The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Updated Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV On Sale In October

The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

A new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) will go on sale in Ireland in October 2018 with reduced pricing from €39,900.

The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is also one of the first plug-in hybrids to be officially rated in the new WLTP fuel consumption and emissions tests. The Outlander achieved a CO2 emissions figure of 46g/km (a change of 5g/km from previous NEDC protocol), and a maximum EV range of 45 km.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been extensively updated for model year 2019 and will start from €39,900 for the Intense model, €43,900 for the Instyle model and €47,500 for the S-Edition model.

More power for updated Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

A new, 2.4-litre petrol engine uses MIVEC variable-valve timing system to seamlessly switch between Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles depending on the driving situation. It produces more power compared to the older unit (135 hp vs 121 hp) and more torque across a wider rev range (211 Nm vs 190 Nm).

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s electric powertrain has also been improved, with the rear electric motor now producing 95hp and a drive battery with a 10% higher output and increased capacity to 13.8kWh. 0-100kmh acceleration is now 10.5 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster than before.

The interior of the revised Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The interior of the revised Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Improved comfort and refinement

Shock absorbers have been revised to improve the low-speed ride and a new “Sport Mode” brings sharper throttle responsiveness and more grip via the Super All-Wheel Control system. The steering rack has been quickened and the power steering ECU re-mapped to offer more responsiveness and feel, while larger front brake discs boosts stopping power. There’s also a new “Snow Mode” to improve low-grip launching and cornering abilities on slippery surfaces.

Mitsubishi says the Outlander PHEV is also "quieter and more refined, with more comfort and supportive front seats", as well as new switchgear, a revised instrument cluster, the addition of rear vents, more convenient USB ports and new interior accent trim.

A new front end with a redesigned grille, new bumper extension and new lighting help distinguish the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, while the rear is enhanced with a redesigned rear bumper extension and a large roof spoiler. New 18-inch multi-spoke alloys complete the exterior revisions.


2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE Review

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE
The Volkswagen Golf GTE is the first plug-in hybrid Golf

Caroline drives the Volkswagen Golf GTE.

There’s never been a better time to talk about alternative fuel vehicles and when the world’s most recognisable hatchback starts dabbling in electric and hybrid power, we know there’s something up. While the majority of the over 4000 Golfs sold in Ireland each year are still petrol and diesel models, the current Golf range also features an electric Golf (‘e-Golf’) and a petrol-electric, plug-in hybrid (Golf GTE). It’s the Volkswagen Golf GTE that’s the subject of this review.

The Volkswagen Golf GTE’s hybrid powertrain offers buyers more flexibility than a pure electric vehicle (EV) making it a good transition model for those still a bit anxious about the logistics of relying on battery power only and the availability of charge points for longer journeys. Plug-in hybrids are something of a half-way house though - at the moment they offer a limited range on electric power compared to a full EV. But running costs are potentially very low, without any of the range anxiety that can blight EV ownership.

It also helps that Volkswagen has ensured that their plug-in hybrid Golf is anything but a nerdy ecowagen with dull styling and lethargic performance. Interestingly the brand took the brave step to market the new Volkswagen Golf GTE as something akin to sporty variants of the Golf like the GTI and GTD. It certainly piques interest in the Golf GTE. However, it is expensive and with grants the list price is €40,050. So the Golf GTE is not just pitched like a plug-in hybrid performance hatchback – it’s also priced like one!

The Volkswagen Golf GTE
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE has a list price of €40,050 in Ireland

The Volkswagen Golf GTE is a stylish, sporty hybrid

Refreshed models of Volkswagen’s popular Mark 7 Golf arrived in Ireland in 2017 and the Golf GTE has received the same cosmetic and interior upgrades. The Volkswagen Golf GTE looks smart and distinguishing features include C-shaped LED daytime running lights, full LED headlights and rear lights with sweeping indicators, a blue strip that runs through the grille and lights, 18" alloy wheels with blue brake calipers, rear spoiler, and GTE badging.

Inside there is the same reassuring quality and layout to the interior as the other models in the Golf range, with GTE models adding some additional blue detailing (as opposed to red in the GTI). The upgrades as part of the Golf facelift have been very successful and the GTE gets a new 8" infotainment system with clear glass touchscreen and a full digital instrument panel. These features really lift the cabin and the Golf GTE is every bit the premium hatchback.

The GTE also has some fabulous sports seats with classic 'Clark' upholstery. Other standard features include dual zone air con, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, ambient lighting, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The GTE also has an 'e-manager', allowing the driver to preset vehicle charging, as well as interior cooling or heating. These functions can be operated remotely using the Car-Net app on a smartphone.

On a practical note, the Golf GTE offers competitive interior accommodation for a five door hatchback. Unfortunately the Golf GTE has a smaller boot to accommodate the battery, down from 380 litres in a regular Golf to 272 litres in the GTE.

The interior of the Volkswagen Golf GTE
The interior of the Volkswagen Golf GTE

Can the Volkswagen Golf GTE be powerful and efficient?

The Volkswagen Golf GTE combines a 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol with an electric motor to produce 204hp. In terms of power and acceleration the Golf GTE is very lively indeed with 0 to 100 km/h achieved in 7.6 seconds. CO2 emissions are 40g/km so motor tax is just €170 per year.

As a plug-in hybrid the Golf GTE can be charged at home in about 3.5 hours or using the public charging system in about 2 hours. On a full battery in real life terms you will be able to drive on pure electric power for about 30 km. But this electric range is best suited to stop/start urban driving because high speeds on the open road will deplete the battery power more rapidly.

And you need to keep that battery topped up for the overall efficiency of the car, even in the hybrid driving modes. I spent most of the time driving in the basic hybrid mode where the car draws power from the engine and battery as appropriate with a bias towards efficiency. My fuel consumption over a few days of driving was 6.3 litres per 100kms. That's good for a petrol hatchback but I imagine you could do better than this with a less heavy right foot and driving the car more in pure EV mode.

There is also a GTE mode where you can tap into the sporty side of the car. The GTE mode adds weight to the steering and changes the shift timings of the 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox, making the throttle response more urgent, while pumping some augmented engine noise into the cabin! The last point will probably shock some purists but the 1.4-litre TSI doesn’t sound very menacing by itself so it needs a bit of help in that department.

Rear seating space in the Volkswagen Golf GTE
Rear seating space in the Volkswagen Golf GTE

So what’s the Volkswagen Golf GTE like to drive?

On the road the Golf GTE retains its intrinsic 'Golfness' in that it’s smooth and agile, refined and comfortable. As a hybrid vehicle, it’s impressive for its refinement and the ease of which it moves between engine and electric power. Digital displays keep the driver informed on things such as range, efficiency and what part of the system is active at any given time. The Golf GTE is on the heavy side weighing 1,615kg but it still remains flat and balanced through corners. The steering is fluid and precise but there is no real feedback. While the battery boosted acceleration in GTE mode is impressive by itself, the car is lacking a playful edge and the sort of sweaty palm inducing driving dynamics that marks out the best of the hot hatchbacks, including its own stable mate, the Golf GTI.

The Volkswagen Golf GTE performs well as just a regular, efficient plug-in hybrid, if you can make use of that electric range and drive it in a balanced way. The Golf GTE is expensive but it’s more exciting and refined to drive than many other plug-in hybrids on the market, retaining all the basic Golf qualities that make it a car loved by millions.

However, the problems arise when you start to view the Golf GTE through the lens of a performance hatchback because though it's fast, it's not particularly engaging. Still for the right buyer, the Volkswagen Golf GTE is a smart, refined and prestigious plug-in hybrid hatchback.

Volkswagen Golf GTE
The Volkswagen Golf GTE is a smart, prestigious and refined plug-in hybrid

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid
Price: 
€40,050
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol + electric motor
Power: 
204hp
Torque: 350Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.6 seconds
Top speed: 222km/h
Claimed Economy: 
1.8l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
40g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year


2017 MINI Countryman PHEV

MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid Review

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is the MINI brand’s first plug-in hybrid and they have chosen the Countryman crossover to debut this new hybrid technology.

The MINI Countryman is a great option for buyers who need more space and practicality than what the classic MINI hatch can offer, while it also carries all the attributes of a fashionable crossover with rugged styling and an elevated driving position.

The Countryman is already available with a range of petrol and diesel engines but new for 2017 is the Countryman plug-in hybrid.

Though the new car market has shrinked in 2017, hybrid sales are up about 70%. It’s clear that buyers are starting to seek alternatives.

The MINI Countryman range starts at €32,980 while the plug-in hybrid has a list price of a heftier €42,500, though the SEAI and VRT reduction of a combined €7500 for plug-in hybrids brings that down to €35,000.

2017 MINI Countryman PHEV
The interior of the MINI Countryman

This is a very high spec model and the big boon is that real savings can be made on running costs. ‘ALL4’, MINI’s four wheel drive system, comes as standard, as does a six speed automatic transmission. Under the skin, a 1.5-litre three cylinder engine combines with a lithium ion battery and electric motor to produce a healthy 224hp, while CO2 emissions of 49g/km mean that motor tax is just €170 per year.

The beauty of the Countryman plug-in hybrid is that you can charge your Countryman like an electric vehicle from a domestic mains supply or a public charge point for a full charge in 2 to 3 hours. You can drive the car on electric power only for a range of up to 42km. If the battery can be topped up after each journey and you do a short commute or a lot of low speed urban driving then this car has the potential to be very cheap to run. On longer runs and when the battery power runs out, the car becomes less efficient.

On the road, the Countryman plug-in hybrid loses none of the fun-to-drive quality of its siblings. It just does it all in near silence. The transmission is super smooth and any switches between engine and electric power are done seamlessly without any disruption to the driving. The lightening quick responses of the steering and resistance to body roll in the corners make the Countryman a fantastic crossover to drive, and there is no shortage of power or in-gear punch with the ‘eboost’ from the electric motor giving the Countryman a 0 to 100kmh time of 6.8 seconds! The car is comfortable for the most part, though the optional 18” wheels on my test car did contribute to more road noise in the cabin at high speed.

2017 MINI Countryman PHEV
The MINI Countryman can be charged like an electric vehicle and driven on pure electric power, emission free, on short journeys

Visually, the plug-in hybrid is distinguished from the rest of the Countryman range by some ‘E’ badging, and the Cooper S badge, typically red, is now yellow to denote the electric power. The interior carries a classic MINI design with the centrally mounted 6.5” touchscreen being the main focal point of the cabin. There is also an optional, larger 8.8” screen as part of the Media Pack. For convenience this can be operated by touch or via a rotary controller on the centre console.

Other standard equipment includes 17” alloy wheels, silver roof rails, front fog lights, cloth/leather upholstery, front sport seats, sport leather steering wheel with multifunction controls, cruise control, interior lights package, navigation and rear parking sensors.

MINI has managed to package the hybrid tech in the Countryman with minimum disruption to cabin space. The battery is under the rear seat, which has just been slightly raised to accommodate it, but headroom has not been compromised too much. The rear bench however would be more comfortable for two rather than three. The boot is a reasonable good size at 405 litres, with a practical shape and low loading sill.

The MINI Countryman is a highly desirable crossover that doesn’t come cheap, but offers considerable value in the compact premium segment. It’s a high quality product with a distinct personality and a refined and exciting drive. The plug-in hybrid comes at the right time to exploit any swing from diesel in the market, with the potential to be a very economical choice indeed.

2017 MINI Countryman PHEV
The MINI Countryman is a fine crossover - now with more options for emission free driving

Model tested: MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4
Price: €42,500 (€35,00 incl. VRT and SEAI reduction)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol + electric motor
Power: 224hp
Torque: 385Nm
0-100km/h: 6.8 seconds
Top speed: 198km/h
Claimed Economy: 2.1/100km
CO2 emissions: 49g/km
Motor tax: €170 per year

Caroline Kidd


BMW 530e Ireland

Details Of New Plug-In Hybrid BMW 5 Series 530e

BMW is adding a plug-in hybrid model to the recently launched new BMW 5 Series range. The BMW 530e iPerformance will arrive in Ireland priced from €55,900 including grants.

The BMW 530e is a petrol electric hybrid and can be driven on pure electric power only for a claimed range of up to 50kms. CO2 emissions are just 44g/km and the 530e has a claimed fuel consumption of 1.9l/100kms.  0 to 100 km/h is 6.2 seconds and the 530e can reach a top speed of 235 km/h.

BMW Wireless Charging for the high-voltage battery will be made available as an option for the BMW 530e iPerformance from 2018.

The BMW 530e iPerformance is the sixth member of BMW's plug-in hybrid portfolio including the BMW 330e already on sale here.

Caroline Kidd

 


BMW 330e Review Ireland

BMW 330e Review

The BMW 3 Series has been setting benchmarks for years as a fun to drive, rear wheel drive executive saloon, but there comes a time when even the 3 Series has to begin to embrace alternative energy sources.

BMW’s answer is the 330e plug-in hybrid. The 330e combines an electric motor and a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy, and can be driven on pure electric power for a range of up to 40kms.

And while BMW went wacky with the i3, the 330e plug-in hybrid goes incognito. There’s a discreet ‘edrive’ badge on the C-pillar and an extra filler cap to allow you to plug the car into a domestic mains supply or a public charging point, but other than that, this is standard 3 Series.

BMW 330e Review Ireland
The interior of the BMW 330e

Inside the cabin of the BMW 330e the only additions are a few extra gauges and buttons for the hybrid system. The 3 Series cabin lacks some of the style and drama of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class or the Audi A4, but there’s still little to complain about behind the wheel. Infotainment is provided via a high-resolution colour screen with iDrive Controller. The BMW 3 Series will seat five and offers reasonable passenger space for a car of this size. However boot space is compromised by the battery under the boot floor. It’s down a considerable 110 litres to 370 litres and naturally the saloon shape makes the boot opening quite small and narrow.

BMW has harnessed the electric power to make the 330e a potentially very economical car to run, but also one that is very enjoyable to drive with dizzying power and responsiveness. The 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor team up to produce 252hp and that’s sent to the rear wheels via an 8 speed automatic gearbox. Peak torque is 420Nm and the 330e can move swiftly with 0 to 100kmh achieved in just 6.1 seconds.

BMW 330e Review Ireland
The BMW 330e combines a petrol engine and an electric motor to produce 252hp

Despite the extra weight of the battery on board, the 330e skips around corners like a car half its size and that’s backed up by really responsive and communicative steering. The hybrid system doesn’t just lower emissions; it also really adds to this car’s appeal. When you put your foot down on the accelerator, the power delivery is so strong and even from the electric torque provided by the battery. It’s very satisfying.

The list price for the 330e in Ireland is €41,030 including grant and VRT rebate for hybrids so it does carry a premium over the diesel 3 Series range, which starts at €36,570. There is the potential to make savings in running costs – motor tax is €170 per year and if you do a short commute and can keep the battery topped up you will be dipping into the fuel tank very little. The problem is that the claimed economy of 134.5mpg is widely inflated and most people will not see that in daily use.  It’s important to note that when the power in the battery starts to dwindle, the 330e becomes less efficient.

BMW 330e Review Ireland
The BMW 330e plug-in hybrid can be driven on just electric power for a range of up to 40kms

The BMW 330e’s reason for being might be to provide an alternative more fuel efficient option to the 3 Series range in line with current trends in the industry but the 330e can stand proud because the hybrid system really adds to the performance too. The 330e manages to feel like a genuine sports saloon and the handling balance and electric torque make this a thrilling drive. The 330e won’t suit every buyer as to make this car worth the premium over a diesel and to cut your fuel costs, you really need to be exploiting that pure electric range on a daily basis. But if hybrid is right for you, you will do it in considerable style and prestige in the 330e, while also having a lot of fun.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 330e M Sport Saloon
Price: 
€41,030 (as tested €51,922)
Engine:
2.0-litre turbo petrol (+ electric motor)
Power: 252hp
0-100km/h:  
6.1 seconds
Claimed economy: 
134.5mpg
CO2 emissions:  
49g/km
Motor tax:
€170 per year

BMW 330e Review Ireland
The BMW 330e is a fun to drive, rear wheel drive saloon that can potentially be very cheap to run

Volkswagen Passat GTE Ireland Review

Volkswagen Passat GTE Review

The Volkswagen Passat is one of Ireland’s favourite big saloons and it has been for many years. Diesel dominates in this segment but it’s not the only option.

Volkswagen has added a plug-in hybrid to the Passat range but it’s not just some lethargic afterthought to play second fiddle to its diesel brethren: the new Volkswagen Passat GTE is more of a flagship model with sporty performance and the promise of low running costs.

Available as a saloon or estate, the Passat’s already handsome presence is enhanced with a number of cosmetic changes to distinguish the GTE from the rest of the range. At the front there are C-shaped LED daytime running lights and a blue bar across the radiator grille that extends into the headlights, while 18” alloy wheels with blue brake callipers complete the look.

The blue theme continues inside with complementary detail on the seats, around the gear lever, and on the steering wheel. The traditional speedometer is joined by a power meter for the hybrid system. The cabin has all the quality and comfort of a standard Passat and equipment includes cruise control, parking sensors, dual zone climate control, ambient lighting and a 6.5” touchscreen with navigation. There is seating for five and generous legroom in the back, but boot space is down to 402 litres to accommodate the battery.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Review Ireland
Volkswagen Passat GTE: Plug-in hybrid combines a petrol engine and an electric motor

The Passat GTE follows in the footsteps of the Golf GTE by combining a  1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and an electric motor to improve performance and reduce running costs. The power output of the two sources combined is a healthy 218hp, while the 0-100kmh sprint is done in 7.4 seconds utilising the maximum 400Nm torque available. It is definitely not slow as one might expect of a ‘green car’.

But Volkswagen do tout this car as “the best of both worlds” so what of those green credentials? It can’t all be about performance, though that is impressive. Emissions of 39g of CO2 per km mean motor tax is just €170 per year. The claimed economy is a whopping 138.3 mpg, but that depends very much on how you drive this Passat.

The Passat GTE can potentially be a very cheap car to run because it can operate as a pure electric vehicle for a range of up to 50km, which is ideal for short commutes or when driving at low speeds around town. Otherwise the GTE acts as a hybrid so it draws power from both the petrol engine and the electric motor as appropriate. It’s definitely worth keeping the battery topped up, via the domestic mains supply or a public charging point, because the car becomes less efficient when forced to operate from its petrol engine.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Review Ireland
Volkswagen Passat GTE: A 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox comes as standard

This car has a lot of driver appeal. When you request the power, the delivery is strong and super smooth through the 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox and any transitions going on between the different power sources are completely seamless. Volkswagen has added a GTE button, which acts as a sort of sport mode, altering the acceleration and steering for a sportier, more performance-oriented drive that’s enhanced by some piped engine noise into the cabin.  It rumbles like a V8 with a heavy right foot, which is quite surprising when coming from a hybrid!

The Passat GTE is too heavy to be an outright sporting saloon but it’s still pleasingly agile for a large car and Volkswagen has added an XDS electronic differential lock to improve cornering grip. This really works for confident cornering at speed and you can take a tight line with loads of grip.

Yet performance aside, the best thing about the Volkswagen Passat GTE is that it’s naturally a really comfortable and relaxed cruiser. The near silence of the hybrid system in operation just highlights even more how upmarket and refined this current generation of the Passat is.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Review Ireland
Volkswagen Passat GTE: Can run on electric power only for a range of up to 50km

The only problem with the Volkswagen Passat GTE is that it is expensive to buy. The saloon starts at €42,430 and the estate at €44,720 including the SEAI grant and VRT rebate. You could pick up a diesel Passat for significantly less than that and depending on your lifestyle, the GTE won’t work out any cheaper to run.

Hybrids are a more mainstream  car choice now and there are other large hybrids available from other brands so the Passat GTE is not alone in this respect. The beauty of the Passat GTE is that it’s a properly premium offering and Volkswagen hasn’t messed too much with the Passat DNA bringing this hybrid version to market.  So it’s not weird looking and for the right buyer, it brings all the comfort, interior space and refinement that makes the Passat so popular. There’s still a novel value to the Passat GTE – innovative technology, the ability to drive as an EV and a sporty side – and that makes the list price not look so bad.

Model tested: Volkswagen Passat GTE 1.4TSI
Price: 
€42,430 including SEAI grant and VRT rebate
Engine: 
1.4-litre turbo petrol & electric motor
Power: 
218hp
0-100km/h:  
7.4 seconds
Economy: 
138.3mpg
CO2 emissions:  
39g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year

Caroline Kidd


Volkswagen Passat GTE Ireland

Volkswagen Passat GTE Goes On Sale In Ireland

Volkswagen Passat GTE Ireland
The new Volkswagen Passat GTE

Volkswagen has added a plug-in hybrid to the Passat range in Ireland. Pricing for the new Volkswagen Passat GTE starts at €41,450 for a saloon and €43,715 for an estate, including SEAI grant and VRT rebate.

The Passat GTE is powered by a 1.4-litre TSI turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor, and the power output of the two sources combined is 215bhp. GTE models comes with a DSG automatic gearbox and emissions of 39g CO2 mean that the car qualifies for motor tax of just €170.

The car can be driven in pure electric mode for a limited range of a claimed 50km and for longer journeys, the car will operate as a hybrid drawing power from the TSI petrol engine and the electric motor. The lithium-ion battery that provides the e-motor with electricity can be charged at home or at work via a charging cable connected to a mains socket, while some energy is also fed back into the system while driving.

With the 50-litre tank full of fuel and the battery fully charged, the Passat GTE has a theoretical range of more than 1,100 kilometres.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Ireland
New Volkswagen Passat GTE available as saloon or estate

C-shaped LED daytime running lights and a blue bar across the radiator grille that extends into the headlights distinguish the Passat GTE from the rest of the Passat range.

There are special GTE features inside such as an instrument cluster with power meter and an infotainment system that displays information to the driver about each drive system. Many of the Passat GTE's functions can optionally be controlled and monitored via smartphone using the 'Car-Net e-Remote' app. These include charging the battery, activating the air-conditioning functions or seeing where the car was last parked.

The Passat GTE is available from selected Volkswagen dealers: Frank Keane Volkswagen, McAllister Volkswagen, Pierse Motors Limerick, Frank Hogan Limerick, Connolly’s Sligo, Newmarket Motors, Blackwater Motors Cork, Wexford Volkswagen and Sheehy’s Naas.

Volkswagen Passat GTE Ireland
Volkswagen Passat GTE: Plug-in hybrid vehicle with pure electric range of up to 50km

Caroline Kidd