18 Apr 2017 | 12.53 pm
Olive Keogh’s Q1 Car Bazaar
Kia Niro, Ford Focus RS, Citroën SpaceTourer, Volvo V40, Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, Ford KA+
18 Apr 2017 | 12.53 pm
Some of the new cars that our motoring correspondent Olive Keogh has been trying out in 2017
New to the Irish market for 2017 is the Kia Niro, a low emissions hybrid crossover based on Kia’s first dedicated eco-car platform. The Niro’s hybrid powertrain is made up of a 1.6-litre GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine, a lithium-ion battery pack and a 32 kW electric motor. It has six-speed double-clutch transmission and emits just 88 g/km CO2 on the combined cycle while fuel consumption is 3.8L/100km. Prices start at €30,595.
The Niro (a potential challenger to the Qashqai) comes with a suite of advanced driver assistance technologies and is both Android and Apple compatible. Standard equipment on the EXL includes SatNav, full leather interior and dual air conditioning. It is good looking and spacious and a welcome addition to the list of hybrid options available here. There’s a lot about the Niro to like as it’s a peppy, smooth, high riding crossover with great visibility, good cabin space, lots of tech toys and low running costs.
Fast But Firm
Most car enthusiasts know exactly what they’d buy if their Lotto numbers come up. If the Ford Focus RS is on your list, then you’ll need a win of €52,600. You’ll also face a road tax bill of €750 a year and significant fuel costs, as consumption on the combined cycle is 7.7L/100km. If this hasn’t put you off, your Focus RS will come with loads of equipment, a 2.3 EcoBoost engine with 350bhp and all-wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring.
Distinguishing RS features include 19-inch multispoke alloys, twin tail pipes and sculptured front seats. Worth noting unless you’re six foot or over is that you may get a sore backside from sliding across the very firm seat bolsters to get in and out. The RS is great fun, but for me short bursts at track days would be preferable to driving it all day every day.
No Frills MPV
For a family that might need a lot of seats or wheelchair access, an MPV is the obvious choice. The Citroën SpaceTourer can accommodate up to nine people and is a no-frills people carrier that does exactly what it says on the tin. It has a 5-star safety rating, good standard equipment levels and up-to-date tech features such as road sign recognition and blind-spot monitoring. It also comes with sliding electric doors, a split tailgate and seats that slide, fold, or can be lifted out completely, making it a very practical vehicle for daily use.
Despite its size, the SpaceTourer is safe and easy to manoeuvre, thanks to a rear-view camera and a tidy turning circle. Power comes from thrifty 2.0 litre BlueHDi engines with a choice of outputs. Where the SpaceTourer really scores is on price. The test vehicle cost just under €40,000. To drive something similar from either VW or Mercedes for example, would cost in excess of €55,000.
The D2 Inscription is a fancy version of the Volvo V40, with a 2.0 litre diesel engine (118bhp) and distinguishing design features such as smart-looking alloys, chrome trim, leather upholstery and Inscription tread plates. The price for the test car, which came fully loaded, was €36,950 but it is possible to get into a V40 from €28,045.
A couple of the Inscription’s options, such as the LED headlights, which bend to give better visibility, and the reversing camera were certainly worth having. The illuminated gear knob, less so. The V40 is an upmarket compact and is comfortable, refined and pleasing to drive, with solid and predictable handling. It comes with a full array of high-tech features, including electronic climate control, hands-free Bluetooth, City Safety and, of course, Volvo’s usual heavy-duty safety specification.
The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross received a major facelift towards the end of 2016. Aimed at the same turf as the big-selling Qashqai, the S-Cross is a value-for-money crossover that also looks the part, thanks to more muscular styling and a rise in height of 15mm. For the money (prices start at €20,995 for the 1.0 litre turbo petrol engine) you get a roomy cabin, comfortable seats, a 430-litre boot and no shortage of equipment, even at entry level. The standard spec includes multiple airbags, ESP, Bluetooth, cruise control and air conditioning.
The SX4 S-Cross comes with petrol or diesel power, three trim levels and the option of four-wheel drive. It’s not the most sophisticated crossover on the market but it delivers a peppy performance, decent handling and a firm-ish but comfortable ride. It’s a lot lighter than its competitors, making it easy to manoeuvre and more car-like to drive.
Roomy Ford KA
The new Ford KA+ five-door hatchback may be pint-sized but doesn’t feel like a small car, thanks to its roominess and refinement. Power comes from a 1.2 litre petrol engine with plenty of go but it still turns in 56.5mpg. What’s really winsome about the KA+ is its agility and the fact that it’s nippy and really fun to drive. Prices start at €13,050, or €29 a week on a PCP deal. The KA+ is less than 4 metres in length so it’s slightly shorter than the Fiesta, but 29mm taller.
The designers have maximised cabin storage and have managed to create cubbyholes for a 1.0 litre bottle and a small umbrella in the front door bins. The boot is 270 litres and the rear seats fold to create more space. The loading lip is quite high. In the centre of the instrument panel is MyFord Dock, where phones and navigation systems can be mounted or stored and charged.