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Summer 2011 €2/£1.80


The Lion roars! Peugeot's new 508 leaps in

Guest writer


with Adrian Melia

Gerry Boud on the Saab 9-5


We show you where

†3 years free servicing or 45,000km, whichever comes first and one year’s free road tax with every new Yaris and Aygo vehicle only up until 30th June 2011 while stocks last. Terms and conditions apply and are available on This offer ends 30th June 2011. *All prices exclude delivery and related charges. Prices correct as of January 1st 2011. The Scrappage Price is only effective with the Government scrappage initiative. €10,765* is the Toyota Yaris 1.0L 3 Door Sport 2011 Scrappage Deal price which includes €1,250 Government scrappage and a €2,650 Toyota scrappage bonus. Yaris 1.0L 3 Door Sport from RRP €14,665*. Model shown is the Yaris 1.0 VVT-i 5 Door Sol RRP €17,940*. Fuel Consumption(1.0 VVT-i) L/100km Urban - 6.2, Extra-


years free


Urban - 4.6, Combined - 5.1. Fuel emissions Co2/km - 118g. €7,995* is the Toyota Aygo 3 Door Terra 2011Scrappage Deal price which includes €1,250 Government Scrappage and a €1,100 Toyota scrappage bonus. Aygo 3 Door Terra RRP €10,345. Model shown is the Aygo 5 Door Strata €12,250. Fuel Consumption (1.0VVT-i) L/100km Urban - 5.5 , Extra-Urban - 3.9, Combined - 4.5. Fuel emissions Co2/km - 106g. To avail of the Toyota scrappage offer customers must fulfill all the required criteria under the terms and conditions of the government scrappage scheme. All models come with a 3-year or 100,000km parts and labour warranty and 3 years Toyota Eurocare emergency roadside assistance. Toyota Ireland is a 100% Irish owned company.


New VW Jetta Next generation CLS here 508 is launched Accord refreshed Super Jag on the way Focus launched

4 4 5 6 6 8


Kia's new Picanto 12 Mini Cooper SD 18 Cool Jeep Compass 35


Peugeot 508 10 Fiat 500 TwinAir 14 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate 16 Lexus CT200h 20 Saab 9-5 24 Toyota Verso-S 26 VW Touran 30 Ford Grand C-MAX 34 Skoda Fabia vRS 36 Hyundai ix20 40 Renault Megane Coupe 41


Don't gossip in Tallinn 22 A perfect tropical paradise 28 A crystal heritage 38


Giving a Continental about fuel economy 32 Summer driving and the tolls trap points 42 Around the Motor Trade 44 Brian Byrne, Trish Whelan and Gerry Boud are members of the Irish Motoring Writers Association (IMWA).

Car & Travel is published by WhelanByrneAssociates, Kilcullen, Co Kildare, Ireland. It incorporates Irish Car and Irish 4x4 & Offroad. All content strictly copyright the publishers and original contributors. Every care is taken in ensuring that information herein is correct, but the publishers take no responsibility for errors or other matters arising therefrom. Managing Editor: Brian Byrne. Publications Editor: Trish Whelan. Phone: +353 45 481090 +353 86 8267104.  Email:


Astra GTC for Frankfurt

New VW Jetta

Although the car won't officially debut until the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, Opel will start taking orders for its new Astra GTC coupe from early June. The car is closely based on a concept which was shown at Paris last autumn, which was powered by a 2.0 turbocharged petrol engine. The pricing and powertrain choices for the general European market will be announced on 7 June. The 3-door car will have a wide stance, and is strongly sculpted, especially at the rear. The version shown here is wearing Vauxhall badging, under which the GTC will be sold in the UK.

More power 911 Porsche launches a new variant of the 911 GT3 RS this July, offering even more power and greater performance. Limited to 600 cars worldwide, the 911 GT3 RS 4.0 moves the GT3 road car programme to a new and higher level. The flat six 4.0-litre sports engine is the biggest 911 engine ever. It is matched to a six-speed manual sports transmission and achieves its maximum power of 500hp at 8,250 revs per minute. Maximum torque is 460 Nm. The car, painted Carrera White as standard, is priced from £128,466.

The new generation Volkswagen Jetta has just been launched in Ireland at a starting price of €21,985. The car is completely redesigned and is longer, with a longer wheelbase that provides substantially increased legroom in the rear. The car has a range of petrol and diesel powertrains, from the 105hp 1.2 TSI to a 140hp 2.0 TDI. The most efficient engine is a 105hp 1.6 TDI

with a 4.5L/100km economy and an A CO2 band rating here. All engines are A or B rated. Exterior changes bring the Jetta in line with current VW styling cues, while the interior design is now similar to the Golf, in whose segment the Jetta sells. There are three trim levels, Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Standard features include ESP.

New CLS arrives The new generation MercedesBenz CLS has arrived in Ireland at a starting price of €65,750, an entry cost 23 percent less than that of the first version. The car is available here with two diesel engines, a 2.1 four and a 3.0 V6, B and D rated respectively for tax purposes in Ireland. The second car sells for €71,700, also lower than its equivalent version's of €84,850. The CLS is built on the E-Class platform, and the styling of the new car is much stronger than that of its predecessor. The car uses LED technology to light up indicators, sidelights and low and main 

beam functions. The CLS is the first of six new Mercedes-Benz models arriving here this year, others being a CClass facelift and coupé (April), SLK (April), B-Class and M-Class (November/December).

508 is launched

World Rally Polo Volkswagen is to start competing in the World Rally Championships with a Polo R WRC car in 2013. This follows three consecutive victories in the Dakar Rally. The company is developing a 4WD WRC car with a 1.6 TSI engine developing nearly 300hp. New technical rules have come into effect in the WRC this year. For the first time, engines with a maximum displacement of 1,600 cc, direct injection and turbochargers are prescribed.

Peugeot Ireland is planning to sell some 1,500 units of its new 508 in 2012, and 450 this year because the arrival of the car in Ireland has come too late for the main buying period. The 508 is on sale from €24,850 for the Access grade, but the company expects that most of the sales will come from the middle Active grade, which starts at €27,300. The new car comes in saloon and SW formats, with 1.6 and 2.0 diesels in Band B for tax purposes. ESP is among the standard specification through the range, and the importers say they are offering higher levels of equipment when compared to similarly priced

competitors. More than 60 percent of sales by Peugeot in Ireland this year have been to buyers new to the brand. And with the 508 it is hoped that the brand will make significant penetration to the key fleet market here. Though the new car is only marginally larger on the outside than the 407 it replaces, interior space, especially in the back, is much better, thanks to a longer wheelbase. The Irish distributors say there has been 'very positive feedback' from the fleet sector here, which was given a pre-launch introduction to the car last October.

'Drive with your brain': Schumacher on safety A good driver is 'somebody who drives safely, which means driving with the brain rather than showing that you drive fast', many times F1 Champion Michael Shumacher said when he launched the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety. The event took place at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and the campaign aims to reduce road fatalities by 50 percent over the next 10 years and he met MEPs from the transport and industry committees as well as European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek.

First details of new Audi Q3 SUV This is the third vehicle in Audi's 'Q' series SUVs, the Q3, and it will be on sale from the end of this year. It will be available with 2.0 petrol and diesel engines outputting from 140hp-211hp, and a FWD version will offer the equivalent of 54.3mpg. It will have the 140hp TDI. Three specification grades are planned, and transmissions will include 6-speed manual, and 7-speed dual clutch automatic. An optional Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system with a new efficiency mode is available, which will disengage the active clutch each time the driver lifts off the throttle, allowing the Q3 to use the momentum already built up to ‘coast’. The efficiency mode operates the electronic climate control and cruise control systems at the optimum level for minimal fuel consumption. In Britain the Q3 will start at £24,560.


Project will test EV costs

Accord refreshed

A practical research programme into the actual running costs of electric vans has been initiated by a consortium involving Topaz, Eircom, and The Ecology Foundation. The project will use three vans and a charging system to be located at three Topaz filling stations, at Glasnevin, Newlands Cross and Templeville Road. The study will gauge the performance of the electric vans under a variety of criteria including electricity usage, cost, mileage and emissions while it will also include driver and forecourt surveys.

Vanette as Big Apple taxi The city with the largest taxi fleet in the U.S. has selected Nissan to design and supply the nextgeneration 'Taxi of Tomorrow'. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) selected the NV200 as the exclusive taxi of New York City beginning in late 2013. The Nissan 'taxi' will be a modified version of the compact NV200 commercial vehicle currently available in global markets, including Ireland as the Vanette. Nissan will also work with the City and Taxi owners on a pilot programme to study the use of zero-emission, electric vehicles as taxis and will provide up to six Nissan LEAF electric cars to taxi owners for testing next year as well as the charging stations to support their use.

The revamped Honda Accord includes refreshed looks, improved driving comfort, lower C02 emissions, improved fuel consumption, as well as lower prices which are now from €30,875-€42,250. Emission reductions place the car in Bands B, C, and D, for diesels. Petrol versions are available only to special order and are in Band E. Minor changes have also been made to safety, ride and handling

improvements, as well as exterior and interior refinements. Five variations powered by the brand's 'whispering diesel' 2.2 i-DTEC engine will go on sale immediately. These are the entry grade ES, the sporty Type S, and the luxury high spec EX options. Six-speed manual transmisssions are standard across all grades and a 5-speed automatic option is available for both Type S and EX grades only.

Super Jaguar confirmed

Jaguar has confirmed that it will put into production a hybrid supercar based on the C-X75 concept that was one of the biggest attractions at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. The car will be able to do the 0100km/h in around three seconds, and will have an all-electric range of more than 50km. Its CO2 emissions

rating is expected to be 99g/km. The concept car had 195bhp electric motors on each wheel while two gas turbines provide 94bhp each. The production car will be built on an all-carbon fibre chassis and is expected to be priced from £700,000. Only 250 will be built.


You may find it hard to believe that the New Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 TDI now qualifies for Tax Band A with CO2 emissions as low as 119g/km. But what you’ll find more unbelievable is that this stylish new saloon is now available from e23,725. Test drive today at your local authorised Volkswagen Dealer.

The Unbelievable New Jetta. Starting from e21,985. Das Auto. Model shown is for illustrative purposes only. Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 TDI 105 BHP. CO2 Emissions (g/km) - 119. Combined fuel consumption 4.5l/100km. Starting price of e21,985 relates to petrol model. Excludes delivery and related charges.


Smarter hybrids

Focus launched

Ford in America is collaborating with Google to develop a software system that 'learns' how a hybrid car operated on a previous journey, and adapt how it operates the next time that journey is taken. The carmaker has a prototype Escape hybrid which uses the Google Prediction API to create models of various journeys, using a wireless internet connection to Google's 'cloud'. To make the car more energyefficient the software directs the car's computer to juggle the electric motor and petrol engine input during a drive, according to data previously uploaded on that trip.

Appointment Motor Distributors Ltd has appointed Terry Maguire as Mercedes-Benz Wholesale Parts Manager, based at their Naas Road headquarters. In his new role, he succeeds Peter Mulcahy, one of the Irish motor industry's best-known figures who has retired after 46 years' service with the company. Mr Maguire joined the M-B Parts Division in 1995.

Fluence recall Renault Ireland is carrying out a recall of Fluence and Megane III Generation models sold in the Republic of Ireland over an airbag issue. The affected vehicles were manufactured up to August 2010. This recall affects 892 vehicles in Ireland.

The third generation Ford Focus arrived here in April priced from €20,825-€29,825, writes Trish Whelan. Focus has been regularly the best selling car in Ireland accounting for one in every 20 cars on our roads. The 100,000th Focus was sold just before the new version arrived. Ford Ireland expects to sell 3,000 units of the new car in 2011, and up to 5,000 next year, in the key compact family car segment which accounts for around 34 percent of sales here. This new version is sharper in style than the last one; it's also longer, stronger and stiffer. It is available in 5-door hatches, 4-door saloons and a good looking estate. A fifth of all cars sold here are expected to be saloons. Engines include 1.6 TDCi 95hp and 115hp Band A diesels; 1.6 VCT 105hp and 125hp Band B petrols; and 2.0 TDCi 115hp 6-speed Powershift automatic in Band B. The 1.6 diesel 95bhp Style spec is expected to be the volume seller. Four grades are offered: Entry, Style, Zetec and Titanium. With just €52 separating Band A cars from Band B ones, there could be a good few takers looking at returning to petrol models — especially those who don't do enough mileage to justify buying diesel. 

Having driven the car over a superb Spanish road network, and more briefly in Wicklow, Focus makes for a really enjoyable drive. Abroad we drove a petrol 1.6 184hp (not sold here). This engine was very responsive and had a particularly nice engine note and lots of torque. The 2.0 diesel we also drove was very, very quiet and well mannered, and very well soundproofed. Some might say the suspension has been softened, but that will be welcomed by most buyers as offering a more comfy ride. The new car now has electric steering which helps with fuel consumption and keeps down C02 levels. ESP with traction assist is standard across the range. Options include Active City Stop that stops the car automatically in the event of a lowspeed collision. Auto-Start-Stop turns the engine off when stopped so saving fuel. There's also a Lane Departure Warning which alerts you before you drift out of lane by vibrating the steering wheel; a Blind Spot Information System and Adaptive Cruise Control with forward alert. I've also tried the park option and found it works well. A leap of faith at first as the car sizes up a suitable parking space and almost parks itself.

THERE’S MORE TO KIA THAN A 7 YEAR WARRANTY! Not surprisingly everyone’s talking about Kia’s 7 year warranty - our unique commitment to the build quality of the Kia range. But Kia drivers know there’s a lot more to Kia including comfort, safety, class leading diesel technology, value for money and stunning European styling. Discover Kia yourself at your local Kia dealer or visit

Models shown may not be to Irish specification. Warranty is 7 years/150,000km full warranty – terms and conditions available in warranty and service handbook.


A Lion's p Peugeot's new 508 changes the brand's game 10

purr in the segment

It was a case of deja vu when I drove the new Peugeot 508 at its recent Irish launch having driven three versions of the car at its international debut in Alicante in February. I also got to drive a 508 home from the Irish launch for an extended test drive. This was the 1.6HDi Active version expected to be the volume seller here. All occupants travel in a high degree of comfort with plenty of head and legroom. Seats support you well while being quite firm too. It's easy to get a good driving position which is such an important factor, particularly if your drive a long distance to work, or during the day. A lovely car to drive, with sharp steering and really good road handling even on the back roads I travelled. This engine is particularly quiet thanks to very good sound proofing. (Peugeot are renowned for their diesel expertise). It's also very willing and able, with good pulling power for everyday use. It's just a real pleasure to drive. The engine in my test car was mated to a pretty slick 5-speed manual gearbox and the gear ratios were well matched to it. But both 6-speed and an automatic are available in the range. I also liked the traditional pull up handbrake in the 508. It means no rechecking after parking on a slope or incline, as I do when test driving a car with an electronic handbrake. It's just an anxiety thing with me and I'm sure for many other drivers too. Maybe, though, it's because we're in and out of so many different makes of cars so often and rarely get completely used to any one car before moving on. The quality of the interior is impressive and shows the 508 can match the big German cars of BMW and Audi for style and quality as well as for fit and finish. It all seems a world away from the 407 which it replaces. The dash is beautifully designed with knobs, buttons and switches close to your left hand. Dials are nice and simple, featuring white numbers on black while the trip computer shows your average fuel consumption (mine registered 5.4 L/100kms) and how many kilometres are left to empty. Alternatively, you can opt to have your current speed shown in big orange coloured, digital numbers on the trip screen. After driving 257 kilometres, the trip computer showed a potential 1,180 kilometres of driving still available to me. There's lots of room in both the 11

saloon and SW estate styles, front and back. Boot space is generous in both. And glory be! you'll find a full sized spare tyre under the boot floor. Peugeot here were adamant that they wanted a full spare as they rightly believe it is essential in a family car. Full sized spares or even skinny temporary ones have been dumped by many carmakers who have instead opted for a puncture repair sealant as it's less heavy and so saves on C02. All 508s are kitted out with six airbags, ESP, Traction Control, and hill assist. The entry Access trim includes air conditioning, front fogs, one touch electric front and rear windows, remote central locking, alarm, driver seat lumbar adjustment and 16-inch wheels and trims. There is also a full size spare wheel. Active adds on a multifunction steering wheel, cruise control & speed limiter, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, bi-zone Climate control, and 17-inch alloys. It retails from ₏27,300. The top Allure level has the full leather trim, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, with Assist, an electric parking brake with Hill Assist, keyless entry and 18-inch alloys. It's priced from ₏32,550. All models have Daytime Running Lights which will be a legal requirement in 2012. The company car market is a tough place in which to compete and while, it may not be a premium badged car, the 508 is a car to get you noticed in the corporate car park — for all the right reasons! Some may criticise the big attachment for the rear view mirror which takes up quite a bit of the windscreen. Not me. Do take care when getting in and out as the corner of the door is quite pointed! Peugeot in Ireland have been taken by surprise with this model and there's a waiting list already. If you want one, make up your mind ... and fast to avoid delay. Trish Whelan


Purty Picanto

Small it may be, but Kia's new generation Picanto has a mighty big heart. When it comes here this month (June), the car will be powered by a willing and able 1.0, 3-cylinder, 69hp petrol engine. After two good test drives in this cute little fellow at its international launch near Barcelona in April, I'm quite smitten with this little city car. This new version has been designed for European tastes and carries Kia's seven year bumper-to-bumper warranty which is transferable on to a new owner. It competes in the A-segment which is a growing sector across Europe as customers look for smaller, more affordable, cheap to run cars. Aimed mostly at urban drivers. New Picanto will be offered in 3- and 5-door body styles for the first time, each with a different front design and different elements to the rear. All, though, have the same exterior dimensions. Two trims are offered LX and EX. Buyers can also choose between two interior colours — Ebony Black and Alpine Grey. Redesigned and re-engineered, it bears no resemblance at all to the first Picanto launched back in 2004. Or the facelift three years later. Up front, the car resembles its bigger brothers, Venga and Sportage. C-pillars, bumpers and grille are

different in the 3-door, giving it a more sporty appearance. Kia expects this version to be key in driving 'conquest' sales to new, younger customers of both genders. It's often the little things that distinguish one car from another. Things like how the 'eyes of the tiger', formed by the standard daylight running lights, gleam like jewels. The whole shape of the car just appeals. This time round, Picanto has better fuel efficiency. Despite the car's larger size and extra equipment, it is actually 10kgs lighter than before. It's longer too at 3.6 metres, with an extended wheelbase which allows for more passenger comfort inside the cabin, including extra front legroom. A 27 percent increase in boot space brings it to 200 litres, rising to 870 litres with seats folded. We got to drive the new car from Barcelona airport to Carrafell, via Sitges. The Kia people had primed the sat nav to take us on a diversion around that seaside town and its suburbs just to demonstrate how easily the car handled city streets and suburbs. With a turning circle of less than 10 metres, the car is ideal for city use. Next day, we took to the hills, and even along some dirt tracks to a rocky outpost which afforded great views of vineyards below. The car took to all these routes with gusto, the 998cc engine with its 98Nm of torque pulling 12

two of us with relative ease up the hills and along the motorways. We were impressed also with the nice interior design, the space, and the quality of the materials and trims. There was buckets of room up front, even for my 6 feet-plus passenger, and for anyone behind for that matter. All the instruments and controls are stylish and easy to read and you get a nice driving position. The experience is as if you are driving a much bigger car. Despite its 3-pot engine, when driven to the legal limit along the motorways, it wasn't noisy. The price is expected to be around â‚Ź12,000 here. Standard safety features include an Emergency Stop System which flashes the brake lights on and off under hard braking in such a situation. Seven airbags include a new driver's knee one as an option of EX models. There is ESC electronic stability control, Hill-start assist, and active' front seat head restraints. All models will have front fogs and air conditioning. After the Kia cee'd, Venga, Soul, Sportage and Sorento achieving a maximum 5-star safety rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, the brand expect the new Picanto to prove to be one of the safest A-segment cars around. Trish Whelan


SUMMER 2011 OK, so it's a cute car. But I never really got the Fiat 500 as something aimed at someone like me. I'm too big, for a start. I like larger cars, generally. I also felt it to be much more aimed at women than men, but that's probably me just being sexist. And I suppose the unending stream of variants brought out for buyer delectation were very much like dress-up sets for Barbie dolls, a wide wardrobe range without changing much underneath. Except the Abarth, maybe. But even that one is more loud and lumpy than engaging. I gave up boy-racer ambitions too many decades ago. All of that indicates that I wasn't going to be much impressed with the Twin Air version of the 500 when it was presented to me. Especially in the Volare Blue, a bit twee. (Though the car I learned to drive in was the same colour, now that I think of it. But the lines of that 1959 Ford Consul were strong enough to make it look OK. Besides, I was driving!) The car had all the usual cues to pull us back to the 50s. Mock Bakelite offwhite centre stack and bezels on the speedo and allied instruments. Mock painted metal dashboard panels that are actually coloured plastic. Even a 2-cylinder engine. Well, that last is right modern, even if the original was also a 2-pot. And it was the reason I was driving the car, to experience what turbocharging and really small displacement engines can do in the Fiat context. They can do a fair bit, actually. Sure, the 11-seconds to 100km/h is more a trot than a sprint. And the distinctive noise of the 875cc 2-pot can't be described as refined. But it works, willingly winding the car up to its best. And giving a quite phenomenal equivalent of 70mpg. That's more economical than the standard 1.2 petrol unit, and the little engine is more powerful too. And with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, it's taxefficient in Ireland. As it happened, the previous week to getting into this one, I had been driving an Abarth version around a Formula 1 level race track in Portugal. The best description I can give of that experience was that it was 'interactive'. A fair bit of sound and fury, and some 'interesting' experiences on the bends. It wasn't really a suitable toy for the track. But as a car to run around in the real world, the 500 Twin Air is pretty adequate. There's not enough power to get it into trouble, and within its limitations it actually handles neatly. It also feels stronger than it looks.

Fun with Fiat And, lets face it, if Fiat does anything well it is in making small cars. The success of the Panda over the last seven years across Europe is the latest testament to that. In accommodation the 500 has decent space for two adults up front, but the rear seats are essentially for the little 'uns. The boot is about par for the segment, not for a week away with the family. I don't know why this particular version from the range of 500s I've driven finally got to me. Maybe it was that uniquely-sounding 2cylinder engine, or the bit of extra poke it offered. It might have been the nostalgia of that ivory-coloured 14

dashboard trim. It could have been the sense of zest about the car. I know. It made me smile. With 500s starting at about â‚Ź13,000, the review car rolled in at some â‚Ź16,300 along with the Lusso specification. You can buy family hatches and saloons for not much more than that, so it takes a bit of decision to opt for this particular version. Your call.

Brian Byrne

Leading The Way In Offers!

The 2011 Mitsubishi range hits the highs and the lows! New highs in design, standard specification and scrappage offers. New lows in road tax and fuel consumption!


COLT ClearTec

• Retail Price

• Retail Price


ASX 1.6L €13,950

• Government Scrappage: €1,250 LANCER Diesel

• Government COLT ClearTec Scrappage: €1,250

• Retail Price

• Retail Price

• Mitsubishi Scrappage bonus: €2,250


Scrappage Price:


• Mitsubishi Scrappage bonus: €1,750


Scrappage Price:

• Government Scrappage: €1,250

• Government Scrappage: €1,250

• Mitsubishi Scrappage bonus: €2,250

• Mitsubishi Scrappage bonus: €1,750

Scrappage Price:


Scrappage Price:

• Retail Price


• Government Scrappage: €1,250 ASX 1.6L

• Mitsubishi Scrappage bonus: €2,750

• Retail Price

Scrappage Price:


• Government Scrappage: €1,250


• Mitsubishi Scrappage bonus: €2,750

Scrappage Price:

3 YEAR WARRANTY • 3 YEARS HOME AND ROADSIDE€19,675 ASSISTANCE €19,495 €10,950 Built in Japan – Driven in Ireland

3 YEAR WARRANTY • 3 YEARS HOME AND ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE Prices exclude delivery and related charges.

Built in Japan – Driven in Ireland

Prices exclude delivery and related charges.

33027 Mitsubishi Dealer Ad(COLT,LANC&ASX).indd 1

13/12/2010 15:53



A class estate I have always liked estate cars. But I'm in a minority in this country. For some reason, wagons aren't popular in the mainstream models. However, premium level cars which have wagon variants attract significantly more buyers to the option. The most recent one to grace my driveway was the new generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate. Just arrived in Ireland, the latest version of the brand's biggest selling car has been substantially smartened up. At the front the car gets a revised bumper and grille, and at the rear details that work to make the car look wider. The execution of the tailgate style is particularly pleasing. The detailing involved in the headlights is sparkling. The roof rails add both length and strength, and are in fact strong enough to be useful. And the character shaping along the profile makes the car one of the most visually interesting in its own segment. A lot has happened inside. The dashboard is a strong design with very definite infill elements that in hands less deft might have become incoherent. The instruments are the best I have seen in several years, not least because of the graduated browns that make up their background. Sounds funny, sure, but it really is classy with verve. And while I'm on them, the central large speedometer is what I would like to see every other carmaker emulate. Speed information right in front of the driver, distractions much diminished. The centre-dash screen is neatly placed, with the management of its systems, including the radio, via an uncomplicated rotary switch on the centre console. I-Drive it isn't, and the better for it. I was quite bowled over by the interior finish of the review car, which in the Avantgarde specification level

comes with seats trimmed in a mix of man-made leather and a high-tech fabric. Bold colour schemes and aluminium trim details made for an ambience far from the stuffiness that might be expected in the segment. Given that it is the smaller Mercedes-Benz in the saloon/estate formats, the new C-Class is relatively roomy. Certainly for those of us up front, plenty of leg and shoulder room. For the ones who sit in back, it isn't bad. Though behind a tall driver, I'd have some twisting to do to get my feet from under the seat. Other than that, pretty comfortable. Estates are for luggage too, of course, and for more of it. The cargo section of the new C-Class Estate is finished in fine carpet, with a couple of netted side compartments to stow small rollabout stuff. Underneath the liftup floor are more small spaces and below them a skinny spare. Flip the rear seatbacks and you get an almost-flat floor and 1,500 litres of capacity. A rake of optional storage solutions can be had to lock down various kinds of load. There's a great feel of quality and fine finish about this car, maybe more than I have sensed in the model's predecessors. The review car was the 200 CDI BlueEfficiency. A 2.1 engine is one of a set which were introduced in 2009 and are well thought of as refined and easy on the fuel. A 7-speed automatic that's the latest in this type of gearbox technology makes the engine only marginally more thirsty than the 6speed manual and offers around the


equivalent of 56mpg. It is B rated for Irish tax. A punchy 360Nm of torque comes in at a low 1600rpm, so there's always a smooth liftoff here. The performance from the 136hp unit isn't designed to burn rubber, as the 10s shift to 100km/h shows. But it feels good, especially if you switch it into 'S' mode for a sportier set of characteristics. The suspension automatically adapts for the kind of road the car is on, whether ropey twists or smooth highway macadam. It's a seamless experience, reflecting the whole drive with this car. My overall experience was seriously pleasant. With prices starting around â‚Ź39,000, this review version clocks in at closer to â‚Ź46,000, depending on the extras. As I've said, I always had a soft spot for estates. And I really like this one. Brian Byrne


Extra punch in the diesel Mini By this time next year the Mini range of models will have been extended to six, with the Coupe coming at the end of this year and the Roadster scheduled to roll out in the first quarter of 2012. And a seventh variant, a 'coupe' Countryman based on the recent Paceman Concept, will be on sale by 2014. The rate of expansion reflects the enthusiastic response to the brand in its home UK market, where it is growing well ahead of the overall car market. Britain is now technically the second biggest market for Mini, after some 800 more units were sold in the US last year, but UK market share is much more significant. The Countryman is expected to accelerate sales in the US, where its larger car format and AWD capability will go down well with buyers. In the UK, Countryman is also doing well for the brand, accounting for a quarter of all current sales. Some 12 percent of Minis sold there are automatics. The introduction of the high power Mini Cooper SD, which has just gone on sale in Ireland, is expected

to substantially expand the diesel penetration within the brand. The 2.0 diesel, based on the power unit in the BMW 118d, provides 143hp and pulls 302Nm of torque, making it the torquiest Mini ever. With an 8.1 seconds sprint capability to 100km/ h, it can return a combined fuel consumption figure of the equivalent of 65.7mpg. CO2 emissions range from 114g/km for the Hatch to 122g/ km for the Countryman. In specification and kit terms it has exactly the same trimmings as the Cooper S, including the smart tailpipe design. Only the 'D' tacked onto the S on the rear badging gives away the oil burner status. As does the throatier grumble from the engine at idle. But as I'd expect from its BMW heritage, it is a completely refined unit and quite a joy to have in the car. A couple of introductory runs around the Mendip Hills and Salisbury Plain south-east of Bristol gave me the opportunity to sample it in both the Mini Convertible and the Hatch. Plenty of go, but very well controlled, and with hardly any trace of the torque steer which I might have expected 18

given the substantial Nms pulling me away. A new 6-speed gearbox enhances the creamy management of the available performance, and even if the SD doesn't have the accelerative ability of its petrol equivalent, that pulling power from around 1750rpm both offers serious overtaking capability and the option of a relatively lazy use of the gearbox on rolling twisty roads. Since the Mini itself is one of those cars that has moved out of the cute and quirky into the realms of strong respect, I don't figure I need to dwell on its style, shape or bits here. Except to say that I still think the over-large central speedometer is no longer a useful instrument in that use, and I'm glad for the sake of my driving licence health that there is the option of a digital speed readout in the information pod on the other side of the steering wheel. Economy, performance, and charisma all in the one bundle. It sells here from â‚Ź26,510 OTR. Brian Byrne


Smallest Lexus is a green machine The Lexus CT200h is the smallest car in the luxury brand's stable, but Lexus believe the price and size will attract many younger people to the brand as well as those downsizing.

Sizewise, the CT200h sits below its bigger IS sibling and competes in the premium C-Segment. It is the world's first full hybrid luxury compact with emissions of just 87g/km C02 putting it in Tax Band A. A real looker from every angle, the car is low slung with a wide stance. Lexus believe this 5-door hatch has a distinctive edge over its competitors for its 'green' credentials, without hindering performance. It has to be said, though, that there are some great diesels out there offering better fuel consumption than the actual 5.7 L/100kms of my test car (50mpg). The official combined figure is 3.8 L/100km/h (74mpg) but these are assessed on a test rig, not on actual roads. The CT200h's hybrid technology combines a 1.8 petrol engine, a high-output electric motor and battery, together with seamless CVT transmission. The car takes 10.3 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint which isn't all that fast. But it's not that kind of car. It can run on electric power alone at speeds up to 45 km/h with no emissions, and with no fuel being used, and the drive is as silent as can be. Four drive modes are offered, operated via the Drive Mode Selector knob which lets you switch between them. In EV, ECO and Normal modes, the whole emphasis is on a nice, smooth drive, the instruments are illuminated in blue and an ecometer helps you drive more economically. The EV (electric) mode is good for city driving and this is where you save on fuel when compared with long commuter distances on open roads. On the highway, when you need to accelerate more, the electric motor comes in to assist the petrol engine, giving a nice surge of speed.  Normal mode provides a balance between fuel efficiency and performance, while Sport adds to the driving experience with a livelier acceleration. In this mode, the 20

instrument panel changes to red. Brake or take your foot off the accelerator and regenerative braking happens, converting the energy into electric power for storing in the hybrid battery. The cabin is very much Lexus with high quality materials. Snug leather seats hold and support in comfort and there's nice head and legroom for all. The dash is really well designed while the neat and cute chrome automatic CVT gearshift lever is located on the lower dash. When you put the car into reverse, the left half of the rear mirror becomes a neat little reversing camera monitor. There's a good 375 litres of cargo space with another 15 litres of hidden space beneath the carpeted boot floor. The boot floor is quite high for ease of lifting big items in and out, but this also limits the height of what you can store there. Standard features include 15-inch alloy wheels, ultra violet and heat insulating tinted glass, and Hill-Start control. Safety features include eight airbags with knee ones for driver and front passenger. Other features include a 6-speaker audio system, Bluetooth handsfree connectivity, and remote audio. An option is the Lexus Pre-Crash Safety system which constantly assesses collision risk and if a highrisk is suggested, alerts the driver and activates the system which provides increased brake pressure.  The four grades are Eco (€28,450), S-Design (€29,450), Dynamic (€31,450) and Executive (€32,250). The review car was the top-of-therange Executive model. A lovely car, with a great luxury pedigree. And maybe that's what they should be promoting more than all this 'green car' stuff. But I loved it all the same. Trish Whelan


SUMMER 2011 It didn't pay to be a gossip in medieval Tallinn. Women (and it was always women) convicted of gossiping were sentenced to the walk of shame around the square three times to the whistling and jeering of the baying crowds. Swindlers and non payers were put in shackles and executions took place on higher ground. An exception was a drunken priest, Panicke, who in the 17th century was so annoyed after being served an awful omelette he had returned thrice, murdered the waitress on the spot with an axe. Sobriety made him see the error of his ways and he demanded to be immediately executed, a request that was duly granted in the square by the public executioner. Two stones act as a reminder there to this day. Today, the Estonian capital is much more friendly and laid back. It is one of the most high tech cities in Europe. They invented Skype, were the first to offer general election voting online, 90% of all financial business is done online too and most school kids get

their homework by email. Internet is free almost everywhere and they are the first former Soviet republic to adopt the Euro. With cutting edge 21st century technology leading the way and an old town that is a UNESCO World Heritage City, Tallinn combines the old and the new with perfect ease. Virtually everyone is happy to speak English with excellent fluency. They consider themselves more Nordic than East European and their own language is similar to Finnish, difficult. For motorists petrol/diesel is about 20 cents a litre cheaper than home. I was surprised by how few small cars there were, most seemed to start at the midrange family sized saloon. BMWs, Mercs and Audis were very plentiful. You must fit snow tyres for six months, mid October to mid April and dipped lights must be left on at all times day or night while driving. The speed limits are 90kph in countryside, 50 in towns and 20 in residential areas. Children under 12 must be buckled up in the back seat. If you

break down, dial 118 and you will be towed to the nearest garage. For 2011 Tallinn is European Capital of Culture and obviously an ideal time to visit with so much extra on for that. The Old Town is the ideal place to start and a good central place to stay. In summer, the medieval square is covered in tables as people make the most of the long days and hospitable climate. Waiting staff in medieval dress try to entice you into their bars and restaurants and the food is good. The Olde Hansa in the centre of the old town offers medieval fare in authentic surroundings and is served by costumed waiters and waitresses. I tried elk soup and had wild boar with sauerkraut, onion jam, and cooked spelt with saffron. It was rich, robust and very satisfying. If you fancy a symphony of Russian cuisine with a twist of French then Tchaikovsky's is the place to go. Expensive and a tad lean cuisineish portion wise, but the silver plate multiple 'Best Restaurant in Estonia' winner, it serves stunning food and

Don't gossip in Tallinn Sobriety made him see the error of his ways and he demanded to be immediately executed, writes Adrian Melia, about one Fr Panicke, who took excessive action over an unsatisfactory omelette ...


their Estonian beef was cooked to perfection. To start I had the traditional Borsch red cabbage soup which was light years ahead of the slop version of same name that used to be served in the dark years of the Old Soviet Union. Two excellent Russian standard platinum vodkas, drunk Russian style — neat and down the hatch — ended a perfect meal. Virtually all hotels include breakfast which is most welcome. Here too the Nordic influences shine through with eggs, herrings and sardines, Russian salads as well as porridge, fruits, yogurts and breads, teas and coffees. It's the perfect feast to set you up for the day. For children, in summer they can ride around the old town in Toomas the Train or visit the doll museum which has dolls and teddy bears from far and wide, or take in a show at the Estonian Puppet Theatre or visit the zoo. For those with a sweeter tooth, there is the Marzipan Museum and the Kalev Confectionery Museum where you can find the secrets of chocolate making. The port area is a hive of nightlife with late night clubs and bars to suit all tastes. The Finns come in on the ferries looking for the cheap booze, though most of them can hold it, unlike many of the British stag parties that also come. Sooner or later it is said everyone ends up in Molly Malone's Irish Bar in the Old Town square and it did feel a bit surreal to be surrounded by bodhrans and hurls while knocking back the Vana Tallinns, the local liqueur which comes in 40, 45 and 50% proof strengths. For beer only drinkers, both Saku and A La Coq delighted my taste buds on the way down. There are plenty of other good bars along the square but if you

stagger out, look up at a sign and think you are seeing double; you may not be as drunk as you think as bar is spelt baar. Alcohol and cigarettes are much cheaper here than elsewhere in Europe. For shopping, woollen knitwear with links to the medieval past can be bought from street vendors at The Wall of Sweaters; linen is also very popular as is carved juniper wood and Baltic Amber. They have an annual song festival that attracts 200,000 people. Once they even had 34,000 sing under the baton of a single conductor. With the Baltic Sea so close, 50,000 visitors will come to the summer Maritime festival where people show their yachting and old sailing skills and with the summer solstice and July Beer Festivals, there are many reasons and times to visit. Driving away from Tallinn, the Jägala Waterfall is spectacular at 8 metres high and 70 across. Then you can continue on to the Lahema National Park. At Tartu another Irish pub called Wilde has bronze statues of the Irish writer and Estonian writer Eduard Wilde in conversation on a bench. Hopefully they weren't gossiping. words & pictures by travel writer/ photographer Adrian Melia

Adrian Melia chilling out in Tallinn



What a tragedy it would have been if Saab had gone under and taken the fully developed allnew uniquely designed 9-5 executive saloon with it.

Enjoyable Saab 9-5 Mercifully, both survived thanks to the eleventh hour rescue by Dutch sportscar maker Spyker. And while, at the time of writing, there are a few new hiccups, we can enjoy arguably the best car to emerge from Saab in decades. Designed and engineered over five years by the Swedish car maker under former GM ownership it is also the most distinctive and technically advanced Saab sporting an array of hi tech features. The first generation in 1997, which replaced the 9000, represented a major leap forward for Saab. Similarly, the second generation takes the fourdoor 9-5 to a whole new level. Heavily reliant on the Opel Insignia’s architecture, the 9-5 has a clean, sculpted shape that is pure Scandinavian design. The dramatic wraparound window graphic echoes Saab’s aviation heritage while the frontal styling, inspired by the awardwinning Aero X concept car, and muscular, low-slung stance has introduced a bold, more expressive design language. The face is defined by a deep grille flanked by ‘ice-block’ headlamp units with signature LED light guides. The 9-5 is a big car — more than 100mm longer than rivals such as BMW’s 5 Series, the Audi A6 and Mercedes’ E-Class ­— with acres of cabin space. The wheelbase, 134mm longer than that of its predecessor, has enabled

a substantial 58mm increase in rear legroom which is claimed to exceed that offered by all main competitors. Front legroom is also up by 11mm. Headroom is slightly impeded by the sloping roofline. The well-shaped boot, too, is huge and holds 515 litres, increasing in volume with the split rear seats folded down. Up front it feels and looks good. Seating is comfortable and supremely supportive, steering column multi adjustable and the dashboard driver oriented. The centre console and all the controls are all within easy reach and well laid out. Plastics throughout are of a decent quality, switches classy and the graphics are clear. Also most of the dials are illuminated green. One change Saab owners will note is the removal of the traditional ignition key in the centre console. This has now been replaced with a 'stop/start' button. Saab’s flagship 9-5 is offered in three specs, Linear, Vector and Aero. I drove the entry level Linear model powered by a 160bhp 2.0 litre turbodiesel engine. Standard equipment includes electronically heated mirrors, rain sensor wipers, auto headlights, nine speakers, MP3 integration, single CD player, 17-inch alloys, cruise control, dual zone climate control, front fog lamps, leather steering wheel and textile upholstery. 24

And it wouldn’t be a Saab with another 'traditional' feature — top notch safety, and there is plenty of it on the 9-5, which got the full five-star Euro NCAP rating which included 94 per cent for occupant protection. The 2.0 litre diesel is a version of the GM unit used to power the Opel Insignia but modified by Saab adapting it to its own specifications. Saab also added extra soundproofing and components and retuned the suspension. I found it good to drive, smooth and a lot better under the 9-5’s bonnet. The engine outputs 158bhp and 258lb.ft. of torque propelling the car from 0 to 100km/h in 9.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 214km/h. It is also decently frugal returning 53.2mpg and emitting 139g/km putting it into tax band B. Available with either automatic or six-speed manual transmission, my review car featured the latter which, with its long gearing, takes some working. Review car price €36,500. Gerry Boud former Motoring Editor with the Sunday World.

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l but now ia c e p s g the methin ve voted e was so a in h g n s e ie ir tr . the TwinA rts from 36 coun of the Year 2011” w e n k s ngine We alway A jury of 76 expe ational E n r e t l. In ia “ c engine it’s offi y TwinAir r a n o ti lu revo 5. m `14,29 o r F . ir A win Fiat 500 T Fiat, the car brand with the lowest average CO2 emissions in Europe*. Fiat 500 TwinAir, the lowest CO2 emission petrol car engine in the world*. Fuel consumption for Fiat 500 TwinAir: l/100km (mpg) and CO2 emissions: Urban 4.9 (57.6) Extra Urban 3.7 (76.3) Combined 4.1 (68.9). CO2 emissions 95 g/km. Source: JATO Dynamics. Based on Volume-weighted average CO emissions (g/km) of the best selling brands in Europe, year 2010. †




Versatile Verso-S The new Toyota Verso-S may be the smallest of the mini-MPVs in the market but the designers have made the best use of the interior space available with clever design and packaging. Toyota claim the new Verso-S is 'A Space Revolution for Five' with some justification. It has lots of curves and lines and overall you can't fault the style much. It's a nice looking 5-door and will certainly appeal to its target market. Being such a tall vehicle, you have to watch out for strong crosswinds particularly on open stretches of motorway. For urban families, the Toyota VersoS can seat five adults or two adults and three children in comfort with lots of space for all they need to bring with them. It's also a car to be considered by those downsizing. Adults will have no problem with head room due to the high roof of the car, or legroom either. You sit up high, with good views of the passing countryside. For my height, I usually have to yank up the driver's seat so as to get a comfortable driving position. This often means having to reach down quite low for the handbrake or to get small items out of the cupholders, which are on the floor almost in the Verso-S. High seats and those side sliding doors — they're electrically operated — also make for easier getting in and out. These side doors slide back fully along the side of the car, but do watch out for small fingers. This huge open space allows parents to easily manoeuvre toddlers into their child seats. Older folk who maybe are not as nimble as they once were will also find it easy to get in and out with dignity. Door bins are of a decent size; there's an open shelf above the

nice glovebox. I didn't try to count them all, but Toyota say there are 19 different storage areas including a three-level dashboard compartment. The test car also came with power windows in front, with one touch opening on the driver's side; wind up ones in the back. This car is the only model in its class to provide additional one-touch rear seat folding controls in the boot. The load capacity is up to a maximum 1,388 litres of space with back seats folded flat. You can even fit in three large suitcases. The boot floor can be lowered in a single hand operation for accommodating higher items. Below the floor is a hidden compartment for other 'stuff' and underneath this again you'll find a spare tyre. The interior is nicely styled and the large speedometer is right to the fore, where I like it to be. Three specifications are offered, Luna, Terra, and Sol; all with the 1.33, 99hp petrol engine for Ireland as we're not getting the 1.4 diesel, nor the stop/start system. My test car was the mid range Terra spec, with manual transmission, in Band B of €156 for annual road tax. But get this ... the automatic version has less C02 and so is in Band A. Customers can choose from a 6speed manual transmission or the segment's first CVT automatic. The gear lever is located in the lower dash which really suits me fine. While the 1.33 engine won't get you into much trouble, it is a nice, quiet engine and I did enjoy the drive. Just don't expect


a fast 0-100km/h time. It takes 13.3 seconds to accomplish which is really quite slow. But that's not the point with this car. Fuel consumption is around 5.5 L/100kms (that's 51.4mpg) which is a very acceptable figure for a family car; 6.8 (41.5mpg) for urban use. There's a decent list of standard features with the Verso-S including seven airbags, VSC & Traction Control, and follow-me-home headlights. Luna spec adds the 6.1inch touch screen with Bluetooth, air conditioning, front fog lights, audio, iPod, MP3 USB connectivity and the views from the reversing camera. Prices are from €16,995 for the Terra grade. But Toyota expect the Luna spec version at €19,995 to be the volume seller here. The top grade Sol is priced at €22,135. Trish Whelan


A perfect tropical paradise


Port Douglas, just over an hour's drive on Captain Cook Highway north of Cairns, in Queensland, Australia, has been transformed from a sleepy fishing village into a top international holiday resort in recent years. From Cairns airport, the trip to Port Douglas by courier vehicle or coach takes around one hour. The town, founded in 1877 as a mining town after gold was found there, is named after a former Premier of Queensland, John Douglas. While still small, its population can double with the influx of tourists during the peak May-September tourism season. It was around 1980 that the Port began to develop as a tourist destination. It now attracts visitors from all over the world looking for a holiday with a difference where they can enjoy the clear blue waters of the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef, against the rainforest. All these attractions help make the area one of the most scenic and sought-after destinations in the whole of Australia. Visitors also appreciate the tropical climate that Port Douglas enjoys. Warm summers and warm winters, but with heavy rainfall usually occurring from January through March. November to April — summer and early autumn seasons — are dominated by a high pressure system in the Tasman Sea and winds from the east, while the dry season lasts from May to October and is the coolest time in the tropics. Rainfall is low at this time. On arrival, one thing you notice quickly is how clouds always seem to hang around the mountain tops, made from warm moist air over the sea being forced up over the mountains where it cools, condenses and forms these clouds. The Inlet of Port Douglas is lined by dark green mangroves and is a sanctuary for numerous fish and crustaceans and the odd croc. Many migratory birds feed and roost here, coming from as far north as Siberia so it's a bird watchers paradise. I must admit to having further investigated when I noticed a 'Port Douglas Crocs' sign along a small road out from the town thinking I'd come across a crocodile farm. But no, the 'Crocs' turned out to be the local football team. But walk through the town, which is based on a grid, and you'll love the wooden and covered sidewalks (providing shelter from both sun and rain) where you can browse from a choice of boutique clothes and jewellery shops, art galleries, gourmet restaurants and sidewalk cafes, not to mention the numerous travel, sports and car hire shops all competing to help you enjoy your stay. All the streets are tree-lined, and are ablaze with bright flowers and shrubs. The town's main attraction, though, is its Four Mile Beach which offers one of the most scenic strolls imaginable with the calm sea, all those palm trees and gentle ocean breezes. It's a good idea to hire some bicycles and cycle along the length of the beach on the hard sand. The town's portion

of the beach is patrolled by lifeguards. close to Port Douglas, that Crocodile Here big signs warn to only swim Hunter and entertainer Steve Irwin died between the red and yellow flags which from a stingray barb when filming a TV mark the Stinger Net Enclosure in order documentary. to stay safe from the jellyfish as a sting Back on dry land, don't miss the from these dangerous marine pests Sunday market held in Market Park, can turn your holiday into a nightmare. beside Anzac Park, which has been on The worst offenders are the Chironex the go for 20 years providing locally Box Jellyfish and Irukandji which are made hand crafted goods — arts and classified as dangerous. Signs also crafts, glassware, pottery, jewellery, provide emergency hospital telephone tropical clothing, fruit and vegetables numbers in case the worst happens and and genuine Australian souvenirs to you need immediate medical attention. take home. And do visit the Courthouse I guess there are a few casualties Museum which promotes the history of from time to time. Safer to swim in the the area. The local authority has also hotel's pool! been busy with their informative and There are so many other things to colourful signs on the local environment enjoy like a climb up the gentle slope which are located all over the town. of Flagstaff Hill, which overlooks the Cheerful bars and nice restaurants Port as it is the best place to see the abound. Just don't be surprised when fantastic views of the town and the long your very friendly barman or waitress curve of the beach and far off hills. greets you with an Irish accent as For shoppers, you can bag yourself the town is a favourite with Irish a Crocodile Dundee type Aussie hat in backpackers working their way around Hats On Macrossan Street, or shop 'til Australia. you drop in the superb Marina Mirage If you want to wander further from Arcade mall just a short walk from the the Port, you can visit the Daintree wet town, with its stylish shopping and tropical rainforest which boasts some of great architectural features. Or perhaps the rarest and ancient plants on earth. just sit and sip a cocktail, or local beer, They, like the GBR are listed as a World on the deck outside watching the white Heritage Area and so are protected cruisers and yachts as they bob up forever. The more adventurous can go and down right beside you with the white water rafting on the Tully River; or intriguing mangroves close by. All the even go ballooning in absolute silence time keeping an eye out for the old croc over the outback. who locals say lives there. Thousands of visitors are expected It's from here you catch the daily boat trips out to the Great Barrier Reef, so View of the beach from Flagstaff Hill. vast that it can be seen from the moon. It is also the largest life form on earth. We braved a trip in the Aristocat catamaran to the GBR in strong winds and swam the 100 feet or so to the edge of the reefs as boats dock that far away from the closest edge of a reef for environmental reasons. Not an easy task in big winds as I'm not a strong swimmer but there was plenty of professional help to assist and the unique experience of seeing the wonders of the reef through my goggles and all those myriads of colourful fish made it one of the best adventures of a lifetime. Landlubbers can opt to discover these wonders in a glass bottom boat, and stay dry. The trip out to the Great Barrier Reef through the rough shipping lanes takes from 1-2 hours depending on what boat you choose. It was off the Batt Reef, 29

to converge on Port Douglas next near (2012) as it will be the pole position for a total solar eclipse on 14 November. A special marathon is being organised to coincide with the event with over 2,000 competitors setting off as the first rays of the sun re-emerge from behind the moon. So it may well be a very special occasion to visit. For our week in Port Douglas we stayed in the superb Mantra Portsea Hotel on Davidson Street which is really a wide road flanked with big trees and other smart hotels. We enjoyed a large bedroom with ensuite, balcony and small kitchen, all the time with the soothing background sound of gently running water throughout the hotel due to its three swimming pools, waterslide and waterfalls, all linked to a central lagoon. The hotel also had its own short walkway down to the beach. A word of warning. If you have booked a return trip by shuttle bus back to Cairns airport, do ring the company the day before your flight to confirm that they will pick you up at your hotel in good time for your flight. words & pics by Trish Whelan



Trusty Touran People stopped to look at this new Touran while I had it. There had to be something in the overall package that works aesthetically, I realised. I looked a little closer. OK, the square shape remains. And is as practical as ever. There are neat details, though. The lights and grille, in latest VW family style, have a 'look at me' appeal. There's a raised centre part of the bonnet, and a strong character sculpting along the side linking to an almost Hoffmeister Kick at the rear quarter lights. And good alloys do set a car off, which the 16" Sedona alloys do here. From the back, the big tail light forms are smart, as is the clever crease above the numberplate, housing the plate light. The interior is very well finished, very practical, everything in its place. Not exciting, but in many matters good. Good like in the instruments. Clear. No fancy graphics. And the multifunction trip computer readout between the dials used by VW is the most readable in the business. Good like the steering wheel and

gear shifter. A nice handle and a good hold, respectively. The review car didn't have multifunction aspects, but the cruise control is handy enough as part of the direction indicator lever. I like where they have the heating/ ventilation controls. Three rotary knobs high on the centre stack. But they do need to make the position indicators on these larger. The radio in the review car was an extra, a touch-screen unit that makes a breeze of switching stations. The car is a 7-seater. In fact, there's enough head space for this writer in the rearmost pair, but it is a case of the knees coming very close to the chin. There's a flexible range of flip over and fold capabilities in terms of the seats. Luggage space can range between 121-1913 litres depending on how you format the living space. The review Touran was the BlueMotion version, powered by the

same 105hp 1.6 diesel which I have found so satisfying in many models in the VW Group in the last couple of years. In the Touran it is a B-rated car for tax purposes. Starting at â‚Ź27,495 in the model, the review car came in at â‚Ź30,995 in the Comfortline grade. Standard specification includes ESP and rain sensor. The drive experience was pretty good. Not as overall nice as with the same engine in the Passat that I drove recently, but there are differences in the size, shape, and centre of gravity that change things. I'm a long way beyond the need for carrying a bunch of teenagers around the social and sporting scene that is the norm today. But if I was still there, the Touran wouldn't be off my list of contenders for residence in my driveway. Brian Byrne

New Jetta launched in Ireland

At the launch of the new VW Jetta in Ireland at Killeen Golf Club, Co Meath, were, from Volkswagen Ireland, Alan Bateson; Adam Chamberlain, Sales & Marketing Director; Anna Dawson; Niall Philips, and Steffen Nass.



Giving a Continental about fuel economy Back in the 1960s, a quantum shift happened in the tyre industry. The crossply structure of the various layers of textile that made up the carcass of a tyre was changed to what was called a radial ply system. There's no need to go into the technical details, other than to give you the most important result. Crossply tyres would last 7,0009,000 miles typically before needing replacement. Radials lasted up to 30,000 miles and beyond. Michelin and Dunlop were the main pushers of the technology. There was a bit of a downside. A tripling of tyres longevity crippled the tyre

sales business for the best part of a decade. Fast forward to today, and the industry is also going through a massive technological shift. Not this time, though, in the same rate of extended life, although longevity is still improving. No, today's changes in the black bits that are a motorist's only contact with the road are mostly to do with performance in a wide range of characteristics. They are brought about by many alchemies. Materials used in the compounds from which a tyre is made. Modular design which involves


giving different characteristics to different parts of a tyre, depending on what job they have to do. So you have terms like 'load zone', 'grip zone', 'flexing zone' and 'rigid zone', representing basically the face of the tyre, its shoulders, the sidewall, and the bit that hooks up with the wheel rim. Under the pressures of today's driving, each of these is very carefully designed to provide optimum performance in its own particular job. The whole thing gets more complex when one considers the wider range of sizes that have to be accommodated across the variety of models and power in today's cars. So technologies and tread/block designs have to be adapted to deal with different pressures which will present themselves in each extended application. It quickly becomes clear that, no matter how much science is involved, every tyre is a compromise. OK, most buyers don't ever get around to any such level of thought about what is to most of them a 'distress purchase'. Like insurance, tyres are something most of us only buy because and when we have to. But that doesn't stop an amazing and consistent level of research and development being carried out by tyre makers. They are constantly pushing out the boundaries of what their products can do. In part because cars are more powerful and fuel costs are rising, and car makers want to make sure that the tyres on their products do as much as they can to on the one hand enhance the driving sense of their cars, and on the other make them increasingly more frugal. All those R&D costs aren't necessarily being passed on to the customer. No more than the massively improved technology in the average car itself over the last decade or so, substantially better tyres are made available today at real costs which aren't much, if at all, more expensive

than they were in the 80s and 90s. We have to be clear that we're talking here about the major players. Michelin, Goodyear, and Pirelli, for instance. And Continental, which supplies almost a third of all tyres as original equipment to Europe's car makers. There are budget brands, mostly Asian, which offer cheap tyres with little or no modern technology involved. Continental has just launched two new tyres, each specifically aimed at a different need. And for both their ContiSportContact5 and ContiEcoContact5, pretty enormous strides have been made against their predecessors, each of which had a '3' suffix. The SportContact5 is being provided mainly for high performance prestige cars, such as BMW's 5 Series and similar, as well as a version for SUVs at that level. And here's the kind of better deal those car owners are getting. A 13 percent better wear performance than the previous SportContact. With 9 percent better wet braking, 4 percent improved dry handling and a marginal improvement in anti-aquaplaning. All that with a massive 12 percent less rolling resistance. Which means, depending on the car involved and how the owner drives, a potentially great improvement in fuel economy and concomitant reduction in emissions. The new EconContact5 is aimed at the more mainstream family compact and small cars. Major strides have also been made here. Rolling resistance reduced by a fifth. Better wear characteristics up to 12 percent. With a 10 percent improvement in wet braking and 7 percent better handling. Right, on this one they lost out two points on aquaplaning, but with the kind of driving such cars do, it's probably a worthwhile tradeoff. It might be thought that improvement increments in tyres

would be getting smaller. But that's not the case. New, and sometimes exotic materials in the compounds, and other techniques have seen the rate of improvement grow, and grow faster. In terms of rolling resistance, for instance, the level of improvement made in the last two years or so took a decade to get to the previous level. There's a strong emphasis on weight reduction too, because with centrifugal force, every gramme of actual weight can mean several virtual grammes of effect on a tyre's performance. The mixing of 'ingredients' for a tyre compound is also much more scientific now. Instead of a mechanical mixing and 'cooking', it is done by chemical engineering at nano level. Computer simulation has also made possible very detailed examination of how a particular tread design will react under a variety of loads, temperatures and driving conditions. Combining GPS and on-road telemetry with today's computerised analysis takes the subjectivity out of real-world tests, especially in the development of specific mixes of economy and handling ability. I took part in that kind of thing at a recent Conti track event, where we journalists were turned into test specialists for the day. It was a quite an extraordinary experience to see the computerised 'pictures' of how we performed in braking, acceleration, cornering and general fast driving on a wet track, on the EcoContact 3 and 5, and an experimental 'E' prototype that provided substantially more economy than both, but demonstrated both at gut level and on the screens the safety 'cost' of extremely low rolling resistance.


From time to time I'm fortunate to be able to be in there at the hard, and occasionally scary, edge of how important to our everyday safety are those round black things that put the power on the ground and keep it manageable and safe for us in the car above. I'm aware that it's a hard message to sell to my fellow motorists. And that only a very few of the people who share the roads I drive on will ever have had the chance to test the limits of their tyres outside that one time when they need it most. So maybe you might take my word for it. And look after those four patches of rubber that are all there are between you, your loved ones ... and maybe even me ... getting home or not. And say a prayer of thanks for all those good people in the major tyre companies for sticking with their own passion for a product that is probably the least sexy bit of your motoring pride and joy. Brian Byrne


A Grand C-MAX Ford's new C-MAX now has a direct competitor in the 7-seat compact MPVs, the most important runners in the segment. The creature invented by Renault with their Scenic so many years ago is now arguably the most important type of car for families with pre-teens and teenagers. As well as carrying the people, they can also transport the goods and chattels of their active lifestyles. Ford actually lost out in the first generation C-MAX by not having a 7-seat version, which meant that for years Renault and Opel with its Zafira had most of the market all to themselves, with Citroen picking up most of the balance. No more. Latterly the market has widened to include 'crossovers' from the SUV business, like Nissan's very successful Qashqai, along with Kia and Hyundai models. Citroen upped their game too, with the C4 Picassos in 5- and 7-seat variants in compact MPVs, and over the last year and a half Peugeot has stirred things with the 3008/5008 vehicles, high quality and frugal but good drives. This new generation C-MAX is the first car on the new Ford platform which also underpins the upcoming new Focus. And, like with the Focus itself which I drove recently, in the model's 7-seat format it is hoped to be a game-changer for Ford. I wondered at first why they had bothered, given that it looks almost as big as the S-MAX on the Mondeo platform. But 'almost' isn't actually close, there's a good ten inches in the difference in overall size. It's a smarter looking car than its predecessor. Looks more like a people carrier than did the curved

roof first generation. And, of course, the sliding doors make their own visual impact. The driver's area is quite a complex of buttons and controls, for the cruise and entertainment systems as well as the Bluetooth phone hookup. The centre stack has echoes of the one in the Fiesta rather than the all new design one in the new Focus. Sitting up high with good visibility all round it is very much a driver command position. The usual storage solutions apply, and then some more. Such as the areas under each of the centre seats, capable of holding a laptop computer bag, for instance. Very practical. The seat fold mechanism results in a fully flat floor, and is easy enough to do once you have worked out the loops and lifts to get the folding done. And with the rearmost seats down there's plenty of luggage space. Those two back seats are really only for occasional use, by the way. It is, after all, a compact family segment car. The drive is good, with the ride settings biased towards the comfort 34

side, although the car coped very well in roadholding. The powertrain in the review car was the 95hp 1.6 diesel, the key engine for the new C-MAX in Ireland. I was conscious that it was hauling the bigger of the two vehicles and initially thought it a little short on power. But pretty soon it was clear this was more a matter of getting used to a longish accelerator pedal than anything else, and when pushed the car had poke enough. The manual gearbox is tidy in operation, and there's the option of Ford's Powershift automated manual, but I haven't got to use that yet. The new Grand C-MAX turned out to be a car that I quickly got to like, and I believe it puts the brand more in contention than it has been in this segment niche. At â‚Ź27,495 starting price the Grand C-MAX is accessible. And is one of those cars likely to last up to a decade of most growing family needs. Expect to see quite a number of them here in coming years. Brian Byrne

When Jeep introduced its Compass compact SUV some years ago, many people wondered what the brand was at. Particularly as it had a similar car, the Patriot, rolled out at the same time.

Cool Compass Up to then, the Jeep range had concentrated on the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and the Wrangler as the modern version of the original GP military vehicle that started the whole thing off. Now it seemed to have too many models for the sake of more models? Yep. That's the way it turned out, really. So now the company is streamlining its offer in Europe as it sets out a new plan under Fiat management. There will be three models — Compass, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, all of which have been revised for 2011. In Ireland, the Compass will be the most important model from the end of June, when the local Fiat distributor gets its hands on the American brand, formerly sold here by the OHM Group. And a short introduction recently left me feeling quite positive about the car. There are several important things to compare against the pre-revision model. First, it looks an awful lot better externally, with improvements that include sleek new lights instead of the previous bug-eyed look.

Second, the interior has been totally revamped to provide a level of finish and quality suitable to European tastes. And finally, there's a new diesel engine. For the Irish interest this 2.2 motor from Mercedes-Benz is the only one of consequence. And it suits the car very well. It has a number of good characteristics. Including a fairly high level of refinement, if not to the levels found in, say, BMW or M-B saloon cars, it performs very competently. The engine comes in 136/163hp versions, the former which will power the 2WD version of the Compass that is expected to be the main player in Ireland. Drive in this configuration is to the front wheels. A 4WD version will be available, initially the lesser of two systems available from Jeep. There are 2.0 and 2.4 petrol engines available in the range, unlikely to be of interest to Irish owners. On my introductory drive in Balocco in Italy they were careful to guide us around rather than through some of the more difficult parts of the offroad track, but one of the US Jeep engineers told me that a 'trail-ready' 35 35

variant with the 'Freedom II' AWD will be introduced later. In the meantime, the 4WD version we're getting will be fine for most needs, especially towing trailers and horse-boxes, for instance. There's a full line of active and passive safety systems including Hill-Start Assist, and the car will be available in Europe in Sport and Limited trim levels. On the open road the Compass did seem to me to be a quite composed vehicle compared to previous Jeep models here. Jeep say they have retuned the suspension to suit the faster driving and harder braking characteristics of European drivers. I see the new Compass working out as a good rugged family car, and likely to compete well against established models like Nissan's Qashqai, Kia's Sportage, and the Hyundai ix35. It is a segment coming back up from its flooring during the economic crash here, and getting all the more competitive too. Looking forward to its arrival for a good test. Brian Byrne



Feisty Fabia vRS Fabia vRS might well be the best value hot hatch in the game. Already quite an individual in looks among the supermini classmates, the visual extras on the vRS stand it out smartly. The 17-inch alloys are strong, the dual exhaust diffuser a tease to those behind about what you might have under the hood, and the vRS sill strips are there to remind yourself whenever you open the door. The contrasting roof colour with matte black pillar and mirrors treatment adds its own dash. Inside there are sports seats, and a vRS motif on the steering wheel. Otherwise the fittings are standard Fabia, neat in the VW way but without much in the sparkle department. No matter. Everything is where it should be. And it all works. The core is a 180hp version of the 1.4 dual-charged petrol engine developed so successfully by the German parent company. With the 7-speed double clutch auto, it silk-shifts its way through the ratios to offer a 7.3 seconds sprint to 100km/h. Doing it so well that maybe this car is the most fun drive I've had in the last 12 months. All the driveability options are there. Let the gearbox do its thing naturally, fiddle it in Sports mode manually with the central shifter, or paddle it through the uphill bends of your choice. I preferred the central shifter mode, but all three work extremely well. ESP of course is standard. Tyre pressure monitoring is too, and Bluetooth access to your phone (and I bless the uncomplicated way in which

it hooks up). The dual analogue instrument dials are easy to read, the central information panel with bright white on black an exemplar of clarity which should mandatorily replace the oftenmuddy versions in other brands. Fabias are all square on the road, and this version makes the most of the car's natural roadholding ability. Secure in the twists, and that instant response from the powertrain, made it one of those cars that I wanted excuses to take out for a drive. Even in the 'burbs and keeping it inside the limits, the car offers a sporty sense of go, but without demanding one to go out of order. As superminis go, there's a cost to the fun factor in the vRS. Not a lot, though. It is for Irish tax purposes a C-rated car, so your road tax is €302 at the moment. Really, worth the little bit of extra for the value of the driving entertainment. The fuel costs aren't going to cause a run on your bank, either. With 6.2L/100km (46.3mpg) achievable, visits to the pumps need not be too frequent. The car as tested, with a really high level of spec, turns out of the showroom at €22,690. Quite frankly, that's a price that shocked me. In the best way. You can start in a Fabia at considerably less, of course, from €12,535 with the 60hp 1.2 3-pot in Classic trim. There are no less than five grades besides the vRS, three diesel engines to mull over besides the several naturally and charged 1.2 petrol variants. Whether a decent small family car or a thumpingly good hot hatch is on the buyer's horizon, it would be very hard not to consider Fabia as being high on the look list. Brian Byrne



A crystal heri

It's an old saw, that closing one door will often Old or no, it is often true. Like for the four guys Handmade Glass in Waterford.



open another. s who are Irish

The ending of local manufacturing at Waterford Crystal in 2009 closed a big door in 'the Crystal City', one through with two decades ago nearly 600 blowers and 800 cutters would come through every day. There were nothing like those numbers when Tony Hayes and his colleagues went through it for the last time in 2009, but there was an awful lot of heritage. And an unquantifiable level of skill embedded in that heritage. "Two of us were on a FAS course afterwards, trying to put a CV together," Tony recalls. "We played around with some figures, trying to get a cost on setting up with a new furnace. And it actually seemed doable." Tony and fellow former workers Richie Rowe, Danny Murphy and Derek Smith took their thoughts to Bill Rafter, then CEO of the City Enterprise Board, and lately retired. There, they got much more than a hearing. "They gave us encouragement, and a mentor to help us put together a proper business plan. I went back to College to complete a Bachelor of Business Studies for which I had done a Diploma some years ago, and 12 months on we got started here." 'Here' is the Kite Design Studio in Henrietta Street in the Viking centre of Waterford. In addition to a glass blowing and cutting workshop, there's a shop to show their wares as well as those of other artists in the Studio, including master glass engraver Sean Egan, artist and freelance designer Anne McDonald, and silver specialists Stradbally Jewellery. The Kite is a joint venture by the City Enterprise Board and Waterford City Council, located on the site of a derelict garage. A new furnace, built in the US at a cost of â‚Ź100,000, was fired up on 4 January, and by mid-February the shop was open and selling the work of the four, who between them have 132 years of experience in the making of fine crystal. And that's just their generation: both Tony and Derek's fathers, for 39

instance, were Master Engravers with Waterford Crystal. "We're not trying to copy anything, though," Tony emphasises. "We know we're not Waterford Crystal and we're not trying to be, We have developed our own lines, and they're doing very well." Their products are non-lead crystal, and they create in both colour and clear forms. One of the joys of their enterprise is that they can decide themselves each day what they want to do. "It's not like we used to do, work all day on the same thing, whatever we were told. Now we decide what's needed to build up new or replacement stock for any product, and vary what we're doing." Although fellow former workers have set up engraving studios in the city since the closure of Waterford Crystal manufacturing, Irish Handmade Glass is the only glass-blowing studio to come out of the ashes. It is open to view, and passersby are welcome to walk in and watch Tony and his colleagues at work. "We don't have tours, we're not big enough ... yet," Tony quips. "But we like talking to people about what we're at." What they are at is reviving what used to be. Good quality crystal made in Waterford, at accessible prices. It is probably a good marker already that they were commissioned by Waterford Chamber of Commerce to design and make the trophy for the recent Business Awards organised by that body. With just one outlet so far for their wares, the four already often work through seven days. But they are anxious to expand the availability of their products to a greater range of shops. Would that be a problem? "One we'd be delighted to have," says Tony with evident enthusiasm. "There are a lot of skilled glass men walking around the streets at the moment and we'd love to be able to take them on. If we needed a second furnace we could have it running in six months. And we have spare cutting machines already which we bought cheaply from Waterford Crystal. So upscaling would not be a difficult issue." It's just a case of opening the next door ... Brian Byrne NOTE: 20 Tall Ships from different countries will arrive in Waterford on June 30. That would be a good opportunity to see both visiting and local attractions.


It is highly likely that the biggest range of choice in the car business is in the small car area. And there are, genuinely, a lot of really good small cars out there.

ix20 a plucky number Case in point, Hyundai's ix20. Officially in the B small car segment, it has enough going for it to challenge many compact family hatches. That's what Hyundai excel at, though. Determined to be in the top four, and getting pretty close to achieving that target, the Korean carmaker and its smaller Kia sidekick are pumping out models that are as attractive for their quality and style as they are for their value for money. The ix20 follows through on the current Hyundai style cues, with quite strong design up front. Futuristic, even. Certainly distinctive and with very modern lights treatment. And even though the core theme is of a seriously good people packager in a small footprint, the looks of the car overall are smart and modern. Tall but not ungainly. Sculpted to show character. Small wheels that nevertheless are good looking. From the driver's perspective, this is first a car in which it is easy to get a decent driving position, one from which there is also a very clear view of most angles. A low scuttle line and a deep raked windscreen are key here. Hyundai uses a two-dial instrumentation layout, smartly done. Maybe slightly larger graphics might be desirable, but they are quite clear enough. Hyundai's background illumination is blue, and I like that

much more than colours at the other end of the spectrum. It hardly needs to be said again that the quality of build, materials and fittings is top class, because that's what Hyundai has been at for some models now. It may once have delivered as a cheap and cheerful brand, but has matured upwards during the last decade. It's a very roomy car, especially for its class. The height is a start, but there's also really good elbow room. And for rear passengers, unless they are exceptionally big, there's as much space as could possibly be needed for the car to carry four for long distances in great comfort. And a fifth wouldn't make the back seat unbearable. For luggage, the ix20 offers pretty decent volume too, thanks more to height than depth. And if you want more, with just two or three on board, the flip 'n' fold ability of the rear seatbacks is very simply managed. A full day's driving on a goodly mix of motorways and country roads proved the car to be more than adequately comfortable for a pair of us. The trip also gave me a chance to see how the suspension behaved on that same mix, the result being a car that handled well under most demands. The power in the review car was a 40

1.4 diesel pushing 90hp. It's a plucky enough little unit, pretty refined as Hyundai diesels are generally. Full pulling power comes in around 1800rpm, and for press-on driving the 6-speed gearbox needs to be used to keep things above that number. Do it, and the car is actually fun to drive. If diesel is still not your thing, there's a B rated 1.4 petrol available, and a 1.6 petrol with an automatic transmission. The shifter is a neat mover between cogs, which helps significantly the driveability of the car. It's a thrifty little number, and doesn't need annoying stuff like stop/ start to minimise detours to the fuel forecourts. It also benefits from Hyundai's 5year Triple Care package on warranty, roadside assistance, and health check, something which European carmakers still seem loth to compete with. Pricing starts at â‚Ź17,495, and the review car came in at â‚Ź18,995. There's just one grade available, and that brings a high level of specification. The ix20 is just one more example of why the major traditional carmakers need to be watching their backs. Brian Byrne

The current generation Megane in style is very, very good. Especially in some particular colours, like the white of the review car. Sexy from characterful nose to edgy squared lights at the rear. The profile mixes wedge with a very distinctive coupe roofline very well indeed. The way the rear part of the roof rests on the points of the C-pillar is a stylistic treat, merging seamlessly to a wellexecuted curve of glass and metal on the rear hatch door. There are possibly formulae for the aesthetics of automotive shapes, similar to the golden mean in art. If so, the Megane Coupe in this generation has hit the spot close to perfection. They've done it pretty well inside too. I haven't been that impressed lately with Renault interiors, but even though it shares elements with some other mid-sized cars from the brand, it all feels better here. Maybe that's in part because the review car was the so-called 'Irish Edition' grade. Which is just a localised marketing name for the 'GTline' grade in the UK, and which latter remains written in various strategic places all over the car. With the Irish Edition grade comes such comforts as part-leather seats, full climate control, a combined Tom Tom nav/radio/Bluetooth system and various other bits and bobs. Leather on the steering wheel is also nice. You also get a special dark grey background on the speedometer. Which causes a problem, because the speedo needle is a very dark red. In very many lighting situations I simply couldn't easily see what speed I was doing. We can't afford that these days. A good 6-speed shifter has nice moves. Maybe the brake and accelerator pedals are a little close for my size tens, but that's something one would quickly get used to. And the corollary is that there's good room for the left foot to idle on the rest. I'll often have difficulty getting into the back of 3-doors. But the front seat moves forward quite easily and amply to make the manoeuvre fairly manageable. Once in, though, the standard difficulty for anyone over 6' pertains, not enough headroom. Knee space is good enough. The review car came powered by the 110hp version of Renault's very good 1.5 small diesel workhorse. In this application it is very quiet and refined, reflecting good soundproofing inbuilt in the Megane. It is an engine well matched to the Megane Coupe, offering a quite perky performance without any jerkiness of

Curvy Coupe

turbo cut-in. And if you let it wind up to the admittedly lower revs at the top end of the diesel's power band, it has a pleasant throaty sound. The Coupe also has a lowered and sportier suspension than the 5-door hatch, providing somewhat flatter cornering on twisting roads. But the sporty is not at the expense of comfort, and the car rides the increasingly corrugated Irish country road conditions very nicely. The steering is decent, not as dynamically sharp as with the competitive Opel Astra or VW's Golf, but not mushy, either. For the practicalities, boot space is quite decent too, although there's a high lip to get stuff over. There are stowage hidey-holes under the boot floor, and deeper again a proper spare wheel. After rather indifferent experiences 41

with a number of other Renault models in recent times, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one as much as I actually did. It has lifted my feelings for the brand, actually. You can start in a Megane Coupe at around â‚Ź19,500 list, getting a 1.6 petrol engine under the hood. For this one, you'll be looking at about another four grand for the extra spec and the economies and pleasant running of the diesel. There is a truism that you don't get a return on extra specification when you go to sell on a car at the end of your ownership. And for the Renault Coupe that may still hold. But to have the comfort for the duration, and the resale ability of the diesel, I'd be inclined to recommend the extra spend. Brian Byrne


Summer driving and the tolls trap points It used to be something which we only worried about when driving on hols to France or further. Then we got the privatelybuilt M50 bridge, now owned by us though much of the revenue goes to the contracted toll operators. And then, first gradually and recently very swiftly indeed, almost every long motorway on our almost-complete network gained modern equivalents of 'Corrigan's Cut' outside Kildare, the haunt of a local highwayman demanding money from travellers before they could continue their journeys. Though, of course, there's nothing illegal about these modern toll operations. And you can take alternative routes. In fairness, we don't actually have a serious issue with tolls on long-distance motorways, provided the money is used to maintain them properly. They do save time, and are safer. But before you head off on that summer trip North, South, East or West, be sure to have some change ready to hand. And watch out for the signs that warn you of the last exit before a toll; it might be worthwhile getting off the motorway

for a period, if only to be able to use what are euphemistically called 'offline services'. Because the 'online' ones are very scarce indeed. Even if there is a space to pull over to park on the newer roads, there aren't even toilets. Anyhow, courtesy of the NRA, we show here the locations of the current tolls. Be aware, though, that there are plans in the hatching for a lot more, and they might not be confined to motorways, either. There are a couple of anomalies. In general, it is impossible to stay on the motorway network and travel between any of the country's major cities without having to pay a toll. The M9 from Dublin to Waterford is an exception, provided you don't use the new toll bridge at the end of it to go around the city. Taking the old river approach from the roundabout before the bridge is free. Most other inter-city trips will cost you two tolls. Though the double-tolled M3 through Meath to nowhere that important is a bit much.

Toll Points & Prices (Cars & Motorcycles 50cc+) M1 Gormanston—Monasterboice

M4 Kilcock—Enfield—Kinnegad

N25 Waterford City Bypass

Approximately 30km north of Dublin airport on the Dublin to Belfast route. Toll applies to the section of the M1 between Junction 7 (Julianstown) and Junction 10 (Drogheda North). Motorcycles €0.90; Cars €1.80.

Approximately 35km west of Dublin on the Dublin to Sligo/Dublin to Galway route. The toll applies to the section of the M4 between Junction 8 (Kilcock) and Junction 10 (Kinnegad east). Motorcycles €1.40; Cars €2.70.

On the N25 Waterford city bypass between the junction for the M9/N24 and the Junction for R710. The toll plaza is approximately 5km from Waterford City. Motorcycles €0.90; Cars €1.80.


M6 Galway—Ballinasloe

Northbound after bridge, Southbound before bridge. Tolls registered automatically by onboard sensor or numberplate recognition. If not registered, tolls must be paid by phone or online by 8pm the following day. Cars (depending on how toll is paid) €2.00/€2.50/€3.00.

Approximately 13.5km West of Ballinasloe/42km east of Galway. The toll applies to the section of the M6 between junction 15 (Ballinasloe West) and junction 16 (Loughrea). Motorcycles €0.90; Cars €1.80.

East Link Toll Bridge

M7/M8 Portlaoise—Castletown/ Portlaoise—Cullahill

Located in the Dublin docklands area. Motorcycles free; Cars €1.70.

Dublin Port Tunnel Connects the M1 (south of Dublin Airport) to the docklands. Cars €10 between 6am-10am, Monday to Friday; €3 at all other times.

M4 Kilcock—Enfield—Kinnegad Approximately 35km west of Dublin on the Dublin to Sligo/Dublin to Galway route. The toll applies to the section of the M4 between Junction 8 (Kilcock) and Junction 10 (Kinnegad east). Motorcycles €1.40; Cars €2.70.

On the N7 Limerick to Dublin route and also serves the Cork to Dublin route. The toll applies to the section of the M7 between Junction 18 (Portlaoise west) and Junction 21 (Borris-In-Ossory). The toll applies to the section of the M8 where it joins the M7 between Junction 3 (Rathdowney) on the M8 and Junction 18 (Portlaoise West) on the M7. Motorcycles; €0.90; Cars €1.80.

N8 Rathcormac—Fermoy Approximately 15km north of Dunkettle on the N8 Cork to Dublin route. The toll applies to the section of the M8 between Junctions 15 (Fermoy South) and Junction 17 (Watergrasshill). Motorcycles €0.90; Cars €1.80.


M3 Clonee and Dunshaughlin Connections to Clonee, Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells. The road is tolled between Junction 5 (Dunboyne) and Junction 6 (Dunshaughlin) and also Junction 9 (Navan North) and Junction 10 (Kells). Motor Cycles €0.70; Cars €1.30.

M3 Clonee—Kells/Navan—Kells Connections to Clonee, Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells. The road is tolled between Junction 5 (Dunboyne) and Junction 6 (Dunshaughlin) and also Junction 9 (Navan North) and Junction 10 (Kells). Motor Cycles €0.70; Cars €1.30.

Limerick Tunnel On the outskirts of Limerick City. Tolled between Junction 2 and Junction 4. Motor Cycles €0.90; Cars €1.80.

Toll Plaza Locations 2010 Toll Plaza Locations

Buncranna N56

Dublin Port Tunnel


Letterkenny N14







Donegal N15

Ballyshannon N3
















Ballysadare Collooney

Castleblayney N53




Dundalk Carrickmacross


Boyle Carrick-on-Shannon










M3 Toll Plaza

N3 N55




N2 M1











€ Toll



N4 Castlepollard










€ Toll




M50 N80





Newbridge Portarlington













M9 N52


Wicklow Baltinglass















€ Toll



M11 M9





















€ TollStradbally N80




Portlaoise N62










N3 Kilcock Maynooth

€ Toll




East Link Toll Bridge N11


€ Toll


€ Toll





Ballinasloe M6






M1 M2








Trim Mullingar



€ Toll





€ Toll



M50 Dublin Port Tunnel

€ Toll













Newcastle West










Clonmel Carrick-on-Suir

Tralee N21



N11 N25



€ Toll






Mitchelstown N86

New Ross











Tramore N72




€ Toll


N71 N70




Youghal Midleton



N70 N25 N27


€ Toll Toll Plaza


Kinsale N71


Clonakilty N71

Dual Carriageway


Fermoy Toll Plaza 43

Two Plus One Single Carriageway


Around the Motor Trade Below — At the announcement of Faichney Ringwood as a Peugeot dealer are George Harbourne, Peugeot Managing Director and Peter Faichney, Managing Director of Faichney Ringwood. Back row: Gerard O'Farrell, OHM Group Director at Faichney Ringwood, and Des Cannon, Peugeot Sales & Marketing Director.

Above — Julia Christoph, then Corporate Communications and Events Manager of BMW Ireland, at the launch of the BMW X3.

Above — Eddie Murphy, MD of Ford Ireland, at the international launch of the Ford Focus in Jerez, Spain.

Above — Shane Teskey of, at the Irish Times Motor Show in the RDS. Right — Andy Hall; Frederick Soulier, new MD of Citroen Ireland, at a Citroen Range presentation in Carton House, Maynooth.

Above — At the Irish launch of the Peugeot 508 in Dublin are Emma Toner, Communications Manager of Peugeot Ireland and George Harbourne, MD Peugeot Ireland. Right — Des Cannon, Sales & Marketing Director, Peugeot Ireland, at the launch of the 508 in Alicante, Spain.

Below — Citroen Ireland Fleet Sales Manager Sean O'Neill, at the Citroen Range presentation.

Above — James Brooks, MD Kia Ireland; and Aidan Doyle, Head of Marketing & Public Relations, Kia Ireland at the launch of the new Picanto in Spain. Above — at the Irish launch of the Ford Focus is Joanne Sheehan, Marketing Director Ford Ireland.


Continental Tyre Group Ireland, Clyde Lodge, 15 Clyde Road, Dublin 4, Tel. (01) 660 7633

ES and Type S equipped with 2.2 iDTEC engine delivering CO2 emissions of 138g/km. Prices quoted are recommended retail prices only and exclude delivery and related charges. All new models come with a 3 year warranty and 3 year roadside assistance.

The Honda Accord. From q30,875 who says you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure?

Honda has it down to a fine art. This smart new-look Accord range delivers the best of both worlds with great aplomb.

But despite its three year warranty*, hi-tech kit and down to earth price the Accord’s most valuable asset is the badge it wears.

With a lengthy feature list, including cruise control and hands-free phone kit, the generously appointed ES and Type S sport attracts envy in the corporate car park – but without stressing the company accountant.

Nobody can touch Honda’s legendary reliability record and exceptional residual values.

Why? CO2 emission are reduced in both models. So annual road tax is now just€q156.

So, while other executive saloons may become a liability, an Accord is a real asset to its owner. Year after year. Good business and complete motoring pleasure side by side.

Better still, prices have been reduced too. The ES is down 5.2% to just q30,875.While theType S drops 5.4% to q32,725.

The Honda Accord

Technically brilliant. Financially astute

Irish Car+Travel  

The Summer 2011 edition of Irish Car+Travel magazine