21 May 2020

Ford Ranger Thunder pick-up here late summer

The new Ford Ranger Thunder combines SUV-like style and comfort with generous load carrying and towing capability - on or off the beaten track, writes Trish Whelan. It arrives here late summer 2020 priced from €47,591.

Limited to just 4,500 examples across Europe, Ranger Thunder adds exclusive and exterior design to the 2020 International Pick-up Award-winner as well as many practical options as standard to deliver SUV-like style and comfort along with generous load carrying and towing capability. A Double Cab body style is standard.

The vehicle is powered by Ford’s efficient and powerful Bi-Turbo EcoBlue diesel engine offering 213hp and 500 Nm of torque - which provides great pulling power - and the company’s 10-speed automatic gearbox as standard for smooth shifting and effortless performance on- and off-road. This proven transmission is used in applications as diverse as the Ford F-150 pick-up and Ford Mustang. 

Based on the Ranger Wildtrak series, the limited-edition Ranger Thunder combines high specification with optimised load hauling and tough four-wheel drive capability. This four-wheel drive system delivers fuel efficiency from 9.1 L/100kms (WLTP rating) and C02 emissions from 239g/km (WLTP).

Just one specification is offered. Finished in Sea Grey, the model adds 18-inch black alloy wheels and Ebony Black features for the front grille, rear bumper, skid plates, fog light surrounds load bay sports hoop and door handles. Red accents on the grille and sports hoop highlight the key details and are complemented by ‘Thunder’ badges for the driver and front passenger doors and tailgate, with the ‘Ranger’ logo finished in matte black. LED headlights with darkened bezels are also standard.

Ranger Thunder includes a load bay bedliner and Black Mountain Top powder-coated roller shutter - both are popular options with Ranger customers. A practical new load bay divider is also featured for the first time.

The interior gets full Ebony leather seats with ‘Thunder’ red embroidery and matching stitching across the steering wheel, seats, instrument panel etc. 

Last year, Ranger had its best-ever year in Europe with 52,500 vehicles sold.

Mazda releases Irish prices for First Edition MX-30 EV

In a year that sees Mazda celebrate its centenary, Mazda Ireland has revealed pricing for its Mazda MX-30 First Edition - the debut model in the MX-30 range, writes Trish Whelan.

Limited to early customer orders, this First Edition costs €42,295 on-the-road - €32,295 inclusive of the SEAI grant and VRT rebate.

With Irish customer deliveries beginning in early 2021, the MX-30 First Edition is the Japanese car maker’s first all-electric production vehicle and part of an electrification process that has already seen Mazda M Hybrid, mild hybrid fitted as standard to the Mazda2, Mazda3 and Mazda CX-30.

This stylish 5-seater crossover features an AC synchronous electric motor and a 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery that delivers a range of approximately 200km and comes with AC charging up to 6.6Kw and DC rapid charging designed to meet 125A Combo Charging standards.

Freestyle doors and framed glasshouse hint at the open spaciousness of the cabin. The front doors open forward to an angle of 82 deg which the rear doors open backwards to an angle of 80 deg to reveal a stylish and driver focused interior. A floating centre console sits independently from the dashboard. 

Standard features include Adaptive LED signature headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, a head-up display, colour 7-inch TFT dial display.

Irish pricing for the rest of the Mazda MX-30 range will be announced later in the year. 

Commenting on the MX-30 First Edition, Managing Director, Mazda Motors Ireland John Perry, said the battery size was strategically chosen to allow for sharp, yet comfortable driving dynamics while staying true to overall C02 minimisation.” He said ‘this will be one of the most stylish electric vehicles to come out in 2021 and will certainly cater to those who enjoy driving.’

19 May 2020

Mercedes-Benz GLB SUV has 7-seat option.

Mercedes-Benz has added further choice to their compact SUV model offering with the arrival here of their new GLB, the first Mercedes-Benz in its class to offer a 7-seat option, writes Trish Whelan.

It comes with a distinctive exterior design with a strong frontal appearance, striking headlamps, railed roofline, short front and back overhangs. An option is 4MATIC all-wheel drive and a special off-road light which helps the driver to detect obstacles at low speeds.

Fully retractable, the two extra seats provide comfortable seating for passengers up to a height of 1.68m. The second row seats also split 40.20.40.

Mercedes-Benz sales manager, Ciaran Allen, says the new GLB ‘redefines the definition of a compact car’ with its ‘exceptional levels of spaciousness with plenty of room in all dimensions’. At 2,829mm, it has the longest wheelbase of the company’s current compact generation. Rear legroom in the five-seat version is 967mm.

The interior comes with high quality materials and high end technology including the brand’s MBUX user experience and ‘Hey Mercedes’ command system; two 7-inch instrument cluster and media displays, a sports steering wheel with touch control. Includes in the mix of optional driver assistance systems is a camera and radar system that can scan the road up to 500 metres ahead and, in semi-automated mode, can adjust speed when coming to bends, junctions or roundabouts. To help when driving off-road and on rough terrain, optional lighting and adaptive main beam features can be introduced. 

The new GLB is available in two design and equipment lines - Progressive and AMG. A special order Edition 1 model with exclusive boldly coloured bodywork will come later. 

Power is from updated 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, all with increased power, improved efficiency and reduced emissions. Petrol models - all with 7G/8G automatic transmission - are: 200 (1332cc/Nm 250 torque), 250 (1991 cc/Nm 350) and 35 4MATIC AMG (1991cc/Nm 400).

Diesels - all 1950cc with 8G automatic transmission - are 180d, 220d and 200d 4MATIC, and 220d 4MATIC, each certified to Euro 6d.

The brand here expect the Progressive 180 Automatic priced from €42,350 and the Progressive 180d Automatic from €43,190 to be the main focus for Irish customers.

Every third vehicle from Mercedes-Benz is now an SUV and every fourth a compact car.

18 May 2020

Plug-in hybrid XCeed joins Kia lineup

A plug-in hybrid of the Kia XCeed has arrived in dealerships in Ireland as the motor trade opens its doors to the public again today, writes Brian Byrne.

The price is €28,945 including grants and VRT relief, and the car offers an all-electric driving range of up to 54km.

Based on the ruggedised version of the Ceed hatchback, the new option brings to four the number of electrified and electric options available in the Kia models range — the Niro PHEV, currently Ireland’s best selling plug in hybrid; and the Kia full EV models eSoul and eNiro.

Joining these later in the year will be a PHEV version of the new Sorento large SUV.

The new Kia XCeed PHEV combines an 8.9 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, a 44.5 kW electric motor, and a 1.6-litre ‘Kappa’ four-cylinder gasoline direct injection engine. The powertrain’s total power output is 141hp. A six-speed dual clutch automatic offers drivers the option to shift gears themselves if they wish.

Skoda's first electric car here early next year

A disguised Enyaq at the first international drive in Durrow last winter.
Skoda's first electric car will arrive in Ireland in the first quarter of next year as an SUV format, with a range of up to 500km, writes Brian Byrne.

The Enyaq iV will be available with either rear wheel drive or AWD, the latter option through the addition of a second electric motor operating the front wheels. A towing ability of up to 1,200kg is available with the most powerful version.

In all, three battery sizes will be available, and high capacity charging systems will be able to give an 80pc charge in 40 minutes.

The car will have 'generous' interior space due to what the designers say is a completely new manager of arrangement. The luggage capacity will be 585 litres.

No prices yet, but the company is suggesting a 'high end Kodiaq' figure.

Motor sales open, with care

The Irish car sales business is generally back open today, though with significant restrictions, writes Brian Byrne.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry has SIMI has issued guidelines to its members which includes a significant level of investment in hand disinfectant, PPE equipment, signage, training, acrylic glass, specialist vehicle sanitising equipment as well as other procedures.

Brian Cooke Director General SIMI says the early reopening is a reflection of the professionalism of the industry and commitment to health and safety of motor retailers. "The size of dealerships relative to footfall lends itself to social distancing," he notes, "while sanitisation and other measures being put in place for both premises and vehicles should give customers reassurance."

Mr Cooke notes that the industry has already played an important role during the lockdown in supporting emergency and essential services, and the increased opening will allow members to contribute to their local economies in terms of business activity and supporting employment.

13 May 2020

Toyota Dealerships re-open from 18 May

Toyota RAV 4 hybrid
Toyota dealerships will reopen from 18 May. While the initial focus will be on meeting the needs of customers from a service and repair point of view, in-dealership sales will follow in line with Government guidelines, writes Trish Whelan. 

With dealerships closed for the past six weeks, a lot of work has gone into developing and implementing many new measures to ensure the safety of all customers and staff. During this time, much work has gone into preparing a new online sales process around new and used cars.

These measures include: 

*Sanitisation stations at all entrances; *2 metre social distancing markers; *Protective screens for all staff/customer interactions; *PPE for staff with masks and gloves available for customers as required; *full sanitisation for all touch points in cars; *disposable covers used on seats/steering wheel and gear stick: *contactless drop-off and pick-up; local collection and delivery from home or office can be arranged as required; *contactless payment.

For 202, customers looking to buy a new or used car can avail of Toyota’s new virtual showroom tools which include a range of virtual sales and browsing resources, video interaction with Toyota product experts and unaccompanied test drives. From the safety of their own homes, customers can log on to Toyota.ie for all the details. 

In terms of test drives, dealers will offer unaccompanied test drives which may be undertaken at the customer’s home.

Toyota Ireland has been providing its YUKO car share service to hospital workers and providing cars to the HSE. Steve Tormey, CEO, Toyota Ireland said they will continue to be at the disposal of front line workers and urge anyone who needs mobility assistance to get in touch. 

An overview video of all Toyota’s new safety measures is available to view at: https://youtu.be/QT029yDV1sE

Kia details electric expansion plans

Kia in Europe will be offering 11 fully electric cars by 2025, under a plan detailed today in Frankfurt, writes Brian Byrne.

They will include passenger vehicles, SUVs and MPVs. A new dedicated electric car will be introduced in 2021, on a specially-developed platform for electric vehicles.

The new car will be crossover in format, merging traditional and SUV styles, with a 500kms driving range on a full charge. High speed recharging will take less than 20 minutes at a suitable charging station.

In addition, every new Kia model to be launched in future will offer and electrified powertrain.

In the first quarter of this year, Kia's proportion of EVs sold in its product mix more than doubled to 6pc. By 2025, the company expects the penetration to be 20pc.

11 May 2020

SEAT slips past 70th anniversary

The Spanish car brand SEAT has just passed its 70th anniversary, marking its beginnings as the company that 'put Spain on Wheels', writes Brian Byrne.

Today part of the Volkswagen Group, the brand was established on 9 May 1950 and began production in Barcelona three years later of Fiat-based SEAT 1400 passenger cars. The SEAT 600 and 127 followed and production continued at the site until 1993 when a state of the art new factory was built at Martorelli.

The company began exporting in 1965, to Colombia in South America. Today, 19 million vehicles produced, the brand exports 80pc of its production and is responsible for almost 3pc of all Spain's exports.

Severing the Fiat connection, the first SEAT Ibiza was produced in 1984. The first generation Leon in 1999 shared its underpinnings with the VW Golf Mk4, and earlier this year launched in its fourth iteration.

Cupra performance versions of its various models folded into a new performance brand in its own right in 2018.

SEAT is solidly in contention in the continually-growing SUV segment with the trio of Arona, Ateca and Tarraco. The carmaker is also engaged in a major programme of electrification.

Last year, SEAT enjoyed a 3.5pc share of the Irish car market.

'Tis the season to be ... washing your car more often

With many more cars parked up in the lockdown situation over recent weeks, Ford Ireland is advising owners to wash their cars more often because it is also the heaviest part of the year for bird droppings, writes Brian Byrne.

The acidity in the droppings can leave impressions in the paintwork if not dealt with fairly quickly, even though all carmakers use paint carefully tested to handle all sorts of harsh attacks.

Apart from the birds, which are more active and droppy during this nesting and feeding young time of the year, paintwork can be affected by the UV light of more sun, pollens, and sticky tree sap.

Ford says among its tests is the application of artificial bird droppings, developed to replicate the results of differing diets amongst birdlife of Europe.

The advice is to regularly wash your vehicle with a sponge and lukewarm water containing neutral pH shampoo, and gently remove harmless looking substances from the paintwork immediately. Waxing painted surfaces once or twice a year helps ensure new paint finishes can better resist harshest attacks, while staying shiny for longer.