24 November 2023

MDL takes on new smart EV range in Ireland

Irish motor vehicles distributor, Motor Distributors Limited (MDL) have been appointed as distributors in Ireland of the smart range of passenger cars, described as ‘the new premium intelligent all-electric auto brand’, writes Trish Whelan

The appointment by smart Europe GmbH - a 100pc subsidiary of smart Automobile Co. Ltd., the global joint venture company formed by Mercedes-Benz AG and Geely Automobile Co. Ltd. - takes immediate effect prior to the arrival of smart models to the Irish market. 

Welcoming the appointment, MDL Chief Executive, Paddy Finnegan said: “As distributors of passenger cars, vans and heavy commercial vehicles in Ireland, we look forward to applying our very considerable experience and resources to the introduction and on-going sales and marketing of smart vehicles as models become available here from early next year onwards.” 

Dirk Adelmann, CEO smart Europe said: “Partnering with MDL ensures that our smart customers in Ireland will enjoy an exceptional customer experience and service.” Initially, two models will be available - smart #1 and smart #3 - the latter having made its European debut in September at the IAA auto exhibition in Munich. #3 is pictured above, #1 below. 

Branded with the ‘hashtag’ motif and a numerical model designation, the new electric smart range has a premium design and advanced technology, emerging as a larger in size and spaciousness range of four-door, five-seater models. Arriving here in early 2024, customers can view and reserve a smart model before year-end and in time for 241 registrations through sales outlets whose appointments will shortly be announced.



Nissan drops €5,000 off LEAF EV price

Nissan has dropped €5,000 off the cost of buying a 100pc Nissan LEAF for 241 making it possible for motorists to drive off in the small EV for €28,495, writes Trish Whelan

The €5,000 price drop is available on the 40kWh Nissan LEAF and Nissan is also offering 0pc finance to anyone who wants to finance the cost of buying the car through hire purchase or PCP. 

LEAF has been one of Ireland’s best-selling TVs since launched over a decade ago. The 40 kWh LEAF has a range of up to 270kms. 

Other 241 offers for customers include the Nissan 2-4-2 deal that provides new car buyers with two new cars for the price of one, or a low rate of 3.99pc PCP finance across the Nissan range.


Review: Toyota C-HR - Trish Whelan, Irish Car

Toyota’s C-HR, launched in 2016, is hard to miss as it is one of the most dramatic and quirky looking cars on our roads. This compact mid-sized SUV is Toyota’s third best selling passenger car year-to-date behind Corolla and Yaris Cross. Sizewise, it is smaller than its RAV4 sibling. It competes in the busy, and key C-SUV segment. 

The model had a slight refresh in late 2019 that added some new features including an enhanced look, a new multimedia system and some additional features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard as well as adding petrol electric hybrids of 1.8 and 2.0 GR Sport models inspired by Toyota Gazoo Racing’s motorsport and rally successes. Each GR Sport model is designed to exude attitude, a sporty interior and premium features. 

The racy-looking exterior features a black roof, 19-inch black 5-double spoke alloy wheels, dark chrome front grille, piano black wheel arch mouldings, high side belt lines and the rear spoiler that reflects down onto the rear window and colourful GR badges on the sides and on the boot door. Toyota cars have really good build quality, and high grade stylish interiors. 

The C-HR GR Sport is quite a premium car emphasised by its styling and use of soft touch quality materials, lots of piano black trim and beautiful Alcantara and black leather bolstered seats with contrasting red and white stitching - and GR badges in my review car. Front seats have heaters and the driver’s has lumbar support. Doors get beautiful diamond-like patterns that draw the eye. Red stitching also appears on the partly perforated leather steering wheel and on the gear gaiter. The 8ins touchscreen is located high up on the dash and angled towards the driver. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through the screen to get at the air conditioning controls as they are located on a row of switches below the screen. The driver’s 4.2-inch information display looks a bit old fashioned consisting of two indented circles for power source indication and analogue speedometer. But it works well. 

I had excellent visibility when driving due to the forward reaching windscreen, narrow A-Pillars and good A-Pillar windows. Also, the design of the rear didn’t interfere with my view out the rear view mirror. The rear can fit three adults but there’s not great legroom for anyone seated behind a very tall person in front and their view out is hampered by the car's high belt line and the upward sweep of the narrow rear side windows. External rear door handles are located up high on the doors. Cubbies include a decent glovebox, a deep area below the front armrest, a shelf for your phone beside a 12V socket on the dash, a USB port, storage areas on the central console and fine door bins. Boot space is decent enough at 358 litres. The boot floor is high and there are storage areas below. 

While this is quite a high car, due to the steep rake of the door frame, a tall passenger had some difficulty in getting into and out of the car. Safety technologies include seven airbags, blind spot alert on side mirrors, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, Aux-in connector, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Pre-Collision System with pedestrian day and cyclist detection, Adaptive Cruise Control, front fogs. 

This self charging hybrid switches between electric power or a combination of petrol and electric energy, according to driving conditions and you can opt to use the EV mode-only when driving in built up areas, but go easy on the accelerator as otherwise the petrol engine will kick in. 

Engines are a 1.8L with 122hp and a 2.0L with 184hp matched to an e-CVT automatic transmission. The more powerful hybrid powertrain allows a 0-100km/h time of 8.2 secs. Average combined fuel consumption comes in at around 4.5L/100kms making this a very economical car to run. Annual road tax is €190 for both GR Sport versions. Toyota have tuned the steering and suspension to help improve the car’s driving dynamics. 

I really enjoyed driving this car and it was very comfy to travel in. Handling is sharp, steering nicely direct, acceleration very good and the car holds the road well. With a turning radius of 5.2m it can turn easily on city streets or in parking lots. The second generation of the model, to launch next year, will include a choice of four electrified powertrains including a 2.0 plug-in hybrid electric model. Priced from €34,955; review car from €44,560.


21 November 2023

Kia Ireland launches new EV9 flagship model

Kia Ireland has launched its all-electric EV9 SUV with a range of up to 563kms, writes Trish Whelan. It is the company’s first three-row electric flagship SUV available as a six or seven-seater. 

The exterior’s long, geometrically styled profile with clean lines also embraces the toughness of an SUV. This is a large vehicle with an overall length of 5,015mm, a wheelbase of 3,100mm, and overall height of 1,750mm. Minimum ground clearance is 177mm. 

The spacious interior continues the minimalist style with an easy-to-use layout. The boxy (but very stylish!) SUV styling and long wheelbase (and flat floor) allow for more interior room with premium lounge-style comfort in all three rows of seats. Second-row seats have a swivel function and can be turned around to face the third row and directly interact with those seated behind. In this layout, the long sliding tray extending from the centre console, acts as a table in between the seats. 

Physical buttons more up and down for key infotainment functions. The dash consists of a curved 12.3-inch cluster in front of the driver, a 12.3-inch curved infotainment display screen with navigation. You also get a very informative Head-Up Display with route direction graphics. The boot offers 828 litres of storage space when 4/5 seats are upright, and up to 333 litres when 6/7 seats are upright. Up to ten items in the EV9 have been produced from sustainable materials. Earth and GT-Line interiors get vegan leather upholstery. Noise insulation includes sound-absorbing tyres, laminated sound insulation glass and sound absorbing carpets. 

The line-up consists of Earth and GT-Line models with Rear Wheel Drive and All-Wheel Drive. Both versions come with a 99.8kW battery featuring the company’s fourth-generation battery technology. The rear-wheel drive Earth model has a 150kW motor capable of a maximum torque output of 350 Nm, and providing an all-electric range of up to 563kms. The AWD GT-Line is powered by twin 141kW electric motors with max torque of 350 Nm and 350, front and rear, and a range of up to 505km (WLTP rated). 

Standard features for the Earth version include 19-inch alloys, screens already mentioned, fingerprint recognition, a 360deg surround view monitor, reversing camera, wireless mobile phone charger, and a whole array of top-end driver-assist and safety features that include nine airbags, blind spot monitor and blind-spot collision-avoidance assist. Remote Smart Parking Assist 2, standard on GT-Line, allows the vehicle to park itself in perpendicular, diagonal, and parallel parking spots. A feature of the EV9’s connectivity will be the option for owners to buy specific extra features with over-the-air software upgrades. Five exterior colours are offered. The EV9 has up to 2,500kg towing capacity. 

Ultra-fast charging can add up to 249km of driving range in 15 minutes. 

The Earth 7-seat RWD is priced at €77,500, the GT-Line 6-seat AWD at €85,500; the GT-Line 7-seat AWD €85,500. Wait time is around two-and-a-half months. 

EV9 competes in the E-SUV segment where main rivals include the Tesla Model X, BMW iX, Mercedes-Benz EQE, Audi Q8 e-tron, and Volvo’s EX90. 

Kia plan to sell one million BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles) by 2026 of which 25pc will be electric-only models and 1.6 million by 2030 with 37pc 100pc electric models. An EV3 is due out next October, EV4 in Q1 2025 and EV5 in Q2 2025. 

An EV9 launch incentive pack consists of 3 free services, a free home charger, €500 home energy credit (Energia), 2-year Kia charge, Ionity Plus Package, a €500 Kia accessory voucher, 1.9pc APR finance, and a €500 SuperValu gift card. 

At yesterday’s launch, Kia Ireland Managing Director Ronan Flood (pictured below with the EV9) told how the Irish company is currently transforming its dealerships to raise the profile of the brand around the country. Year-to-date over 9,000 Kias have been registered with Sportage the second best-selling car. Mr Flood is hopeful of increasing this figure to 10,000 units next year. Kia Ireland currently enjoys a 7.5pc market share in Ireland.  

15 November 2023

Hyundai Kona review: Trish Whelan, Irish Car

Hyundai are on a major roll with their Ionic 5 and Ionic 6 electric cars being awarded World Car of the Year for the last two years and the Ionic 6 recently voted Irish Car of the Year for 2024. 

The model has previously sold over 12,000 units since launched in 2018. 

New Kona has moved up in size from the previous generation which was a small crossover aimed at families with small kiddies. 

The model has now evolved into a more stylish and larger SUV that is wider and longer than before so is aimed at larger families with teens who need more space providing them with more head, shoulder and leg room. Kona is positioned between the Bayon and the Tucson in the company’s crossover SUV line-up.  

The SUV’s sporty character is emphasised by its futuristic front design, rugged wheel arch cladding and high ground clearance. I especially liked the sharp lines at the sides that harmonise with the satin chrome moulding that travels through the belt line to swerve up to the rear spoiler, creating a contour that wraps around the entire car. The rear has a side-to-side light bar that makes the vehicle appear even wider. 

The cabin is now more stylish and a lot roomier. Comfy seats hold you in snugly and the driver’s has lumbar support. Front ones can be heated, along with the steering wheel. The dash is dominated by two 12.3-inch digital displays that merge together with beautiful graphics set against a black glass type background. The infotainment screen manages many of the car’s functions and its big suite of safety technology, and of course, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. 

You can change the gauge style of the driver’s screen to suit your own preference: ‘Classic’ with a traditional style two-dial screen or ‘Simple’ that shows your current speed in digital numbers. 

The thick stalk gear shift control on my hybrid version was located on the lower right hand side of the steering wheel. Useful storage are a tray area below the front arm rest with adjustable cupholders, a decent glovebox with an overhead open area, and good door bins. You also get a wireless phone charger, 12v power socket and two small C-type USB ports front and rear. 

Boot capacity has grown by 30pc and is now at 466 litres. Rear seats fold flat in seconds and you don't have to remove the headrests. When folded, the boot space expands to 1300 litres. 

Drive modes are Eco, Sport and Snow. Buyers have a choice of petrol or hybrid/petrol variants. A full electric version is due this October - no spec or pricing yet. The entry-level is a 118bhp 1.0 turbocharged petrol unit. The hybrid’s 1.6 GDi direct injection petrol engine and the battery-powered electric motor work together to deliver a combined output of 141hp. The 43hp electric motor delivers high torque of 265Nm and high efficiency and also delivers really good acceleration when starting. It can do 0-100km/h in 10.9 seconds. 

Hyundai say their hybrids are well suited to urban owners who experience constant stop/start driving in towns and cities which helps with regenerative braking that charges the battery so you don’t have to. The energy stored in the battery powers the electric motor to help in acceleration, uphill driving, and low speed driving. 

A small crib was the absence of any blind spot alert on my car. I was able to get a really excellent driving position and enjoyed good all-round visibility and good feedback from the steering wheel. Parking assist features were all a great help when parking in tight spots. Hyundai engineers have worked well on road noise reduction resulting in a really quiet cabin. 

The engine is mated to a really smooth automatic transmission. For me, it is one of the best around contributing hugely to my driving enjoyment. The car switches seamlessly between its petrol engine and electric motor, but sometimes uses both. I managed to achieve a healthy 5.6L/100kms (50mpg) over a wide mix of roads. Road tax is €180. 

Trims are Signature, Elegance (my car), and N Line - the latter is more about looks than features added. New Kona is the first Hyundai to apply the new Connected Navigation Cockpit, and has Bluelink application as standard on all drivetrains. Also standard are LED lights front and rear, 16-inch alloy wheels, black side body moulding, tinted rear windows, a windscreen defog function, auto climate control, rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, a 12.3-inch touchscreen and 4-inch Cluster, a skinny spare wheel, and trailer package. 

My Elegance car had stunning 18-inch alloys, power folding mirrors, 12.3-inch touchscreen with Satellite Navigation and Media Centre, a supervision cluster, and black roof rails. Safety features included Hill Start Assist, Downhill Brake Control, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Smart Cruise Control, Auto Hold, and Highway Driving Assistance launched with New Kona. 

Kona was awarded a maximum five star safety rating by Euro NCAP when tested in 2017. Competitors include the Toyota C-HR, Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke. 

Kona has a 5yr/unlimited kms warranty. 

Prices are from €30,895. My review car €36,045. 


14 November 2023

Peugeot Ireland sponsors Lyndsey Davey Africa climate aid trip

Peugeot Ireland is to sponsor former Dublin Senior footballer Lyndsey Davey on her trip to Kenya as part of the Plant the Planet Games on November 17.

Davey will be one of 50 inter-county players, past and present, who will travel to Kenya on November 17 as part of the Warriors for Humanity group who will take part in the Plant the Planet Games. The players have raised hundreds of thousands of Euro as they aim to plant trees to tackle the devastating effects of climate change and raise awareness of the work of Self Help Africa.

The visit will see the athletes take part in Gaelic Football & Hurling Exhibition Matches, a soccer match against AFC Leopards as well as cultural and agricultural engagements.

This is the second year of the Plant the Planet Games, the brainchild of Warriors for Humanity CEO and Founder Alan Kerins. Last year, over €500,000 was raised by inter-county players in support of the event, with one million trees being planted to tackle the effects of climate change.

Des Cannon, Managing Director at Peugeot Ireland says “We are proud to support Lyndsey on this special trip that will contribute so much to the important work done by Self Help Africa. As official partners to Dublin GAA, it is nice to be able to support a former player in their post playing career endeavours”.

Lyndsey made her senior debut in 2004 aged just 14, only retiring last year.  She went on to win 5 All-Ireland Titles, 12 Leinster titles and 5 All-Star Awards. She works as a Firefighter and Paramedic at Dublin Airport.

Pictured are Lyndsey Davey and Ciaran Cusack (Marketing Manager at Gowan Auto, Peugeot Importers in Ireland).

Nervous times for winter drivers

Almost a third of Irish drivers say they experience a range of nervousness when driving in the rain, writes Brian Byrne

That's according to Continental Tyres Ireland who commissioned a survey that also showed a high degree of concern jumped to 74pc when they had to drive snow and icy conditions.

The survey also indicated that more than half of Irish drivers have opted not to travel on a particular day due to adverse weather.

Motorists need to adapt their driving style with the arrival of wintry conditions, says Continental's Tom Dennigan, adding that they are right to be nervous in such conditions. He also noted that having tyres fit for purpose are an essential element in cutting down accidents due to poor weather.

"Get the simple things right," he says bluntly. "Look after your tyres by checking them regularly. Always wear a seatbelt. Make sure your car is in good general condition. Never drive under the influence of drink or drugs. Slow down and adapt your driving to the prevailing conditions. If we all did those simple things right, it would be a huge boost to road safety in Ireland."

New generation C-HR arriving soon

The new generation Toyota C-HR small crossover will be available in Irish dealerships from mid-November, in time for potential buyers in early January to view, writes Brian Byrne.

Five versions of the hybrid electric vehicle will be on offer, and there will be a choice from 1.8 and 2.0 powertrains.

Prices for the new C-HR, which has a distinctively sharp design but retains style cues to it predecessors, start at €40,520.

Sustainability features include seat fabrics made from 100pc recycled plastic bottles. 

3 November 2023

Hyundai Ioniq 6 is 2024 Irish Car of the Year

Joe Rayfus, Chairman of the Motoring Media Association of Ireland (MMAI); Sarah Hayes of Hyundai Ireland; and Tom Dennigan of awards sponsor, Continental Tyres; with the winning car.

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 electric car is the 2024 Irish Car of the Year in association with Continental Tyres, writes Trish Whelan. The award was presented at a ceremony in the Conrad Hotel in Dublin, the result of voting by members of the Motoring Media Association of Ireland (MMAI), who hosted the event.

It is the fourth time in four straight years that an electric vehicle has been voted the Irish Car of the Year, the oldest and most reputable automotive award title in Ireland.

The MMAI brings together 35 of Ireland’s most experienced motoring journalists, who individually assess each new car model that is launched in Ireland each year. MMAI chairman Joe Rayfus congratulated Hyundai Ireland on taking the coveted award. "What more concrete proof can there be that the era of electric motoring is truly here?" he said, adding that electric models have gone fully mainstream and luxury.

Tom Dennigan of awards sponsor Continental Tyres described the Ioniq 6 as being at the forefront of automotive design. "I am sure that our Irish Car of the Year title will be a huge boost to the nameplate’s profile with Irish motorists who are considering making the move to electric.”

Earlier in the event, the Irish Car of the Year category winners were announced.

Irish Small/Compact Car of the Year: MG4 EV

Irish Small/Compact SUV of the Year: BYD Atto 3

Irish Medium SUV of the Year: Renault Austral

Irish Medium/Large Car of the Year: Hyundai IONIQ 6

Irish Large SUV/MPV of the Year: Nissan X-TRAIL

Irish Luxury Car of the Year: BMW i7/7 Series

Irish Performance Car of the Year: BMW M2

In the Irish Van of the Year awards programme for 2024, the Ford Ranger Raptor took the category award for Irish Commercial SUV of the Year, while the overall Irish Van of the Year 2024 in association with Continental Tyres award was given to the Mercedes-Benz Citan

Andrew Johnson and Gerard Rice of MG Motor Ireland with the award for the MG4 as Irish Small/Compact Car of the Year.

Sarah Hayes of Hyundai Ireland accepting the 2024 ICOTY award from Joe Rayfus MMAI and Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres.

Jeanne McGann, Head of Marketing & Communications, Nissan Ireland, with company MD Seamus Morgan and the category prize for the Nissan X-Trail Irish Large SUV of the Year.