25 November 2021

New Kia Niro revealed, for launch next year

This is the next generation of the Kia Niro, unveiled at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show this week, writes Brian Byrne.

Though no technical specifications have been made available, the car will have hybrid, PHEV and electric powertrain options. The interior follows the theme set by the new generation Sportage, and the car will be officially launched next year.

In nods towards sustainability, Kia said the headliner of the interior is made from recycled wallpaper, and the seats from plastics derived from eucalyptus leaves. The paint is water-based.


24 November 2021

New Kia Niro to be revealed tomorrow

This is a teaser for the next Kia Niro crossover which will be revealed tomorrow at the Seoul Mobility Show, writes Brian Byrne.

Depending on market, the new Niro will be available in electric and petrol versions.

The teaser suggests a quite radical change to the car, similar to what has been done to the Sportage.


23 November 2021

Review: Peugeot 3008 PHEV

When Peugeot introduced their first generation 3008 in 2009 it was an immediate success, writes Brian Byrne. So much so that it rapidly went to waiting list status in Ireland. It was also the winner of the Semperit Irish Car of the Year 2010 which I remember very well, as I'm a longtime member of the judging panel for the award initiated more than four decades ago by the Irish Motoring Writers Association.  

The car is only in its second generation now, though for many it might seem there's a third because the refresh carried out for this model year substantially primped up the exterior in the front and rear treatments. Already a handsome car, these details bring the styling into line with more recent renewed models like the 2008 and the upcoming new 308. Presence with a capital 'P' is probably not too strong a description.

The car is in a seriously busy arena, in size a little bigger than Nissan's latest Qashqai, a bit smaller than Hyundai's Tucson. Both prime competitors. When the second generation 3008 came along, it was with a very substantial uptick in interior styling. A quite dramatic cockpit with strong design in a futuristic ethos.

Five years in, it still feels that way. For the refresh the carmaker has enhanced the space without changing the dramatics. A larger centre screen, some trim glitter-work, still feeling premium. Still looking and feeling extremely comfortable. The touchscreen graphics are well designed, and primary navigation through it is by tapping a line of piano keys below it. Then you have to make adjustments such as the climate temperature by tapping the screen. That's a movement or two more than it should be, so let's get back to rotary temperature knobs in the next iteration, please?

The now-ubiquitous across the brand's models small steering wheel with the flattened top allows monitoring the main instruments in their high position over it. I like the clarity of these dials, and there's no need to search out for any required information. The 3008 is a roomy car, plenty of space in the rear seats for adults or lanky teens. They'll find it fully comfortable for any long family trips too. The luggage space is decent, with little obstructions, and very well finished.

My main reason for taking this one for review was the PHEV powertrain, a combination of a 1.6 petrol engine and an electric motor with a 225hp output. There's also 300hp with two e-motors and AWD available. At this stage I probably don't have to explain the PHEV system, except to remind readers that the best way to use it is with a diligent attitude to plugging in the car when you get home. That way you'll have up to 60kms of electric driving available every morning. On long trips, you can either hold that charge until you reach your urban destination, or use your engine to recharge the battery when it is depleted ... but that is an expensive way of getting your e-juice. That reminder done, the powertrain in the 3008 PHEV is really smooth, in part because the transmission is the excellent Aisin 8-speed automatic from the largest provider of automatic transmissions in the world. The overall oomph from the combined engine and e-motor makes for a good push if you need acceleration. Quite a dream to drive, really.

The recent news of the ending the SEAI grant for plug-in hybrid cars was unexpected and has thrown a spanner into this part of the electrified cars movement. Especially for those who have already ordered for delivery in January or soon after, as it will add €2,500 to the price. We'll have to wait and see if pressure from the trade and customers will change that, maybe until mid-year which would be sensible. If they don't, I see many potential PHEV buyers shifting back to the diesel option.

PRICE: 3008 from €32,775; Review car in GT grade €44,290 inc SEAI grant. WHAT I LIKED: The smoothness and the style.


18 November 2021

More Skoda Enyaqs next year

Two new versions of the Skoda Enyaq iV electric car will be going on the market in Ireland next year, writes Brian Byrne.

The Enyaq iV 80x will be all-wheel-drive with 256hp. The Enyaq Sportline iV rear drive will be available with 180hp and 204hp drive options.

The Enyaq iV first went on sale during this year in Ireland but demand outstripped supply. The Irish Skoda distributor says supply will improve in 2022.


New electrics from Mercedes-Benz in new year

Three new electric models will be launched in Ireland by Mercedes-Benz in the early part of next year, writes Brian Byrne.

The EQS luxury saloon is expected here in the first quarter of the year which will include a range of artificial intelligence features. The EQB will also arrive in the first quarter, slotting in above the entry-level electric car EQA. The EQE (pictured above) mid-sized car is slated for arrival in the second quarter of the year.

There will also be high-performance variants of the EQE coming later in the year.


Kia showcases concept of next EV SUV

Kia launched a concept of a new electric SUV, the EV9, and the Automobility LA show, to show what its next EV brand car will look like, writes Brian Byrne.

The concept car has a strong form and is nearly five metres long. The interior includes an ultra-wide 27-inch display.

Vegan leather, which is far more ethical and sustainable compared to conventional animal leather, was used throughout the interior space. Kia plans to gradually reduce the use of animal leather in all its vehicles.


17 November 2021

New Kangoo wins International Van of the Year

The new generation of the Renault Kangoo has won the International Van of the Year 2022 accolade, writes Brian Byrne.

The LCV Business Unit of the Renault Group was presented with the award during the Solutrans trade fair held in Lyons, France, by Jarlath Sweeney, chairman of the International Van of the Year Jury.

It's the fourth time that a Renault commercial vehicle has won the IVOTY award: Master (1998), Trafic (2002), and Kangoo Z.E. (2012).