Ford Focus ST- Line diesel review ireland

Ford Focus ST-Line 2.0TDCi Review

Ford Focus ST- Line diesel review ireland
The Ford Focus ST-Line

The Ford Focus is one of Ireland’s favourite hatchbacks and has been a consistent bestseller since launch back in 1998. Though the current Ford Focus is due to be replaced before the end of 2018, the popularity of this model shows no signs of abating and there are deals to be had on a well-specced Ford Focus that make it look like very good value indeed.

In 2017, Ford added a new ST-Line sporty trim to key models like Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo and Kuga. I recently got behind the wheel of a Ford Focus ST-Line 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp.

ST-Line lends the Focus a very attractive sporty makeover with the addition of a body kit, rear diffuser, 17” ‘Rock’ metallic alloy wheels and black sports grille. Front fog lamps come as standard and the daytime running lights are LED.

Inside, there are sports seats with red stitching, a flat bottomed steering wheel, aluminium sports pedals and black headliner. Equipment includes manual air conditioning, heated windscreen, and electric windows, though my car had notables like cruise control (€150) and the SYNC 2 8” infotainment system (€575) added as options.

 Ford Focus ST- Line diesel review ireland
The interior of the Ford Focus

Under the skin there is a sports suspension but ride quality is still very good. On the road the Ford Focus shows real composure and finesse. The steering is fluid and elastic and the car changes direction with stunning precision and loads of grip. Refinement is also very good on the move, and the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel has a lovely spread of power.

Other engine options include the Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol with 100hp or 125hp, and a 1.5-litre diesel with 120hp. The best for economy is the 1.5-litre diesel with fuel economy a claimed 3.8l/100km.

It’s in the interior that the Ford Focus is starting to show its age, as the infotainment, quality and design is starting to fall behind newer rivals like the revamped Volkswagen Golf and Opel Astra. Still, it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and when specced with the right equipment the Ford Focus is still an appealing car. Interior accommodation is good but the boot falls some way behind class leaders at 316 litres with a mini spare wheel, but a more respectable 363 with a tyre repair kit.

It’s always a pleasure to get behind the wheel of the Ford Focus again. The car has aged but still remains competitive and it’s easy to see why it’s a consistent top buy for Irish motorists.

 Ford Focus ST- Line diesel review ireland
The Ford Focus remains a good value family car with plenty of trim and engine options

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Focus ST-Line 2.0TDCi
Price: 
€27,670 (Range from €25,175)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 370Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.9 seconds
Top speed: 212km/h
Economy: 
4.0/100km
CO2 emissions:  
105g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

 


Mazda MX-5 RF review ireland

Mazda MX-5 RF Video

Here's a quick video I made of the Mazda MX-5 RF. Long live the roadster!

Caroline Kidd


Caroline Kidd

When Good Videos Go Bad Part 4

It's here! Part 4 of my ultimate blooper reel featuring funny outtakes from my video shoots. Enjoy!


Alfa Romeo Giulia video review

Alfa Romeo Giulia Video Review

Here's my video review of the much anticipated Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2-litre JTD 180hp!

You can read a full review of this car here.


Ford Focus RS ireland

Ford Focus RS Video Review

The Ford Focus RS was one of the most anticipated new cars of recent years and finally arrived in Ireland in 2016. The new Ford Focus RS continues Ford's tradition for high performance road cars and there is plenty here to justify its ultimate hot hatchback status. Under the bonnet is a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo engine tuned to produce 345hp and 44oNm of torque, and all wheel drive and dynamic torque vectoring come as standard to help harness the power. The third generation Ford Focus RS is the first RS to offer drive modes, including an industry-first 'Drift Mode', and of course there's launch control for the best performance off the start-line.

For a full review of the new Ford Focus RS, watch my video below:

Model tested: Ford Focus RS
Price: 
€52,875
Engine: 2.3-litre turbo petrol
Power:
345bhp
Torque: 440Nm
0-100km/h:  
4.7 seconds
Top speed: 266km/h
Economy:
36.7mpg
CO2 emissions:  
175g/km
Motor tax:
€750 per year

Caroline Kidd


Funny car video

When Good Videos Go Bad Part 3

I've put together some more funny outtakes from my video shoots. Enjoy!

Caroline Kidd


Ford Mustang Review For Ireland

Ford Mustang 2.3-litre EcoBoost Convertible Review

Scroll down to watch my video review

The Ford Mustang needs little introduction: it’s a modern icon that’s instantly recognisable and effortlessly cool. It’s now officially part of Ford’s European line-up and it’s available in right hand drive for the first time in the Mustang’s history. The Mustang is truly an iconic American muscle car and Irish buyers can now enjoy this big slice of Americana with a more European flavour from €55,500 for the coupé.

There really is nothing quite like the Mustang on Irish roads and if you want a car with presence, then this is it. You had better like attention because the Mustang draws attention wherever it goes. There is something slightly old fashioned about the design, but maybe we are just not used to seeing classic American ‘fastback’ styling on our roads yet. But this car is just so honest and cool, and you’ll want to snap every detail – from the legendary pony on the front grille, to the mean-looking tri-bar rear lights.

Inside the Mustang manages to feel special and uniquely different to any other Ford, with the Sync 2 infotainment system being the only piece of kit that’s been carried over. There’s not much sophistication to the interior, but that’s not really a criticism because it’s part of this car’s democratic appeal. There are two tight individual seats in the back. Head and legroom back there is okay rather than great, but your passengers will probably put up with a bit of mild discomfort for a trip in this car.

Standard equipment includes 19" alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, electric folding mirrors with Mustang logo projection lamps, Ford SYNC 2 with 8” touchscreen, full leather, keyless entry/start, auto lights and wipers, rear parking camera, and dual zone climate control.

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland
The interior of the Ford Mustang lacks sophistication but how cool is that pony?

For this first ever version of the Mustang to be sold officially in Europe, Ford has ‘Europeanised’ the Mustang to make it a better drive. The idea is that it won’t just be fast on the straight bits - it will be good in the corners too. It’s got a new chassis with independent front and rear suspension, a limited slip differential and the handling has been developed to deliver high levels of balance, responsiveness and fun.

The Mustang is rear wheel drive with a roughly 1700kg kerb weight depending on the model so it needs big engines to move it.  There’s a V8 with 415bhp and 524Nm of torque  or a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine with 312bhp and 434Nm of torque.

My test car had the 2.3-litre EcoBoost or let's call it ‘Mustang-lite’. The V8 sounds better than the EcoBoost, and has got more power, but it’s actually only marginally quicker in a sprint to 100kmh (5.8 seconds versus 4.8 seconds). If you’re interested in economy, the EcoBoost will return you more miles per gallon. But in Ireland, you will pay significantly less to tax the Mustang Ecoboost, €750 per year versus €2350 for the V8.

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland
The Ford Mustang is available in Ireland with a V8 or a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine

The EcoBoost feels like a more manageable Mustang financially but it does miss some of the drama of the V8.  There is extra engine noise synthesised through the speakers when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator, but the way the car surges forward is the same – it’s pure magic. This car is at its best when you’re just cruising along, enjoying the ambience, and the only reason you’ll be going anywhere near that gearbox is just to drop a gear to hear the engine wake up again and take off because this car is hugely flexible and powerful in any gear.

There are some limitations to the Mustang that make it less appealing as a performance car. In Ireland at some point you and your Mustang are going to end up on a tight, narrow, twisty rural road. And the Mustang just cannot disguise its size and weight in those circumstances - it’s just not sophisticated enough. You can’t fling it in and out of corners with the same zest as a hot hatch. But once you have acclimatised to being behind the wheel of a big rear wheel drive machine you will discover that there is lovely balance to the car and you can get pleasure from tucking that big nose neatly into tight corners. You’ll just be exhausted from the concentration required to do it at any great speed.

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland
The Ford Mustang is an iconic muscle car that draws attention wherever it goes

The Ford Mustang does seem like great value though for sheer power and attitude. Pricing starts at €55,500 for the Coupé EcoBoost and €71,500 for the V8. The Mustang Convertible starts from €61,500. Driving the Ford Mustang is an experience like no other and the EcoBoost engine makes the Mustang far more accessible, while still retaining much of the Mustang’s natural charisma. It’s not perfect, it lacks sophistication, and it can’t disguise its size and weight on Irish roads (and in the car park), but that’s all part of the Mustang’s charm and appeal, and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever regret buying it!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Mustang 2.3-litre EcoBoost Convertible
Price: 
€61,500
Power: 
312bhp
0-100km/h:  
5.8 seconds
Official economy: 
27mpg
CO2 emissions:  
184g/km
Motor tax:
€750 per year

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland
Ford Mustang: It's unlikely you'll ever regret buying this car!

Audi A3 Sportback Review Ireland

Audi A3 Sportback Review

Scroll down to watch my video review

Audi pioneered the concept of a premium hatchback with the launch of the A3 back in 1996 and they’ve been refining the A3 ever since to make it a premium compact bestseller. Now on its third generation, the latest model has had some mild styling tweaks and the addition of new driver assistance systems and engines.

Available as a saloon, 3 door or 5 door Sportback, all models now have a broader single frame grille and new lights front and back. The A3’s classy silhouette is retained and S Line models look particularly good with sportier bumpers and 18” alloys.

The interior design is beautifully simple and minimalist. The materials used throughout are top quality and sitting into the A3 is a special experience. This car is certainly worth the ‘premium’ tag. The virtual cockpit that replaces traditional instrument dials is now available for the first time in the A3 as part of a €2,450 tech pack that includes Audi Connect with SIM card, phone box with wireless charging and MMI Nav Plus.

The 5 door Sportback model is very practical with a 380 litre boot and the interior space is good for this size of car, with large footwells in the back. Standard equipment on Attraction models (from €28,810) includes 16” alloys, four electric windows, air con, and a folding infotainment screen with Bluetooth connectivity and a rotary controller. SE trim (from €30,160) adds 17” alloys, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, cruise control and rear parking sensors. S Line trim (from €33,460) includes sportier bumpers, LED lights front and rear, 18” alloys, Audi Drive Select, and a flat bottomed steering wheel.

Audi A3 Sportback Review Ireland
Interior of the Audi A3 with virtual cockpit

There are petrol and diesel engines with power outputs from 110 to 184hp and Audi has just added a new three cylinder 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine to the A3 range. The best for economy is the 1.6TDI that’s capable of returning up to 74mpg.

My test car had the 1.4-litre TFSI and it’s a four cylinder turbo petrol engine with 150hp. It’s also got cylinder on demand technology, which allows it to shut down two cylinders when the engine is under low load to save fuel. It’s a real gem of an engine because it’s super quiet and ultra responsive. 0-100kmh is 8.2 seconds and even with the seven speed automatic gearbox, I returned around 47mpg over a week of driving.

Audi A3 Sportback Review Ireland
The Audi A3 Sportback has a range of good petrol and diesel engines to choose from

On the road the Audi A3 is agile and smooth with natural and intuitive steering and virtually no body roll in the corners so it favours a sporty drive. It’s quiet in the cabin with road, wind and engine noise well-suppressed. The suspension is most of the time very supple and compliant, but the back end of the car has a tendency to bounce a bit when you hit bigger bumps at speed. You can deselect the sports suspension on S Line models, which is probably advisable because the normal suspension is firm enough to keep the car taut in the corners, while being more forgiving for passengers.

The Audi A3 is a cut above your average hatchback but it carries a price tag to match and this car can get very expensive very quickly. The test car came in at a whopping €43,792 with options. It is a delight of a car to drive however and the view from the driver’s seat is particularly special so with the right engine and spec the A3 is definitely money well-spent – just beware of the options list. The latest facelift may be minor but Audi has refined the package a little more and the A3 remains a class act.

Audi A3 Sportback Review Ireland
Audi A3 Sportback: A class act!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi A3 Sportback 1.4TFSI S-Tronic S Line
Price: 
€37,390 (5 door range starts at €28,810)
Power: 
150bhp
0-100km/h:  
8.2 seconds
Economy: 
58mpg
CO2 emissions:  
115g/km
Motor tax:
€200 per year


When Good Videos Go Bad Part 2

Just in time for Christmas, I've put together a funny blooper reel of all those little moments that I have when I'm filming a car video that never make the final cut. These are my most candid moments in front of the camera. Think of this video as a Christmas gift from me to you. You're welcome!

 

Caroline Kidd


Volkswagen Passat GTE Ireland Review

Volkswagen Passat GTE Review

The Volkswagen Passat is one of Ireland’s favourite big saloons and it has been for many years. Diesel dominates in this segment but it’s not the only option.

Volkswagen has added a plug-in hybrid to the Passat range but it’s not just some lethargic afterthought to play second fiddle to its diesel brethren: the new Volkswagen Passat GTE is more of a flagship model with sporty performance and the promise of low running costs.

Available as a saloon or estate, the Passat’s already handsome presence is enhanced with a number of cosmetic changes to distinguish the GTE from the rest of the range. At the front there are C-shaped LED daytime running lights and a blue bar across the radiator grille that extends into the headlights, while 18” alloy wheels with blue brake callipers complete the look.

The blue theme continues inside with complementary detail on the seats, around the gear lever, and on the steering wheel. The traditional speedometer is joined by a power meter for the hybrid system. The cabin has all the quality and comfort of a standard Passat and equipment includes cruise control, parking sensors, dual zone climate control, ambient lighting and a 6.5” touchscreen with navigation. There is seating for five and generous legroom in the back, but boot space is down to 402 litres to accommodate the battery.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Review Ireland
Volkswagen Passat GTE: Plug-in hybrid combines a petrol engine and an electric motor

The Passat GTE follows in the footsteps of the Golf GTE by combining a  1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and an electric motor to improve performance and reduce running costs. The power output of the two sources combined is a healthy 218hp, while the 0-100kmh sprint is done in 7.4 seconds utilising the maximum 400Nm torque available. It is definitely not slow as one might expect of a ‘green car’.

But Volkswagen do tout this car as “the best of both worlds” so what of those green credentials? It can’t all be about performance, though that is impressive. Emissions of 39g of CO2 per km mean motor tax is just €170 per year. The claimed economy is a whopping 138.3 mpg, but that depends very much on how you drive this Passat.

The Passat GTE can potentially be a very cheap car to run because it can operate as a pure electric vehicle for a range of up to 50km, which is ideal for short commutes or when driving at low speeds around town. Otherwise the GTE acts as a hybrid so it draws power from both the petrol engine and the electric motor as appropriate. It’s definitely worth keeping the battery topped up, via the domestic mains supply or a public charging point, because the car becomes less efficient when forced to operate from its petrol engine.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Review Ireland
Volkswagen Passat GTE: A 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox comes as standard

This car has a lot of driver appeal. When you request the power, the delivery is strong and super smooth through the 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox and any transitions going on between the different power sources are completely seamless. Volkswagen has added a GTE button, which acts as a sort of sport mode, altering the acceleration and steering for a sportier, more performance-oriented drive that’s enhanced by some piped engine noise into the cabin.  It rumbles like a V8 with a heavy right foot, which is quite surprising when coming from a hybrid!

The Passat GTE is too heavy to be an outright sporting saloon but it’s still pleasingly agile for a large car and Volkswagen has added an XDS electronic differential lock to improve cornering grip. This really works for confident cornering at speed and you can take a tight line with loads of grip.

Yet performance aside, the best thing about the Volkswagen Passat GTE is that it’s naturally a really comfortable and relaxed cruiser. The near silence of the hybrid system in operation just highlights even more how upmarket and refined this current generation of the Passat is.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Review Ireland
Volkswagen Passat GTE: Can run on electric power only for a range of up to 50km

The only problem with the Volkswagen Passat GTE is that it is expensive to buy. The saloon starts at €42,430 and the estate at €44,720 including the SEAI grant and VRT rebate. You could pick up a diesel Passat for significantly less than that and depending on your lifestyle, the GTE won’t work out any cheaper to run.

Hybrids are a more mainstream  car choice now and there are other large hybrids available from other brands so the Passat GTE is not alone in this respect. The beauty of the Passat GTE is that it’s a properly premium offering and Volkswagen hasn’t messed too much with the Passat DNA bringing this hybrid version to market.  So it’s not weird looking and for the right buyer, it brings all the comfort, interior space and refinement that makes the Passat so popular. There’s still a novel value to the Passat GTE – innovative technology, the ability to drive as an EV and a sporty side – and that makes the list price not look so bad.

Model tested: Volkswagen Passat GTE 1.4TSI
Price: 
€42,430 including SEAI grant and VRT rebate
Engine: 
1.4-litre turbo petrol & electric motor
Power: 
218hp
0-100km/h:  
7.4 seconds
Economy: 
138.3mpg
CO2 emissions:  
39g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year

Caroline Kidd