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


The new Ford Edge ST-Line

Ford Edge ST-Line 2.0 TDCi Review

The new Ford Edge ST-Line
The new Ford Edge ST-Line

Caroline drives the Ford Edge ST-Line.

When it comes to building flagship SUVs, Ford knows how to bring out the big guns. While the smaller Ford Kuga is the runaway winner of Ford SUV sales in Ireland, it’s the presence and prestige of the Ford Edge that y’all probably wanting.

Yet with pricing starting at €47,995, the Edge is completely different territory to the Kuga and actually sizes up against some considerably tough premium competition. But Ford is not afraid to take on those Teutonic tanks; the Edge is clearly pitched as a luxury SUV for the well-heeled.

The Ford Edge has been on sale in North America since 2007, though the Edge is a brand new model for the Ford brand in Europe since 2016. The American SUV roots are very clear in the styling with the high bonnet, big grille and considerable bulk.

What's new in the Ford Edge ST-Line?

This year Ford Ireland added a sporty ST-Line (from €50,425) to the Edge line-up. Cosmetic updates include 20” alloy wheels, black grille and body kit, while inside there are part leather seats and aluminium pedals. Under the skin there is a sport suspension to sharpen up the driving dynamics.

The interior of the new Ford Edge ST-Line
The interior of the new Ford Edge ST-Line

The Ford Edge is a spacious five seat SUV with large footwells, a good wide rear bench and generous headroom all round. A handsfree power tailgate comes as standard and opens to reveal 600 litres of boot space.

Inside the cabin design and finish is similar to the likes of the Ford S-MAX MPV. The material quality is good for Ford and it all appears well-built; however it's lacking the plushness of premium rivals like the Jaguar F-PACE and BMW X3.

Still the cars are comfortable and well equipped with auto high beam, parking sensors, cruise control, touchscreen, Ford SYNC 3, dual zone climate control, auto lights and wipers, traffic sign recognition, and ambient lighting.

Diesel power for the Ford Edge

The Ford Edge is offered in Ireland with a choice of two 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engines, one with 180PS (manual) or a bi-turbo version with 210PS (automatic). Four wheel drive comes as standard. Fuel consumption for both models is rated at 5.8l/100 km, while motor tax accounts for €390 per year.

Rear seating in the Ford Edge
Rear seating in the Ford Edge

On the road the Ford Edge is swift, comfortable and powerful. The engine/gearbox combination is reasonably refined too and the cabin is well-insulated for peaceful long haul trips on the motorway. The automatic gearbox definitely makes light work of manouvering this machine. It's got nicely weighted steering and is tidy through corners; though there's no escaping some body roll.

Over a week of driving my fuel consumption was 8.1l/100 km so it is quite a thirsty beast.

What's the verdict?

For those already committed to the Ford brand and looking to upgrade, the Ford Edge is very desirable and does a good job of holding the throne of flagship SUV. The ST-Line trim level really suits the Ford Edge with attractive sporty styling and a stiffer suspension improving the handling without compromising ride comfort.

However the Edge does not exist in a vacuum and buyers with around €50,000 to spend on an SUV can choose from any number of premium SUVs with more prestigious badges and interiors. It's contentious territory but the Ford Edge does provide all the comfort and refinement of a high-end SUV, and is spacious and well-equipped.

Caroline Kidd

The Ford Edge ST-Line is available in Ireland from €50,425
The Ford Edge ST-Line is available in Ireland from €50,425

Model tested: Ford Edge ST-Line 2.0 TDCi 210hp
Price: 
€55,075 (Range from €47,995)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power:
210 hp
Torque: 450 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 211 km/h
Economy: 
5.8l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
152 g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


The new Honda CR-V is now on sale in Ireland

2018 Honda CR-V 1.5 Review

The new Honda CR-V is now on sale in Ireland
The new Honda CR-V is now on sale in Ireland

Caroline drives the 2018 Honda CR-V.

Following on from the arrival of the award-winning Honda Civic in 2017, Honda Ireland has recently welcomed the new Honda CR-V. Honda’s large family SUV first emerged back in the 1990s but with the explosion of SUVs in recent years, it’s just as relevant today as the Civic, if not more.

When this new generation of the car was revealed last year, the Honda CR-V grabbed headlines because Honda confirmed no more diesel for this model in this part of the world - it was to be the first CR-V to be exclusively powered by petrol and for the first time as a petrol electric hybrid.

The CR-V Hybrid will arrive in Ireland in early 2019, but 1.5-litre petrol launch models are already in Honda dealers. A few years ago one might balk at the idea of a petrol engine in a big bruiser like the CR-V, but with Honda’s skill in making great engines and a general shift in public consciousness, this CR-V looks well primed for the future.

What's new with the 2018 Honda CR-V?

Benchmarked against premium-brand products, Honda says that the new CR-V delivers improved ride quality, steering response, body control and refinement. The new CR-V is built on the same platform as the new Honda Civic and the slightly larger exterior proportions, longer wheelbase and wider stance give it a significantly larger interior over its predecessor. There’s also a wider, deeper boot with a longer load bay.

The interior of the 2018 Honda CR-V
The interior of the 2018 Honda CR-V

On the outside the styling has evolved again but the 2018 Honda CR-V retains a familiar silhouette and imposing physical presence. The wheelbase is longer and there are larger wheels and dual exhaust tailpipes for a sporty stance. LED headlamps come as standard and aerodynamics have also been improved using Honda's Active Shutter Grille system.

Inside, it’s immediately apparent that the CR-V has gone upmarket. The quality and build is rock solid but it’s the material quality and design that really elevates the 2018 Honda CR-V. It’s a sleek design with slick features like the screen integrated neatly into the centre stack. A soft touch panel sweeps across the width of the cabin and the wood effect trim is a very nice addition adding some contemporary coolness to the cabin.

Will it make a good family car?

Standard models are five seat but for the first time there is a seven seat option on petrol AWD models (from €40,300). The longer wheelbase means that there is more space inside and the CR-V is definitely one of the more spacious family SUVs of its ilk, with a good wide bench in the rear, large footwells and loads of headroom. In five seat models, there is a boot of 561 litres (472 litres in seven seat models). There are plenty of practical bins and spaces around the cabin to accommodate family life too.

The new Honda CR-V is available with five or seven seats
The new Honda CR-V is available with five or seven seats

The new CR-V is available in four trims in Ireland: Comfort, Lifestyle, Elegance and Executive. Standard equipment includes the Honda Sensing suite of safety features, 17″ alloys, climate control, auto lights, 5″ monitor audio with DAB digital radio and Bluetooth, and automatic high beam. The Lifestyle model on test added Honda Connect with 7″ touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 18″ alloys, parking sensors and a rear view camera.

Smooth, petrol power for the 2018 Honda CR-V

At launch the Honda CR-V comes to Ireland with a 1.5-litre VTEC turbo petrol engine with 173hp (manual) or 193hp (automatic). In February 2019, a hybrid version will arrive. The 1.5-litre 'Lifestyle' five seat model on test has a list price of €35,500.

The new Honda CR-V has a lighter and more rigid chassis with the wider body stance and longer wheelbase improving stability. On the road the 2018 Honda CR-V is a star performer with great comfort for all on board, while also delivering considerable prowess when the roads get twisty. For a large SUV, it's smooth to drive and neat to manouvre - it's not laboursome to drive, even with a manual gearbox.

The new Honda CR-V goes on sale in Ireland priced from €33,500
The new Honda CR-V goes on sale in Ireland priced from €33,500

The 1.5-litre petrol suits the short hops in and out of town while also settling down for a hushed cruise on the motorway. The engine has plenty of power, though diesel fans will miss the immediate shove of torque from low down in the rev range - the petrol engine builds its speed in a different way. Still it's very pleasant to drive around town.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 7.1l/100km, while the CR-V 1.5 qualifies for motor tax of €390 per year.

Would you buy it?

The 2018 Honda CR-V is a formidable family car with a spacious interior and high quality finish that make it highly desirable. While this time the CR-V launches with no diesel option, the 1.5-litre petrol makes particularly good sense for drivers that will spend a lot of time in suburbia. Next year's CR-V Hybrid promises to offer even more efficiency. A seven seat option for the first time should boost the CR-V's fortunes even more.

Caroline Kidd

The Honda CR-V is a formidable family SUV
The Honda CR-V is a formidable family SUV

Model tested: Honda CR-V 1.5 VTEC Turbo Lifestyle
Price: 
€35,500 (Range from €33,500)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power:
173 hp
Torque: 220 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 210 km/h
Economy: 
6.3l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
143 g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is on sale in Ireland from €41,995

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

The new Hyundai Santa Fe is on sale in Ireland from €41,995
The new Hyundai Santa Fe is on sale in Ireland from €41,995

Caroline drives the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a car that is well-liked by Irish families and the cornerstone of Hyundai’s SUV heritage since launch back in 2000. Over the years it’s undergone a few makeovers and now it’s back for generation four. With pricing starting from €41,995, and seven seats as standard, the Hyundai Santa Fe is the flagship SUV of the Hyundai brand. The Santa Fe rounds up an SUV range that includes the smaller Kona and Tucson, also big sellers in Ireland.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe has had some cosmetic work done, most noticeable at the front with an interpretation of the brand’s corporate face and signature ‘Cascading Grille’. This is a smart and fashionable SUV that wears its bulk very well.

How practical is the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe?

The new Santa Fe has a longer wheelbase and more interior room for occupants, housing three rows of seats. In the second row, legroom has been increased by 38 mm and the seat is 18 mm higher. Headroom in the third row has also been improved by 22 mm. Access to the third row has been improved with new one-touch folding seats. The rear bench split folds 60/40 and each side can be pushed back and forwards to make more space for those in row 3.

The interior of the new Hyundai Santa Fe
The interior of the new Hyundai Santa Fe

Boot space has also been increased to a massive 625 litres in five seat mode. There are also plenty of little storage places dotted around the cabin, ideal for a family car.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe has a new interior with a focus on streamlining the design and improving the perceived quality. The dashboard layout is simple and classy with plenty of soft touch materials for a more premium feel.

What are my options?

The line up for the car in Ireland is straightforward enough in that all models are powered by a 2.2-litre diesel, are available in front wheel drive or four wheel drive, with a manual or automatic gearbox.

Standard equipment (Comfort Plus) includes 17″ alloys, roof rails, heated leather steering wheel, automatic air con, drive mode select, electric windows, radio with 5″ screen, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, driver fatigue detection and lane keep assist.

The Hyundai Santa Fe offers seating for seven
The Hyundai Santa Fe offers seating for seven

Executive Plus (from €43,995) adds 18″ alloys, privacy glass, electric parking brake, heated leather seats, front fog lamps, rear ventilation controls, front parking sensors, 7″ screen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and a wireless phone charger.

Premium Plus (from €57,495) adds 19″ alloys, electric adjustable driver’s seat, panoramic sunroof, LED headlamps, front and rear LED fog lamps, 8″ screen, navigation, head-up display and active cruise control.

The model I was driving was a top of the range Hyundai Santa Fe 4WD Premium Plus Auto with a list price of €57,495. The 2.2-litre diesel available for the Santa Fe meets enhanced Euro 6 emissions standards and comes with a healthy 197 hp and a 6 speed manual gearbox (or the option of a new 8 speed automatic). This engine gives the Santa Fe plenty of pulling power, while over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.7l/100km. The front wheel drive models are the cheapest to tax at €390 per year.

Rear seating space in the Hyundai Santa Fe
Rear seating space in the Hyundai Santa Fe

Is the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe nice to drive?

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe has undergone significant suspension and steering development to improve responsiveness and vehicle stability, while also enhancing comfort and overall quietness.

On the road the Santa Fe is a competent drive, with the automatic gearbox adding a certain amount of ease to the driving experience. The engine does a confident job of keeping the Santa Fe up to pace, without getting too raucous. The Santa Fe is stable through the corners and far from being sporty, it does a commendable job of keeping driver and passengers comfortable on board.

In this new generation, the Hyundai Santa Fe has stepped up another gear. The Santa Fe’s well-established customer base are sure to love these sophisticated good looks, and well-appointed, spacious interior. The seven seat SUV market has ramped up in recent years with new entrants like the Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq. The Hyundai may command a higher starting price but the considerable cache of the Santa Fe name is sure to keep this high on the list of desirable seven seat SUVs.

Caroline Kidd

The Hyundai Santa Fe remains a highly desirable family SUV
The Hyundai Santa Fe remains a highly desirable family SUV

Model tested: Hyundai Santa Fe 4WD Premium Plus Auto
Price: 
€57,495 (Range from €41,995)
Engine: 2.2-litre turbo diesel
Power:
197 hp
Torque: 440 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.4 seconds
Top speed: 204 km/h
Economy: 
6.0l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
164 g/km
Motor tax: 
€570 per year


The new Dacia Duster is on sale in Ireland now

2018 Dacia Duster 1.5dCi Review

The new Dacia Duster is on sale in Ireland now
The new Dacia Duster is on sale in Ireland now

Caroline drives the 2018 Dacia Duster.

The Dacia Duster has been a bit of a runaway success in Ireland, with over 10,000 Dusters finding homes here since it first arrived in 2012. Not a bad performance for Dacia, a relatively new challenger brand to the Irish market. It’s fair to say Irish buyers have embraced the Dacia Duster’s ‘no nonsense’ approach to motoring and accepted this budget SUV into the fold.

The next generation of the Dacia Duster has just arrived in Ireland so I was keen to secure a test drive to see what makes the Duster so popular.

For a start there is the price. The range kicks off at supermini money - €17,390 for a compact SUV. That certainly sparks interest. Diesels are available from €18,590. Yes, this is ‘shockingly affordable’ motoring.

Duster's got rugged, boyish charm

Part of the Dacia Duster’s charm I believe also has to be its styling. Though it occupies the compact area of the market, the Duster is not small on attitude. It has the presence of a tough little off-roader and whether intentional or not, Dacia has created something quite distinct in the segment while rivals like the Renault Captur and SEAT Arona go for a softer look.

Now don't get me wrong, Dacia has taken some of the angles off this new Duster and it’s looking less square. All the body panels are new, but it’s a gentle evolution of styling that enhances the Duster’s rugged appeal and will certainly not isolate fans of the first generation of the vehicle.

The interior of the 2018 Dacia Duster
The interior of the 2018 Dacia Duster

Inside the 2018 Dacia Duster

Hop inside and you will be greeted with swathes of hard grey plastic that allow the Duster to compete at such a low entry price. The dashboard and interior have been revised, though it remains plain but seemingly well screwed together. There’s a multimedia touchscreen display in the centre of the dash, though the graphics do look quite dated. The seats have been completely redesigned with denser foam for improved comfort and support, and the driver enjoys the same high seating position as the previous car.

In Ireland there are three trim levels: Essential, Comfort and Prestige. Standard features include LED daytime running lights, Emergency Brake Assist, 16-inch steel wheels and DAB radio with steering-column mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity. Comfort trim  (from €19,790) adds 16-inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, leather steering wheel, rear parking camera and sensors, electric front and rear windows and the MediaNav 7" touchscreen multimedia system. The Prestige version (from €21,290) adds 17-inch alloy wheels, multi-view camera, blind spot warning, climate control and keyless entry.

Will the Duster fit my gear?

Interior space in the Duster is good for this size of vehicle. The footwells in the rear are of a good size, and there’s plenty of headroom. In terms of the width of the rear bench, two will be more comfortable than three, which is similar to competitors. The boot is also very usable with a practical shape and a generous capacity of 445 litres.

The Dacia Duster is available from €17,390
The Dacia Duster is available from €17,390

In terms of engines, Dacia Ireland is now offering the Duster with a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, along with the well proven 1.5dCi. Both engines offer 115hp, though the diesel has more torque and is the best for economy in the range. Standard models are front wheel drive, though 4x4 is available from €20,590 with the diesel engine from January 2019.

What's the 2018 Dacia Duster like on the road?

The model I tested was a front wheel drive Dacia Duster Prestige 1.5 dCi with a list price of €22,490. With that pricing it’s still quite the bargain for a diesel compact SUV. Over a few days of driving my fuel consumption was 6.1 litres per 100kms and motor tax for this model is €200 per year.

On the road, the diesel has plenty of power to move the Duster efficiently and is reasonably refined too. Dacia has improved the sound insulation in the cabin and the 2018 Duster also comes with a new electric power steering that reduces the effort required to turn the wheel by 35 per cent.

The steering is very light, so it’s great for parking and manoeuvring, but contributes to a more vague feel at speed. Dynamically the Duster could be sharper and more refined, but on the plus side it's comfortable and perfectly acceptable considering the price point of the vehicle.

Dacia has improved the packaging of the Duster considerably with a smarter exterior, more equipment, and improved comfort and refinement. The interior finish and the driving experience hint at the Duster’s more budget positioning in the market. But this Duster is a likable and very affordable compact SUV with an attitude far bigger than its humble beginnings!

The Dacia Duster offers great value in the compact SUV segment
The Dacia Duster offers great value in the compact SUV segment

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Dacia Duster Prestige Blue dCi 115 4x2
Price: 
€22,490 (Range from €17,390)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power:
115hp
Torque: 260 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 178 km/h
Economy: 
4.4/100km
CO2 emissions: 
115 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The 2018 Mazda CX-3

2018 Mazda CX-3 First Drive Review

The 2018 Mazda CX-3
The 2018 Mazda CX-3

The Mazda CX-3 was launched in Ireland back in 2015 as Mazda’s new challenger in the ever-growing compact crossover/SUV class. Now in 2018, Mazda is launching an updated version of the CX-3 citing increased quality, refinement and elegance. There’s also a new 1.8-litre diesel engine introduced for the Mazda CX-3. Priced from €21,295, the updated Mazda CX-3 goes on sale in Ireland from 1st October. I travelled with Mazda Ireland to Malaga, Spain, to find out more about this new model ahead of its Irish arrival.

Styling

The CX-3 has a neat, compact presence. Exterior updates are minimal for the new Mazda CX-3, though if you look closely the grille now has fins comprising two lines of differing thickness! The fog lamp bezels, pillar garnishes and side garnish mouldings are now finished in gloss black. The rear combination lamps now have a ring shape combined with horizontal lines. There are also new alloy wheel designs and two new colours - Soul Red Crystal and Machine Grey.

Interior

The interior of the Mazda CX-3  has an upmarket feel with good quality materials used for the segment and an attractive horizontal design punctuated with circular air vents that now have a red surround. The centre console has been redesigned a little around a new electronic parking brake and the Mazda Multimedia Commander has been moved forward for improved usability. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available and can be retrofitted. The front seats now have high-damping urethane foam cushions that improve comfort and support, while the rear seats now feature a central armrest with built-in cup holders.

Practicality

The dimensions have not changed during this update. The Mazda CX-3 has seating for five, though the rear legroom is on the small side. Boot space is about average for the class at 350 litres and there was no problem fitting two small suitcases.

The interior of the 2018 Mazda CX-3
The interior of the 2018 Mazda CX-3

Engines

In Ireland, the updated Mazda CX-3 will be available with a new 1.8-litre diesel engine with 115hp and the 2.0-litre petrol with 121hp. Both of the 2018 CX-3’s engines are homologated according to the requirements of the new WLTP/RDE test cycle and meet Euro 6d temp emissions standards. A manual transmission comes as standard though an automatic gearbox is offered with the 2.0-litre petrol. Front wheel drive models are available in Ireland; there is no all wheel drive option.

At the launch, I sampled both engines. The petrol engine is smooth and quiet, with adequate power for the CX-3. The 1.8-litre diesel is more economical, with plenty of power though it gets noisier under hard acceleration.

On the road

For this update, Mazda engineers have focused on enhanced handling and improved ride comfort. There are new coil springs and dampers, while the front anti-roll bar has also been changed. The electric power steering has also been recalibrated for more consistent weight transfer and improved shock absorption.

On the road, the Mazda CX-3 is an agile and composed drive. There is some audible wind noise reaching the cabin from around the wing mirrors, but comfort and refinement is generally good for this segment. The steering is light but precise, and it is one of the most engaging cars in its class with a sporty, hunkered down feel on the road.

Equipment

There will be four trim levels for the updated Mazda CX-3 in Ireland: SE, Executive, Executive SE and GT. Standard equipment includes Emergency Brake Assist, keyless entry, electric windows and air con. Executive adds 16” alloys, cruise control, 7” touchscreen, Bluetooth and push button start. Executive SE adds LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights, Lane Departure Warning, rain sensing wipers, automatic air con, Advanced Smart City Brake Support, heated front seats, rear parking sensors and automatic headlights. GT adds 18” alloys, heated steering wheel, half leatherette upholstery, rear view camera, front parking sensors, BOSE sound system and chrome effect front bumper and side trim garnishes.

Pricing

The updated Mazda CX-3 range starts at €21,295 in Ireland for the 2.0-litre petrol SE. Executive models start from €22,770, Executive SE models from €24,770 and GT models from €26,570. Diesels start from €24,770 in Executive trim.

The updated Mazda CX-3 will go on sale in Ireland in October
The updated Mazda CX-3 will go on sale in Ireland in October

Rivals

Competition for the updated Mazda CX-3 includes the Peugeot 2008, Volkswagen T-ROC, SEAT Arona and Hyundai Kona.

Verdict

The Mazda CX-3 remains a very stylish compact crossover. Refinements to the interior and driving character are subtle, but enhance what is already an upmarket choice in this segment. The CX-3 is not the most spacious among its competitors but it offers a mature driving character and a stylish cabin that makes it very desirable!

Caroline Kidd


The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace Review

The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Caroline drives the new Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

Volkswagen’s SUV range has never looked so good. While the Volkswagen Tiguan continues to sell well here in Ireland, it’s been joined in 2018 by a brand new Volkswagen T-ROC compact crossover, and the new Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace. Crowning Volkswagen’s SUV range is of course the new Volkswagen Touareg that arrived in Ireland over the summer.

More seats and space for the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Available with five seats (from €34,050) or seven (add €770), the new Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is larger than the Volkswagen Tiguan with the all-important option of seven seats. The Tiguan and Tiguan Allspace were developed at the same time so there are many similarities between these two vehicles. But visually the Tiguan Allspace has a bit more presence. The bonnet has been raised up at the front and the rear doors of the Tiguan Allspace are longer to adapt the proportions to the longer overall length of the vehicle.

Inside, there's a simple dashboard design and the quality of the materials used throughout is indisputable. Touchscreen infotainment systems are available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, while top of the range models get a very impressive digital driver information display.

The interior of the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
The interior of the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace Highline

There are three trim levels - Trendline, Comfortline and Highline - with standard equipment including 17" alloys, air conditioning, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and lane assist. Mid-range Comfortline models (from €38,895) add some more styling features, adaptive cruise control, front fog lights, tri zone climate control, 8" touchscreen with App Connect and voice control, and parking sensors. Highline models (from €42,050) feature 18" alloys, velour seat trim, LED headlights, heated front seats and a rear view parking camera, among other equipment.

How big is the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace inside?

The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace has a large and flexible interior with optional '5+2' seating. There is plenty of headroom all round and the rear footwells are large. The second row seats split fold 60/40 and can be moved forward and back to give more wriggle room to those in row 3. In seven seat mode, Volkswagen has managed to eke out 230 litres of boot space, while in five seat mode there is about 700 litres of space! When not in use the two extra seats in seven seat models fold neatly into the boot floor.

Volkswagen is offering the Tiguan Allspace with a 1.4-litre TSI 150hp petrol engine (Trendline only) and with a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp, 190hp or 240hp. The diesel range starts from €36,350. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, as is '4MOTION' all wheel drive. My test car was a seven seat Highline model with a 2.0-litre TDI 150bhp diesel, DSG automatic gearbox and 4MOTION all wheel drive retailing from €46,895.

Rear legroom in the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
Rear legroom in the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Does it drive well?

On the road, the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is everything you could want from a large family car - agile and easy to manouvre despite the large dimensions, comfortable and refined. It's not sporty, but controlled and predictable in corners. The 2.0TDI with 150hp offers adequate performance and over a week of driving I averaged 6.5l/100km. Motor tax on this all wheel drive, automatic model is set at €390 per year.

With the Volkswagen Tiguan already proving to be a hit in Ireland, buyers looking for more space or seats to accommodate a growing family can be pointed in the direction of the Tiguan Allspace. Rather than feeling like an afterthought, the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace has been designed with care so it's stylish, premium and huge! There's competition within the Volkswagen Group's own stable with the equally likable Skoda Kodiaq large SUV, but the Tiguan Allspace's quality, style and finish will keep it highly desirable among aspirational families.

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is available as a five or seven seat SUV

Model tested: Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace Highline 2.0 TDI 150hp 4Motion DSG (7 seats)
Price: 
€47,665 (Range starts at €34,050)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.9 seconds
Top speed: 198km/h
Economy: 
5.9l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
153g/km
Motor tax:
€390 per year

Caroline Kidd


The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review

The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Caroline drives the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

Mitsubishi has a lot of respect in the Irish market for building tough off-roaders and SUVs like the Pajero and Outlander. With ever-growing demand for stylish SUVs that are more at home on the school run than on the farm, the brand has responded with the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross mid-size SUV. Pricing starts from €27,900 in Ireland, placing the Eclipse Cross firmly among the Tuscon and Qashqai set.

There is no doubt that the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is an exciting new model for the brand, with Mitsubishi citing it as the first of a new generation of cars for them that are 'more capable and desirable'. Certainly in the metal the Eclipse Cross has a lot of presence and Mitsubishi is pitching it as an SUV coupé. The styling is shown off to particular good effect in Diamond Red Metallic, a special new red paint developed for the Eclipse Cross and applied using a new chromatic painting process.

The ride height might be high like an SUV but inside Mitsubishi has managed to package something of a sporty, coupé-like feel. The centre tunnel is quite high for an SUV and the steering wheel sits more low so there is a pleasant, snug feel to the cabin. Mitsubishi describes the interior as ‘cockpit style’ and the quality is a step up for Mitsubishi with some nice soft touch materials and stylish piano black and silver trim. There is a 7-inch touchscreen display on the dashboard that pairs seamlessly to smartphones with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, combined with a new touchpad controller.

The interior of the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
The interior of the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

How practical is the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross?

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross might be a looker but it retains the sort of practicality that should please family buyers. The rear legroom is excellent and even in width the Eclipse Cross seems generously proportioned for this class of vehicle. The rear seats can also slide and recline. The boot opens to reveal 411 litres with the five seats in their normal position so that's a bit on the small side compared to some rivals.

There are three trim levels for Ireland: Invite (from €27,900), Intense (from €29,900) and Instyle (from €34,900). The entry model is well-equipped including 16" alloy wheels, reversing camera, touchscreen, automatic air conditioning, four electric windows,  cruise control, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, auto high beam and front fog lamps.

The top of the range Instyle model shown here was bursting with equipment including notables like full leather upholstery, head-up display , premium stereo, blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is pitched as a stylish SUV-coupé
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is pitched as a stylish SUV-coupé

Entertaining petrol power for Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

At launch, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is powered by an all-new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 163hp and 250Nm of torque, though a diesel is on the way in 2019. A six-speed manual comes as standard but a CVT automatic is also available. The current range is front wheel drive only but Mitsubishi Ireland says that four wheel drive will be available.

On the road the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross gets perky performance from its 1.5-litre petrol engine. With 163hp it's got a lot more power than what some of the more mainstream rivals are offering in their petrol ranges, but the running costs are a bit steeper too: motor tax is €390 per year and my fuel consumption was 7l/100km over a week of driving. But this engine makes easy and sometimes entertaining progress in the Eclipse Cross.

Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

What's the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross like on the road?

Refinement is good with extensive sound insulation within the body panels as well as the use of soundproof glazing and a floor silencer material. Mitsubishi has tuned the suspension and steering for a more engaging drive and the results are a mixed bag. It's fine by class standards with direct steering and reasonable composure through bends, but there's not enough feedback in the steering or willingness to hunker down in corners to fully deliver on the promise of a sporty SUV. While the car is generally comfortable on the smooth stuff, the ride can be bumpy in town.

The distinctive SUV coupé style of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and its sporty stance will certainly draw attention to this one, while Mitsubishi has managed to capture some uniqueness in the interior too. Families will love the spacious interior, while the engine is a powerful match for the car. Equipment levels are high too with Mitsubishi's eight year warranty for peace of mind.

Not delivering fully on the sporty driving dynamics seems like a missed opportunity as the Eclipse Cross is a genuinely well-executed idea of an SUV-coupé among more vanilla competitors. Regardless, the Eclipse Cross is a great addition to Mitsubishi's portfolio and the bold, stylish design is a mark of great things to come from the Japanese brand.

The Mistubishi Eclipse Corss is available from €27,995 in Ireland
The Mistubishi Eclipse Corss is available from €27,995 in Ireland

Model tested: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Instyle 1.5L Turbo
Price: 
€34,900 (Range starts at €27,900)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
163hp
Torque: 250Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.3 seconds
Top speed: 205km/h
Economy: 
6.6l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
151g/km
Motor tax:
€390 per year

Caroline Kidd