The Renault Arkana on test for Changing Lanes

Renault Arkana Review (2024) | Stylish and practical

Read Caroline's Renault Arkana review for everything you need to know about buying Renault's stylish SUV coupé in Ireland.

The Renault Arkana first launched in Ireland in 2021 and quickly became one of the brand's bestsellers, outselling the Clio and the Captur.

Along with the Megane E-Tech and the newly launched Austral, it gives Renault a strong presence in the compact side of the market.

The Arkana has recently been updated for 2024 so it was time for another spin.

The Renault Arkana on test for Changing Lanes
The Renault Arkana on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Renault Arkana?

Styled as an SUV coupé, the Arkana is a stylish, five-seat family car with trendy crossover-inspired looks. It sits a bit higher off the ground than your average hatchback and features familiar Renault design cues like striking LED lights front and rear.

At the rear, the roof slopes down in an attractive coupé style - with little compromise to practicality as the Arkana houses a generous boot and plenty of passenger space. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 17- to 19-inch depending on trim level.

For the update, Renault has made a few subtle tweaks. Evolution and Techno trim lines are joined by the new Esprit Alpine, which replaces the previous R.S. Line and gets some sportier trim like 19-inch alloys and gloss black wing mirror caps.

The grille has a new diamond pattern and wears the new Renault logo. There's also a new F1-style blade in the front bumper, finished in grey on the Esprit Alpine. The rear lights have smoked glass covers and tailpipes are finished in gloss black.

There's also a new colour called Midnight Blue.

The cabin of the Arkana
The cabin of the Arkana

The Arkana is available as a 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol or as an even more fuel-efficient hybrid. It also still manages to offer good value in the market, starting from €32,590 for the petrol and from €35,490 for the hybrid.

Driving the Arkana E-Tech Hybrid

The Arkana E-Tech Hybrid uses a 1.6-litre full hybrid just like the Clio Hybrid. It combines a four-cylinder petrol engine with a small capacity battery, two electric motors and a 6-speed multimode automatic transmission.

With 145hp, it has plenty of power while boasting lower CO2 emissions and the ability to drive up to 80% of the time on battery power alone at low speeds in town, for example.

It also proves to be very fuel efficient with real world consumption between 5.5 and 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres during my time with the car. It's not a plug-in hybrid, so doesn't need to be plugged in to get the best efficiency from it.

It's a capable drive without being as sporty as what the coupé looks might suggest. The steering is accurate and direct but the hybrid can get noisy under hard acceleration.

The ride is a little firm so in town and on country roads it feels a little bumpy at times. There's quite a lot of road noise at high speeds on the motorway too.

The Renault Arkana is available as a petrol mild hybrid or full hybrid
The Renault Arkana is available as a petrol mild hybrid or full hybrid

But on balance, it's a nice car to spend time with. It offers a good view out of the road ahead and is simple and efficient to drive.

The 1.3-litre petrol is available with 140hp or 160hp depending on trim level and also comes with an automatic transmission.

There's no diesel option in the Arkana range.

Inside the Arkana

The Arkana still scores well for practicality. The hatchback-style boot has a wide opening and capacity of 480 litres. It doesn't feel cramped in the back despite the sloping roofline and provides adequate space for two, or even three from time to time.

The cabin design and finish hasn't changed much in this update but it's still a nice place to be with a good solid feel and plenty of cool digital tech on board.

The Esprit Alpine (from €37,790) offers the plushest cabin of the range with details such as suede-effect and synthetic leather seats with Alpine logo and blue stitching. The leather wrapped steering wheel gets stitching in the colours of the French Tricolour. There's also a bespoke grey panel in the dash.

The boot of the Arkana
The boot of the Arkana

It also has luxury features like heated steering wheel, heated front seats with power adjustment. Lovely!

The entry level Evolution model comes with a 7-inch touchscreen now with in-built navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

It's worth going for the mid-range Techno model as it adds an impressive full digital driver display and larger 9.3-inch touchscreen.

Did you like it?

The Renault Arkana is still a great offering in the market for style, practicality and efficiency. It's not quite as sporty to drive as it looks and could do with a bit more refinement overall but for the price it still manages to offer good value for buyers. The update is very, very subtle but what a great looking car!

Arkana is a car with a lot of charm and it's no surprise it's such a big seller for Renault in Ireland.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The Renault Arkana is practical, stylish and efficient
The Renault Arkana is practical, stylish and efficient

The 2024 Peugeot 2008

Peugeot 2008 Review (2024) | So much to like

Read Caroline's Peugeot 2008 review for everything you need to know about buying Peugeot's small SUV in 2024.

The Peugeot 2008 has been a huge hit for the Peugeot brand since it first launched in Ireland all the way back in 2013.

Now in its second generation, it is one of the brand's bestsellers alongside the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 SUVs.

Peugeot has recently spruced up the 2008 to keep it competitive against its rivals like the Skoda Kamiq, Ford Puma and Toyota Yaris Cross. It goes on sale priced from €30,740.

It's available with a choice of engines including petrol, petrol mild hybrid and the full electric Peugeot e-2008, which I reviewed for this site last summer. But it's the 1.2 petrol that's the subject of this review.

Let's take a closer look.

The 2024 Peugeot 2008
The 2024 Peugeot 2008 on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Peugeot 2008?

The current Peugeot 2008 launched here in 2020 but still looks fresh. It has lots of style and sophistication for the small SUV class. It now has been updated in line with the rest of the Peugeot range so it gets the brand's new lion shield logo, larger grille and 'three-claw' daytime running lights at the front.

At the back P E U G E O T is now spelt across a black strip connecting the rear lights, which also have a new lighting signature.

There are three trim lines: Active, Allure and GT. Standard wheel sizes vary from 16- to 17-inch with more efficient aerodynamic design.

There's a range of smart colours available including Selenium Grey, Okenite White, Vertigo Blue and Elixir Red. There's also a trendy contrasting black roof for the GT model.

The upmarket feel continues to the inside.

The cabin of the 2024 Peugeot 2008
The cabin of the 2024 Peugeot 2008

Inside the Peugeot 2008

The cabin design is now an older variation of the brand's 'i-Cockpit' that mixes a compact steering wheel with a cosy, driver-focused feel. The build quality feels good for this kind of small SUV and the mix of materials combine for a classy feel.

There's a full digital driver display on Allure and GT models, and a now standard fit 10-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone connectivity. Like before, the ventilation is controlled from the screen though there are a few shortcut buttons to pull up menus quickly.

A parking camera and parking sensors come as standard. Wireless smartphone charging is standard with the GT model.

It's a car that's easy to get comfortable in quickly and is spacious for its size with ample legroom and headroom. There's also a practical 434 litre boot with a two-position floor that is bigger than some hatchbacks.

The 2008 is available as petrol, petrol mild hybrid or full electric
The 2008 is available as petrol, petrol mild hybrid or full electric

Driving the 1.2 petrol

The Peugeot 2008 is a joy to drive with smooth dynamic steering and very composed handling through bends. Out on the motorway it shows the maturity of a larger car, feeling supple and comfortable at all times. It's a solid car to drive and never gets too noisy.

The 1.2-litre petrol is the entry into the range and is available with 100hp or 130hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox. There's also an automatic mild hybrid version with 136hp. On test was the 1.2 petrol Allure with 130hp retailing at €34,295 and it's brilliant in the 2008. It's lively and perky to drive, while also being quiet and economical. You couldn't wish for more from a petrol crossover.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres and it costs €200 to tax per year.

Rear legroom in the 2008
Rear legroom in the 2008

There's also the Peugeot e-2008 (from €35,610), which gets a new 54kWh battery with more range than before (up to 406 kilometres WLTP) and a more efficient 156hp electric motor.

Did you like it?

It's an easy yes. The Peugeot 2008 remains one of the best of its kind. If you're looking for a stylish, fun and spacious small SUV, the Peugeot 2008 definitely has to be on your shopping list. Whether you go petrol or electric, it's a great buy.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The Peugeot 2008 is one of the best small SUVs you can buy
The Peugeot 2008 is one of the best small SUVs you can buy

The Subaru Solterra

Subaru Solterra Review | Best off-road EV


Read Caroline's Subaru Solterra review for everything you need to know about buying Subaru's electric crossover in Ireland.

Subaru is known as a 4x4 specialist with cars like the Impreza, Forester and Outback in its repertoire and famous for the flat four Boxer engine.

The brand is a small player in the Irish market but does have a strong following of fans who love the straightforward rugged and reliable character of a good Subaru.

The Japanese car brand has dabbled in some hybrid technology to clean up its environmental credentials and now steps into the arena of the full battery electric vehicle (BEV) with the all-new Subaru Solterra.

The Solterra was co-developed with Toyota and shares much of its engineering, battery and interior with the Toyota BZ4X. Subaru gave its all wheel drive expertise to the project, giving the Solterra a leg up in the market for any buyer seeking an EV that won't embarrass you off road.

Let's take a closer look.

The Subaru Solterra
The Subaru Solterra

Styling

The Solterra shares its basic shape with the Toyota BZ4X but with a few Subaru tweaks that make it arguably a better looking car overall. It's quite a big vehicle in the metal with numerous crossover design cues that hint at its ability off road. For a start, it sits a little bit higher off the ground than your average hatchback with a good 210 mm of ground clearance and there is copious amounts of plastic cladding around the wheel arches. At the front, the Solterra gets Subaru's iconic hexagon grille plate. There are also different headlights with washers. The standard wheel size is 18-inch, with the option to upgrade to a set of 20-inch on the Touring model. At the back, there are two separate lights as opposed to the Toyota's full light bar.

Interior

While the outside styling does offer a little distinction from the Toyota, inside it's a carbon copy. Subaru cars always had strong, good quality cabins and the same has to be said for the Solterra. However, the collaboration has added a little more style and digital tech to proceedings. There's a nice mix of materials including a tweed-like fabric on the dashboard and lots of gloss black. There's a leather wrapped steering wheel and digital driver display set above it. This is a little different to the set up in most other cars and may require you sit a bit higher to see everything on the screen. There's also a large touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, There are separate buttons underneath to adjust the climate control.

The cabin of the Solterra
The cabin of the Solterra

The Solterra is very well equipped with standard features on the Limited model including heated front and rear seats, keyless entry, 360 camera, digital rear view mirror and many safety features. The Touring adds a double sunroof, synthetic leather seats, power adjustment for the front seats, wireless smartphone charging and a Harman Kardon stereo with subwoofer.

Practicality

The Solterra offers generous space inside for passengers. The rear seat is quite wide and there is a lot of legroom thanks to a flat floor the width of the cabin. The floor is quite high however so the rear bench doesn't offer much in the way of thigh support but the rear seats do recline. A powered tailgate comes as standard and opens to reveal 452 litres. The boot is well designed with a wide opening and low sill making it easy to pack and unpack. There's also a little underfloor storage.

Battery

The Solterra uses the same battery as the BZ4X. It's a 71kWh battery (64kWh usable) with up to 465 kilometres of range (WLTP). A heat pump comes as standard but in real world driving the dual motor, all wheel drive set-up proves not to be the most efficient, while turning on the ventilation has a significant impact on the estimated range. Over a week of driving my average consumption was about 23 kWh per 100 kilometres, which indicates a range of 278 kilometres on a full battery charge.

The Subaru Solterra is the brand's first full electric vehicle
The Subaru Solterra is the brand's first full electric vehicle

Driving

Subaru as a brand is known for its rugged reliability and the Solterra comes to market as dual motor, all wheel drive only (the Toyota BX4Z is available in a front wheel drive variant). Aside from good ground clearance, the Solterra has a few other off-road tools on board like Grip Control, a hill descent control and X Mode, which allows you to switch between two preconfigured modes - Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud. If you find yourself in a muddy field, you will be glad to be behind the wheel of the Solterra.

Performance figures are good with 218hp, 336Nm of torque and 0-100kmh in just 6.9 seconds. The Solterra feels very responsive and sprightly on the road. It's an excellent handling car with a low centre of gravity from the battery position giving a nice feeling of balance and dynamism to the car. There's not too much lean in corners and the grip is superb. There are also a few driving models like normal, eco and power. There's paddle shifters behind the steering wheel to adjust the regenerative braking. It feels very solid and planted on the road though the experience is upset by quite a lot of road noise in the cabin at high speeds. Still the ride quality is excellent, and the Subaru takes on Irish roads with aplomb.

Rear seating in the Solterra
Rear seating in the Solterra

Charging

DC fast charging is possible up to 150kW for an 80% charge in about 30 minutes. AC charging is possible up to 7kW.

Pricing

The Solterra has recently had a price cut to keep it competitive and now starts from €44,995.

Verdict

The Subaru Solterra is a significant car for Subaru and stays true to Subaru's incredible 4x4 heritage, being perfectly set-up for winter roads, muddy fields and dirt tracks. It's a nice car to be behind the wheel and feels like a good quality offering. It's loaded with equipment and looks pretty smart too. The range is a little disappointing and others offer more range for similar money. But if you can live with that, the Solterra is a lovely car.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The Subaru Solterra is one of the best EVs for off-roading
The Subaru Solterra is one of the best EVs for off-roading

The new Peugeot e-3008

Peugeot E-3008 Review | First drive of the new electric Peugeot

Read Caroline's Peugeot E-3008 review for everything you need to know about Peugeot's new electric version of a popular SUV that has sold over 1.3 million units worldwide.

The Peugeot 3008 has been a huge success for the Peugeot brand. In Ireland, it's a former Irish Car of the Year and one of the French brand's bestselling models - and has been for many years now.

No pressure then for the third generation model, which is expected to arrive in Ireland in a few month's time.

In a sign of the times, it will also be available as an electric 'E-3008' for the very first time, along with a petrol mild hybrid and a plug-in hybrid before the end of the year.

I travelled to France with Peugeot Ireland to drive the new Peugeot E-3008 ahead of its Irish launch.

Watch a video review of the new Peugeot E-3008!

Styling

The current Peugeot 3008 is one of the best looking SUVs of its kind. For this new generation, it migrates to a sleeker fastback design with a sloping roofline to the rear of the car just like a Toyota C-HR or Renault Arkana. Dimensions remain quite similar to the previous version, with no dramatic increases in width, length or height. In fact it's one of the most compact vehicles of its class. There's a new front-end with slimmer LED headlights connected by a black strip. Striking 'tri-claw' daytime running lights complete the feline look. The grille melts into the bodywork with same colour detail and is identical between the fuel and electric versions. There's a sporty floating spoiler at the back and new three-claw light signature.

Six colours are available including new Ingaro Blue. There will be two trims - Allure and GT - with 19- to 20-inch wheels available with an aerodynamic, geometric design. GT models are finished with gloss black around the wheel arches and lower sills, and come with a black contrast roof.

The new Peugeot e-3008
The new Peugeot E-3008 is expected in Ireland before the summer

Interior

Inside there's an evolution of Peugeot's i-Cockpit concept, now called the 'panoramic i-Cockpit'. There's a new compact steering wheel with new controls and paddles to adjust the regenerative braking for the very first time. The curved 21-inch display wraps elegantly above the steering wheel for an ultra-modern look. It seamlessly combines the digital instrument cluster with the touchscreen for media and ventilation controls. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto removes the need for messy cables. There are new customisable 'i-toggle' switches beneath the screen in a touch panel, which allow the driver to set shortcuts to their most used functions. There's also a new connected navigation system with a trip planner to help you plan the best route with charging stops where necessary.

The centre console curves around the driver, giving a cosy, sporty feel. Fabric finishes and ambient lighting enhance the upmarket feel. The seats are comfortable and supportive with fabric, leather-effect and Alcantara finish available. Peugeot aimed for a lounge feel and it's done a good job delivering that.

Practicality

At 520 litres, the boot volume is the same as before. A split level boot floor creates space to stow away the charging cables. There's no frunk available. There hasn't been a massive change in interior accommodation either, but it remains competitive in interior space with a flat floor a gift from the bespoke EV platform. The sloping roofline design doesn't affect headroom for back seat passengers either.

The cabin of the 2024 Peugeot e-3008
The cabin of the 2024 Peugeot E-3008

Battery

The E-3008 will be available in time with a choice of two battery sizes. The 73kWh standard range (210bhp) offers in the region of up to 525 kilometres, while the 98kWh (230bhp) can increase that to an incredible 700 kilometres. It's a 400V high-voltage lithium-ion battery, with a chemical composition of nickel, manganese and cobalt.

There's no battery pre-conditioning and a heat pump is optional.

Driving

The new E-3008 is special because it's the first model to use the Stellantis Group's new STLA Medium platform, which in time will underpin other Opel, Citroen, DS, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep models for instance. There will be a choice of two different battery sizes in a single motor, front wheel drive layout, as well as a standard range, dual motor option offering the most power of the range (320bhp). On the road, the E-3008 offers good road-holding ability, staying flat and balanced through corners thanks to its low set battery. The steering feels neat and fluid, with quite a lot of weight to it making it a steady drive on the motorway - though it's not as light and joyful a drive as the smaller Peugeot E-2008 around town and on twistier roads. On the motorway, it clearly excels in the overall refinement of the vehicle, with a quiet, serene cabin and no annoying wind or road noise. It's comfortable on the smooth stuff but does thud a bit over imperfections, joints, manhole covers in the road surface, a flaw shared with many an electric car or SUV.

The e-3008 can offer a range of up to 700 km in its top form
The E-3008 can offer a range of up to 700 km in its top form

There are three different driving modes - normal, sport and eco. In the normal mode, not all the power and torque is available and the E-3008 doesn't feel particularly full of joie de vivre. It's a more lively drive in the sport mode.

New driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control with stop & go function and lane-keeping assist, semi-automatic lane change and early speed recommendation.

A plug-in hybrid will join the range before the end of the year. At launch there will also be a mild hybrid petrol automatic with 136hp, which may be a good alternative if you do not want to go full electric at this time.

Charging

An 11kW charger comes as standard, with the option to upgrade to a 22kW for faster AC charging. DC fast charging is possible up to 160kW, charging the battery from 20% to 80% in 30 minutes for the standard range version. Vehicle to load charging also appears for the very first time in a Peugeot electric vehicle.

Rear seating in the new Peugeot e-3008
Rear seating in the new Peugeot E-3008

Pricing

It's yet to be confirmed how much the new E-3008 will cost you though Peugeot Ireland says it will be competitive.

Verdict

Peugeot is well on its way to becoming a fully electric car brand by 2030. The lion brand has been electrifying its range since about 2020 with the arrival of models like the excellent E-208 and E-2008. New arrivals include the E-308 and there's more on the way like the E-408 and the E-5008 - the electric version of Peugeot's highly successful seven seater.

The Peugeot 3008 has been an incredible success to date for the French car brand in its petrol, diesel and hybrid forms. The new one marks the start of a new era for the brand's mid-size SUV - both in design and powertrain. While looks are subjective, the new E-3008 is certainly a looker and takes on the fashionable style of a more coupé-like SUV without compromising practicality.

Inside it is beautifully finished and certainly sits at the upper end of the class for outright quality and a posh feel. These are factors that will endear it to traditional Peugeot buyers. The price of the electric may be yes palatable - that is yet to be confirmed - but the petrol option may offer a more appealing bridge to this new model. We just have to wait and see.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The new Peugeot e-3008 offers upmarket style and excellent refinement
The new Peugeot E-3008 offers upmarket style and excellent refinement

The new Kia EV9 is on sale now

Kia EV9 Review | Kia's biggest electric SUV

Read Caroline's Kia EV9 review for everything you need to know about buying Kia's new large electric SUV in Ireland.

The Kia EV9 is one of the most anticipated new electric SUVs to arrive in 2024. With the option of six or seven seats, it's one of the few large electric people carriers on sale.

What's more, it's one of the most desirable with futuristic SUV vibes and some excellent technology underneath including rapid 800 volt charging and over 500 kilometres of range from official tests.

Kia has form when it comes to building electric vehicles. The Kia Niro and Kia Soul were some of the best compact electric vehicles of their generation. The Kia EV6 is a former European Car of the Year and Irish Car of the Year winner, and remains a top choice of electric car in 2024.

The new Kia EV9 now crowns the Kia electric range, which will see more new models arriving later this year. It goes on sale priced from €77,500.

Let's take a closer look.

Kia EV9 Video

Styling

The EV9 might be Kia's best electric model yet; but it's definitely its biggest yet. In Ireland, the brand's largest model was the Kia Sorento seven-seat SUV. The EV9 is a whole lot bigger, measuring over five metres in length. In fact it's more akin to the Telluride, another Kia three-row SUV, built primarily for the North American market. So the EV9 really is a sight to behold on Irish roads! Compared to van-based MPVs that offer similar space and versatility, the EV9 is so cool and desirable. There are two trim levels, Earth and GT Line, with the latter getting a little more bling like 21-inch wheels and the gorgeous, exclusive Ocean Blue colour. Aerodynamic features include flush door handles and an active air flap at the front. The EV9 has a strong presence when viewed from the front (okay, every angle really!) with Kia's new 'digital tiger face' and full LED lights. The GT Line can also be distinguished by its cube-like LEDs. Altogether, the EV9 makes large people carriers cool again.

Interior

The dashboard design is quite minimalist with a lot of space and storage integrated into the design. On first impressions, it is quite an austere, grey plastic finish but it does all feel well made and solid. It's not as plush as a Mercedes-Benz or Volvo, but neither is it priced like one. Ambient lighting provides a little glamour, as does the widescreen digital display - full digital driver display, touchscreen and a small panel for climate controls in the centre. Surprisingly for a tech-focused car, it still uses a wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connection.

The cabin of the Kia EV9
The cabin of the Kia EV9

The EV9 comes with lovely two-tone synthetic leather seats with power adjustment and a massage function. The front and second row seats are heated and ventilated. There's also a premium sound system with 14 speakers and a 360 camera. The GT Line adds features like a sunroof and remote parking.

Practicality

With a three-metre wheelbase and three rows of seating, there's literally oceans of space inside the EV9. The Earth model comes as standard with seven seats, while the GT Line is available with a choice of six or seven seats. The six seater has two 'chairs' in row 2 that can slide forward and back, recline and even swivel. It's one of the most comfortable people carriers on the market. If you need to transport adults in comfort and luxury, it's a brilliant option.

There's also Isofix child seat fixtures on seats in row 2 and 3. With all seats in place, the EV9 still has space in the boot for a few bags - over 300 litres actually. With the row 3 seats folded into the floor, there's over 800 litres. A powered tailgate comes as standard and there's also a 'frunk' under the bonnet.

Battery

The EV9 uses a 99.8kWh battery, with range up to 563 kilometres (WLTP) in the single motor, rear wheel drive version (203hp) or up to 505 kilometres in the dual motor, all wheel drive (384hp). A heat pump is included as standard to improve efficiency. Battery pre-conditioning is also possible to charge more rapidly once you reach your charging stop.

The EV9 can seat six or seven people
The EV9 is an electric SUV that can seat six or seven people

Driving

The EV9 GT Line is the big daddy of the range with two electric motors creating a combined 384hp and 700Nm of torque for a 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.3 seconds. Not bad for a vehicle that weighs 2.6 tonnes! It offers excellent comfort and refinement for all those on board, feeling stable and composed for its size. The steering is nicely weighted too so it's easy to place on the road and drive through town - despite the big dimensions!

The official consumption figure is about 22.8kWh per 100 kilometres. During my test, 350-390 kilometres seemed a realistic range estimate between battery charges. There are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel to adjust the strength of the regenerative braking.

Charging 

11kW AC charging comes as standard. DC fast charging is possible up to 210kW. With 800 volt charging architecture, the EV9 is impressive when you stop at a fast charger like Ionity, for example. The battery can charge from 10-80% in 24 mins at a 350kW charger. There's also vehicle to load charging, allowing you power household electrical appliances from the charging port!

The EV9 has a hugely spacious and versatile interior
The EV9 has a hugely spacious and versatile interior

Pricing

The EV9 is available from €77,500 for the Earth and from €85,500 for the GT Line.

Verdict

The Kia EV9 is an incredible piece of design and engineering, cool and capable. It's an ambitious car from an ambitious car brand but it absolutely delivers on the space, equipment and technology it offers. With a hugely comfortable and versatile interior, it's easily one of the best electric seven seaters on the market.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The EV9 is one of the best seven seaters on the market
The EV9 is one of the best seven seaters on the market

The Land Rover Defender on test for Changing Lanes

Land Rover Defender 75th Limited Edition Review

Read Caroline's Land Rover Defender review for everything you need to know about buying Land Rover's iconic off-roader in Ireland.

Land Rover is famous for building tough, off-road vehicles and the pinnacle of all that has to be the Defender.

In 2020, the all-new Defender arrived in Ireland. It's quickly become one of the brand's most popular models, outselling the Discovery. To celebrate 75 years of this legend, Land Rover has introduced an eye-catching Defender 75th Limited Edition.

The Defender starts from about €87,727 but the five-door Defender 110 75th Limited Edition 2.0 plug-in hybrid - like the one on test - will set you back closer to €123,160.

So is it worth it? Let's find out!

The Land Rover Defender on test for Changing Lanes
The Land Rover Defender on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Land Rover Defender?

The Defender offers quite an extensive line-up. There are three body styles - 90, 110 and 130 - with varying numbers of seats available. There are a range of four- and six- cylinder petrol and diesel engines, and a V8. There's also a popular plug-in hybrid that offers punchy performance and some EV driving, which is particularly useful in town.

If it's kerb appeal you're after, the Defender has it all. The design is a brilliant interpretation of the classic Defender, all boxy dimensions and attitude with plenty of little design nods to the original like the classic circular in rectangle headlights.

The 75th Limited Edition goes with famous Grasmere Green and matching painted alloy wheels. It's very distinct and it looks better the more mud is thrown at it. The Defender is a vehicle that was made to play dirty.

There are a myriad of off-road tools like the configurable terrain response system that allows you to switch between a number of modes depending on what sort of ground you're tackling - snow, mud, rocks, sand, you name it!

It's pretty special inside too.

The cabin of the Defender 75th Limited Edition
The cabin of the Defender 75th Limited Edition

Inside the Defender

The Defender has one of the most utilitarian cabins of any Land Rover on sale. But somehow it all works. There's a pared back, tough chic to it all. Yet the quality is excellent, everything feels good to the touch. Synthetic leather upholstery come as standard.

Luxury features included heated front seats with 14-way power adjustment and memory function, 3D surround camera and a Meridian sound system.

75th versions stand out with a Grasmere Green dash panel but otherwise it's classic Defender with exposed screwheads, a stubby gear selector on the dash, and sturdy steering wheel.

The digital tech is another highlight - full digital driver display and an excellent Land Rover 'Pivi Pro' infotainment system with touch display. It's heaving with functionality but the menus are all easy to scroll through. There's lots of good off-road driving aids hidden in there too like wade sensing to alert you when you're reaching the Defender's awesome limit of 900mm!

There is a nice spread of buttons below the touchscreen and some dials for the ventilation. You can also find buttons here to adjust the height of the vehicle for off-roading.

It's all so clever and intuitive to use.

The Defender 75th Limited Edition gets a unique Grasmere Green finish
The Defender 75th Limited Edition gets a unique Grasmere Green finish

Is it practical?

The Defender 110 is the five-door model and it's available with five, six or seven seats. The boot offers over 800 litres of space in five seat models. Though beware the door is hinged from the side so you'll need lots of room to open it!

The cabin is huge and feels very roomy. There are alpine windows in the roof, just like the original, and the option of a glass roof. The big windows also let lots of light in. You can fit three easily across the rear seat and there's loads of legroom too.

Driving the Defender

On the road the Defender offers a very high-end driving experience. There's really nothing agricultural about it, despite its rough and ready roots. From the lofty driving position, you can enjoy the comfort and affability of it all. The 110's standard fit air suspension ensures a high level of control and comfort.

The Defender can trundle through town easily enough with well-weighted steering though it does feel big once you find yourself in a tight car park. Yet it's a great companion for motorway cruising, while it can easily tackle whatever obstacles an Irish rural road might throw up.

The P400e plug-in hybrid offers good performance and a limited range of 43 kilometres (WLTP) of electric driving, provided you are diligent about keeping it charged - 80% in as little as 30 minutes using a DC fast charger or 2.5 hours from a 7kW wallbox.

The 404hp is delivered smoothly, responsively through the 8-speed automatic, with a strong 640Nm of torque for a respectable three tonne towing capacity. Yet fuel consumption is still higher than most conventional SUVs, though keeping the battery charged does make a difference, along with stints on battery power alone.

Boot space in the Defender 110 P400e
Boot space in the Defender 110 P400e

Did you like it?

The Land Rover Defender is such an incredible motoring icon and has excellent capability - and kerb appeal. Its off-road pedigree is well documented, but the on-road driving manners are equally impressive. It's no surprise it's been such a big hit among Irish motorists.

The 75th edition is an acquired taste, with its classic Grasmere Green body and wheels combo. But what's underneath is still an extremely desirable machine and the plug-in hybrid is a solid choice.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

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

Simply the best!
The Land Rover Defender - simply the best!

The BMW iX1 on test for Changing Lanes

BMW iX1 Review (2024)

Read Caroline's BMW iX1 review for everything you need to know about buying BMW's compact electric SUV.

BMW has launched a new generation of the brand's popular X1 and there's a full electric version for the very first time – the new BMW iX1.

It rivals premium electric SUVs like the Volvo XC40 Recharge, Audi Q4 e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQA.

It's now available on the Irish market in two 'flavours' - the eDrive20 from about €52,000 on the road with range up to 473km (WLTP) or the more powerful dual motor xDrive30 priced from about €66,000 with a range up to 436km (WLTP).

Let's take a closer look.

The BMW iX1 on test for Changing Lanes
The BMW iX1 on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the BMW iX1?

BMW is rapidly expanding its range of full electric models like the iX, i4, i7 and newly launched i5. But the market still loves SUVs, particularly compact ones. The iX1 gives BMW lovers a relatively affordable way to get into one of the brand's electric SUVs.

The styling is brilliant too. The iX1 gets a big tick for desirability. There's also very little to distinguish the fuel powered X1 from the battery powered iX1.

So that means a pleasantly boxy stance, with typical BMW design cues like the large square kidney grille. Flush door handles and air curtains improve aerodynamic efficiency.

There are a few different trim lines - Sport, xLine and M Sport - which tweak the look somewhat. But overall this is a very handsome electric SUV, with a bit of coolness and dynamism to it - particularly in the M Sport trim.

The standard wheel size is 17-inch (or 18-inch on M Sport), with the option to upgrade to 19s or 20s.

Being a BMW, it should be good to drive too.

The iX1 is a compact electric SUV from BMW
The iX1 is a good-looking compact electric SUV from BMW

Driving the iX1

The iX1 eDrive20 uses a single electric motor to drive the front wheels, with a respectable 204hp and a range of up to 473km (WLTP).

For more performance, you will want to step up to the xDrive30. It adds a motor to the rear axle for a combined power output of 313hp. 0-100 km/h is a rapid 5.6 seconds, though the official range drops to 436 km (WLTP).

Yet the iX1 is an absolute joy to drive, feeling nippy and agile in all driving situations. It is also incredibly smooth, part of its premium edge. There is a Boost paddle behind the steering wheel that gives the driver 10 seconds of maximum power and torque. It's a little bit of a gimmick but fun nonetheless.

Comfort and refinement levels are good, though not quite as luxurious as the BMW i4. There is road noise at high speeds and the M Sport model on 20-inch wheels I tested was firm over any joints or imperfections in the tarmac.

Though not quite as fun to drive, a Volvo XC40 Recharge seems better resolved overall in this manner.

The interior of the new BMW iX1 xDrive30
The interior of the new BMW iX1 xDrive30

Still it's reasonably efficient for what it is, with consumption averaging at about 18.1 kWh per 100 kilometres during my time with the car. That works out at about 357 kilometres of driving on a full charge from the 64.7kWh battery (usable capacity).

AC charging is up to 11kW, while DC fast charging is possible up to 130kW for an 80% battery charge in about 30 minutes.

Inside the BMW iX1

The iX1 has a longer wheelbase than the model it replaces so it feels a bit roomer inside. It's still quite a compact vehicle but headroom and legroom is generous enough - though two will be most comfortable in the back seat. There's a 490-litre boot, which is impressive for a compact electric SUV.

The dashboard design and cabin layout is quite different to the model it replaces. The focus is on new digital tech with the BMW Curved Display making a glamourous debut.

The cabin of the previous X1 was looking quite dated by the end of its lifecycle but it had a terrific build and posh feel to it. This one is more contemporary but it's lost a bit of the upmarket feel of the previous generation - though the Oyster Vernasca leather upholstery was a nice option.

Rear seating in the iX1
Rear seating in the iX1

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard. The control display is quite minimalist with a move towards less buttons. There's no iDrive controller on the floating centre console but the voice control works better than ever. Even the ventilation controls are accessed from the screen - but there is a handy shortcut to the climate menu always present.

Wireless smartphone charging also features though I found it hard to sustain a charge as my phone kept moving around in the holder.

Did you like it?

The BMW iX1 is an expensive but very trendy compact electric SUV. It looks great and is genuinely fun to drive. It's also surprisingly efficient so all the little aero design tweaks have certainly worked wonders to give owners a decent amount of range between battery charges.

It's practical for its size and has come on in strides when it comes to design. The cabin has gone very tech-focused but lost a little of its posh charm along the way. Yet it's still a very desirable package overall and easily one of the best of its class.

Model tested: BMW iX1 xDrive30 M Sport
Price: 
€67,780
Battery:
64.7 kWh
Range: 436 kilometres (WLTP)
Power: 313 hp
Torque: 494 Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.6 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The new BMW iX1 is expected in Ireland in early 2023
The BMW iX1 is a sporty and practical electric SUV

The Audi Q8 e-tron on test for Changing Lanes

Audi Q8 E-tron Review

Read Caroline's Audi Q8 e-tron review for everything you need to know about buying Audi's flagship luxury electric SUV in Ireland.

The Audi Q8 e-tron has a little bit of history in the Irish market. Back in 2019, Audi brought the first e-tron SUV to Ireland. It was big news at the time because it was the brand's first ever electric model.

Since then the e-tron family has expanded to include the Audi Q4 e-tron and the e-tron GT.

Now Audi's flagship electric luxury SUV gets a little more naming distinction, having been renamed in 2023 as the Audi Q8 e-tron SUV.

It's a bit more than your average facelift though, with the battery packs now getting increased capacity and more range, higher charging speeds and even some updates to the suspension, steering and other technical parts.

A timely update as the Q8 e-tron faces stiff competition from newcomers like the Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV and the BMW iX. Positioned in the premium side of the market, the new Q8-etron goes on sale from an on the road price of €88,400.

Let's take a closer look!

The Audi Q8 e-tron on test for Changing Lanes
The Audi Q8 e-tron on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The Audi Q8 e-tron has an impressive presence. It still carries much of the chiselled look of a traditional fuel-powered SUV and is very pleasing to the eye, particularly finished in a classic Audi paint finish like Daytona Grey. At the front, the Audi 'Singleframe' grille is now bigger than before and framed by slimmer, matrix LED headlights with dynamic indicators. The Q8 e-tron also gets the brand's new logo with a flatter and more two-dimensional design.

There are three trim lines for Ireland: Advance, Sport and S Line. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 19- to 21-inch, which give the Q8 e-tron a sporty, performance stance. Audi Q8 e-tron is now written on the B pillar to add even more prestige. S Line models get sportier bumpers and other trim elements for a more dynamic look. At the back there is a full width light bar and a new Q8 badge. The Q8 e-tron definitely has kerb appeal and is probably the best-looking among rivals. Audi's more discreet approach to designing electric vehicles is certainly a success and should go down well among the customer base. The Q8 e-tron is also available as a Sportback with a sleeker coupé-like roofline towards the rear of the vehicle.

Interior

Not much has changed inside with just a few new cabin materials like open-pore wood. To be honest, it still looks great with plenty of cool digital tech on board. The cabin fit and finish is excellent with leather upholstery as standard. There is even an Audi Sport package that adds some lovely red stitching to the seats and steering wheel, and red trimmed seatbelts. The Audi virtual cockpit displays information to the driver perfectly. There is also the same 10-inch touchscreen as in the previous e-tron SUV with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, voice control and route planner for navigation and charging stops. A separate touch panel underneath controls ventilation. It looks great but is positioned quite far down making it a bit awkward to use while driving. However haptic feedback at least makes it satisfying enough to use.

Other equipment features include heated front seats with lumbar support and wireless smartphone charging.

The cabin of the Audi Q8 e-tron
The cabin of the Audi Q8 e-tron

Practicality

The Q8 e-tron SUV is a spacious and roomy family SUV. It's noticeably bigger inside than the more compact Audi Q4 e-tron. There's plenty of legroom and headroom in the second row, with a few USB-C ports for passengers, an armrest and air vents (there is the option to spec separate climate control for rear passengers). It offers one of the biggest boots in the class at 569 litres with handy underfloor storage and switches to let down the rear seats. There's also an additional 62 litres under the bonnet, which is handy for storing charging cables.

Battery

There are two battery options: the Q8 e-tron 50 with a 95kWh battery and up to 484 kilometres of range (WLTP) and the Q8 e-tron 55 with a 114kWh battery and up to 573 kilometres of range (WLTP), depending on model.

On test was the Q8 e-tron 50 S-Line with a range of up to 452 kilometres (WLTP). In real world driving my consumption over a week averaged at 28.4 kWh per 100 kilometres, with the range working out at closer to 310 kilometres on a full battery charge.

The Q8 e-tron has more range than before on a single charge
The Q8 e-tron has more range than before on a single charge

Driving

There is plenty of power on offer with even the Q8 e-tron 50 putting out 340hp and 540Nm of torque, with a 0-100km/h time of just 6 seconds. The e-tron 55 ups power to 408hp while the high performance SQ8 e-tron model has 503hp and can do the 0-100 sprint in just 4.5 seconds. Not bad for an SUV that weighs close to 2.5 tonnes!

On the road the Q8 e-tron offers high levels of comfort and refinement on standard fit air suspension with controlled damping. The electric all wheel drive system delivers plenty of grip and the ride height can be adjusted, with a maximum towing capacity of 1800kg. There are also several different driving modes via Audi Drive Select and regenerative braking that can be adjusted from paddles behind the steering wheel. It handles the road well, feeling smooth and controlled. Audi has made some tweaks to the steering to make it more direct and also adjusted the ESC to allow more leeway in cornering. It's not one that encourages you to drive quickly but it's still very capable. Improved aerodynamics, more efficient rear axle motors and changes to the battery cell chemistry and battery management system have increased the range of both the e-tron 50 and 55. It's certainly an improvement but efficiency is not the Q8 e-tron's strong point with quite high consumption seen during my winter test.

Charging

DC fast charging is up to 150kW for the e-tron 50 and up to 170kW for the e-tron 55, charging from 10-80% in around 28 mins for the 50 and 31 minutes for the 55. Audi says the charging curve now runs at a high level for a very long time, allowing for more rapid charging. 11kW AC charging comes as standard with the option to upgrade to 22kW.

The Q8 e-tron is a very spacious SUV
The Q8 e-tron is a very spacious SUV

Pricing

The Q8 e-tron 50 with a 95kWh battery is available from about €88,400 on the road and from about €98,900 for the Q8 e-tron 55 with a 114kWh battery. The Q8 e-tron 50 S-Line on test has an on the road price of €97,895. The high performance SQ8 is available from €123,000.

Verdict

The Audi Q8 e-tron gets a bit more than your average nip and tuck. Improvements to the batteries mean that buyers can now enjoy a bit more range between battery charges. The Q8 e-tron still feels competitive beside newcomers like the EQE SUV and is overall a really good all-rounder. It is hugely spacious inside, with an excellent cabin and typical Audi build quality. Efficiency is still not its strong point but large SUVs like this were never the most efficient vehicles on the road so nothing has really changed there in the switch to electric. Still if you're looking for a comfortable and prestigious electric SUV, this Audi Q8 e-tron is an even better buy than before.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The Audi Q8 e-tron can still be high on the shopping lists of luxury buyers
The Audi Q8 e-tron can still be high on the shopping lists of luxury buyers

The super smart DS 7

DS 7 Review (2024)

Read Caroline’s DS 7 review for everything you need to know about buying the latest version of the DS luxury SUV in Ireland.

DS is owned by the same company that owns many well-known brands like Peugeot, Alfa Romeo, Opel and Citroen. The DS 7 is the French luxury car brand's flagship SUV that launched in the Irish market in 2019.

In 2023 a facelifted DS 7 arrived in Ireland with updated styling and a tweaked interior too.

DS is still a relatively small player on the market but sales in Ireland have been growing since the arrival of the new DS 4 hatchback in late 2022.

The DS 7 is a curious car indeed. It feels more upmarket than bestsellers like the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai yet faces stiff competition from established premium SUVs like the BMW X1, Volvo XC40 and Audi Q3.

So what might sway buyers towards the stately DS 7? Let's take a closer look.

The super smart DS 7
The super smart DS 7

Styling

The DS 7 is a handsome five-seat SUV. It has considerable presence and up close it's nothing short of premium in its design. It's a car that has benefited greatly from a recent facelift that brings it more in line with the styling of the rest of the DS range. At the front, the grille is now wider and framed by slim pixel LED headlights and new DS 'light veil' daytime running lights, as seen on the DS 3 and DS 4. There are now three trim lines - Performance Line, Rivoli and Opera - which alter the look somewhat from sporty to more elegant. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 19- to 21-inch. At the back DS Automobiles is now spelt out across a strip connecting jewel-like LED lights.

Interior

The cabin feels very plush and upmarket with a range of high-end furnishings available. Performance Line models go with a sporty Alcantara interior, while the mid-range Rivoli luxes it out with a full black leather interior. Even the dashboard panels and doors feature luxurious leather quilting, which adds to the opulent feel. The heated leather seats are comfortable and supportive with a massage function in Rivoli models including a lovely 'Cat Paw' setting! Other unusual features include a BRM clock that slips elegantly from the dash on start up. There's an impressive new full digital driver display and updated 12-inch touchscreen and infotainment with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The cabin of the DS 7
The cabin of the DS 7

Being a DS there is a little bit of quirkiness to the placement of some of the controls. For example, you'll find the buttons to open the electric windows in the centre console. But you get used to this arrangement after a while. The ventilation controls are in the touchscreen, which can be a bit fiddly to operate while driving but there is a row of shortcut buttons underneath to pull up menus quickly.

Practicality

The DS 7 is bigger overall than its closest rivals like an X1 or XC40. There's a big boot of 555 litres, which is ideal for family life. A powered tailgate comes as standard on Rivoli and Opera models. There's no clever compartment to store the charging cables for the plug-in hybrid model but there are switches to let down the rear seats from the boot. The DS 7 feels equally generous on space in the back seat, with lots of head, leg and shoulder room.

Engines

The DS 7 has quite a narrow engine line-up in Ireland. Buyers can choose from a 1.5-litre diesel with 130hp or a more powerful plug-in hybrid with 225hp in front wheel drive models and even more powerful four wheel drive variants (300hp and 360hp). All come with an 8-speed automatic. The diesel offers excellent economy, particularly for high mileage motorway users. The plug-in hybrid has a battery that can allow some exclusive EV driving for a range up to about 69 kilometres. This is ideal for those who can charge at home or work and make use of this limited electric range when driving around town.

The DS 7 Rivoli on test for Changing Lanes
The DS 7 Rivoli on test for Changing Lanes

Charging

It will take about seven hours to charge the DS 7 plug-in hybrid from a three-pin plug and just under two hours from a 7kW wallbox.

Driving

The DS 7 is built on the same platform and underpinnings as some other well-known SUVs like the Peugeot 3008 and the Citroen C5 Aircross. Yet DS engineers did tweak it to live up to the more upmarket positioning of the DS brand. There is a more sophisticated rear suspension for example and more sound insulation. Certainly the most impressive aspect of the DS 7 on the road is just how comfortable it is. Plug-in hybrid versions (badged 'E-Tense') come with the DS Scan Suspension, which uses a camera to scan the road ahead and adjusts the firmness or softness of the suspension damping depending on what it sees. It works brilliantly and makes this car an absolute pleasure to drive and travel in. The handling is very secure and confident, while the light steering in town makes it a breeze to drive and manoeuvre in traffic or parking. There is some road noise but generally the cabin is pretty well hushed. There are also a few driving modes to alter the driving experience but the DS 7 really excels in the Comfort mode. The plug-in hybrid offers plenty of power to match the premium positioning of the car but it can get thirsty when the battery is empty. Like most plug-in hybrids, it's best to keep the battery charged as much as possible otherwise the diesel will work out a better option overall.

Boost space in the DS 7
Boot space in the DS 7

Pricing

Pricing for the new DS 7 range starts from €50,390 for the diesel and from €57,800 for the plug-in hybrid. The DS 7 E-Tense plug-in hybrid in Rivoli trim retails from €61,800.

Verdict

The DS 7 is a stylish alternative to some of the usual suspects among premium SUVs. It also happens to offer generous space inside and unique French luxury style and furnishings. It does get expensive as you go up the trim levels but there's some relative value to be had in the range too. The diesel remains a popular choice among DS 7 buyers, though the plug-in hybrid has its merits too including more power and a quieter driving experience overall. But it does need to be charged to get the best from it so that's a commitment that won't appeal to every buyer. Still, it's really the comfort the DS 7 offers that makes it a excellent companion for Irish roads. The facelift gives it a pleasant, contemporary update that helps it stand out even more.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The DS 7 is on sale in Ireland now
The DS 7 is on sale in Ireland now

The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV on test for Changing Lanes

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV Review

Read Caroline’s Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV review for everything you need to know about buying Mercedes’ new luxury electric SUV in Ireland.

In a few short years, Mercedes-Benz has rapidly expanded its range of electric vehicles to include a number of high-end electric saloons and SUVs.

The flagship of them all of course is the new Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV.

The S-Class has always been the epitome of luxury saloons in the Mercedes range. Now the EQS SUV flys that flag among luxury SUVs.

With the option of seven seats and a range in excess of 600 kilometres, the EQS SUV could be one of the best battery-powered luxury SUVs on sale today.

Let's take a closer look.

The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV on test for Changing Lanes
The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The EQS SUV is the SUV version of the gorgeous EQS saloon that launched in Ireland in 2022. It comes to market around the same time as the EQE SUV. The two vehicles do look quite similar with their smooth aerodynamic lines, black panel grille with Mercedes star and stunning full width light bar at the rear. Yet the EQS SUV seems to wear it somewhat better with its larger frame, looking a bit grander overall. It's still a far cry from the chiselled look of a Range Rover or BMW X7 but it is a style that grows on you and helps to make the vehicle as aerodynamically efficient as possible - a must for a large electric SUV. Measuring about 5.1 metres in length, it's a vehicle with considerable presence. It's the futuristic face of the Mercedes-EQ brand of electric vehicles with high-tech LED headlights adding a little bling, as does the illuminated running board and door handles that pop out from the bodywork as you approach. You can choose from two exterior styles - the elegant Electric Art and more dynamic AMG Line. Both come with 21-inch alloy wheels.

Interior

The cabin also shares much with the EQS saloon in design, but does feel more airy and spacious. From the minute you open the door, there's no mistaking the opulence on board the EQS SUV. It's a truly stunning cabin with some beautiful trims available and leather upholstery as standard in a range of colours. The ambient lighting illuminates the cabin perfectly. Luxury features include heated seats with power adjustment all round. Behind the gorgeous Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel, there is an impressive full digital driver display as seen in all the latest Mercedes cars and SUVs. There's also an excellent portrait-style touchscreen that brings it all together with an intuitive design, voice control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and over-the-air updates. The EQS SUV is an expensive vehicle but the cabin is where it really impresses. There is the option to spec the ‘Hyperscreen’ that gives your passenger their own screen as well behind a glass panel - but the standard set-up is fine really.

The cabin of the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV
The cabin of the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

Practicality

There's the option to spec two extra seats for three rows of seating. Headroom and legroom in the second row is very generous. The two seats in the very back are more suitable for children but everyone can relax in the luxury surroundings. A panoramic glass roof comes as standard, which really makes it very bright and family friendly.

There's over 600 litres of boot space in five seat versions and over 500 litres in seven seat versions with the two extra seats folded neatly into the floor. Even with all seven seats in place, there's room for a few bags or suitcases. A powered tailgate comes as standard.

Driving

The EQS SUV is built on the same bespoke electric vehicle platform as the EQE and EQS saloons, as well as the EQE SUV. Buyers can choose from single or dual motor powered versions (rear wheel drive or ‘4Matic’ four-wheel drive). Power ranges from 360hp up to 544hp, but all versions have in the region of 600 kilometres of range measured by WLTP.

The entry into the range is the single motor, rear wheel drive EQS SUV 450+ with a 108kWh battery offering up to 706 kilometres range (WLTP). Consumption in real world driving is between 18-22 kWh per 100 kilometres, just like what is quoted by the manufacturer.

The EQS SUV offers a range exceeding 600 kilometres in official tests
The EQS SUV offers a range exceeding 600 kilometres in official tests

With 360hp, the EQS SUV 450+ still has plenty of power to feel swift and responsive from behind the wheel. There's 568Nm of torque. It's an SUV that favours a more relaxed driving style when you can sit back and enjoy all the comfort and refinement. It's a very hushed cabin and offers a super smooth drive. The standard fit air suspension with adaptive damping ensures that this is a top class driving experience. Rear wheel steering as standard also boosts agility in town and out on faster roads.

With the Mercedes’ Dynamic Select system, the driver can tweak the driving experience somewhat via four different mode: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. There is also regenerative braking, the strength of which can be easily adjusted using the paddles behind the steering wheel.

Charging

When it comes to charging, DC fast charging is possible up to 200kW. AC charging is possible up to 22kW though the standard fit 11kW onboard AC charger can charge the battery to full in 11 hours. From a 7.4kW wallbox at home, that will take just under 17 hours.

Pricing

The range is available from €134,650 for the EQS SUV 450+ with a range in the region of 706 kilometres (WLTP). The dual motor EQS SUV 450 4MATIC is available from €138,790.

Boot space in the EQS SUV with seven seats in place
Boot space in the EQS SUV with seven seats in place

Verdict

The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV marries a luxury driving experience very well with battery power. The range on offer is truly excellent offering plenty of comfort between battery charges. It's an SUV that commands respect and while it's not the most involving to drive, it does offer extremely high levels of comfort and refinement.

The true beauty of the EQS SUV is really the interior, which is the epitome of luxury and comfort. With brilliant tech on board and lots of luxury features, the EQS SUV does an excellent job of giving all those on board the five star feeling - without a whiff of range anxiety.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

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

The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is a pure luxury way to travel
The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is a pure luxury way to travel