDC automatic.

The new Renault Captur has many practical features
The new Renault Captur has many practical features

Did you like it?

Renault has made a popular model even better. There’s a pleasant air of maturity to this new Captur. It not only looks better, with a lovely balance between rugged SUV looks and urban style, but this theme runs indoors too.

The Captur’s cabin now feels befitting of a larger car and throws off any feelings of budget. Granted there is more bling as you go up the trim levels, but the cabin experience is undeniably good in the Captur.

The French compact SUV is not the sharpest to drive among its competitors but bites back with a comfortable, relaxed ride that is just as desirable in this class of vehicle. It’s refined and while the 1.0-litre has average performance, it is attractively efficient and cheap to run. This is a nice sized car too offering customers a substantial amount of interior space and clever practical features.

There is great breadth to the range with small petrol engines and efficient diesels, while an on trend plug-in hybrid is on the way shortly, though we don’t know how that will be priced yet. In what's currently available, pricing feels spot on with ‘basic’ cars coming well equipped.

Captur has grown up but still carries cheerful charisma in the B-SUV segment!

Bold styling and a practical interior make the Captur stand out
Bold styling and a practical interior make the Captur stand out

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Captur S-Edition TCe 100
Price: 
€25,645 (from €21,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
100 hp
Torque: 160 Nm
0-100km/h:  
13.3 seconds
Top speed: 173 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 133g/100km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year


The new Ford Puma on test for Changing Lanes!

Ford Puma (2020) 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV Review

The new Ford Puma on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Ford Puma ST Line X on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Ford Puma!

The Ford Puma arrives in Ireland debuting on-trend mild hybrid technology in an equally fashionable SUV-inspired crossover. Highlights include a new digital instrument cluster, innovative MegaBox for more practicality, and of course some very feline good looks! Engines at launch include petrol and diesel, with a high performance Ford Puma ST expected. The Puma range is on sale now from your local Ford dealer priced from €24,835. Earlier in 2020, I had the opportunity to experience the new Puma for the first time on a memorable road test around Ronda, Spain. Now I bring you my full Irish review of the new Ford Puma at the height of an Irish summer!

The Ford Puma has been one of the hottest new releases of 2020. We have had to wait a long time for an on-trend, B-segment crossover from Ford. The wait is finally over and the Puma pounced at the beginning of 2020. Not only does the Puma debut a cool crossover look but it also heralds the arrival of mild hybrid technology to the Ford range, another hot trend for 2020. Look at you Ford!

So was the new Ford Puma worth the wait?

Ford in Ireland has built itself upon the popular Fiesta and Focus hatchbacks, and in later years the Kuga SUV. Ford’s MPV range including the S-Max and Galaxy are still sought after by large families. But MPVs are no longer the lucrative venture they once were. These days everybody wants an SUV. Ford responded with the well-received Kuga, but the more compact EcoSport was less successful. Ford has moved in the right direction again with crossover-styled Fiesta Active and Focus Active derivatives that sport tough exterior body cladding and elevated ride height.

So now enter the Puma. Ford pitches Puma as an SUV-inspired compact crossover. It is based on the Fiesta with some technical modifications, but it has a visual identity all of its own. And what an identity it is. This car is a fantastic piece of design. It uses the Puma name last seen on a small 2-seat sports coupé back in the 1990s. But it’s not a homage to that car. It’s a smart new move and this Puma will bring Ford to a whole new generation. The Puma has tonnes of attitude in those large headlamps, and muscular body inspired by the powerful big cat it is named after. It’s sporty and sexy, two words that don’t always come easy when you are describing a B-segment crossover. But the Puma is the real deal.

The 2020 Ford Puma combines the trend for compact crossovers with the one for mild hybrid
The Ford Puma combines the trend for compact crossovers with the one for mild hybrid

What's the Puma range in Ireland?

With pricing starting from €24,835, the Puma does carry a premium over a Fiesta for example, and even an entry level Focus. But the appeal here is clear and Ford Ireland is skipping base spec models. That means that you get a well-equipped Puma Titanium from €24,835 with an on-point 1.0-litre EcoBoost mild hybrid petrol engine. This car comes equipped with 17-inch machined alloy wheels, LED projector headlamps with auto high beam, pre-collision assist, 8-inch SYNC with navigation and FordPass Connect modem, keyless start, electronic air conditioning, massage driver and passenger seats, ambient lighting, wireless charging, and cruise control with adjustable speed limiter.

Or you can rev up with a sportier looking Puma ST Line from €26,141 or the added extras of the ST Line X from €27,917. I really love the look of the ST Line car with a more aggressive body kit, large rear spoiler, and ST-Line sports exhaust. Inside there is a smart new 12.3-inch digital cluster, dark sports headliner, flat-bottom steering wheel, and alloy pedals and gear knob. The ST-Line X (model tested) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, B&O Play sound system, partial leather sports trim, and rear privacy glass.

There is also a top of the range ST Line X Vignale now available from €29,134 in Ireland with even more luxurious features.

Inside the new Ford Puma
Inside the 2020 Ford Puma

What’s under that bonnet?

In Ireland the range is very simple with a choice of petrol or diesel engine. The petrol engine is Ford's highly acclaimed 1.0-litre EcoBoost now incorporating mild hybrid technology to make the car more fuel efficient and give more powerful and responsive performance. The Puma’s EcoBoost Hybrid technology combines a small electric motor with a 48 volt battery and provides additional support to the petrol engine when needed.

This engine has a healthy 125 hp and it's so smart it also features Ford’s industry-first cylinder deactivation system for a three-cylinder engine, which automatically switches off one of the engine’s cylinders when full capacity is not needed, such as when coasting or cruising. Irish buyers can get this engine with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic gearbox.

There is also a 1.5-litre diesel with 120 hp, with pricing starting from €26,976.

There's also a hot Ford Puma ST performance SUV expected later in 2020 in the same vein as high performance Fiesta ST and Focus ST hatchbacks. Exciting!

The Ford Puma Titanium kicks off the range at €24,835
The Ford Puma Titanium kicks off the range at €24,835

Driving the 2020 Ford Puma

The Puma uses the Fiesta platform but has a wider track and some other modifications. A new, stiffer twist-beam rear suspension, larger shock absorbers, stiffer suspension bushes and optimised suspension top mounts reduce friction and enhance stiffness throughout the chassis to ensure the Puma handles better than competitors! The Puma is exciting to drive. You notice it immediately behind the wheel. Everything just feels that little bit tighter and more athletic than rivals. It comes alive in fast cornering, backed up by nicely weighted steering that offers more engagement than most. The small car underpinnings and ST Line firmer sport suspension mean that a Ford Focus is more comfortable, but a Puma is cooler.

My test car was powered by the 1.0-litre Ecoboost Hybrid mHEV. I’ve always been a fan of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine as it brings out the best in Ford’s dynamic driving cars. It’s no different here. It’s a lively engine that goes happily about its business. Performance figures are nothing exceptional but it is a pleasant mate for the Puma. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.0/100 km with a mix of urban, motorway and country roads.

Driving modes also come as standard with Sport, Normal, Eco, Trail and Slippery. It gives drivers some extra options though the car performs fine in Normal mode. Sport mode gives a bit more throttle response for example, for overtaking manoeuvres.

Inside the Puma

The Puma takes its interior mostly from the Fiesta. It's nothing too dramatic or stylish but it does have some nice features. There is a really attractive new digital instrument panel for the driver and that's standard from the ST Line trim. An 8" touchscreen comes as standard across the range with Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

Remember it's based on the Fiesta platform, but is roomier inside with more headroom and legroom in the back. The rear bench however will best be left to two people. The Puma has a good sized boot for this class with over 400 litres available and the added boon of the MegaBox. This innovative feature offers 80 litres of space in the boot floor, making it ideal for carrying tall items for example – such as houseplants or golf clubs (!) – in an upright position. Alternatively you could put the lid across and stow away dirty sports equipment or muddy footwear. A neat feature is a plughole in the bottom of the MegaBox so you can easily clean it out with water!

The innovative new Ford MegaBox
The innovative new Ford MegaBox

Did you like it?

The arrival of the Puma begins an onslaught of electrified Fords on the way to Ireland. The Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid is also new in dealers this summer, and Focus and Fiesta mild hybrids will follow. The exciting new all-electric Mustang Mach-e will be another high profile release with expected pricing kicking off in the region of €50,000.

Clearly I love the new Ford Puma. I've driven a lot of compact crossovers and they all have their best bits. But the Ford Puma expertly fills the need for a good-looking, fun and sporty compact crossover wearing the Ford badge. Ford is raising the game when it comes to design and driving dynamics. Embracing electrification is essential not to be left behind in a fast-paced industry. The Puma stands out now in the Ford range for its strong visual identity and fun image, along with the latest technology and digital features.

On price Ford Ireland appears to be positioning this car against upmarket models like the Peugeot 2008 and Volkswagen T-Cross. This is sophisticated company indeed to pounce upon, but Puma bites back with style and fun in spades. It’s a jungle out there but this Puma can wear its badge with pride!

The Ford Puma is now one of the most desirable cars in the Ford line-up
The Ford Puma is now one of the most desirable cars in the Ford line-up

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Puma ST Line X 1.0 mHEV
Price: 
€27,917 (from €24,835)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
125 hp
Torque: 170 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.8 seconds
Top speed: 191 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.4l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 127g/100km
Motor Tax: €270 per year


The 2020 Audi Q3!

Audi Q3 (2020) 1.5 TFSI Review


The 2020 Audi Q3!
The 2020 Audi Q3!

Caroline drives the 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 landed in Ireland in 2019. The arrival of the more compact Q2 in 2017, means that the 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 Audi Q3 2020 range kicks off at €39,400. 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 range has also been extended in 2020 with the arrival in Ireland of the new Audi Q3 Sportback. This new model adds a sportier, more coupé-like rear design in touch with Audi's other Sportback models. It carries a €1000 price premium over the Q3 SUV and the range starts from €40,400. But the more exclusive, niche design certainly makes it an interesting prospect in this mid-size segment. 


The Q3 S line on test for Changing Lanes
The Q3 S line on test for Changing Lanes

What's new for the Audi Q3 in 2020?

The new Audi Q3 debuts with a very smart new look inspired by the brand's latest design language. It's been comprehensively modernised to not alienate the target market, but looks fresh, angular and unmistakably Audi. It's got more definition and stance yet it’s still a relatively compact vehicle in the metal. 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 latest 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. Audi interiors are evolving in just the right way and the new Q3 makes a very pleasant entrance back into this segment.


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

Inside the 2020 Audi Q3

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 €43,350) 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.

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 Sportback has joined the 2020 range with exlcusive styling
The Audi Q3 Sportback has joined the 2020 range with exlcusive styling

Is it good to drive?

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.

Smooth TSI petrol power

In Ireland the new Audi Q3 is available with two petrol options (150hp and 230hp) and one diesel (150hp). The entry into the range is the 1.5-litre TFSI turbo petrol engine with 150 hp and 250 Nm of torque. This car is now badged 35 TFSI. We call it an entry model, but it's actually very advanced! It uses clever cylinder on demand technology to improve efficiency, which temporarily switches off two cylinders when the engine is at low load. I found it to be exceptionally smooth, sweet and powerful on the road in the Q3. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.5l/100km, so high mileage drivers will achieve better economy from the diesel.

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. It strikes a perfect balance between comfort, quality and wow-worthy tech.  

The new Audi Q3 is astoundingly good!


The new Q3 on sale in Ireland from €39,400
The new Q3 on sale in Ireland from €39,400

By Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi Q3 1.5TSI S line S-Tronic
Price:
€43,350 (Range from €39,400)
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 2020 Mazda CX30 on review for Changing Lanes!

Mazda CX30 Review (2020)

The 2020 Mazda CX30 on review for Changing Lanes!
The 2020 Mazda CX30 on review for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2020 Mazda CX30.

Mazda has been quietly investing in developing new SUVs in the last few years to complement their range of saloons and hatchbacks. However they were missing the coveted C-segment SUV. While the CX-3 debuted as a small SUV and the CX-5 picked up the baton as a large family SUV, there was nothing in the middle.

Enter CX30. Though just launched in Ireland at the end of 2019, new car registrations data shows that the CX30 is already Mazda’s most popular car in the range, just ahead of the all-new Mazda3.

What's so great about the 2020 Mazda CX30?

It’s not really that surprising. The new Mazda3 - and now the CX30 - usher in a new generation of models from Mazda that can truly call themselves premium. The technical and aesthetic value of these cars is high, something that the Japanese brand invests in heavily. Up close or from afar, design is more refined and classy than your average family SUV. The curvature of the sheet metal and S shape reflection in the flank surfacing are details only true artists could execute and deem important enough for a mass market crossover.

New interiors speak the same language inside the car, with better quality and even more premium design. While under the skin there is a new platform and engine technology that bring new levels of refinement to Mazda cars.

With the range starting from €29,495, the CX30 is pitched at the higher end of the market. Visually, it's more of a crossover than an SUV, but the raised ride height and extra plastic cladding give the car just the right character for today's market.

The CX30 is a new generation Mazda SUV
The CX30 is a new generation Mazda SUV

Mazda CX30 interior

The interior of the Mazda CX-30 wraps around you like a glove. The cabin design is modern and elegant with plenty of soft touch materials for a plush feel. GT models get a full leather interior as standard. The new infotainment system integrates very well in the dash design with a wide 8.8" screen. A rotary controller is included on the centre console with useful shortcut buttons, a feature we often see in premium cars. The system connects easily to smartphones via Apple Car Play or Android Auto.  A new digital instrument panel completes the look. This is a quality car, no doubts.

There are four trim levels for Ireland - GS, GS-L, GT and GT Sport. Standard features include air con, 8.8-inch infotainment screen, 7-inch digital dashboard, rear parking sensors, heads-up display, 16” alloys, LED headlights with High Beam Control, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring with rear traffic alert, Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Keep Assist.

My GT test car had 18” alloy wheels, heated steering wheel, power adjustable driver’s seat, full leather interior, reversing camera, keyless entry, powered tailgate, dual zone climate control and heated front seats.

The interior of the 2020 Mazda CX30
The interior of the 2020 Mazda CX30

Mazda CX30 boot space and practicality

The interior of the Mazda CX-30 is a sophisticated and premium offering that is hard to find in this class of vehicle. Drivers will love the higher seating position than a hatchback, while there is plenty of room and adjustment to get comfortable up front. Rear seating space is less impressive. With a tall driver or passenger, rear occupants are going to find legroom tight. Door openings are large and the positioning makes it easy to get in and out. The boot is more competitive at 430 litres and larger than the Mazda3 hatchback. It's also deep and large enough to tick the box for practicality. An electric tailgate is standard on some models.

Mazda has introduced mild hybrid technology to the engine range, while the CX30 will also feature the brand's advanced Skyactiv X petrol engine. My test car was a Mazda CX30 Skyactiv G, which is powered by a 2.0-litre mild hybrid petrol with 122 hp. It suits the CX30 remarkably well. This naturally aspirated unit is so quiet on the move and power is adequate for a five seat family SUV. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.5 litres per 100 km and motor tax for this model is €200 per year. If you want to try more power, there is also the 2.0-litre petrol badged Skyactiv X with 180 hp.

For the best economy, you will still want the 1.8-litre diesel badged Skyactiv D. We drove this model on the European press launch in 2019 and we were really impressed with fuel consumption as little as 4.8 litres per 100 km.

CX30 Pricing

The CX30 Skyactiv G is available from €29,495. The Skyactiv X petrol models with more power are available from €31,915 as is the CX-30 diesel range. Manual gearboxes come as standard with automatics available from €33,745. There are no diesel CX30 AWD (all wheel drive) models available in Ireland, but petrol AWD models start from €40,615.

Boot space in the CX30
Boot space in the CX30

Driving the CX30 in Ireland

The new Mazda CX-30 is based on a new generation of Mazda’s Skyactiv Vehicle Architecture that also underpins the new Mazda3 hatchback. Front wheel drive models feature G-Vectoring Control Plus for better handling. A torsion beam at the rear provides better refinement over a variety of road surfaces. We found the CX30 to be comfortable and flexible on Irish roads and a great compact crossover to drive.

That's because it handles more like a hatchback with natural, fluid steering and great body control through the corners. The cabin is also very well insulated to keep out road and wind noise. The premium level of refinement is a key selling point for the CX30 and puts it ahead of cheaper rivals.

Mazda CX30 or Mazda3?
The Mazda CX30 and the Mazda3

The CX-30 is now one of the most modern and advanced models in the Mazda range and features the full complement of Mazda engine technology – Skyactiv G, Skyactiv D and the new Skyactiv X. Being an SUV, it's super desirable and the styling and design of this car fits the market very well right now.

We were less impressed with the rear seating space, and some rivals in this class offer more for the money. The Mazda's top quality interior, premium features, refinement and fun to drive character make up for it. It's simply one of the best compact SUVs on the market right now.

The Mazda CX30 is one of the best compact SUVs on the market right now
The Mazda CX30 is one of the best compact SUVs on the market right now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mazda CX-30 2.0 Skyactiv-G GT
Price: 
€33,395 (from €29,495)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 213 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.6 seconds
Top speed: 186 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP): 
6.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP)/NEDC2:  
141g/km/103g/km
Motor Tax: €200 per year


The new Volvo XC90 B5!

Volvo XC90 B5 AWD (2020) Review

The new Volvo XC90 B5!
The new Volvo XC90 B5!

Caroline drives the 2020 Volvo XC90.

Volvo is quickly becoming a leader in SUVs. Taking all the experience the brand garnered building practical family cars, namely estate cars, the Swedish brand has turned their magic touch to SUVs.

The new XC90 spearheaded Volvo’s spectacular revival in 2015 and was the first vehicle to be built on the new Volvo in-house designed and built chassis, using its own in-house designed and built engines. The XC90 was closely followed by the XC60 and the XC40, a family of Volvo SUVs all proving to be formidable competitors in their respective segments.

So what's new for 2020?

And what an experience the Volvo XC90 is. For the 2020 model year, the XC90 has received a refresh with new styling details, more equipment, upgrades to petrol-electric plug-in versions and the Irish debut of a new mild-hybrid powertrain - the B5 diesel mild hybrid tested here.

Priced from €77,970, the XC90 firmly occupies the large premium SUV segment. This is a stunning car inside and out. The XC90 is beautifully designed and makes an elegant statement wherever it goes. Now there are new grille and lower front bumper designs and the air intakes also have a fresh look. New alloy wheel designs have been introduced for 2020. All XC90 versions now come with roof rails and dual exhaust tailpipes as standard.

The interior of the 2020 Volvo XC90
The interior of the 2020 Volvo XC90

R-Design models (from €82,363) get a new black high-gloss finish for the exterior trim, including the door mirror casings, window frames and roof rails. There are also new paint options, including Thunder Grey, Pebble Grey and Birch Light shades.

Inside the 2020 Volvo XC90

The cabin has been designed with a simple layout built around the 9" tablet-like touchscreen with voice-activated control, navigation system and access to the Volvo On Call connected services platform. It's also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The XC90's cabin is a calm, reassuring and comfortable place to be. It is a generous seven seat SUV with great leg- and headroom all round. Even in seven seat mode, the XC90 still seems to have more space to spare, while there's a huge 775 litres in five seat mode.

In Ireland, the new XC90 range is available in Momentum, R-Design and Inscription versions along with Pro upgrades for each. Standard equipment includes 19" alloys, LED headlights with active high beam, power-operated tailgate, parking sensors, rear parking camera, leather-faced upholstery, powered driver’s and front passenger seats, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control with ‘CleanZone’ air-quality system,12.3-inch driver’s information display, City Safety, including automatic emergency braking with Steering Support, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-off Road Mitigation and Run-off Road Protection.

R-Design highlights include the gloss black mesh front grille, door mirror casings and window surround, sports seats with leather and nubuck upholstery, front-seat cushion extensions, sports leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles, sports pedals, black headlining and 20" alloy wheels with a diamond-cut and black finish.

The new XC90 is available as a mild hybrid diesel or a petrol electric plug-in hybrid
The new XC90 is available as a mild hybrid diesel or a petrol electric plug-in hybrid

What are my options?

Buyers in Ireland can choose from the new 'B5' mild-hybrid diesel with 235 hp or the 'T8 Twin Engine' petrol-electric plug-in hybrid with 390 hp. Every XC90 comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

My test car was a Volvo XC90 B5 R-Design with a list price of €82,863. It is a fantastic combination. Volvo’s established 2.0-litre 235hp diesel engine is combined with a 48-volt battery, a KERS kinetic energy recovery system and an integrated starter generator. Volvo says the system improves fuel economy by up to 15 per cent in real-world driving and produces lower NOx emissions than the outgoing D5 XC90 it replaces. It's a supremely quiet and refined set up. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 8.2l/100km.

The other engine option is the XC90 T8 Twin Engine petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain, which has been revised for 2020 with an increase in the high-voltage battery’s capacity from 10.4 to 11.8 kWh. This increases the car’s electric-only driving range to about 46 km.

The Volvo XC90 is priced from €77,970 in Ireland
The Volvo XC90 is priced from €77,970 in Ireland

Driving the new Volvo XC90

On the road the Volvo XC90 is good. Very good! It's a smooth drive with excellent ride quality. Refinement is top notch. The XC90 has surprising agility and has been engineered exceptionally well to make it one of the best, most effortless drivers in the large SUV segment. It's certainly not trying to be sporty but you do feel very much in control and in command behind the wheel of the XC90.

The Volvo XC90 is big, commanding and luxurious. Yet on the road it has the kind of agility associated with a smaller vehicle. The B5 is super refined and suits this behemoth very well. Interior quality and ambience is up there with the best on offer in this segment. Volvo probably wouldn't say this in a press release, but you will feel calmer and more relaxed behind the wheel. I did!

The Volvo XC90 is a masterpiece in the world of large SUVs.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volvo XC90 B5 AWD Automatic R Design
Price: 
€82,863 (XC90 from €77,970)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
235 hp
Torque: 480 Nm
0-100km/h:
7.8 seconds
Top speed: 220 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP): 
6.9-7.5l/100km
CO2 emissions NEDC2:
155g/km (WLTP: 179-195g/km)
Motor tax: 
€390 per year

Caroline in the Volvo XC90!
Caroline in the Volvo XC90!

The new SKODA Kamiq!

2020 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI DSG Review

The new SKODA Kamiq!
The new Skoda Kamiq!

The new Skoda Kamiq completes an epic SUV trilogy for Skoda. Starting with the popular Kodiaq in 2017, joined by the mid size Karoq in 2018, and now the baby of the bunch – the petite but capable Kamiq! Small SUVs and crossovers are hot property these days and the Kamiq range kicks off at a very attractive €21,300.

The Kamiq is smart to look at, with compact, boxy dimensions. Skoda is quick to lift the car’s aesthetic features – split headlights featuring the daytime running lights above the main headlights, wide radiator grille, rear diffuser, elevated bonnet, front spoiler. Yet my favourite feature was the small dome in the bonnet that can be seen from the driver’s seat. In my eyes this is an unusually charismatic Skoda.

Built on the Volkswagen Group modular transverse matrix (MQB), Skoda has taken the platform and done some wonders with interior space. Compact crossovers can be very, eh, compact, but somehow the Kamiq feels like one of the most generous in the segment for rear head- and leg-room. The boot is also a good size for the segment with a capacity of 363 litres.

The interior of the new Kamiq
The interior of the new Kamiq

Inside the new Kamiq

The Kamiq is also the second new model in the Skoda range after the Scala to debut Skoda’s new interior design. It’s quite chic and minimalist with great infotainment, technology and smartphone integration. The 10.25 inch Virtual Cockpit is an option. Material quality is good for the segment with some nice trim elements.

In Ireland at launch the Kamiq is available in three trim levels kicking off at €21,300 for the 1.0-litre TSI 95 hp Active, from €23,300 for the Ambition and from €25,300 for the Style. Other engine options include a 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol with 115 hp, a 1.5 TSI turbo petrol with 150 hp and a 1.6 TDI diesel with 115 hp. 5-speed and 6-speed manual gearboxes feature as does an excellent 7-speed DSG.

Standard equipment on Active and Ambition models includes the 6.5-inch ‘Swing’ touch screen infotainment system, LED headlights and tail lights, Lane Assist, Front Assist with City Emergency Brake and Predictive Pedestrian Protection, and Multi-Collision Braking.

My Style model has a high specification with equipment including 17” alloys, rear view camera, dual zone climate control, rear privacy glass, rain sensing wipers, leather steering wheel, the 8.0-inch ‘Bolero’ infotainment unit and full LED headlights with AFS and dynamic front and rear indicators.

Smart, fun and functional - the new Kamiq
Smart, fun and functional - the new Kamiq

Driving the new Skoda Kamiq

On the road drivers can enjoy an elevated seating position and light controls for a smooth and agile driving experience. The 1.0-litre 115 hp petrol engine suits this car very well and I was driving it in combination with the DSG automatic gearbox. It’s another stellar performance from this small engine/auto gearbox combination making it ideal for those seeking a small automatic for the city. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.5 l/100km and motor tax is currently €200 per year for this model.

Skoda has landed in the popular compact B-SUV segment with a really strong new model. The Kamiq has the charisma of a small off-roader and it’s a great addition to the Skoda range. It’s spacious inside for its size and the small petrol engine makes it good fun to drive. There’s good value to be had in the Kamiq range with some well-proven engines and gearbox options.

The new Kamiq has everything covered to storm the compact crossover segment!

New Kamiq available from €21,300
New Kamiq available from €21,300

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: ŠKODA KAMIQ Style 1.0 DSG
Price: 
€28,100
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
115 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10 seconds
Top speed: 193 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP):
5.5-6.8l/100km
CO2 emissions:
113g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

 


Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!

2020 Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 First Drive Review

Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!
Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is the Opel brand’s first plug-in hybrid. It will arrive in Ireland later in February as the new, all wheel drive, range topper of the Grandland X mid-size family SUV range. Caroline travelled with Opel Ireland to the Black Forest, Germany, to test drive it.

Styling

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is a standard, friendly-looking family SUV, except for one key differentiating feature – the black bonnet that is exclusive to the Hybrid4. While this reviewer is a fan, Opel Ireland thinks it’s a risky move so dealer stock will be monotone only (the black bonnet will be available by special order). There’s a Hybrid4 badge at the rear and an extra flap housing the socket to charge the battery on board.

Interior

The new plug-in hybrid variant carries the same interior as the rest of the Grandland X range, except for a few new buttons and screens to control and monitor the hybrid system. The Grandland X cabin is quite sombre and conservative, but well-built with the latest technology features including the 8" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 can drive like an electric vehicle for up to 59 km
The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 can drive like an electric vehicle for up to 59 km

Practicality

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is a mid-size family SUV with seating for five and competitive rear seating space for this class of vehicle. The battery has been placed under the rear seats and there has been little intrusion to the space in the vehicle as a consequence of the electrified powertrain. Charging cables can be stored in a special compartment under the boot floor and the boot is still competitively sized.

Engines

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors to produce an overall system output of 300 hp and 520 Nm of torque, making it the most powerful model in the Grandland X range. An eight speed automatic gearbox comes as standard.

There will also be a front wheel drive only Opel Grandland X Hybrid available from March with 225 hp.

CO2 emissions are as low as 29 g/km.

On the road

The Opel Grandland X starts in electric mode and has a pure electric range of up to 59 km. The driver can select easily between four driving modes on start up: Electric, Hybrid, Sport and AWD.

Once leaving the confines of Basel Airport, I slipped the Grandland X into hybrid mode. In this mode, the car intelligently selects how much electric assistance to give. Over the first leg of my test drive over motorway and then smaller, fast flowing roads through the Black Forest, my average fuel consumption was an economical 4.6/100km.

Opel engineers encourage owners to plug their new Grandland X Hybrid in every day because the best economy is returned from the car when the battery is kept topped up, as common with all plug-in hybrids. For drivers who travel a short commute comfortably within the 59 km, it would be possible to run the car on electricity only, dipping into the fuel tank rarely. Of course there is never fear of range anxiety because you always have the back up of the petrol engine.

Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 has all wheel drive for extra reassurance in challenging road conditions
Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 has all wheel drive for extra reassurance in challenging road conditions

On the return leg of the journey back to the airport, my battery power ran low as we did not charge at our lunch stop. Average fuel consumption was 6.3l/100km over a 100 km journey that included high speed Autobahn driving.

I dipped into Sport mode during my test drive and it turns the Opel Grandland X into a different animal. This performance biased mode gives the driver instant feedback through the pedals. However, this is not a sports SUV, the Opel Grandland X won’t hustle around corners like a hot hatch but it’s a pleasant pop of power in an otherwise demure SUV.

Charging

The battery can be fully charged in around two hours with a 7.4 kW wallbox or about seven hours using a three point plug at home.

Equipment

In Ireland the new Grandland X Hybrid 4 will be available in the high spec Elite trim. Equipment includes 19" alloy wheels, 8" colour touchscreen, leather seat trim, power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, panoramic glass roof, front parking sensors, driver drowsiness system, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane assist and side blind spot alert.

Pricing

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite will go on sale in Ireland priced from €47,415. The Grandland X Hybrid (front wheel drive) will go on sale from €36,645 for the entry SC, €39,245 for the SRi and €41,745 for the Elite. All prices quoted here are inclusive of Government grants and incentives amounting to €7,500 for plug-in hybrids.

The interior of the new Grandland X Hybrid4
The interior of the new Grandland X Hybrid4

Rivals

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid and Hybrid4 will compete against sister brand Peugeot’s 3008 Hybrid4 and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Summary

The new Grandland X Hybrid4 is a pioneering new product for the Opel brand. Along with the new Corsa-e, these models spearhead the brand’s move to electrification that will see the brand’s entire product portfolio with a battery electric vehicle or hybrid by 2024.

The Grandland X is currently available with diesel and petrol engines, and the Hybrid4 marks a new departure, now offering another option for buyers seeking to move to a lower emissions vehicle.

With the standard Grandland X range kicking off at €28,995, the Hybrid4 carries a significant investment. And though huge savings can be made on running costs, some strategy regarding charging at home and at your destination is needed in order to truly see the benefits of a PHEV.

The hybrid system itself is impressive, as are the performance figures for a standard mid size family SUV. But it’s the green credentials of the Opel Grandland X, not the sporty ones, which should truly inspire buyers to own one.

The Grandland X Hybrid4 is available from €47,415
The Grandland X Hybrid4 is available from €47,415 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd