Archive for the ‘Car news’ Category


 

Kangoo

 

 

On Friday I was treated to an update by the MD of Renault Ireland Mr. Eric Basset concerning the state of play when it comes to the Zero Emission future. As I wrote before on these pages the objective of the Renault project is “affordability” in the electric future of automobiles. To that end Mr. Basset announced the pricing for both the commercial Kangoo and the Fluence.

Back in July this year I got to test both cars which at the time were still prototypes and I was left with the feeling that I’d just seen the future of the city car, well today I see the future of electric transport and it comes from France.

Renault have decided to make a bold move of leasing the batteries that power all of the models, which means you buy the car and rent the batteries, this also means as new batteries come on stream you’ll be able to get upgrades, at the end of the battery life when it needs to be recycled Renault will look after that too.

The pricing for the Fluence is going to be very good, remember that the Fluence ZE is the same car that you see on the roads in Ireland at the moment, the electric version is to be priced around the same level as the current diesel model, it goes like this

RRP: €26,620, the Government will give €5,000 towards the purchase which makes it €21,620 which puts a couple of hundred Euro over the price of the mid range Fluence dynamique diesel. The leasing of the battery will cost €72 per month with a limit of 15,000kms, if you add to that the cost of charging the battery the total cost of ownership should work out the same as a diesel variant.

The Kangoo ZE is €20,000 exc VAT, again the government will give an incentive making the van €15,870, the same lease teems apply on the battery.

It’s a new method for selling a car, it’s all new even the car. It’s the intention of Renault to become a one stop shop even being able to sell insurance.

I have always derided EV cars on two fronts, the first was the purchase price, all of them are far more expensive than their alternative petrol model but Renault has addressed this with the affordability for everyone, the other problem was range.

The range of these cars is no better than anyone else, but Renault unlike every other manufacturer are bit researching and making the batteries, the leasing of the batter makes a lot of sense as currently to purchase one of these battery units runs to some €10,000 or more. Plus batter technology is moving so fast that if you bought a Nissan Leaf right now that can do 180kms and in twelve months time a new battery comes out that can make the Leaf do 250kms, where does that leave you?

With Renault you lease the battery, so when a better one comes along you just head to a Renault dealer and get your battery swapped, plus your old one gets recycled.

There will be 1500 charging stations to be installed country wide and mapping technology is being researched that will allow you to no only plan your route via the charging stations but will tell you if the stations are in use.

Such is the interest in the Renaults that more staff is coming on board to deal with the volume of enquiries, there’s two more models to come yet, the two seat and four wheel Twizzy along with the Zoe a medium sized hatchback that will be unveiled in Geneva this coming March.

I really do thing Renault have hit the nail on the head with the complete package for EV ownership, expect to see lots of these cars on the roads of Ireland.

 

Twizy

 

 

 

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The other day I had the greatest pleasure of driving a 1963 fully restored E Type, it’s a 3.8ltr Roadster Mark one and it makes the most fantastic noise I’ve ever heard. The Jag is for sale but the owner doesn’t want lots of test pilots turning up for a drive so we here at Smokerspack towers are acting as go betweens. If you’re interested in buying the car drop us an email and we’ll pass it onto the owner who’ll get back to you. Submissions@smokerspack.com with the heading etype please.

Anyway here’s the video:


Eighteen months ago the Greens declared war on the car and its first casualty was the Family.
You see, if you had more than two nippers and a dog or vise versa and couldn’t afford two cars, then a people carrier or MPV was the man for you.
It made so much sense that manufacturers worldwide invested billions, and after a couple of years, we started to warm to this new phenomena – and dare I say it, even like them.
Initially, critics and motoring hacks (myself included) dismissed them as being mini vans which drove, handled and were about as pleasant to be in as, erm, a mini van.
That mindset changed when Ford launched the C-Max in 2003 – which was basically a re-engineered Focus MK II – already a massive hit with Irish motorists catapulting the brand into the best sellers.
Fast forward to July 2008 and the tree-hugging, sandal-wearing, lentil-chomping saviours of the planet came up with a new tax regime which made all MPVs, and the family, Public Enemy Number 1.
The omissions-based VRT/road tax put buying a new MPV so expensive to buy and run that punters were looking at going back to the old two car-car scenario.
Thankfully, Ford have come to the rescue yet again … and this time they’ve brought reinforcements.
Yep, not only do we get a leaner, greener and meaner C-Max but it also get a big brother in the guise of the 7-seat Grand C-Max.
The boys over at the Blue Oval badge have left nothing to chance as the competition in this segment is savage.
They’ve learned that in these much leaner times, buyers, especially those with growing families, are the most diverse and complex.
It’s not a case of one size fits all and, just like the mums who’ll mainly drive them, it will have to be able to multi task.
This choice is not just a car or mode of transport – it’s practically a member of the family.
It will not only have to ferry the little darlings (and neighbours and pals) to school, to ballet, football, discos, it will also have to cope with baby seats, shopping/buggies, the kitchen sink etc.
The brief was simple; make it bigger, better and above all, cheaper.
The result?
Mission accomplished!
To be fair, they had a bulletproof template to build on.
The old model was a true drivers car thanks to its high driving position, great flexibility and of course, being a Focus clone, it was a rollicking good rided.
The same applies here except it’s even better.
The 5-seat C-Max handled like a dream on the winding mountain roads of Nice and she cruised like a luxury saloon on motorways.
Big brother, lost a little of the refined handling thankls to the longer chassis and even higher roof line, but what it lacked in agility it made up for in torque thanks to the 140bhp diesel engine.
But it is the simplicity of the design which will win over any doubters.
Functionality is the key word here.
Take the revamped floor plan in the 7-seater which is genius.
The 2 plus 2 plus 2 arrangement and fold away seventh seats is so much easier.
It also eradicated the old sibling squabble over who doesen’t want to sit in the middle.
Sliding doors on both sides makes parking and getting kids in and out easy peasy.
Seat belt sensors on all the rear buckles means you know all on board are safely secure.
Throw in a power operated tailgate – which at the touch of a button opens and close the boot and you’re in heaven.
One optional extra well worth checking out is the Active Park Assist.
This piece of kit (normally found on BMWs and Lexus) will scan a parking space and if large enough, will actually parallel park the car for you.
It’s a must considering it costs less than €800 and unlike other gadgets, you’ll use it more than once.
Only diesel versions will go on sale here with a 1.6L, 95bhp  proving the most popular as the C-Max in Band A and
Grand Band B. The 2.0L 140bhp are both in Band B while  a 115bhp automatic is in band C for both.
Standard spec on the Activ includes alloys heated windscreen electric windows, CD Rear parking sensors, folding mirrors and rear seatbelt minder.
Other driver assistance technologies include Blind Spot Information System, Speed Limiter and Hill Start Assist The new range will be in Irish showrooms later this month, just in time for the January rush  and Ford promise that  a full- and plug-in hybrid models will be here in 2013.
Priced at €23,600, its a bargain considering the outgoing model is the same price, but without all those goodies.

Evening folks, as you know by now I don’t report every bit of news that hits my inbox, instead I take it, read it and give you the best bits. I’ll leave the other sites to fight over the scraps we don’t bother reporting.
So here’s the important bits:

The pink complements George's eye colour

Fiat:
The First ever “Ireland Stands up to Cancer” gala charity ball took place in the new Convention Centre in Dublin on October 2nd 2010 and Fiat donated the brilliant little Fiat 500 1.2 pop which generated €30,000 in ticket sales and was won by Sally Anne Sherry from Ballsbridge in Dublin. There were some very famous faces there too which included Louis Walsh; Norma Smurfit; Aprés Match’s Barry Murphy and his TV presenter wife Flo McSweeney; Restauranteurs SallyAnne and Derry Clarke and Newstalk’s George Hook, pictured below alongside an appropriately pink Fiat 500 show car. All Proceeds to go to the following charities:

All Ireland Cooperative Oncology Research Group

Friends of St Luke’s Hospital

The Children’s Cancer Fund, Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin

The Marie Keating Foundation

Hats off to all that attended, there was approximately €250,000 raised in total on the night.

www.theccd.ie/irelandstandsuptocancer/

Still with Fiat, a huge congratulations goes out to the Fiat Yamaha Team, the Spaniard  rider Jorge Lorenzo won his first World Champion title in the MotoGp class. Fiat have been the official sponsors of the Yamaha team since 2007 and have now gotten a third laurel in a row, the other two were won by Valentino Rossi in 2008 and 2009. See Smokerspack isn’t all about cars (but it is the preferred subject around here)

VW

The Passat Bluemotion, in red, obviously

Sunday Times journalist Gavin Conway took a standard Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion on public roads around Britain and France and got 1527 miles from one tank of fuel, this equates to 89.83mpg which is amazing considering the this is a family sized saloon, to top it all the Guinness World Records Organisation officially recognising this as a world-beating distance! We’ll be putting the Golf Bluemotion to the test in November, expect swearing when we have to drive like dull people, I mean economically…

Aston Martin


A few weeks ago we showed you pictures of the Cygnet, the baby Aston based on the Toyota IQ. Well Aston have announced that they are to go into production with the little car. Not only that but they will tailor fit the car to your specifications. I can’t wait to see the 6ltr V12 version! Only joking, but it would be cool though, hmm where’s my measuring tape?

Car sales news from the SIMI

€129 million increase in Government revenues due to scrappage scheme, €43m in VAT and €86m in VRT. Renault are the big winners so far for their excellent deals, and will push ahead with the commercial scrappage.

The market share for each car makers break down like this:

Make Total % share  
     
RENAULT 2477 18%      
FORD 1839 14%      
SKODA 1407 10%      
VOLKSWAGEN 1286 9%      
TOYOTA 1265 9%      
KIA 830 6%      
HYUNDAI 761 6%      
OPEL 750 6%      
NISSAN 683 5%      
PEUGEOT 451 3%      
FIAT 417 3%      
MAZDA 373 3%      
SEAT 367 3%      
MITSUBISHI 113 1%      
CITROEN 112 1%      
SUZUKI 99 1%      
CHEVROLET 78 1%      
VOLVO 73 1%      
HONDA 71 1%      
AUDI 58 0%      
BMW 40 0%      
MINI 24 0%      
MERCEDES-BENZ 10 0%      
PERODUA 10 0%      
SUBARU 9 0%      
ALFA ROMEO 6 0%      
LEXUS 3 0%      
DAIHATSU 2 0%      
SAAB 1 0%      
Overall 13,615 100%      

Well that’s it for now folks, coming up is a test review for our favorite drivers car the Alfa MiTo, if you missed it watch the video here. Also to come the Citroen C3 on test this week.


I got a press release today that I thought was one of the best I’ve read all year, I’m very happy to publish it word for word, enjoy.

“Alfa Romeo Ireland Responds to Comments Made by
VW’s Ferdinand Piëch at the Paris Motorshow
 
The chairman of Volkswagen, Ferdinand Piëch, publically stated his desire to acquire the iconic Alfa Romeo brand at the Paris Motorshow last week. However, we at Alfa Romeo Ireland believes his comments may have been misconstrued. Mr. Piëch, like thousands of other Alfa Romeo fans around the world, may simply have been expressing his desire to own an Alfa Romeo, most likely the all-new Giulietta – a car which Top Gear Magazine says “might just be the best car that Alfa has built in its 100 years of existence.” After all, the Giulietta offers the sort of quality and refinement Mr. Piëch is well accustomed in his products, but with that extra dash of desirability that you only get with an Alfa Romeo.
 
The 73-year old also seems prepared to wait a long time for his new Giulietta. “Time works in our favour on such a deal,” he was heard to comment. “Ask me again in two years’ time.” However, Alfa Romeo Ireland would like Mr. Piëch to know that although demand for the Giulietta is likely to push Alfa Romeo’s sales beyond 150,000 in 2011 (keeping the brand on target for sales of 300,000 by 2014 as outlined by Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne in Fiat Group Automobile’s five-year business plan announced last April) there are no supply issues with the Giulietta and he can actually have one today if he so wishes. Nor will waiting two years help Mr. Piëch negotiate a better price for his new Giulietta. At €19,995 for the entry-level 1.4 TB 120hp Turismo, the Giulietta is already one of the best value family cars on sale today.
 
In conclusion, Alfa Romeo Ireland would like to thank Mr. Piëch for his interest and suggests that he visit http://www.alfaromeo.ie to find his nearest dealer, request a brochure or configure the Alfa Romeo of his dreams.”

Hats off Alfa Romeo Ireland, best press release of the year! 


I have been using the Internet for years now, and for as long as I can remember I have been pricing cars on line and in the last few years you can even buy a car from places like ebay, but the basic premise of buying a car hasn’t changed much in Ireland, we still find a car on a dealer web site and then go along to a showroom where we are coaxed into buying a car. Well things are changing, imagine if you could go online to see over 70 pictures of the car you like, put down a fully refundable 99 euro deposit, go to a warehouse to test drive the car and then drive it home when you pay the balance, no pressure.

Thats what you can do on autodirect.ie, I came across the web site one night when I was looking for a price of a car and it seemed to me as an interesting idea, auto direct take ex-lease cars and sell them to retail buyers at knock down prices.

For those that don’t know, leasing companies buy job lots of cars and lease them to medium and large business as fleet cars. For the most part these cars are really well looked after, only being used by sales and management as company cars. They tend to be serviced on schedule and sold off after a couple of years. The leasing companies sell the cars on and buy new ones, it’s at this point when auto direct get involved, they are effectively middle men between you and the leasing companies, so you get a young, well serviced car for a knock down price. This seemed too good to be true so I decided to visit the warehouse where the cars are stored for viewing.

Normally you would go into a big glass showroom and meet lots of people in suits but there’s little of that here. The idea is you see every aspect of the car online, even down to the tyre condition before you visit the showroom, this is an e-commerce solution at it’s best. It’s much the same as buying anything else on the Internet, except it’s a car.

With all of the stock coming from ex-fleet and no trade in’s Autodirect are in a unique position to be able to cut the prices that they charge down to the bone, but that doesn’t mean cutting corners. All of the cars are inspected by the AA and get a motorcheck.ie report done.

After a quick tour of the offices I was let loose in the warehouse, there isn’t a big glass showroom, all the cars are kept indoors and they are spotlessly clean. There’s a car turntable and professional lighting at the end of the warehouse where a photographer takes hundreds of pictures that are put up live on the site, there’s no mechanics, oil or even dirt anywhere to be seen, the showroom in on the internet, where I’m standing is more of a handover room.

So what’s the cars like? I decided to take an Insignia out for a test drive, I noticed the Vauxhall logo on the front which means this is a UK car, there’s nothing wrong with that, really there isn’t a dealer in the country who hasn’t got a UK car sitting on his forecourt at the moment. The Insignia is like new, the valeting team done a great job, it’s a 2009 but there isn’t a mark on it. The warehouse is way down the back of the Toughers business park between Newbridge and Naas, they have a huge yard that leads out onto a wide open road where you can have a proper test drive without having to get into traffic.

autodirect.ie may have hit upon a new way of selling cars in Ireland, although the method has been in operation elsewhere for some time now. But it does give the Irish buyer a new way to buy a car, I can see no down side for the buyer, the cars are immaculate, cheap and readily available.

If your in the market for a change of car it will cost you nothing to have a look at the web site, compare some of the prices, you never know you might just get the bargain you’ve been hoping for.


Sunday I was treated to sight in Portlaoise that’s a must for every petrol head, Drifting. The smell of burning tyres and petrol fumes excites me and watching cars go sideways in a controlled environment is even more exciting.
For €50 the drivers bring their drift cars to Clonminam Industrial Estate in Portlaoise where a man has re-invented his business model from being a container depot to a Market on Saturday and a Drfit track on Sundays. Martin Kealey has a 2 acre tarmac yard that used to be full of shipping containers and now some of those containers serve as crash barriers.
It’s a fantastic resource for a growing sport, I spoke with one of the drifters who called himself Don Juan, he had brought 16 sets of tyres between two cars. “€50 that’s nothing, we get to use the cars the way we want to, it’s great practice.” Don is looking for a sponsor too help out with the costs of running a drift car, he wants to enter the races and from what I can see he looks well placed to win some too, great car, great driver.

Here’s some pictures and a short video of some action. It’s €5 in for spectators, there’s a food van, seating area, toilets and parking. It’s worth a trip just to see these guys in action.



First we start with VW news. The new Passat has been unvailed at the Paris motor show, now in it’s seventh generation it will arrive on our shores in December, there’s to be two diesel engines with both the 1.6TDI 105bhp and 2.0TDI 140bhp engines in VRT band A attracting only €104 annual road tax, there’s also a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine producing 122bhp with emissions of only 138g/km qualifies for VRT band B attracting only €156 annual road tax.

Looks like it’s following the Phaeton for the looks department, if the engines are as good as the sound on paper this will sell like hot cakes. no pricing yet but expect the base model to be under €25,000

Fiat is the most environmentally friendly brand in Europe

Of the ten best-selling automotive brands in Europe, Fiat Automobiles has registered the lowest average CO2 emissions for the first half of 2010, just 123.5 g/km, which represents a 4.3g/km improvement on its 2009 figure. This remarkable achievement, corroborated by JATO (a world leader in automotive advisory and research services), puts Fiat ahead of Toyota (128.0 g/km), Peugeot (132.3 g/km), Citroen (133.4 g/km), Renault (134.6 g/km), Ford (137.0 g/km), Opel/Vauxhall (141.0 g/km), Volkswagen (142.2 g/km), Audi (154.2 g/km) and BMW (154.5 g/km).

If you own a 500, 500C, Grande Punto, Punto Evo, Bravo, Qubo or the New Doblò you can download a little program that keeps an eye on your driving style, Fiat Ecodrive is a great little application that I’ve been using in the brilliant 500c that I have on test this week, you can download it from www.fiat.com/ecodrive install it and the application will tell you what to do from there, its amazing how much info the car gathers about your driving, if you follow what ecodrive says you can save fuel and CO2, its free too.

Fiat are also at the Paris motor show showing off the Giulietta . The safest compact car in the world (according to Euro NCAP, which awarded the Giulietta a score of 87/100) is fitted with a new 140hp 2.0JTDM-2 diesel engine.

The 2011 Alfa Romeo 159 will also be on display. The revised model benefits from a revamped interior and a new 136HP, 350Nm 2.0 JTDM engine with CO2 emissions of 134g/km and a combined-cycle fuel economy figure of 6.6L/100km. The benchmark 0-100km/h takes just 9.9 seconds and its top speed is 202km/h (All figures relate to the saloon model). The car on show will be a Sportwagon TI in exclusive “Rosso Competizione” livery. There’s more detail to follow on the show and Smokerspack gets to drive the Giulietta in December, expect lots of coolness.


FORD pulled the dust covers off their new Mondeo in Munich last week and first impressions were pretty much what you’d expect from a mid-life tweak.
Looking at the giant saloon in the glistening sunlight one found it hard to figure out where the newness began and the old traits remained.
In fact, you’d have to park the 07 debutant beside the new rookie to compare notes.
It’s only then that you see the subtle changes to the grille and front bumper – including the sexy daylight running LED lights above the fog lamps.
The bonnet get a couple of sexy creases too, improving the lower line of the whole chassis giving the whole car a sportier feel.
But this whole project was not just about cosmetic changes.
No, the beauty here really is skin deep and it’s what happening under the hood is what all the fuss is about.
Leaner, Meaner, and above all ,Greener were the buzz words when the Blue Oval engineers gathered to rip their fleet leader asunder and rebuild her bit by bit.
The result?
A luxury saloon that has leapt from one Tax and VRT band into a lower one meaning it is cheaper to buy and run.
That’s a welcome bit of relief for cash-strapped families and companies alike as the BIK (Benefit In Kind tax on those with company cars) won’t be just as bad.
In terms of green backs, it will see all models which go on sale next month all now in Band B – which means Road Tax has been significantly reduced from €600 on the old 07 model to a minuscule €156.
The good news doesn’t end there – because the emissions have been reduced across the board the list price has also shrunk.
The extensive fleet will now start at a mega reasonable €26,000 – a saving of €650.
That’s an amazing achievement when you consider three years ago 80 per cent of the Irish line-up were in Band E or higher.
The new model goes on sale at the end of this month so Ford Ireland, under Chairman Eddie Murphy, are expecting a brisk January sales period.
“We are really delighted with the new revised Mondeo and are really excited about the great value proposition that the new line up will provide.
“Thanks to the great driving quality, Mondeo has been a favourite with with Irish motorists since its launch and we are sure this latest model will again prove hugely popular, said Eddie at the Munich launch.
So which models are coming here and what spec can we expect on them?
Well, the engine line up will be three diesels, comprising of a 2-litre TDCi 6-speed manual power-plants.
The ranging performance on these engines are a 115bhp, 140bhp and 160bhp – returning a jaw-dropping 53mpg.
Unfortunately this motoring journalist didn’t get a chance to test the lower powered carriages but if the 2.2-litre 200bhp oil burner is a yardstick then we’re in for a real treat.
It handled superbly and was as comfortable devouring mile after mile of autobahn at, erm, above average speeds as it was on the twisty Bavarian countryside.
The only complaint was in city traffic the car stalled twice causing panic.
The start/stop button only activates when the handbrake is on, the car is in neutral and everybody is calm.
Try staying calm when an artic is hurtling up behind you, the lights are green and Yorkie boy thinks you are actually moving!
The new Mondeo is the most technologically advanced model to date, and is packed with next generation driver assistance features – some of which are are already proven in the new S-MAX and Galaxy models.
Some of the more expensive goodies include high-tech features, like Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert (vibrating steering if you nod off) and Auto High Beam and rear view parking camera.
The entry level STYLE comes with the following;
16 inch alloys; Colour coded bumpers and door handles; Electric mirrors with built-in indicators; Air Con; Front fogs; Bluetooth voice control; 7 airbags including a knee airbag: The ZETEC: all of the above and 17 inch alloys; Parking sensors front and rear; Dual Zone Climate Control; Cruise control; Speed Limiter; The TITANIUM: All of the above daytime running LED lights; Sony Sound System; Covers + Instrument Panel: Automatic Headlights and Wipers.


WARNING BIG PICTURES!!

I spend so long on the internet using Boards.ie, Twitter, Facebook and all sorts of mediums I tend to forget that there’s real people behind the little text that you see on the screen. The lads who hang out in what I understand to be the second most popular section of Ireland’s most popular forum site decided to meet up and see what we all look like.

The Motors section on Boards has a huge amount of traffic asking questions that range from what kind of car should I buy to what the timing should be on 97 Carina. All of which will get an answer, it’s a fantastic resource and it’s free.

There was a huge range of cars there today, along with a huge range of people from all the age ranges, it was lovely to see them for the first time, I have been chatting to them on-line for a long time now and finally I got to put a face and a name to the on-line persona.

Thanks to all that made the effort to turn out today, it was nice to meet you all.