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Fiat 124 Spider Review – New Car Review Ireland

Classic cars have played a large part in my life since a young age. I have been going to the Terenure Classic Car show each year since I was too young to remember. But it wasn’t until December 2007 when my Dad bought a 1973 Triumph TR6 that we started to mingle with these classic nuts. They really are nuts. Owning a 30 year old car and only using it at weekends, spending most of that time in fields listening to Elvis, Buddy Holly and co. on repeat on a crackling speaker in the unpredictable Irish weather. Sounds a bit crap, yeah? But it’s not and only unless you’re a nut will you ever understand the dedication these cars and this lifestyle takes.This leads me to the 2018 FIAT 124. Having partnered up with Mazda, FIAT and Mazda had the same idea – to build a rear-wheel-drive convertible that was both uncomplicated and affordable. While Mazda had been doing this since 1989 consecutively, FIAT stopped production of it’s 124 Spider in 1985 after 19 years of production. But seeing a demand for competition to the already excellent Mazda MX-5 they decided to give it a bash again.The 124 is powered by a 1.4 Turbo petrol engine producing 140hp and 240Nm. The equivalent Mazda has 131 Hp and 150Nm. The Fiat offers only a convertible option whereas the Mazda offers the RF (Retractable Fastback) option too. The FIAT starts at €28,745 for the Classica trim and the Mazda starts at €28,195. Is the FIAT worth that little bit extra?In terms of styling, both roadsters have a lot to offer. The FIAT’s bubbliness is a little bit cuter and the bug-like headlights give it some more character over the MX-5. However, I prefer the sleek, muscular and angriness of the MX-5. The FIAT uses a lot of Mazda’s parts on the 124. Mazda stickers are even plastered throughout to remind you that you are really driving a re-badged MX-5. This annoys me. Getting behind the wheel of the 124, the only differences, I spotted, were the gear knob (which twisted about in your hand), the handbrake lever, the gigantic FIAT badge on the steering wheel and the start-up screen on Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system. Everything else is Mazda; the switch gear, the dials and even the seats.Out on the road, the FIAT gets more attention. This is down to the fact that the MX-5 has sold better so the 124 is more scarce, but also because of the nostalgia factor. I was stopped by a man in my local area who reminisced about his first car, a FIAT 124 saloon. He even exclaimed that he hadn’t seen a new 124 Spider on the road before. But that wasn’t my first 124 encounter. Another local guy owns a 2017 Abarth 124 Spider, the only one in the country, apparently. We exchanged a finger wave as we passed by each other, both with the roof dropped. This is where the FIAT has its edge over the Mazda; it’s nostalgic. I’ve even noticed the prices of original FIAT 124 Spiders creeping up since the 2018 FIAT 124 Spider was released.As a daily runabout, the FIAT works better. Not that the 140l boot is much more significant than the MX-5’s 130l one or the cabin storage is better, but I found the suspension to be softer. The MX-5’s is quite crashy, much like my 2005 MINI Cooper S.

So it comes down to the final say, what would I own? Based on looks, cabin design and overall driving pleasure, I would have to go for the Mazda. The FIAT hasn’t done enough to distinguish it from its cousin. However, if you were to buy a 124 Spider, I have no doubt you’ll have many happy motoring memories.

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.

Skoda Kodiaq Ireland

Skoda Kodiaq – Review

The Skoda Kodiaq is Skoda’s first attempt at a 7 seater SUV. Skoda has launched the car into Ireland with a starting price of €28,795. I have put the 2.0TDI 190hp 4×4 DSG variant through its paces. Will Skoda do well with the Kodiaq in Ireland?

A Few Facts:
Model Tested: Skoda Kodiaq
Engine: 2.0TDI diesel, 190hp and 400Nm.
Transmission: 7-Speed DSG automatic, four-wheel drive.
Price: Prices start at €28,795 for the Polo range. Price as tested – €46,545.

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Czech Republican Crystal No Less

The designers at Skoda got their muse for the Kodiaq from Bohemian Crystal, a renowned glass art of the Czech Republic. This motif can be seen throughout the car but namely the front and rear lights. The Front lights blend into the grill giving a muscular shape. The rear lights have the triangular silhouettes building up inside the reflectors.dsc_0055-min

Overall, the SUV looks like it was built in two halves due to the styling crease going the whole way around it. The Bohemian Crystal motif is also present on the 19-inch “Triglav” alloy wheels. The Skoda measures in at 4.8m long and 1.9m wide, it is seriously big for its class.

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The Interior is typical Skoda. The test car I had was equipped with the Style trim level, which is the highest currently on offer in Ireland. You mould yourself into half leather/half alcantara sports seats. You grip a leather, almost D-shaped steering wheel. The vastness of the Kodiaq is noticeable before you even set off on your journey. The 8-inch touch screen infotainment is placed dead centre on the centre console so the reach to the far side of the screen is quite long.

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The space on offer is something to be praised, however. With the driver’s seat in my driving position, a 6-foot human, I managed to adjust the middle row seat to a comfortable position for me. On top of that, another, smaller than 6-foot, adult could sit in the most rear.

Out of the Woods and onto the Road; this Kodiaq cannot be Tamed

The Skoda Kodiaq is available with a 1.4TSI petrol and 2.0TDI diesel in Ireland, with my test car being the 2.0TDI 190hp mated to a 7-speed DSG automatic. The 190hp engine is more than enough power to shift all of this 1,795kg Czech SUV along. Although the 7-speed isn’t as snappy as I would like it to be. Although, it is sufficient for the kind of driving that the Kodiaq is meant for.

On the road is where the Kodiaq’s sheer size really becomes a disadvantage. As expected from a 1.6m high SUV, the Skoda Kodiaq certainly has body roll present when entering and leaving corners. However, with this comes comfort from the softer suspension. However, it is disconcerting looking in the rear view mirror and still seeing the back end leaving the corner while you are already sitting on the road. It is THAT long!

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Comparing to its competitors though, mainly the Nissan X-Trail, the Skoda Kodiaq is miles ahead. The manual gearbox in the Kodiaq shifts so much smoother than that of the X-Trail. The cabin is much quieter while on the road than the Nissan, although some wind noise can be heard from around the wing mirrors while at motorway speeds in the Kodiaq. However, overall this SUV feels much better built than its Japanese rival. The quality that is lacking in the X-Trail can be clearly found in the Kodiaq.

Simply Clever

Skoda’s motto is “Simply Clever”. Most Skodas have small unique features that give it a personal touch. The Skoda Kodiaq is definitely not lacking here. Firstly, when you open the door, retractable protectors pop out to save you damaging the door off a wall, for example. Ireland being Ireland, it rains almost 100% of the time. No problem, Skoda have taken a page from Rolls-Royce’s book and added umbrellas into the doors. Have a twist-cap bottle and only one hand to open it? No problem, just push down on the bottle in the cup-holder and it can be opened with one hand. Inside the fuel filler cap door is an ice scrapper and magnifying glass, if you’ll ever need one. All these features are, well, Simply Clever.

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With these features aside, the 5-seater Skoda Kodiaq has 720l of boot space on offer which can be expanded to 2,065l. In the 7-seater Kodiaq, this is decreased to 660l/2,005l with the most rear seats collapsed and 270l with them in place.

What Equipment is on Offer?

In its most basic form, Active trim level, the Kodiaq comes with cruise control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 17-inch alloys and Skoda Connect, including an emergency call system. Skipping the middle trim level, Ambition, and jumping to the highest level, Style, the Kodiaq continues to appeal. Style adds 19-inch Alloys, 4G LTE sim card slot for WiFi services, rear view camera and ambient interior lighting. However, surprising from a Volkswagen Group product, it doesn’t offer adaptive cruise control as standard with any of the trim levels.

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She Diesel?

I spent my week mostly doing suburban commuting but some motorway driving was involved too. I averaged 7.0l/100km. This is some way off the 5.7l/100km that Skoda claims is achievable.

Prices

Pricing for the Skoda Kodiaq starts at €28,795. My test car, specced in Style with options, was priced at €46,545.

What Else is on Offer?

In recent years, the SUV segment has become quite a prominent one in Ireland. Naturally, this means competition for the Kodiaq is plentiful with rivals such as the Hyundai Sante Fe and Kia Sorento. However, other competitors include;

Nissan X-Trail – There is no doubt that the X-Trail is popular amongst Irish motorists, even though I can’t see the appeal. Although the X-Trail is more spec-heavy in its highest trim level, the overall quality of the Kodiaq is much better.

Mazda CX-5 – In my opinion, Mazda’s KODO design is right on point at the moment. Every one of its cars, with maybe the exception of the clown shoe-like Mazda3, looks really good and spec is generous. A new Mazda CX-5 is on the way to Irish shores this year too so it could be a serious competitor for the Kodiaq. However presently, there is no 7-seater option.

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Would I Buy One?

Overall, the Skoda Kodiaq was most definitely worth the wait. It is practical, looks good and is affordable. I’m a 22 year old soon-to-be full blown adult and have no desire to own something that can fit the whole family. But, the Skoda Kodiaq is something I could live with, for sure.

What is Next for Skoda?

Skoda are trying to break into the American market. They have registered the trademark there but have yet to hint any signs to the public. Until now, the Kodiaq may well be the first glimpse that the USA will see of what Skoda have coming for them. Consider yourselves lucky, America; she’s a good ‘un!