Carla Wentzel is the new Group Managing Director of Volkswagen Group Ireland

Volkswagen Group Ireland Announces New Managing Director

Carla Wentzel is the new Group Managing Director of Volkswagen Group Ireland
Carla Wentzel is the new Group Managing Director of Volkswagen Group Ireland

Carla Wentzel has been appointed to the role of Group Managing Director of Volkswagen Group Ireland.

 

Wentzel, a South African native, will move to Ireland this autumn from Volkswagen Group South Africa where she currently heads up the Volkswagen Brand. She has previously held a number of other senior management roles in that market. 

 

Wentzel has been the recipient of an award as Most Influential Woman in Business and Government in South Africa.

 

Wentzel will take over from Tom Fleming who has led Volkswagen Group Ireland as Interim Managing Director since December 2017 and will now return to his previous role of Group Human Resources Director. 

 

Volkswagen Group is the largest automotive company in Ireland with almost 25% share of the Irish car market across the Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi, Seat and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle brands.


Volkswagen Snapshot Instagram Competition

Volkswagen Snapshot Instagram Competition Back For 2018

Volkswagen Snapshot Instagram Competition
The Volkswagen Snapshot Competition invites Instagram users to tag their best photos #VWSnaphot

The Volkswagen Snapshot Instagram Competition, powered by The Snapys, is back for its second year. The Instagram-based competition invites users of the app to upload photos to Instagram using the #VWSnapshot hashtag, along with their chosen category hashtags.

The categories for this year’s competition are 'Design', 'Light', 'Roadtrip', 'Technology' and 'Volkswagen.'

Prizes for the winning entrants include a trip to Barcelona, an escape to Bubblehouse, Finn Lough, drones and premium photography lighting equipment.

Twelve winning entrants will also feature in the 2019 Volkswagen Snapshot calendar, proceeds of which will be donated to Volkswagen Ireland’s 2018 charity partner, Focus Ireland.

Mark McGrath, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen Ireland commented: "We are delighted to launch the Volkswagen Snapshot 2018 competition, which follows a hugely successful first year which gained over 5,000 entrants. We at Volkswagen Ireland are pleased to support this very worthy cause."

Sinead Price, Co-Director of Fundraising and Marketing for Focus Ireland commented: “Last year was the worst year for homelessness in the history of the state. More men, women and children experienced homelessness than ever before in our history. There are 9,652 men, women and children homeless across Ireland, up from 3,258 in July 2014, that is a rise of 548 people since January 2018 alone.

“The support of Volkswagen Ireland will mean Focus Ireland can prevent more families from falling into homelessness in the first place, and help to ensure that others already impacted can with the backing of Volkswagen Ireland, exit homelessness.”

Conor Lynch, CEO, Connector, commented: "The team at Connector is delighted to continue our successful partnership with Volkswagen to run Volkswagen Snapshot in 2018. Our goal with the competition is to identify, showcase and reward Ireland's most talented Instagrammers. Thanks to the generous support from Volkswagen for making this possible.”

Sales of the 2018 Snapshot calendar raised €3,000 for Pieta House.

For a full list of competition details for the Volkswagen Snapshot Instagram Competition and categories, visit VWsnapshot.ie or Volkswagen Ireland’s page on Instagram.

Volkswagen Snapshot Instagram Competition.
Conor Lynch, CEO Connector, Mark McGrath Head of Marketing Volkswagen Ireland and Kevin O’Sullivan, Corporate Partnerships Focus Ireland pictured at the launch of this year's Volkswagen Snapshot Competition.

Volkswagen Arteon review ireland

Volkswagen Arteon Review (2018)

The Volkswagen Arteon is Volkswagen’s posh new flagship and it’s clear from the onset that the Arteon has premium car ambitions.

On looks alone for sure the Volkswagen Arteon can mix it with the big boys. The styling is the most avant garde of Volkswagen’s range of vehicles and this is an extremely handsome car.

Described as a ‘gran turismo’, the Arteon is a five door fastback (think hatchback), slotting in above the Passat, with a beautiful coupé-like profile. The car has width and presence in abundance. Frameless windows add even more prestige.

With pricing starting from €41,495, the Volkswagen Arteon is by no means cheap but this car has some serious interior space. It is huge inside. The rear legroom is limo-like and despite that beautiful coupé-like styling, headroom is not compromised. The hatchback style boot opens, electrically of course, to reveal a 563 litre boot.

Yet from behind the steering wheel, the Arteon is very Passat. The Passat has a fantastic high quality and beautifully designed interior for its class of vehicle but unfortunately it’s a bit underwhelming in the Arteon. Comfortable of course and perfectly functional but lacking the wow factor one might expect from an expensive gran turismo vying for the attention of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW buyers. An 8” touchscreen comes as standard but there is the option of Volkswagen’s 9.2” Discover Pro Navigation system, which looks great in the centre of the dash.

My test car was powered by the entry level 2.0-litre TDI with 150hp (from €43,650) with 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The combination works well. The diesel is not the most refined at low speeds around town but smooths out to barely a whisper on the open road. The Arteon has excellent long distance cruise ability and is comfortable for the long haul. Buyers seeking more power will find it in the 2.0TDI with 190hp (from €48,395) or the top of the range 2.0TDI 240hp 4MOTION. There is also the option of a 1.5-litre (150hp) or 2.0-litre (190hp) TSI petrol.

The Arteon handles predictably and contains itself well in corners despite being sized extra large. The steering weights up well in the corners but there is little feedback and buyers looking for any keen dynamism should look elsewhere.

Volkswagen Arteon review ireland
The Volkswagen Arteon is a large, long distance cruiser with plenty of kerb appeal

Standard equipment is very good including 18” alloys, adaptive cruise control, park distance control, rain sensing wipers, tri zone climate control and a three year free subscription to Car-Net ‘Security & Service’, a new concierge system that can call the emergency services should you have an accident and allow you to remotely check data about your car, among other functions. My Elegance test car (from €44,195) had leather/Alcantara upholstery, ambient lighting, voice control, digital instrument panel and rear view camera. R-Line models start from €45,995 with 19” alloys, sporty ‘R-Line‘ steering wheel and seats, running rear indicators, dynamic headlight range control with dynamic cornering function, and adaptive chassis control on the 240hp model.

The Volkswagen Arteon is a strikingly handsome car and the price is likely to keep it as a more exclusive offering in the Volkswagen range and add to the aura of desirability. The Arteon is a very handsome car and can certainly grab attention but can it keep it? Quality, space and comfort are the Arteon’s best attributes, but the Arteon falls short on the dynamic appeal that one might expect from a car that looks this good. But for Volkswagen fans happy to pay a premium, the new Arteon is a safe choice.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen Arteon Elegance 2.0TDI DSG 150hp
Price: 
€48,550 (Range starts at €41,495)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.1 seconds
Top speed: 220km/h
Economy: 
4.5l/100km
CO2 emissions:  
116g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


2017 Volkswagen Golf R review ireland

Volkswagen Golf R Review (2017)

I awaited the arrival of the Volkswagen Golf R with great anticipation. Hot hatchbacks don’t come up in my diary very often but when they do I know to prepare for maximum distraction.

With the Volkswagen Golf R, what was calling me from under the bonnet was the growl of a 2.0-litre TSI. The Golf R is the halo car of the Volkswagen Golf range. While the legendary GTI uses the same engine with 230hp, in the Golf R it receives a healthy power boost to 310hp, along with the addition of all wheel drive.

2017 has been the year of the Golf Mk 7 makeover. The whole Golf range has received some small styling updates and new equipment, while the engine range has also been shaken up a bit with some models like the Golf R gaining more power (10hp) and the introduction of a new Volkswagen Golf 1.0TSI.

The Volkswagen Golf R sits at the top of the range with five door manual versions starting at €45,795 and the DSG equivalent from €47,595. This is a high spec Golf and naturally the interior is beautifully appointed. The infotainment system is new and works seamlessly. Visually the new glossy black surround does wonders for the interior and a digital instrument cluster has been introduced for the first time, standard on Golf R.

Volkswagen Golf R review ireland
The interior of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf R

Other equipment highlights include sports seats with alcantara trim, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and LED lights front and rear.

On the outside the Golf R is a lesson in subtlety. There are sportier bumpers front and back and 19” alloys, but other than that the biggest clue that the Golf R might be housing something powerful are the two sets of double exhausts at the back!

Turn the key in the ignition and the engine of the Volkswagen Golf R roars into life. This car does not hiss and spit at you, and at low speeds around town it feels as calm as a 1.0-litre TSI. The overarching respectability of the Golf’s character means that it’s only when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator that you will officially arrive in hot hatch territory. There are a number of driving modes but my default was the feisty named ‘RACE’ mode because the accentuated engine noise adds a bit more drama to the cabin.

Volkswagen Golf R review ireland
The Volkswagen Golf R comes with 4MOTION all wheel drive and the choice of manual or DSG gearbox

One of the Golf R’s most redeeming qualities is its ability to transport a family and their things in comfort but accelerate like a rocket to 100kmh and carry great speed around corners with no loss of stability. The suspension is amazingly supple for a performance car, shaming some rivals (looking at you Ford Focus RS!). The steering is lightning quick but the feedback is not particularly interesting, so the Golf R in my opinion falls short of rivals like the Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus RS in terms of smiles per mile.

There is an amazing polish to this car and a layer of perfection that is both its greatest asset and its undoing. Yes the Golf R has a wicked turn of speed. Yes it will retain vice like grip through corners and cut the apex perfectly corner after corner. But if you like hissy spitty hot hatches that make you feel like a lion tamer, the Volkswagen Golf R is not for you.

Yet the Golf R is all the things we love about the Golf with tremendous power and cornering stability. If you love Volkswagen quality and don’t want to be jostled around the cabin like a seagull on a stormy sea, then you won't go wrong with a Volkswagen Golf R!

Volkswagen Golf R review ireland
The Volkswagen Golf R now has 310hp

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf R 2.0TSI 4MOTION
Price: €45,795
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
310hp
Torque: 380Nm
0-100km/h:  
5.1 seconds
Top speed: 250km/h
Claimed Economy: 
7.9/100km
CO2 emissions:  
180g/km
Motor tax:
€750 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a hot hatchback you might also like this review of the Ford Focus RS.


2017 Volkswagen Golf review ireland

Volkswagen Golf Review (2017)

In this review Caroline takes a closer look at the Volkswagen Golf.

What's so special about the Volkswagen Golf?

This seventh generation model is one of the best, produced between 2012 and 2019. In 2017, this generation of the Golf received a facelift and the addition of a new 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine, which turned out to be one of the best on the market. The seventh generation of the popular German hatchback is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, and as a plug-in hybrid - the Golf GTE. An all-electric version was also produced - the e-Golf. This car remains one of our favourite hatchbacks of all time for its design, quality and class-leading refinement. A great choice, whether new or used!

The Volkswagen Golf needs little introduction. It’s been one of Ireland’s favourite cars for years.

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

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

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

The interior of the Volkswagen Golf

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

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

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

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

Driving the Golf

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Kidd

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


Volkswagen Beetle Ireland Review

Volkswagen Beetle Review

The Volkswagen Beetle is an icon of a car, and since 1997, Volkswagen has been reinventing the classic Beetle, bottling its charm and retro design with more modern underpinnings.

In 2012, Volkswagen launched the second generation of the new Beetle, with a leaner and sportier look. Now the Beetle range has had some updates for the 2017 model year – some very subtle styling updates including new lights and new bumpers, and a refresh of the trim and equipment lines.  Three new colours have been introduced including the one pictured, Sandstorm Yellow.

The Volkswagen Beetle range kicks off with the Design model at €25,075. Sport trim has been replaced by R-Line and these sportier looking models start at €30,135. Design models are offered with choice of 1.2-litre TSI turbo petrol (105hp) or 2.0-litre TDI diesel (110hp). R-Line models are offered with a 150hp 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol or the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 150hp. DSG automatic gearboxes are available on all trims and engines.

Volkswagen Beetle Ireland Review
The interior of the Volkswagen Beetle

My test car was the range-topping 2.0-litre TDI 150hp R-Line DSG coming in at a hefty €34,575. Standard equipment on Design models includes 16” alloys, front fog lights, cruise control, air con and 6.5” touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. R-Line models add 17” alloys, dual zone climate control, aluminium pedals, parking sensors, and some chrome and gloss black exterior detailing.

Inside, the body-coloured dash panels and round instrument binnacle nod to the original Beetle, but otherwise this is classic Volkswagen – the layout is logical and easy to interact with. Material quality is poorer in places when compared to what we’ve come to expect from the current generation of models like new Passat, Golf and Polo, but it’s still better than many competitors.

The Beetle is a four-seater. Space up front is good but it’s a bit tighter in the rear, though two adults will be reasonably comfortable back there. The boot is about average at 310 litres, but that’s better than some other equally stylish 3-door rivals like the MINI Hatch and the DS3.

Volkswagen Beetle Ireland Review
Volkswagen Ireland offers the Beetle with 1.2- and 1.4-litre turbo petrol engines and a 2.0-litre diesel

My test car had the 2.0-litre TDI with 150hp and it’s a strong and flexible engine with 0 to 100km/h achieved in just 8.9 seconds. Refinement of the engine is good and it returns a claimed 59mpg, with real world economy not too far off that.

On the road, the Volkswagen Beetle is good to drive. There is loads of grip in corners and the steering has a direct feel to it. The Beetle is built on an older Golf platform and unfortunately lacks the excellence of the current Golf in terms of comfort, refinement and steering feel. The Beetle is a good drive and has a strong image, but the Golf Mark 7 is a better product in many ways.

The Volkswagen Beetle is an icon and like many of its competitors, it’s more about style than value for money or practicality. The Beetle delivers image and kerb appeal in bucket loads and this car makes people smile. It is an expensive style statement, but this is the best Beetle yet.

Volkswagen Beetle Ireland Review
The Volkswagen Beetle can get very expensive but its image precedes it and it's the best one yet

Model tested: Volkswagen Beetle 2.0TDI R-Line DSG
Price: 
€34,575 (Range starts at €25,075)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h:  
8.9 seconds
Top speed: 202km/h
Economy: 
59mpg
CO2 emissions:  
126g/km
Motor tax:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a stylish 3-door car you might also like this review of the Alfa Romeo Mito.


The Volkswagen Tiguan is now more popular in Ireland than the iconic Golf hatchback!

Volkswagen Tiguan Review (2017)

Volkswagen is known for expertise in making hatchbacks with one particular model that begins with G and ends with F being a benchmark for all that a hatchback can and should be. But hatchbacks are not always the family car of choice anymore, so there is a lot riding on the shoulders of the new Volkswagen Tiguan, generation 2 of the brand’s compact SUV.

Based on the Golf’s MQB platform but with taller ‘legs’, the Volkswagen Tiguan should bring a lot of the Golf’s good qualities to the SUV segment.

With pricing starting in Ireland at €29,085 for petrol models, and now €30,895 for diesels (thanks to the introduction of a lower powered 2.0-litre model), the Volkswagen Tiguan is at the more premium end of the compact SUV market that includes rivals such as the SEAT Ateca, Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai.

Styling is classic Volkswagen – it’s simple with sharp lines, while tasteful chrome adds a premium finish. Inside, the dashboard layout is almost the same as the Volkswagen Golf, so it’s easy to use and interact with, while the quality is also excellent. Infotainment is provided via a touchscreen (5” or 8” depending on model) and an impressive digital instrument panel is standard on Highline models (from €36,870).

volkswagen tiguan review ireland
The interior of the Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline

Standard equipment includes air con, 17” alloys, lane departure warning and lane assist, while Comfortline models (from €32,960) like the one tested add high beam assist, silver roof rails, front fog lights, rear privacy glass, parking sensors and adaptive cruise control. Highline models add the digital instrument panel, 18” alloys, automatic parking, rear parking camera, LED lights, heated seats and updated styling.

As a family car, the Tiguan performs well with a comfortable cabin for five. Headroom is excellent all round and the footwells in the rear are large. The middle seat is comfortable enough for a child but legroom is restricted by the transmission tunnel. The boot is square and easy to access, with a spacious 615 litres available.

Volkswagen has now expanded the Tiguan range in Ireland to include a 2.0-litre diesel with 115hp power output. This model joins the 125hp 1.4-litre TSI petrol and the 150hp, 190hp and 240hp variants of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel.

The Tiguan is very good to drive for a tall SUV with predictable handling and nicely-judged steering . There is lean in the corners but it’s all well-contained and it’s easy to cover ground in the Tiguan quickly and safely. The Tiguan has inherited good comfort and refinement genes and overall it’s a relaxed and easy drive.

volkswagen tiguan review ireland
The Volkswagen Tiguan is comfortable and refined

For buyers looking for a diesel Tiguan the new 115hp 2.0-litre TDI knocks nearly €2000 off the price of the higher powered 150hp version. On paper, there is not much between these engines: same torque (340Nm) and less than 2 seconds between them in a sprint to 100kmh. They both fall into the same emissions class and claimed fuel economy is the same too.

However on the road the difference is apparent and you notice the power that is missing. It’s adequate but overtaking manoeuvres need to be planned a little more as you just do not get the same burst of speed. There is also less flexibility so you will be grappling with the gearbox to get any urgent sense of acceleration.

Yet it does just about enough to make the Tiguan worth a stretch in budget.

The compact SUV segment has been dominated in recent years by Japanese and Korean rivals who beat the Tiguan on price and standard equipment, yet the Volkswagen bounces back with a high quality feel, sophisticated design, smart cabin, and a faultless drive.

volkswagen tiguan review ireland
The Volkswagen Tiguan is more expensive than key Japanese and Korean rivals but is more polished with a premium feel

Model tested: Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0-litre 115hp Comfortline
Price: 
€32,960 (Range starts at €29,085)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115hp
Torque: 340Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Economy: 
60mpg
CO2 emissions:  
123g/km
Motor tax:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a compact SUV, you might also like this review of the Kia Sportage.


Volkswagen Up! review Ireland

Volkswagen Up Review (2017)

When I drove the Volkswagen Up! for the first time back in 2015, it gave me something of an epiphany -  horsepower is not always an indicative factor of how much fun a car will be. The Up!’s small 75hp 1.0-litre petrol engine gave me more smiles per mile than some cars with twice or even three times the power. And far from being a budget tin can with an engine, the Up! was comfortable with dare I say it…’big car feel’.

Now for 2017, Volkswagen has sprinkled a little bit of fairy dust over the Up! city car range. There are some mild styling tweaks, including new bumpers, new LED daytime running lights, revised radiator grille and bonnet, new alloy wheel designs and new colours like the Honey Yellow of my test car.

Inside the dashboard has been revised and the instrument dials now look more modern. Volkswagen’s ‘Composition’ media system is standard (3.1” monochrome display), along with digital radio, CD player, electric front windows and remote central locking.

Volkswagen Up! review Ireland
The interior of the Volkswagen Up!

Higher trims come with the ‘Composition Colour’ system as standard, a 5” colour display screen that uses Bluetooth connectivity for audio.  You can download Volkswagen’s ‘Maps + More’ app and use the docking station above the dash to access navigation, speakerphone, trip computer and other features from your smartphone.

There is space for four in the cabin, and the square shape of the car maximises interior space well for a car with such a compact footprint. The boot is narrow but deep (251 litres) and the rear seats can be let down for more cargo space. The pop-out windows in the back are a little disappointing, as many city cars are now moving towards having proper windows that can be rolled down manually or electrically.

Volkswagen has also used the 2017 update to add a new engine to the Up! range. Joining the non-turbo 1.0-litre with 60 or 75hp, is a new 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol unit. The new engine is the performance star of the range with 90hp, 160Nm of torque and 0-100kmh achieved in 9.9 seconds (the first Up! to pass the sub-10 second barrier!).

Volkswagen Up! review Ireland
Volkswagen has added a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine to the Up! range

On the road, the addition of the turbo is instantly apparent. The in-gear acceleration is fast and urgent, and the engine is far more robust for overtaking manoeuvres and driving on larger roads out of town and on motorways compared to its naturally aspirated siblings. The 1.0-litre 75hp version is not bad at all, but you grapple with the gearstick more to make decent progress.  In town, the Up! is deliciously agile and easy to manoeuvre, while the low down torque is perfect for quick getaways from the traffic lights. All the other cars will seem to be going very slow.

The Up! is light and easy to drive and the five-speed manual gearbox is fun to use. The steering is very light so there is not much feedback, but there is still enough resistance to confidently throw it into corners, though the body roll will stop you doing anything too clever. The car is very composed and there is none of that awful bounce that plagues some small car rivals. There is some road noise however at speed.

In terms of economy, the Volkswagen Up! 1.0-litre TSI falls into the same tax band as the non-turbo 1.0-litre so it’s €190 per year, while the claimed economy is 60mpg but high 40s is more realistic in day to day driving.

There are four trim levels in the Volkswagen Up! range in Ireland: Take Up! (from €11,875), Move Up! (from €13,455), Up! Beats (from €14,855) and High Up! (from €15,005).

Volkswagen Up! review Ireland
The Volkswagen Up! remains one of the best small cars you can buy

The new 1.0-litre TSI is only available on the High up! trim with a list price of €17,065, so it is a lot of money to spend on a small car. Highline models come with air con, cruise control, leather trimmed multifunction steering wheel, 16” alloys, electric, heated door mirrors, rear parking sensors, front fog lights, and there are also some styling upgrades inside and out.

The Volkswagen Up! remains one of the best small cars you can buy but the high list price for the 1.0-litre TSI means that the non-turbo 1.0-litre is a more cost-effective choice, and as I found out when I tested the car back in 2015, it’s perfectly adequate. The turbo engine is more powerful and robust, especially out of the city, but the Up! is a city car, and that’s where it flourishes, turbo or no turbo.

Model tested: Volkswagen Up! High Up! 1.0-litre TSI
Price: 
€17,065 (Range starts at €11,875)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
90hp
Torque: 160Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.9 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Economy: 
60mpg
CO2 emissions:  
108g/km
Motor tax:
€190 per year

If you are looking for a funky city car, you might also like this review of the Fiat 500.

Caroline Kidd


Volkswagen Polo Beats Review Ireland

Volkswagen Polo Review (2016)

Volkswagen Ireland has recently introduced the ‘Polo Beats’ special edition to the Volkswagen Polo range.

That is ‘Beats’ as in Beats by Dre, the ultra-hip audio business set up by rapper and producer Dr. Dre.

Maybe that means nothing to you. I had to explain to my Dad who Dr. Dre was and thus the significance of Polo Beats, but among a younger audience there is certainly some cachet to the brand.

Volkswagen Polo Beats Review Ireland
Volkswagen Polo Beats has some subtle Beats branding around the car

So this is a powerful piece of repositioning for the Polo. The Volkswagen Polo is a perennial of the small car class but the image is a little staid. You might associate the Polo with a car your granny would drive. Polo Beats aims to change that image and appeal to a younger buyer.

On the outside the Polo has been ‘jazzed up’ with some questionable decals, coloured door mirrors, gloss black radiator grille, a gorgeous set of 16” alloys and a subtle ‘Beats’ logo on each B pillar.

The cabin is a two tone grey affair with beautiful seats with quilted fabric in the middle panel and Alcantara trim. The quality inside is excellent and Polo Beats really benefits from the pale grey interior. It’s a much brighter and more cheerful place than the usual black.

Volkswagen Polo Beats Review Ireland
The Volkswagen Polo Beats has a high quality interior with some lovely detail

And of course there is THAT stereo. A typical Polo would have about an 80 watt stereo. This one is 300 watt with seven high-end speakers dotted around the cabin including a subwoofer in the boot! App Connect as standard means that you can quickly connect your smartphone to the car and listen to your music via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto so your Polo Beats will soon be bopping. The stereo really is great, especially if you love bass!

The Polo Beats also comes with other such notables as four electric windows, air con, leather steering wheel, front fog lights, LED footwell illumination and cruise control.

It all comes at a cost. The Polo Beats is five door only in Ireland and has a list price of €20,120, and comes with just the 1.0-litre petrol engine with 75hp. The Polo five door range starts at €16,370, while a similarly specced ‘Allstar’ Polo comes in at €19,495, albeit minus stereo.

Volkswagen Polo Beats Review Ireland
Volkswagen Polo Beats: Styling updates and a 300 watt stereo with amazing sound

Yet there is a lot of substance to the Volkswagen Polo meaning that for your €20,000 you are getting a decent car that doesn’t serve up any real niggles or irritants. It’s big inside for a car of its size. It drives well. And the refinement and comfort is truly commendable and puts it head and shoulders over the competition and knocking on the door of the class above.

Volkswagen Polo Beats Review IrelandThe only caveat is that the Polo Beats with its 1.0-litre 75hp engine is not particularly fast. It is nippy at urban speeds and certainly won’t lag behind traffic, but it doesn’t have the punchy performance of a turbo unit. Overtaking manoeuvres will have to be planned in advance. On the motorway the revs run high but you would only know that from looking at the rev counter - there’s never a racket in the cabin, even at high speeds. However, it would make an excellent choice if you’re more of an urban driver.

To be honest, I approached the Volkswagen Polo Beats as just an expensive Polo with a fancy stereo. It is to a certain extent but after driving it and enjoying that stereo, it’s not the worst way you could spend €20,000!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen Polo Beats 1.0 75hp
Price: 
€20,120 (Range starts at €15,705)
Engine:
 1.0-litre petrol
Power:
75hp
0-100km/h: 
 14.3 seconds
Claimed economy: 
59mpg
CO2 emissions:
  108g/km
Tax band:
€190 per year

Volkswagen Polo Beats
The Volkswagen Polo Beats adds a great stereo and some street cred to what is already a great small car

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