Volkswagen Tiguan Ireland review

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0-litre 115hp Review

Volkswagen is known for expertise in making hatchbacks with one particular model that begins with G and ends with F being a benchmark for all that a hatchback can and should be. But hatchbacks are not always the family car of choice anymore, so there is a lot riding on the shoulders of the new Volkswagen Tiguan, generation 2 of the brand’s compact SUV.

Based on the Golf’s MQB platform but with taller ‘legs’, the Volkswagen Tiguan should bring a lot of the Golf’s good qualities to the SUV segment.

With pricing starting in Ireland at €29,085 for petrol models, and now €30,895 for diesels (thanks to the introduction of a lower powered 2.0-litre model), the Volkswagen Tiguan is at the more premium end of the compact SUV market that includes rivals such as the SEAT Ateca, Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai.

Styling is classic Volkswagen – it’s simple with sharp lines, while tasteful chrome adds a premium finish. Inside, the dashboard layout is almost the same as the Volkswagen Golf, so it’s easy to use and interact with, while the quality is also excellent. Infotainment is provided via a touchscreen (5” or 8” depending on model) and an impressive digital instrument panel is standard on Highline models (from €36,870).

volkswagen tiguan review ireland
The interior of the Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline

Standard equipment includes air con, 17” alloys, lane departure warning and lane assist, while Comfortline models (from €32,960) like the one tested add high beam assist, silver roof rails, front fog lights, rear privacy glass, parking sensors and adaptive cruise control. Highline models add the digital instrument panel, 18” alloys, automatic parking, rear parking camera, LED lights, heated seats and updated styling.

As a family car, the Tiguan performs well with a comfortable cabin for five. Headroom is excellent all round and the footwells in the rear are large. The middle seat is comfortable enough for a child but legroom is restricted by the transmission tunnel. The boot is square and easy to access, with a spacious 615 litres available.

Volkswagen has now expanded the Tiguan range in Ireland to include a 2.0-litre diesel with 115hp power output. This model joins the 125hp 1.4-litre TSI petrol and the 150hp, 190hp and 240hp variants of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel.

The Tiguan is very good to drive for a tall SUV with predictable handling and nicely-judged steering . There is lean in the corners but it’s all well-contained and it’s easy to cover ground in the Tiguan quickly and safely. The Tiguan has inherited good comfort and refinement genes and overall it’s a relaxed and easy drive.

volkswagen tiguan review ireland
The Volkswagen Tiguan is comfortable and refined

For buyers looking for a diesel Tiguan the new 115hp 2.0-litre TDI knocks nearly €2000 off the price of the higher powered 150hp version. On paper, there is not much between these engines: same torque (340Nm) and less than 2 seconds between them in a sprint to 100kmh. They both fall into the same emissions class and claimed fuel economy is the same too.

However on the road the difference is apparent and you notice the power that is missing. It’s adequate but overtaking manoeuvres need to be planned a little more as you just do not get the same burst of speed. There is also less flexibility so you will be grappling with the gearbox to get any urgent sense of acceleration.

Yet it does just about enough to make the Tiguan worth a stretch in budget.

The compact SUV segment has been dominated in recent years by Japanese and Korean rivals who beat the Tiguan on price and standard equipment, yet the Volkswagen bounces back with a high quality feel, sophisticated design, smart cabin, and a faultless drive.

volkswagen tiguan review ireland
The Volkswagen Tiguan is more expensive than key Japanese and Korean rivals but is more polished with a premium feel

Model tested: Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0-litre 115hp Comfortline
Price: 
€32,960 (Range starts at €29,085)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Economy: 
60mpg
CO2 emissions:  
123g/km
Motor tax:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a compact SUV, you might also like this review of the Kia Sportage.


Skoda Kodiaq Ireland Review

Skoda Kodiaq First Drive Review

The Skoda Kodiaq is Skoda’s much anticipated new 5/7-seat SUV. It’s just arrived in Ireland and promises to shake up the large family SUV segment for a combination of space, style and good value. I had the opportunity to drive the new Kodiaq at the Irish press launch.

Styling

Skoda design has gone upmarket in recent years and the Kodiaq follows the same sharp new design language that debuted with the Skoda Superb in 2015. The robust, chiselled good looks should single it out easily in the car park. There are a total of fourteen colours to choose from, ranging from the usual suspects of grey, white and black, to red and bright blue.

Interior

The interior design of the new Kodiaq is simple and understated, while the quality is good for this class of vehicle. All models come with a touchscreen, though higher spec models have larger 8” screens in the centre of the dash. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all models.

Skoda Kodiaq
Interior of the new Skoda Kodiaq

Practicality

There is choice of a five or seven seat Kodiaq, with just €1000 in the difference. There are three large individual seats in the second row. In seven seat vehicles, there are two individual seats in the third row and sliding the row 2 seats forward a little makes this space much more practical for carrying children and maybe even adults occasionally! Headroom is best in class. In five seat mode, there is a class leading 720 litres of boot space, while in seven seat mode there is 270 litres.

Engines

The range kicks off with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol unit with 125bhp (manual) or 150bhp (DSG automatic). The 2.0-litre diesel comes with 150 or 190bhp, with the higher powered version reserved for DSG automatic 4x4 models. The best for economy is the 2.0-litre TDI 150hp DSG returning up to 58mpg with motor tax of €280 per year. At the launch, I drove the 2.0-litre TDI 150bhp 4x4 with a manual gearbox. The engine returns good performance with 0-100km achieved in 9.8 seconds in 7 seat versions, while the 6-speed manual gearbox is nice to use and the engine never gets too raucous when pushed.

On the road

The Skoda Kodiaq is easy to drive and agile for its size with light controls. The light steering makes it easy to manouvre around town and on tight country roads, but there is roll in corners when pushed hard. The Kodiaq has a soft, compliant ride and the cabin is soundproofed well.

Equipment

There are three trim levels for new Skoda Kodiaq in Ireland – Active, Ambition and Style. Standard equipment includes air con, 17” alloys, and cruise control. Step up to Ambition for 18” alloys, keyless engine start, silver roof rails, and front and rear parking sensors. Style models add 19” alloys, keyless entry, full LED headlights, alcantara upholstery, interior ambient lighting, rear view camera, navigation and Skoda Connect with a number of driver assistance features.

Skoda Kodiaq Ireland Review
The new Kodiaq is available with five or seven seats

Pricing

The 5 seat Kodiaq range starts at €28,795 and the 7 seater at €29,795 for the entry 1.4-litre petrol.  Diesels start from €35,495.

Rivals

Skoda list the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Ford Kuga and Nissan X-Trail as the main competition for new Kodiaq.

Verdict

With demand for cool-looking seven seat SUVs, the Skoda Kodiaq will easily find its market and Skoda Ireland is already selling new Kodiaq to buyers who have not bought Skoda before. The entry price into the range is attractive, but the diesels are significantly more expensive, though still competitive with rivals. Easy to drive with capable engines and an understated but quality interior, the new Kodiaq is impossible to ignore in the large family car market.

Caroline Kidd


Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Review Ireland

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Review

If you passed the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross in the street, it probably wouldn’t make that much of an impression on you. It’s not the sort of car that will make you take a sharp intake of breath and whip out the camera phone. None of its rivals probably will either. But there really is more to the S-Cross than meets the eye.

The latest round of changes were part of a revamp in late 2016, which also sees the addition of Suzuki’s Boosterjet turbo petrol technology to the S-Cross range.

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

Inside the basic cabin layout is the same but there is a new soft touch plastic dashboard pad, which looks better, and gives the S-Cross a more high quality feel despite the hard plastics that still feature above and below, and in the door panels. The cabin design is plain but inoffensive, and you quickly feel at home here. It’s also right up to date in terms of technology: a smart looking touchscreen sits in the centre of the dash with navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Review Ireland
The interior of the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

The S-Cross range starts at a reasonable €20,995 for a 1.0-litre petrol model, rising to €26,995 for a 1.6-litre diesel. In terms of interior space, the S-Cross feels spacious and is comparative to the likes of the Opel Mokka X, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur and larger crossovers like the Honda HR-V and Nissan Qashqai. There is seating for five and a 430 litre boot with a low, flat loading sill. There are manual and automatic gearboxes, and the option of all wheel drive.

The big news with this new update is the addition of Suzuki’s new 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol engines. The 1.0-litre is fantastic in the smaller Suzuki Baleno hatchback and I’ve also sampled the 1.4-litre Boosterjet in the Suzuki Vitara S.

The 1.0-litre is a success in the S-Cross too. It’s a joy to drive – responsive and refined with plenty of low down grunt to zip around town. It’s also efficient with 48mpg easily achievable. The S-Cross has excellent road manners and is very enjoyable to drive. It has the same ‘fun factor’ as the smaller Vitara with nicely weighted steering and good body control in the corners, but the S-Cross feels more mature, comfortable and refined compared to the Vitara.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Review Ireland
The S-Cross is a fine crossover to drive with Suzuki's new 1.0-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol engine

There are three trim levels to choose from in Ireland: SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, air conditioning, four electric windows, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter, and electric and heated door mirrors. The SZ-T model on test had keyless entry and start, parking sensors, parking camera, dual zone climate control, LED lights, auto lights and wipers, navigation, rear privacy glass and 17-inch alloys so it’s good value for the 1.0-litre at just under €25,000.

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross looks relatively innocuous among the sea of crossovers and SUVs on our roads but it’s a great all-rounder, being both practical and good to drive. The Boosterjet engine really transforms this car into something interesting, so if the looks don’t do it for you, the engine certainly will.

Model tested: Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.0 Boosterjet SZ-T
Price: 
€24,995 (Range starts at €20,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
111hp
0-100km/h:  
11 seconds
Economy: 
56.4mpg
CO2 emissions:  
113g/km
Motor tax:
€200 per year

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

Caroline Kidd


MINI Cooper S Countryman Review Ireland

MINI Cooper S Countryman Review

The MINI Countryman was launched back in 2010, a ‘big’ MINI with the style of a crossover. The idea was to package the fun of a MINI in a larger and more versatile shape, with SUV-inspired styling.

Seven years on and MINI Countryman Mark 2 has recently arrived in Ireland. It’s the biggest MINI yet, having expanded in length and width. Visually the new Countryman looks a lot better than the car it replaces. It’s grown up, and looks leaner and more purposeful than before. MINI’s extensive menu of customisation options is of course a feature.

Inside, the Countryman is probably not like any other crossover you’ve sat in because the MINI DNA still runs strong through this one. It’s a bit like stepping into a nightclub - all glossy surfaces, coloured lights and cheesy graphics. If you’re not having fun in here there is just something wrong.

MINI Cooper S Countryman Review Ireland
The interior of the MINI Cooper S Countryman

The quality of the interior is all very good, and even the seat fabric looks like it could belong to a posh designer sofa. The interior is less cluttered but it can still be described as ‘busy’. There’s a lot going on here and it can be difficult to find your way around if you’re not used to the MINI way of doing things. Infotainment is provided via the ‘MINI Visual Boost Radio’ with 6.5” colour display and controlled by a rotary controller on the centre console.

New MINI Countryman is roomier inside than the outgoing model. The wheelbase has been extended and there is now an extra 5 centimetres of legroom, which does make a difference. Headroom is good all round and the rear would be comfortable for two, three at a squeeze. The boot volume is up to 450 litres.

Petrol and diesel engines are available. The MINI Cooper Countryman has a 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol engine with 136hp, while the MINI Cooper D Countryman with a 2.0-litre 150hp diesel engine is the best for economy returning up to 64mpg with emissions of 113g/km. There are two more performance based models: the Cooper SD (190hp) and the Cooper S (192hp).  Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, as well as the option of MINI’s ‘ALL4’ all wheel drive system. A plug-in hybrid is due to arrive later in the year.

MINI Cooper S Countryman
The MINI Countryman range starts at €33,580

On the road, the Countryman is remarkably good fun, for a tall, slightly overweight MINI crossover. There is loads of grip and it feels glued to the road at all times, which allows for some very spirited driving. The steering has a weighty and elastic feel that adds to the thrills behind the wheel. It’s a sporty car but there is little compromise in terms of comfort, and it’s refined too for long haul trips on the motorway.

But thankfully not so well-insulated as to drown out the delightful noise of the 2.0-litre turbo petrol 192hp powering my Cooper S model. It burbles into life when you press the ignition switch and then rumbles thereafter not too dissimilar to a V8 (!) at low speeds around town. It’s quite disarming coming from a ‘family’ car, especially one that people tend to find more cute than menacing, at least to look at. It’s also very quick and very responsive, with 0-100kmh achieved in 7.2 seconds on the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 with 8-speed Steptronic transmission. It’s an absolute delight to drive but it is thirsty, so not the economical choice, but definitely the most fun.

MINI Cooper S Countryman
The Countryman is now roomier inside and the dashboard layout has also been improved

It’s also very expensive, even before you hit the options list. While the range starts at €33,580, the Cooper S Countryman comes in at a hefty €38,850 or €43,400 with four wheel drive. My test car with options came in at over €53,000. Gulp.

Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, MINI Connected services, navigation and Bluetooth connectivity on Cooper and Cooper D models. MINI Cooper S and Cooper SD Countryman models add 17-inch alloy wheels and cloth/leather upholstery.

The new MINI Countryman is an improvement all round on the previous model and feels like it has finally grown into its crossover skin. With pricing starting from €33,580, the Countryman is firmly in the ‘small, premium crossover’ set. There are cheaper and more spacious crossovers available, but few with the character and driver appeal of the Countryman. The entry Cooper and Cooper D make most sense for the Irish market in terms of pricing and running costs, but the Cooper S really is special.

Model tested: MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Auto
Price: 
€43,400 (€53,602 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
192hp
0-100km/h:  
7.2 seconds
Economy: 
39mpg
CO2 emissions:  
159g/km
Motor tax:
€570 per year

If you are looking for an upmarket crossover, you might also like this review of the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Caroline Kidd


Suzuki Vitara S Review Ireland

Suzuki Vitara S Review

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

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

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

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

Suzuki Vitara S Review Ireland
Interior of the Suzuki Vitara S

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd


Ford Edge Ireland Review

Ford Edge Review

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

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

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

Ford Edge Ireland Review
The interior of the Ford Edge SUV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd


Kia Niro review ireland

Kia Niro Review

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

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

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

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

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

Kia Niro review ireland
The interior of the Kia Niro

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd


Opel Mokka X Review Ireland

Opel Mokka X Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


Skoda Yeti Ireland Review

Skoda Yeti 2.0TDI 150hp Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd


Volkswagen Tiguan Review Ireland

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0TDI Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd