2017 Renault Grand Scenic Review Ireland

Renault Grand Scenic 1.6dCi Review

At the beginning of 2017, Renault introduced two new MPVs to Ireland: the Renault Scenic and the Grand Scenic. These are two stalwarts of the MPV world but times have changed since the Scenic made its debut back in 1996.

Large SUVs with a bit more street cred have been encroaching on the family car market in recent years, with many manufacturers deserting the MPV format altogether.

But Renault believe that there is life left in the MPV. Seven seat MPVs are still hard to beat in terms of space and value for money, and with pricing starting from €28,400, the Renault Grand Scenic makes particularly good sense.

To boost desirability, the styling of the new Renault Grand Scenic has been beefed up and given a significant injection of attitude. The inclusion of 20” wheels as standard and contrasting roof/body colour add street cred.

Inside, the interior has been overhauled with a large portrait style touchscreen being the focal point in the centre of the dash on higher trimmed models. There are hard plastics but plenty more soft touch materials too in the important places that you see and touch regularly.

2017 Renault Grand Scenic Review Ireland
The interior of the 2017 Renault Grand Scenic

There is an excellent feeling of space in the cabin and great storage too. Standard equipment (Expression+, from €28,400) includes 20” Silverstone alloy wheels, LED DRLs, manual air conditioning, analogue dashboard, electronic handbrake, 7" touchscreen, FM/AM/DAB tuner, Bluetooth® audio streaming and handsfree calls, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, and automatic high/low beam.

Dynamique Nav starts from €31,500. My test car was a Dynamique S Nav  model (from €33,300) and equipment includes 20” Exception alloy wheels, colour head up display, rear parking camera with front and rear parking sensors, panoramic fixed glass sunroof with electric sunblind, contrasting roof and door mirror colour, and the R-Link 2 multimedia system with 8.7" touchscreen and navigation.

Top of the range Signature models start from €35,100.

The Renault Grand Scenic is very spacious inside. There are three individual seats in the back that can slide forward and back. The footwells are large and there is a flat space for the middle seat passenger to put their feet. Headroom is also beyond good. Things are a bit more cramped in the third row, but children will be fine here.

2017 Renault Grand Scenic Review Ireland
The Renault Grand Scenic is a very stylish seven seater

In five seat mode, the boot is a huge 596 litres and it’s a large and square space that will be easy to load. In two seat mode, there is a more paltry 233 litres available, but rivals don’t do much better.

In Ireland, the Renault Grand Scenic is available with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine (115hp), a 1.5-litre diesel (110hp) or a 1.6-litre diesel with 130hp or a 160hp version with automatic gearbox. My test car had the 1.6-litre dCi 130hp and it’s a robust engine for this car with plenty of power. It’s reasonably refined too, but makes itself known in the cabin when revved hard.

On the road, the Grand Scenic is more about being a comfortable and spacious people carrier, than a pin sharp sporty one but it does grip well and the steering is direct, albeit with little in the way of feedback. The Grand Scenic is more or less comfortable, except for some harshness over bumps.

2017 Renault Grand Scenic Review Ireland
Renault proves that there is still like left in the MPV format for sheer space and value for money

Renault has done a tremendous job to give the new Grand Scenic some credibility and as a family car it does tick the boxes exceptionally well for comfort, space and practicality. The MPV is an endangered species and the Renault Grand Scenic faces competition from seven seat SUVs.

But in terms of the available space and practicality in this price range, the Renault Grand Scenic is hard to beat, and when all those current owners decide it’s time for a trade in, the new Grand Scenic will be a pleasant surprise.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique S Nav dCi 130
Price: 
€35,475 (Range starts at €28,400)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
130hp
Torque: 320Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.4 seconds
Top speed: 190km/h
Economy: 
61mpg
CO2 emissions:  
119g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

If you are looking for a seven seat MPV you might also like these reviews of the Ford S-MAX and Volkswagen Touran.


2017 Renault Scenic Review Ireland

Renault Scenic 1.6dCi Review

It was only when I was driving the Renault Scenic that I noticed how popular this MPV model is in Ireland. There were Scenics of all generations everywhere I looked.

The 2017 Renault Scenic however is very much a car of the now and makes the previous generations look like dowdy relatives. The new Renault Scenic is another design creation from Laurens van den Acker, the man responsible for the stream of gorgeous models the brand currently produces.

With MPVs looking like an endangered species with family car buyers switching rapidly to the perceived ‘cooler’ SUV, Renault has attempted to reinvent the Scenic and boost its desirability.

The styling of the Renault Scenic has been beefed up and given a significant injection of attitude. It really works and the Scenic is a beautiful car. After a few days driving the test car in Honey Yellow, I even felt quite cool. Believe me that’s a rare feeling when driving an MPV!

2017 Renault Scenic Review Ireland
Interior of the 2017 Renault Scenic

The proportions are perfect and the standard 20-inch wheels and contrasting roof/body colour make other five seat MPVs like the Ford C-Max and Volkswagen Golf SV look dull.

Inside, the interior has been overhauled with a large portrait style touchscreen being the focal point in the centre of the dash on higher trimmed models. There are hard plastics but plenty more soft touch materials too in the important places that you see and touch regularly.

There is an excellent feeling of space in the cabin and storage is very good too. Standard equipment (Expression+, from €26,000) includes 20” Silverstone alloy wheels, cruise control, LED DRLs, manual air conditioning, analogue dashboard, electronic handbrake, 7" touchscreen, FM/AM/DAB tuner, Bluetooth® audio streaming and handsfree calls, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high/low beam.

Dynamique Nav starts from €29,100. My test car was a Dynamique S Nav model (from €33,300) and equipment includes 20” Exception alloy wheels, colour head up display, rear parking camera with front and rear parking sensors, panoramic fixed glass sunroof with electric sunblind, contrasting roof and door mirror colour, R-Link 2 multimedia system with 8.7" touchscreen and navigation.

2017 Renault Scenic Review Ireland
The Renault Scenic is a spacious and practical five seat MPV

Top of the range Signature models start from €32,700.

I was testing the five seat Scenic (from €26,000), but there is also a seven seat ‘Grand Scenic’ (from €28,400). The Renault Scenic offers generous space even as a five seater compared to say an equivalent five seat hatchback like the Renault Megane. There are three individual seats in the back that can slide forward and back. The footwells are large and there is a flat space for the middle seat passenger to put their feet. Headroom is also beyond good.

Move around to the boot and again you can see how this car is more practical than a hatch. The boot is a huge 572 litres and it’s a large and square space that will be easy to load.

In Ireland, the Renault Scenic is available with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine (115hp), a 1.5-litre diesel (110hp) or a 1.6-litre diesel with 130hp or a 160hp version with automatic gearbox. My test car had the 1.6-litre dCi 130hp and it’s a robust engine for this car with plenty of power. It’s reasonably refined too, but makes itself known in the cabin when revved hard.

On the road, the Scenic is more about being a comfortable and spacious people carrier, than a pin sharp sporty one - but it does grip well and the steering is direct, albeit with little in the way of feedback. It's more or less comfortable but there is some harshness over bumps.

2017 Renault Scenic Review Ireland
Renault has managed to make a 'cool' MPV with the new Scenic

Renault has done a tremendous job to give the new Scenic some credibility and as a family car it does tick the boxes exceptionally well for space and practicality. The MPV is an endangered species and the Scenic faces not just competition from other brands, but also from within the Renault camp: the five seat Kadjar SUV is similarly priced and arguably more engaging to drive.

But in terms of space and practicality at this price, the Scenic easily offers something different and when all those current owners decide it’s time for a trade in, the new Scenic will be a pleasant surprise.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Scenic Dynamique S Nav dCi 130
Price: €32,500 (Range starts at €26,000)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 130hp
Torque: 320Nm
0-100km/h: 11.4 seconds
Economy: 63mpg
CO2 emissions: 116g/km
Motor tax: €200 per year


2017 Opel Zafira Tourer Review Ireland

Opel Zafira Tourer Review

The Opel Zafira has been a common fixture of Irish roads since its launch in 1999. The latest generation of the popular MPV got an update at the end of 2016, with a refresh to interior design, exterior styling, infotainment and equipment.

At the moment Opel is getting ready for a major SUV offensive that will see the launch of the Crossland X this summer and the larger Grandland X in the autumn.

But there will always be demand for seven seaters like the Opel Zafira Tourer because they are very practical for large families.

Pricing starts at €29,995 for the Opel Zafira Tourer, and seven seats come as standard. In styling terms, the Zafira Toruer has been given a refresh around the nose area to keep it in line with the rest of the Opel range. The small changes actually make a big difference and the Zafira Tourer is easily one of the best looking large seven seat MPVs on the market.

2017 Opel Zafira Tourer Review Ireland
The interior of the Opel Zafira Tourer

There have also been some welcome changes inside. The new dashboard design is built around the Intellilink infotainment system, now compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. It’s stylish, well-built and easy to navigate. As you would expect from a family car, there are lots of storage spaces.

This is a very spacious family car and occupants in row 2 are well accomodated for. It should be no problem to seat three back here. There are three individual seats and they can be slid backwards and forwards. This is good because it means that when the two seats in row 3 are in use, more legroom can be made available. Row 3 is tight and will only suit children, but that’s common in this segment.

In five seat mode, the boot will accommodate a very generous 710 litres, but in two seat mode there is only 152 litres.

There are three trim levels for the Opel Zafira Tourer in Ireland: SC (from €29,995), SE (from €32,510) and Elite (from €37,050).

Opel Zafira Tourer Review Ireland
The Opel Zafira Tourer has flexible seating for seven

Standard equipment includes Opel OnStar, 7” touchscreen, air con, cruise control, four electric windows, 17” alloys and parking sensors. SE adds electric parking brake, climate control, navigation, front fog lights, auto lights and wipers, and a choice of 18” or 19” alloy. Top of the range Elite models have 18” alloys, leather seat trim, driver’s electric lumbar support, heated front seats, panoramic windscreen and sunroof.

Engines for the Opel Zafira Tourer include a 1.4-litre turbo petrol (140hp), and 1.6-litre (134hp) and 2.0-litre (170hp) diesels. My test car had the 2.0-litre diesel and it’s really excellent. The 400Nm of torque means that it pulls hard from low revs so will be well capable of carrying all the family on board and it’s refined too.

Behind the wheel, for a large MPV the Zafira Tourer is easy to drive with light controls. It feels agile around town and the steering is well weighted with lots of grip from the front end when you are pushing on. It feels firmer set than some other MPVs, which seems to be where the tight handling comes from, but it’s still the large, comfortable vehicle you would expect.

MPVs are not fashionable anymore and suffer a bit of an image problem but for families they still make a lot of sense and the Opel Zafira Tourer is a good example of the genre. Aside from the cavernous cabin and flexible seating, the Zafira Tourer is nice to drive with a pleasant cabin ambience. You wouldn’t really expect any more from a seven seat MPV.

Opel Zafira Tourer Review Ireland
MPVs are not fashionable anymore but the Opel Zafira Tourer is a good example of the genre

Model tested: Opel Zafira Tourer Elite 2.0CDTi 170hp
Price: 
€37,050 (Range starts at €29,995)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
170hp
Torque: 400Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.8 seconds
Top speed: 208km/h
Economy: 
54mpg
CO2 emissions:  
137g/km
Motor tax:
€280 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a seven seat MPV you might also like this review of the Ford S-MAX.


Renault Scénic and Grand Scénic

Irish Launch For New Renault Scénic And Grand Scénic

Renault has just launched their Scénic and Grand Scénic MPVs in Ireland.

The Scénic is the five seater and starts at €26,000 for a petrol, and €27,000 for a diesel. The seven seat Grand Scénic starts at €28,400 for a petrol, and from €29,400 for a diesel.

MPVs have been under pressure in recent years with the rise of the SUV, but Renault remains committed to providing an MPV line-up alongside the Renault Captur and Kadjar SUVs.

But the design has been a very important consideration in the development of the new Scénic range and the ethos has been to make it 'sexy but practical'.

The new cars do look good with a very distinctive Renault face, curvaceous body and striking two-colour finish (body and roof). Both the Scénic and Grand Scénic come with 20" alloy wheels as standard, which was a design consideration from the start.

Inside the cabins bear resemblance to the new Megane. There is an 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen available and Multisense technology that enables the driver to alter the driving setup and cabin lighting. One-Touch Folding rear seats – controllable from the boot or dash via the R-Link touchscreen system –  make it easier and quicker to fold the rear seats flat to transport larger items.

Renault Scénic and Grand Scénic
The interior of the new Renault Scénic

The new Scénic has a boot capacity of 572 litres, and the Grand Scénic has 596 litres of load space with five seats in place.

Four trim levels are offered on both Scénic and Grand Scénic - Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav.

The new Scénic has a number of safety features including Automatic Electronic Braking System (AEBS) with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) and automatic high/low beam.

Engines include a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol with 115bhp, and 1.5-litre (110bhp) and 1.6-litre (130bhp) diesels. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available.

The new Renault Scénic and Grand Scénic are in Renault's Irish dealer network now.

Caroline Kidd


Citroen C4 Picasso and C4 Grand Picasso

New Citroen C4 Picasso And Grand C4 Picasso MPVs Launched

Updated Citroen C4 Picasso and Grand C4 Picasso MPVs have just gone on sale in Ireland.

Available in three trim levels - Touch Edition, Feel and Flair - the C4 Picasso and Grand C4 Picasso both feature restyled exterior faces and a host of new interior trims.

The daytime running lights are now surrounded by chrome and the front bumper is lower and wider with gloss black central mouldings. At the back there are new 3D-effect lights as standard and new rear chevrons come finished in gloss black with chrome surround.

Two new body paint colours are available: Lazuli Blue and Soft Sand. A new bi-tone option with a black roof is now available on the C4 Picasso. Other cosmetic changes on new C4 Picasso include 'Mamba' 17-inch diamond-finish alloy wheels as standard on the Feel trim, while new Grand C4 Picasso features integrated roof bars and aluminium side profile on the Flair trim.

Two new driver assistance packages are available as options with features such as lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, speed limit recognition and radar guided cruise control.

A handsfree tailgate is also available.

Engine options for C4 Picasso include a 1.6-litre diesel with 100 or 120bhp or a 2.0-litre with 150bhp, while C4 Grand Picasso buyers can choose from a 1.2-litre Puretech (130bhp) turbo petrol engine, the 1.6-litre diesel with 120bhp or a 2.0-litre with 150bhp.

Manual and automatic transmissions are available.

Pricing for the 5 seat C4 Picasso starts at €26,695, while the larger 7 seat Grand C4 Picasso will be available from €28,995.

Caroline Kidd


Volkswagen Golf SV review ireland

Volkswagen Golf SV 1.6 TDI Review

Volkswagen Golf SV review ireland
The Volkswagen Golf SV

In the mid-noughties, Volkswagen hopped on the trend for small MPVs and launched a five seat MPV version of the Golf. The early incarnations were called the Golf Plus; this small MPV has now evolved into the Volkswagen Golf SV.

Think of it as a plus size version of the popular Golf hatchback. Compared to a standard Golf, the SV is higher, longer and a bit wider, but the Volkswagen family DNA is still plain to see. The Golf SV is conservatively styled to blend in rather than stand out, and looks like a slightly smaller Touran MPV.

Inside, the interior borrows heavily from the Golf, sharing a lot of the same switchgear and the same basic dash layout. The centre console is dominated by a touchscreen that is one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems on the market. The material quality is good around the cabin but there is nothing really memorable about the interior. Yet the controls are all so perfectly placed and logical to use that the Golf SV is a car you soon feel at home in, even if it is not the most sensuous of homes.

But within the confines of the Golf SV's boxy body what you will find is comfortable 'living space'. The interior of the Golf SV is much more spacious than a Golf hatchback. There is a lot of extra headroom and a longer wheelbase means that there is really excellent legroom in the back. This car really scores as bright, family friendly transport, provided you have three kids not five, because this is strictly a five seater. You will need to step up to a Touran if you need those extra two seats.

Predictably for a car aimed at families, there are loads of clever storage spaces, pull down tables on the back of the front seats, and two Isofix child seat fixtures on the rear bench. The boot is 500 litres compared to 380 in the Golf hatch and can be expanded to 590 litres by sliding the rear bench forwards. There is a low sill that makes it easy to load and the boot is square in shape.

Volkswagen Golf SV review ireland
The interior of the Volkswagen Golf SV

The engine line-up for Ireland is made up of the 1.2-litre TSI petrol (85hp or 110hp), the 1.6-litre diesel (90hp or 110hp) and a top of the range 2.0-litre diesel (150hp). There are 5- and 6-speed manual gearboxes and a 7-speed DSG gearbox. The 110hp 1.6-litre TDI is the most efficient with emissions of 101g/km placing it in motor tax band A3 with annual motor tax of €190.

I tested the 1.6TDI with 110bhp and it’s nippy enough for the Golf SV. My test car had the 7-speed DSG gearbox and it was a reminder of just how good Volkswagen’s automatic gearboxes are. With this combination, the Golf SV is a smooth and relaxing drive. An on-throttle engine drone at high speeds is the only irritant.

Elsewhere, this is safe, predictable motoring. You sit high in the car, and there is great visibility all round. On the road, the Golf SV doesn’t feel as tight as a standard Golf and there is more body roll in the corners, but the steering is direct and accurate and there is good grip from the front end so it's still a nifty mover. The suspension also does a good job of isolating occupants from the worst of the bumps and uneven surfaces and this is largely a smooth way to travel.

In Ireland there are currently three trim grades for the Volkswagen Golf SV: Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Standard equipment includes electric windows, air conditioning, 5-inch touchscreen radio with Aux-In, SD card slot and Bluetooth, and an electronic parking brake with hill hold. Comfortline specification adds a leather multifunction steering wheel, 16” alloy wheels, drawers under the front seats, a larger 6-inch touch-screen radio, cruise control, front fog lights, front comfort seats and lumbar support, a rear centre armrest with load-through provision and a black radiator grille with chrome strips on the fins.

Volkswagen Golf SV review ireland
Volkswagen Golf SV: Plus-size five seat family transport

The top of the range Highline specification adds 17” alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, chrome strips on the side windows, rear privacy glass, ambient lighting, Alcantara trimmed seats, and a sports suspension. Volkswagen Ireland offer a number of 162 Innovation Packs, which add more equipment for just €162. Petrol models start at €23,025, while diesels start at €25,225.

The Volkswagen Golf SV is not glamourous or sexy, but it's big and honest. The boost up, out and at the back makes the Golf SV a very practical means of transporting a small family and their things.

Though some driving fun and style is compromised over a hatchback, the Golf SV is still a quality offering in this segment with decent refinement and on road driving manners.

Whether it's petrol or diesel you're after, there is an engine here that will prove frugal and capable, and Volkswagen's DSG automatic gearboxes are some of the best specimens should you wish for a super easy driving experience behind the wheel.

The Volkswagen Golf SV does little to excite but it’s got the bases covered as a dependable family car.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Volkswagen Golf SV Lounge 1.6TDI 110hp DSG
Price: 
€29,450 (Lounge trim discontinued, this is price for a similarly specced Comfortline)
Engine: 
1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
110bhp
0-100km/h:
11.3 seconds
Economy:
69mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
106g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year


MPV buying guide

MPV Buying Guide

MPV buying guide
All you need to know before buying an MPV

MPVs are among the most practical cars on the market and are designed with families in mind. MPV stands for ‘multi purpose vehicle’ and they are popular for their family friendly features. If you are new to the MPV market and buying your first MPV, this guide contains practical MPV buying tips that will come in useful when you’re browsing the brochures and cruising the showrooms.

1) Number of seats

Some compact MPVs are sold with just five seats, but larger ones may have seven. Seven seaters usually work by having five seats permanently in place with two fold away seats in the very back. For very large families, an eight seater might be the only MPV that will do, and there are some of these on the market, though they tend to be derived from vans so you lose some of the car-like driving character of a smaller MPV. Some MPVs squeeze in seven seats within a reasonable small footprint but the extra seats may only be suitable for children. There are larger seven seaters on the market that will be more suitable for carrying adults regularly.

2) Size

The larger the MPV, the more cumbersome it’s going to be to drive in tight situations like through town and around car parks, which if you’re a parent you’re likely going to spend a lot of time doing, so think hard about much space and how many seats you really need. On larger MPVs, it’s worth checking the spec to see if equipment like parking sensors, reversing cameras and even autonomous parking systems are included, and if not it makes a lot of sense to add these as options if the budget allows.

MPV Buying Guide
Buying an MPV? Think about how many seats you need and what convenience features you should opt for

3) Flexibility

Check the seats for flexibility. Some MPVs feature seats in row 2 that can slide forward or back, and also recline. See how easy it is to fold the seats down and if they will fold down flat. Some MPVs even have a front passenger seat that can fold completely flat!

4) Access

Check how easy it is to get in and out of the MPV. MPVs naturally sit a bit higher than a standard hatchback but some may have additional features to make getting in and out easier. For example, there are a few MPVs on the market with sliding doors and though they don’t look very dynamic or sexy on a car, they are extremely practical for getting children and car seats in and out, especially in car parks where space is limited. If there are three rows of seats, check how easy is it to get into row 3.

5) Storage

MPVs generally have lots of cubby holes but check to see if they are all in logical places and if they are genuinely useful.

6) Convenience features

Some MPVs will have pull down picnic tables on the back of the front seats but these may be optional on some or limited to higher trims. The children might appreciate 12-volt power sockets and USB sockets to plug in their devices – some MPVs will have these, some won’t. It’s important that the driver is happy too so if you do a lot of driving think about features like cruise control and even an automatic gearbox that will make sitting in traffic on the school run less draining. Other features worth considering: pull down blinds on the rear windows, electric windows, a panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, and climate control (some cars will have separate controls for rear passengers).

6) Child seats and Isofix fixtures

Some MPVs will have three individual seats in the middle row. The number of Isofix child seat fixtures can vary from car to car. Bring the children and child seats to the dealer and see if everyone will fit comfortably before you buy!

7) Boot space

This is so important in a family car so check out the boot for yourself and bring the buggies and other paraphernalia you regularly carry to see if the shape and size will work for you. Some of the more compact seven seaters will be severely compromised on boot space when the two extra seats are in place, but in a five seat configuration they will have huge boots that can be easily stacked to the roof. Some larger seven seaters will be less impacted in this regard and may be more suitable if your regularly carry seven people.

MPV Buying Guide
Buying an MPV? Better check that boot is big enough

8) Safety

Check that the car has a full complement of airbags and check the Euro NCAP safety rating. Other safety equipment like driver fatigue alert, city emergency brake, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor and forward collision alert may be standard or optional on some models.

9) Engine power and driving fun

Bring the car for a test drive and see how it performs on the road. Is there adequate power? Consider how the car might perform with a full family onboard and their luggage. And yes you can have fun driving an MPV. Some are better than others so take a proper test drive and see does the car adapt well to your driving style.

10) Economy

Check the running costs for the vehicle, specifically the miles per gallon and annual motor tax.

Browse some MPV reviews here.

Caroline Kidd


Ford S-MAX car review ireland

Ford S-MAX MPV Review

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
The new Ford S-MAX

The Ford S-MAX has always been a popular choice with families in Ireland looking for a large family car, and even with the rise of the SUV, there’s still demand for a good, honest MPV, especially if it has seven seats.

The new S-MAX also does a good job of looking sleek and dynamic despite its hulking mass, and is a ‘good-looking bus’ which can’t be said for some boxy looking rivals. The current model arrived in 2015 and the styling is quite a gentle evolution of its predecessor, Ford’s new trapezoidal grille being the most striking change. All round it looks a bit more chiselled and defined.

The S-MAX is based on the Mondeo and the design and finish of the cabin is very similar. Ford has had a good shot of pushing the new S-MAX upmarket and it all looks pleasing to the eye and the material quality is good. In Titanium models, the dash is built around the Sync 2 infotainment system and touchscreen, which looks very well indeed.

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
Interior of the new Ford S-MAX borrows heavily from the Mondeo

There are three individual seats in row 2, all three with Isofix child seat fixtures, and these passengers get loads of legroom and headroom. The S-MAX has seven seats as standard, but is really what is known as a ‘5+2’: the two seats in the very back are for children rather than adults as the legroom is tight, though the seats in row 2 can be slid forward to create more room. The extra seats can fold into the floor when not in use and yield a large boot that can be easily stacked to the roof. With row 3 seats in place, boot space is impacted but there is still room for a few bags.

There are two trim levels for the S-MAX on the Irish market: Zetec and Titanium. Zetec models come well-equipped including 17” alloy wheels, fog lights, daytime running lights, quickclear windscreen, Ford Sync, front and rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel, dual zone air con and keyless start. Titanium trim adds Ford Sync 2 infotainment and touchscreen, LED daytime running lights, chrome door line finisher, auto lights and wipers, auto high beam, ambient lighting, lane keeping aid, and traffic sign recognition incorporating an Intelligent Speed Limiter. A useful option is the handsfree-tailgate, that allows the boot to be opened or closed using a kicking motion beneath the rear bumper.

Ford S-MAX car review ireland
The new Ford S-MAX shows why it's still a mighty titan in the seven seat MPV segment

Power for the range comes from a 2.0-litre diesel with 120PS, 150PS, 180PS or 210PS, and a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine (160PS). There are a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, and an all-wheel drive option.  The petrol S-MAX is available in Titanium only and has a list price of €38,835, while the diesels start at €35,860.

Sitting on the same platform as the very enjoyable Mondeo, the omens are good for the S-MAX. On the road, the S-MAX really does impress and even on a tight country road, the car feels good with direct, accurate steering that communicates the grip from the front wheels so well. And remarkably for such a large car,  body roll is not too alarming either and it feels quite taut and composed on the tight stuff, yet comfortable enough for the rough and tumble of Irish roads.

My test car had the 2.0-litre diesel with 180PS and it does a really good job of lugging the considerable weight of the S-MAX around. You can hear a bit of a diesel gurgle under acceleration but it never gets too raucous in the cabin and in this guise it's reasonably economical too returning up to 56mpg.

The new Ford S-MAX hasn't undergone any drastic changes but then it probably didn't really need them, being a tried and tested Irish family bus for many years now. But the enhancements in the styling, the cabin, and the update of tech and equipment will ensure it stays a competitive choice in the 7-seat MPV market. The S-MAX is still a mighty titan in this segment and now feels more upmarket than before, and while the average suburban parent may never fully exploit the handling, the S-MAX retains the competent driving character that marks out the best in the segment.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Ford S-MAX 2.0-litre TDCi Titanium
Price: 
€43,935 (Range starts at €35,860)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
180PS
0-100km/h:
9.7 seconds
Economy:
56mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
129g/km
Motor Tax: 
B1 (€270 per year)


Ford C-MAX review ireland

Ford C-MAX MPV Review

Ford C-MAX review ireland
The new Ford C-MAX

Ford is one of the leaders in the MPV segment and if you’re looking for a more practical car to carry your family around, chances are Ford will have something in their line-up for you.

The Ford C-MAX is based on the popular Ford Focus hatchback. In its basic guise, the C-MAX is a five seat MPV, but Ford also sell a ‘Grand C-MAX’ that houses two extra seats in the very back along with sliding rear doors for extra practicality.

The C-MAX currently on sale has been recently revised and the styling has been updated in line with the rest of the Ford range. The C-MAX looks more defined all round and now wears Ford’s new trapezoidal grille. The C-MAX has a neat, compact presence and is one of the prettier MPVs out there.

The cabin has also been given a makeover with a new dash design that looks more modern and also sees a step up in quality. Everything falls easy to hand and Ford’s Sync 2 infotainment system with touchscreen can be added as a cost option for €500. The older Sync 1 infotainment system comes as standard.

Ford C-MAX review ireland
Ford C-MAX: Interior has been revised and looks more modern and high tech when specced with the Sync 2 infotainment system (pictured)

So why choose a C-MAX over a Focus? Driver and passengers will enjoy the slightly elevated driving position and plenty of glazing gives everyone a good view out. The car feels  more spacious because of the extra headroom - there is seating for three in the rear, though the middle seat will be most comfortable for a child. The elevated height of the vehicle is more practical for parents getting children in and out of the car and the two outer most rear seats have Isofix child seat fixures.

There’s also a much bigger boot – 471 litres in fact. It’s got a wide opening and you can spec an electric tailgate for €450, which is actually very useful. It opens by a button on the key or by waving your foot underneath the rear bumper. The loading sill is also quite low so it’s altogether a practical space for carrying cargo. The rear seats can fold and tumble down or can be completely removed to create more cargo space.

Power for the C-MAX comes from a range of petrol and diesel engines: the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol (100PS or 125PS), and 1.5-litre (95PS or 120PS) and 2.0-litre diesels (150PS). The 1.5-litre diesel is new and replaces the old 1.6-litre diesel. It’s a more refined and efficient unit, and the 120PS version tested here works really well: it never feels under pressure and there's always power when you need it, an equally capable unit whether in town or on the motorway.  It goes about its business with little noise intrusion into the cabin and Ford has bolstered the sound insulation to make the C-MAX a more refined and relaxing drive.

Ford C-MAX review ireland
Ford C-MAX: New 1.5-litre engine with 120PS works very well here

The Focus DNA is evident in the way the C-MAX drives: there’s loads of grip at the front, and the steering is quick and accurate. The C-MAX does of course feel less sharp and driver focused than the Focus. There’s lean in the corners but because the car grips hard and the steering communicates it so well you can hustle the C-MAX along and quite enjoy it too.  It’s a refined and comfortable car for long journeys, smoothing out rough road surfaces to keep things pleasant for those on board.

The C-MAX range starts at €25,855 for the 1.0-litre EcoBoost 100PS petrol model, while the Grand C-MAX starts at €28,455. Diesels start at €26,600 for the C-MAX, and €29,200 for the Grand C-MAX.

There are two trims for Ireland: Zetec and Titanium. Standard equipment includes 16” alloys, front fog lights, quickclear windscreen, Sync 1, air conditioning, rear privacy glass, leather steering wheel, driver seat lumbar adjust and front electric windows. Titanium models add more equipment including climate control, cruise control, chrome door-line finisher, auto lights and wipers, LED daytime running lights, keyless start, driver and passenger seat lumbar adjust, ambient lighting, four electric windows, and hill start assist.

Ford C-MAX review ireland
Ford C-MAX: 5-seat MPV based on the Focus, and that's very evident in the way it drives

As a five seat MPV, the C-MAX’s spacious cabin and large boot are its biggest assets, with the Grand C-MAX covering the seven seat option for Ford in this compact MPV segment. If this is your first time to switch to an MPV, the C-MAX’s neat styling, compact size, great engines and good driving character will make this an easy transition. Though the shine has come off MPVs in recent years with the rise of the SUV and crossover, MPVs are still a great option for families for their pure family friendly features, and the C-MAX has all the qualities of a great family car.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Ford C-MAX 1.5 TDCi Titanium
Price: 
€30,100 (Range starts at €25,855)
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
120hp
0-100km/h:
11.3 seconds
Economy: 
69mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
105g/km
Motor Tax: 
A3 (€190 per year)


Volkswagen Touran ireland review

Volkswagen Touran MPV Review

There comes a time when only an MPV will do. Seven seats, doors that open wide, a high seating position, ease of access and cubby holes where you didn’t know cubby holes could exist – if these things make you excited then you’ll really want to stick around and read more about the new Volkswagen Touran.

This car has practicality at its core.  You don’t buy an MPV because you like the way it looks, though it helps if it’s somewhat attractive. No, you buy it because you need a bus to ferry your kids. The Touran is not the prettiest MPV but the updated styling does look more upmarket on the outside compared to the car it replaces, and it’s spacious and family-friendly on the inside.

All Tourans for the Irish market come with seven seats as standard, though leg room is tight in those extra two seats, so they are more suited to children. The extra seats fold neatly into the floor when not needed to reveal a large, square boot (743 litres) that can be easily stacked to the roof. With the third row of seats in space, boot space is minimal at 137 litres, but there is still room for a few bags.

Interior space has been improved thanks to a longer wheelbase and there is also a bit more headroom all round. There are three individual, full-size seats in the second row and five Isofix fittings (second and third row). The second row of seats can be slid forward and back individually to give those in the very back a bit more leg room. There are kid-friendly features like pull down trays behind the front seats, large windows so everyone gets a good view out, and big door pockets among the total of 47 storage compartments that are in the new Touran.

The Touran is also super plush and in terms of fit and finish, it’s a match for any premium rival. The driving is easy behind the wheel of the Touran – all the controls come easy to hand, the seats are comfy and supportive, and visibility is great all round from all that glazing. The square shape of the car make it easy to manoeuvre and park.

Volkswagen Touran ireland review
Volkswagen Touran: Premium fit and finish for the interior and plenty of family-friendly features

On the road the Touran belies its size – it’s agile, grips willingly and the steering is really good so you can confidently get in and out of those corners with relative stability for something so big. It would be a bit much to say it’s fun to drive but driving this daily won’t be a drag.

Above all it’s smooth and comfortable, and the 2.0-litre diesel with 150bhp in the test car is perfect for tugging a full family on board. It’s a bit noisy under hard acceleration but settles down well for cruising, and road and wind noise is well suppressed to make it mostly a serene cruiser. Other engine options include an entry level 1.2-litre TSI or 1.6-litre TDI, both with 110bhp. The diesels have similar economy figures - up to 64mpg and €200 for annual motor tax for both the 1.6- and 2.0-litre.

There are three trim levels (Trendline, Comfortline and Highline)  and petrol models start at €29,725. Diesel models start at €31,970.  A six speed manual comes as standard with the option of a seven speed DSG automatic transmission on diesels.

The new Touran has a five star EuroNCAP safety rating and safety equipment includes a forward collision warning and city emergency brake as standard. A fatigue detection driver alert system is standard from Comfortline trim.

Trendline models come with 16” steel wheels, 5” Composition Colour radio system, air con, Bluetooth and media-in jack with USB charging. Comfortline adds 16” alloys, front fog lights, parking sensors, 6.5” Composition Media radio system with CD player and 8 speakers, cruise control, and a folding front passenger seat for extra practicality. Highline models have Adaptive Cruise Control, 17” alloy wheels, sports suspension, 3 zone climate control, and a multifunction display in colour.

The ‘161’ pack was added to the test car and for €161 includes a panoramic sunroof, Park Assist and Light Assist on the Highline model. There are a host of optional extras available too, including a rear view camera for €249, lane assist for €579, navigation system including Car-Net for €811 and two integrated child seats in the 2nd row of seats for €513.

The new Touran has taken a leap forward in quality and sophistication. A versatile, spacious interior with two extra seats in the very back might be all you think you need - the Touran gives you that but also manages to be good to drive. Some rivals have more flair in terms of style and some are that bit more exciting to drive, but the Touran has an edge on rivals because it feels like a truly premium offering in the mid-size MPV segment.

Volkswagen Touran ireland review
Volkswagen Touran: A large, flexible family car

Model tested: Volkswagen Touran 2.0-litre TDI 150bhp Highline
Price: 
€38,485 (Range starts at €29,725)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150bhp
0-100km/h:  
9.3 seconds
Economy: 
64mpg (4.4l/100km)
CO2 emissions:  
117g/km
Tax band: 
A4 (€200 per year)

Caroline Kidd