Caroline and the Ford Mustang Bullitt!

Ford Mustang Bullitt Review

Caroline and the Ford Mustang Bullitt!
Caroline and the Ford Mustang Bullitt!

Caroline drives the Ford Mustang Bullitt.

The Ford Mustang needs little introduction because it's the icon of American muscle cars. The name is enough to get you dreaming of hot dusty highways and dry asphalt, miles and miles of it. The arrival of the latest generation of the Mustang to this continent in 2015 was the first time Ford ever got serious about marketing this car in Europe. It was also the first time the car was produced in right hand drive.

The Ford Mustang in Ireland

I remember attending the Irish launch of the car in early 2016 and feeling the excitement that the pony car was in Ireland at last. It arrived here with two engine options that were a cause for lots of discussion. In corner A was the 2.3-litre EcoBoost and in corner B, the classic V8. With that sort of muscle under the bonnet when everyone else is downsizing, neither was attempting to appeal to anyone other than die hard petrolheads. The story continued in 2018, when Changing Lanes enjoyed a memorable launch drive of the facelifted Mustang range in France.

Then in 2019, it was the return of the Mustang with a special birthday edition to celebrate the pony car’s most famous cinema appearance. The Ford Mustang Bullitt in the photos was built to celebrate 50 years of the classic film Bullitt featuring Steve McQueen. Finished in a modern mix of Highland Green just like the original, this special edition V8 would take your breath away even before you start it up.

Physically imposing, long, lean and green, the Mustang Bullitt looks like it’s from another planet among the SUVs, superminis and saloons that make up most of the Irish fleet. You’ve got to love attention because the Mustang is a magnet for it. Priced from €75,155, this is the ultimate Mustang and sits at the top of the range. To recap, you can slip into the Mustang EcoBoost from €53,063 and the Mustang GT from €68,268.

The Mustang Bullitt pictured in the Blackstairs Mountains
The Mustang Bullitt pictured in the Blackstairs Mountains

What's so special about the Mustang Bullitt?

But there's something special about this Bullitt with more presence, power and noise. It’s been debadged and shod with unique 19” black alloys with red Brembo brake calipers and black NitroPlate exhaust tips. At the back the Bullitt logo replaces the GT one. Inside there are some magnificent Recaro sports seats with green stitching that set the exclusive historic ambience. There’s also a Bullitt logo on the steering wheel, and an individually numbered plaque in place of the traditional Mustang emblem on the passenger-side dashboard. As a nod to the original car’s interior, the gear shifter features a white cue ball gearshift knob.

The 2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt also benefits from the facelift in 2018 and so gets Ford’s new 12-inch all-digital LCD instrument cluster. It adds a bit more modernity and watch yourself rev out with fun in high definition! The high spec continues with a B&O PLAY audio system delivering 1,000 watts through 12 high-performance speakers. It's Tom Petty's American Girl on full blast down the highway.

Ford’s 5.0-litre V8 engine is non negotiable in this edition. Praise the Lord! It’s the full fat Mustang experience but even better with an Open Air Induction System, uprated intake manifold, 87mm throttle bodies and unique powertrain control module calibration. There’s a massive 460 hp (up 10 hp on a 'standard' V8) and 529 Nm of torque to play with, with a 6 speed manual gearbox as standard. The Mustang Bullitt also introduces new rev-matching technology for seamless gear changes accompanied by a blip of the engine when downshifting. An active valve performance exhaust system enhances the V8’s signature sound.

The interior of the Ford Mustang Bullitt
The interior of the Ford Mustang Bullitt

Driving the Mustang

Nothing can prepare you for the rumble of a V8 Mustang. It’s the antidote to all those 1.0-litres and hybrids. It makes noise, lots of it. It drinks fuel like it’s going out of fashion (it is). It makes you feel like a superstar every time. Short errands to the shops are magnificent experiences that leave you feeling like a demi-god, just as you come out to find the car surrounded by kids with smartphones. All eyes on you!

Tuned for European roads and driving style, the new Mustang is a big barge on Irish roads but feels more friendly and dynamic than ever before. The optional MagneRide dampers are a must as they really improve the car’s ability to handle the road with more finesse, making a big car feel dramatically less clumsy and sportier.

I was very pleased to find that the Ford Mustang Bullitt was not just an expensive novelty cosmetic makeover. There's real meat to this car. The engine upgrades and exhaust magic make this the ultimate Mustang on sale in Ireland right now, while the unique look never goes out of fashion.

Of course cars like the Mustang are unfashionably bad for the planet. Even Ford is taking the Mustang name and placing it on the new electric Mustang Mach-e SUV that will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year. But this is one motoring moment you will want to relive again and again. Nothing moves you like a V8 'Stang.

The Mustang Bullitt is available from €75,155 in Ireland
The Mustang Bullitt is available from €75,155 in Ireland

By Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Mustang Bullitt 
Price: 
€75,155
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 petrol
Power:
460 hp
Torque: 529 Nm
0-100km/h:  
4.6 seconds
Top speed: 263 km/h
Fuel consumption:
12.4 l/100km
CO2 emissions:
270 g/km
Motor Tax: €2,350 per year

Watch Caroline's video review of the new Ford Mustang Bullitt


The 2016 Ford Focus on test for Changing Lanes!

Ford Focus RS Review

The 2016 Ford Focus RS on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2016 Ford Focus RS on test for Changing Lanes!

This week I’m revisiting my review of the Ford Focus RS. Back in 2017, the angels sang Hallelujah with pops and bangs to herald the arrival of the then new Ford Focus RS in my test schedule. To say I was happy is an understatement. I was THRILLED. I couldn’t think of much else in the weeks coming up to our rendez-vous with bells on.

I was still relatively new to test driving cars and I had just entered my third year with Changing Lanes. The blog had enjoyed a breakout year and now I was riding the crest of a wave where everything I touched turned to motoring gold - cars, press launches, long lunches, and branded biros (lots of them!). I had hit my stride and the cars were coming thick and fast-er. I was typing reviews from dawn to dusk, learning how to take a half decent photo of a car, and expanding every day. I was LOVING it.

Just like those first flushes of love, in the weeks leading up to my date with the new Ford Focus RS, I couldn’t eat without butterflies doing somersaults in my digestive system to the tune of ‘Holiday’ by Madonna. In some ways it was testament to the killer teaser campaign Ford Europe launched in the build up to the arrival of the Focus RS in Europe. It was well played, drip feeding the motoring press with little details, images and videos to whet the appetite and work us all (me) into a frenzy. So much so, that by the time the car did arrive in Ireland, the Focus RS had legend status. Whispers circulated, how good is it, is it really that good? Could it be as good as those early press reviews that were emphatically positive? Really?

Embossed wing of the Ford Focus RS Mk3
Embossed wing of the Ford Focus RS Mk3

But I always make my own mind up about a car thank you very much. I waited patiently for my turn. By the time I got the Ford Focus RS, it had been through the hands of many. It had been drifted, launched, revved to the red line, and all those other things you’d love to do to a Focus RS if you got the keys to it for a week. I know.

The Ford Focus RS was one of the most anticipated new cars of recent years and finally arrived in Ireland in 2016. Developed by a small team of Ford Performance engineers in Europe and the U.S., it was the 30th car to wear the legendary RS badge. It continued Ford’s tradition for high performance road cars heroically, with plenty to justify its ultimate hot hatchback status. Headline features included a sophisticated all wheel drive system and an industry-first ‘drift mode’.

It would be the last halo product of the Ford Focus Mark 3. This car would reach the end of production in 2018 just as a new generation of the Ford Focus was about to receive its European debut. Now looking back, I can see that the 2016 Ford Focus RS was a beautiful swansong. In 2020, it has been widely reported that there will be no new Mark 4 Focus RS.

The 2016 Ford Focus RS has a modified exterior design with a unique front end that features a bold upper trapezoidal grille above a deep front splitter. At the rear, a large diffuser houses twin round high-performance exhaust pipes and, in Europe and Asia, a clear central fog lamp.  The rear roof spoiler is carefully integrated with the car’s silhouette through body-coloured side panels featuring an embossed RS logo. Sigh. Nitrous Oxide was the signature colour, a bright blue with sparkly texture when viewed up close. Unmissable, unmistakable though the RS was also available in some more conservative colours like Stealth Grey, Shadow Black, Magnetic Grey and Frozen White. Wheels were multi-spoke 19-inch RS alloy.

The interior of the 2016 Ford Focus RS
The interior of the 2016 Ford Focus RS

Inside the Ford Focus RS is disappointing. Aside from some super sporty Recaro bucket seats, it is a standard Focus interior except for a few logos and 'blue bits'. Of course, you would be pretty dim to think you were driving a 1.0-litre EcoBoost Zetec on start up. But in fairness there wasn’t much apparel in here to tell you otherwise.

Under the bonnet, the Ford Focus RS shares a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine with the new generation Ford Mustang. Here it’s tuned to produce 350 hp and 440 Nm of torque, putting awesome power to the road via a 6-speed manual gearbox. It was the fastest ever RS model, sprinting from 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and hitting a top speed of 266 km/h. It had the most powerful brake system ever fitted to an RS model, with 350 mm ventilated front discs and aluminium Brembo four-piston monoblock callipers, finished in RS blue. All wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring came as standard, with a dramatic impact on handling and cornering stability.

So, on the road the Ford Focus RS feels refreshingly mechanical and tactile for a modern hot hatchback. Alive and in touch with the driving experience, little small movements on the steering wheel make you feel like a master of your own destiny, just as you slip around another corner at lightning speed. The downside is a very firm ride that just jostles and jostles and jostles, incessantly. Not so bad on short commutes but on the motorway, it could be highly irritating. The Focus RS just isn't interested in bringing you to the shops comfortably. It wants to hit the track. Quick.

Pop, pop, bang, bang, brrp, brrp
Pop, pop, bang, bang, brrp, brrp

Then there is the soundtrack. Every journey is like a performance. Special attention was made in development to make it entertain. I never heard such pops, bangs and burbles from a modern hot hatchback. It is addictive and highly juvenile. You can play your Ford Focus RS like an instrument.

The third generation Ford Focus RS is also the first RS to offer drive modes, with ‘Drift Mode’ being so anti-social that in some territories people wanted it banned. Banned! Launch control also features accompanied by an irate, grizzly popping from the exhaust before the car takes off like an excited bee. Despite the annoying, jostle ride and boring interior you couldn’t credit how magnificently engineered this car is. This car is an icon and will go down in history as one of the greatest hot hatchbacks of all time. A car to dream of driving. I drove it and I still dream of it.

Ford Focus RS: a car to dream of driving
Ford Focus RS: a car to dream of driving

By Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Focus RS
Price new in 2017: 
€52,875
Engine: 2.3-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
350 hp
Torque: 440 Nm
0-100km/h:  
4.7 seconds
Top speed: 266 km/h
Economy: 
36.7 mpg
CO2 emissions:  
175g/km
Motor tax: 
€750 per year


The Ford Focus (2011-2018)

Ford Focus Used Car Review (2011-2018)

The Ford Focus (2011-2018)
The Ford Focus (2011-2018)

Check out our Ford Focus used car review!

Changing Lanes reviewed the third generation Ford Focus in early 2014. This generation of the Ford Focus was a huge success and wasn't replaced until 2018. That means we now have a classic used car review on our hands of one of Ireland's favourite hatchbacks! I've taken my original review of the 2014 Ford Focus and updated it with some new information. This article is aimed at you if you are in the market for a used Ford Focus from between the years of 2011 and 2018. 

Back in 2014, I was relatively new to reviewing cars. I was developing 'a nose' for a good car. But I still remember getting into the Focus and being astounded at just how much good fun to drive it was. Because it certainly never looked very good from the outside. A facelift in 2015 improved things somewhat, but in truth this generation of the Ford Focus was never a beauty queen. Lucky it had another ace card up its sleeve.

Ford Focus Review

So I began my review by saying that this generation of the Ford Focus had been around since 2011 but a new model  was just around the corner. My words: why is it still one of the bestselling hatchbacks in its class? Let’s find out.

The Ford Focus between 2011 and 2018 was sold as a five door hatchback, four door saloon and practical estate car. Entry level models look quite dull but Zetec, Titanium and Zetec-S add more sparkle. The Zetec-S models are particularly good looking, inspired by sporty ST models with a body kit and special alloy wheels. Towards the end of production, Zetec-S was replaced by ST line, which we reviewed in the 2017 Ford Focus 2.0-litre diesel. The Titanium is the smart one with excellent equipment levels.

The interior of the 2015 Ford Focus
The interior of the 2015 Ford Focus

Inside, the driving position is spot on but interior design isn't the strong point for the 2014 Ford Focus. The interior is quite drab though it is well built with good enough quality for a hatchback of this era. Again, high spec cars get some more interesting trim elements. On Focus models between 2011 and 2015, there was a lot of buttons on the centre console to control media and ventilation. However this was rectified to a more streamlined look and updated infotainment in 2015. So post-facelift models should be sought for the step forward they bring in cabin experience.

Anything else?

The cabin is roomy enough for a car of this size, but a Volkswagen Golf  of the same era feels more spacious in that regard. One of the most disappointing features is the boot, which is small by class standards at 316 litres with a mini spare wheel, but a more respectable 363 with a tyre repair kit. It does have the advantage of a low and relatively flat sill and a practical shape, but a 2014 Peugeot 308 trumps it with 470 litres of usable space. The Focus estate has a much more practical boot.

The Ford Focus Estate offers more practical space
The Ford Focus Estate offers more practical space

We were really impressed with the Ford Focus on the road. Precise steering and good body control make it a really great car to drive, much more fun than rivals like the Volkswagen Golf or a Peugeot 308. It feels settled and composed over a variety of road surfaces ensuring a smooth, comfortable ride for everyone on board. There is true magic in this generation of the Ford Focus, with an elastic feel to the steering that means you could out drive most competitors. In fact the third generation of the Ford Focus is sharper than the current generation in that regard. So you will enjoy driving your used Ford Focus very much!

Is the Ford Focus reliable?

Over its lifetime, engines included a 1.6-litre TDCi diesel with 95 hp or 115 hp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 150 hp. In 2015 the 1.6-litre was replaced by a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel with 120 hp that was a much improved unit. On the petrol side of things, the launch of the Ford Focus 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine was big news at the time. It was available with 100 or 125 hp and was a truly excellent engine, yet could never return as good economy as the diesels.

We tested the Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 95 hp diesel engine. Fuel saving start/stop technology is standard with the 1.6 TDCi engine. The official economy is a good 67 mpg. With CO2 emissions of 109g/km, this Focus will cost €190 to tax each year. It had enough power but was a noisy engine compared to rival offerings. We much preferred driving the 2015 Ford Focus EcoBoost 125 hp, which was smooth, quiet and fun.

Post 2015 Ford Focus facelift models have better interiors and design
Post 2015 Ford Focus facelift models have better interiors and design

Standard equipment on our 2014 Ford Focus Edition included electric front windows and mirrors, remote central locking, 16" alloys, Ford SYNC, manual air conditioning, leather trimmed steering wheel and trip computer. Zetec trim added front fog lamps, chrome belt line finisher, quickclear windscreen, sports tuned suspension and sports styled front seats. Titanium trim added dual zone air conditioning, start button, cruise control and speed limiter, hill start assist and more. Ford SYNC infotainment came as standard on all but entry level models. It allows you to operate functions like playing music or making phone calls by voice control but was never the best system on the marker.

Is the Ford Focus a good car?

That's a whistle stop tour of the 2014 Ford Focus, the third generation of an icon. There are so many of these cars available and they found many homes in Ireland. The Ford Focus fits the bill for so many people. It wasn't perfect - the interior was fairly dull, it didn't use the space inside the vehicle as well as some rivals...but the Focus always redeemed itself for its impeccable driving manners. It makes the mundane fun. Diesel engines were noisy but economical, while the EcoBoost engine is a pure gem. It was also very keenly priced against rivals. Hot Ford Focus ST and Focus RS versions were also available, which we liked very much.

I hope our Ford Focus used car review has been useful. Let us know your experience of this generation of the Focus.

Ford Focus ST hot hatchback
Ford Focus ST hot hatchback

Details correct at time of test

Model tested: Ford Focus Edition 5-door hatch
Price: €22,995 (Range starts at €19,395)
Engine: 1.6-litre, four cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 95 bhp
0-100km/h: 12.5 seconds
Economy: 67mpg (4.2l/100km)
CO2 emissions:  109g/km
Tax band: A3 (€190 per year)

Caroline Kidd


The new Ford Fiesta ST!

Ford Focus ST Review

The new Ford Fiesta ST!
The new Ford Fiesta ST!

Read Caroline's Ford Focus ST review for everything you need to know about Ford's high performance hatchback in Ireland.

Hot hatchbacks are rare delights in my test schedule. This January I was lucky to find the Ford Focus ST waiting for me for a review. The early days and weeks of January can have a somewhat lethargic feel. Dark mornings, dark evenings, the promise of spring still not quite there yet. So the new Ford Focus ST put some pep in my step with the energetic 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine under its bonnet pushing out a glorious 280 hp and 420 Nm of torque.

Ford has a fine pedigree manufacturing hot hatchbacks. In fact, I still talk about the 2017 Ford Focus RS to anyone who will stand around long enough to listen, the charismatic swansong of the last generation Ford Focus.

But with the launch of the new generation Ford Focus in 2018, the ST hot hatchback range has also been reinvented. The styling of this car has much improved, with a more mature, refined and lighter appearance. You can still spec your Focus ST in an eye catching shade like Orange Fury but for my test car, Ford picked signature Performance Blue (€1500) on 18” wheels with optional red brake calipers, which is more demure but had a special iridescence to it, especially at night.

Interior of the new Ford Focus ST

Inside, the Focus ST also benefits from a new interior design that is more modern and lighter looking with Ford’s new touchscreen set up in the centre of the dash with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. There are special Recaro sports seats and a ST badge on the steering wheel. Other than that, there is not much else to signify this as a fast performance model. A little more drama and atmosphere in here would be nice.

The ST-2 I drove had ST design 18” alloy wheels, front lower grille in high gloss black, front and rear parking sensors, FordPass Connect and partial leather Recaro Performance seats. It was priced from €41,099. It also included the Performance Pack for €1,500 (rev matching, shift indicator, launch control, performance suspension CCD, multi-colour ambient light and red brake callipers).

The ST-3 adds 19” alloy wheels, painted calipers, fixed full LED headlamps, rear view camera, full leather Recaro seats and power 4-way driver and passenger seats. As of January 2020, only one series, ST3, is listed on the Ford Ireland website. The ST diesel with a 2.0-litre turbo diesel with 190 hp is available from €43,971, with the ST petrol available from €45,838. All come as standard with a 6-speed manual gearbox. It’s available as a wagon for extra practicality.

Ford slots the 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine into the new Focus ST
Ford slots the 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine into the new Focus ST

What’s new for the Ford Focus ST?

The new Focus ST uses a new generation of Ford’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost all-aluminium engine and is the most powerful ever offered for a Focus ST. Advanced turbocharging technology delivers 280PS power at 5,500rpm and 420Nm of torque from 3,000rpm to 4,000rpm. It is also the most free-revving Focus ST engine ever, delivering 0-100 km/h acceleration in 5.7 seconds for the five-door model. A new electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD) enhances the cornering and stability of the EcoBoost variant by sharpening responses to changing grip levels and driver inputs.

Selectable Drive Modes technology has also been introduced to the Focus ST for the first time. This enables drivers to adjust the vehicle’s character to suit the driving scenario. Ford’s new rev-matching technology that debuted on the new Ford Mustang is also introduced as part of an optional Performance Pack for 2.3-litre EcoBoost manual models, as is Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) that enhances the short long arm (SLA) independent rear suspension configuration for greater refinement.

The interior of the new Ford Focus ST
The interior of the new Ford Focus ST

Driving the new Ford Focus ST

This translates on the road to the most refined Ford Focus ST ever, that can slip along effortlessly. Before crushing corners like the true professional it is.

The Focus ST’s six-speed manual transmission enables more urgent gear-changes. And provides a sportier feel with a shift-throw reduction of seven per cent, compared with the standard Focus. Delivering smoother, faster downshifts, the technology briefly “blips” the throttle as the driver engages a lower gear. This matches the engine rotation speed to that of the gear that is being selected.

Damping stiffness has been increased up to 20 per cent at the front and 13 per cent at the rear, and ride height reduced by 10mm, to improve road-holding and response in performance driving scenarios.

On the road, I quickly found Sport mode for I was looking for some more aural delights. There’s some mighty pops and bangs available in that mode. The Focus ST can navigate corners with remarkable speed, grip and precision. It is a true professional.

The Focus ST is an icon. This new refined character is something new for the ST. Too well behaved for the most part perhaps? Depends on what side of the fence you are on. It is a very usable car for every day driving, comfortable yet always ready and able to flex its muscles down a stretch of curvy tarmac.

The Ford Focus ST is a true professional
The Ford Focus ST is a true professional

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Focus ST-2
Price: 
€41,099
Engine: 2.3-litre turbo petrol engine
Power: 
280 hp
Torque: 420 Nm
0-100km/h:  
5.7 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP): 
8.2/100km
CO2 emissions:  
179g/km
Motor tax: 
€750 per year


The Ford Puma is a popular compact crossover

Ford Puma First Drive Review

The 2020 Ford Puma is on sale in Ireland now
The 2020 Ford Puma is on sale in Ireland now

The Ford Puma is back but this time as Ford’s new B segment compact crossover. Caroline travelled to Malaga, Spain, to test drive Ford’s new feline. The 2020 Ford Puma joins the expanding Ford line-up of SUV and SUV-inspired crossover models in Europe - including the Fiesta Active, Focus Active, EcoSport, and new Kuga - and is in dealers now, priced from €24,465.

Styling

The new Ford Puma is a fantastic piece of design for the Ford brand in Europe. Proportions are SUV-inspired, the design sleek and sporty, but with a charismatic evolution of the Ford face – big grille and large almond shaped headlamps. It’s something fresh for the segment, with different personalities depending on what trim level you go for - sporty Puma ST-Line or stylish Puma Titanium.

Interior

The Puma’s cabin is based on the latest generation Fiesta interior. Material quality is competitive for the segment and the streamlined dashboard layout is characterised by a standard 8” touchscreen in the centre of the dash with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for seamless smartphone integration. The Puma also introduces a new 12.3-inch digital cluster, which is standard on Puma ST-Line. Other features also include local hazard information displayed in the digital cluster, wireless charging pad, lumbar massage seats and removable seat covers.

The new Puma will be available in two different flavours - ST Line and Titanium (pictured above)
The new Puma will be available in two different flavours - ST Line and Titanium (pictured above)

Practicality

The 2020 Ford Puma is based on the Ford Fiesta but is bigger in all directions. Passenger space is competitive by class standards but most of the gains in practicality are in the boot area. Ford has introduced a new innovative ‘MegaBox’ concept. This 80 litre extra compartment in the boot can be used to stow larger items up to 115cm tall such as household plants on trips home from the garden centre! When not in use a flat floor can be placed over it. Combined boot space is over 400 litres, quite exceptional for the compact class.

Engines

The Puma features mild hybrid technology to improve efficiency and is one of 14 electrified vehicles to be introduced by Ford by the end of 2020. In Ireland the new Puma will be offered with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost mild hybrid petrol engine with 125 hp mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. CO2 emissions are rated from 124 g/km and fuel efficiency from 5.4 l/100 km according to WLTP. There are no plans as yet to import the higher powered 155 hp version to Ireland.

The interior of the new Ford Puma
The interior of the new Ford Puma

EcoBoost Hybrid technology enhances the Puma’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with an 11.5 kW belt-driven integrated starter/generator, enabling recovery and storage of energy usually lost during braking and coasting to charge a 48‑volt lithium-ion air-cooled battery pack. It also acts as a motor to provide torque assistance during normal driving and acceleration, as well as running the vehicle’s electrical parts.

An EcoBlue diesel engine will join the Puma range later, as will a 7-speed automatic transmission. We also anticipate a high performance Ford Puma ST derivative.

On the road

The Puma uses the Fiesta platform but with some modifications. It has a wider track and the rear suspension is stiffer by 50%. On the road the new Puma is exciting and characterful to drive. The steering has a sporty feel that comes alive in fast cornering. Body roll is minimal. Ford gave us a challenging and technical test route in the Ronda region of southern Spain and the new Puma was a delight to drive.

The new Puma is sporty and fun to drive
The new Puma is sporty and fun to drive

Driving modes are included as standard and settings include Sport, Normal, Eco, Trail and Slippery. The Sport model gave the car a bit more zest and the instant throttle response was great for the mountain roads. Comfort and refinement were very good but fuel consumption was a bit disappointing, with my average fuel consumption between 7.3 and 7.7 litres over a 3 hour drive. In fairness the route was very technical with a large part taking place uphill and in third gear so we will investigate this further during more balanced driving at home in Ireland.

Equipment

At launch the new Puma will be offered in three series in Ireland: Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X.

Standard equipment for Puma Titanium includes 17-inch machined alloy wheels, LED projector headlamps with auto high beam, pre-collision assist, 8-inch SYNC with navigation and FordPass Connect modem, keyless start, electronic air con, massage driver and passenger seats, ambient lighting, wireless charging, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter and rear spoiler.

The Puma ST-Line adds ST-Line sports body kit, large rear spoiler, LED fog lamps with cornering feature, ST-Line sports exhaust, 12.3-inch digital cluster, dark sports headliner, flat-bottom steering wheel, and alloy pedals and gear knob.

ST-Line X adds 18-inch matt black alloy wheels, SYNC Gen 3 8-inch touchscreen with navigation and B&O Play sound system, partial leather sports trim, privacy glass and shark fin antenna.

The innovative new Ford MegaBox
The innovative new Ford MegaBox

Pricing

The new Ford Puma will go on sale in Ireland priced from €24,465 for the Puma Titanium. The ST Line is priced from €26,065 and the ST Line X from €27,865. We can expect the diesel variant to start in the region of €26,465.

Rivals

The new Ford Puma enters a very competitive segment and rivals include the Renault Captur, Hyundai Kona, Volkswagen T-Cross and Skoda Kamiq.

Summary

The Ford Puma feels like a fresh start for Ford, not just in the B-segment but the entire portfolio. The Puma marks the beginning of a serious push to electrification for Ford. The Puma’s good looks should win many fans and it’s now one of the most modern and desirable models in Ford’s range.

While the Puma range is quite narrow at launch with just one engine and gearbox available, this is a fashionable mild hybrid powertrain so it is actually very suitable and apt for the compact class.

The new Ford Puma is at last a very competitive compact crossover for Ford in the busy B-segment.

The Puma is a great addition to the Ford range in Ireland
The Puma is a great addition to the Ford range in Ireland

I look forward to bringing you a full road test later in the year.

Caroline Kidd


The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate Review

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Caroline drives the Ford Mondeo Hybrid.

Ford has been slow to adopt an electrification strategy but the reveal of the new Mustang Mach-E is a strong sign of commitment to EV technology from the global car brand. Surprisingly it’s the brand’s Mondeo that has seen the best efforts yet at cutting emissions and providing customers with more trendy alternatives to diesel.

The problem with that strategy is while hybrid might be sexy, the Mondeo is not! It’s a practical car but showing its age. In these times where change in the car industry is occurring so quickly, there is little mercy to be shown to the Mondeo.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid debuted in Ireland in 2018 and the hybrid estate model I had on test is new for 2019.

The Mondeo now has more than a whiff of old school about it – the styling hasn’t changed much over the last 5 years or even ten years – but it does major on classic big car qualities like comfort and refinement. Now with a hybrid option, it offers low mileage, frequent urban users a more fuel efficient solution in a big car.

The interior of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate
The interior of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Inside the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

On first impressions, the interior of the car is very dull and dated but there is an attractive enough colour display for the driver with useful information about the hybrid system. The SYNC 3 infotainment system also features and is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

In Ireland, the Ford Mondeo Hybrid is sold as a Titanium or Vignale model and goes on sale priced from €35,247. Standard equipment on my Titanium model included cruise control, traffic sign recognition, dual zone climate control, parking sensors, rear view camera, lane keeping aid, roof rails and 16” alloys.

This car is huge inside and super comfortable making it easier to forgive its shortcomings. It’s not cutting edge but it’s a fantastic car to drive very day, one that never disappoints. I did many miles in this car and it was an absolute pleasure. The estate is super practical, but the battery gives an unusual shape to the boot floor.

Boot volume is in excess of 400 litres
Boot volume is in excess of 400 litres

Driving the Mondeo Hybrid Estate

I did a lot of motorway driving and over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.8l/100km, though in town I saw consumption as little as 5 l. It works best in urban environments, when it’s working more on electric power. The Mondeo Hybrid favours a more gentle right foot to build its power slowly and steadily. Too much throttle and there’s more annoying transmission noise. But it’s powerful enough when you need it for overtaking manoeuvres.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid has some stiff competition from the likes of the Volkswagen Passat GTE and the Toyota Camry. Yes, it’s a big comfy cruiser but is that enough in these times? The hybrid system can return good efficiency with a little bit of care. The interior is far from cutting edge and where the car shows its age the most. The Mondeo has fallen some way from its glory days but it is still a satisfying car in its own way.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is available from €35,247
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is available from €35,247

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Mondeo Estate HEV Hybrid Titanium
Price:
€35,247 (Range from €32,580)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
187 hp
Torque: 173 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 187 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.4l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
103 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

 


Caroline and the new Ford Focus Active!

Ford Focus Active Review

Caroline and the new Ford Focus Active!
Caroline and the new Ford Focus Active!

Thinking of buying a new Ford Focus in Ireland? Read our latest Ford Focus review with a definitive verdict on Ford's popular family hatchback.

Ford has expanded the Focus range in Ireland with the arrival of the new Focus Active. Priced from €25,344, the Focus Active aims to bring crossover style to the compact class.

To that end, the Focus has been raised by 13 mm and styling has been tweaked for a more rugged look – grey skid plate front and rear, roof rails, new plastic cladding, dark grille with unique mesh pattern and special alloy wheel designs.

Inside, the Focus Active has unique seat upholstery, new trims and 'Active' scuff plates. The Active version also has two new drive modes, perfectly tuned for adventure – ‘Slippery’ and ‘Trail’!

The Ford Focus Active hatchback is crossover inspired
The Ford Focus Active hatchback is crossover inspired

What are my options?

In Ireland the Focus Active is available as a hatchback or estate (from €26,414) and engines include Ford’s acclaimed 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and 1.5-litre TDCi diesel. My test car was a Ford Focus Active 1.5 TDCi with a 6-speed manual gearbox, priced from €27,353.

Standard equipment includes 17" 5-spoke two tone painted aluminium wheels, pre-collision assist, electronic parking brake, keyless start, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights with cornering lights, air con, cruise control, radio with 8" touchscreen display with DAB, Ford SYNC 3 with Voice Control, plus Bluetooth® and USB connectivity, navigation and six speakers.

Visually the the new Focus Active does carry a strong appearance and image thanks to the styling tweaks and slightly raised ride height. However, unfortunately this character hasn't found its way much into the interior of the car. It's rather plain inside. Changes are negligible though the Focus has a fine cabin with the latest technology features and seamless integration with smartphones. The car is nicely sized and accommodating, having improved interior space over the previous generation of the Focus.

The interior of the new Ford Focus Active
The interior of the new Ford Focus Active

Driving the new Ford Focus Active

Ford has modified the chassis of the Focus Active with unique springs, dampers, stabiliser bars, and front and rear knuckle geometries, to account for the raised ride height of the vehicle. On the road, the Focus Active still feels like a Focus though it's not quite as sharp with a less sporty, hunkered down feel through corners. Still it's athletic and good to drive - comfortable and smooth on the motorway, compact and agile around town. The 1.5-litre diesel performs well with 120 hp providing adequate rather than blistering power. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at an economical 5.1 l/100km.

Ford has also added a little more capability for adventurous souls. In addition to the Normal, Sport and Eco Selectable Drive Modes equipped as standard on all Focus models, the Focus Active now introduces Slippery mode, which adjusts ESC and traction control settings for increased confidence on surfaces with reduced grip such as mud, snow and ice. There's also a new Trail mode, which helps maintain momentum on soft surfaces such as sand.

The Ford Focus range now offers a number of different ‘flavours’, like the classic Titanium, the sporty ST-line and now the outdoorsy Active.

The crossover makeover has worked very well on the new Fiesta Active, with a great presence and spec at good value pricing.

However, for the Focus it has sacrificed a little of its sporty edge in the process. No surprises then that the ST-Line is still my favourite Focus!

The car follows market trends with crossover-inspired styling. In this regard, the Active makeover departs a different look for the Focus that is bound to garner it a few fans.

The Focus Active is available from €25,344
The Focus Active is available from €25,344

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Focus Active 1.5 TDCi
Price:
€27,353 (Range from €23,364)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
120 hp
Torque: 300 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10 seconds
Top speed: 196 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP):
4.5-4.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions:
93 g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year

 


Ford's new high performance Ranger Raptor

Ford Ranger Raptor On The Way In August

Ford's new high performance Ranger Raptor
Ford's new high performance Ranger Raptor

The new Ford Ranger Raptor will arrive in Ireland in August, priced from €63,950.

Developed by Ford Performance, the new Ranger Raptor is powered by a Bi-turbo version of Ford’s 2.0‑litre EcoBlue diesel engine that delivers 213 PS and 500 Nm of torque. It comes equipped with Ford’s new 10-speed automatic gearbox and can reach 100 km/h in 10 seconds.

It will be available in double cab format with a 2,500 kg max towing capacity and 620 kg max gross payload.

Equipment will include front and rear ventilated disc brakes, terrain management system, 17” x 8.5” alloy wheels, unique Raptor leather and suede trim, 8-way powered driver and passenger seats, dual zone automatic air con and SYNC 3 with navigation centre.


The new Ford Fiesta Active

Ford Fiesta Active Review

The new Ford Fiesta Active
The new Ford Fiesta Active

Read Caroline's definitive review of the Ford Fiesta Active for all you need to know about one of Ireland's favourite small cars. In 2022 an updated version of the Fiesta will go on sale in Ireland with a new look, next generation technologies including a new 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument display. The electrified powertrain line-up includes a 48-volt EcoBoost Hybrid for fun-to-drive efficiency and seven-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

What's so special about the Ford Fiesta?

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. This is 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). It's mated to a six speed manual gearbox and is more exciting than 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 Fiesta Active look like?

Ford has raised the Fiesta Active up a little so that it has more presence on the road. They have 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 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 this car?

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 Ford Fiesta

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. 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 Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Fiesta ST Review

The new Ford Fiesta ST
The new Ford Fiesta ST

Read Caroline's Ford Fiesta ST review for everything you need to know about buying Ford's sporty hatchback in Ireland.

The last generation of the Ford Fiesta ST pretty much reached legendary status as the best compact hot hatchback you could buy. Now Ford is back with a new generation of the Fiesta ST developed by Ford Performance. So has the best just got better?

Pricing in Ireland for the 2019 Ford Fiesta ST starts at just €25,277 for the ST2 and €27,710 for the ST3 as tested here.

This time Ford is getting the party started under the bonnet of the Fiesta ST with a new engine. The 1.6-litre four cylinder turbo petrol engine has been replaced with a 1.5-litre three cylinder turbo engine. There’s a new turbocharger that uses an optimised turbine design to build boost pressure faster and minimise lag for a more responsive driving experience. Power is set at 200hp, while there is a boost in torque to 290Nm. This means that the new ST is good for the 0-100 kmh sprint in 6.5 seconds, going on to a top speed of 232km/h.

Driving the Fiesta ST

But numbers are just numbers. How does this new engine feel in the car? Blooming marvellous I’m happy to report.  There may be one less cylinder but the ST’s new 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine performs in a way that certainly does not reek of deprivation. No, it’s responsive, delivering naturally high torque at low rpm and it’s all lavish burbles and pops and bangs as you are carried through the rev range. It delivers the youthful enthusiasm that’s synonymous with a young pup like the Fiesta ST.

The six speed manual gearbox is nice to use and further engages you in the driving experience. There are also selectable drive modes for the first time (Normal, Sport and Track) that adjust the engine, steering and stability controls.

The interior of new Ford Fiesta ST
The interior of new Ford Fiesta ST

In fact the whole experience behind the wheel of the Fiesta ST is one of tactile involvement and track bred athleticism. The best way I can describe the Fiesta ST is to say that it feels like an elastic band through bends – there’s an agility mixed with a tautness that keeps everything just super poised and precise. Granted my test car was fitted with a €950 option pack that added Launch Control (woohoo!) and a mechanical limited slip differential helping to optimise front-end traction during cornering. But on all STs, Ford-patented force vectoring springs support sharper turn-in and responsiveness and improve the stability, agility and responsiveness of the twist-beam rear suspension.

The trade off is a firm ride due to a stiff ST suspension setting that means that the ST can hop around a bit beneath you on what looks like a smooth road. But it’s not so unforgiving as to make it a nightmare for daily use on Irish roads.

Smart and sporty hot hatchback

The ST treatment transforms the Fiesta into a smart hot hatch. There’s a new signature colour called Performance Blue, pictured here. The Fiesta ST in my opinion looks rad in the metal with a lower, wider stance than more basic Fiestas. ST2 gets 17” alloys, while ST3 gets 18” alloys. There’s also halogen projector headlamps and LED daytime running lights, rear LEDs, unique ST-design full body-styling kit, large rear spoiler, dual chrome exhaust.

The Ford Fiesta ST goes on sale from €25,277 in Ireland
The Ford Fiesta ST goes on sale from €25,277 in Ireland

Inside the Ford Fiesta ST

Otherwise this is a relatively practical small car. The 2019 Ford Fiesta ST is available now from launch in both three-door and five-door body styles. It’s supermini sized – no less and no more.

Inside the most notable addition is a set of fantastic Recaro sports seats. There’s also an ST gearknob and flat-bottomed steering wheel with stitching that is replicated on the leather handbrake lever and gear-lever gaiter. The ST benefits from the new Ford Fiesta interior that debuted in summer 2017. Infotainment is centred around an upright touchscreen with smartphone compatibility.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, keyless start, heated front seats, ambient lighting, Ford SYNC 3 with 8” touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, NCAP pack including lane-keeping alert and lane-keeping aid, speed limiter, rear seatbelt minder, rear centre headrest and auto headlamps.

Fiesta ST 3 adds powerfold mirrors, partial leather Recaro performance seats, navigation, keyless entry, rear view camera, rear parking sensors, auto highbeam, driver alert and traffic sign recognition, auto wipers and auto dimming mirror, and leather steering wheel with red stitching.

What are the running costs like?

The Fiesta ST’s 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine features an industry-first cylinder deactivation system for a three-cylinder engine to improve fuel efficiency. It can shut down one cylinder under low load to reduce fuel consumption, for example when cruising on the motorway. Motor tax for the new Ford Fiesta ST is €280 per year. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.8l/100km.

The Ford Fiesta ST now uses a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine
The Ford Fiesta ST now uses a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine

After spending a week with the Ford Fiesta ST, I liked this car the most for its practicality while also offering a great hot hatchback experience with plenty of noise and power. The handling prowess of the new ST is also worth noting. Ford know how to make hot hatches that appeal to that primal part of the human condition that loves raw power, noise and agility.

It's good news that the 2019 Ford Fiesta ST is also improved on the aesthetic side of things, and it gains from a larger interior and improved quality and finish.

Losing a cylinder has not damaged the ST in my opinion; it's actually made the car even more beguiling. Rivals like the Polo GTI and 208 GTi are good, but they just don't quite have the same level of primal appeal as the Fiesta ST.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Fiesta ST3
Price: 
€27,710 (€29,100 as tested with options)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
200 hp
Torque: 290 Nm
0-100km/h:  
6.5 seconds
Top speed: 232 km/h
Economy: 
6.0l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
136g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year

The 2019 Ford Fiesta ST is rapturous good fun!
The 2019 Ford Fiesta ST is rapturous good fun!