2018 Renault Captur Review

Somewhere in history, car manufacturers in Ireland started realising that young buyers want something fun, quirky and different than the usual car purchase. This lead to smaller and more affordable models in manufacturer’s line-ups. But, also to retro designs like the MINI Cooper, Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Beetle. But, pair this quirky, funky styling technique to the modern day fad of the SUV and you will get the 2018 Renault Captur.The Renault Captur is nothing new to the French manufacturer’s line-up now being on sale since 2013. Having received a makeover in 2017, the Clio-based Renault Captur facelift crossover is one that should not be overlooked. From the outside, the tall yet equally hunkered down stance of the 2018 Captur ticks the boxes of a young person’s SUV. Finished in Amethyst with Platinum roof, purple with a silver roof to you and I, the Captur’s looks definitely tickled my fancy. The facelift adds a more grown-up and muscular front end to the B-segment SUV.The Captur is based off the Renault Clio so, naturally, it shares some of its components. Most of that being evident on the interior. In Signature S Nav trim, the Captur gets a 7-inch touchscreen with Renault’s R-Link infotainment system. You can read from my previous reviews of R-Link that it’s not the best however it has been seriously improved for the Captur. First of all, my phone actually paired with this one and worked every time. It’s easy to navigate and with sat nav from TomTom, it’s well equipped. Black leather seats also come as standard on Signature S Nav trim. These are comfortable, look good and come with bum warmers. Mmm, toasty!Although, the quality of the finish was still what Renault is recognised for. Scratchy plastics galore, even if the two tone dash did look good. Also, from the rear bench was an annoying creak that wouldn’t go away. On the passenger seat, the button for the heated eats, or at least the fake button in its place, had fallen into the base of the seat leaving just a hole. Not a great result quality-wise for a car with less than 5,000km on the clock.Also carrying on from my review of the 2018 Renault Megane, you will get my hatred for Nissan Renault’s 1.5 dCi engine. To my dread, this Captur was fitted with it. Although, it made a good combo on this occasion. My week of mostly urban and suburban commuting translated to a fuel economy of 7.2l/100km. This just backs up my point of my lack of a need for a diesel. So if you don’t do many motorway miles, consider opting for the TCe 90hp 3-cylinder petrol. Although, strangely, this is not available in the Signature S Nav, only diesels are available in the highest trim level.

The cabin was averagely refined in terms of road noise and engine noise but the comfortable seats made up for this. Steering was good from the tall crossover but body roll was present so don’t be getting any ideas. Although my test car sat on 17-inch “Emotion” alloys, ride comfort was good.Boot space equals 377 litres with the seats up and 1,235l with them down, taking advantage of the two tier boot floor too. Taller rear passengers might not be the most comfortable when it comes to head room but if they have long legs, they need not worry.

Overall, the Captur is good buy. Comparing it to the 2018 Opel Crossland X I tested a couple of weeks ago, the Captur is a no brainer. It is miles ahead in terms of refinement, looks and drivability. In Signature S Nav trim, this 2018 Renault Captur will set you back from €27,390. Spec it up correctly and you’ll be one happy urbanite. Renault, you did good!

2018 Subaru Forester Review – New Car Review

I’m a newbie when it comes to CVT gearboxes. My first experience of one was in my recent test car, the 2018 Subaru Forester. In Ireland, the Forester costs from €36,995 which makes it a much pricier alternative to the 2018 Mazda CX-5 and 2018 Nissan X-Trail. However, both of the latter SUVs can be had with a regular, automatic gearbox and having experienced the CX-5 with its 6-speed auto, it’s rather good. But Subaru has always been a bit out there so instead of giving us a trusty automatic, they have given us a CVT. *Deep sigh* OK, let’s do this.

CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission. While it is an automatic, it doesn’t have gears but rather steps or stages. Instead of gears, or cogs, there are pulleys. One turned by the engine and the other pulled by the rest of the transmission to the wheels. This transcribes to a seamless and smooth gear change but, when driven like any other car, the engine uses most of the rev range before changing up a gear. This is annoying not only because of the high revs but this translates to a 9.6l/100km fuel economy figure. So in order for you to drive the Forester as Subaru has intended, you must drive at a snail’s pace.

But the Subaru isn’t just all about the CVT. Thanks to its EyeSight feature, it has one of the best adaptive cruise control systems I’ve used. Eyesight is how Subaru say “safety”. It acts as lane recognition and emergency brake assist also. By monitoring other motorists around you, the binocular-like sensors at the top of the windscreen help to keep you out of trouble.

The Forester, back in the day, was a boxy, quirky Japanese estate. Now, keeping up with trends, it is more of an SUV. The exterior’s tall, awkward design translates to great head room in the front and rear and a boot space of at least 505l and up to 1,565l with the seats flat. A decent sized glovebox and a huge centre console cubby hole mean that the Forester has plenty of space all round. The heated leather seats mean that motorway journeys were comfortable and not to be dread.

Taking the SUV off road with X-Mode means that this family practical package can become, not hard core but, off road capable. Understandably, there are very few places where it is free reign for you to tear around in your off roader but I have my spots and I took the 2018 Subaru Forester “soft-roading”. While I found it capable here, I didn’t challenge it. However, I was informed by Subaru when I dropped the Forester back that when they did the official launch, the off road course instructors that navigated the journalists around said that it was just as capable as their Land Rover Discovery 1 and 2s. Although I find this hard to believe, I wasn’t there so I have to take their word for it.

Overall, the Forester is a decent package. Coming in at €38,995 for this 150hp, 198Nm Boxer petrol engine with the CVT, it is well equipped. I would recommend the Eyesight safety system, for sure. What I would not recommend is the CVT. For your own sanity, until Subaru discover the conventional automatic gearbox, opt for the 6-speed manual.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Front

2018 Jeep Wrangler Review – New Car Review

A car is very much a lifestyle accessory. SUVs and Crossovers are predominantly used by families with practicality at the top of their list. Two seater sports cars, like the Mazda MX-5, is bought by someone who doesn’t take life too seriously. Someone who has no belongings that need to be carried around and wants to look good on those couple of, and rare, Summer days in Ireland. Where in Ireland does the 2018 Jeep Wrangler fit in so?

A Quick Jeep Wrangler History Lesson

The Jeep Wrangler’s ancestors date back to the Willys MB. The MB was brought about in 1941 for American troops to use in World War II. After the war, Willys trademarked the name Jeep and began to manufacture the Jeep for everyday use naming it the CJ – Civilian Jeep. Right up until the early 1980’s the CJ was doing well for the brand. It was an icon that everyone knew what it was and what it was about. But, the recession meant that the American market wanted something lighter and more fuel efficient yet still a “Go Anywhere” 4×4. The Jeep Cherokee was introduced and the CJ was briefly axed. After Jeep made their money off the Cherokee it was time to bring back the CJ, but with a new name. And so, the Wrangler was born. Fast forward to 2018, and three Wrangler generations later, the Jeep Wrangler is one tough cookie stooped in history. The 2018/2019 fourth generation Jeep Wrangler is due in Ireland at the end of this year. I couldn’t not let myself get a go in the third generation before it disappeared so here we are today.

A Lifestyle Vehicle You Say?

I still stand by my point of the Jeep Wrangler being a lifestyle vehicle. This is evident to any regular punter simply by looking at the spec sheet. A 200hp and 460Nm 2.8 four-cylinder diesel powers this almost 2,000kg selectable four wheel drive 4×4 around. Shifting through the gears is a single clutch 5-speed automatic returning a real world average of 11.9l/100Km. Combining these history book figures with an abundance of road and wind noise, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler is not for the faint hearted.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Rear

Thankfully I am not faint hearted because I utterly love the Wrangler. It’s a raw, no frills off roader amongst a sea of soft roaders pretending to be something they are not. While I didn’t get the opportunity to do any hard core off roading, I did take the Wrangler to a small off road circuit. It handled it as if it was just a rough bit of road. There was so much more to give from the Wrangler that I felt I was just teasing it. One of the “techy” bits offered by the Jeep is hill ascent control. Think of this is as cruise control for going down steep declines. I found this feature handy in the 2017 Volkswagen Touareg.

What About Everyday Use? 

But trying to use the 2018 Jeep Wrangler as an everyday car is like wearing a pair of stilettos to climb The Sugar Loaf. You’ll wince and make up curse words that you didn’t think were possible as you try to negotiate any sort of street that’s narrower than 50 metres wide. For a four seater, the Wrangler is awkwardly big. This is only one of the indicators that it was built for the American market.

But in saying this, in the right environment it’s versatile. The rear section of the roof and the two panels above the driver can come off in a matter of minutes, with two people. Starts to drizzle? Not to worry, the Alpine sub woofer in the boot is waterproof. There are two rubber stoppers on the bonnet which are there to protect the glass windscreen when you fold it down, just to add to the outdoorsy experience. The quirkiness doesn’t stop there. The only option available here in Ireland is that of metallic paint, otherwise it comes standard in White. Homage is paid to the Willys MB all around the Jeep. On the bottom right hand corner of the windscreen is a silhouette of an Willys MB, same as on each of the 18-inch alloys. The horn is the best though. I should have added a sound clip – YouTube it!

Would I Buy One?

When you break down each component of the Wrangler, it doesn’t make much sense. What, with a 5-speed auto, an average fuel consumption of 11.9l/100km and a boot space of just 142 litres. But, put it all together, mix it up, cook it at 180 degrees for 25 minutes and you’ve got a car that is more than worthy of a spot in your garage at your lake house in Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately it costs the guts of at least €53,250. Still, I want to go on an adventure. Now, where did I leave the keys?

2018 Jeep Wrangler Front