Suzuki Vitara S Review Ireland

Suzuki Vitara S Review

The Suzuki Vitara has been around since 1988 and is easily one of Suzuki’s most well-known models. Over the years it’s changed in size and powertrain, but the Vitara has always had a rough and ready appeal.

Vitara has changed yet again and the current model introduced in 2014, just as a slew of new crossovers were hitting the market, has smaller dimensions than some of the Vitara tanks that preceded it in response to strong market demand for stylish compact SUVs.

Priced from €21,745, the new Vitara is more of the compact crossover, but it still has the rugged charm on the outside of a larger SUV. 1.6 petrol and diesel options are available, but Suzuki Ireland has recently introduced the Vitara S, a range topping version with sportier styling and a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet producing 140hp.

On the outside the Vitara S is distinguished by 17” black alloy wheels, a unique grille design, silver door mirrors, LED headlamps with red projector covers, rear spoiler and black side body mouldings, while there are four body colours to choose from: Bright Red, Cool White Pearl, Galactic Grey and Cosmic Black.

Suzuki Vitara S Review Ireland
Interior of the Suzuki Vitara S

Inside the Suzuki Vitara S uses red to accentuate details like the air vent surrounds. In typical Suzuki fashion, there are a lot of hard black plastics around the cabin but the build is good and the design easy to navigate. Infotainment is provided via a touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Interior space makes the Vitara more of a rival for the likes of the Peugeot 2008, Opel Mokka X and Renault Captur, but there is still good room to stretch out in the back and there is also a practical 375 litre boot, comparative to any hatchback.

The Suzuki Vitara S is riotous good fun to drive. It’s a little disarming as compact crossovers may be popular, but they often disappoint behind the wheel. Not the Vitara. And it’s one of its best qualities. The steering is really excellent – pure and precise allowing you to tuck the Vitara neatly into bends and position the car easily on the road. Taking on corners with a bit more speed is not a problem as the car grips very well and body roll is kept in check. There is road noise at high speeds but it’s not too annoying and a firmer suspension makes the ride quality a bit poorer over rough, uneven surfaces.

Suzuki Vitara S Review Ireland
The Suzuki Vitara S comes with a 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol engine, four wheel drive and choice of manual or automatic gearbox

Vitara S comes with Suzuki’s new 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol engine and it’s a fantastic companion for this car. The power delivery is quick and smooth: it’s not lacking anything. The Vitara S comes with Allgrip four wheel drive as standard and there is choice of manual or automatic gearbox. The manual comes in at €27,745, while the automatic is a steeper €29,845. The CO2 emissions for both are similar, with motor tax costing €270 per year. Claimed fuel economy is also very similar, with Suzuki quoting around 52mpg for the automatic. It’s a bit more disappointing in real life, being somewhere in the high 30s.

For your money, Vitara S does have a high spec including hill descent control, radar brake control, keyless entry and start, parking sensors, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, four electric windows, and auto lights and wipers.

The Suzuki Vitara S is at the pricier end of the Vitara range but you will not be left wanting for performance and the four wheel drive system adds extra grip and assurance in poorer conditions. In this configuration, it’s not ever going to be as efficient as a diesel, but it is a lot of fun to drive, which can’t be said for a lot of rivals. The interior lacks a bit of polish and the ride comfort is a little rudimentary, but the Suzuki Vitara S will still put a big smile on your face.

Suzuki Vitara S Review Ireland
The Suzuki Vitara S is riotous good fun to drive

Model tested: Suzuki Vitara S Boosterjet ALLGRIP Auto
Price: 
€29,845 (Range starts at €21,745)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
140hp
Torque: 220Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.2 seconds
Top speed: 200km/h
Economy: 
52.3mpg
CO2 emissions:  
128g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

If you are looking for a small petrol crossover, you might also like this review of the Peugeot 2008.

Caroline Kidd


Ford Edge Ireland Review

Ford Edge Review

The Ford Edge is Ford’s new flagship SUV and Ford is positioning new Edge as a large, upmarket SUV. The words ‘Ford’ and ‘upmarket’ don’t exactly roll off the tongue together but Ford is convinced that the Edge can deliver premium levels of comfort, technology and driving dynamics.

The Ford Edge sits above the EcoSport and Kuga in Ford’s SUV line-up and with prices starting at €55,700 for this five seat SUV, the Edge occupies the same market as upscale SUVs like the Jaguar F-Pace and Audi Q5.

The Ford Edge has been on sale in North America since 2007, though the Edge is a brand new model for the Ford brand in Europe. The American SUV roots are very clear in the styling: the high bonnet, big grille and bulbous proportions mean that this car does not lack in the presence department.

Ford Edge Ireland Review
The interior of the Ford Edge SUV

Inside the dash layout is very similar to a Mondeo or an S-MAX so the design is neither exciting or particularly stylish, but it does appear well-built. The quality and appearance of the materials is good though still some way off rivals.

Elsewhere, the Edge does deliver as a large, spacious and comfortable SUV and rear seating space is generous, though there is no seven seat option. The boot is a cavernous 602 litres with the rear seats up.

The Ford Edge is offered in Ireland with a choice of two 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engines, one with 180PS or a bi-turbo version with 210PS. Both versions deliver up to 48.7 mpg and emissions are rated at 149 g/km COfor Titanium models, and 152g for Sport.

2.0-litre TDCi 180PS models are equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox and come in at €55,700 in Titanium trim or at €57,450 in Sport trim. 210PS models come with a six-speed PowerShift automatic and start at €60,350 for Titanium and €62,100 for Sport. The Edge has four wheel drive as standard.

My test car was equipped with the 2.0-litre 180PS diesel and the manual gearbox. The engine has strong power and good flexibility through the rev range, though the automatic gearbox would be more suitable and user-friendly for a large SUV like this. It’s reasonably refined too and the car is well-insulated for long motorway trips to be enjoyed in silence and comfort.

Ford Edge Ireland Review
The Ford Edge is available with 2.0-litre diesels, manual and automatic gearboxes, and four wheel drive is standard

The Ford Edge does feel large on the road and while the steering is light and doesn’t take huge effort, the Edge does feel a bit clumsy in town situations and on narrow roads. In terms of agility and driver appeal, a Jaguar F-Pace is a more sporty and engaging drive if that’s a priority. While the Edge is very comfortable, it does roll in corners and the steering disappointingly does not feel as sharp as in other Fords.

The Ford Edge does come well-equipped with 19” alloys, parking sensors, keyless entry, electric tailgate, chrome roof rails, Ford navigation with 8” touchscreen, rear view camera, heated windscreen, cruise control, lane keeping aid, traffic sign recognition, auto lights & wipers, dual zone climate control, alarm, power fold down rear seats and a Collision Avoidance System.

Sport trim adds 20” alloys, Adaptive Steering system, SONY DAB navigation system with 12 speakers, unique front, rear and side sports body styling with dark exterior detailing, and alloy pedals.

The Ford Edge arrives in Ireland steeply priced, falling into direct competition with rivals from established premium brands. It’s not quite what we are used to from Ford so may take some time to find its feet. In premium company, the Edge feels as if it lacks polish, but it is some of the best quality we have seen from Ford to date inside. There is no magic here to hide the Edge’s considerable bulk on the road, but if a sporty, agile drive is not a priority, the Ford Edge does provide all the comfort and refinement of a high-end SUV, and is spacious and well-equipped.

Ford Edge Ireland Review
The Ford Edge is a spacious and well-equipped SUV with a lot of presence

Model tested: Ford Edge 2.0TDCi Titanium
Price: 
€55,700 (€62,355 as tested)
Power: 
180hp
0-100km/h:  
9.9 seconds
Economy: 
48.7mpg
CO2 emissions:  
149g/km
Motor tax:
€390 per year

Caroline Kidd


Kia Niro review ireland

Kia Niro Review

Scroll down to watch my video review of the new Kia Niro.

The Kia Niro is a new crossover that also happens to be a hybrid. It’s a brand new model for Kia, built on a dedicated eco-car platform that has been engineered in isolation from Kia’s other models. Consumer demand is strong for crossovers and SUVs, and hybrids are also gaining notoriety, so the Niro seems like the perfect product to launch at this time.

The Niro slots in between the Cee’d hatchback and Sportage SUV in the Kia range. While some manufacturers have chosen to give their hybrids radical and futuristic design flourishes, Kia has conservatively styled the Niro so it will fit in well on the road with the other crossovers and SUVs. There’s a small badge on the back that reads ‘eco hybrid’ but other than that, the Niro’s relatively innocuous as anything other than sensible transport.

In terms of interior design, Kia has stepped things up a notch with the Niro and the cabin is well-built with quite a premium feel. Again everything is very conventional, but there are a few hints to the car’s hybrid powertrain including a power meter and a screen to monitor the energy flow between the different parts of the system. Kia wanted their Niro to be practical and the space inside the car is very good for the car’s compact footprint. The leg room in the back is generous as is the headroom all round. There is a 427 litre boot that’s highly practical for its size, shape and low loading sill.

The Niro’s petrol/electric hybrid powertrain is made up of a 1.6-litre petrol engine, a battery pack, and an electric motor and together the system produces 141hp. A strong selling point for the Niro is of course that it is cheap to run. CO2 emissions are just 88g/km so motor tax is €180 per year. Kia quote 74mpg for the Niro. I averaged 52mpg over a week of driving, though I did see 56mpg on some trips.

Kia Niro review ireland
The interior of the Kia Niro

Like most hybrids, on the road the Niro is mostly a very smooth and silent driving experience. The car starts off on electric power so it is completely silent, and then the petrol engine kicks in as appropriate. Kia has opted for a dual clutch automatic transmission, which changes gear in a more natural way and with less noise than the CVT gearbox that has been common in many hybrids to date. The Niro is classed as a crossover but it’s not a particularly tall vehicle which actually helps the handling because it behaves on the road more like a hatchback than a tall SUV. The handling is not particularly exciting but it is predictable, the steering is decent enough and ride comfort is generally very good.

The problem with the Niro is that it doesn’t feel very responsive.  The throttle feels lifeless most of the time and that’s okay if you’re just coasting around but if you want power quickly, it’s a bit frustrating. There is a sport mode, which you access through the gearbox, and that does solve the problem of the lifeless throttle. But you buy a hybrid for efficiency and to save money on your fuel bills so you really don’t want to be driving it in sport mode all the time! If you need speed quickly for overtaking, at least it’s an option as in the normal setting you can sometimes be left wanting for any sort of pace.

Kia Niro review ireland
The Kia Niro is a practical, spacious crossover with a low emission hybrid powertrain

The Kia Niro is priced from €29,095, and that price includes the €1500 VRT reduction for hybrids. Niro is offered with a high spec that includes four electric windows, full leather interior, heated front seats and steering wheel, cruise control, dual zone aircon, lane keep assist, and a touchscreen with navigation and Android Auto compatibility.

The Niro is a welcome addition to the Kia range and the execution of the car is very convincing as Niro feels like a good quality product, and is spacious, practical and easy to drive. The Niro won’t set your pulse racing for performance and pin sharp handling but it’s a low emission hybrid that’s packaged in a way that will be very appealing to a lot of people.

Model tested: Kia Niro hyrid
Price: 
€29,095
Power: 
139bhp
0-100km/h:  
11.5 seconds
Economy: 
74mpg
CO2 emissions:  
88g/km
Motor tax:
€180 per year

Caroline Kidd


Opel Mokka X Review Ireland

Opel Mokka X Review

Opel will be launching two new SUVs in 2017, the Crossland X and the Grandland X, but it’s the Mokka that has been holding the fort for Opel in the lucrative SUV market for quite some time now.

Mokka is now Mokka X. Opel has recently relaunched an updated version of the compact SUV and the ‘X’ will be the new moniker for all of Opel’s crossovers and SUVs.

This is one of the more convincing facelifts I’ve seen in a while because Opel has used the mid-life update as an opportunity to sufficiently modernise the Mokka X so that if you weren’t completely up to date on the comings and goings in the automotive industry you might think you were looking at a new model.

The Mokka X has had a serious nosejob, and the rather dowdy nose of the pre-facelift model is now gone and replaced with a cleaner and more sparkly look that is more in line with new Corsa, Astra and the rest of the Opel range. The rest of the car has mostly resisted the knife, but it looked pretty good from those angles anyway.

Opel Mokka X Review Ireland
The Opel Mokka X has a new front end that brings the car more in line with the rest of the Opel range

Inside, you sit higher in the Mokka X than some more low slung rivals like the Peugeot 2008, Skoda Yeti and the Renault Captur so there is a feeling of real SUV authenticity to the Mokka X. More of a surprise is just how premium the Mokka X now feels inside. The interior has had a real makeover: there’s a completely new dashboard built around the Intellilink infotainment system that comes with voice command, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on all but the base model. The material finishes look classy and contemporary and the instrument dials are also new and really complete the look.

In terms of interior space, the dimensions have not changed so the Mokka X is still a reasonably spacious family car with seating for five. The boot is a good 356 litres and is easy to access and load.

For the Irish market, there are three trims available – S, SC and Elite. Prices start at €21,495 for S and that car comes with a 1.6-litre 115hp petrol engine and includes air con, cruise control, Bluetooth, electric front windows and mirrors and LED daytime running lights.

Opel Mokka X Review Ireland
Interior of the Opel Mokka X has been vastly improved and Intellilink infotainment is standard on all but the base model

The SC trim starts from €23,795 and broadens up the engine range a bit more, including the 1.6-litre 136hp diesel and 1.4-litre turbo petrol (140 or 152PS). Equipment is more generous with 17” alloy wheels, Opel OnStar that now includes a WiFi hotspot, Intellilink, parking sensors, dual zone climate control and front fog lights.

The top of the range Elite models starts from €27,995 and includes a navigation system, leather seat trim, ergonomic front sport seats, heated steering wheel, heated front seats and 18” alloys.

4x4 is available from €25,795 and it is an ‘intelligent’ system that keeps fuel consumption low by using the front wheels to drive the car forward when roads are dry, only calling on the extra traction from the four wheel drive when it is really needed.

My test car had the 1.6-litre CDTi diesel with 136hp and it is the best for economy in the range returning up to 69mpg depending on wheel size. Opel calls this their ‘whisper diesel’ but it is not an entirely refined unit yet in the Mokka X and does make its presence known in the cabin. Once cruising it does fade into the background and the engine makes easy progress with 136hp at its disposal.

Elsewhere, the Mokka X has light steering that makes it easy to manouvre around town and in the car park, but at speed a bit more feedback would be great as it feels a bit soft and vague. You probably won’t want to push Mokka X too hard anyway because its tall body does lean in corners, but as long as you don’t prioritise pin sharp handling, the Mokka X gets by as quite affable and comfortable family transport.

Opel Mokka X Review Ireland
Opel Mokka X is available with four wheel drive for extra grip in adverse conditions

The Mokka X can get expensive very quickly for what is still a relatively compact SUV. My test car was a top of the range 4x4 Elite and had a hefty list price of €30,245. A more popular option is likely to be the 1.6CDTi SC with a list price of €26,295.

The Opel Mokka X is not particularly exciting but it is comfortable and cool transport for a small family. Opel has made good use of this facelift and have effectively modernized the Mokka X, in the superficial sense at least – the new nose and the new interior inject a much needed dose of modernity and contemporary style to the Mokka X and the premium feel and connectivity on board are surely now one of the Mokka X’s key selling points.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Opel Mokka X 1.6CDTi 4x4 Elite
Price: 
€30,245 (Range starts at €21,495)
Engine: 
1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
136hp
0-100km/h:  
10.3 seconds
Economy: 
60mpg
CO2 emissions:  
124g/km
Tax band:
€270 per year


Skoda Yeti Ireland Review

Skoda Yeti 2.0TDI 150hp Review

There are plenty of anonymous cars on Irish roads and if you drive a crossover it’s very easy to slip into oblivion among all the other raised-up hatchbacks.

But there’s just something about the Skoda Yeti. It stands out. It says something about you. Whether that’s good or bad is for you to decide.

The Skoda Yeti is quite van-like in profile but it’s a purposeful design that reaps benefits in terms of interior space. The high, squared off roof gives excellent headroom for everyone on board and rear legroom is very generous too. It’s certainly one of the roomier feeling cars in its class and the 416 litre boot is very versatile.

The Yeti’s interior is ageing well and the material quality is generally good around the cabin, if not especially plush. The grey and red seats in my Monte Carlo test car did inject some colour and fun into the otherwise sombre interior but it would be churlish to write off the Yeti on these grounds because there is something pleasantly honest and functional about this car that goes beyond colour accents and other gimmicks.

Skoda Yeti Ireland Review
The Skoda Yeti has a distinctive presence on the road and Monte Carlo models with black wheels and black roof add even more attitude

The engine line for the Skoda Yeti is made up of a 1.2-litre TSI turbo petrol engine with 110hp and a 2.0-litre TDI with 110hp or 150hp. The 2.0-litre TDI with 110hp is the most efficient, returning up to 63mpg and motor tax is €200 per year. Petrols starts at €23,955, while diesels start at €25,495. Manual and automatic gearboxes are offered, as is the option of four wheel drive, with the cheapest 4x4 model coming in at €27,990.

My test car had the 2.0TDI with 150bhp and it’s got loads of grunt for the Yeti. Running costs do start to creep up a little however, with motor tax costing €270 per year for this model, though it still returns up to 59mpg. The 2.0TDI is a bit noisy on start up when cold and during harsh acceleration, but generally it’s a good companion for the Yeti.

The Yeti’s on road driving manners are surprisingly good. In short, it might look like a van but it does not drive like one. The steering is weighted nicely and it grips well over twisty rural roads with not too much body roll, and the suspension takes the edge off bumps and ruts in the road surface. However, it does get quite noisy in the cabin at motorway speeds.

Skoda Yeti Ireland Review
Skoda Yeti: The interior is sturdily built though it can get quite noisy in here at motorway speeds

There are five trims offered in Ireland: Active, Ambition, Style, Outdoor and Monte Carlo, with standard equipment including roof rails, alloy wheels, front fog lamps and air con.

The Monte Carlo model on test has cruise control, dual zone climate control, parking sensors, and a touchscreen for infotainment. There are also a number of unique features including a panoramic glass sunroof, 17” black alloy wheels, a front spoiler, rear diffuser, black front grille, door mirrors and roof, chrome tail pipe, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and a sports pedal set.

Skoda Yeti Ireland Review
Skoda Yeti: An offbeat but practical crossover

With its unique looks and practical, spacious cabin, the Skoda Yeti remains an attractive and offbeat choice in the crossover segment.

Strong and sturdy with plenty of attitude, that’ll be the Skoda Yeti!

Model tested: Skoda Yeti Monte Carlo 2.0TDI 150hp
Price: 
€31,165 (Range starts at €23,955)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
0-100km/h:  
9.0 seconds
Economy: 
59mpg
CO2 emissions:  
126g/km
Tax band:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd


Volkswagen Tiguan Review Ireland

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0TDI Review

An all-new Volkswagen Tiguan has arrived in Ireland at a time when it looks like we are going crazy for crossovers and compact SUVs. Ireland’s bestselling car in 2016 is so far the Hyundai Tucson, overtaking perennials like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus in the process.

This segment is huge with all the major manufacturers offering some sort of jacked up hatchback in their range. Now Volkswagen is having a second shot with the new generation 2016 Tiguan.

It’s the first Volkswagen Group SUV to be built on the MQB platform, which is shared with the Golf and a host of other VW Group products. Gone are the soft curves of the first generation Tiguan. The new Volkswagen Tiguan is altogether more angular, and even aggressive when viewed straight on. You couldn’t really say any of those things about the previous generation. It’s all classic Volkswagen styling but the new Tiguan has just the right presence for this market – it looks premium and shall we say a cut above the rest? It’s not as avant-garde as the new Kia Sportage or as friendly looking as the Renault Kadjar but something about those crisp lines and classic VW grille is still refreshing in this segment!

Volkswagen Tiguan Review Ireland
Volkswagen Tiguan is sharper all round and looking all the better for it

Inside, there is nothing particularly exciting about the interior design but it is faultless in regard to quality and navigability, with all models receiving a touchscreen infotainment system that’s one of the best in the business. Another highlight is the Active Info Display digital instrument cluster, though it’s not standard on base models. There is seating for five in the Tiguan and generous legroom for rear passengers, while the boot can carry up to 615 litres, which is up 145 litres on the old model.

Powering the new Tiguan range are a 125hp 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol and 2.0-litre diesels with a range of outputs from 115hp to 240hp. Manual and automatic transmissions are available, as well as a four wheel drive option. The petrol comes in at €29,085 on the base Trendline trim, while diesels start at €30,985. Comfortline line models start at €32,960 and Highline models start at €36,870.

Volkswagen Tiguan Review Ireland
The interior of the Volkswagen Tiguan is one of the best in the class with a simple, intuitive design and good quality materials

On the road the new Volkswagen Tiguan is a smooth and agile drive for an SUV, and the 2.0-litre TDI 150hp diesel on test goes about its business with minimal noise intrusion into the cabin. The Tiguan is a hard one to fault. It’s comfortable over Irish roads yet there’s not too much lean in the corners and the steering is spot on too. The overall refinement of the driving experience suggests a well-engineered car. The 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp is a powerful offering in the new Tiguan but the 115hp version is of course cheaper to buy and both versions have similar running costs.

Standard equipment on new Tiguan includes leather steering wheel, 17” alloy wheels, LED rear lights, roof rails, 5” touchscreen infotainment with Bluetooth, electric parking brake and hill start assist, electric windows and mirrors, air con and safety equipment including lane departure warning, pedestrian detection and autonomous emergency braking. A mid range Comfortline adds adaptive cruise control, an 8” touchscreen, front fog lights, parking sensors, tri zone climate control, auto high beam and some more styling and interior comfort updates.

The new Volkswagen Tiguan sits at the pricier end of the SUV/crossover market, but make no mistake: this is a quality product that really does justify the premium tag. Whether compact SUV buyers will flock to it in the same way the likes of the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai have captured the hearts and minds of Irish buyers is another story, as those cars are great value for money and do the same job as the Tiguan. Yet the new Volkswagen Tiguan has an all-round polish that just lifts it above the competition and it does it in considerable style.

Volkswagen Tiguan Review Ireland
Volkswagen Tiguan: A polish all round that makes it very desirable if you're willing to pay for it

Model tested: Volkswagen Tiguan Highline 2.0TDI 150hp
Price: 
€36,870 ( Range starts at €29,085)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
0-100km/h:  
9.3 seconds
Economy: 
59mpg
CO2 emissions:  
125g/km
Tax band:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd


Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Review Ireland

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Launch Drive

A revamped Suzuki SX4 S-Cross will arrive in Irish Suzuki dealers this October, priced from €20,995.

Hot on the heels of the all-new Suzuki Baleno hatchback that arrived in Ireland over the summer, Suzuki are further strengthening their line-up with a major facelift and new engines for the SX4 S-Cross.

Visually the S-Cross now has a more SUV-like stance on the road. Suzuki has raised the suspension by about 1.5cm, and the front end is now higher and more upright with a bold chrome bar grille and new lights front and back.

Inside the basic cabin layout is the same but there is a new soft touch plastic dashboard pad, which looks more pleasing and gives the S-Cross a more high quality feel despite the hard plastics that still feature above and below, and in the door panels. There is seating for five and a 430 litre boot with a low, flat loading sill.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Review Ireland
Suzuki has improved some of the materials in the cabin for a plusher feel

Suzuki has really shaken up the engine line-up to keep up with competitors (and perhaps surpass them too). Gone is the old 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and in come two brand new turbo petrol ‘Boosterjet’ engines: a 1.0-litre (111hp) and a 1.4-litre (150hp). The 1.6-litre diesel (120hp) will still be offered but Suzuki are keen to push their new petrol engines because they are an attractive low entry price into the range, but efficient and powerful for their size. The 1.0-litre will return up to 56.4mpg and emissions of 113g/km CO2 mean that it qualifies for motor tax of €200 per year.

Manual and automatic gearboxes are offered, as well as a four wheel drive option. The old CVT automatic gearbox has been replaced with a new dual clutch system.

At the launch I drove the 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre turbo petrols. The 1.0-litre has adequate power for the S-Cross and is very responsive to the throttle, though the absence of a sixth gear makes it less efficient for high speed cruising on the motorway. The S-Cross 1.4-litre comes with a six speed manual and is in turn even more flexible than the 1.0-litre with a strong surge of power in all the gears. Some road noise was apparent in the cabin at high speeds but the S-Cross performed overwhelmingly as a comfortable and nimble crossover. The steering is light but there was enough feedback reaching the rim for some enthusiastic driving through the long, flowing corners of our test route through North Wales.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Review Ireland
Suzuki is looking for a slice of the petrol crossover market with two new powerful and efficient Boosterjet engines joining the SX4 S-Cross range

Three trim levels will be offered: SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, air conditioning, four electric windows, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, electric and heated door mirrors.

Pricing starts at €20,995 for the S-Cross 1.0-litre Boosterjet in SZ4 trim, SZ-T models start from €24,995 and SZ5 from €28,495. The 1.6-litre diesel starts at €26,995.

The new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross will be in Irish Suzuki dealers from mid-October.

Caroline Kidd

 


Jaguar F-Pace Review Ireland

Jaguar F-Pace 2.0-litre AWD Review

Scroll down to watch a video review.

The F-Pace is Jaguar’s first ever SUV and Jaguar are confidently billing it as ‘the practical sports car’.

On the surface at least, the styling of the new Jaguar F-Pace is every bit as evocative as a classic Jaguar sports car, with a level of drama and dynamism that is missing from many rivals. The big, upright grille and slim LED headlamps make a bold statement, while at the back there are many similarities to be drawn with the F-Type coupé. Not a bad thing at all!

Inside I think the F-Pace is best described as ‘modern luxury with a sports car feel’. The centre console has a slick design built around a touchscreen system to control media, Bluetooth connection and navigation. The cabin is awash with contemporary finishes and the overall quality secures the F-Pace’s position at the premium end of the mid-size SUV segment.

Jaguar F-Pace Review Ireland
The styling of the new F-Pace is every bit as evocative as a classic Jaguar sports car

The F-Pace was one of the most hotly anticipated new cars of 2016 and the build-up began long before the car premiered at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Much was made of the F-Pace’s performance pedigree and certainly there is a sense that Jaguar put everything into the development of this car to make it special. The F-Pace has the same lightweight construction as the the XE and XF saloons and so is 80% aluminium. You can really get a sense of that car-like DNA when driving the F-Pace and also in the way you as a driver are positioned in the car in relation to the steering wheel, controls and pedals. The centre tunnel is also quite high for an SUV so it all enhances the sports car feel behind the wheel.

The F-Pace is available in two or four wheel drive and even four wheel drive models operate as rear wheel drive vehicles in normal driving conditions. It is a fantastic SUV to drive. The F-Pace has an athletic and playful character on the road that belies its sheer bulk. The steering is fluid and precise, and torque vectoring comes as standard so you can pull the F-Pace tightly into bends with a great deal of precision and there’s no loss of stability. It’s remarkably flat and balanced through corners for a high riding SUV. The suspension is firm enough to keep it tight in the corners, but there is also compliancy there to keep things mostly smooth and comfortable in the cabin.

Jaguar F-Pace Review Ireland
The interior of the new Jaguar F-Pace

In terms of engines, a 2.0-litre diesel with 180hp is the best for economy. For the more performance oriented buyer there is a 3.0-litre V6 diesel (300hp) and a 3.0-litre V6 petrol (380hp). My test car had the 2.0-litre diesel and an automatic transmission. It’s a quick, quiet and smooth combination. 0-100kmh is 8.7 seconds and motor tax is just €280 per year for the four wheel drive model. The official economy is close to 53mpg, while I returned 43mpg during my time with the car.

Elsewhere, the F-Pace is a spacious five seat family car with large footwells and a 650 litre boot. Pricing starts at €44,100 for rear wheel drive models and €47,800 for four wheel drive models. In Ireland, the F-Pace is available in SE, Prestige, R-Sport, S and Portfolio trims. Standard equipment includes keyless start, cruise control, climate control, four electric windows, electric parking brake, 18" alloys, front fog lights, touchscreen infotainment and a host of safety equipment.

The V6 diesels start at €69,700, while the V6 petrols start at €78,000.

Jaguar F-Pace Review Ireland
Jaguar F-Pace: The 2.0-litre 180hp diesel is the best for economy

The new Jaguar F-Pace lives up to the hype, and really does deliver as a practical, fashionable and quite cool SUV. The 2.0-litre diesel might leave performance oriented buyers wanting but it ticks the boxes for efficiency and competitive pricing, and ensures that this car should easily find its market and really boost Jaguar sales.

But what sets the F-Pace apart is that it is a true driver’s car, and I didn’t think that was always possible with an SUV. The Jaguar F-Pace is an exciting SUV to drive and performs with the poise and intent of a much sportier vehicle. Jaguar has stayed true to their sports car roots in the development of their first ever SUV and it really shows in the new F-Pace.

Now watch my F-Pace video review:

Model tested: Jaguar F-Pace 2.0 AWD Prestige Auto
Price: €56,210 ( Range starts at €44,100)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
180hp
0-100km/h:  
8.7 seconds
Economy: 
53.3mpg
CO2 emissions:  
139g/km
Tax band:
€280 per year

Caroline Kidd


Peugeot 2008 review ireland

Peugeot 2008 Review

Peugeot 2008 review ireland
The new Peugeot 2008

The Peugeot 2008 arrived in Ireland in 2013 when the compact crossover boom was really taking hold, but since then the popular 208-based crossover has proved to hit the right spot for its chunky looks, practical interior and affordable pricing. The 2008 is Peugeot’s bestselling model in Ireland and accounts for just over 10% of the compact crossover segment here. Despite the glut of similar models from the likes of Opel, Nissan, Renault and Mazda, the 2008 has still managed to make impact here on the market.

A mid-life refresh should further strengthen the 2008’s cause, and this summer the 2008 received some updates in the styling department, new equipment, new colours and a new top of the range GT Line trim. A wide range of new ‘PureTech’ petrol engines and proven diesels keep the car fresh and competitive too.

In the metal, the 2008 doesn’t sit that much higher than a conventional hatchback, but it’s enough to give a more raised seating position inside. Some rivals have a bit more height, but the 2008’s more low slung profile has its advantages as we will get to later in this review. A new grille, with large Peugeot lion badge at the centre might not seem all that drastic, but here it actually does give the 2008 a lot more presence, and viewed front on, the 2008 looks more like an SUV than ever before.

There haven’t been any major changes to the layout of the cabin, but it still looks very smart and there is a plush feel to it. Infotainment is provided via a 7” touchscreen on all but the base trim, and the new 2008 retains the Peugeot ‘i-Cockpit’ interior - a compact steering wheel and a head up instrument panel sitting above it. A large raked back windscreen gives the cabin an airy, spacious feel, and a panoramic glass roof on Allure and GT Line trims only amplifies this.

Peugeot 2008 review ireland
The interior of the Peugeot 2008 is smart and of good quality

The Peugeot 2008 packs a lot in for what is still a very compact car. There is seating for five, and despite the compact size, the space inside is good, though like many of its compatriots, the middle seat is a bit squeezed as this car is still not much wider than a supermini. The boot is a big asset here because it’s 422 litres, so significantly bigger than your average supermini, and with a very low sill for easy loading.

Power comes from the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol in three different power outputs (82bhp, 110bhp, 130bhp) and the 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel (75bhp, 100bhp, 120bhp). Manual and automatic transmissions are available, including a new 6-speed automatic gearbox. CO2 emissions range from just 90g to 114g/km, and all power trains keep fuel consumption under 4.9 litres/100km.

I tested Peugeot’s 1.2-litre Puretech with 110bhp in the new 2008. It offers more zip than the entry level 82bhp owing to the addition of a turbo, and is very responsive, but refinement is a key quality of this engine. It performs like a larger engine, and there is no loss of robustness here despite its small capacity and three cylinders. While this engine is available with a manual gearbox, my test car had the new 6 speed ‘EAT6’ automatic gearbox and for a small engine, they work well together with smooth power delivery.

Yes the automatic does impact on economy, but this is small according to official figures from Peugeot. They claim 59mpg for this set-up, compared to 64mpg in the manual, but both models still fall into the same tax band (€190 per year), so this is still very economical motoring.  I got 46mpg during my test drive.

Peugeot 2008 review ireland
Peugeot 2008: Off-road looks but small car running costs!

In town, the Peugeot 2008 comes into its own because it is so compact and the steering is light and easy. There is some noise on the motorway but it does well for this segment and is comfortable for the long haul trips. While the steering does weight up out on the open road, it can still feel a bit woolly through fast corners because there is no great sensation of resistance of the tyres against the tarmac as you turn the wheel, so a 208 hatchback is more fun in this regard. But because the 2008 is quite low-slung compared to other cars of its ilk, it’s less top heavy through corners.

Elsewhere, equipment levels are good and entry level Access models including air conditioning, Bluetooth, front electric windows, cruise control, speed limiter, spare wheel and roof bars, while Active trim includes automatic dual zone air conditioning, 7” touch screen, auto lights and wipers, front fog lights, 16” alloy wheels, front and rear electric windows, leather steering wheel, rear parking sensors, electrically folding door mirrors and rear privacy glass.

The Allure trim is more luxurious again with a panoramic roof, half leatherette trim, MirrorLink and Apple Car Play, rear view parking camera and some updated styling features.

There’s a new top of the range GT Line with 17” alloys, satellite navigation, aluminium sports pedals, gloss black roof bars, a body coloured spoiler with gloss black trim, and black door mirror shells. While the 2008 is not sold with a 4x4 option, a Grip Control advanced traction system improves traction in snow, mud and sand from a dial on the centre console, and that’s standard on the new trim.

Basic petrol models start at €19,400 for a 1.2-litre 82bhp in Access trim and the diesels start at €20,785 for the 1.6-litre diesel with 75bhp in Access trim. Active models are available from €20,445. Allure models (from €22,400) and GT Line (from €24,835) will stretch the budget a bit more with one of the more powerful engines under the bonnet.

Peugeot 2008 review ireland
Peugeot 2008: Ideal if you're looking for a small, efficient and refined crossover

For any buyer stepping up from a supermini, the Peugeot 2008 brings all the benefits of a compact car, but with more practicality as the boot here has great access and inside the car is a good deal more spacious too. After the facelift, the 2008 is a bit more bold in stance but the appearance of the car is still quite conservative compared to rivals.

The 2008 brings a high level of finish and maturity to this class. The cabin quality is one of the best and the design is aging well, still looking smart and with good functionality through the touchscreen infotainment system. The overall driving experience is one of refinement, and the quality of engines on offer is a big boon for the 2008. If you are looking for a small petrol crossover in particular, the Peugeot 2008 1.2-litre Puretech 110bhp has to be one of the best.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech 110bhp Automatic GT Line
Price: 
€26,435 (Range starts €19,400)
Engine: 
1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
110bhp
0-100km/h:
10.3 seconds
Economy:
59mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
110g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year


Jeep Cherokee Ireland review

Jeep Cherokee 2.2-litre 200hp 4WD Review

Jeep Cherokee Ireland review
The Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep brand is synonymous with tough, off-road vehicles, with a history stretching back to the Willys Jeep used by the Allied Forces in World War II. The famous Jeep name has become a generic name for a 4x4 and these ‘jeeps’ have since broken through into the mainstream - you’re now just as likely to see one on the school run as you are on a farm.

But among the many soft roaders and faux-SUVs, the Jeep brand, just like Land Rover, has instant credibility. Depending on your social conditioning you will think Jeep are cool because a) the Willys Jeep helped win the war for the Allies or b) Alicia Silverstone’s character Cher drove a Jeep Wrangler in Clueless and it was like, OMG, so amazing.

I fall into the latter camp but even I couldn’t probably stand the rough and tumble of a soft-top Wrangler on a damp Irish commute.

Of far more relevance to the Irish market is the Jeep Cherokee, which these days is sporting ruggedly soft roader/crossover looks, yet in 4x4 guise it still has the guts to take you off road.

Jeep Cherokee Ireland review
Jeep Cherokee: The new range topper is a 9 speed automatic 2.2-litre diesel with 200hp

The current Cherokee has been in Ireland since 2014 but the addition of a new 2.2-litre diesel means it’s up for review again. This car has a lot of presence, and it looks quite upmarket and premium, especially in darker colours. There is just enough chrome to be tasteful rather than tacky, some fabulous bling bling polished chrome 18” alloys, and the striking light signature and classic Jeep seven slot grille at the front ensure it stands out from the crowd as something a bit different. The same can’t be said for the styling of the rear, which is much more generic, but overall I think the Jeep’s distinctive looks are one of its biggest assets in this crowded SUV market.

We have to talk about pricing very quickly in this review because in those terms the Cherokee sits at the more premium end of the market, though it would be more comfortable compared to more mainstream rivals. Entry into the range is at €38,350 for a front wheel drive model with a 2.0-litre diesel producing 140hp with motor tax of €280 per year.

Four wheel drive models start at €48,350 with a 2.2-litre diesel with 185hp and a 9 speed automatic gearbox. A higher powered 2.2-litre diesel (200hp) automatic now sits at the top of the range with a list price of €55,850 and motor tax of €390. There is not much between the engines in terms of fuel economy with the FWD diesel manuals claiming 53 mpg and the 4x4 diesel automatics claiming 50 mpg.

The interior has a tough, durable look with some soft touch materials at the top of the dash but too many hard plastics to live up to the premium pricing. It does well in terms of technology – there is a colour TFT digital display with driver information positioned between the rev counter and the speedometer, and a large touchscreen for infotainment and navigation in the centre of the dash. The seats in the Limited trim on test are a highlight - large, comfortable, finished in soft nappa leather, electrically adjustable and with a heating and ventilating function. You couldn’t ask for much more!

Jeep Cherokee Ireland review
The interior of the Jeep Cherokee

There is space for five in the cabin though the transmission tunnel for the 4x4 does protrude into the middle passenger’s legroom. But the footwells are large and the squared off roofline offers good headroom. The boot is a generous 591 litres and an electric tailgate comes as standard.

There are three trim levels for the Irish market – Longitude, Longitude + and Limited – and standard equipment is good from base including alloys, front fog lights with cornering function, silver roof rails, dual zone air con, auto lights and wipers, rear park assist, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors, and electric parking brake.

The test car had the 200hp diesel mated to the 9 speed automatic, and no surprises the Cherokee can move pretty niftily with 440Nm of torque available and 0-100kmh taking just 8.5 seconds. You can hear the engine gurgling away at idle though it never gets too raucous in the cabin out on the open road, and the car is well insulated from road and wind noise. This is a comfortable car for the long haul, though the ride can get choppy and less smooth off the beaten track when encountering rough/uneven surfaces.

Refinement is good, but the Cherokee does fall short of the idea of a ‘premium driving experience’. There is always a shadow of the off road to the on road driving manners, like the Cherokee really just wants to get on with the tough stuff. The steering is heavy which makes it less of a breeze for town driving and parking, though it’s direct and good for the turn in during out of town driving. It doesn’t feel very dynamic when presented with a series of corners, and the body lurches quite stodgily should you try to take these cornering manoeuvres on with a bit more zest, yet the grip of the 4x4 system masks most of these ills to a point where the Cherokee gets by as large, comfortable transport for a family with attitude.

Jeep Cherokee Ireland review
Jeep Cherokee: The big car with attitude

4x4 Cherokee’s come with Jeep Active Drive I which is billed as an efficient four-wheel drive system that can automatically switch between front and all-wheel drive when required. The Selec-Terrain system offers different four-wheel drive modes for different surfaces like snow, mud and sand, so you can find the setting that best suits the conditions in front of you and the car will do the rest.

The Cherokee is not cheap. It performs well, if not brilliantly, for a modern SUV. It would be easier to forgive the Cherokee its shortcomings if it wasn’t priced as a rival to the likes of Land Rover, Audi, BMW et al, which have more the aura of refinement and luxury to them. Yet it’s hard not to like this Jeep, it’s well equipped, it’s capable, it looks good, it’s different and it’s a Jeep. An actual Jeep. Like, totally cool.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Jeep Cherokee Limited 2.2l 200hp 4WD
Price: 
€55,850 (Range starts €38,350)
Engine: 
2.2-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
200hp
0-100km/h:
8.5 seconds
Economy:
50mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
149g/km
Motor Tax: 
€390 per year