Category Archives: Motoring

Renault Megane Grand Coupe and Scenic – First Drive

Renault Ireland welcomes the new Megane Grand Coupe, Megane Sport Tourer, Scenic and Grand Scenic to the Irish market.

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The Renault Megane Grand Coupe

The term Grand Coupe and Sport Tourer are becoming the norm for manufacturers now. They give that slight bit more elegance to the name of a car than saloon or estate do, which both terms actually mean. The Megane Hatchback, which I drove last year, is a good car except for the engine. I really dislike that 1.5 dCi 110hp engine, its lifeless. So I was happy to hear that the Grand Coupes at the launch event all had the 1.6 dCi 130hp engine, not that I would have thought it made much difference. It did! It is surprising what 20hp can do. The GC felt full of life and handled much like the hatchback, even though the chassis is just short of 60mm longer.

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This 60mm makes a difference for rear passengers, they have the extra leg room which naturally means more comfort. The car I drove was in Signature Nav spec so had a full black leather interior as standard. The Signature Nav trim level also includes 18 inch alloys, Sat Nav and LED headlights as standard.

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The Megane GC, which replaces the Fluence, prices start at €21,990 with the Signature trim level starting at €27,290. Four trim levels are available; Expression, Dynamique, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. Each model comes standard with a 6 speed manual but for an additional €1,700 to each model, a 6-speed automatic can be equipped. No petrol models will be available in the Megane GC. Although, a 1.2(130hp) and 1.6(205hp) petrol is available in the Hatchback and the Sport Tourer. Keep an eye out on the site over the next month for my review of the Megane GT with the 205hp engine.

The Renault Scenic

I know, I know, who wants to hear about family cars on a site run by a young motoring enthusiast? But to be fair, I have been doing quite a mix of reviews over the past year so its not exactly outside of the norm.

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As far as MPVs go, the Scenic is certainly a looker. It stands out amongst its competition with its sleeker body design and, as for the car I drove anyway, more interesting choice of colours. At the moment it is in the running of being one of the best looking cars on sale on France’s equivalent of Top Gear, Turbo.

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The Scenic is available from  €26,000 and €28,400 for the Grand Scenic. The car I drove had the 110hp 1.5 dCi engine which, much like the Megane Hatchback, was dull to drive. The MPV is not beaten on looks and space is not half bad either. The boot measures at 572l.

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Expect to see more Renaults on the road this year as Renault Ireland predict that the Megane will reach the top 3 of new cars registered. It says that there is a Megane for everyone. What do you think of the line-up? Would you be tempted by a new Renault?

Archie – Update

As you all know, I bought a 2005 MINI Cooper S. You didn’t know? Oh, check out my recent purchase here so!

I have no plans on modifying the car but I will upgrade brakediscsome parts… no, its not modification, I swear! The car is fully stock, as far as I’m aware. I have just bought grooved discs from Mtec Brakes and will fit them. They came in at a very reasonable €220 for four painted and grooved discs and Mintex pads. I’m not expecting them to be the best in the world but at least they’ll be upgrade from the standard R53 brakes.

 

I also plan on putting a different exhaust on. Its the same, standard exhaust that comes on the Cooper S but it has the driver side resonator deleted. This makes for a better sound and more pops and bangs. The neighbours will hate me…

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I am in two minds about the next two “upgrades”. I’m thinking of putting in a short shifter and upgrading the air intake. The short shifter seems like a pain the hoop because the exhaust and the heat shield have to come off from the under body. Thankfully I’ll be doing the exhaust anyway but it still seems like a pain to fit. The air intake would make a  massive improvement, apparently. I’m waiting on my insurance company to get back to me on whether my insurance will go up or not if I was to upgrade it. I have been told that the Orranje Stealth Cold Air Intake makes a world of a difference. Its about £125 but seems like its the bee’s knees. Not only is there a K+N Filter included but also an upgraded air box too. If I don’t put that system in, I will probably upgrade just the filter itself. Can anyone shed some light on this? Should I bite the bullet and spend the £125? Should I just upgrade the filter? Or should I just leave it stock?

As for cosmetic modifications, I’m unsure. The car is Hyper Metallic Blue all over. I don’t think dark blue and carbon would look well together…Or black and blue…or white and blue. I’m not sure what I’ll do cosmetically yet.

That is all I have planned for now. Once I get the brakes on and give them a proper going through, I’ll update you all. I have my name down and paid for a track day in October. I’ll get to know the Cooper a little bit better then. Don’t worry, I’ll take her handy!

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Say Hello To Archie

As I told you in my Insurance piece, I was planning on buying a new car. Well it went from almost buying an Alfa Romeo 145(Which I still regret deeply) to the want for an Alfa 156 (Don’t even ask…). Then to the serious want for a 4×4, like a jacked up Suzuki Jimny. Then to an old Mini. I went to look at a few Minis but after a while decided that it wouldn’t be fair to run one as a daily due to the amount of motorway miles I do. Then I started looking at the (BMW) MINI Cooper S. I always had it in the back of mind.

Alfa 145

I wanted a hot hatch but wasn’t sure which one. I wanted something different. I didn’t want a Golf GTI because there are so many Golfs around…until I drove one! I drove a couple of DSG MK5s and fell in love. But the helpful, generous and thoughtful Irish insurance companies couldn’t help me out so that idea was scraped when the cheapest insurance quote I could get was upwards of €2,700.

So, that was when I fully made up my mind about buying  a Cooper S. I wanted the R53 Facelift. You have the supercharger and 168hp, whats not to want? However, there was one simple thing holding me back from buying one in Ireland. A multi functional steering wheel/Cruise control. I wanted this simple feature on the car. You would think that that would be easy to find, yes? Well you’re most definitely wrong! Pretty much every car that went up on the Irish classifieds websites were the plain aul 3-spoke steering wheel with no multi-functions. I began to look at UK classified websites.

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Eventually, I found one that was for sale down near London. I arranged to view it, booked my ferry ticket and off we went. Luckily I was in the UK anyway (on a roadtrip with lots of old Triumphs, including my dad’s TR6) so it made the trip more simple.

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We went down to view on a Monday. The heat was unbearable! It reached 34 degrees at one point. Thankfully there was an air conditioned showroom!

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3 hours (and some trouble with my credit card company) later, I was the proud owner of a 2005 Hyper Blue Metallic MINI Cooper S, now named Archie!

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Archie and myself have had some fun times already driving over some great UK roads and attending his first Irish Cars and Coffee. I’ve yet to get his Irish plates but I am in the process of doing so. I will keep you updated on our adventures together.

If you guys have any questions about buying a Cooper S or even buying a car in the UK, you can ask me. I learned a lot from the buying experience and I can tell you what to do and, most definitely, not what to do! A do and don’t post will be written up soon.

First Car Ownership Costs

I have owned my SEAT Ibiza, Samantha, for just over a year but it is now time to sell up and move onto better things. In that year I have done over 11,000 miles. I have decided to give you a breakdown in what it has cost me over the year in hope that you can get a better feel of what it is like to own and run your first car. I should mention now that I paid €1,050 for the car.

Fuel

The Ibiza isn’t too bad on fuel. The petrol tank is 40 litres and takes roughly €50 to fill it. On that, I would get roughly 330 miles or 530km, this equates to an average of about 40MPG or 7.1L/100Km. I mainly do motorway miles in Samantha, which was surprisingly comfortable. Now for the bit you really want to know, how much I spent on petrol. I kept a lot of my receipts but I have bound to have lost a few. So going on what I have, I have spent €1,991.67.

Tax and Insurance

As you all know, I hate Irish insurance companies. You can read about my experiences(rant) here. Last year, before my renewal, I spent €1304.97 for third party, fire and theft. Since my renewal, of €1589.49, I have spent €158.17 because I pay monthly installments. I didn’t bother shopping around for different company because I am selling the car and it wouldn’t make sense to do that for the sake of a month or two. So the total spend on insurance in the past year has been €1463.14.

Samantha only being a 1.2, the tax is stomachable. I bought tax for 6 months twice and for 3 months once, this equals a total spend of €459.

Maintenance

When I bought the car, it had been lying up for a year so it needed a few bits doing to it. I bought new tyres, gave it a basic service and put it through the NCT. Here is a breakdown of what I have paid for:

  • NCT x 2
  • Front brake hoses x 4 (Tried fitting them myself…didn’t go well hence 4 hoses, not 2. )
  • Full set of new tyres
  • Tracking
  • New set of wipers
  • Basic service parts
  • Puncture repair
  • Oil
  • Wishbone bushing
  • Anti roll bar link rod
  • Front top shock mounts x 2
  • Gearbox oil

In total, I spent €1245.45 on maintenance.

Accessories

The radio in Samantha was the basic, standard radio. I treated myself to a good aul Sony Bluetooth radio, the best €135 I ever spent on Samantha.

So during my ownership Samantha has been treated well. As for my wallet, it hasn’t been treated as well. The total spend comes to €5159.26, almost 5 times what I paid for the car. I should never have written this article… Buying your first car is such a great idea though, you can see why I think so here.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in a bright yellow, fun and characterful SEAT Ibiza, you can see the for sale ad here. Whats next for Ian? All going well, an R53 Mini Cooper S. If you want to this happen, then buy my car!

Did we learn from Diesel Gate?

While scrolling through some car adverts recently, I was noticing a lot of diesels for sale. Not that this is new to me, practically every new BMW 5 series on the road is a 520d. But it got me thinking, did Dieselgate turn anyone against diesels?

I decided to go and do a little bit of research and found some interesting results. The figures below are sales figures from May 2015 to December 2015, the 152 plate.

  • SEAT sold 434 diesels equaling 57.79% of its sales and 371 petrols, 42.21% of sales. This doesn’t seem to bad, no? Thats what I thought, but just wait.
  • Audi sold 1,944 diesels, 91.57% of their sales. 91.57%! This leaves it with 173 petrols sold, only 8.15%.
  • Skoda sold 2,111 diesels, 66.32% of total sales, and 1,072 petrols, 33.68%.
  • I’m saving the mother ship for last, Volkswagen. Volkswagen sold 1,736 petrol cars, 27.92% of sales. It sold 4,474 diesels, equaling to 71.85% of total sales. Four thousand, four hundred and seventy four cars. I should mention, however, that 8 electric/petrol plug in hybrid electric vehicles were sold, only 0.13%.

Although these figures are quite surprising to some, I am not surprised. We, the Irish motorists, were persuaded by the Irish government’s strategy of basing the vehicle tax on the vehicles emission’s. This meant that in 2008, an Audi A4 2.0TDI (diesel) cost €280 per year to tax and a 1.8 TFSI (petrol) cost €570. So it made sense to save the €290.

But it was in mid 2015 that the buyers of these diesels had realised that they had made quite a big mistake, through no fault of their own however. Volkswagen reported that more than 15 million of its cars, including Audi, Skoda, SEAT and VW, had been programmed with software that when the car was being tested for emissions it would give a false figure, much lower than the actual figure. So therefore, VW cheated on their emissions.

Recently, Volkswagen published news that it had a €1.4bn (after tax) loss in 2015. This is compared to an €11bn (after tax)profit 2014. Are Volkswagen worried about this loss? Most definitely not. It is one of, if not the, most powerful car manufacturers in the world. It has €24.4bn in liquid assets, €1.4bn means nothing to it. It has set aside €16.2bn to deal with the cars affected by the diesel gate. So if this loss in 2015 doesn’t worry the company, what is it worried about? Reputation. It should be worried that if sales keep falling, that this €1.6bn could turn into €16bn.

The forward thinkers among us will have already come to the conclusion that diesel is on its way out, and you would be right. VW are improving its electric and hybrid systems with new cars coming out almost every year. The Golf, for example, has 2 electric variants; the e-Golf and the GTE. The Passat also has a GTE variant. Moving away from VW for a second, Toyota offer every car in its range as a hybrid. It is the only car company to offer diesel, petrol and hybrid/electric on each car in its line-up. Although almost 60% of its sales in 2015 were diesel, they push its hybrid technology more and more. Take Lexus for example, Toyota have been doing hybrid technology for years.

So the question still remains, have we learned from Dieselgate? From the way things going, no. Volkswagen Ireland has sold 8,555 cars this year, 6,139 of which have been diesel. Are Irish consumers putting their trust into diesel again? Are they just so tempted by the, slightly, lower cost of tax?

Let me know:

  • Are you a diesel car driver? Why?
  • Would you buy a diesel again? Why?

2016 Mercedes E-Class – Launch

Mercedes launched the E-Class to the Irish Press yesterday. Priced from €50,550, it may be appealing to a lot of Irish buyers.

With expectations to pass BMW in 2016 and claiming to have passed Audi last year as Irelands highest selling premium brand, Mercedes hope to continue to sell the E-Class as their best selling model.

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Three trim levels will be available – Avantgarde, Exclusive and AMG Line. Prices for the E220d will start from €52,850 and €50,550 for the E200d, arriving later this year. An estate model will also be available from July onwards, just in time for the 162 registrations. The car will only be available with a 9-speed automatic.

The E220d is €850 cheaper than the outgoing model but has €7000 worth of extras as standard. This includes full leather interior, 64 colour ambient lighting, keyless start, sat nav, reversing camera, parking pilot, Comfort Seat pack with heated seats and Dynamic Select.

Coming soon – Our first drive in the new Mercedes E-Class 220d AMG Line with Nightpack.

Ian

Audi A3 – Facelift

One of Audis best selling  cars is the A3. Now into its third generation, the A3 has received another facelift.

Dynamic photo, Colour: Tango Red
Dynamic photo,
Colour: Tango Red

The A3 has been given the A4/R8 treatment so now it looks like its more mature siblings. The headlights are flatter, with distinctive outer contours.

Though, the biggest update to the A3 is the new 1.0 petrol engine. It will be given a 1.0 TFSI, 3-cylinder engine with a 115hp and 200Nm output. This could be the pick of the bunch for the updated A3.

Static photo, Colour:Tango Red
Static photo,
Colour:Tango Red

Now also available in the A3 is the virtual cockpit. Read about my experiences of the virtual cockpit in the A4. A new 7-inch display is as standard now and can be equipped with MMI Navigation or MMI Navigation plus. By equipping the on-board internet, users can use navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View traffic information in real time. They can also see real time info on parking, destinations, news or the weather.

The facelift A3 is due to go on sale in August.

Static photo, Colour: Ara Blue
Static photo,
Colour: Ara Blue

The Joys of Car Insurance as a Young Driver

Here is a piece I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. Especially as a young driver in Ireland, I have to put up with a lot when it comes to car insurance. Honestly, I’m pretty fed up with it at this stage but my love of driving and for cars is just too strong to just give up driving. So therefore, I must pay the price.

First off here are my circumstances; I am a 21 year old Male student living with my parents in Dublin. I have my licence for 3 years and have been driving in Ireland for 3 years. I have 1 years no claims bonus. Now, up until November last year I had a clean licence. I now have 3 points. I drive a 2002 1.2 SEAT Ibiza.

Before I tell you about my current insurance, I will tell you about a time when I almost bought an e46 BMW 318i Touring. Yes, I turned down an e46 Touring because of insurance. The car was a friend of mines and he was in the market for a new car anyway and wanting to get rid of it. He was pushing me and pushing me to consider it and I really was. The time came when he purchased his new car, another e46 estate. Long story short, the 318i got clamped and he offered the car to me for €200 plus the price to take the clamp off. I could have been in a, pretty clean and well maintained, 318i Touring for €280. I rushed home and got straight onto the insurance companies. The first quote that I got:

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I immediately assumed this was a mistake and did the same quote again about 20 minutes later. Exact same result. How? How on earth does one get a quote of between €17,428 and €20,981 on a 14 year old BMW estate. I never followed up on it because I didn’t want to waste my time. I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere with it and didn’t bother. In hindsight, I should have because its absolutely ridiculous.

I did do some shopping around the cheapest quote I got was around €2200, I still didn’t think it was worth it. But if you take anything from this piece, it is you MUST shop around. You will get no where by just opting for the first quote you get.

Here in Ireland, there are three different types of insurance coverage available; Third Party, Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT) and Comprehensive (Comp). Generally people will  go for the fully comp cover as it offers the best coverage in case one needs to claim. But, of course I was only offered TPFT on my Ibiza. The price I paid? I pay monthly installments of €102.14 which works out to be €1328.37/annum. Do bear in mind, I bought the car for €1050. The sad thing about this is that that is the best price I got from any of the insurance companies I called and it is still considered to be a great price.

My renewal for next year came through last week. Honestly, I was surprised at the price.  I will be looking at paying €1589.49. Although this is still absolutely outrageous, its only price hike of around €260. I’ve heard of a lot worse. Maybe this is because they realise they are already milking me for everything I have.

Apparently, why insurance is so expensive in recent years is because they are cleaning up the mess of companies like Setanta Ireland. Setanta were an insurance company that went bust in 2014. They went bust because they thought they could offer very low insurance and survive. Well this wasn’t the case because they ended up paying out more in claims than they were getting in in premiums. Thanks to this monumental screw up, people are now paying up to 80% increases on their insurance because current insurance companies are cleaning up Setantas mess. I have read about one person who was paying €450 last year on a diesel Volkswagen Golf. This year he was quoted €900. To be honest, I would not complain about paying €900 for insurance only because I have to suffer almost €1600.

I am currently in the market for a new car. Specifically, an R53 Mini Cooper S. What I thought would be an easy car to find, turns out to be the complete opposite. Pretty much all the cars here are “Paddy spec” and colossal mileage. Anyway, I will be having fun with some of the insurance companies when I do decide to buy one. Some of you will probably be thinking; “Why not go for something more sensible/easier to insure?” and I would ask “And what insurance company do you work for?”.

I will update you on my adventure.

Ian

***UPDATE***
So since publishing this piece less than 30 minutes ago, a good friend got onto me to mention that he too got a renewal.  Set up for a laugh, I ended up being gobsmacked. This friend drives a 2007 1.3 Suzuki Swift. This is no ordinary Swift, he has it lowered, on BBS alloys and a few other cosmetic mods. You will expect his insurance to be through the roof? Yes so did I. We both have 3 points on our licence, both have 1 years No Claims Bonus and have both been driving for roughly the same amount of time.  He pays €994. This is for a modded Jap hatch, I pay almost €600 more for a 1.2 bog standard SEAT Ibiza. I’m outraged. Not at him but the insurance company. We are with the same company. I well and truly believe they are picking these numbers out of the air at this stage. This makes zero sense.

Audi A4 – Collection

Today is an important day for Drivers Edition. Today is the day that I got handed the keys to my very first press car, and might I say I could have done a lot worse. Let me present to you, the Audi A4…

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My press car is equipped with the 150bhp 2.0 diesel with a manual gearbox. First thoughts of the engine is that it is extremely smooth and rather quiet for a 2.0 diesel, that is the new line of Ultra engines for you!

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But most importantly, the A4 looks extremely handsome. The paint on our test car is called Manhatten Grey and suits the car very well. My parents drive an Aruba Blue B8 A4 and I thought that that was always the colour to have. Well was I wrong…

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The interior is half alcantara and half leather in Rock Grey, but is more like beige. The cabin is a very nice place to be. There are gadgets and toys galore so I am still trying to used to them but they seem easy to use so far. Our test car is equipped with the Audi Virtual Cockpit.

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So, our first impressions of the new A4 are all well and good. I will be posting some updates on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter so make sure to follow us on my week of Audi-ness.

Ian

5 Reasons Why Buying Your First Car is a Great Idea

Last year, I managed to save up enough money to buy myself my first car. I bought a 2002 SEAT Ibiza finished in Amarillo Ovni Yellow, or in better words extremely bright yellow. I should also inform you, my girlfriend christened her Samantha. It took a lot of dedication, and even meant that I had to lay off the beer for a while for the simple reason that it was proving too expensive, to be able to afford it. But have I made the right decision by emptying my bank account for what is pretty much one of the most expensive things I have bought to date? Here are 5 reasons why I took the plunge.

Samantha Mountains

1. Freedom

Have you ever wanted to go to the gym, a friends house or to the cinema but couldn’t because public transport is too much effort? It sounds lazy but I can almost guarantee you that every single one of us has felt this at some stage. That even the thought of having to get the bus somewhere is just too much to cope. Well thats where you’re own set of wheels comes in fairly handy. You don’t have to wait at the bus stop or for your parents with the car to get home just so you can nip up to your friends house. Its the sense of freedom that everyone should have.

2. Enjoyment 

Only until you learn how to drive is it when you find the sheer pleasure of it. Sitting in the passenger seat in your parents or friends car isn’t as fun as being behind the wheel and in control of it all. Thankfully I was one of the first out of my group of friends to learn how to drive. I loved it, I used to just go on and on about how I drove here yesterday and drove there  at the weekend while the rest of my friends were stuck, sitting in bored out of their brains. However, of course this had its downsides as I was always asked to drive people places but as long as they threw me fiver for petrol, I was, secretly, more than happy to do it.

3. Cruizin’ wit da Boiz

This was the best part. Before I learned to drive, I often found myself with nothing to do on a Friday or Saturday night. It was usually spent sitting at home scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. But once that pink card came through the letter box, I was driving all over Dublin in my fathers Toyota Avensis packed to the brim with my friends, just driving. Aimlessly, in fact. But that was the whole purpose of it. Just to get out of the house for a couple of hours, just to go for a drive. It was then, that my friends and I came up with the idea of “McFlurrying”. This usually starts with a one worded text; “McFlurry?” then followed 20 minutes later with a few of the guys in the car going through the local McDonalds drive thru ordering the lasted McFlurry flavour. This lasts a couple of hours as it is usually followed by a cruise, of course.

L Plate

4. An Excuse Not to go Out

This may seem crazy coming from a student, but we always have that one weekend when all our friends are going out and you could just NOT be bothered. Right? Well a car will solve all this problem. You won’t have a choice of going out or not because owning a car in Ireland, for a young driver especially, is so ridiculously expensive that you might be able to use this excuse week after week. Not just the price of buying the car, but the price of petrol, tax, insurance and maintenance. Of course though in the long run this can be a bad thing. It just depends how much you love driving/your car.

5. A Community 

If you’re into cars, your first car will be the start of something new. As cliché as it sounds, its true. I attend Cars and Coffee Dublin. It is a monthly meet where anyone and everyone can go to view other car lovers to just look at or chat about cars. The good think about C&C is that its a casual meet. Unlike its Italian version – Brescia Cars and Coffee (which is invite only) – Cars and Coffee Dublin attracts all sorts of people, whether you own a Ferrari or a Fiat, a SEAT or a Porsche, a Honda or Horse! Its a very casual meet that I highly recommend to any car lovers. Have a look at the last C&C meet that Drivers Edition attended.

Of course there is one more thing owning your own car is good for. You know….

Stayed tuned for more posts from us here at Drivers Edition.

Ian