24 May 2024

Hinchy's named Kia European Dealer of the Year 2024

Hinchy’s, based on the Ennis Road in Limerick City, have been awarded Kia European Dealer of the Year 2024, writes Trish Whelan. This prestigious award was given exclusively to the best Kia dealers across Europe. 

Hinchy’s were among 25 European recipients from 1,900 dealerships and the sole Irish representative to receive the accreditation. 

Speaking at the award, Dealer Principal John Hinchy told how the family run business has been in Limerick since the 1970s. He thanked his entire team for their hard work and dedication to customers. 

Congratulating the dealership on their great achievement, Ronan Flood, Managing Director at Kia Ireland said: “John and all the team at Hinchy’s have worked very hard to achieve this award and are fully deserving of this recognition.”

Kia are currently Ireland’s fifth best-selling car brand.


22 May 2024

AWD Jeep Avenger is revealed

A full AWD version of the Jeep Avenger is coming to Ireland later this year, following its reveal today at an event in Frankfurt, writes Brian Byrne.

The Avenger 4xe is powered by a 48-volt petrol-hybrid engine, and features a unique Jeep all-wheel-drive system and an automatic transmission, as well as a special rear suspension that provides greater articulation in off-road conditions. The powertrain comprises a 136hp thermal engine and two 21kW electric motors.

The car also has a selectable terrain function that allows specific powertrain settings for snow, mud, and icy conditions. The Avenger 4xe has a 10mm higher ride height than standard variants, and can ford up to 400mm depth of water.

Price and specifications will be made available closer to launch towards the end of the year. 

242 deals from Dacia

Budget brand Dacia are offering 0pc APR finance with no deposit on all new orders for their Sandero and Sandero Stepway models up to the end of July, writes Brian Byrne.

The offer apples to purchases financed through Mobilize Finance Services (MFS) with claimed savings for customers of over €2,000 versus high street banks.

With the brand’s flagship model Duster and the 7-seater Jogger there is also 0pc APR HP with claimed savings for customers of over €1,250 versus the high street banks, when financing through MFS. 

The Jogger 140 Hybrid is now available in Ireland, powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine, two electric motors, with multi-mode transmission and a 1.2kWh battery. 

Second Smart EV arrives in Ireland

The Smart #3 electric car has now arrived on the Irish market at a starting price of €38,714, writes Brian Byrne. It follows the introduction of the Smart #1 in Ireland in February.

In a comparable size to its competitor Hyundai Kona and similar, the new Smart has a distinctive coupe styling without compromising rear seat space.

The new generation of Smart cars are all EVs, developed by brand owner Mercedes-Benz in a joint venture with Chine carmaker Geely.

The latest car is available in three trim levels, as well as a special 25th Anniversary edition limited to a total of 500 units for Europe. A small number of these have been allocated to   Ireland.

The 272hp electric motor drives the rear wheels, while a Brabus edition with 428hp is an AWD car with a 0-100km/h capability of 3.7s.

The entry level Pro has a 49kWh battery with a claimed range of 325km, while the other grades have a 66kWh battery with a claimed range of up to 455km.


21 May 2024

Trade-in boosters from Toyota for 242 registration

Toyota Ireland is offering up to €1,750 on trade-in boosters across several models, writes Brian Byrne. These are available with the new Toyota C-HR Plug-in Hybrid, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid .

The best selling car brand in Ireland for the last four years, Toyota is also offering 3.0pc APR on PCP finance. Orders are open on the carmaker's 242 range from local Toyota dealers across the country for July delivery .

Offer examples include C-HR Hybrid starting from €40,520 and Plug-in Hybrid €46,530 both with a trade in booster of €1,750. Other offers include trade in boosters of €750 on the Toyota Yaris Hybrid from €27,805, €1,750 on the Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid from €54,550, as well as €1,500 on the Toyota Corolla Hybrid from €33,310 and Toyota Corolla Touring Sports from €34,875, and €1,000 on the Toyota Corolla Saloon from €34,255. 

14 May 2024

MG Motor releases offers for 242 registration

MG Ireland has announced 242 special offers across its vehicle lineup, including the MG4, MG ZS, and MG5, writes Brian Byrne. They include 0% Finance or €4,000 Off RRP on the MG4 EV Standard Range giving a starting price of €25,995, and making the MG ZS EV Standard Range available from €31,495.

The MG5 EV Long Range Excite is now available from €29,995 and the 242 special offers are available for a limited time only, with limited stocks.

All prices quoted exclude dealer delivery and related charges. 

Skoda Octavia is refreshed

The fourth generation Skoda Octavia has been give a refresh that includes changes to the grille and updated LED Matrix lights system, writes Brian Byrne.

The car is the company's best-seller and is available in hatchback and estate versions. Other small detail changes have enhanced the Octavia's looks in a subtle way.

The car's interior has also been tweaked, with an increase in the use of sustainable materials, and a new optional 13" infotainment display.

Driver assist systems now assess more precisely the driver's attention and potential drowsiness. An AI-powered ChatGPT will be integrated into the Laura voice assistant later in 2024. 

10 May 2024

Subaru Solterra review: Trish Whelan, Irish Car

Solterra is a game changer for the Subaru brand as it is the Japanese carmaker’s first all-electric AWD SUV which you could also call a compact family Crossover. Subaru say it is the most technologically advanced Subaru ever made. In a joint collaboration with Toyota, Solterra is built in Japan on an all-electric architecture that is also used for the Toyota bZ4X Crossover. 

In looks, the car certainly has that appealing look with a front that isn’t overly aggressive as a family car, and a sloping roof and 18-inch alloy wheels. It’s a different style to most cars its size. That said, tall people may find it difficult in getting in and out even with the front passenger’s seat set as low as possible. 

The very stylish but quite dark interior was lightened somewhat by light from the two sunroofs and the grey tweed-like material on the front passenger’s side that stretches across the dash. There’s good space up front along with very good headroom. Fabric covered seats proved to be very comfy; the driver’s has power adjustments and lumbar support as well as two memory settings. The huge width of the front armrest intrudes on front occupant space and my passenger found it quite difficult to clunk click his seat belt into its very low slot. 

The big and very colourful 12.3-inch central screen is a perfect shape for the size of the dash. You can touch, swipe or drag to navigate your way around it or simply use a voice command. This infotainment system features wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlan and wired Android Auto integration. It also turns into a really good reversing camera with a separate overhead view of the car. You can change the view to include a moving video of all around the car. Just swipe across the screen to access the Apps available which included Google Maps, Skype, Waze and WhatsApp. 

I have mixed feelings about the driver’s information screen being set so far back in on the dash. That said, it works well and its height allows you see your current digital speed at almost eyesight level. Both screens have beautiful graphics. There are buttons for front seat heaters, dual zone air conditioning, and heated steering wheel. There’s a decorative transparent cover to the wireless charging pad on the flat of the central console and a pair of good big cupholders. The automatic gear charge ‘knob’ is on the flat central stack is easy to get the hang of pretty quickly. Beside it is a button for the Drive Mode options. Big side mirrors come with very good blind spot monitors. Tall people will have no problem with legroom as there’s no transmission tunnel to get in the way of feet. There are two seat heaters here for extra comfort. 

Boot capacity with all seats in use is up to 452 litres and the high boot floor is flush with the sill. Both my Limited edition review car and the Touring version use a 71.4kWh 150kW AWD system with the usual EV automatic-type transmission. The charging port is conveniently located on the left hand side of the car near the front passenger’s door. When I collected my car, it was fully charged with a range of just 293kms which I thought really poor for a family car. 

Recharging the battery days later showed a possible 325kms of charge available. With a fast charger, you can charge from 20-80pc in around 30 minutes. Or charge at home if you have a 7kW wallbox. Subaru say the car can effortlessly tackle any terrain in any weather, corner with precise control and provide an always-smooth ride as it comes with permanent AWD which is no surprise given Subaru’s decades of off-road experience. But making it an all-electric vehicle is a new departure for Subaru. 

The X-Mode button on the dash is for use in snow and mud while the S pedal drive switch allows you accelerate and decelerate via the accelerator pedal only reducing the need to apply the brake pedal. Ground clearance of 210mm (8 ins) allows you to go off the beaten track, or take the kids camping. Solterra comes with Subaru’s Safety Sense and an array of safety features. 

I found the car a great drive, very steady on the road and when cornering, and its small turning circle ideal for city use. With instant torque of 336Nm on tap, Solterra can go from 0-100km/h in under 7 seconds when pushed which is pretty good for a family car. Road tax on my Limited edition is €120. The car is named by combining the Latin words for ‘sun’ and ‘earth’. 

All Subaru models come with a three year or 100,000km warranty. The electric battery warranty is for 8 years. Solterra was awarded a maximum five star safety rating by Euro NCAP. All Subaru models come with a three year or 100,000km warranty. The electric battery warranty is for 8 years. 

Prices are from €51,495 inclusive of SEAI Grant. Solterra Touring AWD is from €56,495.


HVO pumps now at six Certa forecourts

Certa has launched HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) pumps at three more of its forecourts bringing the total of HVO-ready Certa outlets to six, writes Trish Whelan. These are located in Maynooth in Kildare, Dundrum in Dublin, and Ballyhaunis in Mayo. They join the existing three in Liffey Valley in Dublin, Lee Tunnel in Cork, and Trim in Meath. 

HVO is a new second generation, low-carbon biofuel that serves as a direct replacement for regular diesel for fleet, plant and machinery equipment in addition to passenger cars. It can also be mixed with diesel in any ratio. Certa say the performance of diesel engines using HVO is almost the same to when they are fuelled with diesel, and there’s no need for vehicle or engine modifications. HVO is identified at fuel pumps through the use of a pink nozzle. 

Diesel has bounced back this year with 1 in 4 cars sold here now a diesel. Well over half of Skoda’s sales have been diesel-powered this year which is a 30pc increase on last year. It means Skoda is the biggest supplier of diesel cars in the Irish market. 

HVO is produced using waste plant-matter and hydrogen and can result in a 90pc net reduction in C02 emissions. Owners of non-Skoda vehicles are advised to confirm with their manufacturer or dealer concerning HVO compatibility prior to use of the fuel.


SEAT hold Open Event this week

SEAT’s Open Event runs from today 10 May to 18 May at its dealership nationwide, writes Trish Whelan

 Potential customers of SEAT cars can avail of low rate PCP finance from 0pc APR, plus a free 3-year service plan during this week. 

The SEAT Ibiza celebrates its 40th anniversary with a limited edition FR trim. Those eyeing up a compact SUV, can check out the Arona FR Limited Edition option. The brand’s Ibiza and Arona are offered from €179,00 per month with 9pc APR; Ateca from €269.00 p/m, Leon from €239.00 p/m with 1.9pc APR, and Tarraco from €419.00 p/m with 4.9pc APR. 

All come with a complimentary 3-year service plan.


High percentage of drivers own cars outright

Two thirds of Irish drivers own their car outright, according to a recent survey carried out by AA Ireland, writes Brian Byrne. And almost three out of four own a car that is more than five years old.

The latest AA Ireland Customer Opinion Survey also found that half of respondents drive no more than 10,000km a year, and six in ten motorists have paid less than €20,000 for their motor.

The Irish car parc is now close to 2.5 million vehicles, but only 4pc of respondents yet own an electric car, while 9pc are driving hybrids. When it comes to replacing their current car, most respondents are open to the idea of electrification: the majority (28pc) will be considering a hybrid, 26pc a diesel and 20pc petrol. 

An interesting result also suggested that 14pc of existing car owners will drive their cars until they reach end-of-vehicle life.