Thanks to Sandyford Motor Centre for guiding us through car finance options

SPONSORED: How To Finance Your New Car

Thanks to Sandyford Motor Centre for guiding us through car finance options
Thanks to Sandyford Motor Centre for guiding us through car finance options

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Whether you are buying your first car, or just looking for a change, coming up with the finances for a new car can be a challenge. There are many different voices and options available to you, but how do you know who to listen to, or which option is going to provide the best value? In this article, Sandyford Motor Centre guides us through the car finance options available.

Make sure to research and inform yourself before making a decision and tying yourself into a contract.

1. Hire Purchase

Hire Purchase is a form of car finance where you pay for the vehicle over a number of years - between 1 and 5 years specifically. It begins with a deposit, then incremental payments are made monthly over the remaining period of the deal. Once all payments are made, you are the official owner of the car. The fixed monthly repayments over a flexible time period is what appeals to most drivers, along with the prospect of eventual ownership.

2. Personal Contract Plan

Personal Contract Plan or PCP, is a form of Hire Purchase that has proved popular in Ireland in recent years. The main advantage is the flexibility a PCP offers. It allows you to change your car regularly, rather than a long term contract like Hire Purchase. It can be broken down to 3 areas:

1. Deposit: Firstly, you pay your deposit on the car, which is usually 10-30% of the vehicle's worth. Often people will generate these funds through the trade in value of their current car.
2. Guaranteed Minimum Future Value (GMFV): Guaranteeing what the car will be worth at the end of the repayments, no matter what the depreciation is, is a key benefit of PCPs.
3. Monthly Repayments: The monthly repayments on the vehicle are calculated on the difference between the deposit and the GMFV.

3. Personal Loan

Some people opt to take out a personal loan to fund the purchase of a new car. Many people like the thought of keeping the loan and the car purchase separate, so if anything goes wrong they can sell the car and get the cash back. This is the go-to option for those who do not have any savings or a car to trade in. Loans can be taken out from your bank, or from the Credit Union in Ireland if you are a member.

It is important to consider the factor of interest when using a personal loan to buy a new car. General interest rates vary between providers, but over the course of a few years, you will be paying significantly higher than if you choose Hire Purchase or PCP. Personal Loans also bring your credit rating into the equation, which the other options do not.

4. Leasing

Leasing is very similar to Hire Purchase, but with one key difference - you do not own the car at the end of the payments. It is essentially just a long term car rental. People may go for this in more short term situations, when they have no interest in eventually owning the car. The deposit is significantly smaller than with other finance options, and the pre-agreed fixed time and fee make for appealing factors, as well as not having to worry about depreciation.

Using your savings is another way of purchasing a car. You could also look into the pros and cons of Contract Hire and Business Hire Purchase.

So which car finance option should you choose?

The options laid out above are the most simple ways to car finance, particularly if you are a first time buyer. If you wish to speak to an expert, call Sandyford Motor Centre Car Dealership in South Dublin, who would be happy to talk you through your finance options.

Sandyford Motor Centre in South Dublin stocks a range of new and used vehicles including the Mazda and Peugeot brands
Sandyford Motor Centre in South Dublin stocks a range of new and used vehicles including the Mazda and Peugeot brands

Thinking about buying a new car this winter? You will want to get the best 201 offer

Every 201 Offer And Car Deal For Ireland

Thinking about buying a new car this winter? You will want to get the best 201 offer
Thinking about buying a new car this winter? You will want to get the best 201 offer

On January 1st 2020 we enter the new 201 registration period, and there are a number of 201 offers and car deals buyers can avail of from manufacturers. We’ve put together a list of 201 offers and any scrappage deals available. This list will be updated as more manufacturers release their offers. For more information visit the manufacturer’s website or your local dealer.


3.9% APR available on A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7 and Q2, Q3, Q7 and Q8 SUVs. 2.9% APR available on limited edition Q5 and A3 Saloon. Special upgrade packs available across the range with more gear for less money.


Across the Duster SUV, Sandero, Sandero Stepway SUV and Logan MCV, buyers can avail of zero deposit and 4.9% APR. These 201 offers are available on all orders taken from now until 31st January 2020.


At the Ford 201 Sales Event, there's a registration bonus of up to a €1,000, 7 years warranty and 7 years roadside assistance available. Deals include: a Ford Fiesta Titanium with the option of a 3.9% APR rate or a Registration Bonus of €1,000; new Ford Focus ST-Line with the option of a 1.9% APR rate or €1,000 Registration Bonus, priced from €24,481 with special Upgrade Pack that includes a rear view camera; and a Ford EcoSport Titanium with the option of a 3.9% APR rate or €1,000 Registration Bonus, priced from €23,820 with special Upgrade Pack that includes privacy glass, front parking sensors and a rear spoiler.


3.9% finance on Honda Civic (Hire Purchase or PCP) or “Complimentary Platinum Service Plan” on any Civic purchased before 31st December 2019 and registered before 31st January 2020. For 201, customers can upgrade to the four door Civic Sedan for the same price as the five door Civic Hatchback. The Sedan Premium grade also carries a higher specification than the hatchback in the same trim, adding LED fog lights, LED headlights with washer, wireless charging and heated rear seats, valued at €1,500.


Buyers can avail of 5 years free servicing or 3.9% finance or scrappage of up to €5000 on all new cars ordered in November for registration in January 2020.


0% APR on leading models including Sportage, Stonic and the Ceed range. 3.9% APR on other models and PCP finance across the range at the same interest rate. order your 201 Kia before 18th December 2019 and also receive a €500 SuperValu Gift Card.


Up to €5,500 scrappage on your old car when you buy a 201 Nissan. Scrappage available on all models. Entire passanger range is now available at 3.9% APR.


201 offers available on all orders taken from now until 31st January 2020. Renault is rewarding customers for choosing a cleaner, lower emissions car with Renault Carbon Rewards. Customers are guaranteed savings of €3,500 on new cars with €1,000 Carbon Cashback and 2.01% APR. This offer is available on the electric Renault ZOE, and lower emission diesel and petrol variants of the Clio, Captur, Kadjar and Mégane range. On the Renault Kadjar, customers can avail of savings of €4,000 (with €1,000 cashback and €3,000 finance savings).


0% PCP finance rates available on all Ibiza, Arona, Leon, Ateca and Tarraco models. The brand is also offering customers a discount voucher, which when downloaded from the SEAT Ireland website allows for discounts of up to €2,000 on selected models. There is a €1,000 discount voucher on the Ibiza and Arona, €1,500 voucher available on the Ateca, and a €2,000 voucher available on the Leon and the Tarraco. SEAT's 3-year service plan is available to all customers at a special discounted price of €299. Offers valid until 30th November.


3 years servicing as standard across all passenger car models. 201 offers include: 2.9% APR on Aygo x-play; up to €2,500 trade in booster and 3.9% APR available on Yaris petrol; 4.75% APR on Yaris and RAV4 Hybrids; 3.9% APR or up to €1,000 trade in booster on Corolla Saloon, Hatchback and Touring Sports hybrid; 3.9% APR or up to €3,000 trade in booster on new 2020 C-HR; 3.9% APR on Camry; 3.9% APR or up to €3,000 trade in booster on Prius.


For 201, new offers include PCP finance starting from 0% APR, purchase contributions of up to €2,500, service plan packs, R-Line model upgrades and technology upgrades. 201 offer only available on new retail sales ordered before 31st December and registered before 31st March 2020.

Caroline at the 2020 Irish Car of the Year Refresher Day at Mondello Park

2020 Irish Car of the Year Refresher Day!


It's that time of year again! The Continental Tyres 2020 Irish Car of the Year competition kicked off with a Refresher Day at Mondello Park. 48 cars are eligible for Irish Car of the Year 2020. Winners revealed on November 7th. Watch my video for a behind the scenes look at the competition!

For more information on the competition, click here.

Jalopy is an Irish company that simplifies car servicing for car owners by allowing users to compare and book garages close to them using a free app.

Everything You Need To Know About The Jalopy Car Servicing App

Jalopy is an Irish company that simplifies car servicing for car owners by allowing users to compare and book garages close to them using a free app.
Jalopy is a free app that allows car owners to get quotes for car servicing and car repairs from multiple garages near them

Jalopy is an Irish company that simplifies car servicing for car owners by allowing users to compare and book garages close to them using a free app. I recently spoke to Jalopy co-founder Vincent McElwain about the benefits of the app and the attitude of Irish consumers towards using technology for traditional services like car servicing.

1) What is Jalopy?

Jalopy is the GoCompare of car servicing and repairs in Ireland. Our platform allows car owners to compare prices, location, qualifications and the availability of garages across Ireland. For every car service you book through our platform, we offset a tonne of carbon emissions on your behalf helping us all to do our bit for our environment. We can typically save customers between 20%/30% on car servicing and our platform is free to use. Jalopy also helps garages provide a superior digital experience for their customers, helping them with a new source of revenue.

2) What inspired Jalopy?

We have all been in a situation where we have struggled to compare the prices and quality of garages available. As technology people, we love to solve technology problems and we felt the garage after market is globally under served by the technology giants. We also felt that the car industry in general has a poor reputation when it comes to environmental issues so we felt there was an opportunity to build something that would help a lot of people and genuinely help the earth at the same time.

3) What problem does Jalopy solve?

Jalopy helps car owners to shop around for the best deal for car repairs and service. We all have busy lives now and people don't have the time to phone around to get a bargain.

We have also found that some of our partner garages really want to connect with the smartphone user base and we make that possible. One of the really positive findings for garages here was that most of the time the customer does not go for the cheapest price - they usually pick a price point in the middle. Customers really like the garage profile on Jalopy where they can read through the garage's bio, certifications and look at images of the premises.

Location information is also an important deciding factor for customers and Jalopy allows you to compare transit options so you can figure out how to get there and back. The garage can offer up to 21 days of availability to customers, which allows customers to choose a time slot that suits them. There are loads of other cool features built into Jalopy: the Jargon Buster helps customers that don't know the difference between a carburettor and a carbonara; a chat feature; and an online service history. We even allow you to manage multiple vehicles under one profile so you can organise a car service for your son, mother or grandparent.

The Jalopy app is simple and easy to use for car owners and garages
The Jalopy app is simple and easy to use for car owners and garages

4) How does Jalopy work?

Simply visit and sign in. Enter your car registration and you're off. We will automatically send your job request to garages near you and you can even look for a mobile garage to come to you if you prefer. Multiple garages will send you an estimate and you select your preferred option. Visit your chosen garage as per your booking and pay them as you would normally. The garage then sends you a notification through the app of your service record or receipt and we offset a tonne of carbon on your behalf. All done at no extra cost to the customer.

5) What sort of feedback have you received from users of the app?

The feedback has been very good. We worked very closely with garages and car owners to design something that would be useful and easy to use. We all have a responsibility to our environment and customers love that they can help reduce their carbon footprint without having to do a thing other than book their service through Jalopy.

One of our customers recently failed her NCT. She heard our ad on the radio and signed up immediately. She had estimates back in minutes and booked her car through the app straight away. She was back on the road the very next day. We have had a lot of repeat business also, which is a great sign that we are doing something right with our platform.

6) From your experience how ready are Irish consumers to use technology for traditional services like booking a car service?

This is a great question. At Jalopy we are offering a unique service to car owners in Ireland, so some time will be required for people to become comfortable with this model. But more and more people want to engage with businesses through their smartphone and spend less time talking to someone like a mechanic. People also want to potentially look for a garage on a Sunday or late at night. makes this possible.

There are a lot more people moving into Ireland and around Ireland so there are many people out there who don't have a garage they would regularly go to. From some of our research, there is a significant growth in the number of people searching for car services online and people really do like to get a bargain, especially if they can do this with little effort. Our customer base is growing fast and we are also growing our garage partner network across the country. We have had really positive feedback and adoption.

7) How responsive is the car service industry to embracing technology to improve the customer experience?

Jalopy has some wonderful garages on our platform really interested in offering a great customer experience and treating people well. Garages are busy places with a lot going on but they realise technology is beginning to over take their traditional business models. People book everything these days through their phone whether it's tickets or taxis and why would the garage industry be any different? Jalopy is really pleased with the take up from garages but largely this is because we listen to them and have honed our product to serve them well. We have built in some accelerators and some other "Jalopy Secret Sauce" items to minimise how long they need to spend replaying to customers. We have already signed up over 50 garages and that grows almost daily.

8) Future plans?

We have more really good new features to be rolled out that will further assist both garages and customers. Ideally we would like to bring Jalopy to other countries. We are solving a global problem so we are currently looking at possible export markets. We are growing fast and have loads of ideas about how we can expand. We are always looking for additional partner garages to join us. Please visit to sign up!

Caroline and Bianca in France

Changing Lanes, Arctic Swan And The Lanes Challenge

Caroline and Bianca in France
Caroline and Bianca in France

Arctic Swan, Changing Lanes And The Lanes Challenge

It all started when my friend and co-automotive blogger, Bianca Hurduc of Arcticswan, invited me to her hometown of Thionville, France. There was talk of great cars, road trips and crossing borders into Luxembourg and Germany. It was an invitation I could not refuse and I knew it would be a fun adventure with Bianca as chief-coordinator. So I checked my diary, booked some flights and packed my bag. Simples!

Bianca sorted the cars for the weekend with her contacts at DS Store Thionville and Losch Luxembourg. We also needed the latest and trendiest eyewear for our bespoke road trip. So thank you to Mes Petites Binocles who supplied us with the prettiest of sunglasses for the weekend.

Bianca also introduced a challenge aspect and so ‘The Lanes Challenge’ was born. We documented our adventures through photos and videos posted on social media. And we also made a video, which you can watch here!

Day 1: France

On Day 1, we popped over to DS Store Thionville to collect our first test car, the quintessential French DS 3 Crossback. The model provided to us was particularly special because it was the La Premiere (First Edition) with a luxurious specification that included ruby red quilted leather seats and 18 inch Black Onyx diamond-cut alloy wheels. Quelle beauté! Under the bonnet there was the 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine with 155 hp and the car featured an 8-speed automatic transmission.

I was happy to let Bianca plan and sort out our itinerary for the weekend, as I believed in her intuition and local knowledge. So where did she bring me in the DS 3 Crossback?

The beautiful DS3 Crossback from DS Store Thionville
The beautiful DS3 Crossback from DS Store Thionville

Our first stop was the beautiful Château de Malbrouck, close to the German border and the town of Manderen. Before exploring the castle, the DS 3 Crossback posed for a few shots outside the castle. The elegance and style of the DS 3 Crossback of course blended beautifully with the classic French château. Clever Bianca! I was feeling full of joie de vivre at this point, a feeling that would become very familiar to me over the weekend!

The castle was an exciting place to explore with four towers and a parapet walk. Then an almighty thunderstorm arrived somewhere after ‘The Witches Tower’ with a heavy accompaniment of rain. It was a beautiful and atmospheric experience thereafter, one that will stay with me for a long time.

Then it was time to begin making our return journey and it was my turn behind the wheel. I was super excited to drive the new DS 3 Crossback as it hasn’t arrived in Ireland yet and I really enjoyed the larger DS 7 Crossback when I drove it earlier in the year.

The significance of driving a French car through the French countryside and visiting a French château was not wasted on me. The DS 3 Crossback is smooth and agile on the road and I quickly relaxed behind the wheel. The engine is a typical gem from the PSA group with brisk performance and excellent refinement.

The interior of the DS 3 Crossback is quite individual and heavily adorned being a twist on contemporary French luxury. The diamond motif features heavily in the interior and while some of the switches can be hard to find on the move, the digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen are as clear as day!

Bianca had another surprise in store for me. The sat nav directed me to Schengen, which is a small town on the border between France, Luxembourg and Germany. The famous Schengen Agreement was also signed here, which led to the creation of the Schengen Area and the abolition of internal border checks.

I believe Bianca was slightly bemused by my enthusiasm for taking photos of road signs but she cooperated amiably. It was so inspiring to be able to walk between three countries, across the beautiful Moselle river.

Concluding thoughts on Day 1: I’ve had fun, I’ll never forget that thunderstorm, I’m tired, Schengen was awesome, I can’t wait to drive the DS 3 Crossback on Irish roads, thank you Bianca for an awesome Day 1.

The DS3 Crossback at Chateau de Malbrouck
The DS3 Crossback at Chateau de Malbrouck

Day 2: Germany

It was time to change the whole mood and pace of the Changing Lanes/Arctic Swan collaboration. And who was responsible for that change? The Volkswagen Up GTI!

Bianca had arranged an Up GTI from Losch Luxembourg as our test car for the next few days. Again, I was super excited to be driving the new Volkswagen Up GTI because it’s not officially on sale in Ireland.

The Volkswagen Up GTI looks the business in the metal. Our test car was finished in white with red and black GTI branding and elements. The Up is cute for sure and very compact! Inside, the Up GTI carries the classic GTI tartan seat upholstery and features a special red dashboard panel and gear knob with GTI badging. It’s very SMART with typical VW build quality. In terms of equipment it’s basic enough with no touchscreen, but there was air con, electric windows, cruise control and Bluetooth.

So what had Bianca planned for today? Well, she had an awesome day planned for me in Germany. And again, driving a German car in Germany was not wasted on me!

But first it was time for a challenge. I was put in the driver’s seat to take us from Thionville to Trier in Germany without GPS. Feeling confident, I hit the motorway.

It was a good opportunity to get to know the Up GTI a little better. The free revving 1.0 115hp petrol engine is perfect for nipping around town and putting larger cars to shame, while on the twisty stuff the Up GTI is fun, fun, fun, with a pure and natural feeling to the drive. You might not be going exceptionally fast but you will feel like you are flying! Volkswagen pumps some artificial engine noise into the cabin to enhance your driving experience and it’s actually a very realistic growl and adds to the sporty ambience!

So there we were on our way to Trier. Without the lady from Google maps telling us where to go. And me driving. Soon we passed the border between Luxembourg and Germany and I began to see the signs for Trier. I think Bianca was trying to distract me as she was talking a lot, which was nice of course, but I could easily have had my mind carried off to some obscure region of Bianca’s brain and missed the exit for Trier and end up in an even more obscure region of Germany.  So I politely stayed focused on the task at hand (sorry Bianca!), took the exit off the motorway for Trier, and joined the traffic on the way into the city.

At the Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany
At the Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany

I was really excited to be in Trier because it’s the home of Rallye Deutschland and I won the challenge! Finding a parking spot proved more difficult, not because of the Up’s small dimensions, but because everyone seemed to have decided to go shopping in Trier on that day. Still we got the Up parked and began walking the streets before stopping in a traditional German restaurant for some fine local food.

I was in awe that I had eaten breakfast in France and was now having lunch in Germany after already driving through Luxembourg. I observed the difference in the cultures, the way the people were dressed and how they carried themselves. We got as far as the Porta Nigra (Latin for ‘black gate’), which is a local landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in the 2nd century by the Romans and was the old gate into the city. Inspiring stuff once again!

Then it was back to the car, this time with Bianca taking the helm. She took me to the beautiful, picturesque Bernkastel-Kues, another chocolate box German village on the banks of the magic Moselle. The Moselle valley is famous for wine and there are vines growing just on the outskirts of town and along our driving route. This town reminded me of Ireland and all the greenery made it feel like home too.

Then it was back in the car and we followed the Moselle back home. I was driving during what was another torrential downpour. I had left Ireland seeking sunnier climes but the rain here was some of the heaviest I had ever seen!

We made it back to Thionville after our German adventure and put the Up to bed for the night, to dream of the next day’s adventure.

Day 2 highlights: the church bells at Trier Cathedral, an amazing lunch, the beautiful Moselle valley, beauty tips from Bianca in Bernkastel-Kues (!).

The Volkswagen Up GTI from Losch Luxembourg
The Volkswagen Up GTI from Losch Luxembourg

Day 3: Luxembourg

So it was Day 3. Could Bianca Hurduc of Arcticswan fame really do better today? Could she outdo herself in the itinerary planned for today? Was she still gunning for crown of France’s best travel blogger as well as top automotive blogger?

HELL YEAH because Sunday turned out to be unforgettable also.

We fired up the Up and hit the highway for Luxembourg. Our destination was Vianden Castle close to the German border. Viandan Castle has huge historical significance and is a proper fairytale castle. We must have spent a few hours there. But after an afternoon looking at old stuff, it was nice to get back into the modern cabin of the Up GTI – the coolest city car that ever roamed the earth!

I grabbed the keys from Bianca and we headed for some of Luxembourg’s finest rural roads – such beautiful roads and scenery! I was having fun.

Our destination was Luxembourg city. Now Luxembourg is a place I never thought I would visit in my life. As a kid I would have looked at the map and thought “That’s a tiny spot, I’ll never go there”. Well life has surprises for us.

Luxembourg city turned out to be a real highlight for me. But first food. Bianca knew where we could get the best burgers in town, which we did. But the Irish must have been here because there were a scary number of Irish references on the menu.

So once we had filled our tanks, it was time to explore. Luxembourg city is beautiful – elegant, clean, quirky and full of surprises. I had no idea that the city was on two levels. We had another pinch yourself moment in the Notre Dame Cathedral, as we arrived just as Sunday service was coming to a close. It was so special I cried!

SO…after another truly special day, we drove back to Thionville and put Up GTI to bed for the last time. This was going to be emotional.

Day 3 highlights: that burger, that church, that city, that plane, that video, MAGIC happened. Luxembourg you were awesome!

Getting to know the staff at Vianden Castle. Luxembourg
Getting to know the staff at Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

Day 4: Lost in Thionville

And so it was emotional. But not before Bianca let me off in the car, this time the challenge to find the centre of Thionville without GPS, park the car and behave like a French person (haha not really).

But I enjoyed exploring Thionville, itself full of history and character, and got the opportunity to talk in bad French to the people in the stores. On the way back to Bianca’s house I did the very French thing of stopping in the Carrefour shopping mall to buy nothing other than Jeff Bruges chocolate. Life was happening in Thionville just like anywhere else in the world and yes I felt happy and comfortable here.

But all good things must come to an end and it was a rather sombre Caroline and Bianca that brought the Up GTI back to Losch Luxembourg on Monday afternoon.

But Bianca had one last challenge for me. To read the description of the car in German! I took a ten-week German course when I was 21 but never really got far past hello (hallo) and goodbye (Auf Wiedersehen). But I gave it a good shot and well, I think she was impressed.

We had our memories, a thick tapestry of painting places with hearts and tyres – a weekend of fun, laughter, tears, selfies, ice cream and coffee. My heart was full and the Up was part of it.

I was touched by Bianca’s kindness and thoughtfulness towards me, to take me into her home and her family with the warmest of welcomes and finest hospitality. I was very grateful to Bianca’s motoring partners DS Store Thionville and Losch Luxembourg for allowing the Irish person they had never met to drive their cars. We had an amazing time and we are already plotting a new awesome collaboration!

The magic Volkswagen Up GTI in Luxembourg city!

A bientôt!


a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global

Interview With João Isaac, Garagem Global

João Issac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global
João Issac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global

João Isaac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder and editor of the blog Garagem Global. I recently spoke to João about his favourite cars and how he began his career in motoring writing!

1. Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

First of all, I want to thank you for this interview, Caroline. It really is a pleasure to share my experience with you and all the Changing Lanes readers. My name is João Isaac. I´m 33 and I’m from Lisbon, Portugal. Let’s cut to the chase: I love everything about cars. It was always my obsession since I can remember. In my youth, what started with playing with toy cars and reading all the car magazines I could buy, evolved to something that’s more than just a hobby. It’s a way of life. My way of life, I’m truly addicted to cars. Their history, how they changed throughout the years and evolved to what we know and drive today. From the iconic and expensive classics to the humblest new hatchback you can buy today at any dealership, I do believe they all have something special. They all have a story to tell. As a product, since their early development stages until the day they finally leave the roads and give way to a replacement. It’s a big journey worth sharing. And let’s not forget the most important part of a car, the memories we create while driving them and living with them through our lives. Those are the best ones.

2. What was your first car?

I inherited my first car. It’s a 1991 Seat Ibiza 1.2 GLX with System Porsche engine and was bought new by my grandparents. I still own it today and it has only 43,000 miles on the clock. It’s my pride and joy. It has huge sentimental value to me. The first car I bought is another Ibiza. It’s a 2001 model with a 1.9 TDI engine and it is my daily driver. This one has nearly 250,000 miles and has never left me stranded on the side of the road. I can't sell it either. I love them both.

3. Why did you start your blog?

My blog Garagem Global started because I needed more cars in my life. Collecting magazines, attending classic car and racing events to take some pictures, hearing the engines roaring and buy some memorabilia wasn’t enough. I also developed a special taste for photography in these events, which I thought I could use one day to shoot press cars and events I could get in to. So one day while working at an event in Circuito do Estoril (at the time I worked as a consultant in a Fleet Management company) I met Renault Portugal’s PR and made my first move. I introduced myself and told him I was beginning a new blog and that I needed a first car to review and start working on my dream job. He accepted my suggestion and a few days later I found myself driving a cabriolet Mégane. This was the beginning and soon other brands and cars followed.

João and the Mazda MX-5
João driving the Mazda MX-5 RF

4. What attracted you to this industry?

The engineering part of it plays a big role here. I have an engineering degree and my love for cars was the main reason I chose it. But as I said before, the car as a product and the way it changed throughout the years is also very relevant to me. I'm interested in knowing how car manufacturers have evolved since their beginnings and how relevant each model was and still is to the market. And of course, the act of driving. There’s nothing like driving your car, on your favourite road. As someone once said, way before me, “It's not about the destination, it’s the drive to get there that really matters the most”. If I could spend all of my time behind the wheel, I’d do it. No doubts about that.

5. What would be in your dream 3 car garage?

This has to be one of the trickiest ones. Can I change it to “Which cars would be in your 3 enormous garages?” Back to reality. I would say a fully loaded rally Spec Mk1 Ford Escort, a Porsche 911 GT3RS and something fast but usable on normal roads. Something beautiful and great to drive like an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. It can be driven hard at a race track or on a winding road, but it can also be very competent as a daily driver.

6. What has been your favourite car to test and why?

I think I have to say the Caterham 7. It gave me the most pure, analog and emotional experience possible at the wheel of a car. It’s not the most practical car in the world at all, I’ll admit it, but it is so much fun and so good to look at! I’m writing this and at the same time I’m remembering those few days I had that magical key in my hand. As I said earlier, memories.

Joao and the Hyundai i30N
João driving the Hyundai i30N

7. Most memorable moment of your career to date?

My first day working for a car magazine was very special. It was something I pursued for a long time. But later I had the opportunity to drive an Audi R8 V10 Plus at the Ascari Race Circuit. This has to be one of those moments that I will keep forever in my mind. It really was epic. I loved every single moment of that day.

8. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a motoring journalist?

Don’t stop believing and don’t stop trying. If the opportunity does not show, go around and make it happen. Find another way to make it real and believe in yourself and in your passion. I have tried for many years to start working for a car magazine and I have never made it. So I decided to work on that anyway by creating my blog. It all started way back in 2014 and I have to say I never made any money directly from that. Of course, my blog provided me a way of developing my writing abilities and a way to show my work, which has evolved into my first paid job as a motoring journalist in a car magazine during 2018. But money was not the point. That was not my objective. I started driving the cars I love and being with important people from the industry that I followed for years. That still gives me great pleasure. I enjoy it like it was the first time. My point is: use your time to make it happen. Start writing and let your motoring journalist journey begin. The path you choose will be great. I’m sure of that because there will be cars on the way. Lots of them.

Thank you to João for taking part in this interview!

You can follow João on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Driving test tips for Ireland in association with Liberty Insurance!

Top Tips For Passing Your Driving Test

Driving test tips for Ireland in association with Liberty Insurance!
Driving test tips for Ireland in association with Liberty Insurance!

Disclosure: This is paid for content. Sponsored by Liberty Insurance.

Your driving test is coming up and you’re not sure if you need to fix that broken indicator light or just how important reverse parking really is. To clear up any questions you may have, we spoke to Matthew Connors, General Manager at the Airport Driving School, to get his advice and tips to help you fully prepare for the day.

“It’s very important that people are aware of the important points, as it’s easy to make a simple mistake. People often fail a test if they park incorrectly or if they are coasting. Also, it’s important to have your Learner Permit, tax, insurance and NCT in date. It’s very common for people to fail the test if these are out of date,” says Matthew, who has been a driving instructor since 2005.

Keep two hands on the steering wheel!
Keep two hands on the steering wheel!

Here's Matthew's list of tips to help you pass your test (hint: best to avoid doing doughnuts!).

Driving Test Tips

  1. Make sure you are accompanied to the test centre, ideally with an RSA ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) and don’t forget to bring your Learner Permit. Be sure to check that it is still in date.
  2. Make sure your car is in a roadworthy condition and your Tax, Insurance and NCT (if required) are in date. Also, be sure you have L-Plates on the car.
  3. Be at the test centre at least 15 minutes before your test. Arriving at the centre last minute will more than likely leave you stressed before you even begin your test.
  4. Study the Rules of the Road to make sure you have a good start with the examiner. Also, practise opening and closing the bonnet of the vehicle you are driving for the test.
  5. Make sure your car is reversed into a car parking spot as this will make it easier as you begin the test.
  6. Check your brake lights and indicators at least 30 minutes before your test time, as this may allow you time to get a replacement bulb if needed.
  7. Stay calm and drive the way your instructor trained you. Listen to the examiner’s instructions as they will give you plenty of time before any turn. (Tip - Don’t anticipate a turn even if you recognise it from your lessons, wait for the instruction from the examiner).
  8. Don’t give up even if you think you made a mistake as it may not be as bad as you think.
  9. When reversing around a corner, don’t get too close to the kerb as this may result in rubbing or mounting the kerb. Clutch control is vital to keep the car at walking pace whilst maintaining all-round observation.
  10. The ‘Turn In The Road’ manoeuvre is not a 3-point turn. In fact, it may be completed in as many turns as required depending on the width of the road and the size of your car.
  11. Coasting is a very common mistake for learner drivers. This means pressing your clutch down too early before you stop or not releasing it once you have changed gear. (Tip—Don’t put your foot on the clutch unless you are going to use it and press the clutch down approximately one car length before you plan to stop.)
  12. Practise parking because you will be required to park at a spot of your choice at the end of the test. (Tip - Park in the easiest and most convenient spot once the test is finished).

With all these tips, you will be well on your way to clutching that coveted N plate. Double-check the list and leave the flip-flops at home - good driving shoes essential!

Once you pass your driving test, great value car insurance for young drivers from Liberty Insurance will get you Ready for the Real World.

Bianca and the Audi A1

Interview With Bianca Hurduc, Arctic Swan

Bianca and the Audi A1
Bianca and the Audi A1

Bianca Hurduc is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the car blog Arctic Swan. She is based in France and her site features a mixture of automotive news, interviews and test drives!

1. Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences?

Hi everyone, I'm Bianca and I'm an automotive blogger based in France, at the border with Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany. I discovered my passion for cars when I was little but I didn't explore it until almost two years ago, when I decided to turn it into an entrepreneurial initiative, by starting my own automotive magazine. I love coffee, the sound of engines and driving, of course.

2. What was your first car? 

It was a blue Opel Corsa C, 3-door hatchback, 1.3 L. Born in 2002.

3. What inspired your blog Arctic Swan?

When a woman becomes a mother, her whole life changes in a heartbeat. After I had my daughter I became a stay-at-home mom, although until then I was a workaholic involved in the business of online media publishing. I bought my web domain months before I started my project and it's called ArcticSwan because my aim was to dye my hair in arctic grey color (this is still a plan). I have been searching for many years for an idea I would be deeply passionate about. I thought about it a lot. Didn't find it. Until one day - it was just a regular day in which I was driving to the supermarket and I noticed that there were many women in the traffic. Then, I just knew that an automotive project written from a feminine perspective was something I had to create. Women behind the wheel inspired me to create this blog.

Bianca and the Tesla Model X
Bianca and the Tesla Model X

4. How does it feel as a woman entering what has traditionally been the male domain of cars?  

Very good! Since this is a niche that hasn't yet been totally explored by women there are plenty of creative projects that can be built around cars, from a feminine point of view. I'm speaking of automotive content, there are many ladies that work in this industry and they do a great job.

5. What is the mission of Arctic Swan?

First of all, this is an online book I'm creating for my daughter. I think and hope she will enjoy reading what her mom wrote and maybe she will remember our trips with these cars we are testing together.

The other mission of Arctic Swan is to become the place where women come to inform themselves when they want to buy a new car. Women pick their cars slightly differently to men. Their top preferences are not quite the same. And since I think there is not enough automotive content that answers women's automotive questions, Arctic Swan can help lady drivers to make a decision.

6. Which car has been your favourite to test and why?

Oh, this is a hard question to answer! I loved every single car I tested. I'm grateful I have the chance to drive the newest cars on the market, I'm in Candyland. But if I had to choose, I would say it depends on my lifestyle. The BMW Z4 sDrive 30i will always have a special place in my heart but in this moment of my life I would choose the Audi A1 - it's a combination of the things I search for in a car right now and this is the first one that inspired my daughter to climb behind a steering wheel. If I would have to choose a car for a family roadtrip, the Tesla Model X would be my first choice.  For our family daily-drive I would choose the DS7 Crossback. There's a new hybrid version I would like to test.

7. What has been your most memorable moment with Arctic Swan so far?

It was the 3rd of March 2018 and it started snowing, although a few days earlier spring seemed to embrace the region. It was a special thing because it happened seconds after I had just climbed in the first car I ever tested in partnership with a car dealer, a lovely, acid yellow Hyundai Kona.

Bianca and the Hyundai Kona
Bianca and the Hyundai Kona

8. What is your favourite music to listen to in the car?

It depends on the car but I prefer the rock genre until a car makes me shut down the music because I want to listen its engine instead! (As it happened with the Z4, for example).

9. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start a successful blog?

Don't do it for the money but for the journey.

10. What's next for Arctic Swan?

I'm planning a series of special projects around my drive tests, some of them in partnership with other car bloggers. I also plan to participate at more car events.

Bianca and the BMW Z4
Bianca and the BMW Z4

Thanks to Bianca for taking part in this interview! You can follow her across social media:





Everything you need to know about PCP finance

Five Things To Consider Before Signing A PCP Contract

Everything you need to know about PCP finance
Everything you need to know about PCP finance

With the 192 registration period fast approaching on the 1st July, many of you will be exploring your options when it comes to financing a new car. We've teamed up with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to find out more about PCP finance and what to consider before signing a PCP contract.

PCP finance has become one of the most popular forms of car finance with approximately one-third of new cars bought using this type of finance. PCP finance is also increasingly used to finance second hand cars. PCPs usually involve low monthly repayments and a relatively quick approval process on the garage forecourt.

Research published in the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s (CCPC) PCP report, showed that these products are complex and consumers can find it difficult to understand how they work, particularly at the end of an agreement. In the run up to the sale of new ‘192’ registered cars, the CCPC is running an information campaign to help consumers understand PCPs so that they can make informed decisions on what is best for their circumstances.

Áine Carroll, Director of Communications and Policy in the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said: “PCPs are significant long-term financial commitments. The complexity of PCP products, coupled with the value of these agreements, means that it is extremely important that consumers understand what they are signing up to. This can only happen when consumers understand how the product works.”

Five things to think about before signing a PCP contract

1. PCP finance is not like other types of car finance

A large part of the cost is deferred until the end of the agreement. This means that monthly repayments are lower than they would be using a traditional loan or hire purchase. If you are considering PCP finance, it is important that you do not focus entirely on the affordability of the monthly repayments but consider the full price of the car (including running costs) and what you intend to do at the end of your agreement.

2. Consider at the start what you want to do at the end

The complicating feature of PCPs is that, at the end of the agreement, you have three options: to pay the Guaranteed Minimum Future Value (the lump sum at the end), hand back the keys or start a new PCP agreement for another car. Your intention at the end of the contract is extremely important. For example, if you intend on buying the car outright at the end, you may need to save up the lump sum. Or if you intend on trading in the car, you will need to keep within certain mileage limits and ensure the car is maintained to agreed standards – and adhering to these requirements is also important if you plan on starting another PCP at the end of the agreement. It is important to know that you may not be able to end your contract early should your circumstances change.

3. Remember you do not own the car until the last payment

Unlike paying for a car with a loan from a bank or a credit union where you own the car straight away, with PCPs you do not own the car unless you pay the lump sum at the end of the agreement. This has practical implications such as, you cannot sell the car without the permission of the finance company.

4. If you want to roll your contract into a new one

At the end of a PCP, if you intend in trading in your car for a newer model you will need to pay a deposit for your new car. There may be equity in your current car, if at the end of the term the Guaranteed Minimum Future Value is lower than the market value of the car. This equity can be used as a deposit for the new car. Factors such as the condition of the car or changes in the second-hand car market can impact on the market value and so you should not take equity in the car as guaranteed to cover the deposit for a new car.

5. A PCP can affect your credit rating

Like any loan, your PCP finance will appear on your credit history. This means that if you apply for a mortgage or any other type of credit, the value of the full PCP will be taken into account when lenders are assessing a credit application. And like any credit agreement, if you miss payments on your PCP, that will be recorded on your credit history which may impact on your ability to borrow in the future.

Thanks to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) for providing the content of this article. For more information before signing up for a PCP contract, click here.

192 offers and car deals for Ireland

192 Offers And Car Deals For Ireland


192 offers and car deals for Ireland
Thinking about buying a new car this summer? You will want to get the best 192 offer

On July 1st 2019 we enter the new 192 registration period, and there are a number of 192 offers and car deals buyers can avail of from manufacturers. We’ve put together a list of 192 offers available and this list will be updated as more manufacturers release their offers. For more information visit the manufacturer’s website or your local dealer.


192 offers include special Audi service plans from €15.99 per month as well as a complementary €250 Audi genuine accessories offer. APR rates from 2.9% on Audi Q5 and 3.9% on Audi A6. Offers available on vehicles registered before 31stAugust.


0% APR across C3, C4 Cactus and C4 Spacetourer. 3.9% APR across C1, C3 Aircross, Berlingo, C5 Aircross and Spacetourer. 


Dacia is offering customers 0 deposit and 4.9% APR across the range including the Duster SUV, Sandero, Sandero Stepway SUV and Logan MCV.


Deals on offer include reductions on some of Ford’s most popular models including the Ka+, Fiesta, EcoSport, Focus and Kuga. There's also 7 years warranty on offer, 7 years roadside assistance, 1 year free road tax, 3.9 percent APR and upgrade packs for selected models that include a range of extras at reduced prices.


Honda has launched their ‘High Five’ campaign. For a limited time the Honda Civic Diesel will be available with a choice of 5 offers: 3.9% APR PCP Finance Available OR €3,000 Guaranteed Minimum Trade – In Value OR Upgrade to 9 speed automatic OR Complimentary Platinum Service Plan and 1 years Free Road Tax OR €1,000 Deposit Contribution.


5 Years Unlimited Manufacturer’s Warranty, 5 Years Free Health Check and 5 Years AA Roadside Assistance across the range. 3.9% APR finance on i10, i20, i30 Hatchback, i30 Fastback, i30 Tourer, ix20, Tucson, Kona, Santa Fe, and i40 if you book and register by 29th June 2019. Or five years of free servicing. Or avail of scrappage bonus of up to €5,000.


To celebrate Jaguar's wins at the 2019 World Car Awards with the new I-PACE, customers can enjoy a €3,000 discount across the Jaguar range. Each model also comes with 3-year warranty, 3-year roadside assistance and a free 3-year service plan. Discount available until 31st August 2019.


0% APR on HP for 192 Niro Plug-In Hybrid, Sportage and Stonic models ordered before 30th August.


Get up to €5,500 scrappage on your old car when you buy a 192 Nissan. Scrappage available on all models (excluding LEAF). 0% APR on new Nissan Micra. 3.9% APR on other models on PCP Finance.


Customers who register their new 192 car before 31st July can avail of finance from 3.9%, plus either scrappage up to €4,000, or a deposit contribution of up to €750 on younger trade ins. All cars come with a five-year extended warranty.


0% APR and 0 deposit across the model range including the Clio, Captur, Kadjar, Megane, Koleos, Scenic and Grand Scenic. All cars come with 5 years’ warranty and 5 years’ roadside assistance as standard. On the Renault ZOE Z.E. 40, customers can avail of 0% APR HP. These offers are available on all new car registrations from now until 31st July.


Until July 31st, there's 0% PCP finance on selected SEAT models. Monthly repayments on SEAT’s SUV range start from €219 for the Arona, from €289 on the Ateca and from €349 on the new Tarraco, which includes a 3-year service plan. Monthly repayments on the SEAT Ibiza and SEAT Leon start from €189 and €239. There are also trade-in bonuses of €1,000 on the Arona, €2,000 on the Ibiza, Ateca and Tarraco and €3,000 on the Leon.


Trade-in boosters of up to €3,000, and APRs from 2.9% on passenger cars as part of Toyota's 192 offers. 3 years servicing as standard. Toyota's New Generation promotion runs from 5th – 8th June in dealerships with the full range of new generation self-charging hybrid and petrol models available for test drive.


PCP finance from 0% APR. Purchase contributions of up to €2500. Service plan packs, R-Line model upgrades and technology upgrades also available. Finance offer only available on new retail sales ordered before June 30th.