Archive for the ‘Coupe’ Category

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. with the heading etype please.

Anyway here’s the video:


This is the best kept secret in the auto motive industry.
Yes, by virtue of the fact that I’m even telling you this I am, at very least, breaking some kind of official secrets act, and at worst, signing my own death warrant.
You see, secrets are kept for  two very good reasons.

  1. It’s a complete lemon and the manufacturer doesn’t want the general public to know how bad it is or
  2. It’s so good, to tell the same public would ruin its exclusiveness.
    Sorry lads, but the rest of them deserve to know the truth – and it’s amazing.
    There, I said it.
    Yes people, you see before you the words Renault and amazing in the same sentence – the world’s gone mad.
    Recently I’ve used capable, enjoyable and even Reliable with the R word, but never amazing.

Now before you start screaming for the nurse, let me explain why.

We’ve been down this road quite a few times with our Gallic friends.

Take your mind back to the Laguna II or the Megane II or indeed the last real coupe from Renault, the Fuego.

All fine to look at, but not so pleasant to drive and a maintenance nightmare as the miles creep up.
We expected the same this time round. Why wouldn’t we?

So we weren’t fooled by the drop-dead gorgeous looks, bold lines, muscular physic or the spectacular Aston Martin-ish rear end complete with massive twin chrome exhausts.
Inside it just gety better, wall-to-wall leather, Audi TT-style steering, bucket seats, Bose sound system and Bluetooth hands free phone.

Couple that with the superior build quality you’d only find in super executive saloons that only a NASA engineer could tell it wasn’t German and you’re on a winner.
The boys over at BMW, Audi and Merc won’t like this one little bit, but the French outfit have really lifted their game here and the feel of a cabin is one of the greatest influences on buyers – especially women.

And this car has successful career woman written all over it.

The old adage ‘Men are from Mars’ is probably the greatest example of this argument as the fairer sex couldn’t care less about bhp, ABS, ESP, torque or transmission.

No, it’s far more scientific thatn that – if they like it, they’ll buy it.
That’s far to sensible for us men to get our little heads around, besides what would the lads down the boozer say?

Anyway its time for me to get all manly again with the most pertinent question – How does it drive?

Supurbly. The 180bhp GT version I tested had the full package – instant and endless poke, refined handling and as agile as a Romanian gymnast.

This is where Renault reveal their hand, their secret weapon called 4 Control Chassis.

For all you Grease Monkeys out there, here’s how it works.

At speeds of less than 60kmh the system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front, up to an angle of 3.5 degrees making parking and manoeuvring easier.

It’s also very frugal, returning a whopping 43mpg on long journeys.

That’s another major plus here – it handles like a true coupe  but has the comfort of a saloon.

Take the Mazda RX-8 – absolutely mental to drive, a laugh a minute …. but an hour on the motorway will soon wipe the smile off your face.

Not here though. This slick oil burner will devour mile after mile with absolute ease.

So it’s pretty much flawless?

Well, not quite.

For starters I’ve never been mad about the keyless entry card thing.

If scientists develop a keyless front door then maybe they are onto something otherwise you still have to lump keys around with you.

Anyway, the two biggest chinks in the armour are firstly it’s a Renault and changing a minor fault is a lot easier than changing a mind set.

The second and more importantly is the price at €47,300  (official list price).

It’s rivals, namely the Audi TT and the BMW 320D coupe which are cheaper.

That said, one real advantage it does have is its exclusiveness – the TT has been around forever and the BMW is a common enough sight on Irish roads.

It still gets my vote for sheer sexiness, fun and daring to be different.

A Dita Von Tease in a sea of blonde bimbos if you like!

Phil Hedderman

Megan Fox.

Image via Wikipedia

Picture the most beautiful woman on the planet.

Take Megan Fox, Penelope Cruz or Eva Mendes …. now try to improve upon them.

Make them even more irresistible, hotter, sexier.

It’s not easy, is it?

That is the exact dilemma put to a group of the best automotive designers and engineers money can buy.

There was one big problem though …. these are German designers and engineers and more often than not you get a lot more than you bargained for.

The results are there for all to see in the new 5 Series, but beauty, my friends, is indeed more than skin deep.

You see, in the case of the fickle world of show business, a plastic surgeon may make you look younger and more vibrant, but he won’t make you a better actress.

Now, if the old 5 were a fairytale it could only be the ugly duckling …. which blossomed into a beautiful swan and there the romance began, well for me, anyway.

The E60, made between 2003 and 2010, had what a very dear friend calls the ”sexy/ugly thing going on” which is based on the philosophy that not all beautiful women are sexy …. and not all sexy women are beautiful.

It was a curious looking creature, not very inviting, but when you climbed into the cockpit and fired her up ….. hmmm sheer driving pleasure.

It was that perfect balance of fine handling unstoppable power, torque and unrivalled drive which won over all of its critics, with some conceding that the look will even grow on you.

The exact same applies here, except in reverse.

Despite the ergonomics boffin droning on about how sexier, younger and dynamic they made it, Cupid didn’t strike and I wasn’t all woosy and faint.

In fact, I think its too conservative and they’ve played it too safe this time round.

So I may have been a tad disappointed by the look, but would the same apply in the saddle.

Absolutely not.

How could it?

Its older brother was perfection so how could they possibly improve it?

Simple really.

They just made it bigger, quicker and more economical.

Take the 530D which churns out a whopping 245bhp, has CO2 omissions of 160g/km and returns over 40mpg.

Thanks to the stop start technology (borrowed from the Mini range) the 523i has the same green credentials of 160g/km and 204bhp.

But their secret weapon is the not so humble 520D which has Irish drivers queueing around the block with the lure of 184bhp, CO2s of 132grammes (£156 road tax) and a jaw dropping 50mpg.

Couple that with their most advanced 8 speed automatic gearbox and supension technologies – taken from the 7series, throw in a few goodies like Parking Assistant which parks for you, Surround View, collision warning  (which automatically brakes in an emergency)

Lane Change Warning and Head-Up Display and the job is Oxo.

It’s not hard to fathom that this luxury saloon is the single biggest selling model in Ireland today.

Pound for pound this BMW is, if you’ll excuse the plug, the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’.

If my analogy about Chris Bangle (designer of the last E60 5 series) and the sexy ugly thing working in reverse proves correct then it is love at first sight.

If that doesn’t get the heart racing then the price tag of under €41,750 (check this) will.

Philip Hedderman

Let us know what you think of the 5 Series, please comment below.

With its futuristic styling, both inside and out, the FN2 CTR looks every bit the modern hot hatch and despite a misshapen rear end it stands up well against competitors such as the Ford Focus ST, Renaultsport Megane R26 and Opel OPC.
Styling wise it is much more exciting than the class leading Golf GTI which is the most conservative car of the bunch. But how does the FN compare to not only its rivals but also its predecessors? Does it live up to the high
standards set by Honda for their range topping cars and more importantly does it deserve to wear the exalted Type R badge?

Well let’s start with that styling. From whatever angle to look at it from, bar straight at the rear end, it is a much more aggressive looking car than the EP3 that came before it, especially if the deeper valances were ticked on the
options box. The overall shape of the car was inspired by the classic teardrop and in profile you can definitely see those influences.  There are a number of nice exterior touches such as the rocket shaped door handles, rear spoiler
integrated into the window and of course the twin triangular shaped exhausts that emit a sweet rasp once this car hits that magical Vtec.

Inside is much of the same. The Type R monogrammed seats are figure hugging and supportive making you feel more confident as you put the car through its paces. The emm larger gentleman may find them a bit too figure hugging though. Fans of the EP3 may lament that the gearlever has reverted back to its more natural position but for the rest of us this is a good thing as the previously dash mounted lever was something of an acquired taste. The dashboard is a wrap around affair that really cossets the driver, making them feel more involved

and it is adorned with all manner of buttons and gizmos that purists will say do not belong in a Type R. Dual zone climate control is a standard feature as too is Honda’s nod to traction control – Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA). Only
the limited edition Championship White Edition is graced with a good old fashioned LSD. The materials used are tactile and nice to touch with brushed aluminium used for the gearlever and pedal and perforated leather for the
steering wheel which sits in front of the Gran Turismo style digital speedo.

A lot has been made about the changes in the suspension set up in this car over previous Type R’s. Gone is the double wishbone setup of old in favour of the less complicated and cheaper to produce torsion beam suspension. I have to say
when driven normally you are hard pushed to tell any difference – if anything the FN2 is a more comfortable ride than the more hard edged EP3 or EK9 which tended to jar the bones anytime you went over a cats eye. It feels much more
civilised at speed aswell which only encourages you to make the most of the 201bhp K20 Z4 under the bonnet. The power delivery of this unit is much more linear than that of the old K20 in the EP3 with the needle just spinning
headlong towards the 8,200rpm redline. Strangely though there is no discernable Vtec engagement point – it just keeps going as if nothing has happened. With the extra sound deadening under the engine bay you can’t even hear the usual Vtec wail and the only way to tell is to look down at the speedo and then weigh anchors because you are undoubtedly going to be in trouble with the law if you continue.

It is when you are really pushing the car along, through the stomping ground of Type R’s – the back roads that you begin to notice the inadequacies of that torsion beam suspension. Ninety per cent of people will probably go through
their Type R ownership without noticing it but there are those few, who having cut their teeth on a DC2 or EK9, will push the car to its limits. The trouble area comes under hard braking for corners when the weight of the car is
redistribute to the front. Freshly lightened the torsion beamed rear end starts to get very jittery and only an experienced driver will be able to keep it out of the hedges.

Overall the FN2 is undoubtedly a superior car to the EP3 in almost every way. In everyday use it looks better, drives better, comes better equipped and is generally a better drive. That is its downfall though. Type Rs of old were
uncompromised hot hatches with hollow fibre carpets to save weight, devoid of creature comforts that may distract from the driving experience and designed to spend their lives on the edge. The FN2 is just too civilised – it’s like a
watered down Type R or one where the R no longer stands for Racing but instead for Refinement. A Type R should not have dual zone climate control, built in sat nav, cruise control and VSA. It should be a bare bones racer that makes no
apologies for what it is and what it does. Unfortunately Honda seem to be using the name as a marketing badge nowadays, a fact further confirmed by the news that the company plans a diesel Type R! There is no doubting that the FN2 is a great car – it just doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

Paul Healy

An animated demonstration of the unique Wankel...

Image via Wikipedia

The Romper 1958

Did you know that when Mazda was founded it was called Toyo Cork Kogyo Co, and that it made cork-based products, it wasn’t until 1931 that a little 3 wheeled truck rolled off the production line in Hiroshima?

Mazda in one form or another has been around longer than television, hearing aids, Aerosol sprays and even the Iron Lung, during the 1920’s Henry Ford perfected mass production and thereby managed to sell some 15 million Model-T’s. The illegal bars called “Speak easiest” were big in America along with Al Capone, and in 1927 the world’s first talking pictures were shown to an amazed audience.

In 1945 an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, ending World War II, Mazda donated part of its headquarters to the Hiroshima prefecture to help get over this mass extermination of human life.

In 1958 Mazda introduced the Mazda Romper, a 4-wheel light truck. 1960 Mazda brings out its first 2 door passenger car called the R360 Coupe (not a very catchy name), 1961 Mazda buys the patent for an alternative engine concept invented by German Felix Wankel: this engine uses combustion to spin a flat disc, rather than move a piston up and down, not until 1967 did Mazda develop the Wankel concept into a valid alternative engine and launches its first rotary-engine car, the Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S.

In 1977 the Mazda Familia/323 launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, in 1979 Ford and Mazda enter into, what Mazda call, a capital tie up.

In 1980 Mazda launches front-wheel drive (FWD) Familia/323 in 1980. It wins Japanese Car of the Year and in ’84 Company is officially renamed as Mazda Motor Corporation.

The 90’s brought us the now iconic MX 5 and the first official imported Mazda MX-5s are delivered to private customers in Europe. Mazda 787B No.55 wins the Le Mans 24-Hour Endurance Race claiming the first victory for a Japanese automobile and the rotary engine in ’91.

2002 brought us the Zoom-Zoom message, in the same decade we started to see the Mazda 6, 2004 and the 700,000th MX 5 rolls off the production line in Hiroshima.

In 2008 the Mazda 2 wins car of the year, and we get to see the next generation of the Mazda 3. Launch of Mazda’s unique i-stop system (on Mazda3) that uses the engine’s remaining combustion energy to restart twice as fast as competitor systems in 2009.

Presentation of the Sky Concept, next-generation power trains in 2009 as well with global roll-out starting in 2011 that use 15 to 20% less fuel at the same levels of driving fun Mazda is known for.

Mazda has seen it all, I’ll never forget the desire I had for the 323F as a young man, I always wanted one, and I even had a poster of it on my wall. The RX7 and RX8 are both still cars I’d love to own, I’d even get to say Wankel.

For me the crowning glory of the Mazda range has always been the MX5, no other car goes like it, or drives quite the same. It’s a car that can put a smile on your face every time you turn the key, hard top, soft top; flip up lights it’s had everything. There’s still many of the older models on the road today and tonnes of spare parts, you should have a go in one, even the basic ones are a hoot to drive.

Mazda continue to bring us alternative looking cars to the boring looking Euro-boxes, I mean look at the current line up that Mazda have, somewhere between a Manga cartoon and Transformers, while still being solid and reliable.

Happy Birthday Mazda, lets hope you keep giving us the Zoom-Zoom factor.

For more information on the current line up have a look at

Things are hotting up at the Paris motor show this year, Mercedes are launching the new CLS at the show. This is the first of a series of new models planned to be brought in over the next 18 months. This new model CLS will arrive on Irish shores early next year, and if it looks as good in the flesh as it does in the pictures you can be sure I’ll be down my local dealer pestering him for a spin.

The Volvo V60 makes its entry onto the car market with its sights firmly set on giving the all-new S60 sedan model a tough match over the title of “The Most Dynamic Volvo Model Ever”.

“Many of the customers who had an advance look at the new V60 during the development process feel that its attitude is at least as sporty as that of the all-new S60,” says Volvo Cars Design Director Peter Horbury.

No less than 90 percent of the annual V60 production of 50,000 cars will find European buyers.

“The typical sports wagon customer is an S60 buyer who would like some extra space and flexibility, but without the slightest compromise on sporty design and exciting driving properties,” says Volvo Cars President and CEO Stephen Odell, and adds:

“The competition is razor-sharp and the customers in this segment know exactly what they want. That is why we have further boosted the interior’s sense of exclusive quality and packed the car with safety- and comfort-related technical innovations. The result is a truly unique sports wagon, in total harmony with its sporty attitude.”

Coupe rather than estate car

The pronounced wedge shape and the slim coupe-like roof line of the new V60 are accompanied by the shoulder profile along the car’s sides, creating a gentle yet powerful double wave from the headlamps at the front to the tail lamps at the rear.

“From the design viewpoint the focus was on making the car as close to a coupe as possible, while retaining that handy extra space at the rear. Our sports wagon does not aim to compete with the traditional estate car. For the customer who wants a lot of load space, there is our V70 or XC70,” says Örjan Sterner, head of exterior design for the new Volvo V60.

He adds:

“The dip in the middle of the double wave visually pushes the car down. This enhances the stance and makes the car look sleeker and lower. The sculpted bonnet and the short overhangs front and rear also emphasise the sports car feel.”

Uncompromising chassis approach

Volvo Cars’ chassis experts have chiselled out the driving experience in the new Volvo V60 with the same passion and uncompromising approach that characterised the development of the all-new S60 sedan.

The result is an authentic sports wagon with driving properties that do the sporty lines full justice.

“We’ve pushed the envelope to limits we’ve never previously approached. You simply have to drive this car to appreciate how we’ve driven chassis development to its pinnacle. Take the car out on a narrow, winding country road where every bend brings a new challenge and the new V60 will demonstrate its agility with sparkling enthusiasm,” says Stefan Sällqvist, who headed the development of the chassis in the new V60.

Volvo’s new sports wagon is available with a choice of two chassis. On the European market the newly developed dynamic chassis is standard, while some other markets will have the touring chassis as standard with the dynamic variant available as an option.

The difference between the two chassis alternatives is to be found in the dampers and the front and rear subframes. Here the touring variant has a somewhat softer setting to give a smooth ride on poorer road surfaces.

Every single detail refined

“The spotlight was on giving the concept of comfort a whole new dimension. The dynamic chassis has an alert, quick-responding character that puts the focus on the driving experience, yet without diluting ride comfort,” explains Stefan Sällqvist.

In addition to the two standard chassis, all variants of the V60 can be specified with the optional FOUR-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) active chassis, which has been modified and refined for better control and comfort compared with previous Volvos.

The software in the AWD (All Wheel Drive) system has been modified to allow the four-wheel drive variants (AWD is standard in the T6 and optional with D5 with automatic gearbox) of the new V60 to exploit the sporty new chassis to the limit.

During the development process, the chassis team worked on the new Volvo V60 in parallel with the all-new Volvo S60. The result is a solution that features changes and refinements to virtually every single detail that influences a car’s driving properties. This includes improved steering, stiffer springs and bushes as well as more damping than in any previous Volvo.

The first sports wagon with Advanced Stability Control

The dynamic new chassis is backed up by a range of electronic systems that sharpen the sporty driving experience still further.

Like the all-new S60, the new V60 is fitted with Advanced Stability Control. With a new roll angle sensor, it is possible to identify any skidding tendency at a very early stage. This means that the anti-skid system can step in earlier and with greater precision. Advanced Stability Control is a great asset in dynamic driving involving considerable lateral forces, which improves handling and rapid avoiding manoeuvres.

New Corner Traction Control for smoother cornering

Corner Traction Control is a new feature that uses torque vectoring so the car corners even more smoothly. This technology is a further refinement of the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system.

When cornering, the car’s inner driven wheel is braked, causing more power to be transmitted to the outer driven wheel. This allows the driver to corner more tightly while reducing any tendency to understeer.

A highly advanced braking system is an important part of the dynamic driving properties of the new V60. Volvo’s new sports wagon is equipped with a number of features that interact to provide the shortest possible stopping distance in all scenarios.

Exclusive quality – with extra functionality

The interior of the V60 sports wagon is a clear example of how Volvo Cars’ designers have added excitement, contrast and a playful element to the Scandinavian design tradition’s rational simplicity and functionality.

“The interior has a decidedly extrovert attitude, but without losing any of its practical Scandinavian roots. The new V60 brings us up to a whole new level when it comes to the integral experience of colour, form, material and technology,” says Volvo Cars’ Design Director Peter Horbury.

The interior is thus lavish in terms of its driver-oriented details, but it is still a five-seater car offering comfortable space for all its occupants. Scandinavian design’s rationality, simplicity, clarity and functionality are all prominent in the new V60:

  • The 40/20/40-split rear seat and the fold-flat front passenger seat make it possible to combine passengers and load in a remarkably flexible way. Each backrest in the three-piece rear seat is folded with exceptional ease to create an entirely flat load floor. The rear seat headrests can be folded electrically.
  • The load area has been designed for maximum utilisation of each available millimetre. The 1095 millimetre wide tailgate in combination with extra space behind the wheel housings and under the load floor is an example of the systematic approach adopted to ensure generous load capacity. The load area has a capacity of 430 litres.
  • The rear seat can be specified with integrated child booster cushions in the two outer seats.

The most high-tech Volvo ever – with Pedestrian Detection

The sporty interior of the new V60 is also the most advanced high-tech environment ever available to a Volvo driver.

“The interior of the new V60 is all about innovative design in two areas: form and technology. The design is characterised by sporty freshness down to the smallest detail. The technological aspect includes all those smart solutions that contribute to a driving experience unlike that of any other Volvo – from collision avoidance safety and comfort systems to infotainment and audio excellence of absolute world class,” says Tomas Ahlborg, Project Director for the new V60.

Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake can detect if a pedestrian steps out into the road in front of the car. If the driver does not respond in time, the car can automatically activate the brakes.

“Volvo has always led the way when it comes to protecting the occupants in our cars. In recent years we have adopted groundbreaking initiatives that help the driver avoid collisions with other vehicles. Now we are taking a giant stride forward with technology that can contribute to increased safety for unprotected road users as well,” says Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Advisor at Volvo Cars.

Can avoid collisions at speeds below 35 km/h

In an emergency situation the driver first receives an audible warning combined with a flashing light in the windscreen’s head-up display. In order to prompt an immediate, intuitive reaction this warning resembles a brake light. At the same time, the car’s brakes are pre-charged. If the driver does not react to the warning and an accident is imminent, full braking power is automatically applied.

Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake can avoid a collision with a pedestrian at speeds up to 35 km/h if the driver does not react in time. At higher speeds, the focus is on reducing the car’s speed as much as possible prior to impact. Speed can be reduced by up to 25 km/h.

Statistics reveal that the car’s speed has considerable importance for the outcome of the accident. A lower speed of impact means that the risk of serious injury is significantly reduced.

City Safety standard

The new Volvo V60 also features City Safety as standard.

With City Safety, the car automatically brakes if the driver fails to react in time when the vehicle in front slows down or stops – or if he or she is driving too fast towards a stationary object. The system can lessen or even entirely avoid low-speed rear-end impacts at speeds up to 30 km/h.

More powerful T6 version

During its first year of production, the new Volvo V60 will be available with a variety of diesel and petrol engines spanning the range from an economical 115 horsepower DRIVe version to an eager high-performance turbocharged version producing 304 horsepower. The focused drive to cut CO2 emissions has lowered fuel consumption throughout the engine range.

The T6 petrol engine has a displacement of 3.0 litres and has been improved still further, primarily thanks to lower internal friction. It now pumps out 304 bhp and no less than 440 Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 6.6 seconds and top speed is limited to 250 km/h.

At the same time, Volvo Cars’ engine specialists have succeeded in cutting fuel consumption by about 10 percent to 10.2 l/100 km (EU Combined).

The engine’s power is delivered to the wheels via Volvo’s second-generation six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission. New valves and lower friction mean faster gearchanges than before. AWD (All Wheel Drive) is standard on the T6.

New direct-injected two-litre engine

The new four-cylinder 2.0T GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) engine has a displacement of two litres and produces a generous 203 bhp, with 300 Nm of torque available from 1750 rpm. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 7.9 seconds with a manual gearbox and 8.4 seconds with automatic transmission. Top speed is limited to 230 km/h with the manual gearbox and 230 km/h with the automatic.

New in-house-developed turbocharged technology, direct injection and twin variable camshafts produce a unique combination of low fuel consumption, low emissions and a high and broad performance range, all packaged in a very compact format.

Later during the first year of production, the new V60 will also become available in a 2.0 GTDi variant producing 240 bhp and 320 Nm of torque.

Two new 1.6-litre GTDi engines

In addition there is a new 1.6-litre GTDi engine which is available in two versions: 1.6 GTDi (T3) with 150 horsepower and T4 with 180 horsepower.

The 180 bhp engine offers maximum torque of 240 Nm from just 1500 rpm all the way up to 5000 rpm. During short-term overboost, it provides an impressive 270 Nm of torque. This gives excellent lugging ability throughout the speed range. The torque curve is relatively gentle, resulting in a particularly comfortable driving experience.

The 150 horsepower engine offers 240 Nm of torque.

The 2.0T, T5 and T4 are available in combination with Volvo’s automatic six-speed Powershift transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox, while the T3 comes with a manual gearbox.

Two five-cylinder turbodiesels

The engine range also includes two five-cylinder turbodiesels.

The D5 high-performance engine with twin turbos produces 205 horsepower and 420 Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 7.9 seconds (manual and automatic). Top speed is 230 km/h (limited) with the manual gearbox and 230 km/h with the automatic.

In the most recent D5 version, which was introduced in spring 2009, performance and driveability requirements have been met by fitting two turbochargers of different sizes, one taking over from the other and providing added power across a broader rev range.

The complementary properties of the two turbos are utilised optimally for a combination of high performance and low fuel consumption of 5.4 l/100 km (EU Combined) putting this engine in the running for best in class.

In addition there is the newly developed two-litre D3 producing 163 bhp and 400 Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 9.4 seconds (manual and automatic). Top speed is 220 km/h (manual) and 215 km/h (automatic).

The new five-cylinder 2.0D is in principle the same engine as the present 2.4D, but cylinder capacity has been reduced with a shorter stroke to optimise fuel consumption.

Both turbodiesels are available with a six-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual gearbox.

The D5 with automatic can also be specified with all-wheel drive.

DRIVe diesel

During the course of the first year of production, a DRIVe version of the new V60 will also be introduced, featuring a 1.6-litre diesel engine. The engine produces 115 bhp and 270 Nm of torque, and will only be available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Engine range

Petrol engines Displacement Configuration Output Torque
T6 3.0 6-cyl in-line 304 bhp 440 Nm
2.0T 2.0 4-cyl in-line 203 bhp 300 Nm
T5 2.0 4-cyl in-line 240 bhp 320 Nm
T4 1.6 4 cyl in-line 180 bhp 240 Nm
T3 1.6 4-cyl in-line 150 bhp 240 Nm
Diesel engines Displacement Configuration Output Torque
D5 2.4 5-cyl in-line 205 bhp 420 Nm
D3 2.0 5-cyl in-line 163 bhp 400 Nm
1.6 D DRIVe 1.6 4-cyl in-line 115 bhp 270 Nm

Entirely new Infotainment system

The new V60 also gets an all-new Infotainment system where information is presented on a five-inch or seven-inch colour screen in the instrument panel. The screen has a high position to make it easy for the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road.

The audio experience in the new V60 has been further enhanced compared with previous models.

“Our most advanced system, Premium Sound, has a class-D digital 5x130W amplifier with circuits from Sweden’s Anaview, Dolby Digital in combination with Dolby Pro Logic II Surround, the award-winning MultEQ from Audyssey Laboratories and 12 loudspeakers. All this creates an audio experience of absolute world class,” says Tomas Ahlborg.

The Volvo V60 is one of the first car models in the world to use the Audyssey Laboratories MultEQ technology. MultEQ eliminates the distortion caused by the car cabin’s acoustics, providing crisp, clear sound with improved soundstage for everyone in the car.

In addition to the top-of-the line Premium Sound, which comes with a 7-inch screen, there are another three audio systems.

European target group

The initial annual target for the new Volvo V60 is 50,000 cars. Of these, no less than 90 percent will go to European buyers. The five largest markets are Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

The new V60 is built at the Volvo Cars production plant in Torslanda, Sweden. The first cars will be delivered to customers in autumn 2010.

“The figure ‘60′ in our model range nowadays indicates our sportiest models. The XC60 was the first step. We took the next step with the all-new S60 sedan – and now we’re launching the V60 sports wagon,” says Stephen Odell.

Every year that great golden orb in the sky that we call the Sun comes out to play, the days get longer, the temperature goes up, the clothing comes off and summer is announced. Will Smith comes on the radio to lull you into believing its “summer, Summer, Summer time”. Everyone’s need for outdoor activities increases, dogs get to crap further away from home, young kids leave their avatar in the bedroom and come blinking into the sunlight asking “what is it Mammy?” and the answer is “Get out and play!”

It’s also the time of year when you might think of getting a tin opener to the roof of your car so you can catch some more sunshine while you drive, well you don’t have to. There is a huge selection of convertibles out there to choose from; almost every manufacturer makes a convertible version of one car or another. But today, on this bright sunny day my local friendly dealer had a Renault Megane CC out front so I just had to have a go.

It’s not that long ago a convertible had to be a sports car; most of them had two seats, totally impractical and very expensive. They were the kind of car you only saw on the TV; the driver had to have a flat cap and tweed jacket. Leaky roof’s, rain and people shredding the vinyl on the way home from the pub were just a few of the problems. Renault set to change that with the Megane CC, it was among the first to get a folding hard top roof, this was set to be the best of both worlds, a hard top car for winter that opens up for the summer. This was to be an affordable 4 seat hard top convertible, ok I know there isn’t exactly 4 seats in the Megane; the two adults in the back would have to have removable legs, nonetheless there are seats in the back that kids could sit in. The Megane CC is one of the prettiest of the convertibles; from the back it’s far nicer than Peugeot’s 307 and equally as nice as the Focus CC. In coupe mode with the roof up it looks like a Megane saloon with a big bottom, it’s a bit longer at the back to accommodate that glass roof and all the machinery required to fold it away. The boot space is only 190ltr with the roof up, and with the roof down it’s all but inaccessible but these cars are made for style not practicality.

Renault promised to improve their fit and finish and that promise holds true for the interior, everything feels solid and the materials used are good quality. There’s a good air conditioning system and that’s very much-needed with the glass roof up on a sunny day. On the road it’s quiet and soft over the bumps, at cruising speed there’s very little wind noise and Renault have done a good job keeping the engine noise down, even out on the motorway. Back in the town, where this car is at home, it was just like a normal Megane, soft over the speed bumps. The 1.6 110bhp engine does a good job tootling around, the rear window is a little small and with the size of the boot it can be a bit of a job to park, enough of this normal car mode it’s time to drop the roof and catch some rays.

In convertible mode the whole feeling of the car changes, you want to drive everywhere at 10kph, there’s a great novelty to being outside while driving a car. The driving dynamic changes too, the rear of the car feels heavier and there’s a little scuttle shake when you corner. At town speeds with all the windows down the breeze is light, but once you pick up a little speed you need to put the windows up or risk having your hair torn off. Obviously with the roof down parking is a doddle, putting the roof up in a public place never fails to attract a crowd. There’s some admiring looks when you drive around with it down too. All convertibles have something cool about them, even if it is a Renault. There are some flaws, namely the tiny boot, small back seat and poor visibility out the back with the roof up. But these pale into insignificance when the sun shines, the roof comes down, Will Smith sings and the sky becomes the limit of your head room, it’s fantastic.

The car I drove is available from Portlaoise Kia garage, you can see it on Carzone, have a drive on a sunny day, you’ll see what I mean.

Megane Coupé 1.5DCI 2010

Posted: June 22, 2010 by johnos1984 in Coupe, Hatchback, Uncategorized

“Not for me thank you”

In these most frugal of times it difficult to justify the large expenditure that a new car warrants. Huge depreciation, difficulty getting loans and some of the magnificent bargains available on the used car market are just some of the reasons why people have decided not to purchase a new car. However Renault has fought back with some great new car prices and some of the most competitive scrappage deals and warranty cover packages.

Intrigued by their success in a very difficult Irish market I took to the roads in one of their most popular and stylish models available on the market place, the Megane Coupé 1.5DCI (86bhp). The Mégane Coupé has been available since 1997 in Ireland and this is its third incarnation and in my opinion it is by far and away the most stylish model to date. As I approached the car I got a feeling that I was taking the keys of something special indeed. I had chosen the basic model as I suspect this shall be the most popular model on the market place. However after the initial excitement I was left very disappointed.

After sitting into the car I was greeted with hard seats, something I wouldn’t have expected in a Renault. Ok so hard isn’t the worst thing and it is a sports model but I could have forgiven this if I could get comfortable but needless to say I couldn’t. I have always associated French cars with softness and comfort however this was not to be. Fair enough if Renault want to change their image however it just didn’t do it for me. Hard seats could be overlooked however the rest of the interior couldn’t. From the hard plastics on the lower part of the dashboard, to the confusing digital display to the bland utterly bland centre console I was quickly being left with the feeling that the designers had some great ideas but weren’t left to finish what they had started. It’s like Renault is trying to be exciting, modern and price conscience and ends up achieving no coherent design philosophy.

Out on the road things didn’t improve. I’m a big fan of small frugal diesel units and all the benefits that go along with them however the Renault unit failed to sparkle. Above all this was probably the biggest let down in the overall package. If your going to make a sports car at the very least I feel it should be able to move at pace however I felt like I was driving something very lowly out on the open road. This unit also sees service in the Clio, Micra, Quashqai and Tiida ranges of cars to name but a few and there in lies the problem. It is successful in the other units as they are small to medium family cars, performance takes second place. In its current form in the Mégane Coupé it really fails to shine. In other markets larger capacity units are available and these do make a large difference. If you want a small, frugal and cheap to run car my advice is to look at a family hatchback. Not a sports car. This car is very much about the image and unfortunately it really fails to deliver in the performance area.

The ride was one of a mixed bag. The car handled great once i had gotten some speed up from the lethargic engine and showed great promise on backroads and motorways however at low speeds and in town it became very unsettled by bumps and broken road surfaces. To say it was uncomfortable would be going to far but it just never settled down and never really inspired confidence. It just seemed that the chassis engineers thought a warm hatch needed hard suspension and forgot about how brilliantly they could do comfort as well.

The final part of the review is one which I hate to conduct on a sports car, practicality, however people always ask what a car is like to live with. Firstly the boot opening is narrow and there is a high sill but having said that if you need a bigger opening and more practicality buy a bigger car. The doors are very long also so people parking this in narrow spaces take heed; it needs space for you to get in and out. Other than that there is more than enough space inside combined with good storage.

I really wanted to like the Coupé. It has a great package on paper and appears to be the perfect car for the Irish market at this time however I just couldn’t engage with it. It just felt compromised in every area. Admittedly when I went to return the car a more upmarket edition was parked in the garage. I only had time to poke around the interior and it seemed like a far better package. The seats were improved; the dash board plastics seemed better and gladly there was a leather steering wheel. However I quickly found out it had the same engine and that is when I walked away happily I had made the right judgement about this car.

For those who doubt my review consider this: the British market gets a higher powered diesel model and excellent petrol engines. Why are we forced to put up with the poverty spec engines?