Posts Tagged ‘Motoring’


Whenever I think of a French car the first thing into my mind is comfort, most French cars are comfortable cruisers or, as in this country, comfortable in traffic jams. The C3 fits this comfort segment very well, the suspension is soft and the seats are big, the cabin light and roomy. The cabin can be made even more light by sliding back half of the roof, the windscreen is huge even with the roof closed but when you open it you can see the sky. It’s a nice touch but on a sunny day it’s too bright, it does make a cool effect when it rains though, you can see the drops sliding up the glass as you drive along, obviously you shouldn’t be looking up when your driving but your passengers can. There’s Air conditioning as standard along with a host of safety equipment but handsfree is an option, it’s something I feel should be standard in all cars these days, let’s face it we all have mobiles. There is an Aux connector in the front which you can order USB should you want it, get USB that’s what everyone uses these now, even Apple.
The cabin layout is artistically spartan, there’s no temperature gauge just a little blue light to tell you the car is cold, a strip of chrome across the middle leads to a monochrome multiple function display. I like the layout, it’s simple and familiar.


Even though there’s no standard handsfree there is cruise control and speed limiter which is lovely along the motorway, for a small car it’s surprisingly good on motorways, the soft set up on the car suits it.
The exterior is grown up, it’s looks like an older brother to the old C3, there’s good Citroen quirks in the lines maybe the designers were let off the leash a bit with the outside, it shows through but I do think the door openings are a little on the small side.


On the road the 1.4HDI engine pulls well enough, it’s quiet too, actually the whole car on the move is silent. Once you reach cruising speed there’s no noise, you’ll struggle to hear the engine at 100kph. Fantastic sound deadening for a small car, around town the steering very light which is nice enough for tight manoeuvres but out on the road it’s too light for any feedback from the wheels, it’s not really a drivers car but it’s not meant to be, this is a family run about and it’s really good at that. I can easily get the two kids and all the normal stuff into the car.
When I got the car first I wasn’t sure about the really light steering and soft suspension but as the week went on I could see the point of this car, it’s a very decent run about, it will happily take the kids to the beach but just as happy about doing a weeks shopping. The C3 has fierce competition though, the b segment is one of the hardest to get right. Citroen have done a good job on the styling and town set up but it’s a little tight with standard equipment, I’d gladly trade the sliding roof for handsfree, rear electric windows and parking sensors.
Still I’ll miss the C3 when it goes back, it’s kind of become a part of the family, a great car for the city.

Prices for the C3 start at €14,900 for the VT. The model I drove starts at €17,900, see www.citroen.ie for more information

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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.


Car Sales

The BMW 5 series has become the top selling car in Ireland, yes the luxury diesel has beaten the odds and out sold the Yaris, Shane Teskey Director of http://www.motorcheck.ie said that “With 349 vehicles registered last month (all of them diesel) the 5 Series outsold the runner up (Toyota’s Yaris) by 151 units. The figure represents an impressive 10% of all diesel cars registered in Ireland in August and proves that luxury cars are still on the shopping list for Irish car buyers.”

Other interesting statistics for last month include:

  • 5,315 New Cars were registered in August – up dramatically on last years August total of 2,347
  • The Top Selling Make for August was Toyota with 687 registrations
  • Over 51% of registrations were in Band B continuing the trend of eco-friendly motoring
  • Over 68% of cars registered were Diesel models
  • Black and Silver are still the most popular colours with 26% and 24% of registrations respectively
  • The leading county for registrations was Dublin with 1,987 registrations (37%) with Leitrim recording just 26 (0.5%) new cars sold.

You can get all the stats from http://www.motorcheck.ie/blog/stats/?y=2010&from=8&to=8&cat=1

Citroen

The lid has been lifted on the DS4, the tall crossover type car will be shown at the Paris Motor show, if you’re not going to that here’s some pictures.

INTRODUCING THE MULTI-TALENTED NEW CITRO_N DS4


Small cars, by which I mean snack-box size have to be good at a number of things,
they need to handle like a house fly who just got the whiff of a bowl of sugar, enough
room for some shopping in the boot, be able to carry 4 people and be comfortable for
the driver. That to me is super-mini class, there’s more stuff you can ask of the small
car segment but if it can do my little list I’m happy.
The Clio is in this segment even though it’s gotten bigger over the years, it’s
borderline hatchback now, and if it gets any bigger Renault may do away with the
Megane altogether. Last week I was handed the keys of the little Clio and my first
thought when I saw it was “If that car was a woman, it would have a fat ass” which
was a strange thought to have about a car, but nonetheless around the rear of the car
there is a fat bit that sticks out at the bottom of the hatch. Don’t get me wrong here,
it’s a pretty car, but in the same way that once you see Jlo dancing you just can take
your eyes off her bottom, even though it makes her look a little out of proportion.
The Clio has grown up, both in terms of styling and use of materials, no longer does
the dashboard look like it’s made of bakelite and might just crumble at the next set of
traffic lights, now it seems to be made out of touchy feely materials, it’s really well
put together.


The drivers’ seat is very comfortable, the French know how to do comfort in a seat
and they have done it with the Clio, it didn’t seem to matter where I put the seat, I
still found it lovely. The back seats is a little on the tight side, but you’ll still get two
adults into it. The dash lay out is fairly ergonomic but Renault still use that overly
complicated radio, it’s just too fussy, having one button that simultaneously turns off
the power to the radio, sat nav and the blue tooth is just annoying.

The same can’t be said for the climate control, there’s three buttons that matter, Auto, hotter and colder
and it has them all right there in front of you, perfect. The radio and hands-free can
be controlled from a stalk on the right side of the steering wheel, the trouble with that
is you can’t see it when you drive in a straight line so you have to guess what button
does what, now I know you’ll get used to it but what’s so wrong with putting the
controls on the steering wheel? The USB/Aux connector meant that I could control
my Zen from the radio controls, and that my MP3 library gets displayed on the big
sat nav screen, which was nice. Other than some niggly points there’s nothing to
complain about in the cabin. The boot space is good too, 255ltrs but there’s a big lip
to get over, the up side is a deep boxy shape boot that can handle fairly big loads, if
you drop the seats you’ll get 1028ltrs and that’s a lot for a car this size.
The little 1.2ltr engine isn’t powerful, there’s only 75bhp but it is a fizzy little thing,
there’s a nice engine note when you rev it, it’s the kind of engine you push until
there’s little dents in the bonnet from the valves hitting the inside before you change
gear. If you drive it properly you’ll easily get over 40mpg, if you look at my video
here you’ll see me demonstrate that fact.


On open road the Clio is very quiet and pliant over all surfaces, the suspension set up
is just right for Irish roads, once you show it some corners the whole car comes alive.
The little engine roars what life it can give and I promise, on a dry road you would
think the car was on rails. There was no traction control on the Tom-Tom model I
drove, it is an option, to be honest I didn’t need it all week, there wasn’t a hint of
under or over steer the car passed all handling tests I could throw at it.
The Clio manages something that many other car makers would like to achieve, that

sense of style and substance all wrapped up in a little car that’s cheap to tax (€156 a
year), cheap to insure, cheap to buy and most important cheap to run. Gone are the
days of Papa and Nicole, this is a grown up super-mini with plenty to offer to the first

time buyer and the retired couple, let alone as a second car in the family. Go to your
local Renault dealer and get a test-drive, you might find that Gallic charm too.