ssangyong tivoli car review

SsangYong Tivoli Review

SsangYong relaunched in Ireland about three years ago with a line of SUVs and commercial vehicles, but the arrival of the Tivoli compact crossover finally gives the Korean brand a model with more mainstream appeal.

The first thing to note about the Tivoli is that it is the most car-like of the current SsangYong range. Its closest relative would be the Korando SUV, but the Tivoli is less elevated and the look is more stylish and urban. With the addition of a diesel engine to the range, the Tivoli is ready for battle in the compact crossover class with refreshingly distinctive looks.

It may be deemed a ‘compact’ crossover, but the Tivoli is anything but small inside. Rear head and legroom is really good with a low, flat transmission tunnel meaning that even the middle passenger won’t feel short-changed on space. The boot is big at 423 litres but you will be pulling out heavier items over a high load lip.

There are a lot of hard plastics in the cabin but different colours, materials and textures are mixed well so altogether it has an inviting look. There are elements of style to it: the silver rimmed instrument dials with pretty coloured illumination, and gloss black on the centre console and door finishes. It does take a bit of time to navigate all the little buttons on the centre console, and they are not the most tactile to operate. A touchscreen infotainment system on the EL test car completes a modern look.

ssangyong tivoli car review
Interior of the SsangYong Tivoli

Since the Tivoli launched here in summer 2015, a new 1.6-litre diesel with 115bhp has joined the 1.6-litre (128bhp) petrol, and it's a far more appropriate engine for the Irish market. The diesel does not have the most subdued engine note and is noisy under hard acceleration, but it’s quick and returns good economy of up to 67mpg, with pocket-friendly motor tax of €190 per year.

The Tivoli feels very car-like on the road and between a heavy punch of torque from the diesel engine, good feedback coming through the steering, and composure through bends, the Tivoli is a good drive. While it’s comfortable on smooth roads, it does bounce and jiggle over rougher surfaces and holes in the road (this is Ireland after all!). The steering actually has three different settings – Normal, Comfort and Sport – and is noticeably heavier in Sport mode, which is ideal for a spirited drive on some of our finest country roads. Comfort lightens up the steering for easy low speed manoeuvres.

Pricing starts at €19,995 for petrol Tivolis, and diesels start at a very reasonable €21,495, with two trim levels, ES and EL. There is quite a price hike between trim levels though the spec on ES will likely satisfy a lot of people with equipment including 16” alloy wheels, air con, Bluetooth, cruise control, and front fog lamps.

EL models are extremely well equipt, including touchscreen, parking sensors, reversing camera, heated front seats, 18” alloys, leather seats, dual zone climate control, auto lights and wipers, and roof rails. There are manual and automatic gearboxes available for the Tivoli and an all-wheel-drive option from €24,995.

ssangyong tivoli car review
SsangYong Tivoli: Works well as a diesel compact crossover, good to drive and nice to look at too!

SsangYong Ireland has the ideal product now to go more mainstream as the Tivoli is very stylish and distinct, but with the easy driving, car-like qualities that appeal to the crossover buyer. The engine could be a bit more refined and the ride a bit more accommodating to the worst of Irish roads, but the Tivoli’s good qualities outweigh any less than perfect ones!

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: SsangYong Tivoli EL 1.6L Diesel 2WD
Price: 
€24,995
Engine: 
1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115bhp
0-100km/h:
9.5 seconds
Economy: 
67.3mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
109g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year


opel mokka irish review

Opel Mokka 1.6CDTi Review

Scroll down to read the review or watch my Mokka video review!

The compact crossover has had a meteoric rise to fame and in late 2012 Opel’s offering arrived smack bang in the middle of the crossover boom. The Opel Mokka is one of the more ruggedly styled among this new breed of lifestyle vehicle and the addition in 2015 of a new diesel engine means that the Mokka is definitely worth a look if you fancy something small, compact but tough-looking.

For a small car, it really does look like a proper off-roader with roof bars and lashings of plastic cladding. Whereas some so-called crossovers are more similar to a slightly elevated estate car, the Mokka feels significantly higher so you will certainly feel lofty from the driver’s seat.

S2180085
The Opel Mokka is one of the more ruggedly styled of this new breed of lifestyle vehicle

Opels of late, like the new Corsa and Astra, have significantly improved interiors over their previous incarnations, but the Mokka's interior layout is based on one of Opel’s older dash designs so it still has the button-heavy, cluttered-look to the centre console. In its favour it’s all well-made and durable, and the steering wheel mounted audio controls fitted as standard simplify things a great deal.

A compact crossover must be practical and the Mokka packs in a 362 litre boot with a flat loading sill and practical square shape. The space in the cabin is good and a low transmission tunnel doesn’t eat too much into rear legroom.

opel mokka irish review
Opel Mokka: A 1.6-litre CDTi diesel engine replaces the old 1.7-litre CDTi

Rugged style aside, these compact crossovers are designed for on the road, not off it, though if you must have it Opel will sell you a Mokka with four wheel drive. Opel’s new 1.6-litre CDTi ‘whisper diesel’ replaces the old 1.7-litre CDTi. If you’re more of an urban driver, there are two petrol engines to choose from: a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre (115bhp) or a more powerful and efficient 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine with 140bhp.

The 1.6-litre diesel has 136bhp at its disposal, which is more than enough power for a small car like this. It makes the Mokka feel really nippy (0-100kmh is 9.9 seconds, not bad for a crossover!) and official figures say it will return up to 66mpg. It’s also well-suited to motorway trips. It is on the noisy side however, not quite living up to the whisper diesel moniker but that’s more obvious when stopping/starting around town and in low speed manoeuvres. It's much more refined when you’re cruising out of town.

opel mokka irish review
Opel Mokka: The cabin is well-made but is looking a bit old-fashioned compared to newer rivals

In terms of ride and handling, I had no complaints about comfort and it copes reasonably well with some of our more roughly-surfaced roads. The extra height means that there is a bit of roll in the corners if you take them too fast, but the car has good grip and the steering is good at communicating what the front wheels are doing, so you can still cover ground quite quickly and safely in the Mokka.

In terms of pricing, the entry price seems reasonable for the 1.6-litre Mokka at €20,995 for a basic ‘S’ model with air con and cruise control. But that’s an older engine with modest power and performance. Far more attractive is the likes of the 1.6CDTi in SC trim at €25,495, which adds alloy wheels, parking sensors and Bluetooth. The top of the range SE I was driving has a hefty list price of €28,245, though it has all the equipment you could ever need with additional navigation, heated seats and steering wheel, leather seat covers, rear privacy glass and Opel OnStar for 2016 models. Availability of the 1.4 turbo petrol opens up at SC grade, with a list price of €23,495.

The Opel Mokka has got the looks and attitude of a larger SUV, but the nimbleness and agility of a small car. It’s not the cheapest compact crossover out there but the diesel model tested here really does major on power, and combined with good driving dynamics, the Opel Mokka could be the fun little crossover you’ve been looking for.

opel mokka irish review
Opel Mokka: A fun, little crossover that benefits greatly from a new diesel engine

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Opel Mokka SE 1.6CDTi
Price: 
€28,245 (Range starts at €20,995)
Engine: 
1.6-litre diesel
Power: 
136bhp
0-100km/h:  
9.9 seconds
Economy: 
65.7mpg
CO2 emissions:  
114g/km
Tax band: 
A4 (€200 per year)


Renault Kadjar car review ireland

Renault Kadjar 1.6 dCi 130bhp Review

Renault Kadjar car review ireland
The Renault Kadjar: A new entrant to the large crossover segment

Read my review or watch the video review!

The Kadjar is Renault’s new C-segment crossover but it’s got a secret – it shares a platform with the popular Nissan Qashqai. But rather than just producing a Qashqai clone, Renault has tried to give Kadjar its own individual identity.  For a start, the Kadjar blends a rugged SUV look with the voluptuous curves we’ve seen already on Renault’s smaller crossover, the Captur.

Inside, it’s all very pleasant and comfortable with seating for five and a large boot (472 litres) that’s easy to access and load. The cabin is a strong point for the Kadjar. The materials all feel good to touch and they look good too. There’s nothing cheap or nasty about it.  The design is simple and uncluttered, and all cars come as standard with a digital driver information display with some snazzy blue graphics.

Renault Kadjar car review ireland
Renault Kadjar: The interior is built well and has a good layout

The equipment levels are good across the range with entry level Expression + models getting most of the must-haves like Bluetooth, cruise control, four electric windows, electronic parking brake, air con and fog lights. Unfortunately no alloys though.  You need to step up to Dynamique Nav trim for alloy wheels, but the upgrade also includes a touchscreen system for infotainment and navigation in the centre of the dash.

The most welcome thing about the Kadjar is just how pleasant it is to drive, which is not always a given when it comes to crossovers. No this one is just like a big hatchback. There is absolutely no roughness about it so if you want your SUVs more rugged look elsewhere. But who really wants that?

The Kadjar is really comfortable and feels like it’s gliding along the road. The hatchback qualities are good because the handling and steering feel sharp enough to give you quite a sporty drive when you get off the motorways. In town, it feels relatively agile for its size and it’s easy to control it to get in and around those tight spots.

Renault Kadjar car review ireland
Renault Kadjar: Comfortable seating for 5 and a user-friendly boot

If it’s diesel you’re after, you could go for the 1.6 diesel with 130bhp, which feels really powerful and refined, and also gives you the option of four wheel drive. If you’re more of an urban driver, there’s a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine producing 130bhp. But the most economical of the bunch is the 1.5 diesel with 110bhp, returning up to 74mpg.

The range starts at just shy of €25,000 for the petrol powered Kadjar in entry level Expression + trim. Diesel models start at €26,790. A 1.5 dCi in Dynamique Nav trim (with the alloys and the touchscreen) has a list price of €28,290. There’s a higher specced Dynamique S Nav from €29,290 and a top of the range Signature Nav from €30,790.

The Renault Kadjar was one of the biggest surprise cars for me of 2015. I wouldn’t naturally levitate towards crossovers but the Kadjar makes the jaunt over into crossover territory less uncomfortable. The Kadjar blends quite effortlessly the refinement and easy driving quality of a hatchback, the size, practicality and comfort of a five seat MPV, and the coolness and desirability of an SUV. There really is very little to complain about. It’s the ultimate family car reloaded with a French twist.

Renault Kadjar car review ireland
Renault Kadjar: The ultimate family car reloaded with a French twist

Model Tested: Renault Kadjar dCi 130 Dynamique Nav
Price: 
€29,490
Engine: 
1.6-litre diesel
Power: 
130bhp
0-100km/h:
9.9 seconds
Economy: 
65.7mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
113g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year

Caroline Kidd


Honda HR-V

First Drive Review: Honda Jazz and HR-V

There’s nothing quite like some shiny new cars to start the week, and when two come along together, it’s even better.

It must be a treat for Honda Ireland too and their associated Irish dealer network. With 2015 already bringing revised Civic and CR-V models, the arrival of a new third generation Jazz, and all new HR-V compact SUV, will add further options. For petrolheads, there’s a Civic Type R on the horizon, and the NSX must not be too far away either.Read more


Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Signature

Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Signature Review

The Renault Captur is a compact crossover based on the Clio. It’s a bit more practical and spacious, with the chunky looks and extra height of an SUV, and the running costs of a small car.

But in a crowded compact crossover, can the Captur stand out?

Scroll down to read the review or watch my video review:

Design

Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 SignatureYou bet it can stand out from the crowd, on looks alone anyway. The Captur is deliciously compact in the metal with a very colourful presence. It looks every inch the mini off-roader with a curvy, chunky body, plastic cladding and an array of colour customisation options to choose from, ranging from the bright and bold, to the sleek and sophisticated. You can change the colour of the roof, the alloy wheel inserts and bits of pieces of the interior trim, but Renault has simplified the process by offering a number of tried and tested combinations.

While there are a lot of hard plastics in the cabin, the look is modern and funky as opposed to cheap and nasty, and should prove durable and easy to clean. Models with Renault’s R-Link infotainment system look particularly well with a touchscreen in the centre of the dash. Some models have removable seat covers that you can zip off and wash. So whether it’s chocolate, ice-cream or dog hair, there are no excuses not to have clean seats!

Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Signature
Renault Captur: Colourful, modern and fun cabin
Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Signature
Renault Captur: Boot is 377 litres but there are a number of ways to boost the space

The Captur is 6cm longer than the Clio so feels a bit more spacious inside and the extra height makes it easier to access the cabin and the boot, and provides a good, elevated driving position. The boot is 377 litres, with a useful flat loading sill.

But there’s more. You can slide the rear bench forwards from a lever in the boot, or from the cabin, to increase boot space. The boot also has a false floor so when you place that in the very bottom of the boot, and push the rear seats forward, you’ve boosted the boot space to 455 litres. Let down the rear seats and you have 1235 litres to play with.

Driving

There is a small 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol unit or a 1.5-litre diesel to choose from. Both produce 90bhp. My test car has the 1.5 dCi and it’s a real high point for the car because it’s so refined, you’re not even thinking you’re driving a diesel because it’s so quiet on the move. It’s not hugely powerful on paper and you don’t get shoved back into your seat every time you change gear, but it’s not sluggish either and rarely feels out of its depth.

On the road, the Captur is solid and planted, and with that diesel engine, it’s well set up for motorway driving. The steering and pedals are light so it’s a very easy car to drive and the compact dimensions make it easy to manoeuvre and park. The light controls do work a little bit against the Captur on a rural road because the steering can feel a bit vague as you turn in for the corner, and the body roll will put you off driving fast around them.

Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Signature
Renault Captur: 1.5 dCi diesel engine is impressively refined and cheap to run

Economy

The 1.5 dCi has emissions of just 95g CO2/km so will cost just €180 to tax per year. The official economy for this engine is just over 74mpg.

Equipment

Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Signature
Renault's R-Link infotainment system

There are three trim levels for the Irish market: Life, Intense and Signature.  Standard equipment is very good including four electric windows, Bluetooth, alloys, daytime running lights, cruise control and climate control. Signature trim has recently been added to the range and the kit list is very impressive – additional rear parking sensors, rear view camera, rear privacy glass, part leather upholstery, heated front seats and Renault’s R-Link infotainment system (includes a navigation system). A red touch pack as standard on Signature trim, adds red trim around the vents and the centre console.

Though there’s no four wheel drive option for the Captur, Signature trim adds Renault’s Grip Xtend advanced traction control system. It features three modes (Road, Loose Ground and Expert) and you can toggle between  them via a rotary dial on the centre console.

Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Signature
Renault Captur: A stylish and practical compact crossover

Verdict

The Captur is not the sort of car that will encourage you to drive fast – it’s more of a comfortable, refined and economical one that you will enjoy on the motorway or around town. It’s a small car but Renault has packaged the space really well with clever design touches, and in a crowded compact crossover market the Captur stands out for its style and customisation – without being weird-looking. So if you don’t fall for the space, you will certainly love the way it looks!

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Renault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Signature
Price: 
€23,990
Engine: 
1.5-litre diesel
Power: 
90bhp
0-100km/h:
13.1 seconds
Economy: 
74.3mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
95g/km
Motor Tax: 
€180 per year


Review Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga Puts Sport in SUV

Car Review: Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi (140PS) Titanium S

Compact SUVs are highly fashionable means of transport. The emphasis tends to be more on the sport side of S-U-V than utility but the four wheel drive Ford Kuga I drove had sportiness and utility.

However, the body kit that came standard on my top of the range Titanium S trim car meant that I stayed firmly on tarmac during my test drive!

So how would I rate the Kuga?

Design

The new Kuga is bigger than the one it replaces and it’s one of the best looking SUVs in this class with a genuinely sporty look to it and the sort of presence that will scare the daylights out of supermini drivers. I had the Titanium S model to test and it seriously ranks up the bling with a body kit and 19” inch wheels. The good news is that lesser specced cars look just as good from the outside.

Ford Kuga Review
Ford Kuga: Enough presence to scare the daylights out of supermini drivers

I may have had a few grievances about the interior of the Fiesta and the Focus but the smartly finished cabin with lots of gloss black and an upgraded stereo make Ford’s busy centre console design much more palatable in the Kuga. There is a real feeling of quality to the cabin and once you close the door it’s instantly comforting and homely (if that’s possible for a car!). The Titanium S model has beautiful part leather trimmed seats that are brilliantly supportive and oh so comfy.There is lots of storage in the car including a cubby in the centre console, large door pockets all round and a large glovebox. If cupholders are a priority - there are two in the front and two in the back. There are also separate fan controls for rear passengers, so everyone on board is well catered for.

Ford Kuga Review
The cabin is smart with lashings of gloss black adding a sophisticated feel

It’s comfortable to seat five with loads of head and leg room and you can recline the rear seats easily too. The boot volume has been increased by 46 litres compared to the old model, bringing the total volume to 406 litres with a mini-spare wheel included, but a Honda CRV and Mazda CX5 have bigger boots if that is a priority. The boot has a practical square shape and a handy low and flat loading sill. You can add a “hands-free tailgate” as an option which opens the boot with just a gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper with the keys in your pocket.

Ford Kuga Review
The boot has a practical square shape and a low, flat loading sill

Driving

There was a time when you could expect a 4x4 like the Kuga to lumber about and be a bit “agricultural”. But from the minute you press the start button this Kuga will impress – it’s so car-like to drive and it will hunker down on the road for you like a hot hatch. We expect nothing less from our SUVs. I drove the popular 2.0 litre TDCi with 140bhp and from the get-go it was a wonderful match for the Kuga - swift, quiet and refined. This is a mightily impressive car on the road, probably the best handling compact SUV that you will find, but the ride is a little harsher than expected. But with handling so tight, we don’t mind. Like all Fords, the steering is excellent too with loads of feel.

Economy

The model I drove was four wheel drive so it is thirstier and more expensive to tax than the front wheel drive model. The official economy figure is just under 48mpg and I averaged 40mpg while I had the car. Annual road tax costs a hefty €390.

Equipment

Zetec models get 17” alloy wheels, front fog lights, heated windshield, cruise control, daytime running lights, rear spoiler, twin exhausts, alarm, trip computer and leather steering wheel with remote audio controls. Titanium trim adds unique 17” alloys, auto lights and wipers, front scuff plates, dual zone air conditioning, driver’s lumbar support, partial leather seats, Sony radio/CD, Ford SYNC connectivity and premium centre console with sliding armrest. Titanium S trim adds a body kit, 19” wheels, roof rails, rear parking sensors and Active Park Assist.

Verdict

Ford is leveraging their new Kuga as a luxury SUV and I was very impressed with the fit and finish of the car. Out on the road it is equally impressive, more like a hatchback than a big, lumbering utility vehicle. Buyers of these sorts of vehicles don’t really care for the utility part of S-U-V. They really just want the space and 4x4 attitude. The Kuga scores for its excellent handling and refinement, tough looks and oodles of space.

Model tested: Ford Kuga Titanium S
Price: €43,370 (Kuga range starts at €33,450)

Transmission: 6 speed manual, four wheel drive
Engine: 2.0 litre TDCi, turbo diesel
Power: 140bhp
0-100km/h: 10.7 seconds
Economy: 47.9 mpg (5.9l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 154g/km
Tax band: C (€390 per year)

Caroline Kidd