16 August 2018

Beetle production ends, but you can still get one!

1998 VW Beetle
While production of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle has now ceased, there’s still a chance for some Irish buyers to get their hands on one with a limited supply across the brand’s retailers priced from €25,350, writes Trish Whelan.

The Beetle Design is available with a 105hp 1.2 TSI petrol engine with either a six-speed manual or 7-speed DSG. Or buyers can choose a 2.0 TDI with 110hp with a five-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearbox. 

The Beetle R-Line is available with more powerful engines. The petrol offering is a 1.4 TSI outputting 150hp via a 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG. The 2.0 TDI diesel in the R-Line version puts out 150hp. Prices for the R-Line spec start from €30,395.

This iconic model dates back to 1945 when the Type 1, which as the Beetle went on to be sold more than 21 million times, rolled off the production line.

By the end of the Second World War in 1945, just 630 of the People’s Car had been built. The state-of-the-art factory in what was to become the present-day Wolfsburg, built specially to make the vehicle, was integrated into Germany’s wartime armaments industry producing mainly military goods. US troops occupied the site in April 1945.

The car was a crucial factor in the development of democracy and mobility in post-war Germany.

Here in Ireland, the Beetle was assembled from 1950 to 1973 and was priced at £465 when it first went on sale. A deal was struck in 1949 when Motor Distributors Limited, founded by Stephen O’Flaherty secured the franchise, with the agreement eventually signed off in June 1950. 

2018 VW Beetle
The first consignment of cars was delivered in Dublin in October 1950. This agreement with the Irish company for assembling outside Germany was the first of its kind the German firm had made in its foreign sales. Stephen O’Flaherty had bought a former tram depot on the Shelbourne Road in Dublin to carry out assembling the cars. In 1952, the assembly business outgrew that premises and in 1955 was transferred to a new factory on Dublin’s Naas Road. Assembly continued in Ireland until 1974when fully built-up units started to arrive. The Beetle averaged 3,000-4,000 units per year for most of the 30 years it was on sale here. 

The Beetle returned more than 60 years after Volkswagen put the original on sale and reached Irish showrooms circa 1999-2000 priced at around £17,000. 

Nissan X-Trail for family adventure

Nissan's X-Trail 7-seat family car proved its ability as a 'home from home' on wheels when I had extended family here from abroad for a wedding in Cork, writes Trish Whelan.

The gang in my car included four young people ranging in age from nine to 'almost 14' and two adults.

With six seats in use, the second very rear one was kept flat for more luggage space - cases, shoes, bags and anoraks. All the important stuff.

The youngsters loved this car which transported us with such ease and comfort for almost half the length of the country, and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in the Cork area over the wedding days.

In the Nissan SUV model line-up, X-Trail stands above Qashqai. This was the upgraded version of the company's flagship crossover, and best-selling model worldwide, which went on sale last November. Enhancements focused on a fresh exterior design, a higher-quality interior with new features, more practicality, and new technologies to make life on the road safer.

Changes include a wider grille with more impact, new headlamp clusters, front fogs integrated into the new front bumper, and a stronger rear bumper with new chrome detailing as well as new chrome moulding across the bottoms of the two side doors.

The cabin offers very good space including very good knee room in the middle row. Seats slide and recline. The 11-year-old had opted for the sixth seat and chose to get in and out via the 'trunk' (only when an adult was outside the car to assist). These seats are really just for children. Two sunroofs covered the entire length of the roof. The front one tilts open.

Boot space on 7-seater X-Trails is still a good 445 litres, expandable to 1,996 litres with all seats folded flat. You can adjust boot shelves to suit your load and there's a hidden area to keep valuables out of sight. Getting all the cases and bags in and out proved a doddle.

Grades are XE, SV, SVE, and SV Premium. The entry model has front and rear parking sensors, chassis control, 5-inch colour screen, cruise control with speed limiter, Bluetooth, air conditioning, 17-inch alloys, and, essential for a family car, a spare wheel.

The top SVE adds among other things, leather heated front seats and steering wheel, 19-inch alloys, auto leveller, LED headlamps, dual zone air con, and all around view monitor as well as power operated front seats.

Technologies include rear Cross Traffic Alert (for when reversing out of a parking space), and emergency braking updated with pedestrian recognition.

Customers can choose between petrol or diesel, six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmissions, and two or four-wheel drive.

The petrol is a 1.6 with 163hp with a starting price of €36,600. Diesels are a 1.6 and the new 2.0 177hp. Those three attract an annual road tax of €390, while it becomes a hefty €570 for the SVE 4x4 CVT automatic 7-seater. This was the review car which had the option of attractive tan leather upholstery bringing the price to €52,700.

This engine, even with six on board and their luggage, coped very well with lots of power and torque both on main roads and in slow moving traffic.

The Around View monitor proved really useful when parking in a tight area near the sea front in the historic town of Cobh on our travels.

All in all, for us the perfect car for a family adventure.

15 August 2018

Invasion of Toyota hybrids in 2019

New Camry hybrid

2019 will see the arrival of four new Toyota self-charging hybrid models including the new generation RAV4, Auris, and the return of the Camry as a hybrid after a 14-year absence, writes Trish Whelan. 

The fourth new hybrid model to come will be announced on Monday 3 of September. 

Prices and grade level details for all models will be available from Toyota dealers nationwide from 18 October this year. Deposits will be taken to guarantee early delivery in 191. However, given supply restrictions in Q1 2019, Toyota is encouraging customers not to delay and talk to their local Toyota dealer after 18 October to avoid disappointment.

Toyota will cease production of diesel passenger cars this year with hybrid now accounting for 52pc of its total car sales.

The Japanese car maker’s range of hybrid and petrol models will be based on the new Toyota design architecture TNGA. 

New RAV4
The new RAV4 hybrid will be sold only as a hybrid in Ireland. It arrives into Toyota dealers from the first week of January 2019. This fourth generation 2.5 litre hybrid is slightly wider and longer than before and offers more space and comfort in the cabin, as well as increased luggage space of up to 580 litres. It will have an updated infotainment system in the guise of an updated version of Toyota Touch 2 with 3D sat-nav mapping, voice recognition and phone connectivity. 

New Auris hybrid
The new generation Auris hybrid C-segment car will have a very individual look with a lower stance and more appealing proportions, according to Toyota Ireland. The 2019 Auris has a 40mm longer wheelbase but its height has been lowered by 25mm. The Touring Sport will be considerably longer wheelbase than the outgoing model by 100mm. First arrivals are due the third week in January. The 2.0 hybrid with 180hp will have more power and steering wheel mounted paddles.

The new Camry Hybrid (pictured above) won’t be here until early April 2019 but pricing will be released on 18 October. Over 550 Irish drivers have already expressed an interest in this new model. However, planned supply is 300 to 400 for next year. A newly developed 2.5 hybrid engine has a power output of 218hp.

14 August 2018

Audi’s e-Tron is brand’s first electric car

Audi has introduced its new e-tron, an electric SUV they claim is designed with efficiency in mind as it combines ‘enormous’ power and a long range as it is capable of covering more than 400 kms on a single charge, writes Trish Whelan.

This full-size SUV with fully electric drive can go from zero to 100km/h in under six seconds.

The car has different methods of energy recuperation combined in one vehicle for the first time. It recovers energy by means of coasting recuperation when the driver releases the accelerator, or by means of braking recuperation when the brake pedal is depressed. In both cases, the electric motors function as a generator and coverts the kinetic energy of the car into electric energy which allows the battery to recover energy in practically all normal braking manouvres making the system the most efficient on the market.

If the brakes are applied at a speed of 100km/h, for example, the car can recuperate electric power that corresponds to more than 70pc of its energy input. This means that the electric SUV comes close to the level of a Formula E racing car in the 2018/2019 season in terms of its efficiency. 

The Audi e-tron recently underwent a recuperation test at the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. At 4,302 metres, Pikes Peak looms high in the southern Rocky Mountains. On its 31 kms downhill drive, the electric SUV feeds so much energy back to the battery that it can cover approximately the same distance again.

This new Audi e-tron will be available to order from all local Audi Ireland dealerships from early 2019. 

16-day holiday to South Africa

Highlights of the South Africa from the Cape to Kruger Cosmos Tour holiday with Travelfox include a guided walking tour pf Cape Town with a cable-car ride up Table Mountain (I've done this and the views are truly spectacular!), a visit to Cape Point Nature Reserve with a funicular ride to old Cape Point lighthouse. A visit to the Stony Point Nature Reserve to see a colony of African penguins.

You also get to visit the Cango Caves and an ostrich farm at Oudtshoorn, a cruise on Knysna Lagoon with a visit to Tsitsikamma National Park, and also to Shakaland. Besides all that, you get a game drive in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and a boat ride on Lake St Lucia; a visit to a local market and glass factory at Eswatini. Other highlights are two game drives in Kruger National Park and a Mpumalanga drive along the Panoramic Route.

This superb holiday is priced from €4,099 per person sharing. Departs Dublin 17 November 2018 for 16 days. Subject to availability. Call 021 4976293 or email res@travelfox.ie.

Travelfox is based at Eastgate Business Park, Little Island, Cork.