18 June 2024

BMW's new M2 now available to order

BMW’s new M2 will combine compact dimensions, updated chassis technology and a 20hp increase in power output, writes Trish Whelan
It will have new exterior design accents, a refreshed interior and the introduction of BMW’s Operating System 8.5, digital control for the climate functions. A 12-inch information display and 14.9-inch control display feature the latest evolution of the brand’s iDrive control system. Standard equipment also includes the BMW Live Cockpit Plus with BMW Maps navigation system, a Head-Up Display and an Augmented View on the control display. Semi-automated driving and parking systems come as standard. 

Offered in a two-door form, and featuring a straight-six engine, an optional six-speed manual gearbox, and rear-wheel drive, new M2 offers a claimed combined fuel consumption of 8.17-8.0 L/100kms, C02 emissions of 223 - 218 g/km WLTP, and now tops out at 480hp. Peak torque remains at 550Nm; with the standard eight-speed M Steptronic transmission, this rises to 600Nm. BMW say the 3.0 engine only slightly differs from the unit in the M3/M4 range. 

Customers can order their new M2 in a choice of three solid colours, five metallic shades and six BMW Individual paint finishes. The new M2 will be built alongside the new 2 Series Coupe in Mexico with production starting in August and first customer deliveries this autumn 2024. With a start price of €115,760 RRP, the new M2 is now available to order at BMW retailers across Ireland.


17 June 2024

Grande Panda: Fiat's new global player

Fiat has revealed the first pictures of its new Grande Panda, the firstborn of the new family inspired by the 1980s Panda, a compact family mover, writes Trish Whelan. In the year Fiat celebrates its 125th anniversary, the Italian carmaker is introducing this new global model which they claim is ideal for family use, for shopping and for driving in towns and cities - in every country. 

The Grande Panda, designed in Turin, will first land in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and will be available in both electric and hybrid versions. 

This is a B-segment car under 4 metres long, with clean lines, good inside space, and can carry five adults. 

It will be followed by the launch of a new vehicle every year until 2027. Fiat intend to manufacture vehicles on the same global and multi-energy Smart platform allowing the brand create many different vehicles and respond to customers’ needs worldwide. More details when we get them.


14 June 2024

Review: Peugeot E-2008: Trish Whelan, Irish Car

Peugeot is renowned for the style it brings to its passenger cars and the French carmaker’s updated crossover 2008 certainly delivers on that front as it’s a real head turner. Peugeot is part of the Stellantis group and the E-2008 is based on the 2008 petrol model. 

The car received a significant update to its design and a larger battery for improved range when it went on sale last year. It competes in the B-segment. Measuring 4.30m long, 1,987m wide and 1.55m high, it is positioned below its 3008 sibling. The car’s height makes it easy to get in and out which is important for many owners. 

The facelift gave the model a more assertive design with a new front end with the new Peugeot shield logo, new vertical claw-like Daytime Running Lights in the lower bumper instead of the previous 'fangs', and new E-badging around the exterior. My car was in a dark shade of grey called Selenium Grey that everyone admired as it showed off the car to perfection. The stylish look included privacy glass, a gloss black roof and roof rails, some sharp shapes and silver trim along the sides. I particularly liked the upward sweep to the C-pillars. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard on Allure and top GT models. 

The interior is well laid out and user-friendly with a good feel to it. You're cocooned with the sweep of the dash around to the sides emphasised by very nice carbon effect trims. There’s much black gloss on the central console area. Peugeot’s i-Cockpit setup includes two dials on the dash, a small compact steering wheel over which you can see your current speed in the driver’s screen above. In my top GT spec, the 3D instrument panel looked great and you can switch between the displays. The 10-inch central touchscreen, angled towards the driver, is a big improvement on the previous model's but isn’t always intuitive. You can stay connected with the I-Connect system as it offers full connectivity through wireless mirroring (Apple CarPlay/Android Auto) and allows easy access to all the infotainment functions via the OK Peugeot voice command. A row of piano-type keys below the screen allows you access some shortcuts and there’s a proper knob for the volume. 

Seats are both comfy and supportive, with manual adjustments. They also look great with a mix of leather effect and patterned cloth. Rear ones split 60/40 and headroom for tall people is just about adequate. The person seated in the middle rear seat has a transmission tunnel to contend with. Cubbies include a smallish glovebox area, an area below the narrow armrest, big cupholders and good sized door bins. There's a wireless charger on the dash, two USB C and a 12V socket up front, and two USBs more in the back. 

The boot size remains unchanged at 434 litres; there’s a split level floor so you can store the charging cables below. There’s no lip which makes it easy to lift items in and out. The toggle gear selector is on the flat of the central console. Driving modes are Normal/Eco/Sport. Numerous features included a good reversing camera and a HD parking aid camera that can be changed to show wide areas around the car including at the rear. I was able to get a good driving position and felt very comfy behind the wheel but the thick bases of the A-Pillars hindered my vision. Side mirrors come with small blind spot monitors but work fine. 

On the road, the car seemed very agile and nimble with a small turning circle, and decent acceleration. It’s such an easy car to drive on all types of roads but really comes into its own in urban conditions. Press the ‘B’ button to activate the regenerative braking mode to help energy consumption. Battery usage is around 14.5kWh/100km which is impressive for this segment. The electric motor produces 156bhp and offers a claimed range of up to 406km (WLTP combined), up from 345km in the pre-face lifted model. The battery has a capacity of 52.5 kWh and can be charged to 80pc in 30 minutes using a fast DC charger. A full charge takes 7.5 hours using a 7kW wallbox charger. 

There are also 1.2 petrol 100bhp/130bhp options from €31,040-€34,595 as well as a hybrid petrol with automatic transmission from €35,450. My GT electric 156bhp version is from €40,675 after subsidies. Annual tax is €120.


13 June 2024

First Drive in new Fiat 600 Hybrid: Trish Whelan, Irish Car

Fiat Ireland have this week launched their new Fiat 600 which builds on the enduring popularity of the iconic 500. Fiat Ireland expect this newcomer to resonate just as strongly with Irish motorists as has its smaller sibling. The 600 arrives just in time for the 242 registration period and the car is offered in hybrid or full electric versions. 

At 4.17 metres in length, the new model is longer and wider than the 500 but measures just about the same in height. In size, the new 600 sits a little larger than Opel's Mokka and a tad smaller than Ford's Puma. Compared to the 500, it has a sharper and more assertive 'face' with large circular headlights, the overall look set off by black matt skirts and wheel arches. Wheels of up to 18 inches are available. This 5-door comfortably fits five people with good head and legroom for rear seat passengers and has 15 litres of interior storage. 

The very stylish interior is likely to appeal to people of all ages with its simple and user-friendly design and colour schemes. You feel quite pampered with very comfy and stylish seats that in the entry spec feature recycled-fabrics with white accents and a matte black bio-based plastic dashboard fascia. The top La Prima version has ivory synthetic leather seats with the Fiat monogram, with turquoise accents. There's three-stage heating, the driver’s seat gets power adjustments and a back massage function. 

Features include a 10.25-inch fully customisable screen with Navi, CarPlay and Android Auto wireless, a 7-inch driver's cluster which displays your current speed in large digital form, and connected services. The boot has up to 385 litres of load capacity and is available with a hands-free power tailgate. I could adjust the boot in the hybrid to different levels as it includes a removable shelf, boot floor, and space underneath for a spare wheel. While a spare is not included in the spec, owners can purchase one from any Fiat dealer nationwide at an additional cost which will depend on the type of spare wheel (whether a space saver or regular), wheel dimensions, brand and rating of the tyre. All powertrains come with a tyre repair kit as standard. 

The other key difference from the nowadays electric-only 500e, apart from size, is that the 600 is offered in both hybrid and fully electric variants. My first drive was in the 100hp 48V Hybrid which uses a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with an integrated electric motor. On our drive from Fiat’s HQ at City West it seemed seamless in operation, we hardly felt any gear changes. The hybrid is capable of a 0-100km/h time of around 11 seconds and has almost instantaneous torque delivered from the e-motor. 

The all-electric 600e’s lithium-ion batteries, with a capacity of 54kWh, give a claimed range of more than 400km in the WLTP combined cycle and more than 600km in the urban cycle. It comes with a 100-kW fast charger system and an 11kW on board charger and a Mode 3 cable for charging at home or in public which ensures a full charge in under 6hrs. This electric powertrain has an output of 115 kW allowing acceleration from 0-100kmh in 9.0 secs and has three driving modes - eco, normal and sport. Both versions of the car come with a host of safety features including Adaptive Cruise Control, Electric parking brake, and Autonomous Emergency Braking. 

Prices start from €28,995 for the hybrid and from €32,995 for the fully electric 600e (incl grants). Annual road tax is €180.

Ciaran Cusack, Marketing Manager of Fiat, Gowan Auto, is pictured above at the launch of the new Fiat 600.


12 June 2024

Nissan reveal new start price for Ariya EV

Nissan has announced a new start price of €39,995 for its 100pc electric Ariya crossover, writes Trish Whelan. The new pricing extends across the Ariya range. 

The lead-in price is available on the new 63 kWh Ariya Engage which delivers a range of 404kms. Customers looking for an even more luxurious drive can opt for the Advance or Evolve grades with a choice of a 63 kWh battery which is priced from €42,995, or the bigger 87 kWh battery with a range of up to 532kms and priced from €51,995 for the Advance grade and at €54,495 for the Evolve grade. All prices are inclusive of Government grants. 

The car comes with a futuristic design, premium feel and spacious interior and is the most technically advanced Nissan car to date. Standard features include Intelligent Forward Collision Warning/Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning and intervention, Cross Traffic Alert, and Nissan’s e-Pedal technology that allows drivers to launch, accelerate and decelerate using only the accelerator. The top Evolve spec adds a Wireless Phone Charger, Intelligent Rear View Mirror, a Heads Up Display, ProPilot Park, heated and cooled front seats/heated rear seats, and an openable panoramic sunroof. 

Nissan says the entry grade price is on a par, or less than the cost of buying the same sized petrol or diesel car.


Fewer new cars registered in May 2024 - SIMI

New car registrations for May were down 15pc (6,407) when compared to May 2023 (7,545) while registrations year-to-date are up 3.8pc (at 77,453) on the same period last year (74,612), writes Trish Whelan

Sales of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) dropped by 22.3pc (1,950) compared to May last year (2,511) and year-to-date LCVs are up 21.3pc (19,543). Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) registrations are up 24.4pc (265) in comparison to May 2023 (213) and year-to-date HGVs are up 20.2pc (1,707). 

Imported used cars saw a 22.9pc (5,514) rise in May this year compared to May 2023 (4,486) and year-to-date imports are up 26.00pc (26,207) on 2023 (20,797). 

Figures from The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) also show fewer new electric cars registered in May (1,044) which was a 39.1pc drop over the 1,715 registrations for May 2023. So far this year, some 10,062 new electric cars have been registered which is a 21.8pc decrease compared to the same period in 2023 at 12,875. 

The top selling car brands 2024 are: 1. Toyota, 2. Volkswagen, 3. Skoda, 4. Hyundai, 5. Kia. The top selling EVs are: 1. VW ID.4, 2. Tesla Model Y, 3. Hyundai Kona, 4. Tesla Model 3, 5. MG MG4. The top selling car for May was the Dacia Sandero (pictured above) and the top selling electric car was the Tesla Model Y (pictured below). 

Petrol cars continue lead the new car market at 33.30pc followed by diesel at 23.06pc, Hybrid (petrol electric) at 20.18pc, Electric at 12.99pc, and Plug-in Electric Hybrids at 8.86pc. Electric cars have seen a fourth consecutive month of decline in sales with the EV share of the market now at just 13pc, down from 17pc on last year. Commenting on the figures, Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General, said the private consumer is the driver of EV sales in Ireland and they need greater reassurances on their EV investment which includes, as a minimum, the extension of current incentives and delivery on an electric charging infrastructure as well as encouraging the company car market - and to delay the phasing out of the BIK concession until such time as EVs become firmly established.