Peugeot 508

New Peugeot 508 To Debut At Geneva

A new Peugeot 508 saloon will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March and will go on sale in September 2018.

The radical new exterior design is sharper and sleeker, while the car's interior includes an evolution of the Peugeot i-Cockpit.

Jean-Philippe Imparato, Peugeot CEO, said: "Following the success of our latest major launches and our SUV offensive with the Peugeot 2008, 3008 and 5008, we needed a vision for the large Peugeot saloon that would continue to shake up the market with a vehicle that rivals the best. And in D-segment cars, we're competing with the world's greatest automakers. More than ever, the new Peugeot 508 embodies the ambition we've been stating for several years already: to make Peugeot the top high-end generalist automotive brand."

At this stage we are told that there is up to 32 litres of storage space spread out around the passenger cabin, as well as a 487 litre boot.

The new Peugeot 508 will use the EMP2 platform, with an average 70kg weight reduction compared to the previous generation, improving fuel efficiency and performance.

Features will include Night-vision, a first for the segment, collision-risk alert and the latest-generation automatic emergency braking that detects pedestrians and cyclists both day and night at up to 140 km/h, active lane departure warning system (or verge-drift warning), driver-attention warning, automatic headlight control, speed limit recognition and recommendation, widened recognition of road signs (stop sign, one-way sign), adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go feature, lane-keeping assist (related to Stop & Go adaptive cruise control), and active blind-spot monitoring.

Engines include new-generation Euro 6.c PureTech petrol and BlueHDi diesel engines with CO2 emission levels from 98g/km in the diesel range and 123g/km in the petrol range.

Two new petrol options will be introduced with the Peugeot 508: a 1.6-litre PureTech 180 S&S EAT8 automatic and a PureTech 225 S&S EAT8 (GT version only) automatic.

Four diesel options are available: a 1.5 litre BlueHDi 130 S&S 6-speed manual, a 1.5 litre BlueHDi 130 S&S EAT8 automatic, a 2.0 litre BlueHDi 160 S&S EAT8 automatic and a 2.0 litre BlueHDi 180 S&S EAT8 automatic.

With the exception of the 1.5 litre BlueHDi 130 S&S 6-speed manual, all of the units will be mated to the new Peugeot eight-speed EAT8 automatic gearbox.

A Peugeot 508 plug-in hybrid petrol will be available from autumn 2019.


Renault Megane Grand Coupe review ireland

Renault Megane Grand Coupe 1.5dCi Review

In Ireland we love our saloons and that’s why car manufacturers can sell cars here that they wouldn’t elsewhere. Renault has recently launched a car here that not all our European neighbours can enjoy. It’s the new Renault Megane Grand Coupe, which sounds rather grand, but isn’t really.

It’s the saloon version of the all-new Renault Megane that arrived as a hatchback in Ireland in 2016 and it is the spiritual successor to the popular but uninspiring Renault Fluence.

Renault has strapped the Grand Coupe moniker onto this model, which implies that this car has ‘notions’. But the saloon style sits rather well on the new Megane and yes, it looks a bit ‘grander’ than the hatchback, which obviously we will love here in Ireland.

The Grand Coupe has an ace card up its sleeve. I grumbled a little about the rear legroom in the Megane hatchback but luckily the Grand Coupe sits on a longer wheelbase, and there is noticeably more rear legroom.

Renault Megane Grand Coupe review ireland
The interior of the Renault Megane Grand Coupe

The boot is also bigger than the hatchback at 503 litres, but obviously the narrow aperture characteristic of the saloon body style makes the space a bit more awkward to access. There is also no release button on the boot lid: you need to press the button on the key or flick a switch in the cabin.

Inside, the Megane Grand Coupe has the same dash design as the rest of the Megane range. A portrait style touchscreen dominates in the centre of the dash on higher spec models. It looks impressive but it can be frustrating to switch between menus. The ambient lighting on my Signature test car is lovely and adds sophistication along with some brushed chrome effect panel inserts, but the plastics on the lower end of the dash are very hard and scratchy.

In terms of price, the Megane Grand Coupe range starts at €21,990, with just a small premium over the hatchback. The trim levels and equipment are just about the same between the two ranges but the sporty GT Line is preserved for the hatch, while the Grand Coupe gets the ‘grander’ Signature trim.

Base models have 16” steel wheels with wheel trims, LED DRLs, manual air conditioning, analogue dashboard, and Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming.

The top of the range Signature model I drove (from €27,290) has 18” alloy wheels, full LED headlights, hands-free boot opening, leather seats, electro chrome rear view mirror, 8.7” touchscreen R-Link 2, front and rear parking sensors and a rear view camera.

Renault Megane Grand Coupe review ireland
The Renault Megane Grand Coupe has a bigger boot and more leg room than the hatchback

There is no petrol option for the Grand Coupe but instead there is a choice of 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre diesel engines, and the option of the EDC automatic gearbox on the 1.5. My test car was the 1.5-litre EDC. This is an engine that impressed me in the Megane hatchback and the Captur, and it’s no different here. I was truly surprised at what a great combination this diesel made with the automatic gearbox and the emissions are impressively low too at 95g. The power is more than adequate and this is a pleasant, quiet car on the move. The handling is predictable and the front end grip inspires confidence behind the wheel. All sounds good?

Not quite. The ride comfort in my test car's configuration on 18" wheels was disappointing for a car that really does not need to be this firm.  Bumps and other changes in the road surface transferred too much noise and harshness to the cabin.

But if you can get over the bump bump feeling over anything other than smooth tarmac, the Renault Megane Grand Coupe is a stylish and good value saloon.

Caroline Kidd

Renault Megane Grand Coupe review ireland
The Renault Megane Grand Coupe is a stylish and good value saloon

Model tested: Renault Megane Grand Coupe Signature dCi 110 EDC
Price: 
€28,990 (Range starts at €21,990)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
110hp
Torque: 260Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.6 seconds
Top speed: 190km/h
Economy: 
76mpg
CO2 emissions:  
95g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year

If you are looking for a compact saloon you might also like these reviews of the Toyota Corolla and Skoda Octavia.


BMW 5 Series Irish Review

2017 BMW 5 Series Review

The BMW 5 Series has been a common feature of Irish roads for many years now and for many it’s the benchmark for a large, premium saloon.

This car’s history stretches back to 1972 and BMW is now back with the seventh generation of the 5 Series. I’ve always had a soft spot for the BMW 5 Series and its M5 derivatives. The gentle evolutionary styling has taken it from the 1970s right up to the present day, but now the 5 Series is more of a technological tour de force than ever.

The front end looks more strong and graceful, and at the back things have improved too. Full LED headlights are standard.

Inside, the cabin of the new BMW 5 Series has been rejuvenated and looks to have caught up with the times with a more modern interface. The quality is excellent…everywhere. The digital instrument cluster has more modern graphics and the iDrive infotainment system has also been revised and feels more intuitive. A high resolution 10.25 inch screen comes as standard. There is still a bewildering list of menus and options to scroll through, but that’s more down to the technological scope of this car.

BMW 5 Series Irish Review
The interior of the 2017 BMW 5 Series

The new 5 Series is 36mm longer than the outgoing model, 6mm wider and 2mm taller. The wheelbase has been extended by 7mm and there is more knee room and legroom. There are large footwells in the back, though the middle passenger will have to splay their legs around a large transmission tunnel – but width ways the car is very accommodating for three. The boot is a competitive 530 litres but naturally the saloon style narrow aperture makes access a bit more restricted.

In Ireland there are three trim levels, with entry models starting at €51,950 for the popular 188hp 520d. SE models start from €55,490 and M Sport from €56,980. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system is also available from €60,630. There are also 530i and 540i petrol variants and a 530d diesel with 261hp. A 530e plug-in hybrid is also available from €62,550. All models have an eight speed automatic transmission as standard.

The technology available with the new BMW 5 Series is impressive including gesture control, remote parking and a number of driver assistance technologies that bring the 5 Series closer to fully autonomous driving.  The optional Driving Assistant Plus safety package includes the Lane Keeping Assistant, the Lane Departure Warning system and the Lane Change Warning.

I really enjoyed sampling the Steering and Lane Control Assistant. For short periods of time you can take your hands off the steering wheel and it steers the car to keep it in lane. The idea is to reduce driving stress particularly in traffic.

BMW 5 Series Review Ireland
The 2017 BMW 5 Series

The car I tested was a 520d M Sport and the refinement of the 2.0-litre diesel was very apparent. The engine pulls strongly - with a tap of the accelerator you’re away. BMW has paid particular attention to reducing interior noise levels in the development of the new 5 Series and it really shows. This is a super quiet, comfortable long distance cruiser. Yet on smaller roads, the BMW 5 Series is lithe and agile with beautiful rear wheel drive handling. The steering is meaty with plenty of feedback for a tactile experience behind the wheel.

It’s easy to fall in love with the new BMW 5 Series. This is a quality machine and feels like a modern and cutting-edge business saloon. Competition is fierce in this segment with the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Volvo S90 also highly accomplished cars, but the new BMW 5 Series feels like a true masterpiece.

Caroline Kidd

BMW 5 Series Irish Review
The new BMW 5 Series is a technological tour de force

Model tested: BMW 520d M Sport Saloon
Price: 
€56,980 (€73,223 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
188hp
Torque: 400Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.5 seconds
Top speed: 235km/h
Economy: 
65.6mpg
CO2 emissions:  
114g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review

Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2 JTD Review

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the car that is meant to reverse Alfa’s fortunes and bring them back to the glory days. With the arrival of the Stelvio SUV in the autumn, Alfa Romeo looks to be finally getting their act together.

To recap, the Alfa Romeo Giulia picks up where the 159 left off as Alfa’s compact executive saloon contender. This is tough territory with the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 being the household names.

Yet the new Alfa Romeo Giulia can argue a good case. The Giulia sits on an all-new rear wheel drive architecture that promises dynamic handling matched with classic Italian good looks. Could this be enough to have them leaving their German saloons in droves for a slice of the panettone?

Up front, there’s no mistaking the deep, plunging Alfa V-shaped grille. The Giulia plays the role of a sporty saloon very well, hugging the ground exceptionally well. The styling is a bit more generic at the back but the Giulia still looks exotic in the company of competitors.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review Ireland
The Alfa Romeo Giulia looks exotic parked beside competitors

Inside, this is the best interior I’ve seen in an Alfa Romeo for years. Alfa seems to have aimed for a more simplistic design, like the one in the new Audi A4. The quality still feels a little behind the best in class in some places. Infotainment is provided via the UConnect™ 6.5-inch display with rotary pad control on the basic model, with an 8.8-inch screen on higher spec models.

There is seating for five though realistically only two will be comfortable in the back because of the large transmission tunnel, but the boot holds a healthy 480 litres.

There is a range of new, all-aluminium engines for the new Giulia. In Ireland, the majority of buyers are going to go for the 2.2-litre diesel with 150 or 180hp, or maybe take a look at the 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 200hp. Petrol models start at €40,395, while diesels start at €39,995. There are also the Veloce and the Quadrifoglio models, but they are more high performance.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review Ireland
The interior of the Alfa Romeo Giulia

Standard equipment is good including 17” alloys, dual-zone climate control, 3.5-inch TFT colour display, rear parking sensors, automatic light/rain sensors, cruise control, leather steering wheel and ignition start button. ‘Super’ models start from €41,995 and add an 8.8-inch infotainment system with navigation, split screen function and DAB radio. There’s also an electro-chromic auto-dimming rear view mirror, a 7-inch TFT display, aluminium door sills as well as leather and cloth seat trims available in three colour options.

Alfa Romeo Ireland is offering the Super Sport and Super Lux trims for the same price: €42,166. The Giulia Super Sport has 18-inch alloy wheels, painted brake calipers, dark tinted privacy glass and Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs. Inside the leather seats are available in three colour options, and there’s a sports leather steering wheel, aluminium pedals, brushed aluminium effect centre console and door moulding inserts, and steering column-mounted gear shift paddles.

The Giulia Super Lux has a rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, power folding exterior mirrors, leather upholstery, Bi-Xenon headlights and 18-inch ‘Luxury’ design alloy wheels.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review Ireland
The Alfa Romeo Giulia has a range of new, all-aluminium engines

My car was the Super Sport with the 2.2-litre diesel with 180hp (€43,966) and it feels more than adequate here with 0-100kmh achieved in just 7.1 seconds. There is some diesel gurgle at idle but it’s very refined at speed. All Giulia’s come with an 8 speed automatic gearbox and it’s a very smooth operator.

The Giulia feels very light and agile on the road and it corners beautifully owing to that new rear wheel drive layout. The steering is also super quick and direct. It’s very quiet in the cabin, as a premium car should be, and the ride quality is excellent too.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia has been one of the most anticipated new cars in years and it is a very seductive car – not just because of the way it looks, but also because it’s really nice to drive as well. The interior lets it down a bit because at this price range it really needs to be of higher quality. But lots of people still love Alfa Romeo cars and on balance the Giulia is still a highly desirable compact executive saloon!

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review Ireland
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a highly desirable compact executive saloon

Model Tested: Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Sport 2.2JTD 180hp
Price:  
€43,966 (Range starts at €39,995)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
 180hp
Torque: 450Nm
0-100km/h:
 7.1 seconds
Top speed: 230kmh
Economy:  
67.3mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
 109g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a compact executive saloon you might also like this review of the Audi A4.


2017 Toyota Corolla Ireland Review

Toyota Corolla Review

The Toyota Corolla is one of the old perennials of the motoring world. It’s been around for over 50 years and 44 million have been sold worldwide. In Ireland, we love the Corolla: it’s consistently one of the top 10 bestselling models here.

Just what is it about this rather innocuous four door saloon that has made it so popular and immune from changes in consumer buying habits? Even the SUV can’t kill off the Corolla.

What's new for the Corolla in 2017?

We will get back to that but first let’s look at what’s new with this 2017 model. The exterior styling has been freshened up at the front and the back but most people will still recognise this car as the Corolla that launched in 2013. There are new LED headlamps at the front and a revised front bumper with a large lower grille. At the back there are new LED light clusters and new chrome trim that gives the rear a look of more width.

Inside the dashboard layout has also been revised. It’s easy to navigate and a centrally mounted 7” touchscreen adds modernity, standard on all but the base model. There is a good mix of materials with some soft padding along the dashboard, but hard plastics feature a lot. Still the quality is good and there is little to complain about behind the wheel.

2017 Toyota Corolla Ireland Review
The interior of the 2017 Toyota Corolla

Is the Toyota Corolla good value?

The space in the car is excellent, and rear passengers are exceptionally well catered for with lots of legroom. There is no high transmission tunnel, which has really optimised space for the middle seat passenger and that makes the Corolla perfect for carrying three in the back. The boot is 452 litres, and though naturally the saloon boot style makes access more difficult, the opening is still quite wide and practical for a saloon.

The Toyota Corolla is well-priced, with the range starting at €21,995. In Ireland there are three trims – Terra, Luna and Sol – with standard features including cruise control, air con, Bluetooth and 16” steel wheels. Luna models (from €23,365) add the Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety equipment including a pre-collision system with pedestrian recognition, lane departure alert and road sign assist, as well as the Toyota Touch 2 infotainment system, rear view camera, auto lights and 16” alloy wheels. Sol models (from €26,750) add climate control, heated front seats, rear privacy glass and 17” alloys.

2017 Toyota Corolla Ireland Review
The Toyota is a good value, large family car

There are manual and automatic gearboxes, and a choice of 1.3- or 1.6-litre petrols, and a 1.4-litre diesel. The 1.4-litre diesel has just 90hp but offers ample power for the Corolla and is especially efficient, returning as high as 67mpg for me on some trips. The diesel gurgles away but it never gets too loud in the cabin. Elsewhere, the Corolla is a relaxing drive. The steering is light and the handling is not sporty but it is more than adequate. The long wheelbase makes the car very comfortable, especially on the motorway, though rougher surfaces do make themselves known in the cabin and there is some road noise.

The verdict on the new Toyota Corolla

It’s easy to understand the success of the Toyota Corolla because it’s a great sized car, reasonably priced and it’s solid to drive. The Corolla is not the sort of car you desire but it will be a great friend that won’t let you down.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla 1.4D-4D Sol
Price: 
€26,750 (Range starts at €21,995)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
90hp
Torque: 205Nm
0-100km/h:  
12.5 seconds
Top speed: 180km/h
Economy: 
71mpg
CO2 emissions:  
104g/km
Motor tax:
€190 per year

If you are looking for a spacious, good value family car, you might also like this review of the Skoda Octavia.

To find out more visit www.toyota.ie


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

Alfa Romeo Giulia Ireland

Alfa Romeo Giulia Will Arrive In November!

The much anticipated new Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon will arrive in Ireland at the end of November.

Drivers can choose between four engine variants (two petrol and two diesel), all of which are paired to a new ZF® eight-speed automatic transmission as standard.

The full engine range includes a 2.2 litre JTD diesel (150 or 180hp), a 2.0 litre 200hp turbo petrol and a range topping 2.9 litre V6 Bi-turbo for the Giulia Quadrifoglio with 510hp.  

Petrol Giulia's will start at €40,395, while diesels will start at €39,995.

The new Alfa Romeo Giulia will be available in five trim levels – Giulia, Super, Super Sport, Super Lux and the top of the range Quadrifoglio – with 13 different exterior colour options.

A host of safety systems will be standard across the range including Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB) and pedestrian recognition, Integrated Brake System (IBS), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). The Giulia has been awarded a five star safety rating from Euro NCAP.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED rear lights, a chrome exhaust, aluminium brake calipers,  UConnect™ 6.5-inch display infotainment system with rotary pad control, Bluetooth connectivity and an eight speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, Alfa™ D.N.A. rotary driving mode selector, 3.5-inch TFT colour display, rear parking sensors, automatic light/rain sensors, cruise control, and leather steering wheel with controls including ignition start button.

'Super' trim includes an exclusive alloy wheel design, chromed exterior window surrounds and on the 2.2 litre JTD 180hp diesel, dual chrome exhaust tips. Inside, the Giulia Super features Alfa Romeo’s new UConnect™ 8.8-inch 3D navigation system with integrated maps, split screen function and DAB radio,. There’s also an electro-chromic auto-dimming rear view mirror, a 7-inch TFT display, aluminium door sills as well as leather and cloth seat trims available in three colour options.

Drivers wanting an even sportier presence on the road can upgrade to the Giulia Super Sport. From the outside, enhancements include 18-inch alloy wheels, painted brake calipers, dark tinted privacy glass and distinctive 25W Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs. Inside the leather seats are available in three colour options, and there's a sports leather steering wheel, aluminium pedals, brushed aluminium effect centre console and door moulding inserts, and steering column-mounted gear shift paddles.

The Giulia Super Lux has a rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, power folding exterior mirrors, leather upholstery, 25W Bi-Xenon headlights and 18-inch ‘Luxury’ design alloy wheels.

For a limited time both the Super Sport and Super Lux trims are available for an additional €171 over the comparable Super version.

The range-topping Giulia Quadrifoglio has a list price of €99,945 and is powered by a new 510hp, 600Nm Bi-Turbo V6 petrol engine, with an eight-speed paddle shift automatic transmission as standard. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio can sprint from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds and go on to a top speed of more than 307km/h, with emissions of 189g/km.

Standard specification will include 19-inch Quadrifoglio alloy wheels, a front sports bumper with Alfa™ Active Aero splitter, a sporty rear bumper with functional diffuser and distinctive quad tailpipe sports exhaust system. It also features Alfa™ Active Suspension, Torque Vectoring and D.N.A. Pro selector with race mode, power folding exterior mirrors, 35W Bi-Xenon headlights with AFS technology, front and rear parking sensors and a rear view camera with dynamic gridlines.

Interior highlights include Quadrifoglio sports seats trimmed in leather and Alcantara, an exclusive Quadrifoglio sports steering wheel with red ignition button, Alfa Romeo’s new UConnect™ 8.8-inch 3D navigation system, dual-zone climate control, automatic light/rain sensors and cruise control with speed limiter.

Orders can now be taken at Alfa Romeo dealerships nationwide with the first models due to arrive in showrooms in November 2016.

Caroline Kidd


Mazda 3 hatchback vs saloon

Hatchback vs Saloon

Mazda 3 hatchback vs saloon
The Mazda3 is available as a hatchback or saloon

In this blog, we’re going to get down to the basics of what is a hatchback and what is a saloon, and look at why you might choose one over the other.

When you’re looking to buy a car, you may notice that some model ranges can even have the choice of the two, hatchback or saloon. For example the Audi A3, Mazda 3, Ford Focus and Opel Insignia can be bought as a five door hatchback or a four door saloon.

But what’s the difference?

The clue is right there. The ‘five door’ hatchback has an integrated boot and when you open the boot you are really opening that fifth door – the boot lid incorporates the rear window and opens directly into the cabin of the car.

By contrast the boot lid does not include the rear window in a saloon and the boot is opened in isolation from the rest of the car.

This fundamental difference between a hatchback and saloon naturally has styling implications – the saloon’s boot extends more out the back making the car appear bigger, whereas a hatchback tends to have a more integrated, compact style at the rear.

Some hatchbacks are cleverly designed to have the appearance of a saloon – the SKODA Octavia is a perfect example. The Octavia is actually a hatchback.

Traditionally, saloon cars have done well in Ireland and many believe it’s because they look like better value – bigger cars for the money. You may prefer the styling of one over the other - the hatchback often having a sportier, more youthful design when compared to the more mature-looking saloon.

The final point to make is about space and practicality. The hatchback’s boot tends to be more practical for carrying cargo compared to a similarly-sized saloon car. Saloon boots tend to have narrower, more restrictive openings, and it can be hard to reach items at the very back once loaded. By contrast, a hatchback boot is a more flexible space and folding down the rear seats will increase the practicality of the space even further for carrying larger items.

hatchback vs saloon
Hatchback vs. saloon: The saloon boot (pictured) tends to have a narrower opening and is not as practical as a hatchback for carrying large items

What’s your preference – hatchback or saloon?

Caroline Kidd


Audi A4 Irish Car Review

Audi A4 2.0-litre TDI 150bhp Review

Watch my video review or scroll down to read a review.

If there has ever been a reason to dress a little smarter and to make a bit more effort with my appearance when leaving the house, it’s when there’s an executive car sitting on my driveway to test.

So naturally I put my best foot forward for the Audi A4. This is such a classy and sophisticated car, and while the default opinion seems to be to criticise Audi every time they release a new car that looks pretty much the same as its predecessor, it’s impossible not to look approvingly at the new A4. The surfaces are so perfectly formed, every crease and line is cut like an expensive tailored suit. It’s strong, Germanic and unmistakably Audi. That’s what the people want.

Audi A4 Irish Car Review
The new Audi A4

Things only get better when you sit inside. The A4 has a brand new interior that’s very fitting of an executive car. It is beautifully light and simple, but so intelligent and artistic in its design. There are a mixture of surfaces and materials, and all are really quality and feel great to touch. Infotainment is provided via the MMI system that can be operated using steering wheel mounted controls, a rotary dial on the centre console, conveniently placed shortcut buttons or by voice. You can upgrade to the Audi Smartphone Interface (€426) for access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to allow smartphone contents such as navigation, telephone, music and selected third-party apps to be accessed and viewed through the car’s infotainment system.

The new A4 is built on a new platform with lightweight construction, and weight saving and efficiency were engineering priorities during development, but a longer wheelbase also makes the A4 a bit more spacious inside. The boot is a competitive 480 litres but because it’s a saloon, access to the deep recesses is a bit restricted! The Avant estate has a more cargo friendly aperture and 505 litres of space.

Audi A4 Irish Car Review
Audi A4: My test car had optional LED headlights

A 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 150bhp is the entry point into the A4 range and there’s also a 2.0-litre petrol with 190bhp. The 2.0-litre diesel comes in two power outputs (150 or 190bhp) and there are two range topping 3.0-litre V6 diesels (218 and 272bhp) for purists. There are manual and automatic transmissions, and of course the option of quattro all-wheel-drive. The A4 has the best drag coefficient in its class at 0.23 and small design tweaks like moving the position of the side mirrors mean that the A4 can slice through the air for maximum efficiency.

My test car had the entry level diesel (2.0-litre with 150bhp) and it’s got enough power to keep your average driver happy. Emissions vary depend on wheel size across the different trim levels, but my S Line model on optional 19” alloys still falls into tax band A with motor tax of €200, and in official tests returns up to 70mpg.

But what’s it like to drive? Audi has shaved up to 120kg off the A4’s weight and on the road for a big car it feels remarkably light. In terms of steering and handling it’s precise and predictable; you turn into a corner and it grips. But there’s still a bit of magic missing to fully engage the driver. The thing is you don’t need to be pushing this car all the time to enjoy it and a relaxed but confident pace leaves little to complain about.

Audi A4 Irish Car Review
Audi A4: An exquisite interior!

Ride comfort has been much improved and the softness matches this car’s luxury feel. It’s also exceptionally quiet in the cabin and you can spec something called “acoustic glazing” for the windscreen (€214) if you want to really cocoon yourself from the outside world. My test car was fitted with it and travelling in the cabin was like being in your own studio.

There are three trim levels for the new A4: Attraction, SE and S Line. Standard spec on entry level Attraction models includes alloy wheels, keyless start, rear parking sensors, climate control and electric lumbar support but step up to SE for cruise control, twin leather upholstery and navigation. Top spec S-Line models have a lowered sports suspension and special S-Line styling. Pricing starts at €35,800 for the entry level 1.4-litre petrol in Attraction trim. SE models start at €37,750, while S Line models start at €41,250.

Head to the options list and you could transform your A4 into a technological tour de force very quickly but it all comes at a cost. Much has been made of Audi’s virtual cockpit, a 12.3 inch LCD screen that replaces traditional instrument dials in the driver’s line of sight. It’s exciting to look at but must be added as a cost option for €2500 as part of the Technology Pack.

Audi A4 Irish Car Review
Audi A4: Refined and comfortable

Other technological highlights include optional Audi Matrix LED headlights, the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 3D sound, the Audi phone box with wireless charging, the head-up display, and new driver assistance systems and Audi connect services. The Business Package adds driving aids like lane departure warning, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition for €2,100.

But options or no options, the Audi A4 will leave an impression. It might not look all that different from the outside, but Audi has made their A4 even more desirable than before with an artistic cabin that’s a reason to elevate this car above its rivals. The A4 is a dream to drive, with the quality, comfort and refinement that marks a true premium driving experience. The A4 is back and it’s ready for business.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Audi A4 saloon 2.0TDI 150 S Line
Price: 
€44,200 (Range starts at €35,800)
Engine: 
2.0-litre diesel
Power: 
150bhp
0-100km/h:
8.9 seconds
Economy: 
70.4mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
106g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year