Chris and the Hyundai Genesis at a drive event near Quebec City

10 Questions With Chris Chase, Motoring Journalist

Chris and the Hyundai Genesis at a drive event near Quebec City
Chris and the Hyundai Genesis at a drive event near Quebec City

This week we're in Ottawa, Canada, for a chat with motoring journalist Chris Chase. Interviewing Chris was an opportunity to find out more about the motor industry in Canada and what it's like to work in the media there. Turns out being a motoring journalist in Canada is not too different from being one in Ireland. His advice for anyone wishing to pursue a career in this industry can translate across oceans and borders too.

I think I first came across Chris on Instagram back in 2016. I loved his 'Car by the River' photos where he would take a photo of each test car in the same sweet location by the Ottawa River. It was cool to see models I test too appear on his page in a another location on another continent in a different territory spec. When you're a car geek, these little things are interesting! Like why has the Mazda MX-5 got reflectors on the wheelarches! Why are you calling the Honda NSX an 'Acura'! And what's a Scion?

Here's what Chris has to say on cars, journalism and the best routes for road trippin' in Canada!

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

I’m a 42-year-old (soon to be 43) journalism school grad lucky enough to spend some of my working time writing about cars and the auto industry. I consider myself a more casual car enthusiast than a lot of the people I know from the 15 years I’ve been doing motoring journalism. I love fun, fast cars, but the ones that most attract my interest are the entertaining cars that a person of average means can afford to buy and own, and that are easy to use for every-day driving.

2. How did you start your career testing cars? 

In 2004, I began writing car-related news and feature articles for the local daily newspaper and used car articles for a website called CanadianDriver.com. My editors at those publications gave me a great opportunity to get started in the industry, and then let me take a crack at writing new car reviews. The first car I tested was a 2006 Hyundai Sonata. To that point, it was one of the nicest cars I’d ever driven. Suffice it to say things went uphill from there.

3. Can you explain the 'Car by the River' concept to our readers and how it came about?

Looking back through my Instagram feed, my first actual Car by the River post was in December 2014. I started using that label a few years after I realised I had made a habit of taking photos of the cars I review by the Ottawa River; it’s one of the most scenic backdrops in Ottawa, where I live. I often end up driving along the water on my way home from picking up press vehicles, so it’s an easy thing to stop at one of the public parking areas to take some pics. I wish the origin story was more exciting, but there you are.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4STCBClQME/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

4. How are things in the Canadian new car market at the moment?

Not great, but I’m sure Canada’s hardly unique in that respect. Sales were down significantly in the first quarter of 2020, and they’ll almost certainly drop much further as the coronavirus pandemic wears on. According to one piece of analysis I read, it was the worst first quarter for car sales since 2010, when the industry was recovering from the recession of 2008/2009. Some brands are reporting April 2020 sales around 80% lower than in April 2019.

The other part of the story is that there’s a lot of vehicle manufacturing in my home province of Ontario. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Honda have factories in the southern part of the province near the Great Lakes and the U.S. border, and many of them have suspended production to prevent an oversupply of new vehicles. There’s a huge number of third-party suppliers of vehicle components that have also lost a lot of work.

I’m curious (morbidly so, perhaps) to see how long it takes the country’s auto industry to recover when the worst of the pandemic has passed.

5. What car did you learn to drive in? 

A 1986 Honda Civic with a 5-speed stick. About a year after I learned to drive, my parents traded that car in for a Dodge Caravan minivan. My dad offered to give me the Civic with the caveat that I’d have to pay for any work it needed to pass a safety (what you call the NCT in Ireland). For some strange reason, my 17-year-old self said no – one of the many reasons I wish I could go back in time. I still miss that car. It was super simple and would have been great for learning to do maintenance and repairs. If any of your readers are young new drivers, my advice to them is to never turn down a free car!

6. Have you ever been to Ireland or driven 'on the wrong side of the road'?

I’ve not been to Ireland, though my wife and I want to go for our anniversary in 2021 (we’ll see how that goes, considering the pandemic and all).

In 2011, we spent a few days in Cornwall on England’s west tip. We rented a Vauxhall Astra in Penzance that we used to tour around the region. It was nerve-wracking the first couple of days thanks to the narrow rural roads and getting used to driving from the right-front seat. There were some funny moments, like having to stop to let a flock of geese waddle across the road, and terrifying ones too, such as rounding a blind curve to find a lorry bearing down us from the other direction. I got really good at reversing to make way for other vehicles on that trip. I finally felt like I was getting the hang of it all on the fourth day – the day I took the car back to the rental agency.

Chris with the Hyundai Accent back in 1998, which he owned for about 10 years
Chris with the Hyundai Accent back in 1998, which he owned for about 10 years

7. Favourite place in Canada for a road trip?

Some of my favourite roads are not too far from home, in the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec, where there are lots of secondary and tertiary routes with fun curves and big hills. In the winter, a bit of snow cover practically turns some of these routes into rally stages.

Way out on the west coast of Canada – which is four or five hours from Ottawa by plane and closer to a week away by car – there’s a road on Vancouver Island between Victoria and Tofino that combines breathtaking views with lots of twists and turns, including a handful of hairpins. I only wish I’d been driving something more fun than a rented Corolla on that trip.

To get from Ottawa to the Maritime provinces on Canada’s east coast, there’s a beautiful route that goes through Quebec City and then follows the St. Lawrence River to a town called Riviere du Loup (roughly translated: Wolf River), where you make the turn into the province of New Brunswick. It’s not an exciting drive by enthusiast standards, but you get a rarely interrupted view of the St. Lawrence, which is a vast waterway with huge significance in Canadian culture and history.

What I haven’t done, but want to, is drive the entirety of the Trans Canada Highway – all 7,800 km (almost 4,900 miles) of it from Victoria, British Columbia, to St. John’s, Newfoundland. If you want to get an idea of some of what you’d see driving across Canada, look up a movie called One Week. It stars Joshua Jackson (Pacey on Dawson’s Creek) as a guy who is diagnosed with cancer and then, on an impulse, buys a vintage motorcycle (the internet says it’s a Norton Commando) and rides it from Toronto to Tofino, B.C. It’s a beautifully made film that highlights Canada’s pretty scenery.

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

I always struggle with questions like this, only because there are so many interesting vehicles to choose from. My choices often surprise people because I don’t gravitate toward a lot of the vehicles typically favoured by car nuts.

My choice of classic car is the Citroen DS for its lovely design and interesting engineering. I would probably spend as much time looking at it (and maintaining it) as I did driving it because I can’t get enough of its styling.

For a daily driver, I’d have a BMW 5 Series wagon/estate from the E39 generation. I was tempted to choose the E39 M5, but I know myself, and it’s not my style. I love the wagon’s styling, and it stands in nicely as a utility vehicle without feeling utilitarian.

In the third garage bay would be a Mazda MX-5. It’s the one car that always occupies a spot on my all-time favourites list, and every time Mazda redesigns the car, the newest version is the one I want. The fourth-gen ND model arguably strays furthest from the MX-5’s origins as a no-nonsense driver’s car, but I love the combination of performance and refinement it offers. Every time I review one of these cars, I literally (and that’s not an exaggeration) want to spend the whole week doing nothing but driving it.

The Mazda MX-5 is one of Chris' favoruite cars - By the River of course!
The Mazda MX-5 is one of Chris' favoruite cars - By the River of course!

9. What advice do you have for anyone who wants a career as a motoring journalist?

My number one piece of advice is to not fixate on reviewing new cars. While it is a fun part of working as an auto writer, it’s also super competitive and it can be hard to find an “in.”

Instead, take any opportunity you’re given. One of my first car-related pieces was an article for the Ottawa Citizen daily newspaper about a store that sold aftermarket roof racks for carrying bikes, skis and the like. It wasn’t exciting, but I got paid for it and it was valuable experience for me as a recent journalism school grad. Also, don’t underestimate the thrill of seeing your byline in print for the first time.

I did a lot of research-based used car reviews and new-car buyer’s guide articles when I was getting started, and I’m still doing that type of writing 15 years later. It’s not flashy work, but it often pays reasonably well.

When you do get your first crack at reviewing new cars, don’t expect to immediately get the keys to crazy performance cars and posh luxury sedans. Even experienced reviewers spend a lot of their time writing about economy cars and family vehicles, so you have to learn how to evaluate them based on the criteria buyers care about.

Don’t forget about industry trade publications. Many of these magazines (in Canada, several still publish in print, as well as online) pay fairly and give you the chance to write longer-form articles. If you’re a recent journalism grad, these pieces can be great portfolio builders; doing this kind of writing is also a great way to learn how the auto industry operates behind the scenes.

If you want a proper career in motoring journalism, you will most likely have to build it yourself from various freelance gigs, because full-time, salaried jobs in the field are very rare. It might be more realistic to consider automotive journalism a part-time job in addition to something that provides more predictable income (and, in my case, workplace benefits).

10. How can our readers keep up with your work?

Most of my bylined work is published at OntarioCars.ca, where I do used car-related content and some new-vehicle reviews.

I write longer-form articles for The Ontario Dealer, a trade magazine published (in print!) by the Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario. You can find it online here: http://theontariodealer.com/

I also contribute to AutoTrader.ca, for whom I write news and buyer’s guide articles, as well as the occasional new-vehicle review.

For TractionLife.com, I write car reviews, news articles and other content.

Finally, I have my own site, ChrisChasesCars.com, which I mostly use as an archive of articles I’ve written for other publications, but I don’t update it often.

Thanks to Chris for taking part in this interview for Changing Lanes!

By Caroline Kidd


Check out these van deals for Ireland in 2020

Van Deals 2020 For Ireland

Check out these van deals for Ireland in 2020
Check out these van deals for Ireland in 2020

Looking for the best deals on vans this summer? In this article, we're going to take a closer look at the offers and scrappage deals available on commercial vehicles in Ireland in 2020. We will update the article as 202 van deals are released by LCV distributors in Ireland. From cargo vans, to compact and panel vans, crew vans and car-based commercial vehicles, there's plenty on offer! Check out the latest from the manufacturers below and find the best van for you.

Citroen

3.9% APR HP finance or €3000 scrappage and 4.9% APR HP finance on new Citroen Berlingo van and Dispatch. €2000 scrappage offer and 4.9% APR HP finance on Relay.

Ford

Ford are offering 3.9% finance and a registration bonus of up to €5,500 off selected models. 5 year warranty and roadside assistance packages across the full range including Transit Courier, Transit Connect and Transit.

Peugeot

3.9% APR available on Peugeot Partner, Expert and Boxer. Commercial vehicle scrappage deals include €3000 scrappage on Partner, €3,500 on Expert and €4,000 on Boxer.

Nissan

Nissan scrappage scheme for Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) guarantees €3,000 off the price of a new Nissan NV300, €4,000 off a Nissan NV400 or Nissan Qashqai van and €5,000 off a Nissan X-Trail of Nissan Navara.

Opel

0% APR finance on Combo, Vivaro and Movano vans registered from 1st July until 31st August 2020.

Renault

Renault's 202 'Buy Now, Pay Later' offer includes 3 months deferred payments, 3.9% APR HP finance over 5 years, 5 years warranty and roadside assistance on Kangoo, Master and Trafic vans. Applies to all orders taken from 1st May to 31st July and registered on or before the 31st July 2020 and is available on current stock.

Toyota

3.9% APR HP finance or trade in booster of up to €2,500 available on Toyota Proace, Hilux and Land Cruiser commercial.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen vans 202 van offers include three-month deferral in payments, deposit contributions of up to €3,500 and finance at 2.9%. They also have a three-month deferral option with no deposit required with their lease product and also a commercial PCP product that lowers the monthly repayment. The brand has also launched a new 'Approved Used' programme offering customers a minimum of a 12-month comprehensive warranty and current CVRT on used vehicles, and low rate finance rates that can also be used with standard HP, PCP or Lease products.


Photo by Paddy McGrath

Interview with Paddy McGrath, Automotive Photographer

Photo by Paddy McGrath
Porsche 991 Rotiform by Paddy McGrath for Speedhunters

At Changing Lanes, we've been travelling around the world virtually to gather interesting perspectives and stories on motoring, from the people who drive cars, love cars, own cars, write about cars...and in the case of today's interview, photograph cars.

Paddy McGrath is an Irish automotive photographer who captures cars visually to tell stories without words. Paddy's work is arresting - you look at the photos and think how did he get that shot? You realise that there must be a technique to this car photography craic, that there are secrets to automotive photography that require a bit more than slip it on auto and click, click, click.

Paddy's made an exciting career from his passion for cars and photography. His work has been published in a wide variety of titles  and he's travelled around the world to capture supercars, rare classics and modified masterpieces. Some of his most interesting shots feature the people who own these cars, build them and cherish them.

In Ireland, Paddy has worked with many of the car brands on influential Irish press and editorial shots. These images can be powerful, helping the brand to connect the latest hatchback, SUV or sports saloon with Irish audiences. When published beside editorial on websites or in newspapers, we can begin to imagine how this car will translate to Irish life (under grey skies!).

In this interview, Paddy takes us behind the scenes to find out more about his work and what inspires him.

Photo by Paddy McGrath
Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R by Paddy McGrath for Speedhunters

1. Can you introduce yourself to our readers in a few sentences?

Hello! Yes, my name is Paddy McGrath, although my parents insist that I’m still ‘Patrick’. I’m Dublin based (but Waterford born) and I am an automotive photographer. I have been shooting professionally for over 10 years, but have been photographing cars for over 20 years.

2. How did you begin your career in photography? Why automotive? 

It’s my father’s fault, really. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve being brought by him to rallies all over Ireland where he would photograph the competitions on an early ‘80s Pentax MG. At one point in time, I think I was around 13, he handed me the camera to try my hand and I don’t think I ever gave it back.

Cars have been somewhat of a constant in my life; from family members competing in grassroots motorsport, watching old VHS tapes of rallying on Saturday mornings as a kid and playing with small Matchbox toy cars. I think it was inevitable that I ended up chasing cars for a living.

3. You have a broad portfolio of commercial and editorial photography with everything from small hatchbacks to supercars. What have been your most memorable projects and cars to photograph?

Although there certainly have been some pretty special cars photographed along the way, it’s more so the journeys and the people behind them that I tend to remember most. Without people, cars are nothing. They literally wouldn’t exist, so it’s always fascinating to get to know the rational behind any car, whether it’s a new supercar project from a famed manufacturer or a restoration which has taken someone years in the garage at the side of their house. Those personal insights are really something to treasure.

Photo by Paddy McGrath
Audi Q3 by Paddy McGrath for Audi Ireland

4. What inspires your work?

When I started to really develop a passion for car photography, I would spend countless amounts of hours looking at the work of other photographers who inspired me. The likes of Reinhard Klein was probably one of my earliest influences, and his book, simply called ‘Rally’, is probably one of the most influential pieces of media that I’ve ever owned. 

It’s the same today, I still look to photographers I admire and respect but it just happens that I now have the privilege of working along side them from time to time. That’s a pretty special thing.

5. How do you prepare for a photoshoot?

I try to prepare for the next shoot at the end of the last one. So, once everything has been downloaded, edited and sent to the client, I’ll clean, charge and get everything ready for the next shoot right away. It just means that I’m always ready to go, or if I need to prepare a shot list or locations, that I can spend more time doing that, rather than figuring out where I put that lens cap from last time. 

6. How do you deal with the challenges of weather and location?

For the most part, we just have to get on with it. We’re not blessed with consistent weather here in Ireland, but the grey skies often make for great light when shooting cars. It’s actually pretty rare that we’ll call off a shoot due to weather, and we’ll only do so if we think the weather is going to have a negative effect on the results.

Sometimes, a little bit of extreme weather, be it heavy rain or snow, can add a lot of drama to the shots so it’s not all bad. In saying that, there are plenty of reasons why California is my favourite place on earth to shoot, and the guaranteed sunsets at the end of each day are just one of them.

Photo by Paddy McGrath
Interior of BMW M8 Competition by Paddy McGrath

7. With social media, we are now bombarded with images of cars every day. Do you think social media has impacted or influenced your profession?

Absolutely, it has completely changed the game. First off, there’s the impact it has had on traditional media outlets and how people consume content of any sort. Because of this, so much content is now designed from the get-go to be disposable, as it is seen that more low-quality content is currently better than less content of a higher quality.

There are outliers who have bucked this trend, of course, and the recent surge in specialised automotive magazines and art books is hugely encouraging. I do think that these things will come full circle, and as people start to tire of the relentless pace of social media and the often regurgitated content contained within, they will naturally return to high quality, original content once more.

8. What for you is the most enjoyable part of automotive photography?

There’s something special about being part of the car community and documenting the people and cars within. I can travel to pretty much anywhere on the planet and strike up a conversation about cars with another enthusiast and create an instant bond with that person. Gender, colour, creed, orientation or anything else that society typically uses to put up as barriers between people just don’t seem to apply to car enthusiasts. 

That, and the thrill of chasing the perfect photograph or the proximity and access we’re allowed to racecars and other special cars is pretty enjoyable, too. 

9. What advice would you have for anyone who wants a career like yours?

I get a lot of e-mails and messages asking similar, and unfortunately there isn’t one pre-defined route that everyone in the industry has followed; you have to create your own way in.

Photo by Paddy McGrath
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by Paddy McGrath for Volkswagen Ireland

That being said, it won’t go astray to shoot as much as possible and to try and get those photographs in front of as many eyes as possible. Never work for free either, or for the promise of exposure or credit. If you don’t put a value on your work, no one else will. I’ve lost count of the amount of people I’ve met over the years who made themselves very busy doing free work, only to eventually give up when they realised they couldn’t make a viable career out of it.

Also, be nice to people. It’ll get you a lot further.

10. Any favourite photos or ones you just look at and say 'I nailed that'? 

There’s definitely photographs I’ve captured which I’m proud of, but I’ll usually start nit picking them almost immediately in order to figure out how it could have been even better. It’s the photographer’s curse! So, I’ll have to defer to that cliché of ‘I haven’t taken it yet’.

11. How can our readers follow your work?

I can be found on most social media platforms under the consistent username of @pmcgphotos or you can visit my website which features a small guide on how to photograph cars, along with my own portfolio.

Photo by Paddy McGrath
Porsche 911 Omomuki by Paddy McGrath for Speedhunters

Photo by Paddy McGrath

Thanks to Paddy for taking part in this interview! 


Thinking about buying a new car this winter? You will want to get the best 201 offer Thinking about buying a new car this summer? You will want to get the best 202 offer

202 Offers And Car Deals 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 summer? You will want to get the best 202 offer
Thinking about buying a new car this summer? You will want to get the best 202 offer

Thinking of buying a new car this summer? Manufacturers are releasing 202 offers, car deals and finance offers ahead of the new 202 registration period, which starts on July 1st 2020. At Changing Lanes, we’ve put together a list of 202 offers and any scrappage deals available in Ireland at this time to help you find the best deal for you. This list will be updated as more manufacturers release their offers. For more information visit the manufacturer’s website or your local dealer.

Dacia 

Dacia has released a 'Buy Now, Pay Later' offer on the Duster SUV, Sandero, Sandero Stepway SUV and Logan MCV. It includes 3 months deferred payments and 4.9% APR. This  offer is available on all orders taken from 1st May to 31st July and registered by 31st July 2020 on current stock only.

Hyundai

Buyers can avail of 5 years free servicing or 3.9% finance or scrappage of up to €5000 on all new cars ordered before June 30th and registered before 31st July 2020.

Nissan

New Nissan scrappage scheme for 202 offers €3,000 towards the cost of new Micra, Juke and all-electric Leaf, €4,000 towards Nissan Qashqai and €5,000 towards the X-Trail. 3.9% PCP finance also available.

Mitsubishi

Order a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV by 31st July 2020 to avail of 0% APR HP finance and a free Wallbox Pulsar home charge point worth €800. Mitsubishi is also offering two years free motor tax worth €380 on the new Space Star.

Opel

2.9% APR finance and three years free servicing available on all new Opel passenger cars registered from 1st July until 31st August 2020 including Corsa, Astra, Crossland X and Grandland X.

Renault

Renault’s 202 'Buy Now, Pay Later 3+2+1 Offer' is valid on all current stock across the Renault car range and includes 3 months deferred payments, 2.02% APR + €1,000 cashback. This offer is available on the electric Renault ZOE, Clio, Captur, Kadjar, Mégane, Scenic and Koleos models. Offer applies to all orders taken from 1st May to 31st July and registered on or before the 31st July 2020. Renault’s payment deferral offer is also applicable on selected used cars at Renault dealerships. Customers can 'Buy Now, Pay Later' on 191 and 192 models.

SEAT

0% PCP finance available on all Ibiza, Leon, Arona, Ateca and Tarraco models with an optional 3-month payment break and heavily discounted 3-year service plan. An online discount voucher can be downloaded from the SEAT Ireland website allowing for discounts of up to €3,000 on selected models. There's also a scrappage offer that includes 5.9% PCP finance starting from €209 per month as well as scrappage of up to €5,000 available on selected models across the SEAT range. 202 offers valid up until 30th June.

On used SEAT cars (2016 - 2020 models), there's 2.9% PCP finance available. The brand is also offering customers discounted service plans. Customers get a complimentary Sanity System vehicle clean with any used car purchase.

Skoda

Skoda's 202 offers include from 0% PCP finance on select models and the option to defer payments for three months on finance agreements. Offer available on all orders taken before 30th June 2020 and registered before 31st July 2020.

Toyota

Across the Toyota range there are finance contributions of up €3000 with 3.9% APR with Flex PCP Finance, allowing for lower monthly payments. Toyota Ireland is also offering a Trade-in Booster of up to €3,000 for non-finance customers, and 3 years servicing as standard for all customers.

Volkswagen

202 offers from Volkswagen include PCP finance starting from 0% APR on selected models, purchase contributions of up to €2,000, technology and R-Line model upgrades. 3 Year Service Plans included as part of monthly payment on finance agreements.

The brand has also launched the Volkswagen Approved Used cars programme which includes 1-year warranty, 1-year roadside assistance, a full vehicle history check, reconditioning and sanitisation. Customers can also avail of 4.9% APR PCP finance. Service Plans available for €14.99 per month when combined with a used car finance contract and offers two services over a two-year period.

We'll be updating this article as new offers are added.


Dealerships open across Ireland as first wave of COVID restrictions are lifted

Is It Safe To Buy A Car Now?

Dealerships open across Ireland as first wave of COVID restrictions are lifted
Dealerships open across Ireland as first wave of COVID restrictions are lifted

After weeks of closure due to Coronavirus restrictions, car dealers in Ireland are finally getting back to work. From today (18th May), the Government has decided to permit the reopening of car showrooms for sales, service and repair.

They're open but is it safe to buy a new car or even a used one right now?

The answer is YES! Dealerships have been very busy preparing for this reopening and are adhering to protocols to protect the safety of customers and staff. The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) issued guidelines to its members in this regard, as have the vehicle manufacturers to their franchise dealers. This has included a significant level of investment in hand disinfectant, PPE equipment, signage, training, acrylic glass protective screens, specialist vehicle sanitising equipment as well as other procedures.

The nature of motor retail and the showroom environment means that these spaces are already well suited to social distancing measures, which will be part of Irish life for many weeks and months to come to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

We hope you have done your research reading our new car reviews on Changing Lanes and are now ready to start talking to your local dealer! Here's what you can expect from the showroom experience.

Cleaning - cars and showrooms

Across the board, dealerships will be greeting customers from a distance, observing the 2 metre guidance. There will be limits to the number of people allowed in at any one time.

Sanitation products like hand gels will be readily available, for example on the way in. Some dealerships will also have equipment to take your temperature! Surfaces of key touch points around the showroom will be disinfected regularly, for example door handles.

New and used vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected before test drives or handover to owners. You will probably see disposable protection on steering wheels, seats and gear levers. Vehicle keys will be cleaned before handovers or handed over in disinfected sealed plastic bags.

Car servicing

Dealerships are booking cars in for routine servicing and repairs once again, with measures such as social distancing in workshops, technicians wearing PPE while working on a vehicle, and sanitisation of cars and keys before being returned to the owner.

Test drives of new and used cars

Sales personnel typically accompany customers on test drives but in these times of COVID threat, most dealerships will be allowing interested buyers to take solo, unaccompanied test drives.

Remote dealer services

Watch out for remote services being offered by dealers for customers who would rather not visit their local dealership in person. These include trade-in valuations, test drive at home facilities, online finance applications, online payment transactions and contactless collection/delivery of cars.

You may have noticed in the last few weeks how dealers have been able to carry out some of the sales process remotely, for example, sending personalised car videos to customers, online chat function through websites, and answering sales queries on the phone and in scheduled video calls. There's lots that can still be done at home, online or over the phone.

Check the dealer website and social media for what remote services are available or phone but rest assured that dealers have been working very hard to ensure their premises are safe for you to enter! There does come a point in the sales process where a test drive or vehicle inspection is needed, so it's good for consumers that this part of the business is now resuming.

By Caroline Kidd


The new Porsche Taycan - yes you would!

Best Electric Cars On Sale In Ireland In 2020

The new Porsche Taycan - yes you would!
The new Porsche Taycan - yes you would!

In this guide we are going to take a closer look at every electric car on sale in Ireland in 2020! Manufacturers are bringing more and more new electric vehicles (EVs)  to market every year, which is good news for buyers ready to go electric. You can now choose from small compact electric city cars, trendy electric SUVs and crossovers, and large luxury EVs.

Sales of electric are growing from a small base in Ireland, but 2019 was the best year yet for EVs. In the last two years, advances in battery technology have brought more long range EVs to market at more affordable pricing. There are also numerous Government incentives to switch to electric including electric vehicle grants, VRT relief, reduced tolls, taxes and parking fees.

EVs are still expensive when compared to traditional SUVs, hatchbacks and saloons with combustion engines. This is an obstacle to reaching Government targets of 1 million EVs on Irish roads by 2030. But with no tailpipe emissions, electric cars contribute to cleaner air in cities.

While most owners will charge their car at home, the public infrastructure offers charging in towns and at major motorway service stations around Ireland. There are over 1,100 charging points in Ireland, however more investment is promised with the roll out of more rapid charging stations on motorway routes. IONITY rapid chargers have also started to appear in Ireland. While longer range EVs make range anxiety less of an issue, charging on the go can still be unpredictable. Clearly as Irish EV ownership increases and there are more electric cars on the road, we need to see a cultural shift around us to electric mobility and how the needs of these owners are catered for.

We have to be sensible but also enthusiastic about what is available and what's to come later in 2020 and into 2021. There are still plenty of reasons to go electric and our list below contains many exciting new models to suit different budgets. We've quoted prices after grants and VRT relief totalling €10,000 and are correct at time of publishing. The range quoted is measured to WLTP industry standards. In real life driving, factors such as temperature and driving style will affect the range you can get from your EV, so bear this in mind as guidance.

There are over 1,100 charge points in Ireland with more rapid charging hubs planned
There are over 1,100 charge points in Ireland with more rapid charging hubs planned

Renault ZOE

Available from €26,990

Range up to 395 km (WLTP)

Renault first launched the ZOE back in 2012 as the brand's first compact electric vehicle. A new model for 2020 has just arrived in dealerships in Ireland. Range has been improved once again with a new 52 kWh battery standard across the range. The innovative Chameleon 22 kW charger remains, with the option of a rapid 50 kW CCS charger for the first time for ZOE. Elsewhere, quality and digital technology has been improved to keep this a compelling choice in the growing compact EV segment.

Opel Corsa-e

Available from €27,338

Range up to 337 km (WLTP)

Opel joins the fray with the first ever electric Corsa! The new Corsa-e has a clever design that means that no space inside the vehicle or the boot has been compromised by the electric powertrain. Powered by a 50 kWh battery, the new Corsa-e can be charged at home or using the public charging network. Rapid 100 kW charging is available using the standard CCS adaptor.

Peugeot e-208

Available from €27,334

Range up to 340 km (WLTP)

The new Peugeot e-208 supermini is the brand's first electric vehicle to market in Ireland. 2020 saw a new generation of the 208 reach Ireland, with the all electric version offering buyers now even more choice. The 208 has long been a trendsetter in the compact segment and the e-208 retains all the Gallic charm with an attention grabbing interior and exterior design. Like the Opel, 100 kW rapid charging is also available using the standard CCS adaptor.

MINI Electric

Available from €27,764

Range up to 232 km (WLTP)

The new MINI Electric is a new chapter for the iconic 3-door hatchback. There's a 32.6 kWh battery giving a range of 233 km, while 50 kW fast charging gives MINI Electric 80% charge in 36 minutes. New suspension technology designed for this model helps retain and enhance the MINI’s famed go-kart driving dynamics.

The new Peugeot e-208!
The new Peugeot e-208, one of the electric compact cars on sale now in Ireland

Volkswagen e-Golf

Available from €27,895

Range up to 231 km (WLTP)

In 2020, Volkswagen Ireland greatly reduced the purchase price of the e-Golf as the car reaches the end of its tenure here. The e-Golf brings all the familiar Golf qualities but with an all-electric powertrain. The Volkswagen I.D.3 will continue the brand's electric journey when it arrives this summer.

Nissan LEAF 

Available from €29,890 (40kWh)/ from €37,840 (62 kWh)

Range up to 270 km (40kWh)/ up to 385 km (62 kWh)

The LEAF is arguably the world's most recognised electric car. It used to have a nice monopoly as a mid-size electric hatchback but now faces competition from a raft of new electric crossovers. Nissan has responded with an exciting new generation of the car arriving in Ireland back in 2018. As well as sporting a more modern design, the new LEAF is available with 40 kWh and 62 kWh batteries to keep it competitive.

Hyundai IONIQ

Available from €35,470

Range up to 312 km (WLTP)

The IONIQ debuted in Ireland back in 2016 but has been revamped for 2020. The hatchback style EV has a new 38.3 kWh battery that has extended the range over 300 km. There's also a more powerful motor. Inside the interior has been revamped with the latest Hyundai infotainment system.

BMW i3

Available from €37,155

Range up to 260 km (WLTP)

BMW was one of the first of the premium brands to delve into EV technology. The result was the quirky little BMW i3 in 2013. Since then it hasn't changed much looks wise but battery power has been improved. Small, expensive but high quality and beautifully designed interior.

The new Kia e-Soul
The new Kia e-Soul whizzed home as Irish Car of the Year 2020!

Kia e-Soul

Available from €37,495

Range up to 452 km (WLTP)

The e-Soul blasted onto the EV scene in 2019 and quickly established itself as one of the best new electric vehicles on sale right now. Funky, colourful looks and a fantastic digital cabin helped it to whizz home as the Continental Tyres Irish Car of the Year 2020!

Hyundai Kona Electric

Available from €38,630

Range up to 449 km (WLTP)

When the Hyundai Kona Electric first arrived on the market at the end of 2018, it was one of the first of the new long range EVs from mainstream manufacturers. It impressed us for its long range 64 kWh battery that sees over 400 km on electric power alone. With trendy crossover looks, the Kona Electric quickly established itself on the Irish market to become one of the most visible EVs on Irish roads today.

Kia e-Niro

Available from €39,495

Range up to 455 km (WLTP)

The Kia Niro family was joined by the all electric e-Niro in 2019. Crossover styling and a long range 64 kWh battery make this one of the game changers on the EV scene in Ireland today.

Tesla Model 3

Available from €48,690

Range up to 415 - 560 km (WLTP) depending on model

The much anticipated Model 3 finally arrived in Ireland in 2019 and is the smallest and most affordable model in the Tesla range. Three models are available. The Standard Range Plus model has an estimated range of 415 km range, while the range for the Model 3 Performance is rated at 530 km and 560 km for the Long Range AWD. Inside there is a minimalist cabin with nearly all the car's functions controlled by the large tablet style touchscreen in the centre of the dash.

The new Tesla Model 3 is available to order now!
The Model 3 is a more affordable entry into the Tesla range

Audi e-tron

Available from €64,990/€89,810

Range up to 336 km e-tron 50/ 436 km e-tron 55 (WLTP)

Audi's all-electric, four wheel drive SUV arrived in Ireland in 2019 as the flagship e-tron 55 with a headline grabbing range up to 436 km. The e-tron has an exquisite cabin with lots of digital technology at your fingertips. A more affordable e-tron 50 has joined the range with a smaller capacity battery and WLTP range of 336 km.

Mercedes-Benz EQC

Available from €79,450

Range up to 417 km (WLTP)

The EQC is Mercedes-Benz first all-electric model and arrived in Ireland in 2019. Based on the GLC mid-size SUV platform, the EQC has an 80 kWh battery with two electric motors mounted at each axle, front and rear. Together they generate 408 hp and 765 Nm of torque! The EQC is luxurious inside with futuristic styling on the outside. Expect more EQ models to follow in the Mercedes range.

Tesla Model S

Available from €89,800

Range up to 593 - 610 km (WLTP) depending on model

The car that put Tesla on the map. The Model S was the original all-electric saloon. It was the first long range EV, albeit at an exclusive price. Two models are available in Ireland - the Long Range and Performance. All cars have all wheel drive and adaptive air suspension. The Performance model can hit 100km/h in just 2.5 seconds.

Jaguar i-PACE

Available from €92,895

Range up to 470 km (WLTP)

Another first, this time for Jaguar. The i-PACE is the brand's first electric car and crossover. It's powered by a 90 kWh battery and admired for its engaging drive and performance. It was chosen as the World Car of the Year by a jury of motoring journalists in 2019. Top cat.

A fast charge can increase battery power in the new EQC from 10 to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.
The Mercedes-Benz EQC can avail of IONITY rapid charging

Tesla Model X

Available from €95,500

Range up to 487 - 507 km (WLTP) depending on model

One of the few electric 7 seater SUVs on the market, the Tesla Model X stole the show with its falcon-wing doors. Available as Long Range or Performance, with the latter reaching 100km/h in just 2.8 seconds.

Porsche Taycan 4S

Available from €115,375

Range up to 407 km (79 kWh)/ up to 463 km (93 kWh)

Clearly when Porsche start making EVs, they are going to be some of the most desirable models on the market. The Taycan is the brand's first electric car and comes in 3 flavours - 4S, Turbo and Turbo S. The Taycan is available with a 79 or 93 kWh battery and can avail of up to 270 kW rapid charging! In both variants, the Taycan 4S accelerates from a standing start to 100 km/h in just 4.0 seconds.

Electric cars coming to Ireland 2020/2021

Volkswagen ID.3

Honda e

Audi e-tron Sportback

DS3 Crossback E-Tense

BMW iX3

SEAT El-Born

Skoda Enyaq

Peugeot e-2008

Polestar 2

Ford Mustang Mach-e

Tesla Model Y

Opel Mokka-e

Volvo XC40 Recharge

Audi Q4 e-tron

Fiat 500 electric

The new Volkswagen ID.3 will arrive in Ireland this summer
The new Volkswagen ID.3 will arrive in Ireland this summer

By Caroline Kidd


Natisha and the Suzuki Jimny

10 Questions With Natisha Chatten, Auto Social UK

Natisha and the Suzuki Jimny
Natisha and the Suzuki Jimny

At Changing Lanes, we are continuing our travel around the world (virtually) to gather the best new stories and independent voices on motoring! Today, we are taking a short journey across the Irish Sea to the UK to catch up with Natisha Chatten from Auto Social UK. In this interview Natisha tells us the story of how she got started making YouTube car review videos.

Natisha has a background in the dealership side of the motor industry and this informs her approach. This experience in the retail environment means Natisha has lots of insight into what customers actually want to know about new cars, what's important to them and how to tell it to them. She's also one of the few emerging female voices on new cars, and she mentions in our interview her desire to inspire other young women to get into cars.

Natisha uses video to show her audience the features of some of the most desirable new models on the market. This year alone she's been behind the wheel of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, BMW 1 Series, the Volvo S60, the Ford Puma and the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa. She's already building a community online through YouTube and her social channels. Here's what Natisha had to say about the inspiration behind her channel and some of her favourite cars!

1. Can you introduce yourself to our readers in a few sentences?

Hi, my name is Natisha, more often referred to as Tish and I am an aspiring ‘new car reviewer’ from the East of England. I have always had a keen interest in cars and have worked within the automotive industry in various roles for the past few years. I launched my YouTube channel and brand ‘Auto Social UK’ at the beginning of 2019.

2. How did you get started reviewing cars on YouTube?

A few years ago, I worked at an independent car dealership where I was thrown into the deep end and put in front of a camera. Despite my initial meltdown, I quickly become comfortable with presenting cars. I started to realise I really enjoyed it and the videos were very well received. However, I hated not being in charge of what I filmed and how long I was given to prepare so I decided I wanted to start my own YouTube channel on my own terms.

3. How are you building your community online?

I am building my online community slowly but steadily. Currently this is not my full-time job, so I am happy to grow my channel organically using other supporting social media like Instagram and Facebook. Despite this I already have quite a few people that engage regularly with my videos and content, giving me constant feedback and support, which has been overwhelmingly encouraging.

4. What inspires you?

I believe that being a female within the car industry is tough. I feel inspired to prove myself in what is predominantly a male workplace and encourage other young girls to get into cars.

Working within sales I found it very apparent that car dealerships become desensitised to the magnitude of the decision a customer needs to make when picking a new car. I wanted to build a platform that would help people to be able to explore cars within more detail from their own homes. I do not claim to be a car expert and try to look at car reviews from a customer’s point of view. What features for instance would be important to say my mum when buying a car?

Dream car: the new Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet
Dream car: the new Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet

5. What car do you drive and why?

My personal car was a sensible purchase, a little Volkswagen Street Up! At the beginning of 2019 I had to give back my company car. I needed something that was going to be reliable, as well as cheap to run and insure. This little car ticks all of the boxes. With its playful stripes and nice upgrades of full leather and panoramic sunroof I think it matches my personality and needs very well. In the not too distant future I have my heart set on the Volkswagen T-Roc convertible.

6. Favourite music to drive to?

You can thank my dad for my favourite driving playlist. We used to take road-trips down to Devon regularly when I was younger and there would always be The Red Hot Chilli Peppers or Arctic Monkeys blaring through the speakers. Still to this day that is my favourite music to drive to.

7. What do you like to do when not testing cars?

When I am not testing cars, I like to travel. I love exploring new cities that I haven’t been to and writing travel itineraries for my trips.

Natisha and the Skoda Karoq
Natisha on location with the Skoda Karoq

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

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

Audi TTRS.

Lamborghini Urus.

9. Favourite place in the UK for a road trip?

I would have to choose the Norfolk coast as my favourite place for a UK road trip. It’s not far from myself in Suffolk and holds lots of happy memories, from spotting seals in Hunstanton to catching crabs in Cromer.

10. And finally, how can our readers follow your work?

If you want to follow my journey; the best way would be to subscribe to my YouTube channel ‘Auto Social UK.’ You can also find me at autosocialuk.com, on Instagram @auto_social_UK or on Facebook @AutoSocialUKReviews.

Subscribe to Auto Social UK on YouTube for more
Subscribe to Auto Social UK on YouTube for more

Thanks to Natisha for taking part in this interview!

By Caroline Kidd


Let's take a closer look at hybrid SUVs on sale in Ireland in 2020

Best Hybrid SUVs 2020

Let's take a closer look at hybrid SUVs on sale in Ireland in 2020
Let's take a closer look at hybrid SUVs on sale in Ireland in 2020

What are the best hybrid SUVs in 2020? In this article we are going to take a closer look at what's available in Ireland right now. Hybrid SUVs combine two major trends for 2020. SUVs continue to grow their market share in Ireland, accounting for about 22% of new cars. Hybrids are another growth trend, increasing sales year on year. Manufacturers are bringing more hybrid SUVs to market every year. Many hybrid SUVs benefit from lower CO2 emissions, giving back more fuel economy and lower motor tax rates. However they are typically a few €1000 more expensive to buy than the same model powered by a petrol or diesel engine only. Still, there is VRT relief available for all hybrids and an SEAI grant off the purchase price for plug-in hybrids. They make particular good sense for urban drivers, and can contribute to cleaner air in cities, while meeting the transport needs of those needing a private car to get to school or work.

What is a hybrid?

Before we take a closer look at the best hybrid SUVs available, we need to understand what is a hybrid? Hybrid SUVs use two power sources, fuel and electricity. There are three types of hybrid car currently on sale in Ireland:

A standard hybrid is powered by a petrol/diesel engine but there is also a small capacity battery and an electric motor. Supporting a combustion engine with an electric motor helps reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption. At very low speeds, the car can run on electric power. But most of the time the car is intelligently using power from a mixture of engine and electric motion with a bias towards efficiency.

In 2020 we are seeing more and more mild hybrids coming to market. It's important to note that this is a more basic hybrid set-up that cannot drive on electric power alone. This means that a mild hybrid is not as efficient as a standard hybrid. The electric motor is only used for assistance to increase engine power when needed and reduce emissions.

Also known as a PHEV, the plug-in hybrid has an engine and a larger capacity battery than the standard hybrid. The plug-in hybrid is most efficient when it is plugged in and charged after every journey, just like an electric car. It can be driven on electric power alone for typically a range between 40 and 60 km depending on model and driving conditions. There is no fear of range anxiety because when the electric power runs out, the car can draw power from the engine and get the benefits of a hybrid car.

Plug-in hybrids can be charged at home and driven on electric power for a limited range
Plug-in hybrids can be charged at home and driven on electric power for a limited range

What are the best hybrid SUVs available?

At Changing Lanes, we are lucky to test drive all the latest models and we have a good overview of the entire market. SUVs come in various shapes and sizes. Most manufacturers now offer small SUVs, compact SUVs, large family SUVs and 7 seater SUVs. Here's what's available in Ireland at the moment in the hybrid SUV space. To be fair, we have divided the list into plug-in hybrids and standard hybrids. Our best efforts have been made to ensure that all the information is accurate, however noting the fast pace of the motor industry, some information may change over time so do always check the manufacturer's website.

Standard Hybrid

Hyundai Kona Hybrid

Available from €29,245

One of the smallest hybrid SUVs on the market, the Kona Hybrid uses a 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain. CO2 emissions are just 101 g while fuel consumption is quoted as 5.0 litres per 100 km. The Kona is a popular compact with trendy crossover looks and the fun and agility of a small car. It comes in a variety of funky colours with an exclusive interior colour pack included as standard.

Toyota C-HR

Available from €30,620

The Toyota C-HR has been a big success in Ireland and is a top 10 bestseller. It launched back in 2017 and was available as a hybrid or petrol only. A revamped C-HR arrived in Ireland just in time for 2020 and is now sold exclusively as a petrol-electric hybrid. CO2 emissions are as low as 86 g/km, while WLTP quotes fuel consumption from 4.8 litres/100 km. The C-HR has good looks and a top quality interior making it a great statement mid-size SUV, as well as being hybrid. The 1.8-litre hybrid (122hp) is joined by a higher powered 2.0-litre hybrid with 184hp.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Available from €36,900

Another new model from Toyota, the all-new RAV4 debuted in 2019 and is a dramatic new generation model. This is a proper large family SUV that's comfortable for five with a big boot. All wheel drive models are available for extra capability. CO2 emissions from 100 g/km with fuel consumption from 5.6 litres/100 km.

The new Ford Kuga, available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time
The new Ford Kuga, available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time

Lexus UX

Available from €40,200

At the more luxury end of the market, Lexus has been building hybrids for years. Now the UX packages it in the brand's first serious hybrid compact crossover. The UX has distinct looks, high quality cabin with the refinement and efficiency of a new 2.0-litre petrol electric powertrain.

Honda CR-V Hybrid

Available from €41,650

The Honda CR-V Hybrid was a fresh new model in 2019. The CR-V Hybrid boasts top interior quality and comfort, along with all the traditional SUV values of a high seating position and rugged looks. It is huge inside with a big boot, ideal for families looking for a trendy large hybrid SUV. It's powered by a 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with impressive refinement. All wheel drive is available. Fuel consumption is as low as 5.3 litres/100 km.

Lexus NX

Available from €62,550

When launched, the Lexus NX was all angles in a segment marked by curves. Strikingly designed, this mid size premium SUV is placed in a very competitive segment but is an early hybrid pioneer of the segment.

Lexus RX/ RX L

Available from €78,580

This is the brand's large family SUV, also available with 7 seats. Competing at the premium end of the market, the RX is well-built and luxurious, known for comfort and quality. It's one of the few 7-seater SUVs available with a hybrid powertrain.

Hybrids combine a combustion engine with an electric motor and battery to reduce emissions and fuel consumption
Hybrids combine a combustion engine with an electric motor and battery to reduce emissions and fuel consumption

Plug-in Hybrid

Prices quoted below include VRT relief and SEAI grant amounting to €7500.

Kia XCeed PHEV

Available from €28,945

Technically, it's more of a crossover but it is one of the few compact hybrids on the market right now so deserves inclusion on our list. Chunky SUV inspired looks are the order of the day, while plug-in hybrid technology means you can drive this car on pure electric power for a range of up to 58 km. Otherwise it works as a standard hybrid. CO2 emissions are just 29g per km.

Kia Niro PHEV

Available from €32,995

The Kia Niro PHEV is a slightly bigger crossover than the XCeed that can also be plugged in like an electric car and ran like a fuel sipping hybrid. When using electric power only, there is a range of up to 65 km. The Niro is also available as a battery electric vehicle (BEV) and has proven to be very popular in Ireland.

MINI Countryman PHEV

Available from €35,000

The Countryman is the closest thing to an SUV in the infamous MINI range. It retains much of the fun driving character beset upon the MINI brand. Yet there is more space inside and some funky, 4x4 looks. You pay a premium for the MINI brand, but the Countryman can behave like a decent family car, now also available as a plug-in hybrid with all wheel drive.

Ford Kuga PHEV

Available from €35,433

Not only is Ford welcoming an all-new Kuga to Ireland, but there's also an exciting new plug-in hybrid that will go on sale alongside petrol, diesel and hybrid versions. A battery-powered electric motor with a 2.5-litre Duratec petrol engine is combined in the new version of the popular Ford family SUV. Fully charged, the Kuga PHEV can drive up to 56 km on electric power alone.

Opel Grandland X Hybrid (PHEV)

Available from €36,645

Opel's first plug-in hybrid debuts in Ireland in 2020 and joins the petrol and diesel Grandland X range. Opel's mid-size SUV can now be plugged in at home and run on battery power for up to 59 km. Otherwise it runs as a hybrid using a 1.6-litre petrol electric powertrain. Also available in four wheel drive.

Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!
Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 at the press launch in Germany in 2020

Peugeot 3008 Hybrid2 PHEV

Available from €37,995

Building on the success of the 3008 range in Ireland, Peugeot has just brought a new 3008 plug-in hybrid to Ireland. Featuring a stunning, high tech cabin, the 3008 can be plugged in and driven as a pure electric vehicle or as a hybrid drawing power from an electric motor, battery and 1.6-litre petrol engine. Four wheel drive available.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Available from €40,400

The Outlander PHEV was one of the first plug-in hybrid SUVs to reach Ireland. It combines extraordinary 4x4 ability with family SUV motoring. The hybrid powertrain is swift and smooth, with the Outlander at its best when driven on pure electric power. In fact it can do this for over 40 km. CO2 emissions for this five seat SUV are just 46g per km.

Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine

Available from €46,495

The Volvo XC40 is one of the best compact SUVs around and now the petrol and diesel range is joined by a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The XC40 stands out for a comfortable drive and simple, quality interior. Now the T5 Twin Engine combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and battery to give 262 hp. It can be driven in silent electric mode around cities for about 46 km, otherwise it behaves like a hybrid drawing power from the petrol engine.

Audi Q5 55 TFSI e

Available from €57,500

Audi's popular five seat family luxury SUV gets the hybrid treatment in 2020. Joining the petrol and diesel range, this plug-in hybrid model has 367 hp, four wheel drive and a pure electric range of at least 40 km. The powerful 2.0-litre petrol engine is paired to a battery and electric motors. The Q5 plug-in hybrid gets the same top quality Audi interior providing a spacious, yet fuel efficient option for urban drivers.

BMW X3 xDrive30e

Available from €61,605

The new generation of the X3 mid size SUV is now available as a plug-in hybrid with an electric range up to 55 km. Pitched at the luxury end of the market, the xDrive30e has all wheel drive as standard. Emissions for this five seat family SUV are as low as 48 g CO2 per km, giving a greener image to the SUV.

Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine

Available from €66,074

Step up a dress size from the XC40, and you will find the larger XC60 SUV. The stylish Swede is comfortable and refined. There's also a plug-in hybrid in the range, this time using a 2.0-litre petrol engine, electric motor and battery to reduce CO2 emissions and offer more savings on fuel. To that end it can be plugged in, charged up and driven on electric power alone for a manufacturer quoted 35 km.

Volvo Cars' SUV line-up, now all available as plug-in hybrids
Volvo Cars' SUV line-up, now all available as plug-in hybrids

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine

Available from €80,647

With up to 7 seats available, the Volvo XC90 is one of the most stunning and desirable large luxury SUVs on the market in Ireland right now. The T8 Twin Engine is the plug in hybrid option that puts out an amazing 390 hp but has emissions as low as 66 g. These high end SUVs are not cheap but the XC90 offers green credentials for environmentally conscious city dwellers that need to bring the kids to school. The EV range on a full charge is 35 km.

BMW X5 xDrive45e

Available from €88,265

BMW's original flagship X model. Now the new generation X5 gets plug-in hybrid power. This popular large five seat luxury SUV from the German brand can slip silently in electric mode for up to 97 km. It combines a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol engine an electric motor and a 20.9 kWh battery to do this, with an awesome 394 hp. With all this power and capability, amazingly the X5 plug-in hybrid has CO2 emissions as low as 39 g.

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid

Available from €94,759

Even Porsche is getting in on the act. The brand's Cayenne SUV is available with hybrid tech that pushes out 462 hp while keeping emissions to as little as 89 g. Pure electric range is quoted by the manufacturer as between 23 and 44 km.

Range Rover Sport P400e PHEV

Available from €95,805

The Range Rover Sport packs a performance punch with 404 hp, yet CO2 emissions are just 69 g! This is the beauty of a hybrid powertrain. It's great PR for large SUVs. This luxury status symbol can now drive silently in electric mode for about 48 km, otherwise working as a hybrid using a 2.0-litre petrol engine.

Range Rover P400e PHEV

Available from €131,950

The king of Land Rover SUVs adopts hybrid tech for the first time! The Range Rover PHEV has emissions of 72 g proving that big can be efficient. When charged up, the Range Rover plug-in hybrid can drive like an electric vehicle in silent mode for 48 km.

Range Rover now offers customers the choice of hybrid powertrain
Range Rover now offers customers the choice of hybrid powertrain

COMING SOON

Ones to watch!

Compact

Renault Captur PHEV arriving later in 2020, based on the popular small SUV

Toyota Yaris Cross coming in 2021, will be hybrid only.

Jeep Renegade 4xe

Citroen C5 Aircross

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV

Volkswagen Tiguan PHEV

Luxury

BMW X1 xDrive25e Plug-in Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz GLA 250e

Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e and 300de

Mercedes-Benz GLE 350de

Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV

Range Rover Evoque PHEV

Large

Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid expected in Ireland before the end of the year.

SEAT Tarraco plug-in hybrid

CUPRA Formentor

The new Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid expected in Ireland before the end of the year

Read reviews of popular family hybrid SUVs

Now let's take a closer look at three popular hybrid family SUVs. All three were either new on the market in 2019 or significantly revamped. Check out Changing Lanes' reviews of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and the Honda CR-V Hybrid. These SUVs are big inside with space for five and a large practical boot!

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review

Honda CR-V Hybrid Review

By Caroline Kidd


Behind the scenes with the Irish Subaru Driver's Club!

Interview With Irish Subaru Driver's Club (ISDC)

Behind the scenes with the Irish Subaru Driver's Club!
Behind the scenes with the Irish Subaru Driver's Club!

In my latest interview series, I'm travelling the globe (virtually!) to gather different perspectives on automotive. Today we are in Ireland to catch up with the Irish Subaru Driver's Club (ISDC).

Car clubs have been popular for decades, bringing together groups of car enthusiasts who share a passion for the same car or brand. In recent years, many of these car clubs have grown exponentially online, building their own dedicated online car communities who can stay in touch digitally and share tips and stories on their own cars and projects. These car communities also meet in real life, to share their passion and add some colour and horsepower to our lives if you might be lucky enough to come across one on a Sunday afternoon.

I grew up in the 1990s just as Colin McRae was skidding around a Welsh forest in the iconic Subaru Impreza '555'. The pages of my favourite motoring magazines were filled with the Subaru's classic blue and gold livery, while journalists gushed about the latest Impreza Turbo. Subaru was an exciting brand to follow at this time with a series of high performance, road-going Imprezas built in this era.

And if you come across the ISDC, you're bound to meet them all over again! I spoke to Joe Cahill, Chairman at the ISDC about the club and members' passion for the Japanese car brand.

Can you introduce yourself and the club to our readers?

My name is Joe Cahill, from County Kilkenny. I am part of a committee of volunteer members, that manage the core aspects of the Irish Subaru Driver's Club (ISDC). The club is a non-profit making organisation, run by Subaru enthusiasts. The aim of the ISDC is to share, through its members, the knowledge and experience of Subaru ownership.

The legendary Colin McRae has left an indelible mark on the Subaru brand and fans around the world
The legendary Colin McRae left an indelible mark on the Subaru brand and fans around the world

Why Subaru? 

It is a very expansive question and the beauty of it is, there are so many reasons to love a Subaru. Perhaps the moment that caught my attention was the ‘Group A Subaru Legacy RS’ in the 1990 season, developed by Prodrive. Watching drivers like Bertie Fisher R.I.P. and of course Colin McRae winning the World Rally Championship in 1995. Iconic moments like this perhaps got me hooked on Subarus and fascinated by their relentless AWD grip.

It may sound strange to say, being part of the ‘Subaru World’ you somehow feel connected with other Subaru drivers that you may not have even met or spoken to. It is not unusual for two Subarus to meet on the road and both acknowledge one another. To understand that feeling and the connection with Subaru, you need to own one, drive it and experience it.

Subarus have tremendous pedigree ticking so many boxes for a car owner. A Subaru's styling and stance is simply beautiful and eye catching. Subaru blue with gold alloys is iconic from the rally days. They tick so many boxes, the grip and safety of All-Wheel Drive (AWD) in wet and dangerous conditions, the rumble of the Boxer Engine puts a smile on your face every time. The overall ability and performance of a Subaru is formidable. They are equally accustomed to mountain roads, tight twisty country roads, tracks and the practicality of five seats and a big boot for shopping. A well-maintained Subaru could last forever.

The ISDC holds numerous events all year round for members
The ISDC holds numerous events all year round for members

Why was the ISDC set up?

The Irish Subaru Driver’s Club was established in 1999 by a small group of Subaru enthusiasts and was combined with an Irish web-based forum in 2000. Together, the aim was, and still is, to share knowledge and experience of Subaru ownership so that owners can fully appreciate and enjoy the Subaru driving experience. Since 1999, the club has grown into one of the best car clubs in the country, creating a very close knit community throughout the club. The Forum has enabled users from all areas of the country to be a part of the club and experience everything the club has to offer.

Over the years, the ISDC has supported many charities to try and give as much back to the community as possible, including Barretstown, Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Irish Autism Association, ISPCA and more.

The majority of activities and discussion takes place on our Forum and we encourage everyone from current owners to potential buyers to sign up so that they can meet like-minded people and learn as much as possible about their Subaru. A core object is that all members of the ISDC will find the club a friendly, knowledgeable and approachable place where they can express and share their views and knowledge and enjoy the experience for both themselves and their families.

How many members do you have?

Currently 103 paid members (annual membership is €50, check website for all membership bonuses). We have male and female members, from the ages of 18 to 60.

Which Subaru models are represented by your members?

The club has a wide variety models from early 1990s, right up to the present day - the Subaru Legacy, Impreza and Forester. Within these models, there are series of different types, like a Classic, WRX, STI, S203, S204, S401, 22B, T25 Litchfield, RS Turbos, RB320, WR1 etc etc.. the list goes on. Perhaps the most popular is the Impreza.

The Subaru Impreza is well-represented by ISDC members!
The Subaru Impreza is well-represented by ISDC members!

What sort of events do you hold throughout the year?

Under normal circumstances, members have the opportunity to attend many events throughout each year including night meets (3-4 per year), organised drives (Wicklow, Wexford, Kerry, Galway, Limerick etc), car meets (Cars n Coffee Dundalk/Bray/Tullamore/Limerick), track days, Nurburgring Trip (every 2 years), Barrettstown, Gowran Festival of Speed, Terenure Classic Car Show, Irish Motor Festival, Runway club, Rolling Road Day, Rallyschool Ireland and other activities like paintballing and go-karting.

What’s the value in being part of an owner’s club?

The immediate connection with other like-minded Subaru owners, to give and receive advice on all matters regarding repairs, parts, tips and tricks. The forum has a wealth of knowledge and the members and users on the site are willing to help and share information with eachother. I would urge any Subaru owner to join and become part of a friendly, helpful and fun club.

How do you feel about the position of the Subaru brand now?

The new range of Subarus including the Outback and Forester are top quality with modern technology as good as any of the top brands.

How do see the future for Subaru enthusiasts, owners' clubs and car enthusiasts in general?

We really hope to keep enough numbers up in the coming years and to attract new, younger owners, which we have successfully done in recent years.

ISDC members' cars at the Nurb
ISDC members' cars at the Nurburgring

How can our readers keep up to date with the club?

Facebook

Instagram

ISDC Website

Thanks to Joe for taking part in this interview and giving us such a valuable insight into the influence of the Subaru brand!


Mazda CX30 or Mazda3?

Hatchback vs SUV: Which Should I Choose?

Mazda CX30 or Mazda3?
The Mazda CX30 SUV and the Mazda3 hatchback

Hatchback vs SUV? When choosing a new car, there is now so much choice when it comes to the body type. In this blog, we’re going to get down to the basics of what is a hatchback and what is an SUV, and look at why you might choose one over the other.

How popular are hatchbacks and SUVs?

For many years hatchbacks were a top choice for family cars. But in recent years SUVs have become more popular among new car buyers. Many traditional hatchback drivers have switched to SUVs.

While the drop in demand for saloons and hatchbacks has been reported worldwide, hatchbacks are still very relevant to the market. In Ireland, hatchbacks are still the most popular type of new car sold, accounting for 30% of the market so far in 2020. Manufacturers are still investing in developing and manufacturing them with exciting new hatchbacks coming to market every year that bring the game on even more in terms of design, technology and safety.

SUVs are a major growth trend year on year in Ireland and Europe. In 2020, they account for 22% of the new car market in Ireland. Manufacturers are responding by expanding their SUV ranges rapidly, filling all gaps with everything from compact to large SUVs, electric and hybrid SUVs, and more design-led niches like SUV coupés.

When you start researching your new car and exploring what's available, you will find many SUVs spun off from popular hatchbacks. For example, the Renault Captur is based on the Clio and has become a very popular model for the French brand. The Volkswagen Tiguan is an SUV-derivative of the Golf and it has been reported that the Tiguan has become more popular than the iconic German hatchback.

The Volkswagen Tiguan is now more popular in Ireland than the iconic Golf hatchback!
The Volkswagen Tiguan is now more popular in Ireland than the iconic Golf hatchback!

What's the difference between a hatchback and an SUV?

The key differences in hatchback vs SUV are height, styling, design and driving character.

Hatchbacks are designed to sit lower on the road than an SUV. They have a hatch style boot that opens into the car and the bootlid counts as a door (i.e 'five doors', 'five door hatchback'). The rear window is in the bootlid. Unlike a saloon car, the passenger space and boot compartment are not separate. The rear seats can be folded down to increase the loading area.

SUV stands for 'sports utility vehicle' and these vehicles are characterised by chunky, rugged styling inspired by traditional off-roaders and 4x4s. An SUV is taller than a hatchback and the driver sits higher in the SUV as a result. This has proved to be very popular, especially among older customers and families.

Hatchbacks and SUVs are more related than you think. For a start, they both have a boot compartment that is not separate, instead opening into the car directly. In fact, technically the SUV is a type of hatchback in this regard. However SUV boots are typically more open and square. They open almost at arm level meaning you can slide things in an out more easily. Hatchbacks often have deeper boots. The hatch style boot is popular among customers for practicality. Design differs between models so do compare and contrast the cars on your shortlist. Check the height of the loading sill, how easy is it to load and unload the boot, and how much space is available.

SUVs have large square boots ideal for loading lots of gear
SUVs have large square boots ideal for loading lots of gear

Hatchback vs SUV: Pros and Cons

Every customer's needs and preferences are different when it comes to hatchbacks and SUVs.

Some people prefer the simple styling of a hatchback while others like the more utilitarian look of an SUV. Many people fall in love with an SUV because they love the way they look. But a well-designed five door hatchback will have a sportier, squat presence. Hatchbacks also tend to feel sportier on the road. This is because the lower centre of gravity makes them more stable in corners. However hatchbacks can't compete with SUVs for the much lauded higher driving position and more commanding view over the road.

SUVs typically carry a higher list price when compared to the hatchbacks they are based on. However, in many cases they offer more versatility and boot capacity and of course the image and desirability of an SUV. The higher roofline of an SUV often gives occupants more headroom, especially in the back, and gives the impression of a roomier and more spacious cabin.

Do check the running costs and fuel consumption of the models on your shortlist. A larger or heavier SUV may have higher running costs than the hatchback.

Anything else to think about?

Many of the SUVs on Irish roads are based on hatchbacks and are often referred to as 'crossovers'. Popular crossovers like the Hyundai Kona and the Kia XCeed have a lot of the same qualities as hatchbacks. But they have the bonus of a higher driving position and SUV-inspired styling.

Hatchback vs SUV? The Renault Captur small SUV and the Renault Clio hatchback
Hatchback vs SUV? The Renault Captur small SUV and the Renault Clio hatchback

Hatchbacks and SUVs both come in a variety of sizes. Manufacturers are filling all niches. Typically we think of hatchbacks as small cars like the Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta. Go up a dress size and you will find the perennial family hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Opel Astra. However, there are many large cars that also masquerade as hatchbacks. For example, the Skoda Superb and Peugeot 508 are actually hatchbacks though they look like very elegant saloons from afar! These large hatchbacks are stylish but also very practical.

SUVs are also available in a variety of sizes to meet customer demand: small SUVs, compact SUVs, large SUVs and even 7 seater SUVs.

In terms of powertrain, you will find both SUVs and hatchbacks offer lots of choice including petrol, diesel and emerging trends like electric and hybrid.

Our Favourites

When it comes to hatchback vs SUV, at Changing Lanes we've driven the best of both! We recently drove the new Mazda CX-30 based on the Mazda 3 and we really liked it. We think small hatchbacks like the Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta and Opel Corsa make a lot of sense because they are fun to drive and efficient. However a small SUV that really surprised us was the Volkswagen T-Cross. It is arguably a more interesting and fun car to drive than the Polo hatchback it's based on.

In the larger segment, we still have a lot of time for cars like the Peugeot 508. The 508 breathed new life into the D-segment when it arrived in Ireland in 2019. It has an elegant, sporty design that an SUV just can't compete with and looks good everywhere.

We understand the appeal of SUVs. You quickly adapt to the higher driving position. A crossover we really enjoyed recently was the Kia XCeed. You do pay a premium for it over a Ceed hatchback but it has just the right presence and design for the current market. Family SUVs like the Renault Kadjar and Citroen C5 Aircross offer good value with an affable driving character that makes them fun to drive every day.

On the more premium side of things, Mercedes-Benz has just brought a new GLA to Ireland that looks very promising. The brand's SUVs like the soon to arrive GLB and the recently facelifted GLC offer character and practicality. The Audi Q3 surprised us last year for the quality and design that makes it highly desirable in the premium SUV segment.

The new Peugeot 508 is actually a hatchback designed to look like an elegant saloon!
The new Peugeot 508 is actually a hatchback designed to look like an elegant saloon!

Caroline Kidd