Opel Crossland X front

2018 Opel Crossland X Review – New Car Review

The 2018 Opel Crossland X sits in a segment which, in my opinion, is pointless. The B-Segment SUV segment consists of cars such as the 2018 SEAT Arona and 2018 KIA Stonic. What the Crossland X has in common with these two competitors is that, in Ireland, the older sibling of each is so closely related that it seems as if they are just excuses for each brand to release yet another car.

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The Opel Crossland X

When I got handed the keys of the 2018 Crossland X, I was told that it was not, essentially, as high class as the 2018 Insignia Grand Sport is believed to be. I was thankful of this information because it set the bar lower for me as I started my week with it. Despite the SUV set at being for the “more affordable” market, the one I had in SE trim was priced at €28,320. This is quite steep considering that the target market for this car is for current owners of the Corsa, which is priced from €15,750. The Crossland X starts from €21,995.

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An Out-LANDish Exterior

Up front, the Opel Crossland X looks like a skinnier, more obscure Mokka X. I particularly like the Mokka because it looks compact yet is practical on the inside. As you move down the along the 4.2m long compact Crossland, you are exposed to the bland styling to the rear. It’s 2D-like bum is not very imaginative. I know there is only so much you can do to an SUV nowadays due to safety regulations, etc. so this only backs up my point of this car in the first place, why?

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Will It Go Cross-Land?

Immediately as I sat inside the Crossland X and turned the key, one adjective came to mind; agricultural. The hard plastics that construct the interior play no part in the quality that Opel is capable of. Turn the key and Opel’s 1.6CDTi diesel unit that was once described as whisper quiet (it really isn’t…), rattles into life. In this particular car, the 99hp and 254Nm unit is coupled with a 5-speed manual with, what must be, the world’s longest throw. Selecting first, third and fifth gear is like reaching into the engine bay.

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But the whole package comes together to provide a smooth and comfortable ride. The 17-inch wheels give a little road noise on the motorway but nothing that the Crossland’s competitors can sort out. When I say that this class is pointless, isn’t fair. I know who would buy a B-segment SUV – our elders. The high seating position and ease of access to both the cabin and 410l boot makes sense for people who are tired of clambering down into their Opel Corsa. I also commend Opel on the fact the Opel OnStar comes as standard across the range – that being all two trim levels (SC and SE). The infotainment is typically Opel, its the 7-inch touch screen IntelliLink 4.0. The system is easy to use and my phone paired quickly for the first time to it. Although, the hard plastics provided a lot of rattle when listening to music at volume or with bass.

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Would I Buy One?

I stand by what I say when the 2018 Opel Crossland X feels agricultural. For €28,320, the Crossland doesn’t seem worth it. It feels like an excuse of a car. As if Opel was obliged to keep up with trends and felt the need to bring out yet another model to its already 17 car long line-up. Why not invest more money into improving the Mokka rather than just giving it a new face and adding an X to its name. Besides, the Mokka X is only a €500 jump up from the Crossland. My conclusion? Save yourself the money and invest in a Mokka X.

2018 Nissan Qashqai Exterior

2018 Nissan Qashqai Review – New Car Review Ireland

There’s a reason the old generation Nissan Qashqai dominated its segment – It was practical and cheap. Exactly what consumers look for when buying in its segment. The Qashqai has been given a makeover for 2018 and I’ve been driving it. Does it live up to its predecessor?

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I’m a single, 23 year old who has no kids so thankfully I have no need for the Qashqai but I can see why it sells so well. From the outside, the old bubbliness of the first generation has been replaced with a sleeker, muscular body painted in Vivid Blue on my press car. The B-Segment SUV sat on 19-inch black and chrome alloy wheels, standard on SVE trim. Due to the nature of larger alloys, road noise is noticeable at higher motorway speeds. I respect the fact that Nissan tried to sound proof the cabin but the reason I know this is because I could see the material used behind some exterior body panels. The grey Styrofoam material could be seen behind the wings when you opened the driver’s door. This and the fact that a lot of the interior plastics are of questionable material, it’s known that Nissan cut corners in terms of quality.

Welcome Into The Interior Of The Nissan Qashqai

Inside this highest spec car, Nissan equipped these super comfortable and great looking Nappa Leather quilted seats. Both the front two seats were electrically adjustable with the driver’s one having memory functions. This interior oozes practicality with the centre console’s armrest doubling up as a two tier cubby hole. The top part is the perfect size for a phone and wallet while the bottom part holds a couple of 500ml bottles of water. Although, the cup holders are massive, my little flat white was lost in them. Still, if you’re a fan of massive take away mugs of coffee in the morning, you’ll be more than happy to know that there are space for two up front.

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This week’s coffee spot – Ebb and Flow, Clontarf.
Said flat white came from my local – Ebb and Flow. The shop, fronting a hairdressers, has been in business since 2015 and is owned by Dave Smyth. But the faces that greet you as you walk in are what I come back for, not only the coffee. The Baristas are always full of chat and are there to brighten up your day.

Ebb and Flow stocks the Irish owned Full Circle Roasters coffee. In the grinder that day was Full Circle’s Single Origin. This fruity coffee makes the perfect flat white. It has strong tones from blueberries, cacao and violet  softly complimenting the flatty nicely.

Ebb and Flow charge €3.00 for a flat white and €2.50 for an espresso.

As For The Infotainment?

I criticised the new Nissan Micra for its infotainment system. To my despair, the system has not been updated for 2018. Although it works just fine, it’s messy. Too many buttons feature on the sides and the graphics look as if Nissan are only discovering colour screens now. There is an upside to the abundance of buttons, however. For someone unlike me who is used to the newest tech, the old school system is easy to navigate with each button doing exactly what you want it to.

 

Do You Even Practicality Bro?

Space to the rear is good. In my driving position, there was plenty of leg and headroom and the outer passengers benefit from a central arm rest. If you pull the short straw and are plonked in the middle, fear not – the transmission tunnel is small so leg room isn’t compromised too much.

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The boot features a false floor split in half so you can decrease or increase the depth of the boot. With it on the top setting, the load lip is minimal so you can slide larger items in and out with ease. To my surprise, the Nissan Qashqai had a full sized spare wheel in the boot. However, this is chucked out if you opt for the Bose sound system.

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Let’s Take to the Road

The Qashqai was never about the drive so look away now if you are looking for something more engaging. The 1.2 DIG-T is a 115hp, 190Nm turboed four cylinder petrol. The petrol makes much more sense to the style of driving I did. I mainly did city runabouts with the odd scoot down the motorway. This resulted in an average fuel consumption of 6.6l/100km over almost 400km. The peak torque of this engine arrives at 2,000rpm. This means that at lower revs, there is little power and the car feels sluggish. However, the reason I would want the petrol over the diesel is because the cabin is quieter than that of the diesel. If the joy of driving matters more to you when it comes to a family car, then lean more towards the Mazda CX-3 or CX-5.

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What Do You Get For Your Money?

The Nissan Qashqai starts at €26,070 for the XE. For this test car, expect to part with €34,320. As standard on SVE is Black Nappa Leather seats, electrically adjustable front seats and Driver Assist Pack including Intelligent Park Assist. The park assist is very intelligent, indeed. The bird’s-eye view is extremely accurate and much more convenient than just the regular parking sensors.

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Would I Buy One?

Will the 2018 Nissan Qashqai be as successful as it’s predecessor? Yes, no doubt. Although its build quality is dubious, its an overall impressive package. With competition from like likes of the Opel Mokka, Skoda Yeti (Soon to be the 2018 Skoda Karoq) and Mazda CX-3, it has a lot to live up to. If €34,320 is too strong, there is plenty of value in lower trim levels.

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce Review

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is straight out the prettiest car, within an achievable financial reach, on sale in Ireland. The Giulia range starts from €39,995 with my test car priced at €56,645. Now, I could sit here and write 1,000 words riddled with cheesy Italian clichés like that the car is “Bello” and “Fantastico” but this car deserves more respect than that.

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You Could have a BMW 3-Series or Audi A4. But Have The Alfa!

The Alfa Romeo Giulia sits in a competitive segment. One that is saturated with BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class buyers. When Alfa Romeo released the 159’s replacement in 2015, after the predecessor ceased production in 2011, the world was very pleased indeed. We were hoping for another seductive Italian saloon like the 156 and 155 of days gone by. And that we got. Although, it’s too early to tell whether the Giulia will take after it’s ancestors in terms of reliability.

As soon as you are within the vicinity of the Giulia Veloce, you truly know it. The Misano Blue paint, 19” Veloce alloys with yellow calipers lurking behind is a combination that can only be described as “Offt!”. The presence that the Giulia has is rather impressive. I attended Cars and Coffee at the weekend and I watched in awe as fellow car enthusiasts expressed their interest in it.

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The triangular grill with the off-centre reg pays homage to the Alfas of old. The rear defuser with large, circular exhaust tips each side make the correct statement. They make a nice rumble from cold too, I had some comforting mornings with the 1-degree frostiness during my week.

The interior is very fresh. The centre console isn’t plastered with buttons, or blank ones at that. Instead, the faux-aluminium panel houses the infotainment scroller, radio volume controls, the DNA switch, twin cup holders and the gear shifter for the 8-speed ZF gearbox. The black leather with contrast stitching sport seats honour the ones that are found on the Alfas of the 60’s and 70’s. Alfa have taken a page out of Ferrari’s book and put the start button on the steering wheel. Behind the multi-functional steering wheel, are the massive, metal paddles. They feel like proper paddles when shifting too, unlike the buttons found on some Volkswagen AG models.

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Space to the rear is very cramped. With the driver seat in my driving position, all 6-foot of me had very little leg room. Although, the quality of materials used to the rear were as good as the ones up front, not usually found on many cars these days. As for the boot, it offers 480l. This is on par with the 3-Series and A4 but it’s shallow so feels a lot less.

The Giulia is a typical Alfa Romeo; it has many flaws that could be solved from it’s competitors but they don’t have the same charisma the Alfa does. When I first picked up the Giulia Veloce, I went for a drive. I took it to some quiet backroads, ones that would make you fall in love with an Alfa. I found that the Giulia was very tail happy and always wanted to kick out. I’m perfectly fine with this, I’m always up for a challenge. However, I’m not OK with the fact that you can’t turn off the traction control.

What this results in is a couple of seconds of laughter before the car is sitting dead in the middle of the road because the ESP kicked in a cut all the power. Not only did it do it on a backroad, similarly when I put the foot down to overtake a bus, in a controlled manner, I sat there as the ESP “worked it’s magic” not being able to do anything. From first impressions, I was genuinely disappointed, as much as it pains me to say it.

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From Alfa’s DNA switch, the Giulia has Natural, Dynamic and Advanced driving modes. In Natural, the executive saloon is a comfortable daily. The motorway miles are eaten from the comfort of the black, leather stitched sports seats. In Advanced, it makes tackling greasy or icy surfaces unchallenging. Switching to Dynamic is when I expected the Quadrifoglio-esque saloon to break loose, let it’s hair down and serenade me with the song of it’s people.

It might seem as if I am slating the Veloce over the fact that you can’t turn off the ESP and I am. But, why make a more “dynamic” version of an executive car to hold back on the driving dynamic? It’s senseless. This was until I took it onto a similarly technical road but this time with gradual bends and curves to it. In this situation, the Giulia feels planted. The saloon feels very sure of itself and confident of how you negotiate the road. The driving experience is quite bi-polar.

I learned that you have to get to know the Alfa Romeo Giulia. It’s a different driving experience from any other car I’ve ever driven. This being that it’s flaws are contagious and once you get the Giulia on a good day, you forget all the things you dislike. At low speeds, the steering is engaging, you feel where the wheels are at any given time – unlike some other cars with adaptive steering. The same goes for the hoonable roads; You’re glad to see some nice bends up ahead.

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I noticed every morning as I pulled out of the driveway, the front wheels slipped as I turned – Almost as if it was understeering but at 5km/h. This is normal for cars with a wide track as the front wheels tilt as you turn. But, it was more noticeable on the Giulia. It’s quirky too. It took three people and about 20 minutes to find the bonnet release latch. The manual says that it is in the passenger footwell when in fact, it is actually underneath the steering wheel and is discretely hidden. Oh, Alfa!

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce – Would I buy one?

As my week came to an end, I had fully figured out the Giulia Veloce. I can see it as a motorway cruiser rather than a backroad bruiser. As for my verdict, you’re going to hate me. As much as the Giulia is flawed, I still want one. Every time I got into it, I loved it. I was happy to start my journey whether it was my morning commute or just nipping down to the shops. It’s toxic. Would I recommend you buy one, yes. At least consider it before you opt for an A4 or 3-Series.

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I dislike so many things about the car but I just can’t get enough of it. In saying this, it took me the whole week to come to this conclusion, the car grows on you. Yes, you can have a BMW 330i M-Sport for the same money but it’s not an Alfa. It doesn’t feel as special as an Alfa. It doesn’t get the same respect or looks as the Alfa does. It’s such a lovable car. Now I understand Alfa owners, I get you.