29 September 2016

Paris Motor Show, 2016

Well, the first couple of hours at the Paris Mondiale de l'Automobile are done and we're pretty well dazzled with snazzy new metal, bright lights, and facts and figures, write Brian Byrne & Trish Whelan.

As usual, we'll work mainly on pictures to give you a taste of what's happening, and fill out details later on as we digest them.

The first to catch our eyes was, aptly, French, and this is the new Citroen C3 which is coming our way before long. With a unique and very Citroen style, it is intended to challenge in the very important supermini segment. And we think it certainly can put up a challenge, even against the king of the crop, Ford's Fiesta. Apart from the very smart exterior and colour combinations, we were very struck indeed by the quality of the interior, which is way up there compared to anything, especially its own predecessor.

Next in the lists is Nissan's new generation Micra, and this is everything the disappointing current supermini from the Japanese maker has not been. Its styling is such that, along with the C3 mentioned above, there's going to be a ding-dong battle in that segment, with cars that might well draw down customers from the compact family space. The new Micra is larger, has a much better and more roomy interior, and promises to be a thrifty performer too.

Still in the small car stable, Suzuki's new Ignis isn't earth-shattering in style but has a certain understated funkiness. It will join the rest of the expanding range of cars from Suzuki, and will be available with a 4WD option.

Peugeot's big showing is its new SUV-styled 3008 and 5008, and both come with a lot more presence than their preceeding cars, albeit both have been very successful as MPVs for the lion brand. The 5007 is the 7-seater with a very flexible offering of seating. Both cars feature the next generation of Peugeot's i-Cockpit instrumentation and steering wheel ergonomics, in which the all digital display can be tuned to suit the user's graphical preferences.

Apart from its concentration on electric cars progress, about which more later, Renault is showing off its new Koleos larger SUV, to complement its Kadjar and provide something for those who need more capacity. It's a big move up from its predecessor of the same name, which hasn't been sold in Europe for some years. The company also has a copy of its new pickup, the Alaskan, which will share its important bits with Nissan's excellent Navara.

Dacia hasn't anything new to offer, but the very successful budget brand from Renault has smartened up the exterior details of its range, notably in the grille styling, which is now coherent throughout its models.

It's a big show for Honda, which is giving a lot of space to its key moneymaker model, the Civic, in its latest generation. It looks and is bigger, has a very strong presence, and there's a prototype of a sporty version that looks fabulously stealth fighter mean in colour and kit.

Just as arresting in its own different way is the EX Concept from Mitsubishi, which highlights the evolution of the brand's current styling themes. We figure there are buyers for this small SUV if they build it just the way the concept looks.

Hyundai is determined to cash in on its world rally performances, and the RN30 Concept is a mean and mighty take based on the i30 in a very loose kind of way. A crowd puller, it's likely a production hot hatch for the masses will poke 300hp.

On the other hand, the new i30 'ordinary' hatch debuted at the show follows the i20 in a conservitising of the model, losing the swoops and sculpts of the outgoing car. It might grow on you, but it won't drag you into the showrooms, we think.


28 September 2016

New Land Rover Discovery revealed in Lego record

This is the Land Rover new generation Discovery, revealed tonight ahead of the press days for the Paris Motor Show tomorrow and Friday, writes Brian Byrne.

The reveal was made on a Guinness World Record-beating Lego model of London’s Tower Bridge made from 5,805,846 Lego bricks, beating the previous record by 470,646 pieces. It’s the tallest Lego structure ever built at 42.6’ high.

The car is longer, narrower and taller than the outgoing Disco, and is designed to hold seven people comfortably, according to its designer Gerry McGovern.

The company says it has more room than key rivals Volvo CV90 and Audi’s Q7. It is also lighter than the outgoing car by some 480kg as it shares the same aluminium platform as the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

Powertrain offerings will include a version of the 2.0 Ingenium engines developed by Jaguar Land Rover and used in a number of the recent models from both brands.

Five crash stars for E-Class, 3008

The Mercedes-Benz new generation E-Class has easily achieved a 5-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash test regime, substantially going beyond the levels required for the rating, writes Brian Byrne.

In the occupant safety category, the E-Class scored 95pc, against the 80pc cutoff level. For child safety the car was awarded 90pc (75pc), in pedestrian protection it scored 77pc (60pc), and is assistance systems the car garnered 62pc (50pc).

Two ENCAP ‘Advanced’ awards were also made for the Pre-Safe and Attention Assist safety technologies, which are beyond the requirements for 5-star ratings.

The new Peugeot 3008 also achieved 5-star rating in the latest round of tests by ENCAP. It was awarded 86pc for adult occupant protection, 85pc for child occupant protection, 67pc for pedestrian safety and 85pc for safety assist systems.

New summer/winter tyre from Michelin

Michelin has launched a CrossClimate tyre which is designed to be used in both summer and winter conditions, writes Brian Byrne.

The tyre is claimed to be the first summer tyre to be independently certified for winter use.

Although we don’t get the summer/winter extremes which pertain in mainland Europe countries, changes in temperature can mean that ordinary summer tyres are not as safe in winter even here.

In cold weather, a standard summer tyre’s composition will harden, meaning the tread will not grip as well. This applies at varying rates below 7degC, a temperature which is common even in an Irish winter.

In some countries, like Germany, motorists are required to change to winter tyres after a certain date. In other countries, where there aren’t such rules, most drivers don’t bother.

The CrossClimate tyre can mean not having to think summer/winter. It uses an innovative compound that grips the road in all conditions; an energy-efficient, under-tread layer with low heat build-up properties; and a unique ‘V’- pattern tread with varying ‘vee’ angles and self-locking, variable-width sipes that act like claws in snow to enhance traction.

New ProAce range from Toyota

A new ProAce van range from Toyota includes a Compact version of just 4.6m in length, bringing the nameplate into a new segment, writes Brian Byrne.

Two other lengths are available in the range, which has a starting price of €20,495.

Power options include 1.6 diesels with 95/115hp options, and 2.0 diesels in 120/150/180hp outputs. The higher outputs in each case are for Combi/Shuttle variants of the ProAce.

The Combi/Shuttle variants can carry up to nine people.