The new Hyundai Kona Electric

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh Review

The new Hyundai Kona Electric
The new Hyundai Kona Electric

Caroline drives the Hyundai Kona Electric.

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

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

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

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

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

What does it look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the road in the Hyundai Kona Electric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


The new Fiat 500X

2019 Fiat 500X 1.0 Petrol Review

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

Caroline drives the 2019 Fiat 500X!

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

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

What's new for the 2019 Fiat 500X?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The interior of the Fiat 500X

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

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

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

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

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

On the road in the Fiat 500X

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


changing lanes

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid First Drive Review

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid pictured at Barberstown Castle, Straffan
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid pictured at Barberstown Castle, Straffan

Honda Ireland has just welcomed the new Honda CR-V Hybrid to Ireland. It joins the all-new Honda CR-V 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo (petrol) that arrived in Ireland in 2018. The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid is the first Honda SUV to be available as a hybrid in Europe and the car uses a 2.0-litre petrol electric powertrain. Caroline went to the Irish launch in County Kildare to test drive the new CR-V Hybrid.

Styling

The Honda CR-V Hybrid has considerable stature and road presence. The evolution between the styling of this new model and the previous generation has been quite gentle, but there are broader and more muscular wheel arches, sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, as well as the latest Honda headlight signature. LED lights and 18” alloy wheels come as standard. There are eight exterior colours to choose from including Rallye Red, Crystal Black and Lunar Silver.

Interior

The Honda CR-V has a fabulous build quality and the interior is immaculately finished with plenty of soft touch materials, metallic trim and wood-effect inserts in the dashboard and doors. On all but the entry model, there is a stylish looking 7” touchscreen set in the dash with the Honda Connect infotainment system.

Practicality

This is a large vehicle, with plenty of interior space and a 497 litre boot. Honda has increased the wheelbase to eke out more passenger space. The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid is available with five seats only, though the 1.5-litre petrol models do come with an optional seven seats.

The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The interior of the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Engines

The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 184hp and 175Nm of torque available in both the front wheel drive and four wheel drive model. The CR-V Hybrid puts its power to the road using a CVT automatic gearbox. The manufacturer quotes fuel consumption for the front wheel drive model at 5.3l/100km and C02 emissions at just 120g.

On the road

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is one of the most aerodynamic cars in its class and features Honda’s Active Shutter Grille system to improve fuel efficiency. The hybrid system is operated via buttons rather than a traditional gear lever – Drive, Park, Neutral and Reverse. There is also a Sport mode button for a more responsive throttle input. A short range EV mode can be selected when in town and it gives about 2km of pure EV range, depending on battery charge and driving conditions.

I took the Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD for a short test drive around Kildare. The CR-V Hybrid is quiet and smooth on the move with a natural feeling hybrid drive and CVT gearbox. The CR-V Hybrid is more stoic than sporty in the handling department but it’s a competent drive for the five seat SUV, with good comfort and refinement, a must for this type of vehicle. Fuel consumption on my 30 minute test drive averaged at about 6.7l/100km.

Equipment

Honda Ireland is selling the new CR-V Hybrid in four grades: Comfort, Lifestyle, Elegance and Executive. Standard equipment includes 18” alloys, keyless entry and start, emergency call, Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist system, driver lumbar support, climate control, and LED headlights. Lifestyle models add equipment including rain sensing wipers, electrically folding side mirrors, leather steering wheel, dual automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and Honda Connect with 7” touchscreen. The Elegance model has leather upholstery, front heated seats, active cornering lights and ambient lighting. The Executive model has an opening panoramic glass roof, head-up display, heated steering wheel, electric tailgate and rear heated seats.

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is a spacious five seat SUV
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is a spacious five seat SUV

Pricing

Comfort is available from €38,000, Lifestyle from €40,500, Elegance from €43,500 and Executive from €49,500. Prices quoted here are for FWD models including grants reductions for hybrids, with AWD cars available from €43,500.

Rivals

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid has a direct rival in the recently launched Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Indirect rivals include other large SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Skoda Kodiaq and Nissan X-Trail.

Verdict

The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid starts off well with this new generation off CR-V sporting a terrific build, top interior quality and spacious interior. The hybrid powertrain is new for the CR-V but appears to be quite a natural fit with good refinement. I look forward to taking the CR-V Hybrid for a longer test drive later in the year to test how efficient it is over a week of driving!

Caroline Kidd

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is available in Ireland from €38,000
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is available in Ireland from €38,000

The new SEAT Tarraco has just arrived in Ireland

2019 SEAT Tarraco First Drive Review

The new SEAT Tarraco has just arrived in Ireland
The new SEAT Tarraco has just arrived in Ireland

The SEAT Tarraco has just arrived in Ireland and is an exciting new large SUV for the brand, slotting in above the compact SEAT Arona and mid-size Ateca to complete SEAT’s family of SUVs. Caroline drove the new SEAT Tarraco at the Irish press launch in Dublin.

Styling

The SEAT Tarraco is a stylish new entrant into the large SUV class with a prominent grille giving presence and character and a full width light signature at the rear with dynamic indicators. SEAT Ireland has really tried to ensure that ‘base’ models will look well so even the entry SE model gets 18” alloys and LED headlights with SEAT's triangular signature design.

Interior

The interior of the Tarraco has a simple and elegant design with a digital instrument panel as standard and 8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All the controls fall easily to hand and there is a good commanding driving position. There are a mixture of materials used and the quality is very acceptable with our Xcellence test model featuring some stylish brushed chrome trim inserts.

Practicality

The Tarraco is available as a five or seven seat SUV. The boot is a huge 760 litres with a wide aperture and powered tailgate as standard on Xcellence trim. There is loads of space for second row occupants and you can let the rear seats down from a release in the boot. The two seats in row three are more compact, but the split fold rear bench in row 2 can be slid forward and back to create more space.

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

Engines

The new SEAT Tarraco is available in Ireland with a 1.5-litre TSI turbo petrol (150hp), a 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol (190hp) and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel. The 2.0-litre TDI can be specced with a manual gearbox with a power output of 150hp or in automatic DSG 4x4 guise with 190hp.

On the road

The Tarraco is built on the Volkswagen Group's MQB-A long wheelbase architecture but SEAT say that they have tweaked it to make it more like a SEAT, with a bit of sportiness and flair to the driving experience. We will have to wait for a longer test drive to fully put that sporty pitch to the test. But we did take the 2.0-litre 150hp manual diesel for a quick drive around Dublin suburbia at the Tarraco launch. The light controls make it easy work in the urban environment, while the diesel was smooth and refined around town.

Equipment

At launch in Ireland the new SEAT Tarraco will be available in SE and Xcellence trim with a sporty FR to follow at a later date.

Standard equipment is very good across the range with SE models getting 18” alloys, 8” touchscreen, LED headlights and rear lights, cruise control, digital instrument panel, SEAT drive profile, tri zone climate control, keyless start, front assist, city emergency braking, lane keep assist and rear view camera.

Xcellence models add 19” alloys, electric tailgate, adaptive cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, park assist, and a special Xcellence styling kit.

The SEAT Tarraco goes on sale in Ireland priced from €34,700
The SEAT Tarraco goes on sale in Ireland priced from €34,700

Pricing

The new SEAT Tarraco goes on sale in Ireland priced from €34,700 for the SE and €39,885 for the Xcellence. Seven seat models are available for a premium of €1000.

Rivals

SEAT Ireland list the Peugeot 5008, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan X-Trail as key rivals.

Verdict

The new SEAT Tarraco is a brand new model entering a busy segment of large five and seven seat SUVs. However the Tarraco is very well specced from entry into the range with some well proven petrol and diesel engines at its disposal. It’s a smooth, fuss free drive and a stylish newcomer that I look forward to bringing you a full road test of later in the spring.

Caroline Kidd

The SEAT Tarraco is a stylish new entrant to the seven seat SUV segment
The SEAT Tarraco is a stylish new entrant to the seven seat SUV segment!

The new DS 7 Crossback has just arrived in Ireland

2019 DS 7 Crossback First Drive Review

The new DS 7 Crossback has just arrived in Ireland
The new DS 7 Crossback has just arrived in Ireland

The DS 7 Crossback is the first new car we have seen from the DS brand for a while. It marks the start of a new era for DS Automobiles in Ireland, with DS cars now being exclusively sold from DS Airside in Swords, County Dublin, with two more stores planned. The new SUV is aimed at the premium market and retails in Ireland priced from €36,000. Caroline drove the new DS 7 Crossback at the Irish press launch in Dublin.

Styling

The DS 7 Crossback is a fresh new design for the premium SUV segment. The tagline for the French premium car brand is ‘spirit of avantgarde’, and the devil is in the detail with the new DS 7 Crossback. In fact the detail is in the diamond motif that appears throughout the car, for example in the grille and the rear lights. The DS 7 has a strong front end and definite charismatic road presence, a must for a premium vehicle.

Interior

The interior of the DS 7 Crossback combines digital screens and the latest driver assistance features with swathes of soft touch materials and diamond motif details. It is very plush and embodies the ‘spirit of avantgarde’. The DS 7 Crossback is a definite step up in quality and design on what has come previously from DS. There are four interior ‘themes’, with different materials and finishing: Bastille, Performance Line, Rivoli and Opera.

Practicality

The DS 7 Crossback is a five seat SUV aimed between the C and D segment. That means when compared to direct rivals on price, the DS 7 Crossback is remarkably spacious. The boot is also very large for this class of vehicle at 555 litres.

The interior of the new DS 7 Crossback
The interior of the new DS 7 Crossback

Engines

The DS 7 Crossback is available with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with 130hp, a 1.6-litre turbo petrol with 180hp, 1.5-litre diesel with 130hp or a 2.0-litre diesel with 180hp. There is a 6-speed manual gearbox or 8-speed automatic.  A DS 7 Crossback plug-in hybrid with 300hp and four wheel drive is on the way in 2020. Motor tax for the DS 7 ranges from €190 to €280 depending on engine and transmission choice.

On the road

The DS 7 Crossback is built on the EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform), which is used by other PSA Group models. The flexible rear beam was replaced by a multi-arm arrangement to obtain a smoother ride and minimise noise. DS’s engineers also extended the wheelbase by 5.5cm and widened the front track.

There is also high-end insulation laid between the engine compartment and the cabin, in the wheel wells, beneath the bonnet, in the door panels, in the roof lining and underneath the carpeting.

Some models also feature DS Active Scan Suspension as standard. This system improves ride comfort using a camera to anticipate defects in the road ahead and adjusting the four shock absorbers to make them firmer or softer in response.

During a quick drive through city streets, the DS 7 Crossback was agile and comfortable with light steering. On first impressions the 2.0-litre diesel engine offers good refinement.

The DS 7 Crossback has a 555 litre boot
The DS 7 Crossback has a 555 litre boot

Equipment

In Ireland there will be four trim levels: Elegance, Performance Line, Prestige and Ultra Prestige. Standard features will include 18 inch Black Onyx diamond-cut alloy wheels, LED rear lights, gloss black exterior door mirrors, 8” touchscreen display, electric parking brake, lane departure warning, driver attention warning, rear parking sensors, LED front foglights with cornering light function, 'Follow me Home' lighting, Active Safety Brake, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay, DS Inspiration BASTILLE, Bronze Harmony cloth, dashboard and door panels, and leather steering wheel.

The Performance Line adds 19 inch Black Onyx diamond-cut alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, gloss black front grille, aluminium pedals, DS ACTIVE LED VISION (includes adaptive lighting), high beam assist, 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster, DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION on 2.0-litre diesel, front parking sensors, reversing camera, Alcantara® dashboard and door panels with stitching, and an AGR–certified ergonomic driver’s seat.

The Prestige adds 19 inch ROMA Grey Anthra diamond-cut alloy wheels, full LED ambient lighting, wireless charging for smartphone, B.R.M R180 Timepiece and an electric seats pack.

Ultra Prestige features include 20 inch TOKYO Gloss Black diamond-cut alloys, electric opening panoramic sunroof with LED lighting, interior polyambient LED lighting, 12” HD touchscreen display, DS Connected NAV – connected 3D navigation, electric tailgate opening, keyless entry & start, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go- Lane Keeping Assist, FOCAL Electra® HiFi system, electrochrome door mirrors, Nappa Art leather seats, Basalt Black Nappa leather dashboard and door panels, pearl stitching on the dashboard and door panels, front and rear leather grab handles and laminated side windows.

The new DS 7 Crossback goes on sale priced from €36,000
The new DS 7 Crossback goes on sale priced from €36,000

Pricing

Pricing for the DS 7 Crossback ranges from €36,000 to €60,245.

Rivals

DS Ireland list the Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-PACE, Mercedes-Benz GLC and BMW X1 as direct rivals, and the likes of the Jaguar F-PACE, Volvo XC60 and BMW X3 as indirect rivals.

Verdict

DS has really raised their game with the new DS 7 Crossback. The quality and finish of the car is excellent, backed up by a range of modern and efficient diesel and petrol engines. The DS 7 Crossback for now will be a more off-beat choice compared to traditional premium rivals, but early adopters will find a stylish, bespoke premium SUV with plenty to like.

Caroline Kidd


The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is in Toyota dealers now

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid First Drive Review

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is in Toyota dealers now
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is in Toyota dealers now

The Toyota RAV4 was the original ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ (SUV). Now in its fifth generation, Toyota has reinvented the RAV4 upon the exciting new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). The new RAV4 is arriving in Ireland at a time when Toyota Ireland is predicting that in 2019, 80% of their new car sales will be hybrid. The brand has already said that they will no longer sell diesel cars. The new RAV4 will be sold in Ireland exclusively as a petrol electric, self-charging hybrid. Caroline travelled to the Catalonia region of Spain to put the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to the test on and off road!

Styling

TNGA has given Toyota designers more freedom to design a stylish vehicle. The new Toyota RAV4 now has a more individual look for the segment. It is an altogether leaner and more angular SUV than the model it replaces, with more than a hint of the utilitarian design of the larger Land Cruiser. In Ireland, 17” alloys and LED headlamps come as standard, while Sport models are available with a bi-tone paint option.

Interior

The Toyota RAV4 has a new interior with a focus on improved quality and design. The dashboard has an attractive, clean horizontal design with soft touch materials and satin chrome features to add interest. Dials and switches are easy to operate, with a 7" or 8” touchscreen in the centre of the dash. The RAV4 is missing some of the outright glam and plushness of the interior of the smaller Toyota C-HR compact crossover. But in fairness, the plainer cabin of the RAV4 makes more sense with the tougher, utilitarian look of the outside of the vehicle.

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Practicality

The wheelbase has been increased by 30 mm to create more interior space in the new RAV4. This is a five seat SUV with competitive accommodation for this class of vehicle. There's about 40 mm extra width for rear seat passengers and more spacious rear footwells. The opening angle of the rear doors has also been improved to make it easier to access child seats and get in and out. Boot space is up 41 litres to 542 litres with a wide opening making it a practical space to work with. There is a height-adjustable, two-level deck board that can be reversed when dirty items need to be carried.

Engines

In Ireland the new RAV4 goes on sale exclusively as a self-charging hybrid. In some markets the new Toyota RAV4 is also offered with a 2.0-litre petrol. The 2019 RAV4 has a new, improved 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain. There’s more power and greater efficiency. Front wheel drive models now have 218hp, while all wheel drive models have 222hp. The manufacturer quotes fuel consumption of 4.5l/100km on the NEDC 2 cycle and 5.6l/100km under new WLTP. Power is put to the road through a CVT automatic gearbox.

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland priced from €35,900
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland priced from €35,900

On the road

The new RAV4 has a more rigid body and lower centre of gravity with every component now lighter and located lower down in the vehicle for improved comfort and driving dynamics. The response from the electric power steering has also been improved by moving the assist motor from the column to the rack. There's a better driving position and on the road, the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid immediately feels more fluid and engaging. The car handles confidently through corners with more natural and progressive steering. Refinement in town is excellent, with the hybrid operating in near silence. During our test drive, the new RAV4 was comfortable and stable over a variety of road surfaces, though on the motorway we did notice some wind noise from around the mirrors.

Toyota engineers have worked to reduce noise from the CVT gearbox in this new generation of RAV4. However to this reviewer the noise from the CVT gearbox is still a bit of a bugbear, especially when you try to gather speed quickly. Fuel consumption averaged out at about 7.0l/100km during my test drive across town, motorway and country.

We also had the opportunity to test the new Toyota RAV4 AWD model quite extensively off-road. It coped well with steep inclines and declines (without a hill descent control) and slippy, muddy conditions.

The new RAV4 has more interior space than the outgoing model and a larger boot
The new RAV4 has more interior space than the outgoing model and a larger boot

Equipment

Toyota Ireland is selling the new RAV4 in five grades: Aura, Luna, Sol, Sport and Platinum. Standard features on Aura models (from €35,900) will include 17” alloys, LED lights front and rear, dual exhaust tailpipes, black roof rails, electric parking brake, automatic lights, 7” multimedia system, dual zone climate control with rear vents, folding mirrors, driving mode selector and rear view camera. Toyota Safety Sense 2 is also standard, adding safety equipment such as automatic high beam, driver attention alert, eCall emergency call system, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, road sign assist and lane trace assist.

The Luna model (from €37,590) will add dark grey painted upper front grille, silver front underrun, chrome interior trim, auto wipers, power tailgate, Smart Entry & Start, 8” multimedia system, front fog lamps, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Sol (from €39,590) adds 18” alloys, rear privacy glass, heated front seats, leather upholstery and satellite navigation.

Sport (from €40,990) adds 18” machine-finished alloy wheels, bitone roof, projector LED headlamps, painted lower bumpers and mouldings, painted front fog lamp surrounds, unique sport leather upholstery, black headlining, driver’s electric seat adjustment and lumbar support, and paddle gear shift.

Platinum (pricing tbc) features include 18” alloy wheels, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, chrome outer door handles, leather seats, grey headlining, memory driver seat adjustment, luggage net and heated steering wheel.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is built on a new platform and uses a 2.5-litre self charging hybrid powertrain
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is built on a new platform and uses a 2.5-litre self-charging hybrid powertrain

Pricing

The new RAV4 goes on sale in Ireland priced from €35,900. Luna is available from €37,590. Sol is available from €39,590. Sport is available from €40,990. Pricing for the Platinum model is to be confirmed. Prices quoted here are for FWD models. We have no confirmation on pricing yet for AWD models. It will be announced closer to when first AWD models arrive in April.

Rivals

The Toyota RAV4 has many rivals including the Honda CR-V Hybrid, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5, Renault Koleos, Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq.

Verdict

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid arrives in Ireland at a time when car buyers are beginning to look beyond diesel, while Toyota Ireland continues to back hybrid across their range of passenger cars and SUVs. For this new generation, the Toyota RAV4 has been completely reimagined. This new RAV4 makes a much stronger statement, backed up by improved interior quality, the latest technology and safety features, an improved hybrid powertrain and a more enjoyable drive. The new RAV4 Hybrid does not come to market cheap, but is a much improved vehicle and an interesting step away from the classic diesel SUV.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is in Irish Toyota dealerships now.

Caroline Kidd


The new Opel Grandland X Ultimate

Opel Grandland X Ultimate 2.0 Diesel Review

The new Opel Grandland X Ultimate
The new Opel Grandland X Ultimate

Caroline drives the Opel Grandland X Ultimate!

In 2018, Opel Ireland welcomed the new Grandland X to Ireland in the highly lucrative five door, family SUV segment. Available from €28,395 with a choice of 1.2-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel and 2.0-litre diesel, the Opel Grandland X occupies a peachy point for family buyers looking for a cool mid-size SUV.

I’ve already tested the Opel Grandland X 1.2-litre petrol and it was a car that I enjoyed for its straightforward practicality, stylish design and on point petrol engine. Now at the opposite end of the spectrum I’m testing the Opel Grandland X Ultimate. Under the bonnet there is a top of the range 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The car also has an impressive spec including a number of more luxurious features as standard. But you do pay dearly for it, with a list price for this model of €41,595.

What's new?

The Grandland X’s neat frame is enhanced with 19” alloys, while the roof and door mirrors are finished in black on the Ultimate trim car. There are also silver coloured roof rails, premium ergonomic seats, heated leather seats and trim, adaptive AFL LED headlights, OnStar, touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, 360° camera, Advanced Park Assist and a Denon premium sound system.

The interior of the Opel Grandland X Ultimate
The interior of the Opel Grandland X Ultimate

Inside the Grandland X there is reasonable space for five however the middle rear passenger will get short changed on leg and shoulder room. The electric tailgate comes as standard on the Ultimate trim and opens to reveal 514 litres of space.

The dashboard design is simple and straightforward with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on the 8” colour touchscreen. The quality is good and the design straightforward and easy to navigate, however it's a little way off the showstopper you might expect of a car priced in the region of €40,000!

The Opel Grandland X Ultimate is powered by a strong 2.0-litre diesel engine
The Opel Grandland X Ultimate is powered by a strong 2.0-litre diesel engine

On the road in the Opel Grandland X Ultimate

The 2.0-litre engine is a powerhouse for the Grandland X with 177hp and 400Nm of torque giving it a trailer load of 2 tonnes. The Grandland X 2.0-litre makes brisk progress on the road and it doesn't sound too coarse for a large diesel engine either, changing gear with reasonable efficiency too. Motor tax for this model is €270 per year and over a week of driving my fuel consumption was 6.3l/100km.

The Grandland X works well as a family car in that it's easy to drive and get along with. It handles well though there is some lean in corners but generally it's very composed and pleasant to drive. The ride comfort on the 19" wheels of the test car was not as smooth and soft as I remembered from my test drive last year, but these are small nuances.

Rear legroom in the Opel Grandland X
Rear legroom in the Opel Grandland X

Should I buy it?

Opel Ireland is offering the Grandland X in five trim levels: SC, SRi, Elite, Ultimate and the new '120 Years' edition to celebrate 120 years of Opel. The Grandland X is undoubtedly a very valuable vehicle for Opel that's stylish and practical.

Certainly the Opel Grandland X Ulitmate is the Grandland X with all the bits thrown at it - top of the range diesel engine, effortless automatic gearbox and many luxury features.

In its most basic guise with a 1.2 litre petrol engine for example, the Grandland X certainly feels like a good alternative to the usual suspects in the family SUV class. For me this expensive top of the range model feels less convincing but for Opel fans looking for a powerhouse of an engine and plenty of luxury features, look no further than the Opel Grandland X Ultimate!

The Opel Grandland X Ultimate has a list price of €41,595
The Opel Grandland X Ultimate has a list price of €41,595

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Opel Grandland X Ultimate 2.0
Price: 
€41,595 (Range from €28,395)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
177hp
Torque: 400Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.5 seconds
Top speed: 211km/h
Economy: 
4.9/100km
CO2 emissions: 
128g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


The new Volkswagen Touareg

2019 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI Review

The new Volkswagen Touareg
The new Volkswagen Touareg

The Volkswagen Touareg has built up quite a following in Ireland since it was first launched back in 2002. Now Volkswagen is back with a third generation of their flagship SUV, bringing the Touareg into a new era of technology and connectivity.

In engineering terms the new Volkswagen Touareg is more of a luxury liner than ever before, sharing underpinnings with high profile VW Group stablemates like the Bentley Bentayga, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, and even the Lamborghini Urus!

The new Touareg belongs to the €60k+ club - Irish pricing starts from €66,245 - but it certainly looks it too. It’s moderately wider and longer than its predecessor with a new stately design that lifts it into a new realm among premium SUVs. The Touareg is big and imposing but wears its bulk well.

What's it like inside the new Volkswagen Touareg?

The new Touareg is a technology showcase for the German brand with all the latest assistance systems, some of them appearing for the first time in a Volkswagen. The fit and the finish of the car is pristine with a high level of equipment and technology features on board including all the glamour of LED ambient lighting with 30 colours!

There’s also the option of the new Innovision Cockpit, a 12-inch digital instrument cluster that merges with the 15-inch TFT touchscreen of the new Discover Premium infotainment system. Communication, information, ventilation and entertainment is controlled from the screen, but I bemoan the loss of physical dials and switches for the ventilation controls. Still at least the screen is large enough to make it easier to find and tap what you need.

Impressive interior of the new Volkswagen Touareg!
Impressive interior of the new Volkswagen Touareg!

Volkswagen Ireland is selling the new Touareg in an entry trim and R-line Design, like the model tested (from €77,395). Equipment on the model tested included 20" alloys, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, park assist, parking sensors and rear camera, lane keeping system, panoramic sunroof, R-line styling kit, Dynaudio sound system, electrically folding trailer hitch, and a head-up display.

The Touareg is a strict five seater and there is no seven seat option. It provides lounge like accommodation for occupants, though the middle seat passenger will have to fight more for legroom. The luggage capacity is now up from 697 to 810 litres with the rear bench seat up.

On the road in the new Volkswagen Touareg

Despite its increased length and width, the new Volkswagen Touareg is actually 106 kg lighter than its predecessor because of mixed material construction of aluminium and high-tech steels. On the road the Touareg certainly feels lithe and agile while the ride quality is superb and the refinement of premium quality. There is predictable body roll in corners but the grip and movement of the car is confidence-inspiring.

The new Volkswagen Touareg is a strict five seater
The new Volkswagen Touareg is a strict five seater

This SUV feels every inch the luxury liner from behind the wheel and it’s helped by a range of powerful V6 engines. The Touareg launched with two 3.0 V6 diesels (231 and 286hp) and a V6 petrol will join shortly (340hp) while a plug-in hybrid is in development also. All models come with an eight-speed automatic Tiptronic gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

What's that engine like?

My test car had the 3.0 V6 TDI with 286hp. This is a powerful match for the Touareg with up to 600Nm of torque making 0-100 kmh in just 6.1 seconds! A V6 diesel is also a bit of a treat with its own unique soundtrack. Of course, it does influence running costs for the vehicle. Motor tax for this model is €750 per year and over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.7l/100km. Gosh we had fun though!

Volkswagen has taken their Touareg into a new era, integrating new technology and modern exterior design with the timeless premium values of comfort, refinement and copious power. SUVs, especially luxury ones, are a big deal these days not just in Europe but other markets also. The Touareg crowns a complete SUV range for Volkswagen of the T-ROC, Tiguan, Tiguan Allspace and upcoming T-CROSS. Volkswagen has put their best foot forward in their new generation flagship SUV. The Touareg delivers everything you could wish for from a five seat, luxury SUV.

The new Volkswagen Touareg
Volkswagen has brought the Touareg successfully into a new era of technology and connectivity

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen Touareg R-line Design 3.0TDI 4M 268hp DSG
Price:
 From €84,970 OTR (Range from €66,245)
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel
Power:
286 hp
Torque: 600 Nm
0-100km/h: 
6.1 seconds
Top speed: 235 kmh
Economy: 42.8mpg
CO2 emissions:
182 g/km
Motor tax: 
€750 per year

Rear seating in the new Volkswagen Touareg
Rear seating in the new Volkswagen Touareg

The 2019 Kia Sportage

2019 Kia Sportage 1.6 Diesel Review

The 2019 Kia Sportage
The 2019 Kia Sportage

Caroline drives the 2019 Kia Sportage!

The Kia Sportage took on a life of its own in Ireland with the launch of the third generation back in 2010. Accessibility and a stylish design ensured its presence on Irish roads in numbers.

The current generation of the Sportage was launched back in 2016, sporting (!) an even more sensuous design that always endeared the car to this reviewer. Coinciding with the Irish buyer's increasing appetite for SUVs, the Sportage is Kia’s bestselling model here and also one of Ireland's ten bestselling cars.

What's new in the 2019 Kia Sportage?

For Sportage fans, there’s now a new facelifted model on sale as we enter 2019, with some mild styling tweaks and changes to equipment and engines. Pricing starts from €29,815.

The familiar tiger nose grille is still there and the rather avantgarde lighting around the rear. In profile, the 2019 Kia Sportage is all but the same. Yet in fact there is a redesigned front bumper, grille and fog lamp housing. The facelift also introduces new full-LED headlamps with four-point LED daytime running lights on some models, and at the back there’s a new C-shaped LED light signature. The reversing lamp and reflectors are now integrated into the new rear bumper, which is finished with a flash of chrome across its base.

The interior of the 2019 Kia Sportage
The interior of the 2019 Kia Sportage

For all senses and purposes, the Kia Sportage is a very stylish SUV. There are also five new body colours, including the Blue Flame of the test car. The top of the range GT Line model also receives special cosmetic upgrades and 19″ alloys.

Inside the 2019 Kia Sportage

There is no change to dimensions and inside the Kia Sportage will seat five with decent accommodation all round. The Sportage is a very practical family vehicle with plenty of storage, rear seat space and a large square boot of 467 litres.

Inside the general layout of the cabin is retained but there’s a new steering wheel, revised driver instrument cluster, and the option of a new black-and-grey, two-tone upholstery. The ventilation and air conditioning controls have also been revised. Depending on trim level, the Kia Sportage comes equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system or a new ‘frameless’ 8.0-inch system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Material quality is generally good and the interior is easy to navigate and interact with.

The Kia Sportage range is very simple in that there is just one engine available, a new 1.6-litre diesel with 115 hp in manual versions or 136 hp in the automatic. This engine replaces the old 1.7-litre diesel and Kia claims that it is the cleanest diesel engine that they have ever made. There are K2, K3, K4 and GT Line trim levels with prices rising from €29,815 to €36,385 for a top of the range GT Line. Standard equipment includes 16″ alloys, roof rails, electric windows, 7″ touchscreen, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, rear parking sensors, air con and cruise control.

The 2019 Kia Sportage has a new 1.6-litre diesel engine
The 2019 Kia Sportage has a new 1.6-litre diesel engine

My test car was in the K4 trim and retails from €33,404. Equipment highlights included dual zone air con, leather upholstery, 19" alloys, wireless phone charger and a parking camera.

What's the Kia Sportage like to drive?

Mechanically nothing has changed under the skin during this update. On the road the Kia Sportage delivers a comfortable ride and competent handling that makes it a pleasant daily driver. The new diesel engine has plenty of torque to move the Sportage efficiently though it's still on the noisy side. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption was 6.1l/100km.

It’s very easy to see why the Kia Sportage is so popular with Irish buyers. Upgrades to this new model are small, but the new engine brings some improvements and in essence the Sportage is still a great SUV for its space, family friendly cabin and good road manners. In a crowded family SUV segment, the Sportage still manages to be stylish, practical and desirable.

The Kia Sportage is still a practical and desirable family SUV
The Kia Sportage is still a practical and desirable family SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia Sportage 1.6-litre CRDi K4
Price: 
€33,404 (Range from €29,815)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power:
115 hp
Torque: 280 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11.5 seconds
Top speed: 175 km/h
Economy: 
4.8-5.0l/100km
CO2 emissions:
126 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

Rear seating space in the Kia Sportage
Rear seating space in the Kia Sportage

The updated Renault Kadjar coming to Ireland in January 2019

Renault Kadjar First Drive Review

The updated Renault Kadjar coming to Ireland in January 2019
The updated Renault Kadjar coming to Ireland in January 2019

An updated Renault Kadjar is due to arrive in Ireland in early 2019 with new petrol and diesel engines and some refinements to the styling and interior finish. Caroline travelled to Sardinia to put the new Renault Kadjar to the test on and off road!

Styling

The Renault Kadjar has a new nose inspired by Renault’s other SUVs, the Captur and the Koleos, with a new C-shape light signature. The updates make a good-looking SUV even better. Some new trim elements and LED lights have also been added to the rear of the car. There are two new types of 17" and 19” alloy wheels and also new colours for the Kadjar range including Oural Green, Iron Blue and Highland Grey.

Interior

There have also been a few tweaks to the interior of the Renault Kadjar as part of this update. Redesigned seats now feature length adjustment on some models, double density foam to enhance comfort, and firmer side reinforcements for more support. New satin chrome trim has been added to the interior and the touchscreen for the infotainment system is now flush with the centre console. Some of the dials and switches have been changed too. The Kadjar’s interior is neat and inoffensive, with reasonably good material quality. The infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Practicality

The Renault Kadjar is a five seat SUV with good accommodation for this class of vehicle. Rear footwells are reasonably sized and there is a 472 litre boot, one of the largest in the segment.

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

Engines

For 2019, the Renault Kadjar now offers new engines that meet the latest emissions standards along with offering enhanced performance and lower fuel consumption. There’s a new four cylinder 1.3-litre petrol engine developed in collaboration with Daimler that comes with 140hp or 160hp (TCe 140 and TCe 160). Manual and automatic transmissions are available.

There’s also the 1.5-litre diesel (Blue dCi 115) engine that increases power by 5 hp and torque by 10 Nm compared with the previous-generation engine. Available with a manual transmission, this engine will be available at a later date with the dual-clutch EDC transmission. The will also be a higher powered Blue dCi 150 with a manual transmission. It will be available in 4x2 and 4x4 versions.

On the road

The Renault Kadjar offers a stoic drive for the segment - nothing remarkable but it’s comfortable and agile. Renault gave us a good variety of roads to test the new Kadjar, including some quite extensive off road tracks. The Kadjar coped admirably. I sampled the new TCe 140 manual and TCe petrol automatic, while I briefly drove the Blue dCi 150 through a short purpose-built off road course. The petrol engines perform well for the segment, with the TCe 40 particularly nice for low speed driving. The TCe 60 felt like a more mature and refined unit owing to that power boost, but the TCe 40 is likely to meet the needs of most Irish buyers.

The Renault Kadjar has a new engine range for 2019
The Renault Kadjar has a new engine range for 2019

Equipment

In Ireland there will be four trim levels: Play, Iconic, S-Edition and GT Line. Standard features will include 17-inch alloy wheels, seven-inch colour touchscreen with smartphone replication, automatic climate control, automatic wipers and lights, tinted windows, ambient lighting, front fog lights, LED daytime running lights, cruise control and automatic parking brake.

The Iconic model will add satellite navigation, handsfree keycard, rear parking camera, electric folding mirrors, lane departure warning, roof bars and synthetic leather steering wheel.

The S-Edition adds front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, LED front fog lights, panoramic sunroof, unique interior cloth with blue stitching, and light grey front and rear skid plates.

GT Line features will include 19-inch alloy wheels, AEBS braking system, full leather seats, blind spot warning, hands-free parking, heated driver’s seat, driver’s seat cushion extender and puddle lights.

Pricing

Renault Ireland will confirm pricing closer to launch but we expect a small price increase on the current range that starts from €25,490.

Rivals

The Renault Kadjar has many rivals including the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Renault chose Sardinia for the launch of the new Kadjar
Renault chose Sardinia for the launch of the new Kadjar

Verdict

Renault have refined the Kadjar a little more to keep up with rivals. The Renault Kadjar with its redesigned nose is now arguably even more stylish than before, while the interior of the car has been given a better fit and finish also. Underneath the Kadjar is still a practical and comfortable vehicle, with new engines meeting the latest emissions standards. Competition is of course fierce in the compact SUV segment but the Renault Kadjar brings some flair and passion with an utterly capable and enjoyable family vehicle.

Caroline Kidd