The new Ford Fiesta ST

2019 Ford Fiesta ST Review

The new Ford Fiesta ST
The new Ford Fiesta ST

Caroline drives the 2019 Ford Fiesta ST!

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.

On the road in the 2019 Ford 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 2019 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!

The 2018 Ford Focus has arrived in Ireland

2018 Ford Focus 1.0 Review

The new Ford Focus has arrived in Ireland
The new Ford Focus has arrived in Ireland

Caroline drives the 2018 Ford Focus.

Can you believe the Ford Focus is 20 this year? In 1998, the new Ford Focus came to replace the old Escort and it was like drinking a glass of refreshing cool water at the time, quickly establishing itself for its ‘New Edge’ styling and fun driving character. The Ford Focus is a perennial of the compact class, though the battleground has changed a lot in the past 20 years with the current squeeze on the compact class coming from SUVs.

But as the new 2018 Ford Focus clearly demonstrates, there is still a place in the world for a well-executed hatchback. I was lucky to drive the first examples of the new Focus in France over the summer, yet nothing can compare to driving the car for an extended period on Irish roads. And very quickly I realised that there is still something very safe and familiar about the Ford Focus. It's less like a glass of cool water these days and more like a comforting cup of tea. But as any Irish person will tell you, there are few things in life as good as a strong cup of tea after a hard day!

Available as a five door hatchback or a wagon, this is the fourth generation of Ford’s popular mid-size car. More than 129,000 Ford Focus models have been sold in Ireland since its original launch in 1998, making it one of our most popular cars.

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

What's new in the 2018 Ford Focus?

Ford Ireland has just announced new reduced pricing for the Focus as we approach the 191 registration period with a lead in price of €22,495, which means it looks like good value too.

In styling terms the 2018 Ford Focus has a much slimmer and neater silhouette. It’s far classier and more delicate looking than the car it replaces when you see it in the metal. It’s lower and wider but keeps the same exterior dimensions. Visually it has a longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs.

Inside, the interior has also been overhauled for a more modern and clean look. A smart-looking touchscreen sits high in the dash and the ‘clutter’ around the centre console has been removed for a more open and spacious feel.

Cabin space and boot space have also been improved. There is more than 5 centimetres additional length between the front and rear wheels so rear seat passengers get more legroom and all occupants benefit from the wider interior – there’s 6 centimetres more shoulder room in the rear. The rear footwells are a nice size with a relatively low transmission tunnel, while the boot is now a more competitive 375 litres.

The Ford Focus goes on sale in Ireland priced from €22,495
The Ford Focus goes on sale in Ireland priced from €22,495

Engines and equipment for the 2018 Ford Focus

The 2018 Ford Focus goes on sale in Ireland with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125hp petrol engine (from €22,495) and a new 1.5-litre EcoBlue 120hp diesel engine (from €24,368). Every model now features Drive Modes as standard that adjust the car’s characteristics to match the driving situation, including Sport, Eco and Normal driving modes. A six-speed manual transmission comes as standard while there is also a new eight-speed automatic gearbox available.

The 2018 Ford Focus is available in four trim levels: Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium and Vignale. My test car was a Ford Focus Titanium 1.0T EcoBoost 125PS with a 6-speed manual gearbox (from €24,495). This model comes with extensive standard spec including front and rear parking sensors, 8” SYNC 3 with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, FordPass Connect embedded modem, keyless entry/start and LED rear lamps.

Standard equipment on the Focus Zetec includes 16” alloys, LED daytime running lights, 6.5” SYNC 3 with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, cruise control with lane-keeping aid and pre-collision assist.

The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is a great match for the new Ford Focus
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is a great match for the new Ford Focus

The Focus ST-Line (from €23,495) adds 17” alloys, ST-Line body kit, twin polished tail pipes, large rear spoiler, keyless start, interior sports trim, sports suspension and ST-Line scuff plates.

The Focus Vignale (from €28,495) adds 18” alloys, unique Vignale body-styling, 8” SYNC 3 B&O Play with navigation, Android Auto & Apple CarPlay, full leather seats and armrest, head up display, privacy glass and Vignale chrome tail pipes.

On the road in the new Ford Focus

The new Ford Focus is lighter and stronger than the car it replaces and you certainly feel this on the road. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is a wonderful match for the car – it’s smooth, refined and robust with plenty of power. The Ford Focus purrs along so nicely and it’s comfortable, yet composed through corners with tactile steering. My fuel consumption over a week of driving was 6.1l/100km, while road tax for this model is just €190 per year.

The Ford Focus is a great choice of five door family hatchback
The Ford Focus is a great choice of five door family hatchback

It's fair to say that the Ford Focus just got very competitive again in its class. There is something safe and familiar about the Focus that draws you in, while with a new, modern interior, you will probably want to stay there too. It’s just a nice car to live with day by day.

The improvements in interior design, space and technology are timely and mean that the Focus can be highly recommended without any caveats. There’s plenty to explore in this new Focus range from sporty ST-Line models to stylish and premium Titanium, while the 1.0-litre petrol is still a peach. Good value pricing means the new Ford Focus is just impossible to ignore as a compact family hatchback.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Focus Titanium 1.0T EcoBoost
Price: 
From €24,495 (Range from €22,495)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power:
125 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10 seconds
Top speed: 200 km/h
Economy: 
4.8//100km
CO2 emissions: 
108 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Caroline drives the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been the entry into the Mercedes-Benz range for 20 years. The A-Class started out as something of a mini MPV but morphed into a sleek, low slung hatchback in 2012. Now the A-Class is back for a second iteration in hatchback form and it’s looking better than ever. The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class has also seen a revolution in technology, so things are looking very shaky indeed for 'old' rivals like the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series.

Pricing for the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class range starts from €31,600 in Ireland placing the A-Class truly in the premium end of the hatchback market. But is it worth it? Is the new A-Class really a cut above?

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class brings its A game in the looks departments. Designers at Mercedes-Benz sharpened their pencils and got to work at making the new A-Class more chiseled and masculine than the car it replaces. The AMG Line models look particularly good with a sportier styling kit and 18” five spoke alloy wheels.

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class

What's it like inside the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class?

Things really get exciting when you slip inside the new A-Class. There’s a completely new interior and in terms of technology, style and premium finish, rivals like the A3 and 1-Series just don't serve up the same experience anymore. There's a fine mix of materials and striking new design elements like the sporty turbine effect air vents. The digital screens and instrumentation look amazing and the steering wheel is a masterpiece itself. It just makes everything else in the class seem really dated. The new MBUX infotainment system responds to commands of 'Hey Mercedes', but the swipe and tap controls on the steering wheel still do a neat job of controlling the infotainment system for this driver.

Ok, so that’s all very impressive but is the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class any good at carrying people? Typically your premium hatchback is style over space but the new A-Class has a longer wheelbase to improve interior space and there’s more shoulder, elbow and headroom. In the rear the legroom is looking a little more generous, though a large transmission tunnel and relatively narrow middle seat mean that this is still more of a place for two than three. The boot is now 29 litres larger than before at 370 litres, which not far off what you will find in a Volkswagen Golf.

Rear legroom in the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Rear legroom in the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class

What are my engine options?

There are also some nice engine options for the new A-Class including two new four-cylinder petrol engines (1.3-litre A200 with 163hp and 2.0-litre A250 with 224hp) and a new four cylinder diesel (1.5-litre A180d with 116hp). 6 speed manual and 7 speed dual clutch automatic gearboxes are available. An A160 and A160d will join the range later.

My test car was the new A200 model, which has an amazing 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine pushing out 163hp. The refinement is excellent, the power delivery with the automatic transmission simply amazing, and it has the ability to shut down two cylinders under low load to save fuel. My overall fuel consumption over a week of driving was 6.4l/100km and I was really enjoying this car! Motor tax for this model is €270 per year. The new A-Class also has selectable driving modes, including a sport mode that adds more urgency to the throttle response - though it's rarely needed.

So how much does this all cost?

Well the A200 AMG Line Automatic on test had a list price of €37,690, though petrol models start from €34,235. There are three trim levels - Style, Progressive and AMG Line - and the range kicks off currently at €31,600 for an A180d automatic in Style trim. Standard equipment includes 16″ alloys, air con, active lane keeping assist, digital instrument cluster, MBUX multimedia system with touchscreen and touchpad, cruise control, Dynamic Select, heated front seats, reversing camera and part leather upholstery.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class range starts from €31,600 in Ireland
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class range starts from €31,600 in Ireland

Progressive adds more chrome and carbon fibre effect trim to the cabin, automatic climate control, 17″ alloys, LED  headlamps, visible tailpipe trim elements and rear apron with trim in chrome.

AMG Line adds a sport steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals, direct-steer system, aluminium trim, sports seats, 18″ alloys, AMG bodystyling, and diamond radiator grille with chrome pins.

What's the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class like to drive?

On the road the new A-Class feels fun and sporty. There is the sensation of being pushed along, characteristic of rear wheel drive vehicles. The steering is light but precise and the car feels neat and agile through corners. Refinement and comfort are generally good though this sporty model had audible road noise at high speeds on the motorway and the sports suspension picks up more of the road surface beneath you. The A200 offers exciting performance while being reasonable to run as well.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class packages the quality and style of Mercedes-Benz with a surprising fun to drive character that makes it a must for a test drive! The new A-Class comes to market with impressive new technology, interior quality and design and all this makes rivals like the A3 and 1-Series feel a bit less salubrious than what they once were. Technology lovers will enjoy the new interior and infotainment, while the new engines are pretty much faultless too.

The baby Merc doesn’t come cheap and 'less premium' rivals would be more practical and comfortable. But for style and prestige in the compact segment, it doesn't come much better than this.

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sets new standards in the premium hatchback class
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sets new standards in the premium hatchback class

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG Line Automatic
Price: 
€37,690 (Range starts at €31,600)
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
163hp
Torque: 250Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.0 seconds
Top speed: 225km/h
Economy: 
5.2-5.6 l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
123g/km
Motor tax:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd


2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

2018 Citroen C4 Cactus Review

2018 Citroen C4 Cactus
The 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

Caroline drives the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus.

The Citroen C4 Cactus first went on sale in Ireland in 2014 at a time when crossovers were cool and hatchbacks were becoming less de rigeur.

In 2018 you could say we are still in this phase. Consider that Citroen used to market a C4 hatchback. Now that model has been discontinued and this second iteration of the Citroen C4 Cactus has been designed to plug the gap. As buyers continue to go gaga for crossovers, raised ride heights and SUV-inspired styling, the Citroen C4 Cactus seems like a car that could make a lot of people very happy.

What's new for the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus?

For 2018, Citroen has toned down the styling of the C4 Cactus. It's marketed now as a C-segment hatchback but still with plenty of crossover attitude, like last year's Citroen C3 supermini. The innovative 'Airbumps' are less prominent, and have been moved further down. Customisation packs still feature so there is the option to keep your C4 Cactus discreet or go more colourful.

The dimensions of the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus have not changed and once you slip inside, you are welcomed with a spacious airy feel to the cabin and wide, slim seats that add to a ‘lounge’ feel inside that characterises this current generation of Citroens. There are new 'Advanced Comfort®' seats and yes they are very comfortable and supportive!

The interior of the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus
The interior of the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

The interior trim features quite a few hard black plastics but the two-tone colour scheme on my 'Flair' test model added some pleasant distraction. A digital instrument panel displays your speed and other relevant information, but there is no rev counter. So if you are the type of person that likes to keep an eye on your revs while driving, then this is not the car for you!

On a practical note interior space in the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus remains competitive for this segment with rear accommodation more suitable for two rather than three. Weight-saving measures mean that there are still pop-out windows in the rear, but air conditioning is standard on all models. There’s a relatively high load lip but the boot makes up for it in outright space (358 litres), and a spare wheel included.

Pricing and equipment for the Citroen C4 Cactus

In Ireland there are three trim level: Touch, Feel and Flair. Pricing starts from €19,995 for an entry level Touch 1.2 petrol model or €22,195 for a diesel. Standard equipment on Touch models includes cruise control, 7” touchscreen, front fog lights, air con and LED daytime running lights.

Feel models start from €22,495 and add 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, and automatic air con.

Rear seating space in the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus
Rear seating space in the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

Flair models start from €24,495 and add an exterior colour pack, front parking sensors, Active Safety Brake, driver attention alert, speed sign recognition, lane departure warning and keyless entry/push button start.

The 1.2-litre turbo petrol is available in two outputs (110hp or 130hp), while the 1.6-litre diesel has 100hp. Manual or automatic gearboxes are available. Emissions are low with motor tax for the range from €180 to €200.

My test car was a 1.2-litre turbo petrol with 130hp, mated to a six speed manual gearbox. In Flair trim this model retails from €25,795.

What's the Citroen C4 Cactus like to drive?

On the road the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus is softly sprung and soaks up uneven road surfaces very well. The C4 Cactus is the brand’s first car in Europe to use a new suspension system with’ Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’. With the perky petrol power of the 1.2-litre turbo petrol the C4 Cactus is agile and fun to drive, while also scoring for efficiency and running costs. It's lighter than rivals and feels it on the road. It's stable but doesn't have the same hunkered down feel in corners as some of its hatchback rivals and the steering is on the light side. But the C4 Cactus is more charming for being smooth, comfortable and quiet on the move.

The Citroen C4 Cactus range starts from €19,995 in Ireland
The Citroen C4 Cactus range starts from €19,995 in Ireland

Citroen is currently revolutionising its line up with some very current and comfortable models. The new positioning of the Citroen C4 Cactus is spot on: pitched as a hatchback but offering something completely different to rivals with its distinct, crossover-like styling. The interior can feel a bit budget in places and dynamically it's not the sharpest among rivals. The petrol models are particularly pleasant and efficient, but the real charm of the C4 Cactus is that it's just so relaxing to drive and spend time in!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Citroen C4 Cactus Puretech 130 Flair
Price: 
€25,795 (Available from €19,995)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
130hp
Torque: 230Nm
0-100km/h: 
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 193km/h
Claimed Economy: 
4.8l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
110g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class First Drive Review

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The new 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has arrived in Ireland, priced from €31,600. Caroline has been driving the new A-Class hatchback at the Irish launch.

Styling

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has a sleeker and sharper appearance than the outgoing car, while the new grille and headlamps bring the car more in line with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range. The car is visually extended by the longer wheelbase and character line along the side. The new A-Class has all the presence of a smart, compact premium vehicle, with AMG Line models looking particularly good with a sportier styling kit and 18” five spoke alloy wheels.

Interior

The interior is completely new with some striking new design elements like the sporty turbine effect air vents and good quality materials making it a fit for the premium price tag. The new MBUX multimedia and infotainment system is the focal point, and there are a number of different screen combinations available depending on trim: two 7-inch displays, one 7- and one 10.25-inch display and two 10.25-inch displays. The MBUX uses artificial intelligence to learn and memorise instructions – in short it becomes familiar with the driver, making commands more intuitive. It can be operated via voice control and to get its attention all you have to say is ‘Hey Mercedes’ and your command!

Practicality

Inside the new A-Class feels roomier, with more space in the back too. There’s more shoulder, elbow and headroom. The boot is now 29 litres larger than before at 370 litres, which is competitive for the segment.

Engines

Engine options will include two new four-cylinder petrol engines (1.4-litre A200 with 163hp and 2.0-litre A250 with 224hp) and a new four cylinder diesel (1.5-litre A180d with 116hp). 6 speed manual and 7 speed dual clutch automatic gearboxes will be available, as will 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive.

At the launch I drove the A180d Automatic with the new 1.5-litre diesel engine. It’s very impressive with good refinement and plenty of power for this compact model.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The interior of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class

On the road

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is nicely refined and sporty to drive. There is the sensation of being pushed along, characteristic of rear wheel drive vehicles. The steering is light but precise and the car feels neat and agile through corners. There are a number of driving modes to spice things up a little more, with Sport mode and the 1.5 diesel being a particularly good combination!

Equipment

In Ireland there are three trim levels: Style, Progressive and AMG Line. Standard equipment includes 16" alloys, air con, active lane keeping assist, digital instrument cluster, MBUX multimedia system with touchscreen and touchpad, cruise control, Dynamic Select, heated front seats, reversing camera and part leather upholstery.

Progressive adds more chrome and carbon fibre effect trim to the cabin, automatic climate control, 17" alloys, LED  headlamps, and visible tailpipe trim elements and rear apron with trim in chrome.

AMG Line adds a sport steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals, direct-steer system, aluminium trim, sports seats, 18" alloys, AMG bodystyling, and diamond radiator grille with chrome pins.

Pricing

At launch, only automatics are available. The A180d Automatic starts at €31,600 and the A200 petrol starts at €34,235. An entry-level A160 Petrol and A160d will arrive later with pricing expected to be around €30,000.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class goes on sale in Ireland priced from €31,600

Rivals

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class will go up against other premium compact rivals like the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-Series.

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz say that the new A-Class ‘raises the bar’ in the compact segment. It comes to market with impressive new technology and improved quality and design that really poses a threat to rivals like the 1-Series and A3. For buyers looking for an entry into the Mercedes-Benz brand, the A-Class packages the quality and style of Mercedes-Benz with a surprising fun to drive character and good standard spec.

Caroline Kidd


Honda Civic Diesel

2018 Honda Civic Diesel Review

Honda Civic Diesel
The new 2018 Honda Civic Diesel

Did someone tell you diesel was dead? Well Honda Ireland certainly doesn’t think so. The brand cheekily launched their new Honda Civic Diesel to the media earlier in 2018 with the tagline ‘Never Say (Die)sel'. And after recently driving the new Honda Civic Diesel myself, I can say that it’s no surprise that Honda are confident that this car has plenty more mileage left in it!

In 2017 Honda launched the new tenth generation Civic to widespread acclaim, with the car collecting the 2018 Irish Compact Car of the Year Award. The new Civic was launched with two new petrol engines: Civic 1.0-litre and Civic 1.5-litre, which are good engines, but we were promised a diesel in 2018. Now it’s here.

Does the Honda Civic Diesel make a good family hatchback?

The Honda Civic does a lot of things right. Honda has toned down the styling to make it more palatable but it’s still very sporty and avant-garde for the compact segment. The Civic is genuinely spacious inside and buyers get a lot of ‘bang for their buck’: the boot is 478 litres, one of the biggest in the class, and the rear foot wells are large also. Up front it feels like a larger car too when compared to many rivals.

Inside new Civic, Honda has toned down the confusing dash layout and screens of the previous model, instead opting for a more ordinary and conventional appearance. It's all the better for it. The material quality and build is very good, though a Volkswagen Golf is more premium feeling.

The interior of the Honda Civic Diesel
The interior of the Honda Civic Diesel

In Ireland the Civic range kicks off at €23,750 for a 1.0-litre petrol, while the Civic Diesel range kicks off at €25,550. Standard equipment includes 16” alloys, Bluetooth, parking sensors, and automatic air conditioning. Impressively, the Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment comes as standard including traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking system.

My test car was a 1.6 i-DTEC Smart Plus retailing at €27,950. It's not the cheap option for sure but there's more equipment including 17" alloys, Honda Connect infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual zone climate control, rear parking camera, privacy glass, fog lights, driver lumbar support, auto wipers and leather steering wheel.

What's the new Honda Civic Diesel like to drive?

The Honda Civic Diesel is also one of the best diesel hatchbacks to drive and very efficient. Over a few days of driving my fuel consumption was 5.3 litres per 100km and motor tax is just €180 per year. The diesel engine suits the Civic perfectly: there is great flexibility in the engine allowing for very smooth driving, while it has plenty of power to make the most of the Civic's agile handling and sporty steering. The Civic Diesel is refined on the move and not at all laboursome to drive, even with a 6-speed manual gearbox. A new 9-speed automatic is coming for the Civic Diesel this summer.

Honda Civic Diesel
The new Honda Civic Diesel range starts at €25,550

The new Honda Civic Diesel is not the cheapest diesel family hatchback you can buy, but on the whole in terms of space, equipment and safety features, it is good value. This is a fuel sipping hatchback that’s also great fun to drive. The Honda Civic Diesel has miles more life in it. It’s a fantastic diesel hatchback.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC Smart Plus
Price: 
€27,950 (Range from €23,750)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
120hp
Torque: 300Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.1 seconds
Top speed: 201km/h
Claimed Economy: 
3.5l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
93g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland

2017 SEAT Ibiza Review

SEAT is currently a brand on a big mission. In the last 18 months, they’ve launched their first SUV, the Qashqai rivalling SEAT Ateca, and there’s the soon-to-arrive, all-new compact Arona SUV. On top of that, the much-acclaimed SEAT Leon hatchback had a facelift in 2017 and this summer also saw the arrival of a new SEAT Ibiza supermini.

The new SEAT Ibiza has the privilege of being the first car in the Volkswagen Group to use the all-new MQB A0 platform for small cars. That’s a big boon for the Spanish brand, and with trademark sporty SEAT styling and affordable pricing, the new Ibiza could be on to something big.

And big it is. The new SEAT Ibiza has really grown up. The styling has matured and while all the curves and angles we’ve come to associate with the SEAT Ibiza are there, this wider, lower Ibiza looks better than ever. Inside, a longer wheelbase means there is more passenger space, and this is now one of the roomiest small cars out there. A 355 litre boot tops it off.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
The interior of the 2017 SEAT Ibiza

In terms of trim, buyers can choose from the more standard S (from €14,995) and SE (from €17,335), but for more uniqueness there is an XCELLENCE model (from €18,745) with more kit, and the sporty FR (from €19,465).

Standard equipment includes Front Assist, remote central locking and touchscreen but SE cars add 15“ alloys, front fog lights, LED DRLs, rear LED lights, air con and Bluetooth.

Xcellence adds a leather pack, cruise control, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, and folding electric mirrors. FR features 17“ alloys, dark tinted rear windows, SEAT Drive Profile, and sportier styling features.

My FR trim car was finished in Desire Red with optional 18” alloy wheels added and it looked very ‘desirable’ indeed.

The interior of the new SEAT Ibiza has had a thorough makeover and the previous car’s drab slab of grey plastic has been broken up with a new interior panel that is finished in gloss black in FR trim cars. A large touchscreen with glossy black surround is the focal point in the centre of the dash. The cheap looking circular air vents have been replaced by rectangular vents that look of better quality. While hard plastics still dominate and the cloth seat material looks a little cheap, overall the quality and design has stepped up in new Ibiza.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
SEAT Ibiza FR models are the sportiest of the range with sports suspension and styling updates

The new SEAT Ibiza is still offered with the old 1.0-litre MPI petrol with 75hp. For perkier performance buyers can choose from the new three cylinder turbo 1.0-litre TSI petrol with 95 or 115hp.  Joining later will be a new 1.5-litre TSI 150hp four cylinder turbo petrol and 1.6-litre diesels (80 and 95hp). A DSG automatic gearbox is available paired with the new 1.0-litre 115hp engine.

My test car had the new 1.0-litre TSI with 115hp and first off for a three cylinder unit it’s remarkably smooth and refined with little vibration coming through the pedals. The turbo petrol gives faultless performance with lots of in-gear punch and 0-100kmh achieved in 9.3 seconds. This unit is naturally cheap to run as well with an average consumption of 4.7l/100km and CO2 emissions of 108g/km. The Ibiza 1.0 TSI is available from €18,065 in SE trim.

On the road, the new SEAT Ibiza is smooth and agile with nicely sharp steering and well contained body roll. The car is lacking the steering feel of the Ford Fiesta that makes it the handling star of the class, but this car is pure and sharp to drive.  The FR model has a number of driving modes including a Sport mode, but these do little to alter the driving experience. The firmer suspension of FR models makes these cars noticeably firmer over changeable Irish roads than other models in the Ibiza range.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
The new SEAT Ibiza is one of the most practical, spacious and stylish small hatchbacks

The small car from SEAT first launched in 1984 has come a long way and while 2017 has felt like the year of the small car with numerous new models arriving here, the Ibiza is one of the best all rounders. The new SEAT Ibiza’s class leading ability boils down to the new platform, which makes this car more practical and spacious, but the drive is nigh on faultless too for a small, affordable car. The new 1.0-litre TSI is up with the best of the small turbo petrols in the segment. The SEAT Ibiza has a strong image and this new sharp suit its wearing should appeal to a variety of buyers but crucially I think we can say that the SEAT Ibiza is cool!

Model tested: SEAT Ibiza FR 1.0TSI 115hp
Price: €20,185 (Range starts €14,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
115hp
Torque: 200Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.3 seconds
Top speed: 195km/h
Claimed Economy: 
4.7l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
108g/km
Motor tax:
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd


Citroen C4 Cactus

Revised Citroen C4 Cactus To Land In 2018

The quirky Citroen C4 Cactus has had a large makeover and is set to land in Ireland towards the middle of 2018.

Notably Citroen are dubbing it as a hatchback, not a crossover, and that's because production is ending of the rather unfashionable C4 hatchback, so the new Citroen C4 Cactus is to fill the gap.

The new car claims to merge the best bits of both cars: the comfort of the C4 and the individuality and personality of the Cactus.

The front end styling has been significantly revamped in line with the Citroen C3 family, while the back has also been revised.

Inside there is a new centre console, while many of car's functions are controlled by the centrally mounted touchscreen. In-car technology includes Mirror Screen Function with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay™ and MirrorLink®, Citroen Connect Nav and Citroen Connect Box incorporating Citroen’s Emergency & Assistance system that links to a specialised assistance platform in the event of a breakdown or accident.

Citroen C4 Cactus
The interior of the Citroen C4 Cactus

Driver assistance equipment and technologies for the 2018 model year include Active Safety Brake, Lane Departure Warning, Coffee Break Alert, Speed Limit Recognition, Blind Spot Monitoring and Reversing Camera.

There is a revised engine line-up for new Citroen C4 Cactus of diesel and petrol engines, with units now developing up to 130hp.

New C4 Cactus is the first model in Europe to be equipped with the Citroen brand’s new suspension system with Progressive Hydraulic Cushions™ (PHC), and the first in the world to feature Advanced Comfort seats.

Sound insulation has also been improved.

Customisation will still be a key feature with up to 31 exterior customisation possibilities, with nine body colours and four Colour Packs,

Caroline Kidd


2017 Honda Civic review ireland

Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo Review

The Honda Civic has been a steady seller for Honda in Ireland and accounts for over 50% of Honda’s sales here. The Honda Civic has its own loyal following of fans and though the Civic has always been a little alternative, they’ve stuck with it through some of the more challenging design iterations.

Generation ten, which landed in Ireland earlier in 2017, will challenge them yet again. Honda takes a more contrarian view to design, showing complete disregard to the mid-sized ‘box’ culture that other manufacturers take when designing a new mass market hatchback. The wedge-shaped weirdness of the previous generation has evolved into something far more aggressive and sporty. The pronounced wheel arches, spoiler, swept back headlamps and large intakes set in the bumpers front and back combine to make rivals look meek in comparison.

Inside new Civic the quality of the materials has improved, and the confusing multiple screen and digital display layout is gone.  It looks grown up and upmarket, and there is loads of space. The second generation Honda Connect infotainment system is standard on all but the base model, and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2017 Honda Civic review ireland
The interior of the new Honda Civic

The new Honda Civic is a very generously proportioned car. There’s almost a bit of class blurring going on here, such is the substantial feeling to this car. The rear bench feels more accommodating than most of the rivals and the footwells are very large. Step around to the boot and you will find one of the best in class at 478 litres. Due to a new rear suspension design, the innovative ‘magic seats’ feature is gone: you can’t slap up the rear bench to hold a pot plant (!) for example, but this new car is so good to drive that I think you will agree the sacrifice for a better suspension was a much better investment.

On the road, the new Honda Civic is a smooth, smooth operator. That’s in part because Honda has launched the car with solely petrol engines (though a diesel will follow later). But the whole execution of the car feels tight and composed. The steering is fluid and direct and the front end grips willingly with amazing stability from the car even when pushing on. Comfort has not been sacrificed and the new Honda Civic deals very well with Ireland's changeable road quality.

The new Civic is currently on sale with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 127hp, which will suit the needs of most buyers, while there is also a more powerful 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with 180hp. When revved the 1.0-litre has a familiar three cylinder thrum, but it settles down well to a cruise and it is a very flexible engine being one of the most powerful of the 1.0-litres in this class. It works exceptionally well with Honda’s 6-speed manual gearbox. Motor tax is €200 per year for this model and it returns a claimed 55mpg, with real world economy not far off that.

2017 Honda Civic review ireland
The Honda Civic is available with choice of two turbo petrol engines, with a diesel on the way in 2018

Pricing for new Civic starts at €23,750 for a 1.0-litre in ‘Smart’ trim. Standard equipment includes 16” alloys, Bluetooth, parking sensors, automatic air conditioning and the Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment. Impressively traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking system all come as standard.

The model tested was a ‘Smart Plus’ 1.0-litre (€26,250) and includes Honda Connect with navigation, rear parking camera, 17” alloys, front fog lights and auto wipers. ‘Premium’ models with leather interior, heated seats, opening glass roof, adaptive dampers, 11 speaker audio system and keyless entry and start are priced from €30,150,  while ‘Premium Plus’ (from €31,650) includes wireless charging, LED headlights and LED fog lights, and headlight washers.

The 1.5-litre 180hp range starts from €28,550, rising to €32,550.

The new Honda Civic is an exciting new launch for the Japanese carmaker and is definitely worth sampling if you are in the market for a new hatchback. The new Civic arrives in our diesel-biased market with two brand new petrol engines, but for many people a petrol powered hatchback will meet their needs. The new Civic is one of the most comfortable and refined cars of its class, and a genuinely good drive, while a high standard spec including democratising safety equipment and a spacious cabin to boot, mean that the Civic has all the right ingredients to make an excellent family car.

2017 Honda Civic review ireland
The Honda Civic is now one of the best in the segment

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo Smart Plus
Price: 
€26,250 (Range starts at €23,750)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
127bhp
Torque: 200Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 203km/h
Economy: 
55mpg
CO2 emissions:  
117g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

If you are looking for a petrol hatchback, you might also like this review of the Volkswagen Golf TSI.


2017 Volkswagen Golf review ireland

2017 Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI Review

The Volkswagen Golf needs little introduction. It’s one of Ireland’s bestselling cars, and in 2016 Volkswagen Ireland sold just under 5000 of them here, only falling second to the Hyundai Tucson.

But even hatchback heroes like the Golf need a refresh every now and then, so the seventh generation has undergone a revision exercise for 2017 to keep it competitive.

On the outside there has been some subtle restyling including new bumpers, new radiator grille, new glass headlight covers that extend further up the wing, and more chrome detailing at the front and back. All models have LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights.

2017 Volkswagen Golf Review Ireland
The interior of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf

Inside, the changes are more obvious. The current generation of the Volkswagen Golf already had a great cabin that was well-built and easy to navigate, but now the infotainment and its surround has been updated. It’s a glossy black affair that does a lot to lift the interior and make it feel more premium. The digital instrument cluster we’ve seen already in the Tiguan SUV now appears for the first time in the Golf. It’s standard on Highline models.

Elsewhere, the Volkswagen Golf is a hatchback that will accommodate passengers well. Rear legroom is good for the class, as is headroom.  The boot at 380 litres is also still competitive in the segment.

Volkswagen has also used the 2017 update as an opportunity to add a new engine to the Golf range. The new three cylinder 1.0-litre TSI is starting to appear across the Volkswagen Group, replacing the 1.2-litre TSI. In the Golf it’s available with 85hp or 110hp. Other engine options include the 1.4-litre TSI petrol with 150hp, the 1.6-litre diesel with 90hp or 115hp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp.

The Volkswagen Golf needs little introduction. It’s one of Ireland’s bestselling cars, and in 2016 Volkswagen Ireland sold just under 5000 of them here, only falling second to the mighty Hyundai Tucson. But even hatchback heroes like the Golf need a refresh every now and then, so the current award-winning seventh generation has undergone a revision exercise for 2017 to keep it competitive. On the outside, there has been some subtle restyling including new bumpers, new radiator grille, new glass headlight covers that extend further up the wing, and more chrome detailing at the front and back. All models have LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights. Inside, the changes are more obvious. The current generation of the Volkswagen Golf always had a great cabin that was well-built and easy to navigate, but now the infotainment and its surround has been updated. It’s a glossy black affair that does a lot to lift the interior and make it feel more premium. The digital instrument cluster we’ve seen already in the Tiguan SUV now appears for the first time in the Golf. It’s standard on Highline models. Elsewhere, the Volkswagen Golf is a hatchback that will accommodate passengers well. Rear legroom is good for the class, as is headroom. The boot at 380 litres is also still competitive in the segment. Volkswagen has also used the 2017 update as an opportunity to add a new engine to the Golf range. The new three cylinder 1.0-litre TSI is starting to appear across the Volkswagen Group, replacing the 1.2-litre TSI. In the Golf it’s available with 85hp or 110hp. Other engine options include the 1.4-litre TSI petrol with 150hp, the 1.6-litre diesel with 90hp or 115hp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp. My test car had the new 1.0-litre TSI 110hp turbo petrol engine and it’s a smooth and elegant drive. The engine offers good flexibility and never feels too breathless. If compared to the 1.6-litre TDI 115hp it’s a little down on power and torque, but marginally quicker to 100kmh, at 9.9 seconds. In terms of economy, it will return a claimed 4.8l/100km versus 4.1l/100km in the diesel, but on my test drive I returned closer to 7.0l/100km. The new engine suits the Golf’s refined character very well and makes the most of the car’s agile but precise handling. The lower list price compared to the diesel is attractive too. The new Golf with the 110hp 1.0-litre starts from €22,895, while the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel starts from €24,995 for a five door. My test car in Highline trim had a list price of €27,295. Standard equipment on Trendline models includes four electric windows, 6.5” touchscreen, air con and electronic parking brake. Comfortline models add 8” touchscreen, 16” alloys, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, and forward collision warning. Highline models add 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, sports suspension, parking sensors and the digital instrument cluster. The current Volkswagen Golf may be aging but it remains one of Ireland’s favourite cars. Volkswagen has used this latest update to refine the package a little more, which has been done very successfully with the updates to the infotainment and centre console, and also the introduction of the digital instrument cluster for the first time. For buyers thinking about switching to a petrol hatchback, the new 1.0-litre TSI is one of the best on the market. Model tested: Volkswagen Golf Highline 1.0 TSI 5-door 110hp Price: €27,295 (Range starts at €20,895) Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol Power: 90hp Torque: 120Nm 0-100km/h: 11.1 seconds Top speed: 166km/h Economy: 60.1mpg CO2 emissions: 106g/km Motor tax: €190 per year Caroline Kidd If you are looking for a five door hatchback you might also like this review of the Audi A3 Sportback.
Volkswagen has added a new 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine to the Golf range

My test car had the new 1.0-litre TSI 110hp turbo petrol engine and it’s a smooth and elegant drive. The engine offers good flexibility and never feels too breathless. If compared to the 1.6-litre TDI 115hp, it’s a little down on power and torque, but marginally quicker to 100kmh, at 9.9 seconds. In terms of economy, it will return a claimed 4.8l/100km versus 4.1l/100km in the diesel, but on my test drive I returned closer to 7.0l/100km.

The new engine suits the Golf’s refined character very well and makes the most of the car’s agile and precise handling. The lower list price compared to the diesel is attractive too. The new Golf with the 110hp 1.0-litre starts from €22,895, while the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel starts from €24,995 for a five door. My test car in Highline trim had a list price of €27,295.

Standard equipment on Trendline models includes four electric windows, 6.5” touchscreen, air con and electronic parking brake. Comfortline models add 8” touchscreen, 16” alloys, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, and forward collision warning. Highline models add 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, sports suspension, parking sensors and the digital instrument cluster.

2017 Volkswagen Golf review ireland
Volkswagen has refined the Golf package a little more, and it remains a great choice of hatchback

The current Volkswagen Golf may be aging but it remains one of Ireland’s favourite cars. Volkswagen has used this latest update to refine the package a little more, which has been done very successfully with the updates to the infotainment and centre console, and also the introduction of the digital instrument cluster for the first time. For buyers thinking about switching to a petrol hatchback, the new 1.0-litre TSI is one of the best on the market.

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf Highline 1.0 TSI 5-door 110hp
Price: 
€27,295 (Range starts at €20,895)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
90hp
Torque: 120Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 166km/h
Economy: 
60.1mpg
CO2 emissions:  
106g/km
Motor tax:
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a five door hatchback you might also like this review of the Audi A3 Sportback.