The 2019 Audi Q3

2019 Audi Q3 1.5 TFSI Review

The 2019 Audi Q3
The 2019 Audi Q3

Caroline drives the 2019 Audi Q3!

Audi’s Q
range of SUVs have never been so relevant as they are now. Naturally, Audi has
invested considerably in their Q range of SUVs in recent years, with new models
like the Q2 and Q8, as well as this all new generation of the Audi Q3 that recently
landed in Ireland.

The arrival of the more compact Q2 in 2017, means that the 2019 Audi Q3 is no longer the smallest SUV in the Audi range. In fact, for this generation, Audi has considerably reinvented the Q3 so that it can function better as a family SUV.

In Ireland, the 2019 Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600. There are a range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, as well as two trim lines, SE and S line. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available as is quattro four wheel drive, though standard models are front wheel drive.

The Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600 in Ireland
The Audi Q3 range kicks off at €38,600 in Ireland

What's new for the 2019 Audi Q3?

The Audi Q3 is a very smart looking SUV in the metal. Audi has given the new Q3 more definition and stance. Yet it’s still a relatively compact vehicle in the metal, but achingly stylish and desirable in that cool, understated Audi way. The new Singleframe grille has an octagonal design and eight ‘don’t mess with me’ vertical bars. The new wedge shape lights use LED technology in all versions and are paired with LED daytime running lights.

Slip inside the cabin of the 2019 Audi Q3, and it’s hard not to be instantly beguiled by the quality and technology at your fingertips. The cabin experience in the Q3 is one of the best in class. That’s down to how the digital instrument panel (Audi Virtual Cockpit, a 10.25 inch screen within the binnacle), and the new 10.1 inch MMI touch display, fit so comfortably into the cabin with seamless controls.

The interior of the new Audi Q3
The interior of the new Audi Q3

Interior and Equipment

The Q3's dashboard design is modern and cool with lashings of stylish high gloss black, while the material quality is good in just about all the places that matter. There’s also an optional ambient lighting package with 30 colour options for more wow.

The new Q3 comes with a number of active safety systems including pre-sense basic, pre-sense front, side assist, active lane assist and automatic emergency braking. Standard equipment on SE models includes 18” alloys, Audi drive select, Audi Virtual Cockpit and 10.1” MMI touch display, light/rain sensor, LED headlights, cruise control and manual air con.

S line models (from €42,550) add 19” alloys, S line body kit, S line interior including front sport seats and stainless steel pedals, LED interior pack and full LED headlamps with dynamic rear indicators.

Rear legroom in the new Audi Q3
Rear legroom in the new Audi Q3

Does the new Audi Q3 make a good family SUV?

The new
Audi Q3 is built upon the Volkswagen Group’s modular transverse matrix, which
means that the new Q3 has grown in size. It’s longer and wider than its
predecessor with a longer wheelbase also meaning that it is now more spacious
inside for five people and their gear. In the rear it feels noticeably bigger
with a welcome boost in knee room, headroom and elbow room that makes it more
competitive in its segment than ever before.

For extra practicality an electrically powered tailgate comes as standard. The new Q3 also has a bigger boot at 530 litres or 675 litres depending on the position of the rear seats and backrests.

The Audi Q3 35 TFSI features a 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine with efficiency boosting cylinder deactivation technology!
The Audi Q3 35 TFSI features a 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine with efficiency boosting cylinder deactivation technology!

Driving the 2019 Audi Q3

According to Audi, the suspension in the new Q3 has been tuned to be more comfortable, assured and responsive, helped by the latest car’s longer wheelbase. S line models have a sport suspension for an even more tightly controlled feel. Progressive steering comes as standard across the range, which gradually becomes more direct as the steering angle increases.

On the road, the new Audi Q3 is remarkably good. The most striking and pleasant feature is the silence and seclusion of the cabin while driving. The refinement of this car is just beautiful. The handling and steering are more than adequate, making progress pleasant and brisk in the new Q3.

The Audi drive select dynamic handling system comes as standard and includes six modes - auto, comfort, dynamic, offroad, efficiency and individual. These settings influence the throttle response, the steering, the shift characteristics of the S tronic and the damper control where this is fitted.

The new Audi Q3 is a stylish and fun family SUV
The new Audi Q3 is a stylish and fun family SUV

Diesel and petrol engines for the Audi Q3

In Ireland
the new Audi Q3 is available with three petrol options (150hp, 190hp and 230hp)
and two diesel options (150hp and 190hp). The entry-level engine is the
1.5-litre TFSI turbo petrol engine with 150hp and 250 Nm of torque, badged 35
TFSI. It uses the cylinder on demand technology to improve efficiency, which
temporarily switches off two cylinders at low load. This engine is really smooth
and powerful on the road. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged
at 7.5l/100km.

The new Audi Q3 sashays into a very competitive market but this modern interpretation of ‘Audiness’ that now pervades the brand’s newer models like the Audi A6, makes the Q3 instantly desirable. The Q3 has grown up and is now more practical than ever with more space and more presence. The real jewel in the crown however, is the latest generation Audi interior that sits so comfortably in the Q3, striking a perfect balance between comfort, quality and wow-worthy tech.  

The new Audi Q3 is astoundingly good!


Caroline Kidd

Model
tested: 
Audi Q3 1.5TSI S line S-Tronic
Price:
€44,950 (Range from €38,600)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
150 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 211 km/h
Fuel economy:
7.4-7.7l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
169-176g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year


The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is a prestigious and desirable coupé

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé Review

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

Caroline drives the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé.

There are few things more desirable in life than a slinky Mercedes-Benz coupé. Mercedes-Benz just has an aptitude for creating luxury sports coupés that will stop you in your tracks. A Mercedes-Benz coupé sells a dream of sunshine, asphalt, and slow, luxury living.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé might be the most compact two door coupé that the brand offers, but none of that prestigious style has been compromised. With pricing starting from €38,365, the C-Class Coupé has been updated for 2019 with new engines, equipment and trim elements to keep it at the races.

Thankfully, the C-Class Coupé’s elegant and sporty silhouette remains every bit intact. There are new bumpers and a standard-fit diamond radiator grille with chrome pins on the AMG Line model. LED High Performance headlights now come as standard, as do more accentuated all-LED rear lights. The AMG Line model also has an AMG-specific front apron with sporty air intakes and chrome trim.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé has had an update for 2019
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé has had an update for 2019

The interior of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

Inside, the cabin of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is very plush and luxurious with beautiful design elements like the sculpted leather seats, circular air vents and open pore black ash wood trim. The C-Class range gets a technology upgrade in that you can now opt for a 12.3-inch digital cockpit display and a 10.25-inch infotainment screen. The 10.25 inch screen as part of the Advantage pack is definitely worth considering (€3,417) as it looks a lot more premium and at home here than the standard 7” screen.

There is also a new multifunction steering wheel with touch-control buttons that respond to swiping motions like the screen of a smartphone.

The C-Class Coupé will seat four but being a coupé the rear space is tight on legroom and headroom. A narrow boot aperture hardly makes it the most practical member of the family either – you will be needing the C-Class Estate for that (!) – but there’s still plenty of room with 360 litres.

The interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé
The interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, cruise control, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, keyless start and 17” alloys. The AMG Line (from €41,342) models add sports pedals, reversing camera, 18” alloys and AMG bodystyling.

The C200 Features Mild Hybrid Technology

One of the most exciting additions for the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is the new 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with EQ Boost mild hybrid technology. This model, badged C200, has a 48 volt on-board electrical system with a belt-driven starter/alternator and it gives the car a boost in performance and efficiency. When accelerating, EQ Boost can assist the 184 hp engine with an additional 14 hp, bridging the brief moment until the turbocharger has built up its full charge pressure.

There's a new steering wheel and option of a digital instrument panel
There's a new steering wheel and option of a digital instrument panel

During deceleration, the starter/alternator recuperates kinetic energy and charges the battery. There is also gliding mode with the engine switched off when the speed falls below a certain minimum level, and the recuperative brake with intelligent engine stop when the vehicle is coasting. Alongside the diesel engines, the petrol engines are also equipped with a particulate filter.

Other engines include a 1.6-litre petrol (C180), 2.0-litre petrol (C300), 1.6-litre diesel (C200d) and 2.0-litre diesel (C220d), as well as some sportier variants.

Driving the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

The C-Class Coupé also gets the dynamic body control suspension that alters suspension damping characteristics in three stages. The damping characteristics are tuned more tautly in the two stages “Sport” and “Sport+”. The “Comfort” mode is tuned for a more comfortable ride and less tyre and road noise. There’s also a Sports Direct-Steer system for more agile and smooth handling.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is available from €38,365 in Ireland
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is available from €38,365 in Ireland

On the road, the C-Class Coupé glides along the tarmac effortlessly. It is a comfortable, serene drive. It's agile and flexible through corners, without being overtly sporty. The C200 delivers smooth power through a nine speed automatic gearbox, though the engine was more noisy than what I was expecting. Over a week of driving the C200 averaged fuel consumption at 7.7l/100km, while motor tax is €390 per year.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is easily one of the best looking compact coupés out there. It’s a hugely desirable car with a fine interior also. On the road, it’s not the sportiest choice and in C200 guise I did miss the thick, syrupy pulling power of a diesel engine. But this remains a fine car that looks as good as the day it was launched.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is a prestigious and desirable coupé
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé is a prestigious and desirable coupé

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz C200 Coupé Automatic
Price:
€47,431 (Coupe range from €38,365)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 280 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 239 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.1-6.5l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
148g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


The new Hyundai Kona Electric

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh Review

The new Hyundai Kona Electric
The new Hyundai Kona Electric

Caroline drives the Hyundai Kona Electric.

The range of electric vehicles (EVs) in Ireland is really starting to spread out with the Hyundai Kona Electric being an exciting new model, in more ways than one. The Kona Electric feels like something of an EV game changer for the mass market, with a real world range in excess of 400 km. And that’s thanks to a powerful 64 kWh battery.

The Hyundai Kona Electric also happens to be in the body of a very on-trend compact crossover and is the first fully-electric subcompact SUV on sale in Ireland and indeed Europe.

Since it debuted at the end of 2017, the Hyundai Kona quickly became Ireland’s bestselling compact crossover. Now the electric version opens up the playing field a little more.

Priced in Ireland from €37,630, including Government incentives, on the surface the Hyundai Kona Electric doesn’t come cheap. But the high-powered battery gives the Kona Electric right now a serious edge over competitors like the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Volkswagen e-Golf and even Hyundai’s own Ioniq. But more on that later.

The Hyundai Kona Electric has a powerful 64 kWh battery giving a real world range in excess of 400km!
The Hyundai Kona Electric has a powerful 64 kWh battery giving a real world range in excess of 400km!

What does it look like?

The Hyundai Kona Electric is a striking and fashionable compact vehicle, just like its fossil-fuel powered brothers. The crossover styling adds character to the Kona Electric, while the raised ride height gives it a confident presence on the road. There’s also some fun colour options and a two tone roof available (from €38,230). Front styling changes for the Kona Electric include a signature silver garnish, a closed grille incorporating the charge point and a redesigned front bumper with active air flaps. At the rear, the bumper has been redesigned for improved airflow. There are also special 17” alloy wheels, lower side skirts and wheel arch side claddings.

The dashboard and centre console of the Hyundai Kona have also been significantly redesigned for the Kona Electric, giving a more mature and premium feel to the cabin. The centre console is more pronounced between the driver and passenger. It features all the buttons required to operate the car with the ‘shift-by-wire’ gear control that has freed up space to house an extra storage space underneath.

There’s a new high-resolution seven-inch supervision cluster to display the different gauges to the driver, including the speedometer, battery charge level and energy flow. A head-up display projects driving information on the windscreen directly in the driver’s line of sight.

Standard equipment includes roof rails, rear privacy glass, leather upholstery, heated front seats, wireless phone charging pad, automatic lights and wipers, automatic air con, cruise control, heated steering wheel, parking camera, keyless start, 7" touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Keep Assist

The Kona Electric has a sophisticated electric vehicle powertrain but it is still a relatively compact vehicle. However the completely new platform of the Kona allows a space-saving integration of the battery packs without compromising interior roominess. The Kona Electric will seat five though realistically two will be most comfortable in the rear.  There is 332 litres of luggage space including storage of the charging cable and 373 litres without.

The interior of the new Hyundai Kona Electric
The interior of the new Hyundai Kona Electric

On the road in the Hyundai Kona Electric

The Hyundai Kona Electric is very nice to drive with a fun character and very sprightly acceleration. The 64kWh battery with 150kW motor provides a power output of 204 hp, with 0 to 100 km/h achieved in just 7.6 seconds.

The compact dimensions make the Kona Electric great around town and out on larger roads, it offers good stability and comfort. In the silence of the cabin of the Kona Electric, there is more pronounced road noise at speed, but the Hyundai's battery doesn't get absolutely jaded at motorway speeds offering more peace of mind when you set out to explore Ireland. On a full charge, the power meter read about 430 km and I was delighted with the Kona’s ability to get me around without the dreaded range anxiety. With a real world driving range in excess of 400 km (449km WLTP), there’s a lot of freedom that comes with the Kona Electric.

There's also an adjustable regenerative braking system to recuperate energy when possible. The driver can adjust the intensity of the regenerative braking by using the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel.

The Kona Electric can be charged at home or using the public charging point infrastructure with an AC or DC charger. According to Hyundai, charging the lithium-ion polymer battery up to 80% takes about 54 minutes using a 100 kW direct current (DC) fast charger.

Hyundai has successfully combined the two fastest growing automotive trends in the creation of the Kona Electric – electrification and SUV style. It is obviously expensive to buy for what is a compact vehicle, however the extra freedom the range from the powerful 64kWh battery brings cannot be underestimated. The trendy, crossover style of the Kona Electric gives the car more emotional appeal also.

The Hyundai Kona Electric combines two trends - electrification and SUV style
The Hyundai Kona Electric combines two trends - electrification and SUV style

The Hyundai Kona Electric is a remarkable new electric vehicle that really moves the game on.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Kona Electric
Price: 
From €37,630 with government incentives
Battery: 64 kW
Power: 
204 hp
Torque: 395 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.6 seconds
Top speed: 167 km/h
Range: 
449km (WLTP)
CO2 emissions: 
0g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Volkswagen e-Golf

2019 Volkswagen e-Golf Review

The new Volkswagen e-Golf
The new Volkswagen e-Golf

Caroline drives the 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf.

The Volkswagen e-Golf has been at the forefront of Volkswagen’s electric vehicle offering since it was launched in 2014. While next year Volkswagen will launch the first model in their new fully electric I.D. range of cars, the e-Golf has been a most palatable bridge to a future of electric motoring.

And that’s because the Volkswagen Golf is one of the most iconic hatchbacks on the planet. Based on the award-winning Mark 7 Volkswagen Golf, the current generation of the Volkswagen e-Golf compromises virtually none of the comfort, refinement, class and quality of one of Ireland’s favourite hatchbacks. In my opinion, that’s probably the e-Golf’s massive USP as an electric vehicle.

While electric vehicles still account for low numbers on Irish roads, there’s more interest and registrations were up a massive 540 percent in the first two months of 2019 (1127 electric cars registered versus 176 in Jan/Feb 2018). New EV models have arrived in the last 12 months and there are more on the way. So how does the Volkswagen e-Golf stack up?

The Volkswagen e-Golf received an upgrade in 2017
The Volkswagen e-Golf received an upgrade in 2017 with a new battery, more power and more range

How far will the Volkswagen e-Golf get me on a full charge?

The Volkswagen e-Golf received the same cosmetic and equipment tweaks as the rest of the Golf range in 2017. But there was also an increase in the energy capacity of the e-Golf’s lithium-ion battery from 24.2 kWh to 35.8 kWh. The e-Golf now has more power at 136 hp. But crucially the range was boosted to 230 km when measured on the new WLTP. And in real world driving, range is not far off that with between 200 and 220 km, depending on driving style, weather conditions and the use of the fans and air conditioning.

On the outside the only clues to the electric powertrain underneath are some subtle e-Golf badges, unique front C-shaped LED daytime running lights, and a set of aerodynamic 16” ‘Astana’ alloy wheels. A blue signature trim line also runs across the grille and into the headlights. Other than that the e-Golf is the sharp dresser that looks good just about anywhere.

Inside, the e-Golf has a perfectly appointed cabin with dials, switches and screens in all the right places, just like the rest of the Golf range. It’s very easy to slot yourself from a Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI to the e-Golf for example, because the controls are mostly the same. The driver’s instrument panel displays a few different gauges for the EV system, but even these are displayed in a rather conventional way. For example where you might see the level of your fuel tank is now a display of how much ‘juice’ you have left in your battery.

In practical terms, the interior space of the e-Golf remains unchanged as a standard five door family hatchback. However boot volume is down from 380 to 341 litres.

The interior of the Volkswagen e-Golf
The interior of the Volkswagen e-Golf

Pricing and Equipment

Equipment levels are good. Volkswagen Ireland offers the e-Golf in Ireland in two trims: an entry e-Golf priced from €35,995 including government incentives and a more salubrious Executive Edition priced from €39,495.

The glossy 9.2” Discover Pro navigation system with clear glass touchscreen comes as standard. Other highlights include adaptive cruise control, front assist with pedestrian monitoring, rear parking sensors, and dual zone climate control.

The Executive edition adds 17-inch ‘Madrid’ alloy wheels, LED tail lights with running indicators, a full leather interior with sports comfort seats in front, Active Info Display, rear view camera, heated front seats, tinted rear windows and keyless access.

The Volkswagen e-Golf can be charged at home or on the public charging system
The Volkswagen e-Golf can be charged at home or on the public charging system

Driving the Volkswagen e-Golf

On the road, the e-Golf is a slick mover. The cabin ambience is quiet and serene around town but even on the motorway, the e-Golf is a very polished electric vehicle with excellent refinement. The steering and handling is also fluid and precise, so it feels as if the e-Golf owner sacrifices very little in terms of the natural dynamic character of the Golf.

Really your main concern when buying the e-Golf is the range of 200km to 220km and does that make it suitable for your lifestyle? The e-Golf is at its best on those round trips that fall comfortably within the car’s range, or where you can reliably charge at both ends of your journey. At motorway speeds, battery power will dwindle more quickly.

There are three driving modes to the Volkswagen Golf – Normal, Eco and Eco+ - which do effect how much you can get out of a single charge. There is also a ‘B’ mode that can be engaged from the gearbox , which quite aggressively brakes the car when you lift off the accelerator, to recuperate energy.

The Volkswagen e-Golf is available from €35,995 in Ireland
The Volkswagen e-Golf is available from €35,995 in Ireland

Through the touchscreen you can find the nearest charge points easily. When the e-Golf needs charging the battery can go from empty to 80 per cent full in just 45 minutes when a 40 kW DC rapid charger connection is used.

During a week with the e-Golf, local trips were not a problem but I did encounter some issues on longer journeys when I needed to use the public charge points to top up my range to get home comfortably. I encountered frustrations such as faulty chargers, queues at chargers and non-EVs blocking access.

There are numerous incentives and advantages to owning an electric vehicle in Ireland right now. The current generation of the Volkswagen e-Golf with its real world range of roughly 200-220 km is now being outrun by a number of competitors like the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Kona Electric. They are different vehicles but range has to be a number one concern for most drivers.

But if you can work with the e-Golf's range in your daily life, then the quality, refinement and class of the e-Golf offering just feels unrivalled right now in the EV space.

The Volkswagen e-Golf is a lovely car to drive and spend time in
The Volkswagen e-Golf is a lovely car to drive and spend time in!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen e-Golf
Price: 
From €35,995 with government incentives
Battery: 35.8 kW
Power: 
136 hp
Torque: 290 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.6 seconds
Top speed: 150 km/h
Range: 
230km (WLTP)
CO2 emissions: 
0g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The new Ford Fiesta Active

2019 Ford Fiesta Active Review

The new Ford Fiesta Active
The new Ford Fiesta Active

Caroline reviews the 2019 Ford Fiesta Active.

The Ford Fiesta is one of Ireland’s favourite small cars with the sort of ubiquity that’s both very reassuring but also quite tiresome if you want a small car that is more original. But buyers now might find that individuality in the new Ford Fiesta Active.

The Ford Fiesta Active is the first of Ford’s new Active series, where they take regular models like the Fiesta and Focus and give them an SUV-inspired makeover.

I didn’t think I would like the Fiesta Active much to be honest, expecting it just to be a more expensive Fiesta with a mediocre styling kit. But the little quirky Fiesta that thinks it’s an SUV is actually a very smart buy indeed.

The Fiesta range currently kicks off at €15,377, with the five door Active model starting from €18,885 for Active 1, and €20,150 for Active 2, as tested here. Under the bonnet you get Ford's excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine (85hp or 100hp) mated to a six speed manual gearbox, as opposed to the naturally aspirated 1.0-litre in some of the entry models.

The Ford Fiesta Active comes with Ford's excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine
The Ford Fiesta Active comes with Ford's excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine

What does the Ford Fiesta Active look like?

Ford has raised the Fiesta Active up a little so that it has more presence on the road and added a host of extras for a rugged, off-road look. Cosmetic updates include roof rails, black roof and door mirrors, and dark cladding that flows from the front bumper lip, through the wheel arches and side profile to the rear. There’s also a front and rear scuff plate and a black grille with a unique mesh pattern. The look is finished off with 17" five-spoke alloy wheels with a Shadow Black machined finish. The Frozen White body colour set off the styling kit nicely but there’s also a special launch colour, Lux Yellow.

Inside, the 2019 Ford Fiesta Active is bright and funky with an orange accent colour used in the seat upholstery and on other trim elements. The Fiesta is kitted out well with technology features and there’s a mature feel behind the wheel with a good quality finish. It’s just very easy to feel at home in here. The Active 2 model on test also has a B&O Play Premium Audio System with 10 speakers, 8” touchscreen, cruise control, auto high beam, driver alert, traffic sign recognition and rain sensing wipers.

Interior dimensions remain the same but the Fiesta is a comfortable and practical small car. It will seat five and feels roomy and practical for this class of vehicle.

The interior of the new Ford Fiesta Active
The interior of the new Ford Fiesta Active

What's different about the Ford Fiesta Active?

The Ford Fiesta Active ride height has been increased by 18 millimetres over the standard Fiesta and it has a wider track by 10 millimetres. This gives the car more presence on the road as well as greater rough road capability and a higher driving position.

Under the skin, Ford has made a few changes to the Fiesta Active to cope with the raised ride height and add some more utility over slippery surfaces. Optimised front shock absorbers feature a new hydraulic rebound stopper to smooth out bumps or jolts when driving over rough surfaces. Unique knuckle geometry for the suspension and bespoke settings for the springs and shock absorbers combine with revised electric power-assisted steering and electronic stability control (ESC) tuning for enhanced comfort and responsiveness across a multitude of surfaces.

The Fiesta Active also features ‘Drive Mode’ technology that allows drivers to choose between Normal, Eco and Slippery modes with the press of a button. Slippery mode is ideal for surfaces with reduced grip such as snow and ice. It reduces wheel spin, including when pulling away from stationary.

The Ford Fiesta Active is on sale priced from €18,885
The Ford Fiesta Active is on sale priced from €18,885

Driving the 2019 Ford Fiesta Active

On the road, the 2019 Ford Fiesta Active immediately impresses. It delivers everything you could want from a small car including a perky engine and agile driving character, great for nipping around the place. Even beyond the confines of town, the Fiesta is also a great motorway companion with good stability and refinement. It is a fun, fun car to drive. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.2l/100km.

The Ford Fiesta is deservedly one of Ireland’s best-loved small cars and the Active model adds a very appealing SUV-inspired look to the Fiesta. There are no sacrifices to the Fiesta’s practicality and there are no surprises either in that the Fiesta’s magic formula appears only to have been enhanced with a more individual look. Ford Ireland is offering this high spec vehicle now at a good price considering the level of equipment and the addition of the powerful and fun 1.0 EcoBoost petrol engine. All of this makes the Ford Fiesta Active a very smart buy indeed!

The Ford Fiesta Active is a fantastic small car with a very individual look
The Ford Fiesta Active is a fantastic small car with a very individual look

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Fiesta Active 2 1.0-litre EcoBoost
Price: 
€20,150 (Range from €15,377)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
100hp
Torque: 170Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Economy: 
5.7-6.0/100km
CO2 emissions:  
128-135g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year


The new Peugeot 508 fastback makes a serious style statement

2019 Peugeot 508 1.5BlueHDI First Drive Review

The new Peugeot 508 fastback
The new Peugeot 508 fastback is now on sale in Ireland

The new Peugeot 508 has just arrived in Ireland and goes on sale priced from €32,400. Available initially as a ‘fastback’ (looks like a saloon but is actually a hatchback), an SW estate version will arrive in Ireland this summer. Caroline drove from Dublin to Cork in the new Peugeot 508 at the recent Irish press launch.

Styling

The Peugeot 508 makes a serious style statement in the D-segment, breaking the mould of the traditional, four door saloon silhouette with a sports coupé inspired look. Frameless windows are a neat touch often reserved for more expensive, premium cars. The 508 embodies Peugeot’s move upmarket and the look changes a little depending on trim level. The high spec GT Line models for example have a special chequered chrome radiator grille, striking LED headlights and 18” alloys.

Interior

The interior of the new Peugeot 508 is not like anything we’ve seen in this segment before. Angled around the driver, there is a cool looking digital instrument panel above a compact steering wheel. To the driver’s left are some beautiful ‘piano keys’ to operate shortcuts on the 8” infotainment screen. Material quality is good around the cabin with flashier trim elements as you move through the grades.

Practicality

The new Peugeot 508 is actually a hatchback and the boot opens to reveal 487 litres of space with a good wide opening. The car will seat five and feels reasonably spacious inside for this class of vehicle.

The interior of the new Peugeot 508
The interior of the new Peugeot 508

Engines

Two petrol engines and four diesel engines will be available, depending on trim, including a 1.6 THP petrol 180bhp automatic 8-speed S&S; a 1.6 THP petrol 225bhp automatic 8-speed S&S (GT only); a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 6-speed manual S&S, 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp automatic 8-Speed S&S; a 2.0 BlueHDi diesel 160bhp automatic 8-Speed S&S; and a top of the range 2.0 BlueHDi diesel 180bhp automatic 8-Speed S&S.

On the road

The new Peugeot 508 is built on the same EMP2 platform that underpins the popular 3008 and 5008 SUVs. On the road the new 508 is smooth and agile to drive, while the 1.5-litre 130hp diesel offered plenty of pulling power to cover our test route. We will bring you more detailed driving impressions after a full road test in the coming months.

Equipment

Peugeot Ireland is selling the new 508 in a choice of four trims: Active, Allure, GT Line and GT.

Standard equipment includes 8” touchscreen, digital instrument panel, 16” alloys, spare wheel, lane keeping assist, cruise control, active safety brake, AGR (ergonomic) seats, automatic wipers and lights, front and rear parking aid with camera and electric folding mirrors.

The Allure gains a 10” touchscreen with satellite navigation, blind spot monitoring, high beam assist, road sign recognition, advanced driver attention alert, 17” alloys, keyless access and start, lumbar support and dark tinted rear glass.

The Peugeot 508 goes on sale in Ireland priced from €32,400
The Peugeot 508 goes on sale in Ireland priced from €32,400

The GT Line adds 18” alloys, wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise control, full LED headlights and 3D LED rear lights, electric lumbar support, GT Line exterior and interior styling and iCockpit Amplify (choice of two interior ambiences: Boost or Relax) with Driver Sports Pack.

The range-topping GT 2.0 BlueHDi 180bhp automatic version comes equipped with 18” alloys, Focal sound system, Nappa leather seats with full electric driver’s massage seat, active suspension control, an electric tailgate and GT exterior and interior styling.

Pricing

Active models are available from €32,400, Allure from €34,930, GT Line from €38,170 and GT from €49,120.

Rivals

The Peugeot 508 will go up against the Volkswagen Passat, Opel Insignia Grand Sport, Mazda6, Ford Mondeo, among other D-segment saloons.

Verdict

The Peugeot 508 makes a serious style statement in the D-segment and while SUVs have put these cars under pressure for some years now, Peugeot is fighting back with an upmarket and designer feel to their flagship ‘fastback’. The interior of the car is truly innovative. It's petrol and diesel power for now, with a plug-in hybrid scheduled for the autumn. We look forward to getting under the 508’s skin a little more later in the year and bring you a full road test report.

The new Peugeot 508 fastback makes a serious style statement
The new Peugeot 508 fastback makes a serious style statement

Caroline Kidd


The Peugeot Rifter has just arrived in Ireland

2019 Peugeot Rifter First Drive Review

The Peugeot Rifter has just arrived in Ireland
The Peugeot Rifter has just arrived in Ireland

The new Peugeot Rifter has just arrived in Ireland and goes on sale priced from €23,540. The Rifter replaces the Partner Tepee MPV, with a focus on practicality and versatility at good value pricing. Caroline drove from Cork to Dublin in the new Peugeot Rifter at the recent Irish press launch.

Styling

The Peugeot Rifter is essentially a van-based MPV and there is only so much you can do to make a van attractive. But Peugeot has persevered, borrowing SUV characteristics from the 3008 and 5008 SUVs - a high ride height, large wheels, and wheel arch and rear bumper protection. It’s also available in a high spec GT Line, which gives the Rifter considerable more visual chutzpah at a price.

Interior

The interior of the new Peugeot Rifter does not betray its van roots – you’ll know you’re driving something a bit more basic. There’s loads of hard plastics and not much in the way of glamour. But the Rifter still gets a version of Peugeot’s quirky i-Cockpit and there is a slick looking touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard.

Practicality

Practicality is the Rifter’s middle name! The new Peugeot Rifter is available in two lengths, with 5 or 7 seats. This van-based MPV maximises space for occupants with its dimensions and boxy shape. There is loads of headroom and legroom and three individual seats in the rear. There is extra storage and cubby holes throughout the cabin. There’s a wide boot opening with a separate opening window, 775 litre boot and sliding side doors for ease of access.

The interior of the Peugeot Rifter
The interior of the Peugeot Rifter

Engines

There are two petrol engines and four diesel engines: a 1.2 PureTech petrol 110bhp S&S 6-speed; a 1.2 PureTech petrol 130bhp automatic 8-speed S&S (April 2019); a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 75bhp 5-speed; a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 100bhp 5-Speed; a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 6-Speed S&S; and a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp automatic 8-Speed S&S.

On the road

If you are used to driving a car, the Peugeot Rifter might feel peculiar for a bit. But after a while you soon settle in. The test car was powered by the 1.5-litre BlueHDI diesel with 100hp and a five speed manual gearbox. Power was adequate and in car refinement and comfort is fine for long journeys. We’ll be spending more time with the Rifter later in the year and will bring you a full road test and driving impressions then!

Equipment

Peugeot Ireland is selling the Rifter in three trims: Active, Allure and GT Line.

Standard equipment includes 8” touchscreen, digital instrument panel, 16” wheels, full size spare wheel, air conditioning, Active Safety Brake, Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Recognition.

The Allure gains 16” alloys, rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, leather steering wheel, front fog lights, folding front passenger seat, electric parking brake, 3 individual magic flat seats in row 2 and electric rear windows.

The GT Line adds 17” alloys, keyless access and start, High Beam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and Advanced Driver Attention Alert, dark tinted rear windows, front and rear parking aid, dual zone climatronic air conditioning and GT Line styling.

The Peugeot Rifter has many practical features including the rear tailgate window
The Peugeot Rifter has many practical features including the rear tailgate opening window

Pricing

Active models are available from €23,540, Allure from €25,570, and GT Line from €28,400.

Rivals

The Peugeot Rifter will go up against the Ford Tourneo, Opel Combo Life and Volkswagen Caddy Life.

Verdict

The Peugeot Rifter enters the MPV market with a price and engine range advantage over the Volkswagen and Ford rivals. On first glance, the Rifter deserves a closer look as the blend of space and practicality make it searingly good value. I look forward to bringing you a full report after a road test later in the year!

The new Peugeot Rifter is available from €23,540
The new Peugeot Rifter is available from €23,540

Caroline Kidd


The new Fiat 500X

2019 Fiat 500X 1.0 Petrol Review

The new Fiat 500X
The new Fiat 500X is on sale in Ireland now

Caroline drives the 2019 Fiat 500X!

The Fiat 500X landed in Ireland in 2015, just as the compact crossover boom was taking hold. There have been a host of new entrants since but the Fiat 500X does the compact crossover thing the cheeky Italian way. That means that the 500X has oodles of style and charm inherited from the very successful Fiat 500 city car. But being a larger vehicle altogether makes it much more practical. There’s more space and more doors.

The 500X uses a clever formula, at least on paper. At some point Fiat 500 owners were going to outgrow the city car and need more space, and why not get it in the trendy skin of a crossover?

What's new for the 2019 Fiat 500X?

And now the Fiat 500X has recently received a mid-life refresh with updates to styling, interior, equipment and the debut of a new family of turbo petrol engines. On the outside, there are new LED daytime running lights, LED headlights and rear lights, while the cockpit has also been updated to integrate more technology, improve ergonomics and refresh interior trims.

In Ireland pricing kicks off at €21,795, and the 500X comes in three trims or flavours: Urban, City Cross and Cross.

The Urban model comes with a decent standard specification including 16-inch alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, body-coloured dashboard, air conditioning, cruise control and an electric parking brake. There’s also safety equipment like Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist and Lane Assist driving assist systems standard on all versions, as is the Uconnect 7-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The interior of the 2019 Fiat 500X
The interior of the 2019 Fiat 500X

The City Cross (from €23,395) adds a few more aesthetic bits including 17-inch alloy wheels, satin chrome inserts, body-coloured door mirrors and front and rear grey skid plate. There are also front fog lights, a 3.5-inch colour TFT monitor, automatic climate control and rear parking sensors.

The range topper is the Cross as tested here (from €24,995) with 18-inch alloy wheels, roof bars and dark tinted rear windows. Inside, it adds TomTom navigation to the 7-inch touchscreen, along with Parkview rear parking camera, dusk sensor and front armrest.

There is a choice of 14 different colours, including the new tricoat Ivory, metallic Blue Italia and Techno Green.

The interior of the Fiat 500X

Inside the Fiat 500X is a colourful and cheerful place. The body coloured dash panel is a classic touch of the 500 family and a lot of the switchgear is shared between the two cars. The plastics are mostly hard around the car but there is some more soft touch panelling also and overall quality is not a problem. You sit surprisingly high in the 500X also so there is a nice commanding driving position too.

The 500X is a compact vehicle so by its nature the interior space is not that much more accommodating than your average supermini. Four will be comfortable inside and the boot is very good for this class of vehicle at 350 litres.

The Fiat 500X has a new family of turbo petrol engines available
The Fiat 500X has a new family of turbo petrol engines available

The new engine line up for the Fiat 500X is petrol only, but the big news is that Fiat has introduced two new turbo petrol units to the range. Buyers can choose from a three-cylinder 1.0-litre powerplant that delivers 120hp and 190Nm of torque and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission, as well as a four-cylinder 1.3-litre engine with 150hp and 270Nm of torque, combined with a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT).

There is also an entry level 110hp 1.6 E-Torq, combined with a manual transmission.

On the road in the Fiat 500X

My test car was a Fiat 500X Cross 1.0-litre 120hp turbo petrol model with a list price of €24,995. These small 1.0-litre turbo petrol engines are ideal for this size of vehicle, and it’s no different for the Fiat 500X. There is plenty of power and refinement is also good across town and motorway, with no vibration at all coming through to the cabin. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.1l/100km and motor tax is €280 per year for this model.

Elsewhere, the Fiat 500X is an easy drive with light steering that makes it great for urban environments. On the motorway it’s very stable and composed, with only very rough road surfaces catching it out. The 500X is sadly not as fun to drive as the Fiat 500 city car, with the taller SUV body making it feel a bit more clumsy in corners.  But for this class of vehicle, it’s all perfectly adequate.

The Fiat 500X is a cheerful and colourful character for the compact crossover segment
The Fiat 500X is a cheerful and colourful character for the compact crossover segment

The Fiat 500X takes many style cues from the 500 city car, which is a good thing. Putting it in a larger and more practical body with chunky crossover style should make it searingly popular. However the compact crossover segment is vast and it’s easy for the 500X to be overlooked. Yet this cheeky Italian is stylish and comes well-equipped, while the new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine really feels like it belongs here. And though there may be a few niggles, with that face it’s impossible to be angry with the 500X for long!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Fiat 500X Cross 1.0 120hp
Price: 
€24,995 (Range starts at €21,795)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
120 hp
Torque: 190 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 188 km/h
Economy: 
5.8-6.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
133-139g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year


changing lanes

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid First Drive Review

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid pictured at Barberstown Castle, Straffan
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid pictured at Barberstown Castle, Straffan

Honda Ireland has just welcomed the new Honda CR-V Hybrid to Ireland. It joins the all-new Honda CR-V 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo (petrol) that arrived in Ireland in 2018. The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid is the first Honda SUV to be available as a hybrid in Europe and the car uses a 2.0-litre petrol electric powertrain. Caroline went to the Irish launch in County Kildare to test drive the new CR-V Hybrid.

Styling

The Honda CR-V Hybrid has considerable stature and road presence. The evolution between the styling of this new model and the previous generation has been quite gentle, but there are broader and more muscular wheel arches, sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, as well as the latest Honda headlight signature. LED lights and 18” alloy wheels come as standard. There are eight exterior colours to choose from including Rallye Red, Crystal Black and Lunar Silver.

Interior

The Honda CR-V has a fabulous build quality and the interior is immaculately finished with plenty of soft touch materials, metallic trim and wood-effect inserts in the dashboard and doors. On all but the entry model, there is a stylish looking 7” touchscreen set in the dash with the Honda Connect infotainment system.

Practicality

This is a large vehicle, with plenty of interior space and a 497 litre boot. Honda has increased the wheelbase to eke out more passenger space. The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid is available with five seats only, though the 1.5-litre petrol models do come with an optional seven seats.

The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The interior of the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Engines

The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 184hp and 175Nm of torque available in both the front wheel drive and four wheel drive model. The CR-V Hybrid puts its power to the road using a CVT automatic gearbox. The manufacturer quotes fuel consumption for the front wheel drive model at 5.3l/100km and C02 emissions at just 120g.

On the road

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is one of the most aerodynamic cars in its class and features Honda’s Active Shutter Grille system to improve fuel efficiency. The hybrid system is operated via buttons rather than a traditional gear lever – Drive, Park, Neutral and Reverse. There is also a Sport mode button for a more responsive throttle input. A short range EV mode can be selected when in town and it gives about 2km of pure EV range, depending on battery charge and driving conditions.

I took the Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD for a short test drive around Kildare. The CR-V Hybrid is quiet and smooth on the move with a natural feeling hybrid drive and CVT gearbox. The CR-V Hybrid is more stoic than sporty in the handling department but it’s a competent drive for the five seat SUV, with good comfort and refinement, a must for this type of vehicle. Fuel consumption on my 30 minute test drive averaged at about 6.7l/100km.

Equipment

Honda Ireland is selling the new CR-V Hybrid in four grades: Comfort, Lifestyle, Elegance and Executive. Standard equipment includes 18” alloys, keyless entry and start, emergency call, Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist system, driver lumbar support, climate control, and LED headlights. Lifestyle models add equipment including rain sensing wipers, electrically folding side mirrors, leather steering wheel, dual automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and Honda Connect with 7” touchscreen. The Elegance model has leather upholstery, front heated seats, active cornering lights and ambient lighting. The Executive model has an opening panoramic glass roof, head-up display, heated steering wheel, electric tailgate and rear heated seats.

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is a spacious five seat SUV
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is a spacious five seat SUV

Pricing

Comfort is available from €38,000, Lifestyle from €40,500, Elegance from €43,500 and Executive from €49,500. Prices quoted here are for FWD models including grants reductions for hybrids, with AWD cars available from €43,500.

Rivals

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid has a direct rival in the recently launched Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Indirect rivals include other large SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Skoda Kodiaq and Nissan X-Trail.

Verdict

The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid starts off well with this new generation off CR-V sporting a terrific build, top interior quality and spacious interior. The hybrid powertrain is new for the CR-V but appears to be quite a natural fit with good refinement. I look forward to taking the CR-V Hybrid for a longer test drive later in the year to test how efficient it is over a week of driving!

Caroline Kidd

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is available in Ireland from €38,000
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is available in Ireland from €38,000

The new SEAT Tarraco has just arrived in Ireland

2019 SEAT Tarraco First Drive Review

The new SEAT Tarraco has just arrived in Ireland
The new SEAT Tarraco has just arrived in Ireland

The SEAT Tarraco has just arrived in Ireland and is an exciting new large SUV for the brand, slotting in above the compact SEAT Arona and mid-size Ateca to complete SEAT’s family of SUVs. Caroline drove the new SEAT Tarraco at the Irish press launch in Dublin.

Styling

The SEAT Tarraco is a stylish new entrant into the large SUV class with a prominent grille giving presence and character and a full width light signature at the rear with dynamic indicators. SEAT Ireland has really tried to ensure that ‘base’ models will look well so even the entry SE model gets 18” alloys and LED headlights with SEAT's triangular signature design.

Interior

The interior of the Tarraco has a simple and elegant design with a digital instrument panel as standard and 8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All the controls fall easily to hand and there is a good commanding driving position. There are a mixture of materials used and the quality is very acceptable with our Xcellence test model featuring some stylish brushed chrome trim inserts.

Practicality

The Tarraco is available as a five or seven seat SUV. The boot is a huge 760 litres with a wide aperture and powered tailgate as standard on Xcellence trim. There is loads of space for second row occupants and you can let the rear seats down from a release in the boot. The two seats in row three are more compact, but the split fold rear bench in row 2 can be slid forward and back to create more space.

The interior of the SEAT Tarraco
The interior of the SEAT Tarraco

Engines

The new SEAT Tarraco is available in Ireland with a 1.5-litre TSI turbo petrol (150hp), a 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol (190hp) and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel. The 2.0-litre TDI can be specced with a manual gearbox with a power output of 150hp or in automatic DSG 4x4 guise with 190hp.

On the road

The Tarraco is built on the Volkswagen Group's MQB-A long wheelbase architecture but SEAT say that they have tweaked it to make it more like a SEAT, with a bit of sportiness and flair to the driving experience. We will have to wait for a longer test drive to fully put that sporty pitch to the test. But we did take the 2.0-litre 150hp manual diesel for a quick drive around Dublin suburbia at the Tarraco launch. The light controls make it easy work in the urban environment, while the diesel was smooth and refined around town.

Equipment

At launch in Ireland the new SEAT Tarraco will be available in SE and Xcellence trim with a sporty FR to follow at a later date.

Standard equipment is very good across the range with SE models getting 18” alloys, 8” touchscreen, LED headlights and rear lights, cruise control, digital instrument panel, SEAT drive profile, tri zone climate control, keyless start, front assist, city emergency braking, lane keep assist and rear view camera.

Xcellence models add 19” alloys, electric tailgate, adaptive cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, park assist, and a special Xcellence styling kit.

The SEAT Tarraco goes on sale in Ireland priced from €34,700
The SEAT Tarraco goes on sale in Ireland priced from €34,700

Pricing

The new SEAT Tarraco goes on sale in Ireland priced from €34,700 for the SE and €39,885 for the Xcellence. Seven seat models are available for a premium of €1000.

Rivals

SEAT Ireland list the Peugeot 5008, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan X-Trail as key rivals.

Verdict

The new SEAT Tarraco is a brand new model entering a busy segment of large five and seven seat SUVs. However the Tarraco is very well specced from entry into the range with some well proven petrol and diesel engines at its disposal. It’s a smooth, fuss free drive and a stylish newcomer that I look forward to bringing you a full road test of later in the spring.

Caroline Kidd

The SEAT Tarraco is a stylish new entrant to the seven seat SUV segment
The SEAT Tarraco is a stylish new entrant to the seven seat SUV segment!