Tag Archives: New Car Review

2018 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura – Irish New Car Review

A car is more than just a car now. It’s a lifestyle choice. As an example, I’m currently trying to sell my MINI Cooper S because I now do more motorway miles rather than back road jaunts, unfortunately. So now I need a frugal diesel. As for the 2018 Volkswagen Amarok Aventura, someone who buys this is more likely to be the outdoorsy type, lives in the country and needs to haul large loads a lot. This is why the Amarok is in my dream garage.When I picked up the Amarok Aventura, I immediately smirked. This was down to the Indium Grey Matte paintwork. Originally I thought that it had been inspired by an early 2000s supercar, in today’s terms that would be considered tacky. However, the colour grew on me as the week went on. The Amarok gets so much attention, on the road and parked up. I brought it to Cars and Coffee, where I parked it in the far corner of the car park. Even then, it attracted crowds. Although it looks menacing and rowdy, people still have a soft spot for it.Not only does it look good, but being a pick up, it’s practical too. Conveniently, I was moving house the same week. I managed to fit my stuff, along with my two housemates boxes between the loading bed and rear seats of the Amarok. While this might be convenient for you, your friends will definitely take advantage and use you and your pick-up for those dreaded Ikea trips…

But for more regular use, the Amarok isn’t as useful as you’d hope. As standard, the loading bay is uncovered. While some rivals offer a basic cover, Volkswagen don’t. However, if you are a buyer knowing that it will be used mainly around cities, there are plenty of options of covering for the rear.Inside, the Amarok is still a Volkswagen Commercial product. Hard, tough and black plastics line the interior and the 6.3 inch, non-touchscreen infotainment is far from that found in the likes of the 2018 Volkswagen Touareg.The 8-speed DSG automatic is mated to the 3.0 litre V6 diesel. This is my favourite improvement to the Amarok range. No, it isn’t frugal with an average of 9.5l/100km but with 550Nm and 224hp, there is enough poke for what the Amarok is made for. I also have a reputable source that can confirm that the manual V6 is just as fun as a Golf GTI, albeit in a different way. And, I can confirm that the Amarok, even with the 4Motion four wheel drive system, can drift…For all of the reasons above, the Amarok has a special place in my heart and in my future garage. Personally, I have no need for a pick-up but the Amarok V6 has so much appeal. However, at a shade over €60,000 for this particular Aventura specced Amarok, I would also consider its rivals. These include the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and Mercedes X-Class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Opel Grandland X – New Car Review

Recently, I wrote an article. When I say article, it was more like a rant. Said rant is about popularisation of SUVs. In particular, fast or “Super” SUVs. From it, you can tell that I’m not a fan of the SUV craze but I have no shame in admitting that there are a few good ones on the market. Take the Skoda Kodiaq for example. For its price, the space, comfort and equipment you get is hard to beat. Except, for 2018 Irish motor journalists chose the Peugeot 3008 over it. This leads me to the 2018 Opel Grandland X. Now being owned by PSA (owners of Citroen and Peugeot), the Grandland X is technically a re-bodied Peugeot 3008. But, why should, or shouldn’t, you choose it over its French brother?Up front, the Opel Grandland X shares the Opel face. Centred on the black grill is the Opel logo with chrome trim flowing out into the LED Adaptive Lighting, a €1,250 option. Mimicking this on the lower grill houses more chrome trim bits and a black sensor ready for Adaptive Cruise Control. In this two-tone Dark Ruby Red with Black roof, the Grandland X looks closely related to its French Cousin, the 2018 Peugeot 3008.

What About Inside the Opel Grandland X?

Inside, the SUV is well thought out and not overly complicated. The 8-inch screen housing the infotainment system sits centre stage. Under the screen, the system is old school because it still uses buttons and knobs to control it. I’m very used to having to search within modern infotainment systems to find the Bluetooth settings in order to pair my phone. This wasn’t the case for the Opel Grandland X. Once you turn on Bluetooth on my phone, I was able to connect to the system straight away. This took some time to getting used to.The Grandland and I spent a lot of motorway kilometres together. The cabin was impressively quiet, on par with the 2018 Mazda CX-5. Although while the CX-5 felt stable and comfortable on the motorway, the Grandland felt a little unsettled. While it won’t win any awards for being the most agile car on sale in Ireland, the 1.2 3-cylinder petrol engine is one to be commended. Even on the motorway runs, I averaged 6.9l/100km. At this, the engine didn’t feel insufficient power-wise. The 130hp and 230Nm could overtake with ease. While you might see a better return on your fuel economy in a diesel for motorway dominant journeys, you wouldn’t see much benefit between city runs and motorway jaunts in the diesel. The 1.2 petrol gives you the best of both worlds.

Space?

Plenty of space is on offer up front for the driver and passenger and this is transferred to the rear also. I’m just over 6-foot and had ample head and leg room in the rear. In the boot, 514l is on offer. Collapsing the rear seats jumps this up to 1,652l. This is compared to 521l in the Skoda Karoq and 520l in the Peugeot 3008.On the most basic trim level, the Opel Grandland X SC comes standard with a 7-inch IntelliLink touch screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 17-inch alloys and rear parking sensors. With prices starting from €27,995, it is €1,400 more than the Peugeot 3008 and €280 more than the Skoda Karoq.While the 2018 Opel Grandland X might be a Peugeot 3008 not too far beneath the skin, it’s still one to consider when looking at buying in this segment. The standard kit on the SC trim is enough to attract you to your local Opel dealership alone. The 1.2 petrol engine is a cracker for the size of the Opel Grandland X. Admittedly, I thought it was going to struggle on the motorway but I was pleasantly surprised.

2018 Volkswagen Arteon vs. 2018 Skoda Superb – Twin Test Review

Back in 2016 when I drove my first Skoda Superb in Ireland, the Superb L&K, I thought Volkswagen had shot themselves in the foot with it. It was far superior than the Passat, and still is for that matter. However, is it better than the Volkswagen Passat CC’s replacement, the 2018 Volkswagen Arteon? I conduct a twin test on Irish roads between the Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Arteon to find out.I start on the most obvious point and that goes to the Arteon. The sheer beauty of this four door coupe is not to be overlooked. Volkswagen really worked their magic with its smooth, elegant and swooping lines. The elongated saloon almost pays homage to the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia of the 50’s. Especially painted in, one of my favourite colours on modern Volkswagens, Turmeric Yellow. It really makes this five seater saloon pop.As for the Skoda, the Superb is the Czech Republican company’s Flagship model. The lights are more angular, front and rear. In this Sportline trim, it gets black accents throughout; a subtle lip spoiler, the door surrounds, the grill and 19-inch alloys. What the Superb doesn’t have though, that the Arteon does, are frameless windows. This feature gives the Arteon’s already elegant design more suppleness and classiness. Although, pairing the Moon White Metallic paint of the Superb to the black trim details, it really stands out in Sportline trim. Enough to put it on par with the Arteon.Moving inside, both cars are alike. Both cars get similar tech, similar comfort features and similar novelties. But the Skoda takes the biscuit this time. The Superb now has an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Skoda Connect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is a Volkswagen unit so unsurprisingly, the Arteon also has the same system. But while the Skoda didn’t have Sat Nav on the infotainment, the Arteon did. This seemed quite pointless to me. This was because each time I got into the Arteon I connected straight to Android Auto, which has Google Maps.Although the Superb had adaptive Cruise Control, the Arteon had this and predictive speed control. This is self-explanatory. The car recognises speed zones while connected to adaptive cruise control and adjusts the car’s speed to that zone. This might seem convenient going from an 80km/h to a 100km/h zone without having to touch the steering wheel controls, it would also be convenient if the system actually worked as it should. When travelling along the motorway, the system would regularly pick up the 50km/h speed zones on the slip roads and begin harshly brake. This is not good when you are travelling at 100km/h and the cars in your review mirror get frighteningly closer. I didn’t see the advantage of the Arteon’s extra tech for the extra price, I am sticking with the Superb for the moment.As for space and comfort, both saloons are comfortable. Nothing has changed for the Superb’s excellent rear passenger leg room and the Arteon has taken this on board. The Arteon’s sloping roof takes a small hit on taller rear passengers compared to the Superb but really isn’t all that noticeable.As you might have grasped before even starting to read this new car review, the Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Arteon drive very much the same. I covered 1,100km behind the wheel of the Superb and 670km in the Arteon. Both were predominantly motorway kilometres so I got to put the 2.0 TDI 150hp diesel engines in their natural environments. I was very impressed by the Skoda Superb’s average fuel economy of 5.5l/100km, even though it is missing 1 gear on the DSG compared to the Arteon. The 7-speed DSG mated to the Arteon helped return an average of 6.1l/100km.

Both test cars I had were optioned up with 19-inch alloys giving both cars loud-ish cabins while on the move. I say “ish” because it wasn’t so loud that I couldn’t have a conversation with my passengers.Up to now, both cars seem to be on par with each other, in my books. So in this case, it all comes down to price. The Skoda Superb range starts from €28,150 with the Sportline starting at €36,500. The Arteon starts from €38,270, with R-Line starting at €43,270. Both cars optioned up cost €43,908 and €53,553, respectively. Particularly with both of these cars, I couldn’t justify spending the extra €10,000 on the Arteon. As standard on Skoda Superb Sportline, buyers get the 8-inch infotainment system, 19-inch alloys, Alcantara sports seats and driving mode selector (Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual). As for the Volkswagen Arteon R-Line, it gets predictive cruise control, the 8-inch infotainment system, 19-inch alloys and high beam headlight control.So really it comes down to whether you want to spend the extra money on a re-bodied Volkswagen Passat or the Skoda Superb. Yes, the Superb is based off the Passat but the interior is different. Sitting inside the Passat and Arteon you don’t notice a difference. It doesn’t feel as special. And frankly, this means a lot. Besides, you’ll be spending most of your time behind the wheel. Based on this, I’ll have the “Made for Ireland” Skoda Superb Sportline.