1 July 2020

Tiguan gets update, electrification

A revised version of the Volkswagen Tiguan will be on sale here in the last quarter of the year, writes Brian Byrne.

Initially the car will be available with 1.5 petrol and 2.0 diesel automatic engines. A manual diesel will be coming along in January, along with the Tiguan R. A plug-in hybrid will be rolled out in RHD form next summer.

Stylistically the update to the second-generation Tiguan involves a fresh look to the front end, with LED headlights and new bumpers.

The interior updates include a new steering wheel with touch controls, and the climate control is also going to be by touch sliders and buttons.

Electrification options in the SUV are a key part of the revisions.

Last year the Tiguan was the Volkswagen Group's best-selling model, with some 911,000 units produced.

New C4 coming to Ireland early next year

Citroen has given details of its new generation C4 hatchback, which will arrive in Ireland in the first quarter of 2021, writes Brian Byrne.

It will be available with petrol, diesel, and all-electric powertrains.

The original C4 nameplate debuted in 1928, and was resurrected by the brand in 2004.

30 June 2020

Hard Top name returning to Defender range

A commercial version of the new Land Rover Defender will bring back the Hard Top name to the model line-up, in both 90 and 110 versions, writes Brian Byrne.

The commercial Defender will be a two seat-vehicle, with an optional 'jump' seat making it capable of transporting three people as well as cargo.

The Hard Top name dates back to 1950, when the introduction of demountable Hard Tops gave early Series Land Rovers added security and protection from the elements. New Defender Hard Top continues this ethos, sharing its fixed metal roof and silhouette with the original.

The commercial will also have a towing capacity of up 3,500kg and a wading depth of up to 900mm. A comprehensive range of driver assistance technology will also be on the vehicle.

New generation SEAT Leon arrives in Ireland

The fourth generation of the SEAT Leon is now on sale in Ireland at a starting price of €23,910, writes Brian Byrne.

The car is available in three configurations, each with with two levels of specification. It is built on an enhanced version of Volkswagen's compact platform, designated the MBQ EVO.

There are petrol, diesel, and mild-hybrid powertrain options, and a plug-in hybrid will be available towards the end of the year. Petrols and MHEV are 110hp and 150hp, while the diesel options are 115hp and 150hp. The total output of the PHEV version is 204hp.

Since the first generation was launched in 1998 some 2.2 million units have been sold globally, with 13,500 units in Ireland.

In style terms the new car retains the essential cues of its previous versions, with a significantly sharper design. An estate version will complement the hatchback and is expected to be available from August.

In a virtual launch to Irish motoring journalists today, SEAT Ireland's Head of Product & Planning Mark McGrath described the Leon as a 'core pillar' in the brand's model lineup. He noted that more than €1.1 billion has been invested in the fourth generation.

In-car connectivity technology includes online navigation, internet radio, and an embedded SIM. A digital cockpit is fully customisable by the owner to their own preferences. Two sizes of centre screen are available, the larger for included navigation versions.

Standard equipment through the range includes LED lights, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, auto highbeam, and air conditioning. Available details on some levels include rear view camera, park assist and other driver assistance technology, and a high end sound system.

Special offers for the 202 registration period include 2.9pc APR finance, a €1,000 online discount voucher, and 3-year service plans.

Price differential between petrol and diesel is €1,900, and between manual and DSG automatic €1,800. The Sportstourer estate is €1,470 more than the hatchback.

Brand Director for SEAT Ireland Niall Phillips noted that in 2019, the brand achieved its highest ever market share here at 3.5pc, with 4,119 cars sold. This was against a total market which had shrunk by 8pc in the same year.

In 2020 year to date, despite the market difficulties caused by coronavirus, the brand share is running at 4pc.

25 June 2020

New intelligent manual transmission from Kia

A new automated 'declutch and coast' system coming for manual gearboxes in Kia cars will both save fuel and decrease the number of clutch operations a driver makes, writes Brian Byrne.

The iMT intelligent manual transmission works in conjunction with the mild hybrid starter-generator and an electronically-operated clutch. When the driver lifts off to slow to an intersection or corner, the system senses it and automatically disengages the clutch and switched off the engine, allowing the car to coast. If the driver accelerates again, the engine is restarted and the clutch re-engages in whatever gear has been selected, or none if the driver has selected neutral.

The system will also restart if the car goes below the optimum speed for the selected gear, to avoid labouring the engine.

Kia says the new technology will make a 3pc improvement over current CO2 emissions in equivalent cars.

It will be available first in the EcoDynamics+ variant of the Ceed with the 1.6 diesel, and in a Rio with a new 1.0 gasoline direct engine. In Ireland from early next year.

24 June 2020

Mazda enhances CX-5

Mazda in Europe has made a number of enhancements to its very popular CX-5 SUV, writes Brian Byrne.

They include upgrades to design in the interior, and improvements to the powertrains and driving experience.

Externally the changes are minimal, kept to just some new badging. Inside, the car gets a larger central display screen, new LED ambience lighting, and the option of half-leatherette seats in some grades.

The most important change is the addition of cylinder-deactivation to manual 2.0 petrol models, enabling the cutting off of two cylinders under low-load conditions, to improve fuel efficiency.

The engines range in the Irish market include 165hp petrol, and 2.2 diesles with 150hp and 184hp outputs.

Prices start at €30,695.

Two Arteon variants here from September

The new Volkswagen Arteon fastback and Shooting Brake variants will be on sale in Ireland from the beginning of September, writes Brian Byrne.

They will initially arrive with 1.5 petrol and 2.0 diesel power, followed in November by the Arteon R flagship and the plug-in Arteon eHybrid.

The Arteon Shooting Brake has a 565L capacity, extendable to 1,632L.

The cars are among 34 new models to be launched by Volkswagen this year.

Pictures of new Mokka revealed

First pictures of Opel's new Mokka crossover, due in Ireland in early 2021, have just been released, writes Brian Byrne.

The car features the brand's new front design language, named the 'Opel Vizor', and will also have a new 'digital cockpit' interior.

Power options will include an all-electric version from the very start, along with petrol and diesel engines. The electric Mokka will be rated at a 322km range.

The new car has a marginally longer wheelbase than the outgoing Mokka, and is 120kg lighter.

Orders will be possible from late summer this year.

23 June 2020

Volkswagen's ID.3 'will be the start of the game changer'

Up to 600 Volkswagen ID.3 electric cars may be sold in Ireland between September and the early part of next year, but supply for 2021 will be 'lean and challenging', writes Brian Byrne.

That's the expectation by Volkswagen Ireland, as expressed this morning at an online press event where details of the specification and pricing for the company's first dedicated electric car were detailed.

Brand Director for Volkswagen Ireland Rodolfo Calixto said the electric car 'journey' is only beginning in Ireland and 'still has a long road to go'.

There will be three versions of the ID.3 1st Edition, and deliveries of the car to those who have converted their initial bookings to firm orders will begin in September.

Range options will be 330km, 420km and 550km, with all 1st Edition versions in Ireland getting the 420km powertrain option as well as extra power, faster acceleration, and the ability to accept a faster recharging.

The 1st Edition prices begin at €33,625, with the 1st Plus clocking in at €40,595, and the 1st Max at €47,545. Standard features across the range include navigation with streaming and internet, adaptive cruise control, and LED lights front and rear. The Plus gets LED Matrix light at the front and configurable rear lights as well as rear view camera and 19-inch alloys. Among the extras for the Max are a fixed panoramic roof, electric front seats with massage, and 20-inch alloys.

Finance options for the ID.3 include the usual HP, PCP and Operational Lease, but there's an additional ID Plan which operates closer to contract operational lease than the private PCP.

Graham Lawless from Volkswagen Ireland said over 70pc of the company's customers here finance through Volkswagen's own bank. Of there, eight in ten opt for the PCP offer. Special financial incentives apply for the First Movers Club open to those who have pre-booked and are taking up their option.

A We Charge holistic electricity charging plan will integrate a dedicated app, home charging, and public charging through the Ionity/ESB/eCars charging points. The system includes maps and journey planning facilities, location and status of charge points, and the home wallboxes.

Three charging plans are offered, providing different tariff, matched to different kinds of usage.

Three different Wallboxes are available at installed prices from €1,155-€1,629. The mid-range offers 'smart' interaction, the most expensive a higher charging rate with 3-phase electricity.

Three levels of service packages for monthly fees of €12, €15, or €18 a month offer graded levels of maintenance, the top one including brake pads, wiper blades and tyres.

Volkswagen Ireland claims that when the prices are adjusted for specification differences and range, the ID.3 offers significant price advantages over key competitors Tesla Model 3, Nissan's Leaf, and Hyundai's Kona.

Graham Lawless told those at the webinar that the company believes ID.3 is 'the start of the game-changing' of electric cars in Ireland. "Customers want more ease of mobility, to buy cars with risk to their value, and also transparency of total running costs."