2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

2018 Citroen C4 Cactus Review

2018 Citroen C4 Cactus
The 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

Caroline drives the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus.

The Citroen C4 Cactus first went on sale in Ireland in 2014 at a time when crossovers were cool and hatchbacks were becoming less de rigeur.

In 2018 you could say we are still in this phase. Consider that Citroen used to market a C4 hatchback. Now that model has been discontinued and this second iteration of the Citroen C4 Cactus has been designed to plug the gap. As buyers continue to go gaga for crossovers, raised ride heights and SUV-inspired styling, the Citroen C4 Cactus seems like a car that could make a lot of people very happy.

What's new for the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus?

For 2018, Citroen has toned down the styling of the C4 Cactus. It's marketed now as a C-segment hatchback but still with plenty of crossover attitude, like last year's Citroen C3 supermini. The innovative 'Airbumps' are less prominent, and have been moved further down. Customisation packs still feature so there is the option to keep your C4 Cactus discreet or go more colourful.

The dimensions of the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus have not changed and once you slip inside, you are welcomed with a spacious airy feel to the cabin and wide, slim seats that add to a ‘lounge’ feel inside that characterises this current generation of Citroens. There are new 'Advanced Comfort®' seats and yes they are very comfortable and supportive!

The interior of the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus
The interior of the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

The interior trim features quite a few hard black plastics but the two-tone colour scheme on my 'Flair' test model added some pleasant distraction. A digital instrument panel displays your speed and other relevant information, but there is no rev counter. So if you are the type of person that likes to keep an eye on your revs while driving, then this is not the car for you!

On a practical note interior space in the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus remains competitive for this segment with rear accommodation more suitable for two rather than three. Weight-saving measures mean that there are still pop-out windows in the rear, but air conditioning is standard on all models. There’s a relatively high load lip but the boot makes up for it in outright space (358 litres), and a spare wheel included.

Pricing and equipment for the Citroen C4 Cactus

In Ireland there are three trim level: Touch, Feel and Flair. Pricing starts from €19,995 for an entry level Touch 1.2 petrol model or €22,195 for a diesel. Standard equipment on Touch models includes cruise control, 7” touchscreen, front fog lights, air con and LED daytime running lights.

Feel models start from €22,495 and add 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, and automatic air con.

Rear seating space in the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus
Rear seating space in the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

Flair models start from €24,495 and add an exterior colour pack, front parking sensors, Active Safety Brake, driver attention alert, speed sign recognition, lane departure warning and keyless entry/push button start.

The 1.2-litre turbo petrol is available in two outputs (110hp or 130hp), while the 1.6-litre diesel has 100hp. Manual or automatic gearboxes are available. Emissions are low with motor tax for the range from €180 to €200.

My test car was a 1.2-litre turbo petrol with 130hp, mated to a six speed manual gearbox. In Flair trim this model retails from €25,795.

What's the Citroen C4 Cactus like to drive?

On the road the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus is softly sprung and soaks up uneven road surfaces very well. The C4 Cactus is the brand’s first car in Europe to use a new suspension system with’ Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’. With the perky petrol power of the 1.2-litre turbo petrol the C4 Cactus is agile and fun to drive, while also scoring for efficiency and running costs. It's lighter than rivals and feels it on the road. It's stable but doesn't have the same hunkered down feel in corners as some of its hatchback rivals and the steering is on the light side. But the C4 Cactus is more charming for being smooth, comfortable and quiet on the move.

The Citroen C4 Cactus range starts from €19,995 in Ireland
The Citroen C4 Cactus range starts from €19,995 in Ireland

Citroen is currently revolutionising its line up with some very current and comfortable models. The new positioning of the Citroen C4 Cactus is spot on: pitched as a hatchback but offering something completely different to rivals with its distinct, crossover-like styling. The interior can feel a bit budget in places and dynamically it's not the sharpest among rivals. The petrol models are particularly pleasant and efficient, but the real charm of the C4 Cactus is that it's just so relaxing to drive and spend time in!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Citroen C4 Cactus Puretech 130 Flair
Price: 
€25,795 (Available from €19,995)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
130hp
Torque: 230Nm
0-100km/h: 
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 193km/h
Claimed Economy: 
4.8l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
110g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


The 2018 Jeep Renegade

Jeep Renegade 1.4 Petrol Review

The 2018 Jeep Renegade
The 2018 Jeep Renegade

Caroline drives the Jeep Renegade.

The Jeep Renegade arrived in Ireland in 2015 as Jeep’s first entry into the small SUV segment. The Renegade fitted the brief perfectly for the smallest Jeep of all: it's compact, boxy perfection bearing all the classic hallmarks of Jeep design. With pricing starting from €21,950, it's positioned among an ever-growing list of similarly sized crossovers and SUVs.

But on looks alone, the Jeep Renegade sure brings kudos to this segment. It's the boxy antithesis to all those curvy crossovers like the Renault Captur and Opel Mokka X. Jeep's seven-bar grille is prominent at the front framed by two round headlamps, while the squared-off wheel arches and boxy rear pay homage to the classic Jeep Wrangler.

Thankfully the Renegade is a much more market-friendly product than the Wrangler. The Renegade is the first Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) car to be jointly developed by Italian and American engineers and the first Jeep to be built in Europe.

This means that inside, there is a distinct European flavour to the fit and finish of the car and it's certainly a nice interior to interact with. The Renegade has seating for five but like a lot of its competitors, realistically four will be most comfortable and there is a 351 litre boot. Anyone looking for something larger, should consider the new Jeep Compass.

The interior of the 2018 Jeep Renegade
The interior of the 2018 Jeep Renegade

Equipment and engines for the Jeep Renegade

Jeep Ireland markets three trim levels: Sport, Longitude and Limited. Standard equipment on the entry Sport model includes the UconnectTM infotainment system with 5″ touchscreen, Bluetooth, 16-inch alloy wheels, multifunction steering wheel with audio controls and air conditioning.

Longitude models are available from €25,800 and add 17-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, front fog lamps, dual zone air conditioning, rear park distance control, cruise control, and UconnectTM 8.4-inch infotainment/navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Limited models start from €28,300 and add 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, forward collision and lane departure warning, front and rear park distance control, chrome exterior pack featuring chrome front grille, exterior mirrors, exhaust tailpipes and roof rails, and a premium 7″ TFT colour cluster display.

The engine line-up for Ireland includes a 1.6-litre e-torQ petrol (110hp), 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo petrol (140hp), 1.6-litre MultiJet diesel (95hp and 120hp) and 2.0-litre MultiJet (140hp). There are manual and automatic gearbox options. Renegade is front wheel drive as standard but 4x4 is also available.

On the road in the Jeep Renegade

My test car was a 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 140hp in Limited trim with a list price of €28,300. On the road the petrol Renegade is smooth and refined but feels a little bit gutless. The on the road driving manners are good, and though the steering is not the most communicative of units, the Renegade stays composed through corners and is fun to drive in its own way. The ride is a little on the firm side so the suspension picks up more of the changes in road surface.

The 2018 Jeep Renegade
The Jeep Renegade is the smallest SUV in Jeep's range, priced from €21,950 in Ireland

The Jeep Renegade can get very expensive for what is still a relatively compact vehicle so be careful with your engine and trim choice. Along with the larger Jeep Compass however, the Renegade is a step in the right direction for Jeep if they are to conquer European hearts and minds with competitive compact SUVs. It's impossible not to be enamoured by the Jeep Renegade's rugged charms and character!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Jeep Renegade 1.4 MultiAir Turbo 140hp FWD Limited
Price: 
€28,300 (Available from €21,950)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
140hp
Torque: 230Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 180km/h
Claimed Economy: 
6.0l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
140g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year


The 2018 Jeep Compass

Jeep Compass 1.6 Diesel Review

The 2018 Jeep Compass
The 2018 Jeep Compass

Caroline drives the new Jeep Compass.

Jeep has long been the maker of tough off-road vehicles and SUVs. As SUV sales continue to grow, you could say that there has never been a better time to market a Jeep. The brand is starting to get its house in order again with the launch of some market-friendly products like 2015’s compact Jeep Renegade and the new Jeep Compass.

Priced from €27,995, the new Jeep Compass goes squarely up against the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Opel Grandland X and Kia Sportage. These soft-roaders are hot property these days but on looks alone the Jeep Compass holds a lot of promise. The Compass is an ideal product for this market mixing modern kerb appeal with classic Jeep styling cues like the famous seven-bar grille and squared-off wheel arches.

New Jeep Compass is a very European SUV

Jeep's parent company is Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and the Compass is built in Europe. Slip inside and it's clear that while Jeep is still thought of as a very American brand, the new Compass is a very European SUV. The interior is lacking the character you might expect of a Jeep, but the build quality is good and there are soft touch materials to add aesthetic appeal. The Uconnect infotainment system is mounted in a trapezoidal shaped surround, a characteristic Jeep design cue, and there are plenty of other convenience features on board too.

The interior of the 2018 Jeep Compass
The interior of the 2018 Jeep Compass

On a practical note, the Compass has a very roomy cabin, particularly in the rear, and families will love the generous accommodation for three. My test car had a spare wheel that eats into the boot space a bit, though with a tyre repair kit, it’s a more competitive 432 litres.

The Jeep Compass range in Ireland

In Ireland there are three trim levels for the new Jeep Compass: Sport, Longitude and Limited. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED tail lights, leather steering wheel with audio controls, air conditioning, cruise control, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

Engine options for Ireland include a 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo petrol engine (140hp), a 1.6-litre MultiJet diesel (120hp) or a 2.0-litre MultiJet diesel with 140bhp or 170hp. A six speed manual comes as standard but there is an auto option. There are 4x4 models available too, though in standard form the Compass is front wheel drive.

Rear legroom in the Jeep Compass
There is good rear legroom in the Jeep Compass

My test car was a Jeep Compass 1.6-litre diesel in Limited trim with a list price of €34,695. This high spec model includes 18" alloys, front fog lamps, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, heated steering wheel, a 560W BeatsAudio infotainment/navigation system, dual zone air conditioning, reversing camera and parking sensors, power folding exterior mirrors, 8.4″ infotainment/navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry/go, blind spot monitoring with rear cross path detection, and parallel and perpendicular park assist.

Is it nice to drive?

On the road, the Jeep Compass does well with the 1.6-litre diesel and manual gearbox. The engine never gets too raucous and it has plenty of power and torque, while being efficient also. The steering and gearing all feels cohesive and the car handles confidently for a family SUV of this size. It fits the requirement for being comfortable though I did note some road noise at speed out on larger roads.

The Compass is a great addition to Jeep's portfolio, allowing the SUV manufacturer to tackle a very lucrative segment with a competitive product. While the Compass lacks some of the character of the smaller Renegade, it makes up for it with a more practical size, extra comfort and refinement.

Competition is fierce in this segment and there are a few major players. But the Jeep Compass feels like a bit more of a novelty with its roots. Welcome back Jeep!

The Jeep Compass is an alternative family SUV
The Jeep Compass is an alternative family SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Jeep Compass 1.6 Multijet 120hp FWD Limited
Price: 
€34,695 (Available from €27,995)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
120hp
Torque: 320Nm
0-100km/h: 
11 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Claimed Economy: 
4.4/100km
CO2 emissions:  
117g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Review

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class
The new Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Caroline drives the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

When Mercedes-Benz says that it’s going to build a pick-up, the world takes note. At first there seems something a little incongruous about one of the finest makers of luxury saloons and sports cars adding a pick-up to its line up – but it actually makes absolute sense. Think of the G-Wagen, Mercedes’ iconic boxy off-roader.

There’s also a partnership with Nissan to consider that makes the development of a pick-up a good move for Mercedes-Benz: the X-Class and Nissan's Navara pick-up are blood brothers, with Nissan providing underpinnings and engines.

Now that might rub some of the “glamour” off the Mercedes pick-up but hang on because Mercedes-Benz hasn’t just rebadged the X-Class: they also promise they’ve done some work to fit the more premium positioning of this new model.

And it’s to the extent that Mercedes-Benz is loftily billing the new X-Class as “the Mercedes among pick-ups”. Let's see shall we?

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class
The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Certainly the Mercedes star perched on the grille raises expectations to what is otherwise a relatively generic design. For the Irish market there are three trim lines – Pure, Progressive and Power – each impacting the styling somewhat. The Power models in particular are aimed at a more lifestyle crew and come with smarter body jewellery and LED headlamps.

How much does the Mercedes-Benz X-Class cost?

Pricing in Ireland for the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class starts at €39,950 but that’s for a 4x2 and I reckon it’s 4x4 y’all be wanting – they start from €42,300.

At launch the new X-Class is available with a Nissan engine - a 2.3-litre turbo diesel. The X220d has 163hp while the X250d uses a biturbo version putting out 190hp. They qualify for the commercial rate of motor tax of €333. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard with 7-speed automatic transmission available for the X250d 4MATIC models. There's also a V6 diesel on the way.

The new Mercedes-Benz X-Class has a payload of over 1 tonne and towing strength is up to 3.5 tonnes, giving it power to pull a trailer containing three horses or an 8 metre yacht!

The model I tested was a X220d 4MATIC Progressive retailing from €43,995. Standard equipment on this model includes 17" alloys, air con, Mercedes infotainment system with 7" screen, touchpad and rotary controller, Bluetooth, reversing camera, electric windows, front fog lamps, cruise control, Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class range starts from €39,950 in Ireland

Inside, there is seating for five and the cabin of the new X-Class has some very familiar Mercedes switchgear. But it's all set into a durable base of hard plastics so this still very much feels like a working vehicle. Yet the steering wheel and instrument dials look and feel of good quality so there is a pleasant layer of refinement to the cabin. The X-shaped air vents are another nice detail.

So what's the Mercedes-Benz X-Class like to drive?

Built on a solid ladder type steel frame, Mercedes has tuned the spring and damping system for superior comfort and invested in some extra sound deadening materials. On the road the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is surprisingly refined and comfortable once you get it up to speed. The X220d with 163bhp is coarse and is hardly fast but it does the job and settles down at cruising speeds.

The suspension can be a bit bouncy over rougher road surfaces but long distance cruising on larger roads is not a problem. The steering is predictably slow but once you get the hang of it the X-Class is far from useless when the road gets twisty.

The selectable 4MATIC with low-range gearing makes the Mercedes-Benz X-Class excellent for off-roading and there's also a hill descent mode. Ground clearance is also very good. I went off-road in the X-Class and I felt far more adventurous than I usually do!

Mercedes-Benz X-Class
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class has impressive on-road and off-road capability

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class certainly carries a premium over other more mainstream brands offering the same sort of working vehicle. The X-Class can't disguise its tough utilitarian roots so buyers expecting something akin to an E-Class will be disappointed! But for sure being a Mercedes-Benz means there is a refined element to the new X-Class, yet this is no show pony: it's the X-Class' capability on- and off-road that will truly endear it to owners.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz X-Class 220d 4MATIC Progressive
Price: 
€43,995 (Range from €39,950)
Engine: 2.3-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
163hp
Torque: 403Nm
0-100km/h: 
12.9 seconds
Top speed: 170km/h
Claimed Economy: 
7.6/100km
CO2 emissions:  
200g/km
Motor tax: 
€333 per year (commercial)


Caroline and the new Volvo XC40

2018 Volvo XC40 D4 AWD Review

Caroline and the new Volvo XC40
Caroline and the new Volvo XC40

Caroline drives the new Volvo XC40.

For many years, Volvo has been known as the maker of some fine family cars, particularly estate cars. But the brand has reinvented itself for a new era of the family vehicle - that of the SUV. In a relatively short space of time, Volvo has become a very fine maker of SUVs. After the success of the XC90 and the XC60, it’s now the turn of the new Volvo XC40.

The Volvo XC40 is the baby of the Volvo SUV family, a compact premium SUV with pricing starting from €36,450 in Ireland. The Volvo XC40 certainly holds some promise as it’s already been voted European Car of the Year 2018. It’s also the first model on Volvo Cars’ new modular vehicle architecture (CMA), which will underpin all other upcoming cars in the 40 Series, including fully electrified vehicles.

It's clear that Volvo has taken due care to create an entry level SUV that is desirable not just because it’s a Volvo, but because it’s the kind of vehicle you instantly feel at home in.

On the outside the Volvo XC40 has a confident presence not compromised by the constraints of being a compact vehicle. In fact the XC40 is probably the most distinct of the trio of Volvo SUVS – XC40, XC60 and XC90 – with plenty of visual chutzpah.

The new Volvo XC40
The new Volvo XC40 has plenty of visual chutzpah

What's it like inside the new Volvo XC40?

The interior of the Volvo XC40 manages to capture much of the style and quality of the larger Volvo SUVs, rather than feeling like a cheaper product whipped up for profit margins. Everything you can feel and see regularly like the steering wheel, dials, centre console and door panels all look and feel good, though you will find cheaper plastics in the lower extremities. But generally there is a decent feeling of plushness inside to justify the pricing. The infotainment system with 9" touchscreen is a particular highlight in its glossy casing with logical layout.

Like a lot of rivals the price for the new Volvo XC40 can get steep quickly but here’s the general price tiering for the XC40 trim range in Ireland: XC40 (from €36,450), Momentum (from €38,900), Inscription (from €42,900) and R-Design (from €47,394).

Standard equipment includes 17” alloys, LED headlights, rear parking camera and sensors, digital instrument panel, cruise control, climate control, City Safety (includes Pedestrian & Cyclist Detection & Front Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake), traffic sign recognition, Driver Alert Control with Lane Keeping Aid, 9” touchscreen and heated front seats.

There are a number of engines available for the new Volvo XC40. In terms of diesel there’s the D3 (150hp) and D4 (190hp). Petrol options include the T3 (156hp), T4 (190hp) and T5 (247hp). All wheel drive is standard on some models like D4 and T5, while the entry T3 model is a front wheel drive manual. Automatic gearboxes are also available.

The interior of the new Volvo XC40
The interior of the new Volvo XC40 is comfortable and plush

The Volvo XC40 is stylish and practical

D4 AWD models with 190hp start from €47,450, while my D4 AWD R-Design test car starts from €51,183. The model tested had a number of options and came in at over €60,000. Expensive indeed but there is value to be had in the range. The R-Design models do look particularly good with 18” alloys, dual exhaust pipes, glossy black window surround, gloss black mesh front grille and gloss black door mirrors. Inside there are contour sports seats with part leather upholstery, black headlining, perforated leather steering wheel, sports pedals and rear privacy glass.

The Volvo XC40 will seat five and is nicely sized for this class of vehicle with some decent head and legroom in the back for a compact SUV. The 432 litre boot is also competitive for the segment, if not huge.

On the road the Volvo XC40 truly impresses for comfort. The XC40 is beautifully softly sprung and though it’s not set up for the sportiest steering feel, the steering is fluid and controlled. The car slips in and out of corners with ease, hugging the road well despite the higher ride height when compared to a hatchback. There are a number of driving modes and the sportiest setting adds weight to the steering while adding a more urgent throttle response.

The D4 diesel is a 2.0-litre unit with 190bhp. It has plenty of power and the overall refinement of the engine is good. Combined with the automatic gearbox, this is a silky smooth mover.

All in all, the Volvo XC40 is an excellent compact premium SUV. It doesn’t come cheap but it gives its occupants the premium ‘hug’ while offering the sort of style and practicality so important in this segment.

The new Volvo XC40
The new Volvo XC40 is a stylish and practical compact SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volvo XC40 D4 AWD R-Design Automatic
Price: 
€51,183 (Available from €36,450)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
190hp
Torque: 400Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 210km/h
Claimed Economy: 
5.1/100km
CO2 emissions:  
131g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year


Skoda Karoq 1.5TSI

Skoda Karoq 1.5TSI Petrol Review

Skoda Karoq 1.5TSI
The new Skoda Karoq 1.5TSI

Caroline drives the new Skoda Karoq.

Following the successful launch of the new Skoda Kodiaq in 2017, you would think Skoda had been making SUVs for years. Now they’re back with the new Skoda Karoq, slotting in below the Kodiaq, but bringing a reassuring blend of ‘Skodaness’ to the ever popular compact SUV segment.

The new, five seat, Skoda Karoq is entering a competitive segment where the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tuscon currently occupy a lot of ground. Still Skoda is now a well-established car brand in Ireland, sitting just outside the country's top five bestselling brands. Cars like the Octavia and Superb record strong sales here, but the Karoq is where it’s at for buyers currently going gaga for a lofty driving position and SUV stance.

The new Skoda Karoq range kicks off at €27,715 in Ireland. There is a great choice of engines across the range and two well-stocked trim levels – Ambition and Style.

How big is the new Skoda Karoq?

In styling terms, the Karoq looks like a scaled down version of the Kodiaq. It's plain but inoffensive at the same time, and 17″ alloys and roof rails come as standard. Being a Skoda, the brand has done well to make good use of the space inside with large footwells, decent headroom and an excellent 521 litre boot. There are also plenty of Skoda’s famed ‘Simply Clever’ features on board including an umbrella under the passenger seat, ice scraper in the fuel cap door and cupholders that facilitate the easy opening of bottles due to a grippy surface.

Interior of the Skoda Karoq
The interior of the Skoda Karoq

The cabin has a pleasing, simple layout built around a touchscreen and the perceived quality in the places you touch and see regularly - like the steering wheel and door panels - is good. Entry level Ambition models come with an 8″ touchscreen, while Style models have a really cool 9.2″ screen with navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all models.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, Skoda Connect with driver assistance features like emergency call and remote access through an app, rear parking sensors, and chrome roof rails and window surrounds.

The Style trim adds 18” ‘Mytikas’ alloy wheels, 9.2” ‘Columbus’ infotainment system with navigation, rear view camera, DAB radio and keyless entry with a start/stop button. Skoda Connect on Style models is enhanced with more features like real time traffic information and RSS news feeds, fuel prices and weather alerts. Google Earth overlays for navigation are also featured.

What engines are available for the new Skoda Karoq?

About those engines. The Karoq range kicks off with the Volkswagen Group's now infamous new 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol with 115hp. There’s also a larger 1.5-litre TSI turbo petrol with 150bhp. Diesels come in the shape of 1.6 and 2.0 diesels. 4x4 is available on some models, as is the DSG automatic gearbox.

Skoda Karoq 1.5TSI review
The Skoda Karoq range starts from €27,715 in Ireland

My test car was a Skoda Karoq 1.5-litre TSI in Style trim with a 6-speed manual gearbox, and is available from €32,315. It’s a powerful petrol option for the Karoq with smoothness, flexibility and excellent refinement. On the road, the Karoq is a smooth and effortless drive with light controls. It’s by no means sporty but it’s agile and comfortable.

It’s fair to say Skoda may be new to the game of SUVs, but the brand already has momentum and notoriety in this segment. The new Karoq enhances Skoda’s range considerably offering a five seat, mid-size SUV option that takes all we love about the Kodiaq, but packaged in a smaller size. The Skoda Karoq is an unassuming blend of practicality, competitive pricing, and the sort of affable driving character that makes it a great accessory to daily life. The competition is stiff but the Karoq has a range of great engines borrowed from the Volkswagen Group. That should make it a strong fixture on Irish driveways.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Skoda Karoq 1.5-litre TSI Style
Price: 
€32,315 (Available from €27,715)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 250Nm
0-100km/h: 
8.4 seconds
Top speed: 204km/h
Claimed Economy: 
5.4/100km
CO2 emissions:  
123g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0TDI 4X4 DSG

Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0TDI 4x4 Review

Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0TDI 4X4 DSG
The new Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0TDI 4X4 DSG

Caroline reviews the Skoda Kodiaq Scout.

Following on from the successful 2017 launch of the new Skoda Kodiaq SUV, Skoda has enhanced the Kodiaq range further with the addition of an upscale Kodiaq Scout model, packed with features, style upgrades and 4x4 for when the going gets rough. All ‘Scouts’ will need 4x4 at some point, right?

If Skoda were a fashion label, the Scout line of models would be their Outdoors range. The Skoda Kodiaq Scout wears extra body jewellery in the form of special Scout off-road front and rear bumpers, a rear diffuser, Scout plaques on the front wings, silver roof rails and door mirrors, and unique 19" 'Crater' alloy wheels. The silver details heighten the Kodiaq's visual chutzpah considerably, going a long way to justify the €50,395 price tag bestowed upon my test model.

The Scout also features a 'rough road package' as standard that includes an engine guard and underbody protection.

Does the Skoda Kodiaq Scout make a good family SUV?

Inside the Skoda Kodiaq is naturally cavernous with 5 or 7 seat models available. It offers tonnes of space in row 2, while row 3 is more than good too. There's an optional electric tailgate (€508) that opens to reveal 720 litres in 5 seat mode, and 270 litres in 7 seat mode.

Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0TDI 4X4 DSG
The Skoda Kodiaq Scout is available with five or seven seats

The cabin of the Kodiaq Scout is well-finished with controls and an infotainment system that are pleasingly logical to use. The Columbus navigation system, has a 9.2-inch monitor, a Wi-Fi hotspot and an LTE module. An automatic Emergency Call function comes as standard.

The Scout features Alcantara-trimmed seats, wood-finish dashboard and door inserts, and a Scout plaque on the dashboard. There's also aluminium-trimmed pedals, LED ambient lighting, dual zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking camera and parking sensors.

Driving Mode Select comes as standard with Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual and Snow settings, which can be used to control the engine, automatic transmission, power steering and air conditioning.

In Ireland the Skoda Kodiaq Scout is available with a 1.4TSI petrol (150bhp) or the 2.0TDI diesel (150 or 190bhp). 4x4 is standard. The Kodiaq Scout range starts from €44,650 for a 5 seat 1.4-litre model. Depending on model, there's manual and automatic gearboxes available.

My test car was a 7 seat 2.0TDI 190bhp with DSG automatic gearbox for €50,395.

The interior of the Skoda Kodiaq Scout
The interior of the Skoda Kodiaq Scout

What's the Skoda Kodiaq Scout like to drive?

On the road the Skoda Kodiaq Scout is easy to drive and relatively agile for its size. It's smooth on the road and the DSG gearbox never misses a beat. The steering is light making it an effortless daily drive, and while it can’t be described as sporty, grip is good in the corners and body roll neatly contained. It's refined and comfortable on the move, and the 2.0TDI provides plenty of strength and flexibility.

The Skoda Kodiaq makes a great family car because it's spacious, comfortable and nice to drive. The Kodiaq Scout errs more on the expensive side, but the Scout makes a compelling case for itself. The test model with range topping 2.0-litre diesel, 4x4 and automatic gearbox leaves drivers wanting for nothing, while the car has a lot of visual clout and smart touches. Skoda just keeps raising the bar and it would be foolish to bypass an SUV as good as the Kodiaq Scout.

Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0TDI 4X4 DSG
Skoda Kodiaq Scout range is priced from €44,650 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0TDI 4X4 DSG 7 seats
Price: 
€50,395 (Scout available from €44,650)
Engine:  2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
190hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.1 seconds
Top speed: 192km/h
Claimed Economy: 
5.7/100km
CO2 emissions:  
149g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


Jaguar E-PACE

2018 Jaguar E-PACE D150 Review

Jaguar E-PACE
The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE

Caroline reviews the Jaguar E-PACE.

In 2017 Jaguar expanded their SUV range with the new Jaguar E-PACE. After the success of the Jaguar F-PACE, the E-PACE is a more compact SUV in the Jaguar range with pricing starting from €36,000. Indeed, the E-PACE is the most compact car Jaguar has ever built.

On the outside, Jaguar has done an excellent job to make a compact SUV that still has great proportions and stance, though the overall look is softer and less aggressive than the F-PACE. It's great to see Jaguar finally stepping into this segment, as the E-PACE looks like something truly different to German and Scandinavian rivals.

Inside, the cabin quality is mostly good with soft touch materials but there are cheaper parts to it also. The interior doesn't 'hug' you with the same plushness that you might find in a Jaguar saloon. Still, there's prestige in that steering wheel embossed with Jaguar logo and slipping into the E-PACE's leather seats is hardly undignified.

The cabin design is straightforward, with the new Jaguar InControl infotainment system adding the most interest to the cabin. The new 10-inch Touch Pro tablet allows you to touch, pinch, zoom and scroll through all your contacts, music, vehicle and navigation options, while the InControl smartphone app facilitates remote vehicle status checks and locking, as well as journey history.

The interior of the Jaguar E-PACE
The interior of the Jaguar E-PACE

The nature of this beast is compact and while there is seating for five, realistically the rear will be more comfortable for two. The boot is a good 577 litres with a flat sill for easy loading.

In Ireland, the Jaguar E-PACE is available in front wheel drive and all wheel drive, with the choice of 6-speed manual and 9-speed automatic gearboxes. Engine options include a 2.0-litre diesel with 150bhp, 180bhp or 240bhp or a 2.0-litre petrol with 250bhp or 300bhp.

In essence there are two trim ranges: E-PACE and a sportier styled E-PACE R-Dynamic range. Each comes in base trim, S, SE and HSE. Standard features include 17" alloys, electrically adjustable front seats, LED headlights, Touch Pro 10" infotainment, Emergency Braking, Rear Camera, Cruise Control and Speed Limiter, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Condition Monitor, and Front and Rear Parking Aid.

The model I was test driving was an E-PACE S D150 with 2.0-litre 150bhp diesel, all wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. The list price for this model is €53,450.

Equipment on this model includes 18” alloys, leather upholstery, Connect Pro Pack with Pro Services and WiFi Hotspot, Smartphone Pack with InControl Apps, Park Pack with 360° Parking Aid, Rear Traffic Monitor, Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Speed Limiter.

Jaguar E-PACE
The Jaguar E-PACE range starts from €36,000 in Ireland

What's the Jaguar E-PACE like to drive?

On the road, the E-PACE offers a nicely compliant ride, and good refinement and insulation for motorway driving. The handling is good, erring on the sporty side for the segment, though it's a long way off the athleticism and dynamism of the larger F-PACE.

The diesel engine pulls strongly, though the automatic gearbox can be clumsy to change gear at times and there is audible diesel gurgle at idle and around town. There are a number of different driving modes including a Dynamic mode, which adds a pleasant urgency to the acceleration.

The Jaguar E-PACE is a smart, compact SUV delivering Jaguar style along with the sort of refinement and comfort that comes with a premium motor. While some buyers may be disappointed to find that the E-PACE is lacking some of the dynamic appeal and quality that's so evident in Jaguars like the F-PACE and XF saloon, the E-PACE still has plenty to play with in this highly lucrative segment.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Jaguar E-PACE S 2.0D I4 150 PS AWD Auto
Price: 
€53,450 (Available from €36,000)
Engine:  2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 380Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 193km/h
Claimed Economy: 
5.6/100km
CO2 emissions:  
147g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


Renault Captur

2018 Renault Captur 1.5dCi Review

Renault Captur
The 2018 Renault Captur

Caroline reviews the 2018 Renault Captur.

The Renault Captur is one of Ireland’s favourite compact crossovers and since launch in Ireland in 2013, it’s established itself as a good value small car with mini-SUV appeal.

The Captur is Renault’s smallest SUV, with the Kadjar and Koleos completing Renault’s SUV range.

For 2018, Renault has given the Captur a mid-life refresh with the front-end getting some cosmetic treatment in the shape of a new lighting signature and revised grille. The 2018 Renault Captur is still ‘a good-looking bus’ with a colourful, fun presence and lots of style. The two-tone colour scheme is still a big selling point and new colours have been added for 2018.

The interior design has not changed much but Renault says it’s enhanced the material feel and quality. Hard plastics still prevail and some of the switchgear is starting to feel a bit dated against newer rivals. Still buyers will love the elevated driving position and large feel to the cabin upfront.

Interior of the Renault Captur
Interior of the Renault Captur

There is rear seating for three with reasonably well-sized footwells though like many of the rivals, it will be a tight squeeze for three widthways in the back. The boot is spacious for the class at 377 litres and is practical for easy loading.

Engines for Ireland include the 0.9-litre Tce turbo petrol (90hp) and 1.5-litre dCi diesel with 90hp or 110hp. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available.

My test car was a 1.5-litre dCi 110 in Signature X Nav trim. While the Captur range starts at €20,290 in Ireland, my test car retails at €25,490.

In Ireland there are four trim levels: Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Signature X Nav and a new trim, Signature S Nav. Standard equipment includes 16" alloy wheels with black inserts, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and speed limiter, Bluetooth® audio streaming and hands free calls, handsfree keycard with push button start/stop and manual air conditioning.

What's special about the Renault Captur Signature X Nav?

My Signature X Nav model has a particularly nice spec with the two tone look coming as standard (black roof with contrasting body colour - mine was Desert Orange if you're interested!).

There's also 17" alloy wheels with black inserts, automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, Renault R-LINK Multimedia system with 7" touchscreen, TomTom LIVE Satellite Navigation system and Android Auto™ compatible, reverse parking camera, automatic folding door mirrors, leather steering wheel, full LED front headlamps, and rear privacy glass.

Renault Captur
The Renault Captur range starts from €20,290 in Ireland

This model also includes Grip Xtend advanced traction control system and Mud & Snow tyres for extra peace of mind over challenging road surfaces.

Renault Captur 1.5dCi on the road

On the road, the 1.5-litre dCi is a trusty companion in the Renault Captur offering excellent power and economy. It’s reasonably refined and not too noisy. The controls are light making the Captur easy and effortless to drive - perfect for nifty manoeuvring in urban environments. It’s compact and agile, and though the steering is a bit woolly, the car holds itself well though corners.

The Renault Captur has been a real success story for Renault, especially in Ireland. The Captur is a reliable compact crossover recipe – high ride height buyers lover, compact, and good value. It’s not the sharpest or most fun to drive small SUV among its competitors but the Captur’s pricing, good looks and recognition among the Irish public keep it a strong competitor in its segment.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Captur 1.5dCi Signature X Nav
Price: 
€25,490 (Range from €20,290)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
110hp
Torque: 260Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.4 seconds
Top speed: 180km/h
Claimed Economy: 
3.9/100km
CO2 emissions:  
101g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


Citroen C3 Aircross

Citroen C3 Aircross 1.2 Petrol Review

Citroen C3 Aircross
The Citroen C3 Aircross

Caroline reviews the Citroen C3 Aircross.

The Citroen brand is undergoing a styling renaissance that began with the C4 Cactus in 2014 but really hit its stride with last year’s colourful Citroen C3 hatchback. At the end of 2017, Citroen entered the competitive B-SUV segment with the equally quirky Citroen C3 Aircross. This summer will see the launch of a new Citroen C4 Cactus.

The new Citroen C3 Aircross is based on the C3 hatchback and is a blend of curves, colour and plastic cladding making it a very distinct competitor in its segment. Other features include a raised ground clearance, elevated driving position, and front and rear skid plates.

There’s also a lot of choice to personalise the car. The bi-tone roof is available in three colours and can be complimented by one of four exterior colour packs that accentuate the light surrounds, door mirrors, wheel centre caps, rear quarter window and roof bars.

Citroen C3 Aircross
The interior of the Citroen C3 Aircross

Get comfortable in the Citroen C3 Aircross

The Citroen C3 Aircross is effectively the replacement for the C3 Picasso, which was pitched more as a compact MPV. For its compact size, the Citroen C3 Aircross is a very spacious and practical car. The interior has a unique ‘living room’ feel with soft but supportive seats in beautiful fabric and a fabric dash panel that would not look out of place on a designer sofa. It’s very chic and rear passenger space is generous too, while the boot has a low flat loading sill and 410 litres of space.

Infotainment is provided via a touchscreen and the ventilation controls are accessed from the screen too.

In Ireland the C3 Aircross is available in three trim levels: Touch (from €20,695), Feel (from €21,995) and Flair (from €25,095).

Standard equipment includes manual air con, rear parking sensors, four electric windows and lane departure warning. Equipment on Feel includes 16″ alloys, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and rear privacy glass, while Flair includes wireless phone charging, 17″ alloys, satellite navigation, keyless entry and start, and more safety equipment.

My test car was a 1.2-litre turbo petrol Flair model with 110hp. This model retails at €25,095. Other engine options include a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 82hp and a 1.6-litre diesel with 100hp.

Citroen C3 Aircross
The Citroen C3 Aircross range starts from €20,695 in Ireland

What's the Citroen C3 Aircross like to drive?

On the road, the C3 Aircross really shines with the 1.2-litre engine. It has a lovely spread of power and is good for town and motorway driving. The C3 Aircross is softly sprung and is comfortable for this class of vehicle. There is not much in the way of feel from the steering but the Citroen C3 Aircross can still hold its own through a series of corners. This model is cheap to run with motor tax of €200 per year. My fuel consumption was 6.3l/100km over a week of driving.

The Citroen C3 Aircross stands out in the compact crossover class for its quirky design and colourful presence. It’s not the sharpest handling small car, but it has some excellent petrol engines at its disposal giving an injection of fun behind the wheel. Comfort, practicality and a chic cabin ambience make the Citroen C3 Aircross a great accompaniment to modern life.

Citroen C3 Aircross
Citroen C3 Aircross: A colourful accompaniment to modern life!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Citroen C3 Aircross FLAIR PureTech 110
Price: 
€25,095 (Range from €20,695)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
110hp
Torque: 200Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.3 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Economy: 
5.0/100km
CO2 emissions:  
115g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year