Posts Tagged ‘Recreation’


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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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.



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.


Renault Kangoo 17

Image by 650cc via Flickr

RENAULT ANNOUNCES IRELAND’S FIRST EVER VAN SCRAPPAGE – NEW KANGOO FROM €8,990*, TRAFIC FROM €12,990* AND ALL NEW MASTER FROM €14,490*

Do you own a van that’s 5 years old? If your can answer yes to the above then get thee to a Renault Dealer.

This is a first for Ireland, no one else is looking to scrap your old van, Renault’s ‘scrap my van’ offer applies to light commercial vehicles aged 5 years and older, registered on the 31st January 2006 or before.

It’s a great offer from Renault, if your able to take advantage of it have a look at the pricelist below or head over to www.renault.ie

PR Renault Vans Price List


Renault are working very hard at the moment, and it’s not just the designers, every segment of the company are pulling out all the stops to push the brand forward. This “work hard” attitude is something I admire in any business. I work hard, there have been nights when I’m still working on something at one or two AM, that’s because I love what I do. The same must apply somewhere in Renault, someone near or at the top has surrounded themselves with people who love their jobs.
The new model Megane is the result of that love of the job, I remember the concept pictures of the Megane somewhere back in 2008, they looked fantastic. Obviously the car I’m driving looks nothing like the concept but ce la ve.
The current model comes in a variety of body styles from coupe to estate (called grand)and it’s the estate version that I’m driving at the moment.
When you think estate most of you will think of big agriculture type cars, well it’s not that kind of car, it’s far cooler than that. It looks like the designers were let loose and they came up with madness, then the Euro laws got involved and out of the two a very handsome sporty estate was born.
The long bonnet reminds me somehow of my Fathers Renault 12 TL, it looks nothing like it, it just reminds me of it. Sweeping down the sides there are some interesting quirks in the creases just before you reach the most interesting wrap around rear end on any car in it’s class. The boot lid looks one piece with the rear panels, it’s not, it splits to reveal a 486 ltr boot, more about the boot goodies later.


The back seat is big and comfy, there’s loads of head and leg room. If you don’t fancy carrying three people in the back then you can always drop the centre armrest which has some nifty cup holders build in.
From the drivers seat the car feels low and sporty but very comfortable. The steering wheel is weighted nicely to top dead centre, there is only one problem in here and it’s the gear shift, it feels too clicky. The gear stick feels like it’s attached to the gearbox with some plastic left over from the dashboard. It’s only a five speed box too, and that’s a shame, the gearbox in the Fluence felt fine I don’t know why they put a different box in the Megane. Other than the shift there’s nothing wrong in the cabin, everything is where you’d expect it to be in a Renault. This being a Tom Tom edition you get lots of toys, sat nav, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth and mp3 connection are all standard. Shame there’s no USB connection in mine but I’m sure it’s an option.


Out on the road the ride is firm but responsive, for an estate there’s no sign of a bouncy rear end that you get in most of the competition. The handling is very good too, even when you push it the Megane just keeps on holding the road. The 1.5dci 86bhp engine is solid and in the Megane it seems very quiet, at motorway speeds the lack of a sixth gear starts to show through, the rev’s sit at 2800rpm at 120kph, while that’s not bad it would be a better, more economical cruiser if there was another cog to get too.
Now we have to go onto a topic that will bore some of you, the boot. For those of you who are already yawning at the thought of me talking about boot space here’s a brief version, it’s big.
For those that are still reading let me explain, you buy an estate car to gain room over the hatchback version, so the boot space is very important. Even though the rear of the car is rounded on the outside, the boot opening is square and flat floored. There’s tonnes of space for any shape item to fit in there, there are some features in the boot too. There’s a flap near the opening that you can pin up allowing the whole boot to become a sort of bin, under that flap there’s more storage for drop in items, there are shopping hooks in the back too, they are set a bit too far back but nonetheless they are useful to have in the big flat boot. With all the seats dropped it’s 1600ltrs which is a decent size for any estate.
The Grand Megane is a very capable car, it’s adaptable, spacious and very stylish, the only flaw that I can find is the gearbox, it’s just too plastic feeling and it could do with another gear, if Renault would take the gearbox from the Fluence into the Megane be as near perfect as any car can be, in fact it’s so good my other half wants one.
If you’re interested in trying a Megane for yourself then log onto http://www.Renault.ie to find your local dealer.

Prices look like this, you should get the 106bhp Tom Tom with a 6 speed box it’s worth it.

RRP Trade-in allowance Renault scrappage for cars +8years old Government scrappage for cars +10years old Version from
1.6 16V 110 ETH ROYALE ECO 170 g/km €19,690 €3,300 €1,500 €0 €14,890
1.5 dCi 86 ROYALE 118 g/km €21,100 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €14,800
1.5 dCi 86 DYNAMIQUE 118 g/km €22,500 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €16,200
1.5 dCi 86 TOMTOM ED 118 g/km €23,600 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €17,300
1.5 dCi 106 TOMTOM ED 120 g/km €24,700 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €18,400

Let me know what you think, don’t be afraid; comment below.


So you have two kids, a dog and all the associated equipment to keep both species happy but you can’t fit it all in the hatchback, MPV cars are too expensive for you, what do you do?
The solution is simple, buy a van and install some back seats. This may sound a little extreme but that’s exactly what Fiat have done to the Doblo. They found that there’s another market out there for vans, no longer does it have to be the exclusive of builders and couriers, now families can can have the big, slightly embarrassing box outside the front door too.
The mighty Doblo can solve all your problems, need to move five people and a couple of washing machine? If your answer is yes, then you need help, but if the answer is maybe the the Doblo is for you.
Yes there is something deeply uncool about driving around in a van but yet Fiat have done a good job on the looks, they haven’t tried to cover up the fact that you’re in a van, instead they have embraced it. The boot lid is one example, it’s huge, it’s so big you could land a small helicopter on it. The front is pleasant to look at, there is something cute about the whole package.


Looks aren’t the biggest concern when you’re buying a car like this, practicality is all that matters, the Doblo has that in spades. With all five seats in place there is a massive 790ltrs of boot space, if you fold the seats away there’s 3,200ltrs and that means I can lie down in the back of the car, or you can take most of Ikea home with you. The boot opening is square and tall so it can take any shape of item you like, there’s a boot cover that can take 70kgs of weight on it too. In the back seats there’s easily enough room for 3 adults.

In the front seats you get a decent amount of equipment, cruise control, blue & me, a place for a Tom Tom, climate control and some cup holders. There’s more than enough elbow and leg room in there for any body shape. I should say that Fiat can kit this car out for Disabled use, I think from the seating position it would make a great car for this purpose, the front doors are huge and open wide.

The 1.6 diesel 106bhp engine is very good, there’s very little turbo lag and it pulls well enough. It’s noisy during acceleration but most diesel units are. The 13.4 seconds it takes to get to 100kph is long enough but we are talking about a van here, it’s not meant to be fast. It handles well in the corners too thanks to stability control as standard. It’s on long hauls where this car comes into it’s own, it’s comfy and quiet at speed, in 6th gear at 120kph there’s little or no noise for the engine.

The big winner here is the end user, the model I drove was the Eleganza and it could be sitting on your driveway for €19,095 that’s a lot of car for that price. The Doblo is the most practical car I’ve seen in years, there is something cool about driving around in something so un-cool, it says I don’t care what you thing of what I’m driving, I can carry more stuff than you anyway.

I grew to love the might Doblo in the same way you love a naughty puppy, it’s a Swiss army knife of a car just not cool; yet.


It’s not often I don’t like the look of a car before I’ve seen the one I’m going to spend a week with, the Fluence is one of those cars. I’d seen a few around the roads before I get a chance to drive one myself. The first drive I had of the Fluence was a couple of months back at the Renault ZE road show, I got to take one of the million Euro prototypes out on the roads around Carton house. I was greatly impressed with the electric version, but I wasn’t too happy with the look of the outside. It looks too high off the road, but this car was originally designed to be an electric car, so aerodynamics are playing a heavy roll in the look of the car.

The model I had for testing is the Tom Tom edition, that’s about as high a spec as you can get. There’s built in Sat-Nav, keyless entry/exit and start, dual zone climate control to name but a few, there is also the most comfortable seats I’ve ever had the great pleasure to sit in, you would have to go a few classes above to beat the comfort in the Fluence.

The boot has a great shape, it’s wide at the opening and gets a little narrower, it’s 530ltr can cope with just about any shape, and can happily take two prams and all the stuff that kids need. There’s also two shopping bag hooks that can keep your shopping where it should be; in the bags.

The back seat can cope with 3 adults, or as in my case, one adult and two child seats. Most important is the comfort in the back, there’s loads of leg and headroom, there’s also a pull down armrest in the middle that has cup holders built in.

Up front the dash is made out of fantastic materials, in fact the materials look like they are out of a car well above the Fluence class. Everything is where it should be in a Renault, I still think the radio has too many buttons and the steering wheel stalk is over complicated, but you soon get used to finding the buttons you need most.

My first drive took me on the motorway, the 1.5 diesel unit puts out 106bhp and I find it a little noisy during acceleration but that’s the nature of diesel engines. In the Fluence once you get up to speed you can’t hear the engine anymore, there’s no sound at 100kph and very little at 120kph. Testament to its aerodynamic background, there’s very little wind noise either. On the Motorway the Fluence is sublime, that huge comfy seat, firm suspension and a tonne of elbow room means that this is simply the best long distance cruiser. It’s no slouch in the corners either, for a big saloon it handles really well; you would really want to throw it into a corner before it looses any grip. Even at low speeds there’s nothing wrong in the Fluence, there’s no wobble over flat top speed bumps and it’s easy to park thanks to the good visibility and parking sensors on the rear.

I said in the video that the Fluence was the best car I’d driven all year; I meant it. There’s nothing in its price range with the same room and spec that you can get for the price of €23,500 before any discounts or a trade in. Yes it looks a little odd at first but if you see it in the right colour (black or White) it’s a handsome car. Renault didn’t go about trying to re-invent the saloon market, what they did was take all the good bits from saloons and tweak them, making every thing a little better. For me crucially, it’s original and that makes a huge difference because I don’t like driving around in one of the other Euro-boxes that inhabit Irish roads currently. Here’s the best endorsement I can give the Fluence, I want to order one for next January.


Mazda have released some pictures of a new car that I hope they build for production, I would love to see one on Irish roads. It’s called the Shinari, “The Japanese word shinari describes the powerful yet supple appearance of great resilient force when objects of high tensile strength, such as steel or bamboo, are twisted or bent. It also refers to the appearance of a person or animal as it flexes its body in preparation for a fast movement, and it is these images that form the basis for the name of this concept car.”

It’s a 4 door, 4 seat coupe and I want one. Here’s some pictures for you to drool over, or set as your desktop should you feel the need to do such a thing


Renault S.A. Logo

Image via Wikipedia

I wanted to find out if you can really achieve the figures that car makers put out with every new car, so I put one maker to the test, Renault…..