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winter 2008 contents


NEWS •40 shades of green lights •Blinking excessively means you are tired •Doblo Electric gets going •Tour of Ireland supported by industry •On-line parts business booms •Junction Box – News Bites from Fiat, DriverFocus, Mazda, Semperit, Honda and Volvo.


NEWSLETTER Activities of the Vehicle Leasing Association of Ireland.


COVER Opel Insignia – artistry meets precision.

Editor: Jarlath Sweeney


Contributors: Cathal Doyle, Gerry Murphy, Austin Shinnors.

INTERVIEW Exclusive chat with Insignia designer Mark Adams.


BUYERS GUIDE 2009 IN ASSOCIATION WITH QUINN-INSURANCE Looking to 2009 and to what the various segments have to offer the corporate and fleet sector.


FLEETING SHOTS Social scene in picture format.


SAFETY Latest developments from Continental and the significance of Electronic Stability Control.


PREVIEW Highlighting what’s to see at the Paris Motor Show 2009.


COMPARISON Putting the Jaguar XF Diesel against the Lexus GS Hybrid.


LAUNCH PAD •New Audi A6 •Audi A6 Security •Seat Ibiza •Ford Kuga •Suzuki Splash •Ford Fiesta •Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback & Ralliart •Iveco Campagnola •Fiat Qubo.


TEST Subaru Legacy Sports Tourer Diesel


MOTORSPORT •Round-up of Irish Rally scene •Citroen C2R2 drive •Rally Ireland prepares.


TECHNOLOGY Trafficmaster – making inroads in the fleet sector.

Fleet Car Magazine, D’Alton Street, Claremorris, County Mayo, Ireland. Telephone: +353 (0)94 9372819 / 9372826 Fax: +353 (0)94 9373571 Email: ISDN: +353 (0)94 938 8242 ISSN: 1649-9433

Photography: Jarlath Sweeney, Cathal Doyle, Gerry Murphy, Podge Newe, David Branigan/Oceansport, Matt Shinnors, Kevin O’Driscoll, Administration: Orla Sweeney, Denise Vahey.



Advertising: Mary Morrissey, Orla Sweeney. Design & Print: KPS Colour Print Ltd.

Fleet Transport/Fleet Car/Fleet Van/ Fleet Bus & Coach/Fleet Trailer & Body Builder/ Fleet Maritime are published by JJDS Publications Ltd. Registered Office: D’Alton Street, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Co. Reg. No. 368767 Directors: Jarlath Sweeney, Sean Murtagh.


Disclaimer: Fleet Transport Magazine management can accept no responsibility for the accuracy of contributed articles or statements appearing in this magazine and any views or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Fleet Transport management, save where otherwise indicated. No responsibility for loss or distress occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by the authors, contributors, Editors or publishers. The Editor reserves the right to make publishing decisions on any advertisements or editorial article submitted to the magazine and to refuse publication or to edit any editorial material as seems appropriate to him. Professional legal advice should always be sought in relation to any specific matter.




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40 shades!



ext time you ar e approaching a junction with traffic lights, ask yourself what a green light means. If your answer is ‘go’, you are only half right!


For full marks, you need to remind yourself that a green light at the junction does mean go, but only if it is safe to do so, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists. You also need to ask how long has it been green? The longer it has been green, the sooner it will change to amber. Amber doesn’t mean ‘speed up to get through the lights before they change’. It means stop. And after amber, the lights always go red. These days, especially with congestion, more drivers are prepared to risk an amber light (known as ‘amber gamblers’), or even a red light to get through a junction. That in turn means that we need to use an extra defensive driving technique. Even though the lights are ‘with you’, always glance both ways as you approach the junction, to satisfy yourself that you can get across safely.

By taking a moment to look both ways, even when the light is green, you might be able to spot somebody who is prepared to risk his/her safety – and yours – by ignoring the traffic signals. And even if the light is green in your favour, keep using your rear mirror. It may be that somebody is following you too closely, in which case, by spotting the that the green light is about to turn amber in good time, you can slow down early, brake more gently and reduce the chances of a collision from behind. All traffic lights are set according to the speed zones in which they are placed. If you are doing the correct speed limit, you will have adequate time to stop at an amber light.

‘Take a Break’ - when eyes start to flutter


he human body has developed a very efficient system of warning of impending tiredness and loss of concentration – long before you become drowsy and control of a vehicle is impaired. The first signs of the onset of getting tired or bored are that the rate at which we blink goes up. An increase in the normal blink rate of about 10 blinks (also known as nictating) per minute is a warning signal that it is time to find an appropriate place to pull over and take a rest from the stress of driving. Chief Executive of GEM (formerly known as the Guild of Experienced Motorists), David Williams, said: “This is a wonderful reflex action by humans of we should all be aware. It is a built-in early warning system that gives us the opportunity to head for the nearest motorway service area or other refuge from the road before our driving becomes erratic and p o t e n t i a l l y dangerous. “It not only tells us that we are getting tired, but we are bored and liable to lose concentration.” Blinking is an essential body function that helps spread tears across the eye and removes irritants. It stops the eye ball



drying out, kills bacteria and carries oxygen and nutrients to the corneal cells. A blink takes between 300 and 400 milliseconds and as a result humans lose about 23 minutes of visual information during a waking day. It is estimated that driver sleepiness is a factor in one fifth of road accidents. It is recommended that drivers take at least a 15 minute break after every two hours of driving. “Making sure we are alert and as fresh as possible – especially on long journeys – is a critical element of road safety,” said David. “People should become much more aware of their blink rate and heed the warning if it starts to rise.”

Negotiations are said to be ongoing between the Fiat people Ireland and Italy with a view of bringing in the Fiat Linea saloon into the marketplace over here. Designed by Fiat Style Centre and produced in Turkey the 1.3 litre 90hp Multijet diesel would be the preferred option due to its impressive performance levels, low running costs and above all low CO2 rating. Vital Stats: - 4.56m long, 1.73m wide, 1.5m tall, wheelbase 2.6m, luggage space 500 litres.

AWARD FOR DRIVERFOCUS Ron McNamara, founder and Managing Director of DriverFocus was presented with the Most Promising Start-Up Award from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Enterprise Board, at a ceremony in County Hall, Dun Laoghaire. Established in 2006, DriverFocus helps employers manage their drivers’ wellbeing and skills by identifying – and then training - low, medium and high-risk drivers. DriverFocus’ unique, web-based program FleetFit™, accurately assesses 12 driving-related cognitive skills, compares each driver against their peers and allows organisations to prioritise time-consuming and expensive on-road training.

MAZDA IRELAND APPOINTMENT Mazda Ireland has appointed Michael Howe as its new Sales Director. Having vast experience in the Motor Trade, Michael held senior positions in Toyota and Fiat Auto Ireland and aims to further expand on Mazda’s market share in the mainstream and corporate sectors in Ireland.

SEMPERIT SPEED LIFE Semperit has introduced a new affordable tyre for mainstream – premium cars. Called Speed Life, it replaces the Semperit Direction-Sport. The three main segments in the Irish market, which make up two-thirds of car sales have become more performance oriented in recent years. “Speed Life is specifically aimed at this burgeoning market, providing an affordable option without compromising on safety or performance,” says Paddy Murphy of Semperit Ireland.

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ON BOX HONDA CIVIC DIESEL Universal Honda has introduced the brands acclaimed 2.2 litre i-CTDi diesel to its Civic 5 door range. With only limited supply for the remainder of 2008, good supplies of the 140PS common-rail (140g/km CO2) unit are assured from January next when its impact in the market place will be felt.

ROSE – YOUR VOLVO CARRIAGE AWAITS As part of the prize package, the 2008 Rose of Tralee Tipperary’s Aoife Kelly was presented with a new Volvo C30 (Valued at €35,000) in front of a live to audience of 1 million people at the Festival Dome.

Fiat Doblo Electric hits the streets


eveloped thr ough a par tnership between Fiat and Micro-Vett, Europe’s leading electric vehicle specialist, the Fiat Doblo Electric is aimed at a wide variety of commercial users with Cargo, Combi and High Roof options. Introduced into Ireland by Green Machines, the Fiat Doblo is recognised as one of the most widely used MPVs in Europe and the new electric version is capable of being configured as a people carrier or a functional utility vehicle. The Doblo Electric is available in full Irish specification with all standard options and the backing of a full Fiat warranty. The Doblo Electric is powered by Lithium-ion batteries which guarantee low weight and high performance with speeds of 120 km/h and a range of 150 km. With a carrying capacity of approximately 500kg the Micro-Vett Doblo is perfect as an urban people carrier and delivery vehicle.

Robert Nolan - Managing Director, Green Machines and Michele Ceccucci - Sales Network Manager, Micro-Vett

Robert Nolan, Managing Director, Green Machines stated, “The average commercial vehicle in our towns and cities only covers about 50 kilometres in a day. As the supply and price of traditional carbon based fuels remain uncertain it will make sense to many commercial interests to look seriously at the electric vehicle market. To fully charge the vehicle for a year is estimated to cost as little as €300 which is on average about 50 times cheaper than the fuel costs of similarly sized petrol vehicles. As the engine

Pictured at the media conference to announce the 12 month countdown to the Volvo Ocean Race stop-over in Galway next year were Martin Cullen T.D., Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Debbie Hadwen, Chief Duty Officer of the Volvo Ocean Race and David Baddeley, Managing Director of Volvo Car Ireland. To mark the occasion Mr. Cullen was presented with a model of the Volvo Open 70 from Ms. Hadwen.

The Rathmines based company which markets a range of electric powered vehicles including bicycles, scooters and the Mega Electric City car, hopes to introduce further electric passenger and commercial vehicles to Ireland in the near future, including the new Fiat Fiorino compact van.

Irish Ferries and Fiat Supports Tour of Ireland Cycle Race


rish Fer ries and FIAT Automobiles I r eland collectively threw its weight behind Failte Ireland in its effort to promote Summer tourism into Ireland by becoming headline sponsors of the Tour of Ireland cycle race which took place here from 27th - 31st August. Prior to and after the event Irish Ferries provided freight and passenger space on board their vessels for competitors, support personnel and equipment travelling to Ireland. FIAT, a former premium sponsor of the Tour de France provided over 75 cars and commercials to race officials and teams over the 6-day event.


contains fewer moving parts than a traditional carbon emitting engine it requires far less maintenance offering further savings.”

One high profile competitors that took part was leading British Olympic rider and Tour de France stage winner, Mark Cavendish, who won a number of stages. One of the sporting highlights of the Summer season, the Tour of Ireland which was broadcast on RTE 2 television and indeed televised in over 140 countries around the world showcased Fiat cars in a dynamic fashion.

Fiat Automobiles Ireland CEO, Adrian Walsh commented; "Cycle racing is unique as a non-motor sport that uses cars as an integral part of the event and Fiat, which has a rich heritage in world cycling previously sponsoring Tour de France, Tour of Italy and UCI amongst others is now associated with the Tour of Ireland - a truly unique and exciting sporting fixture." Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars are pictured in Ballinrobe at the start of Stage 3 of the Tour Of Ireland.

Export frenzy as Europeans buy parts online


he French, Germans, Spanish and especially the Irish are having an online frenzy ordering car parts from the UK and saving as much as 70% compared to buying in their own country, claims a new report. Export sales of car parts to do-it-yourself enthusiasts and the garage trade have increased by 285% in the last year as the value of the Euro has risen by around 20%. The UK’s weak currency, good availability of spare parts and fast and low cost delivery costs in to Europe is fuelling record export sales for online mail order specialists. A set of brake discs and pads for a prestige vehicle in Europe can cost well

over £250, or the equivalent of around €317. Similar parts bought online from the UK can cost less than a £100 (€126). Even after taking in to account around £30 in delivery costs there is still over a £100 (€126) to be saved. The biggest savings for motorists are on brakes, clutches, shock absorbers, steering racks, suspension components, wheel bearings, timing belt kits and CV joints. Delivery to the door anywhere in Europe takes 3-4 days with carriage costs ranging from £4.95 to £29.00 for a parcel up-to 10 kilos in weight. In recent weeks sterling has dropped even further against most major currencies so the export frenzy looks set to continue.




Welcome Welcome to the Vehicle Leasing Association of Ireland's Newsletter. As the newly elected President it gives me great pleasure to write these few words of welcome. On this page you will find the details of our activities in recent months. When you're choosing a leasing company to supply your vehicles or provide you with fleet management you should ensure that it is a member of the VLAI. All our members are professional and can provide you with the service you require. This year the Council will continue to work hard on the following projects, VRT on used imports, Barrier Free Tolling and VAT. As usual we plan on having our usual golf and social events and I hope to see as many members as possible at these events. Further details about our Association can be found on John Wallace President, Vehicle Leasing Association of Ireland Annual General Meeting

VRT) as older cars are replaced with newer more efficient ones.

The Vehicle Leasing Association of Ireland (VLAI) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at St. Margaret’s Golf Club on the 16th May last where John Wallace from Fleetfirst Contract Hire was elected as President for 2008/9 and Paul Leddy from Lombard became Deputy President.

It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that there is no uncertainty in the motor market due to taxation. It needs to show leadership in uncertain times and inform the industry and consumers about future Budget changes and not leave the motor industry in a similar position to that of the property market following its indecision a couple of years ago.

The AGM was followed by the Spring golf outing which was won by Jim Rafferty who just pipped the new President on the back nine to win the much loved “Exhaust Trophy”.

Breakfast Meeting

Since the AGM the VLAI Council has been extremely busy working on behalf of its members. It met with the Minister for Finance to express concerns about used imports and the impact they were going to have on pre-owned car values as a result of the lower CO2 based VRT rates. This concern was not misguided and one only has to drive around the country to see imported cars on every roadside for sale to realise this “black market” is out of control. This in turn, has resulted in a serious shortfall in tax revenues. Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) revenues are already down and will drop significantly in the remaining months of 2008 and into 2009. The reasons for this are many. Changes in VRT bands to a CO2 based tax system and the excessive delay in implementation of the revised scheme has meant the following: • Motorists are purchasing more CO2 efficient vehicles with a much lower tax take in comparison to the old VRT scheme. • Motorists deferred their car purchase until post July 2008 and now some have either pushed their decision out to 2009 or decided to hold on to their existing car for the moment. • New lower CO2 emission cars are being introduced by manufacturers, Revenue did not anticipate this in their Budget estimates. • A number of distributors have reduced the price of some of their cars substantially (for competitive reasons) even though they should in fact be increasing – less VRT for Government with no positives for CO2. • Dealerships are reluctant or unable to trade in used cars due to oversupply and the aforementioned imports The VLAI predicted last June that VRT and VAT contributions to the Exchequer would be a big underperformer in the remainder of the year and with the current VRT tax bands, revenue will decrease further in 2009 as businesses and consumers select more tax efficient vehicles. This new system of calculating VRT was to be “revenue neutral” but it is now obvious that this is not the case. A major concern to Government which will have no option but to change the bands.

Paul Leddy, Deputy President, VLAI & John Wallace, President, VLAI



Whilst the VRT income loss is substantial, road tax income to local Authorities will also be reduced considerably as the revised bands are also aligned to CO2 emissions. It is our estimate that the reduction to local Government will be approximately 50%. This will be a gradual decline (rather than a sharp shock as happened with

Whilst the VLAI welcomed the introduction of the new Barrier Free Tolling (BFT), the Vehicle Leasing Association has some major concerns which need correction. We held a very successful Breakfast Meeting in Liffey Valley with the National Roads Authority (NRA) about the new Barrier Free Tolling system which came into effect at the end of August. Over seventy representatives of member companies came out to hear how it was all going to work. Following the presentations from the NRA the Questions and Answer session was very lively with lots of issues being raised. In brief the following concerns were heard:1) The concern the VLAI has is that the system is designed for consumers – i.e. one car, one owner, one user. It does not allow for multiple car fleet operators or company cars. The VLAI was not invited to or involved in any meetings regarding the implementation or operation of this Barrier Free Tolling (BFT) system. 2) Companies which now register with Eflow for a Video Recognition account will in effect be paying a 25 per cent increase on the current rates – another unacceptable price rise for businesses. 3) VAT is now non-recoverable for cars – thereby giving the operators an 82 per cent increase for business users who used pay on use and claim VAT as a legitimate business expense 4) As it stands there is no provision for registered owners to transfer liability to the driver of the vehicle as is the case with parking and speeding fines 5) The transfer of ownership when a vehicle is sold currently can take between 7 – 28 days – in the meantime the registered owner is liable for all fines – this has to be totally unfair and unjust. 6) This BFT system is adding a huge amount of unnecessary administration on VLAI members and fleet operators and this will result in additional costs which will have to be passed on. 7) Any system which is going to cost €25 million per annum to bring in €50m has to be morally wrong.

The objectives of the Association are as follows: • To promote and develop the general interests of all members. • To maintain a standard between the Association and the business community in which the membership of the Association is recognised as a guarantee of integrity and a high standard of service. • To bring before the business community the advantages of dealing with members of the Association. • To liaise with other bodies in the leasing field of the motor trade and allied businesses. • To collect and distribute information on matters that concern the interests of all the members. • To do all such things as are incidental or conducive to the above objects.


Sign of Opel’s future I

n light of competition from MPVs and SUVs Ger m a n auto m a n u f a c t u r ers have started a trend in trying to rejuvenate the traditional family-sized car. Volkswagen was first off the blocks in creating the Passat CC – a four-door coupe version of the popular mid-sized saloon. Now Opel has taken up the mantle with the all-new Insignia. Its sporty coupe form in both saloon and hatchback bodystyles (which share an identical 4830mm length and common wheelbase of 2737mm) does not compromise on interior space. It will be offered from the start with front and all-wheel drive. At the World Premier held at the Potter Fields Park, London on the eve of the British International Motor Show, Alan Vissar, Head of European Marketing GM Opel, stressed that the new Insignia is not the new Vectra as the latest D-Segment contender is a totally new car inside and out. Stunning to look at with its aerodynamic frontal shape and sharp side profile, the new Insignia will hit Irish dealerships towards the end of 2008. Euro 5 powerplants, from the 1.8 litre 140PS petrol to the 160PS 2.0 litre diesel - will satisfy the needs of both the family motorist and fleet driver. There is talk of a 115PS 1.6 litre petrol to be added to the lineup in due course and a low emission EcoFlex 2.0 CDTi. For both type of customer profiles, the 5-door hatchback boasts an impressive l u g g a g e compartment volume from 520 to 1456 litres.

Best Seats in Town W

ith a height-adjustment range of 65 millimetres and a lengthadjustment range of 270 millimetres, the Insignia’s seats use the most up-to-date technology to create new levels of comfort and safety in this class. In addition, the Ergonomic Sports Seats have improved tilt adjustment, 4way power lumbar support, and ergonomic seat contours, including superior side support.

Developed by General Motors Europe under the creative hand of Mark Adams and assisted by its Engineering Centre at Millbrook in Bedfordshire, UK, new Insignia will be built at GME’s plant in Russelsheim, Germany. Drivers and occupants will appreciate the numerous technological innovations featured in the Insignia. For example the new Front Camera System can both read and memorise road signs as well as alert drivers if

awarded the Insignia’s Sport seats its coveted seal of approval. The AGR seal is a guarantee of quality only awarded to ergonomic products that comply with strict medical requirements; in this case the Insignia’s seats effectively prevent the back pain and tension suffered by some occupants on car journeys. AGR was also impressed by the Ergonomic Sport Seat’s thigh support, which features a cushion that can be extended by up to 60 millimetres for taller drivers. Complementing this are optional power adjustment with memory and fan ventilation. Active head restraints prevent whiplash

Acknowledging this achievement, Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V (AGR), an independent panel of ergonomics experts and doctors in Germany, has 8


According to the European Traffic Safety Council, whiplash accounts for

Text: Jarlath Sweeney -

they unintentionally veer off the road. Its Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL) has been improved to significantly increase driving safety.

Interior design redefined

“A new name, a new car, a new ambition”, stated Alain at the launch which saw the Insignia drop from the sky at 45 metres in just 6 seconds, with London Tower Bridge in the background. “The new Opel Insignia is engineered to energize both the segment and its customers lifestyle, offering a powerful combination of bold design, driving dynamics and high utility value at an affordable price.”

Corporate and Company car sector The Insignia, in combining class-leading technology with dynamic design is the most innovative, ambitious model ever to come from Opel. It offers the best environmental technologies with those designed to deliver optimum driver pleasure and active safety. Bob Maclachlan, Fleet Sales Director for Opel Ireland said: “We’re very excited about the addition of Insignia to our fleet portfolio, it represents yet another leap forward in our 50 year heritage in this sector. The feedback so far has been fantastic”. Insignia will have a major impact in the corporate sector. There is no doubt that it will become one of the most important and significant fleet cars of this decade. It sets new standards in terms of design and specification and with the addition of the Sport Wagon, user choosers will have a difficult decision in which version to buy.


n opening the doors of car ’s cabin, the first impression is of the wrap around interior. This is dominated by the signature “wing” theme that flows from the front of the instrument panel and extends into the door panels in a downward dynamic curve. The surfaces from the exteriors “blade” feature are echoed in the shape of the interior door grab handle. This sweeping accent is repeated in chrome shapes on the steering wheel and at the front of the centre console. All of the materials work together to create a harmonious feel to the interior. The overall interior has taken a light, spacious approach that is both sporty and welcoming. “With the Insignia, we have redefined our design vocabulary,” says Mark Adams, Vice President of Design for GM Europe. “The Insignia is athletic and powerful, yet very elegant. It has movement; surfaces flow harmoniously, with crisp intersecting lines that define the dynamic form, so that you never tire of looking at it. Our aim was to develop a confident look which reinforced the car’s superb driving dynamics but also one that made it clear that this was a beautiful vehicle with premium appeal.” Insignia’s lighting both inside and out, gives Opel a more unique night time appearance. Outside, a distinctive illuminated “wing” design on the front and rear light clusters give the Insignia a unique signature. Inside, designers have added a warm orangish-red ambient light to enhance the overall atmosphere for night driving. The instrument cluster is illuminated white, but on pressing the “Sport” button, this lighting turns red to match the surrounding illumination. All of the colours and materials have been developed to enhance the premium feel of the interior environment. “This is a paradigm shift for Opel,” says John Puskar, Executive Director of Interior Design at GM Europe. “We wanted to create interior environments for all our future vehicles that are warm, inviting and sporty. The Insignia is the first evidence of this new philosophy.” Many of Insignia’s interior design features will provide the DNA for future Opel designs. Variations on sculptural artistry – the wing, flowing sculptural forms and a sporty dynamic environment – will be used moving forward, as Opel refines and evolves its newfound design language.

around 65 per cent of all injuries to people in road accidents each year. For that reason, the Insignia features the latest generation active head restraints, which are adjustable in four directions as standard, and designed to restrict rearward movement in the event of a rearward collision. Stronger seats for greater protection Also, the Opel Insignia’s seats provide front occupants with the best possible protection against objects flying forward from the rear of the cabin. The front seats are reinforced by a protection shield in their backrests made from high-strength steel, which is both lighter and more rigid than that used in the Vectra.




Text: Jarlath Sweeney - Photo: Jarlath Sweeney

One to One with with Mark Adams, Vice President of Design for GM Europe.

MA Okay, the first thing you notice when you get in is the warm, welcome, inviting interior which adds an ambiance to it and which I think you probably couldn’t say about the Vectra. We wanted to create this thing that almost wraps around you, in fact the line that comes off each door is like, imagine a pair of sunglasses that wrap around your face, it really wraps around you in a three dimensional way. This feature, we’re calling it ‘the wing’ in future, is something that will evolve into many of our future products as well. So it’s an element of consistency that continues throughout our range but not done in the same way. JS

Does that feature continue to the front grille because you have this ‘wing’ effect here also?

MA Exactly, because we’ve got a lot of detail like the blade on the body side is the same as the blade in the door and you see it happening in other places as well. We’ve interpreted it in different ways and the harmony of the detail is worth the harmony of the overall shape. They really work together as you look at the car, it’s a together piece of machinery, and everything works for each other. It all works as one, which I think is very important. JS

What about the distinctive feature in the headlights?

MA Yes, in the headlights you got the LED signature lighting, which is again going to be on all our future vehicles, which is very distinctive. JS


Ever since the first photos of the new Insignia were revealed, it has created quite a stir in the business. You must be very pleased?

MA I’m very proud of this car, it really represents a whole change of philosophy of the company. It’s moving away from more edgier designs to something that is more sculptured. I use the phrase, one that I’ve been driving into my design team – ‘It’s about combining sculptural artistry with German precision.’ That creates this beautiful flowing sculptural forms, which brings an emotional value to the vehicle but at the same time producing these high quality precision lines. A good example is the blade feature in the body side, which gives the car a very distinct personality and a very high quality appearance. JS

You seem to have that concept from very early on, from some of the drawings with the blade design that I have seen.

MA Yes, we did it on a few different early models, with different interpretations. In fact, it was something that also played a proportional role to the balance of the car because it almost makes the front wheel look a little bit further forward than it actually is, which creates the perception of more space behind the wheel and the door. This is unusual for a front wheel drive/forward drive vehicle. So we wanted to create this optical illusion to make it feel again like a premium vehicle. JS

Does it affect the aerodynamics at the outset?

MA To be really honest when we did the original design although it looks super sleek because we got things like the wheels punching out from the surface and a lot of three dimensional qualities to the surfaces themselves, the aerodynamics weren’t that good to begin with. But we spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel keeping the design exactly the same but every surface changed slightly. So it was all about fine tuning, to get it in this 0.27 Cd value that you heard about. It was really a painstaking detailed process to just move everything to the optimum position. But it’s hard to create this character for a car and at the same time make it clean and true. JS


You have created the wow factor both inside and out. How did the interior design end up as it is?


With regards to your 5 door hatchback, did you design both the saloon and hatch? And have you purposely designed both variants to look the same?

MA Yes, that was deliberate. Let’s put it this way, traditionally saloon vehicles have a certain look – three box shape, but we wanted to create this coupe like styling so we had the ambition to make the hatch look as close together as possible and do the minimum change between them. In fact, the doors themselves carry over. All that happens is the rear pillar just goes a little bit higher and further rearward on the hatchback so you get a bit of a shorter deck, versus the notch back. JS

Is the hatch more pronounced then?

MA Well, again for aerodynamics reasons, the rear spoiler on the notch back could be integrated into the shape but we actually to make it work on the hatch back and get the same aerodynamics, we had to add an extra bit of lift to get the same performance. So there were subtle differences in that shape that created additional revisions in what we had to do. JS

What about the station wagon/estate versions?

MA Obviously you couldn’t put a cubed out box on the back of this car and make it work. It is very sporty, multifunctional vehicle that we will be showing in the very near future. But it offers the same values that saloon/hatch Insignia does in the sense that it offers, let’s call it high style with a premium look but at the same time some great functionalities. As I said before, this interior space, the head room in this is the same as today’s car, the knee room is larger, the shoulder is bigger, more trunk room. So even though it’s a sportier car it actually offers more space than today’s vehicle. And the station wagon will do the same tricks, where you are offered great functionality, with the same slick appearance. JS As this is the start of a whole new era for Opel, had you a hand in designing the new Opel badge? MA It is really a case of the confidence that we have with regard to the steps that we’re taking with the next generation of cars and obviously this being the top of the line as a vehicle we wanted this to be the one that symbolised that change starting with putting the Opel name proudly on the badge in a very high-tech precisely executed manner. Take for instance, the gauges, the chronograph, I’ve looked at this car for three years now every day and I’m not bored with it because every time you look at it you see something different about it. Something new, it’s got so much interest. So, I think it’s going to have longevity because of that and hopefully stay fresh.

buyers guide I

Text: Gerry Murphy -

Buyers Guide 2009 A

state of flux. That’s the Irish car industry right now. Some would say that it is going through its most traumatic period of all times. Industry chiefs are reluctant, to make definitive predictions about the future and if many are finding it difficult to predict it, then we must attach a health warning to our own comments. For sure, diesel is now the first fuel for car buyers, and although the price at the pump is now higher than petrol, it is dropping and the economies of scale have been tipped in favour of diesel with the benefits of the new VRT – Vehicle Registration Tax and Motor Tax structure. And when you build in the environmental positives, both for the health of the planet and for the state of your pocket, it is clear that diesel will continue to flourish for the foreseeable future. However, there are so many other variables in place at present that it is becoming more difficult to choose what to buy and even harder to decide when to buy. Dealers are the ones that find themselves in a difficult position since the tax changes. Indeed, it is fair to suggest that it is the Dealers that are in the most venerable position of all parties in the chain. Dealers that are swamped with used cars in their compounds are desperate to move these pre-owned cars in order to free up both space and finance for replacements. To do that they either have to sell quickly or slow down trade-ins. Those that are trading in used cars have to drop the price of existing stock to keep the differential between old stock and the value of additional stock. And on

top of that, rental returns are on the way back to the dealers at the end of the season. More garages will be going to the wall as a consequence.

place. Whether you are buying new or used, you are on a winner especially if you are not trading in. If you are, be sure that the cost of change is no worse than it would be before the tax changes. Still, if you buy right and even if you do have a trade-in, there are savings to be made in annual road tax. The fourth link in the chain is the manufacturer, represented by the distributor. Last year in our Buyers Guide, I said that it was vital that the distributors were honest in their brokering of the new regime. There was always a danger that some [distributors] might be tempted to cream off a portion of the savings for themselves by pushing up prices. So far there is no hard evidence that this has happened. It is still early days yet, and we must still keep a watch on it. No doubt, their sales figures are down about 15% this year, but I suspect that that is not as bad as they might have originally planned for at the beginning of the year. That figure alone could be accounted for by the overall slow down in consumer spending and when - as it inevitably will - the confidence returns, the sales of cars will bounce back too. I would be reluctant to make definitive predictions for 2009 at this stage but some are suggesting an annual total of 140,000, which is less than this year also.

Fleet Car’s Buyers Guide takes a look at the top three selling cars in each sector plus two more worth looking at. It is a small sample of what is out there in each category and offers the minimum CO2 rating and price for that range of model.

Let’s not get overly complicated here though. For years the car buying public and some of us have been crying out for the Government of the day to reduce VRT. Up to now that plea has fallen on deaf ears. In his wisdom - but obviously not for fiscal reasons – Environment Minister, John Gormely has managed to deliver our wishes across a broad number of vehicles. He may have been thinking of environmental issues and incentives for buying greener cars, but he has also managed to substantially reduce the tax take both in terms of VRT and road tax for car owners. How long that situation will be allowed to continue by a needy Department of Finance remains to be seen. Meanwhile, though, the opportunity to take full advantage of the price drop is immediate. There are four parties involved here. We have already mentioned two. The dealers and the Government are gaining little from the equation. Needless to say, where there are losers, there has got to be winners. The real winner is the buyer. This is a buyers market, to steal a phrase from another market



buyers guide II

SUPERMINI OPEL CORSA Simple logic answers all the reasons why the Opel Corsa is the leading seller in the Supermini sector. Opel has created the best car in this segment at the moment. It is smart looking, drives brilliantly, has a good range of models and is both sexy in three-door form as it is practical as a five-door. Few will argue that the interior is not as modern and as fresh as others. Still it is sufficiently quirky to excite the young and yet not so zany that it will frighten away the more conservative motorist. Include good resale values and the backup of wide dealer network and it all adds up to the perfect recipe for success. Trim levels include: Life, Club Design and SXi with 1.0, 1.2, 1.4-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel offering an engine choice for everyone. Prices start at €14,895 with CO2 emissions as low as 119g/km for the diesel (Tax Band A) and 134g/km (Band B) for the petrol.

TOYOTA YARIS Still going strong, the Yaris is your typical Toyota. Reliable, easy to drive and user friendly, this Supermini is a most likable companion. You also get plenty of space, a great choice of models and all the backup necessary by a superb dealer network. Engines include: 1.0 and 1.3-litre petrol and the 1.4 D-4D diesel. You can also specify a 1.8 T Sport at the top of the range. Four trim grades: Terra, Strata, Luna and Sol offer a range of clever features depending on your pocket. Speaking of the pocket, the least expensive Yaris will set you back €14,175 rising to €22,565. CO2 emissions range from 127g/km (Band B) for the 1-litre down to 119g/km (Band A) for the diesel.

FORD FIESTA Still selling strongly, despite the imminent arrival of the all-new Kinetic Design model this month, the Fiesta must be included in any shortlist. Even if you dismiss the old model, the new one shows substantial changes and is, no doubt a serious contender for the top spot in 2009. There are plans for ten different models of the new one. It promises to be a strong performer with great residuals and an engine range from 1.25, 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrols as well as a 1.6-litre TDCi diesel. Having driven the 2009 model I can say that it is a big step up in both quality and style. Only time will tell but all the right noises are coming from the Ford camp. Prices at time of going to press have yet to be announced and CO2 emission will be from 128g/km (Band B) for petrol and 110 (Band A) for the diesel.

SEAT IBIZA Here’s a little car that deserves all the accolades that it has been receiving since it was launched just a few month ago. SEAT, now considered to be the stylish and sporty stable in the Volkswagen Group has delivered quite a little winner with the new Ibiza. You get all the strength of Volkswagen’s build quality with a dash of finesse and a splash of spirit throw-in for good measure. This car is likely to be on the shortlist for ‘Car of the Year’ here in Ireland and in many other markets. It is only available, just yet, with a choice of two models both with a 1.2-litre petrol engine. There are plans to increase the range later. Prices start at €14,850 and a CO2 emissions rating of 139g/km (Band B).

MAZDA 2 When it was launched late last year, the Mazda2 became the 2008 World Car of the Year and bucked the trend of many competitors by losing weight. It shed up to 100kgs when compared to the old model. This had a direct effect on lowering CO2 emissions to 114g/km for the 1.4D model and 129g/km for the 1.3 petrol model, placing these Mazda2 models in the lowest VRT Bands of A & B respectively. Furthermore, Mazda has developed a sleek, sporty three-door, which is quite different from the more standard five-door. It shares the same chassis and base structure with the new Fiesta and while it won’t sell as many, it is a worthy contender. Prices starting now from €14,495 do make the Mazda2 competitive and deserving of due attention.



Text: Gerry Murphy -

COMPACT FAMILY FORD FOCUS Ireland’s favourite family car and clearly buyers are still in love with the Focus. Not only is the Focus the best selling car in its own segment, it is now the best selling model in the country. Others may make all sorts of claims but none quite match the Ford for its handling and driveability. That’s what makes the Focus stand out. That, of course, along with good resale values, more dealers to back it up than any other brand, a vast range of models and a new look that’s better than before. Who else will offer you the choice from the Freedom through the Zetec and Style right up to the Ghia, Titanium, ST and soon the all-new RS. Engines range from the 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrols to the 1.8 and 2.0-litre TDCi diesels. Ford also offers the Focus with FlexiFuel and in Convertible form. CO2 emissions start at 157g/km (Band C) for petrol and 139g/km (Band B) for the diesel. Prices start @ €19,965.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF Due to be replaced soon, the Volkswagen Golf remains the benchmark that all other are, fairly or unfairly, measured by. That’s testament to the standing the Golf has in the marketplace. Although some label it as a bit dull and a bit pricey, but you do get quality build, the best residuals and an engaging driving experience. Too often too, buyers fail to appreciate quite how many versions of the Golf Volkswagen produces. You can specify 1.4 and 1.4 TSi petrol, 1.6 petrol, 1.9 and 2.0-litre diesel models. At the sporty end there is the impressive GT, iconic GTi and the R32 making up nearly 40 different models. Prices start at €21,105 with petrol CO2 emissions rating at 149 g/km (Band C) and 132 (Band B) for the diesel.

OPEL ASTRA Opel is well and truly in the mix with the continued popularity of the Astra. Not only does the five-door meet the needs of most families, now the GM brand has added a 1.6 saloon and still manage to attract many younger customers with the three-door hatch. Because Opel builds the Astra to take on the competition at home in Germany we all benefit with great build quality, a unique and attractive styled interior and exterior. It also offers an exciting driving experience that was missing in the Astra that went before it. Life, Executive, Club, SXi and SRi form the basis of the trim range. You can also aspire to the exhilarating OPC or the Twin Top Convertible. Prices start at €20,095 with a range of engines that include 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol. Diesels include the excellent 1.3 Multijet, (from Fiat) a 1.7 and 1.9-litre versions. Minimum CO2 ratings start at 140g (Band C) for the petrol and 130 (Band B) for the diesel.

HYUNDAI i30 How good does this car look? At last Hyundai with the i30 has a family car of which it can be truly proud. The Korean manufacturer has taken on board and corrected many of the failings and criticisms of the past and has now added style, driver needs and some clever design features without compromising on the value for which it has always been famous. While the choice is limited, the i30’s 1.4 petrol (highly recommended) and 1.6 diesels are right up there in comparison with like competitors. Prices start at €18,995 with CO2 emission ratings of: Petrol 145g/km (Band C) and Diesel 125 (Band B). Air Conditioning, Side & Curtain Airbags, ABS with EBD, Driver & Passenger Front De-powered Airbags, IPod/USB Port, Electric Windows Front and Rear and Keyless Entry are all now as standard in one of the best looking cars in this class.

NISSAN QASHQAI Without doubt this is one of the most successful Nissan cars of all time. Here is a car manufacturer that is not afraid to be brave and the Qashqai has certainly caught the imagination of the car buying public. It doesn’t really fit the SUV mould and neither does it quite fit in this bracket, but it is one of the most important cars to hit the small family car market. So much so that Nissan found it difficult in the early days to meet the demand. The line-up is simple. There is the 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel on the list. Prices start at €25,195 and CO2 emissions 159g/km (Band D) for the smaller petrol and 139 (Band B) for the diesel. Nissan has recently also announced a seven-seat version of the Qashqai.



buyers guide IV

FAMILY FORD MONDEO What an impact the Ford Mondeo has made since its arrival last year! Delivering executive car space, classic Ford handling, a huge boot and modern styling, inside and out, the package is almost complete for any fleet or private buyer. Add a very competitive price structure and an expansive choice of models and you have all the others chasing the Mondeo for market share, not just in this segment but also in the next bracket up. The only down side is that this car may become so popular that some might just want something else just for the sake of it. LX, Zetec, Ghia and Titanium X make up the trim offerings. 1.6, 2.0, 2.3-litre petrol, FlexiFuel and 1.8 and 2.0-litre diesels are just some of the variants. CO2 emissions start with 172g/km (Band E) for the petrol range and 149 (Band C) for the diesel. Others are about to launch new models and some just have, but it is hard to see any of them knocking the Mondeo from its place at the top of the charts. TOYOTA AVENSIS Now nearing the end of its natural life – the current Avensis will be replaced in 2009 (see Paris Motor Show pic) - this car still has many admirers. That’s often a good time for fleet buyers to do deal. It is, after all a Toyota and that alone stands for much in the Irish context. It matches most for space and we all know about the pedigree that Toyota has for reliability. Engines feature 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 & 2.4-litre petrol and 2.0 D-4D and 2.2 D-4D diesel while Toyota offers the Avensis in Aura, Strata, Luna and Sol trim levels. Prices start at a competitive €26,525 and CO2 emissions begin at 172g/km (Band E) petrol and 146 (Band C) for the diesel. Perhaps this Avensis is now showing its age in terms of style but few Toyota owners complain about owning one. There are many satisfied Avensis owners out there and they are still voting with their cash.

VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT Volkswagen started the trend and the Passat remains one of the most stylish models in the segment. The big wedged-shaped saloon with lots of space, a huge boot and road presence, which others have followed. And why not? Oh, by the way have you seen the new Passat CC yet? It is really stunning (see photo left). But, before we get carried away, and while the Passat saloon is not yet beginning to show signs of ageing, a mid-life makeover is due and that will give it a lift. That said, this car was ahead of its time and some of the others are still trying to catch up. Graded in standard spec, Comfortline, Sportline and Highline, the Passat comes with 1.4,1.8 and 2.0 petrol and 1.9 and 2.0-litre diesel engines. All are well proven motors and offer CO2 minimums of 157g/km (Band D) for petrol and 148 (Band C) for the best diesel. Prices start at €26,750. Check out the versions with the DSG automated transmission.

MAZDA6 It seems strange sometimes that Mazda does not push the fact that, in survey after survey, its cars have proved to be the most reliable of all. That’s not just the impressive new Mazda6, but right across much its product range. Perhaps it is just modesty, or a slight insecurity but it should be the tag line on all its advertising. That said, the Mazda6 is a fine car. It is good to drive, wellappointed, looks great and provides plenty of space. It is also available in 4 - and 5 - door. Prices start at €26,995 with 1.8, 2.0 and 2.5-litre MZR (5-door only) petrol and 2-0-litre diesel on offer. The diesel range starts at just €1,000 more than the petrol. CO2 rates begin at 149g/km (Band C) for both petrol and diesel. Mazda backs up its reliability record with a 3-year warranty, which must be worth considering.

CITROËN C5 Great things are expected from the newest Citroën C5. Few cars have made the quantum leap forward as the C5 and Citroën has a clear view of where it is going at last. The most significant step is that the C5 is now available with both its traditional hydraulic suspension and with a metallic system - like ’normal’ cars. On top of that it does look stunning, has acres of room and is priced to take on the best. Few will argue that the Citroën engine line-up is very strong, especially the diesels. There is just one petrol - the 1.8 and a spread of diesels including 1.6, 1.8, 2.0, 2.2 and 2.7-litre. CO2 for petrol starts at 188g/km (Band E), with the diesel starting at 149 (Band C). Prices commence at €27,850 and €28,160 for diesel. It makes sense to buy the diesel.



Text: Gerry Murphy -

EXECUTIVE (MEDIUM) BMW 3-SERIES BMW calls it Efficient Dynamics. We call it fuel conservation and reduced CO2 emissions. Ultimately that means huge price reductions for the best-built cars of all. BMW, more than any other company has benefited from the new tax situation. Its diesels are now much, much cheaper and anyone will tell you that they are the best of breed. You can now buy a BMW 318d for just €29,192, compared with €34,600 under the old VRT system. That comes thanks to an impressive 4.5l/100km fuel return on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of just 119g/km - putting it into the A Band for VRT and road tax of just €100 per year. A 318i ES Saloon, 2.0-litre petrol, with a price of €36,366 is a reduction of €4,484. It falls into the 142 CO2 g/km, Band C bracket. That’s all that needs to be said.

MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS Prices in the C-Class diesel range have dropped too. You can now get the C200 CDI with 149g/km of CO2 - that’s Band C for €39,900.00 compared to the petrol C 200 K with 180g/km, (Band E) for €41,350. Strange times! It is however struggling to stay with the BMW in term of sales. Needless to say, as we speak, Mercedes-Benz is making every effort to make amends. For now Mercedes owners are a loyal lot and although there is a price difference, the C-Class is a beautifully appointed car with appealing looks and driving characteristics. Driving dynamics have improved in this latest version. It is now a very solid motor with top class handling with an equal amount of driving pleasure and comfort available.

AUDI A4 The Audi A4 has just gone through a complete makeover. Audi Ireland has been in the perfect position to make inroads into the market over the past few years when things were good. This it did and the A4 was central to that, simply because it is an extremely good car. Solid, stylish and an enviable range including the Quattro, has helped the A4 build up a decent fan base. The new design is a much more rounded car with distinct brand recognition features and a sturdy demeanour. €34,900 will buy you a 1.8 TFSI, with CO2 emissions of 169g/km (Band D) while the 2.0-litre TDI will set you back €35,100. Compared to its nearest rivals and comparing size and specifications, the Audi TDI diesels cannot be discounted.

LEXUS IS Lexus continues to aspire to being the real alternative to the pre-mentioned German trio. The introduction of the IS 220D gives it additional kudos. It is the serious model in the IS range and offers a genuine alternative to the others. That well-known Lexus smoothness is present too in this, the smallest car in its range. This sector is getting more price conscious and the Lexus is a match for most. Available with a 2.2-litre diesel or a 2.5 litre V6 petrol engine, the IS 220d costs €37,950 with CO2 emissions of 168g/km (Band D). An IS 250 - Auto with emissions of 231g/km (Band G) will cost you €46,450. That makes the diesel the best buy here.

SAAB 9.3 Like the other Scandinavian car company, Saab has been leading the Biopower crusade. So if you have E85 readily available in your area - thankfully, more fuel companies are coming on board this might be your way of easing your conscience and going some way towards saving the planet. In Biopower form, the 1.8t emits 178g/km (Band E). The 1.9-litre TTiD diesel is as low as 147g/km (Band C). It will cost you €34,385 while the Biopower costs €40,445. Driving the Saab 9.3 is a different kind of experience. It is more like a comfortable pair of slippers that gives you a cosy and safe feeling. You also get loads of equipment and a decent amount of well-used space.



buyers guide V

EXECUTIVE BMW 5 SERIES Almost a third of all cars bought in this category this year have been BMW 5 Series models. BMW sells more 5s than Opel sells Zafiras and Honda sells Civics. That is testament to how popular it is. Substantial benefits from the July tax changes make the diesel range even better value for money than ever. You will pay a little over €46,000 for a 520d SE, one of the best cars in the world, which even compared now to cars of far less stature make it a great buy. Still the model of choice in the executive market, 5 Series cars hold their resale value and command top prices in the second hand market. A 136g/km CO2 output has had a substantial effect on the price of the 520d SE.

MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS Still in second place, and doing okay too, the elegant Mercedes-Benz E-Class has its fans and while it has dropped a little in terms of percentage share in the segment, that has got to do with the arrival of some new vehicles more than a fall off in the desire to own a Merc. Neither is its second place down to price, because you can now buy a E200 CDI for €45,480. That’s good value and as traditional Mercedes-Benz buyers finally get it into their head that diesel is an option, then the E-Class will attract more of them and maybe manage some conquests too. But times are tough all round and we will have to wait for an upswing for improvements. Emissions for the E200 CDI are 160g/km.

AUDI A6 A quick look at the sales figures would suggest that the A6 is waning. However, closer analysis will tell you that the arrival of the A5 has had a direct effect on its sister model. Indeed, if you add the sales of the two together you will understand why Audi chiefs have a smile on their faces recently. In fact, combined, they show greater sales than the E-Class. But, all of that is just semantics. Few Audi A6 owners will complain about their lot. Most love the space, the driving dynamics and the uniqueness of the A6. Price wise, it beats both its biggest rivals. An A6 2.0-litre TDI costs €41,770. Indeed you can buy the third spec on the catalogue, the A6 SP for €45,270 - just under the price of the cheapest E-Class. CO2 emissions for the A6 2.0 TFSI 6-SP is 189g/km. See page 33 re exclusive details of the new A6 due for launch here early next year.

JAGUAR XF The hottest new executive car to arrive in a while, the Jaguar XF has created quite a stir all over and here too in Ireland. Miles and miles ahead of the S-Type that it replaced, the XF will take sales from all comers. While it is early days and there are claims yet to be proved, initially the XF is a super looking car with a willing and able 2.7-litre V6 diesel being the main player in the range with CO2 emissions of 199g/km. It comes with a complete set of gadgets and a few new gimmicks that while not absolutely necessary are both clever and funky and shows that Jaguar engineers have not lost their imagination. That’s saying a lot about this new Jag. Prices start at €67,380. You will pay the same for the diesel as the 3.0-litre V6 petrol. A 4.2 litre V8 is also on the list that’s if you have loads of dosh to spend - €118,500 to be precise.

VOLVO S80 Some cars just say so much about their owners. A car in this segment that deserves more than a passing interest is the Volvo S80. Apart from the fact that you can have it with FlexiFuel options, the latest Volvo executive car will surprise those that have never tried one. Outside the German brands, this is the car that offers most. To tell the truth, it has many better features. Volvo does not exclude sophistication in place of practicality, offers some additional safety features and a classic driving experience. Volvo is one company that is selling more cars this year than in 2007. The S80 is one of them. Sales are up 25% on last year. A Volvo S80 2.0-litre diesel will set you back €42,000. You can have the FlexiFuel version for €45,800. It has the lowest CO2 emissions of 199g/km.



Text: Gerry Murphy -

LUXURY RANGE ROVER In the H3 segment, or the Luxury side of the market, sales have dropped through the floor in 2008, down 35% in fact. Strange as it may seem, the Range Rover and particularly the Sport accounts for about a third of that. Most of these sales happened before the July 1 tax changes. After then Land Rover range does not come out too good. Expect more efficient drive train shortly. Still, the Range Rover gives you all the luxury and finesse of a plush flagship motor with the added bonus of its off-road capability and pulling power. A Range Rover Sport 2.7-litre TDV6S costs €74,610. You might say that if you are spending that type of money, then road tax and the VRT don’t really matter. But, as things tighten, looking after the pennies does look after the pounds - euros in this case - when all is added up

AUDI Q7 Big, bold and bulky, but also brave and brash, the Audi Q7 is one of those models that even took the importers by surprise by it popularity when it was launched. It is certainly different and it stands out from the crowd. Audi is a company that has generally embraced a new kind of client and upped their game in the last decade and now is a serious challenger to its fiercest German rivals. Q7 is just the type of vehicle that pushes them even closer to the top. You are in the higher league here with the base priced 3.0-lite TDI costing €77,400. Now, there are 4.2-litre V8 petrol models available from €110,000, but you would be mad to go that way given how much better the diesel is. Therefore, keep in mind the new Q7 4.2 V12 - see Launch Pad extra.

MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS As the leading sedan, few can compete with the S-Class. Let’s be straight here, the S-Class is the ultimate luxury limousine saloon available today. Anyone in that place and wishing to make a statement of his/her success should be thinking of the S-Class. So many positives like the smoothness of the drive, the joy of the handling, the overall refinement and the whole ambience of the car make it the obvious choice. There are not too many individual models to pick from and the two diesels are priced from €111,125. Somehow, though I think that if you are going to be charged the top tax rate and don’t want to go the diesel route, then any of the 3.5-litre petrol versions will satisfy perfectly. By the way, if you want to stray a little beyond the obvious, why not check out the CLS as a more modish alternative.

BMW 7-SERIES Just forty seven BMW 7-Series were sold this year to the end of August. That is well down on the previous year and the 6-Series is also down. The pinch is definitely tightening as some big players are out of the market. Still, the 7 is a pedigree motor. Space, comfort, loaded with technology and great to drive demand that you take a look before you buy. Also, despite its obvious size advantages the 7-Series is also an engaging car to drive. At low cruising speeds it is a quiet, smooth performer, but when you put the boot down and you get a crisp handling motor that is as sharp as a 5-Series and even a whole lot of fun. There is one diesel, the 730d SE. It costs €110,970 in normal wheelbase. A 730d SE Li (long wheelbase model) will cost €114,921. All 7series models come with Automatic transmission. A face-lifted version is due to make its presence by the year end (see picture).

LEXUS LS There is one area that leaves the Lexus LS range wanting; it doesn’t do a diesel for this range. However, you can buy the LS600h hybrid if you are conscious of your carbon impact on the planet for an extra €10,000. What you will get though is an especially luxurious limo that emits little more than a soft purr and is fit for a King. Also the hybrid loses nothing in performance compared to the petrol. There is an enormous range of technical and safety equipment standard on the LS. Lexus introduces the world’s first 8-speed automatic gearbox and every engine is individually tested for vibrations and sound before being fitted. The LS460 with 375bhp 4.6-litre V8 is priced at €141,100; the LS600h €151,100. That includes the €2,500 VRT rebate which came into effect on July 1.



buyers guide VII

Text: Gerry Murphy -

ESTATES & TOURERS VOLVO V50 Any Volvo estate is worth looking at. After all Volvo makes a point of making good estates. The V50 is the smallest in its range but that doesn’t mean that it is lacking in any department. It is a tidy, well built medium estate that is good to drive and good to own. Space might be a little tight in the back seat area but there is plenty at the rear end and up front. There are three variants; S, SE and SE Lux. Volvo offers one 1.6-litre petrol plus a 1.8-litre FlexiFuel version. There are also two diesel models; 1.8 an 2.0-litre engines. The 1.6 petrol’s CO2 output is 169g/km (Band D) and the 1.6 diesel emits 132g/km putting it in Band B. Prices for the petrol start at €28,590 with the diesel range starting at €29,800. You can have the FlexiFuel 1.8 for €29,900.

PEUGEOT 407 SW Style is the first thought that we attach to the Peugeot 407 SW. But, there is a lot more to this car than meets the eye. It is quite a sizeable vehicle and Peugeot produces some of the best engines around, especially diesels, which are in much demand even from some of its rivals. All that extra load space is easily accessed through the split tailgate which adds to the flexibility of the 407 and you also get a panoramic glass roof to add a little light to your motoring. There are two straight forward choices. A 1.8 16v 125bhp petrol for €26,060 and CO2 output of 184g/km (Band E) and the much more desirable diesel 1.6 litre HDI for €30,330 with CO2 levels of 140g/km (Band C). One thing you can say about the 407 SW is that it is original and will look good for many years to come.

CITROËN C5 TOURER Like the car, the Citroën C5 Tourer is a revelation in styling. To be honest, despite the attractiveness of the car , the estate looks even better. It also possesses the best designed luggage area of any estate in this bracket. It comes with flexible side rails and cargo hooks to secure any size of load. The floor is fitted with chrome protective plates and it even comes with a removable torch that doubles as a boot light. Citroën, in its wisdom offers only diesel models of the Tourer. They are the 1.6 HDI, 2.0 HDI, 2.2 and 2.7 HDI. You can order either an Ambiance, Dynamique and Exclusive trim level. Prices start at €29,670 for the base model with CO2 emissions of 150g/km, putting it into Band C.

MAZDA6 ESTATE Here’s another car that looks great in saloon form and just as good if not better as an estate. Mazda has managed to transfer the great driving sensation of the saloon into the estate too. That’s not always so successful. It works here and is a credit to its engineering department. Mazda in Ireland has also taken the sensible, if cautious approach to its catalogue line-up by offering just two versions. The base model is the 1.8 Executive SE at €30,495 with CO2 output of 165g/km (Band D). There is also a 2.0D 140PS Estate Executive for €31,495 with 149g/km output (Band C). Driving the Mazda6 estate is a pleasure, specification levels are high and it looks superb.

OPEL VECTRA ESTATE Here’s an old boy that because it is on the way out as the Insignia (see cover story & Paris Motor Show Preview) is due to replace it offers opportunities for bargaining with your Opel dealer. Even at this stage of its life we have no difficulty in suggesting that this might be a clever way to go. A most underestimated estate, the highlight of the Vectra is the space in every compartment and a very favorable driving experience. The range consists of petrol engines from 1.8 VVT to 2.0i 16v Turbo and diesel engines from 1.9 CDTi (120PS) to 1.9 CDTi (150PS). CO2 emissions start at 173g/km for petrol (Band E), and the diesels starting at 154g/km (Band C). And, here’s the big attraction. From €28,735 for the base petrol model and €29,035 for the entry level diesel. Opel also provide good fleet and leasing terms.



fleeting shots

Text: Jarlath Sweeney -

Audi turns on the style

Mayo native Martin Birrane awarded ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ trophy L

The new Audi A4 Cabriolet provided the stage for Irish designer and celebrity artist Nina Divito and RTE travel presenter Baz Ashmawy who were out in style to promote the recent Audi Pretty Polly Stakes held at The Curragh. Pictured with them is Audi Sales Manager John Hayes.

Changes at the top of VW Group Ireland F ollowing the recent announcement by Bob O’Callaghan of his intention to retire from his position as Chief Executive of Volkswagen Group Ireland after a career of 43 years, Volkswagen AG has appointed Paul Willis to succeed him.

A native of Navan, Bob is one of the most popular and admired figures in the Irish motor industry. In his tenure as CEO, Mr O’Callaghan headed up the development of the VW, Audi and Skoda franchises as well as expanding the VW light commercial vehicles division. He helped establish a topthree position for Volkswagen in both passenger car and light commercial sales, strengthened the position of Audi amongst the top three in luxury car sales and last year brought Skoda in to the top ten in terms of overall unit sales for the first time since its reintroduction here in 1993. From Northern Ireland, Paul Willis takes up the mantle on October 1st. Before taking up his most recent appointment as Chief Operating Officer of Kia Europe, he successfully led the Volkswagen brand for 7 years to its current position in the UK. Prior to that, he held management positions within BMW Group, Mazda, Toyota and Ford in the UK.

ola Cars was honour ed in the build up to this year ’s 24 Heures Du Mans, as company owner and Executive Chairman, Mayo native, Martin Birrane received the prestigious ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ trophy.

The award is a fitting tribute to Lola’s 50th Anniversary celebrations at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race. Since 1997, the famed English motor-racing marque’s enviable position has been strengthened under the ownership of Martin Birrane, who has kept the company at the forefront of the motor sport industry, winning a variety of International series during his ownership of Lola. Ballina-born Birrane, who also owns Modello Park, competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours a grand total of 10 times as a driver, winning his class in the 1985 running of the classic circuit endurance event. In meeting Mr. Birrane in London recently, he spoke of his latest achievement with pride: “Since my first visit I have always been touched by the spirit of the Le Mans 24 Hours. This award is a great honour during a year when Lola has a record seven prototypes competing in the race.”

Bob O’Callaghan and Bob Willis

Collecting the award from the President of the ACO, Jean-Claude Plassart during the official function held at the famed ACO Museum at the Circuit De La Sarthe in Le Mans. Martin Birrane now joins the highly acclaimed list of previous winners that include Paul Frere, Derek Bell, Phil Hill, Jacky Icky, Tom Kristensen and Wolfgang Ullrich. “It was a special weekend in more ways than one. We were not only celebrating the 76th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours - the most prestigious and the greatest motor race in the world – we are also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Lola - another icon of world motor sport. I can think of no better way to do this than to have our biggest entry at Le Mans this year (with 7 cars) since 1979,” he added. “I and everyone at Lola are indebted to everyone involved in the Le Mans 24 Hours for the prominence it have given us on this landmark occasion and I thank the ACO for the great honour it was to collect such an award.”

Reading Matters - Lancia 037 & Lola T70 T

wo books that chronicle the histor y of icons in motorspor t have recently been issued by Veloce Publishing ( Lancia 037 (£39.99 + P&P) and Lola T70 (£45.00 + P&P) are the respective titles, written by Peter Collins and John Starkey. The former records the development and rally history of a World Champion that was the awesome Group B Lancia Rally Car. In collaboration with the 037’s designer and chief engineer Ing. Sergio Limone, Collins brilliantly takes the reader from the initial concept through its development to the full history of its rallying lifetime. This 224-page hardback features 250 stunning and rare rally action photos. Chassis 301 built in 1983 took part in the Circuit of Ireland in the hands of Pentti Airikkala navigated by our own Ronan Morgan. Irish rally crew Ronnie and Dessie McCarthy owned and competed in one, which they converted to right hand drive. Order No. ISBN 978-1-84584076-1. There is an Irish connection to the Lola T70 story too as the famed British Motor-racing marque is now owned and run by Mayo native Martin Birrane. Now in its 4th edition, Lola T70 contains the full racing history and specification (where known) of each individual T70 chassis from the Mark 1 to the Spyder and Coupe development. Among the 192 pages in this hardback are 220-colour and black & white photos. Order No. ISBN 978-1-84584-189-8 (see pic of cover on page 3). FLEETCAR I OCT 08



– Much More Than Ju manufacturing such diverse items as safety electronics, braking systems, telematics, fuel supply systems and vehicle instrumentation. Last year it acquired software specialists Siemens VDO Automotive AG, leading to a significant expansion of activities in powertrain systems, as well as active and passive safety technology. To showcase some of its current and future technological developments, Continental invited journalists to one of its major test and development centres at Teesdorf near Vienna in Austria. It certainly provided an interesting insight into vehicles of the near future.


he vehicle of the future, it has long been mooted, will bring an end to the single lar gest cause of accidents today – human error. W h i l e c a r s a n d t r u c k s o f t o m o r ro w m a y n o t a c t u a l l y d r i v e themselves, safety systems will provide the driver with a whole range of advance war nings, and, in cer tain situations, take pr eventive action that will eliminate many simple driveraccountable accidents. An opportunity to see the direction in which safety technology is taking was provided recently by a major multi-national company. The only surprise was that it was by a company that many people might not readily associate with being involved in this field. Mention Continental AG, and you will probably think of tyres, the German company having a distinguished history in this field dating back to 1871. Nowadays the group includes such well known brands as Semperit, Barum and Uniroyal amongst others in its portfolio. There is however, much more to the company than just tyres. In fact Continental is one of the five largest suppliers to the automotive industry worldwide, developing and

Needless to say, tyre technology featured strongly in the tests with a couple of exercises demonstrating the importance of having the correct tyre for the prevailing conditions. While most of us are aware that below a certain tread depth there is a drop off in braking performance and an increased risk of aquaplaning, what was startling was how poorly a tyre with a tread depth well above the legal 1.6mm limit performs in comparison to a fully treaded tyre when braking hard on a wet surface. In fact Continental says that below 3mm, it becomes increasingly difficult to conduct water away from the ground under the wheel, and strongly recommends changing rubber at this stage rather than running to the legal limit. What was also interesting was a comparison between conventional tyres and the long life / low rolling resistance rubber now being marketed by some companies - in particular for use with ecofriendly, low CO2 emissions vehicles. In the braking test which involved stopping as quickly as possible from 80 km/h on a wet surface, the distance to bring a vehicle fitted with these tyres to a stop was about the same as for a car running on conventional tyres worn to 3mm tread depth, and was considerably worse than a vehicle running on brand new conventional rubber.

ESC – A Vital Technology in Accident Pre Know what ESP stands for? Or how about ASTC, T

hey are all acronyms for ESC – Electronic Stability Control. While car manufacturers seem intent on confusing the general public, the technology behind these letters however is probably some of the most important that has been developed in recent times. Put simply, Electronic Stability Control can save your life. So what is ESC? In simple layman’s terms, it helps drivers in situations where they may lose control of their vehicle. If the system identifies a deviation of the vehicle’s motion from the driver’s intended path, it takes correcting action such as briefly braking one or more wheels, or momentarily reducing power to the driven wheels. The technology is widely recognized as being a critical component in reducing accidents and saving lives. Studies identify that up to 4,000 lives could be saved each year in Europe alone if ESC was fitted to all vehicles. Ford has been prominent in promoting the use of ESC (or ESP - Electronic Stability Programme in Ford speak), and now fits the technology as standard to all its larger models from the Focus up (it will only be an option on the forthcoming new Fiesta). The ‘Blue Oval’ brand provided an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of ESP at an event in Mondello Park in association with ChooseESC! – a European campaign supported by Euro NCAP and the European Commission. Using two models - one in a previous generation Focus without ESP, and one in the latest ESP equipped model, two simple exercises were undertaken. The first test involved driving in a figure of eight loop on a wet surface. On the non-ESP vehicle, it was a constant battle with the car constantly understeering, spinning its wheels, and generally being hard work to control. In contrast the ESP fitted model made serene progress, with the system applying power and brakes to negotiate the cones with minimal fuss. The second test was designed to simulate a real life situation where you have to take sudden action to avoid an unexpected hazard on the road. Driving in a straight line at 50 km/h the test required swerving around a cone on a wet surface without losing control. Sounds simple but the results were startling. In the non-ESP car, it proved impossible to keep control, each and every driver who tried the exercise spinning the car or taking out the cones marking the route. In contrast, the ESP car allowed the driver to swerve around the obstacle while maintaining the intended 24


Text: Cathal Doyle –

ust Tyres Another acceleration and braking test on a wet track demonstrated the importance of using the right tyres combined with traction control and electronic stability system. With all electronic aids switched on, a vehicle fitted with tyres specifically designed for wet and wintry conditions far outperformed one with normal Summer tyres, while the latter vehicle was virtually undriveable with the systems turned off. Unlike in many countries with more extreme Summer and Winter conditions, we in Ireland tend to fit the same all-weather tyres from one end of the year to the next, but with wet weather seemingly an increasingly common occurence, there is surely a strong safety case to be made for fitting more specialist tyres for our pervailing conditions. Of interest to many present was seeing what other products Continental is developing, and how this technology will shortly be finding its way onto our cars of the new future. Due within the next year for example is the next generation of tyre pressure sensors. These will not only warn drivers in the event of deflated or under-inflated tyres, but will now be able to identify the load pressure on the tyre – an application which can be of considerable benefit to commercial vehicles in particular.

The use of sensor systems in vehicles that can communicate with similiar systems in other vehicles and the environment points to a future where the vehicle will take avoiding action to prevent accidents, as well as providing for more efficient driving. For example, approaching a red traffic light, the vehicle identifies when the light is going to change, and slows automatically so that it cruises up to the lights without having to come to a stop. Similarly a vehicle ahead that detects a potential hazard can automatically send warnings back to following cars through activation of, for example, the ABS system or its hazard warning lights. O t h e r technology that Continental is presently developing includes lane departure warning systems that can automatically correct the steering back into the correct lane, electronic air suspension systems, hybrid drive technology using the latest in high performance Li-ion batteries, and a networked chassis system that when paired to active rear axle steering promises to being driving dynamics to a new level. While there are many companies busy developing specialist systems to advance vehicle technology and safety, it is the ability to provide integrated all-in solutions to enable the vehicle to perform as a coherent unit that Continental believes makes it stand out from the crowd. It is certainly a company that is about a lot more than just rubber these days!

evention DSC, DSTC, PSM, VDCS, VSA or VSC? trajectory. Translate this to a real on-the-road situation and it is easy to see the benefit of ESC in preventing accidents. Speaking at the event, Ford Ireland chief Eddie Murphy called on legislators to make ESC mandatory on cars across Europe. “The price conscious market-place makes it hard for a manufacturer to step out of line” (by offering the technology as standard) he said, noting that in Ireland VRT is applied on the actual technology. He encouraged the Irish Government to follow the example of the likes of Denmark where VRT is reduced on vehicles fitted with ESC making them cheaper than equivalent models without the technology. As a result 99 per cent of new cars sold in Denmark are now fitted with ESC.

(l to r) Peter Zegelaar, Technical Expert Brake Controls, Ford of Europe, Jacob Bangsgaard, ChooseESC! and Eddie Murphy, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland. FLEETCAR I OCT 08




Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

Chevrolet Cruze

Having made its world premiere at the Pebble Chevrolet’s all-new compact family car, the Cruze, Beach Concours d’Elegence in California in is set to become an entirely global car, as the fourAugust, the 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is door saloon will go on sale across all Continents. helping the US brand to expand its global presence. At launch (next Spring) three engines will be “The addition of the dramatically designed Sport offered 1.6 litre (112PS) and 1.8 litre (140PS) Wagon is well synchronised with today’s changing petrol and a 2.0 litre (150PS) common-rail turbo consumer tastes as a compelling alternative to diesel. Cruze aims to further improve Chevrolet’s SUVs,” says Cadillac GM Jim Taylor. EU portfolio – up to 23 per cent in 2008.

Ford KA KA, Ford’s fresh, fun and funky small car brings new levels of style and enjoyment to affordable Superminis. Twelve years after the original Ka was launched to great acclaim, its successor captures the same youthful and cheeky spirit. Based on the Fiat 500 platform and built in Poland, stylish inside and out, Ford designers have given the new KA a fashionable, modern appearance based around the company’s ‘kinetic design’ from language that is featured in all of its modern day cars.



Honda Jazz

Citroën Hypnos Combining the dynamism of a Coupe with the elegance of a Saloon and the space of an SUV, the Hypnos concept from Citroën is also powerful, flowing and expressive. Its exterior styling identifies the car as one to rouse the emotions. Surprisingly, it’s a hybrid. Hypnos has a 200 hp engine that boasts a low CO2 count of 120g/km thanks to the hybrid technology.

Hyundai i20

Honda engineers have taken the innovative design Hyundai will showcase no less than five new and versatility of the current Jazz to the next models in the French capital. stage. Greater flexibility, more interior space and lively, but economical engines, raise the bar even further in a class that’s struggled to match the Jazz for customer satisfaction and reliability. Its overall height remains the same but is longer and slightly wider.

Alongside the Getz replacement called the i20, the Korean company premieres a luxury 7-seat iX55 SUV and a petrol-hybrid Santa Fe. Also a Genesis Coupe show car will be present as will the Genesis saloon.

Text: Jarlath Sweeney -


Infiniti FX37

Lexus LS460 AWD

European newcomers Infiniti stole the Geneva The permanent all-wheel-drive system in the Lexus Show with the FX505 now the 320PS FX37 Sports LS460 comes with three differential Utility and is ready to take off the covers. configurations featuring a highly compact TORSEN Limited Ship Differential (LSD) – that’s shared with the LS600h – which distributes drive torque between the front and rear axles with a But that’s not all from the Nissan owned luxury 40:60 rear axle bias in torque distribution. brand, the first Infiniti Centre in Europe will open Following the launch of the performance to the public in Paris on the eve of the Paris Motor orientated ISF the new IS250 Convertible follows. Show. Also on display will be the LF-Xh hybrid concept.

Mercedes-Benz Concept FASCINATION To build on its desirable coupe-heritage, Mercedes-Benz introduces the ConceptFASCINATION study. As Dr. Zetsche, Daimler AG boss put it, “With its emotionally appealing lines, ConceptFASCINATION offers a completely new interpretation of the coupe. It is aesthetic, dynamic looks and meticulously crafted.”

Mitsubishi Racing Lancer

Mazda Kiyora Concept Kiyora – a lightweight, next generation, urban compact concept car continues Mazda’s longterm technology development vision – ‘Sustainable Zoom – Zoom!’ Joining the Kiyora prototype (which means clean and pure in Japanese) will be the MX-5 facelift and the new 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine for the Mazda6 and a 1.6 litre turbo diesel for the Mazda2.

Opel Insignia Sports Tourer

Dakar 2009 (in South America) will be the debut As mentioned in the Opel Insignia feature race event for the all-new Racing Lancer Cross- elsewhere, the new Insignia Estate, known as the Over from Mitsubishi. With this car Mitsubishi Sports Tourer makes its debut at the Paris salon. enters a new era in Motor Sports design and engineering. Despite offering one of the best load spaces in its The end result is a cross-over between on-road class, the same wheelbase as the Saloon/Hatch @ and off-road rallying as well as applying to 2737 mm is retained with 80 mm added to its passenger cars and SUVs. Racing Lancer will length. It will also be available with front and alltarget a wider marketing audience. wheel drive.




Text: Jarlath Sweeney -



Remember the stunning 908 RC at the Peugeot stand in Paris 2006? Well the ‘RC’ as its codenamed is Peugeot’s latest hybrid concept car.


Renault Megane

Seat Ibiza Cupra & Ecomotive

New Laguna Coupe has been unveiled already. The recently launched Seat Ibiza will soon be Get ready for the new Megane from Renault. joined by two new versions that combine sports character with environmental sustainability. As part of a €1.8 billion investment, there will be six new models by 2010. Bigger and roomier, the Megane III is also lighter. Ibiza Cupra provides adrenaline rush through its 180 hp 1.4 TSI Twin-Turbo engine and 7-speed Previewed in 5 door form, it will be ready to DSG gearbox while Ecomotive has an impressive market at the year end. CO2 emission figure of 99g/km.

Suzuki Auto Expanding on its ‘Way of Life’ message, Suzuki Motor Corporation is to exhibit an array of new models and concept cars. At its stand 303 in Hall 3, the Japanese company hosts, among others, the world premiere of the all-new Alto.

Toyota Avensis


SsangYong C200 At last, SsangYong goes monocoque! The Korean automaker reveals a new compact SUV concept called C200 that features a front wheel drive platform and all-in-one construction. (Existing models have separate body/chassis construction). A 175 hp 2.0 litre Euro 5 diesel mated to a 6 speed manual box will also power its full time 4WD technology.

Volkswagen Golf

Taking centre stage on the Toyota stand will be Five generations, 34 years and over 26 million the third generation Avensis. vehicles the new VW Golf continues the evolution of an icon.

To be built at Burwaston plant in Derbyshire, the new more muscular-looking Avensis will be powered by engines that are more efficient all The Suzuki design has tailored a sporty and round and retain the high-quality, refinement and youthful look that combines low environmental equipment levels that are established Avensis impact and it’s fun to drive. hallmarks.


It is a GT Coupe, with four doors, four seats and high levels of efficiency both in terms of performance and minimal impact on the environment – CO2 emissions of 109 g/km in the combined cycle or zero in electric mode.

New Golf is the safest, most technically advanced and most dynamic version yet. Not only does the new Golf promise great value, but it aims to set benchmarks in quality, style, safety and the reduction of emissions.


Jaguar XF 2.7 V6 Diesel Luxury vs

Lexus GS 450h Executive


or customers in the medium/large executive fleet sector, choosing a vehicle has traditionally been a fairly simple affair revolving around the question – which Ger man model to go for. Mercedes, Audi and BMW have dominated this market, with the rest such as Volvo and Saab having to make do with a small slice of the cake.

Two other brands that certainly have aspirations to compete in this sector have recently brought out new models. Different vehicles they may be – one a diesel and the other a petrol hybrid, but the Jaguar XF 2.7 V6 Diesel Luxury and Lexus GS450h Executive will both be hoping to attract a significant portion of the executive fleet car market. Here Cathal Doyle and Gerry Murphy test both cars to see if they can pose a genuine threat to their German rivals.

Exterior CD: The Jaguar XF represents a radical departure from a company that has seemed on occasions besotted with the past. Compared to the retro styling of its predecessor the S-Type, the XF has a bang-up-to-date, sporty and dynamic design, with strong flowing lines and a distinctive nose. It’s a good looking and p ro p o r t i o n a l l y well-balanced car, one that looks better in the flesh than in photos.

GM: Lexus restyled and realigned its range, starting with the old bulky square shape to a more streamlined look that now characterises all Lexus models. It still has a sober style about it but does exude a certain class that all cars in the luxury segment should have. A n o t h e r i m p o r t a n t ingredient is the uniqueness of the exterior design in a traditional sort of way. It is 100% Lexus and cannot be mistaken for anything else.

Spec Check Jaguar XF 2.7 V6 Diesel Price Capacity: Power: Torque: Top speed: 0-100kmh: Fuel Consumption: CO2 emissions: 30



€67,380 2,720 cc 207 PS @ 4000rpm 435 Nm @ 1900rpm 230 km/h 8.2 seconds 7.5 litres per 100 km (37.6 mpg) 199g/km

Lexus GS 450h


Price: Capacity: Power: Torque: Top Speed: 0-100km/h: Fuel Consumption: CO2 Emissions:

€81,350 incl VRT Refund 3456cc 296 BHP @ 6400rpm 368Nm @ 4800rpm 250km/h 5.9 seconds. 7.9 litres per 100 km (35.8mpg) 185g/km

Text: Gerry Murphy - and Cathal Doyle - Photos: Cathal Doyle

Interior CD: Buyers of cars in this class expect their luxuries as standard, but it’s the attention to little details that makes the Jaguar stand out from its German rivals. It does feel special inside with soft grain leathers and real wood lending themselves to the simple yet clear layout. Details such as the JaguarDrive gear selector that recesses into the centre console when the engine is turned off, the start button that pulses red, and the phosphor blue halo illumination give the XF a contemporary and technical feel. Front headroom and legroom are more than adequate, as is legroom for rear seat passengers. However, taller passengers may find the sloping rear roof slightly intrusive. Boot space is reasonably large at 500 litres (with space saver tyre fitted) although its usefulness is compromised somewhat by being quite shallow. Golfers have expressed their disappointment in this regard.

Engines CD: The car may be new, but the XF’s power plants are carried over from the previous generation S-Type. Three petrol units are offered – a 3 litre V6 with 238 bhp and a 4.2 litre V8 with either a normally aspirated 298 bhp or super-charged 416 bhp, but the vast majority of sales are expected to be for the 2.7 litre V6 diesel. This develops 207 bhp and 435 Nm of torque, enough to propel the XF along at a more than satisfactory rate (0-100 km/h comes up in 8.2 seconds), although it is some way slower than the Lexus as well as less powerful than key rivals such as BMW’s 530d. CO2 emissions are rated at 199 g/km, which puts the Jaguar into the second highest Band F for road tax and VRT. The engine is mated to a six speed automatic box with the option of steering mounted paddle shift manual selection through Jaguar’s Sequential Shift system. We found it best left in auto mode, offering smooth yet rapid gearchanges. GM: Lexus and its parent Toyota have perfected the petrol/electric hybrid combination and here in the GS, the package has reached a new level. On its own the 3.5-litre 24-valve V6 is smoothness personified. It will go from 0-100km/h in just under 6 seconds. Pick-up is also impressive with 80120km/h timed at just 4.7 seconds. That is mated to a 650 volt electric power unit that cuts in at start-up and at lower speeds. It means that progress is often completely emissions-free as the car is driven solely by electric power. As speed increases, the V6 engine seamlessly takes over from the electric motor. There is no obvious loss of performance as the GS intelligently delivers petrol and electric power simultaneously. That alone is the great achievement of this amalgamation. Nothing is lost in the performance despite the extra weight and the intervention of the electric motor.

GM: Here the Lexus scores highly. Refined, exceptionally comfortable and packed full of equipment, the GS lacks for nothing in creature comforts and electric features. The seats deserve a special mention. Fully electric, bound in luxurious leather, heated with every adjustment imaginable, there is a setting for every driver and passenger. Lighting is subtle and clever down to the puddle lighting as you alight. Quietness is another Lexus strong point. Even in full petrol engine mode that ambience in the cabin is hushed by excellent sound proofing. That makes listening to the 14-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround sound system an experience. There is one glaring omission though. You don’t get Satellite Navigation as standard; it was taken out by Lexus Ireland as a cost cutting exercise. Bluetooth mobile phone h a n d s f r e e c o n n e c t i v i t y, steering wheel mounted controls for audio and phone and a Multiinformation display in the centre instrument cluster served to make operating the GS a very safe environment. GM: On the road the Lexus is a safe, confident performer underpinned by an array of electronic assistants. As stated it is extremely quiet with virtually no external audible intrusions from wind or road. It does float a bit when cruising and is a little ‘boaty’ on winding country roads. However, this car does have one extra function that changes its character immediately. Switch it from Comfort to Sport mode and you have a much more exciting car. Immediately you get stiffer suspension settings, more responsive steering and a tighter handling car all round.

Value for Money CD: Prices for the Jaguar XF start at €67,380 (excluding delivery charges) for both the V6 diesel and V6 petrol in Luxury trim, rising to €118,500 for the 4.2 SV8. The Premium Luxury model retails at €74,180 and adds niceties. GM: It is impossible to list the complete list of features packed into the Lexus GC 450h. The full retail price of the GS Executive is €83,850. Out of that you get a VRT refund of €2,500 making the final price €81,350. You can also specify the Sport version for a final price of €86,350.

Ride and Handling CD: For a big car, the Jaguar handles surprisingly well with nicely weighted steering that provides just the right amount of feedback. The engine is quiet and refined, and almost inaudible unless accelerating hard. The focus towards sporty handling makes ride comfort slightly on the firm side for less well surfaced roads, but never to the extent that it feels uncomfortable.



Text: Jarlath Sweeney -

launch pad I

New Audi A6 range ushered in


nline with the design changes to the A4 preceded by the launch of the all-new A5 coupe, Audi has restyled the A6 executive range. Enhanced inside and out with extensive engine updates, the new A6 arrives in Ireland just-in-time for the ’09 registrations. Subtle updates to the body shell include revisions to the single frame grille, the bumpers and the air-intakes plus front fogs. At the rear, a re-sculptured boot lid for the saloon, reshaped tail-lights and a new rear diffuser are among the changes here. Previously an optional extra, LED lighting technology becomes a standard feature, employing the new Audi strip light trademark that’s so eye-catching on the current A4 and A5 models. The LEDs are now positioned at the base of the lens, rather than separately down and in the bumper as in the S6. Most interesting among the drivetrain modifications is the pending introduction of an ultra-ecofriendly 2.0 TDIe diesel engine. Aimed at delivering in excess of 53mpg (5.33l/100kms) with…..wait for it……just 139g/km of CO2 – bringing it into the Band B rating which means VRT is @ 16% (from 30% with the standard 2.0TDI) and Annual Road Tax is only €150 (down from €590). By modifying transmission ratios, fitting a power steering, which operates only on demand plus an energy-generating alternator, the A6 2.0 TDI qualifies for the economy focused ‘e’ designation. The body is now more streamlined and with a 20mm reduction in ride height helps the latest A6 slip through the air impressingly through its low drag co-efficient of 0.28. Despite this, the 2.0 TDIe with its 6 speed transmission is no slouch. Thanks to the 320Nm of maximum torque available @ 1750rpm its 0100k/ph is 10.3 seconds and top speed registering at 129mph. Two V6 TDi common-rail injection units – the 190PS 2.7 litre TDi and 240PS 3.0 litre TDI have also been re-engineered in the best interests of efficiency. Apart from the six-speed manual, six-speed tiptronic automatic and fuel efficient sevenspeed multitronic CVT automatic transmission can also be specified.

MediaInterface (MMI) infotainment control system has now evolved to a ‘new improved’ joystick control. The options include useful safety features such as side-assist blindspot warning system, laneassist-lane departure warning system and radar assisted adaptive cruise control. First Drives Dusseldorf, the metropolis on the River Rhine, a hub of fasion, art and business was the perfect setting for the launch of the new Generation A6. Directed towards the business/executive segment, the Audi A6 enjoys a leading market share in its core competitor group across the globe. A range of engine choices were available to us to test on various road types east of Dusseldorf such as the 2.0 TDIe, 3.0 T Quattro and 3.0 TDI Quattro. Both versions of the diesels (which will have the biggest impact in Ireland) were particularly pleasing to drive. The new carbon-crunching TDIe proved to be an agile performer. Up and down through the 6-speed box, aided by the gear change indicator, power flowed to the wheels effortlessly. Engine noise was low and a glance at the revs per minute impressed also as the pin remained at less than 1300 rpm while cruising @ 100 kph. It’s easy to see how over 45 mpg can be achieved with this four cylinder unit.

Among the petrol engine range highlights include a supercharged 3.0 litre V6 TFS1 unit with 290PS (420Nm from 2500 – 4850rpm). Audi is no stranger to this alternative method of forced induction – Auto Union models bearing the four rings were employing it during the 1930s. The 3.0 TFSI replaced the 2.4 litre V6, the 3.2 litre FSIV6 and the 4.2 litre FSIV8. Inside, the great sense of space and quality and the general layout of the much praised cabin is much the same as the outgoing version. Noticeable however, is higher resolution graphics for the instrument panel, new upholstery materials and additional chrome detailing. The easy-to-use MultiFLEETCAR I OCT 08


launch pad II

Text: Jarlath Sweeney - Photos: Jarlath Sweeney

The A6 Security

Audi R6S - world's most power ful saloon. With twin turbochargers and direct injection, 580 hp of power and 650 Nm of torque, the 5.0 litre V10 FSI stands head and shoulders above the opposition. For the record it accelerates from 0- 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and boasts a top speed of 250 km/h 155mph. Transmission; 6 speed tiptronic allied to quattro all-wheel-drive. Exhilarating!


afety is a great tradition at Audi – back in 1928 a very special vehicle was developed by the predecessor brand, Horch. The engineers created an armor-plated luxury sedan, a Horch 8 Type 375, and subjected it to the first ballistic tests. Based on this experience, Audi later produced other high-security vehicles, which gained the trust and confidence of its customers. Now the brand with the four rings is presenting a special high-security vehicle in the business class – the Audi A6 Security. According to Andreas Dietz, Marketing and Sales Audi Security Cars, the project took almost three years to develop. The A6 Security is built at the Ingolstadt plant, alongside the seriesproduction sedans, and is subject to strict quality control measures performed by experienced specialists. Visually it is barely distinguishable from the standard models; its armor-plating, however, consists of particularly high-quality materials.

Audi Q7 V12 TDI - closely related to all conquering Le Mans race car. Featuring the world's first V12 diesel engine in series production, the Q7 is now the most powerful SUV around. Developed from the successful Le Mans winning diesel this revised common rail, 12 cylinder, 6 litre block produces 500hp and a whopping 1000 Nm of torque. It catapults the V12 TDI Q7 quattro from zero to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds and top speed is electronically controlled at 250 km/h PHEW! 34


In addition to high-strength steel and bulletproof glass, a special aramide fabric is used. All armor-plating elements overlap at transition points for enhanced robustness. Following an extensive series of tests, the Beschussamt in Munich, a ballistics authority, certified the A6 Security to ballistic protection level VR4 (European standard) – the sedan affords its passengers protection against handguns up to .44 caliber. In addition, customers can order special options – anti-magnetic armor floor plating that

withstands the fragmentation effect of DM 51 hand grenades, special casings for tank and body, tires with the PAX run-flat system and tinted rear windows. As an option, electric power windows can be ordered for the rear – by no means the norm on a high-security car. When these are closed, an intercom system serves to maintain contact with people outside the vehicle. A lockable security box, installed in the trunk, accommodates a briefcase and other valuable items. When it comes to active safety, too, the A6 Security exhibits excellent qualities. A 4.2-liter FSI with an output of 257 kW (350 hp) is at work under the hood, directing its power through the six-speed tiptronic transmission to a quattro drive system. Despite the extra weight – a good 300 kilograms – the V8 propels the big sedan with supreme confidence: it reaches 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 6.9 seconds and has an electrically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155.34 mph). The adaptive air suspension is standard on the A6 Security; it has been adapted to the higher loads. The deluxe automatic air conditioning plus, electrically adjustable seats at the front, upholstery in Milano leather, Walnut inlays, sun blinds at the rear and the lighting package create a refined, distinguished ambience in the interior. The Audi A6 Security has a broad customer base ranging from police forces, diplomatic corps and private individuals who require protection.

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New SEAT Ibiza arrives on the double!


EAT’’s newest incar nation of its Ibiza super-mini has gone on sale in Ireland. The new Ibiza is the first model of a new generation of VW Group products using the new “Agile Chassis” platform. It is also the first SEAT to feature the company’s new “Arrow Design” penned by former Lamborghini designer Luc Donckerwolke. Initially available as a five door, a three door SportCoupe has also been announced, while sporty Cupra and green Ecomotive models will be shown at the Paris Motor Show. Presently available with a 70 bhp 1.2 litre petrol engine, a 1.4 litre petrol version with 85 bhp will be added later this year. Coming in early 2009 are 1.4 and 1.9 litre diesels.

Emissions wise, the 1.2 litre engine falls into Band B (16% VRT, €150 Road Tax) with the 1.4 litre unit one band higher. The 105 bhp 1.9 TDi looks set to fall into the lowest emissions category, with an impressive 119 g/km CO2. Fuel economy on all models is also strong with the 1.2 engine returning a combined cycle figure of 5.9 litres per 100 km (47.8 mpg).

Customers can choose from two specification levels. The ‘R’ model features 15” wheels, Bluetooth capability, an MP3 capable stereo, 6 airbags, electric front windows, remote central locking and ISOFIX. The ‘S’ model adds front fog lamps, electric rear windows, cruise control, headlights with “coming home” function and an alarm system. ESP will be available on all Cathal Doyle models as an option.

Ford makes a s t r o n g SUV statement N

ot since 1979 has Ford offered a tr ue passenger sports utility. In motoring terms, two generations have passed from the days of the Ford Maverick. In the past few years the SUV has taken the world by storm and while the ‘blue oval’ took some time to re-enter this sector of the market with the Kuga, getting it right first time was a priority. At the pan-European launch in Jerez, Spain, Klaus-Peter Tamm, Chief Programme Engineer admitted the enormity of the challenge ‘to design and produce an off-road vehicle with outstanding on-road dynamics’. While taking many of its design traits from the losis X concept shown in Paris Motor Show 2006, new Kuga makes a statement by combining elements of an MPV and an estate while being constructed on the Focus. Powering the Kuga is Ford’s 2.0 litre 136PS TDCi diesel engine mated to a 6 speed gearbox. Spaciousness, practicality and its quality feel all round will be appreciated by its occupants as will its split tailgate and spacious boot. Kuga comes with full-time, intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (AWD), while a Front-Wheel-Drive (FWD) model is also available which is perfect for drivers attracted by the style and presence of Kuga but not requiring Jarlath Sweeney. AWD capability.

Suzuki - Splash (in’) around !! S

uzuki has launched the new Splash on the Irish market. The miniMPV is built in Hungary and is specifically designed for Europe. Splash is priced at €15,495 excluding delivery charges

Sister car to Opel’s Agila which is produced in the same factory, the Splash is visually a more conventional supermini than the tall and boxy Wagon R+ it replaces. Available at launch with a 1.2 litre petrol engine developing 86PS, the Splash emits 131 g/km CO2, making it eligible for tax band B (€150 annual road tax). Suzuki plans to introduce a smaller 1-litre petrol engine in 2009 but there are no immediate plans to bring in a 1.3 litre Fiat derived diesel unit. The Splash comes well specified for a car in this class with Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) fitted as standard as well as six airbags. Other

standard equipment includes a leather trimmed steering wheel with wheel mounted audio controls, manual air conditioning, height adjustable front seats and a CD tuner with MP3 player. An overall length of 3730 mm and a turning circle of 9.4 metres make the Splash an ideal city car. Belying its small size however, the rear seats, which split 60:40, fold flat to provide 573 litres of luggage space. A waterproof compartment underneath provides additional Cathal Doyle useful storage space. FLEETCAR I OCT 08


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New Ford Fiesta G

eneration six of one of Ireland’s most enduring and popular cars arrives on our shores this month. The all-new Ford Fiesta looks set to reclaim its position as one of the country’s best selling cars, having achieved sales of over 160,000 units in Ireland and some 12 million worldwide since its launch in 1976. Closely developed from the Verve concept vehicle first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, the new Fiesta also takes styling cues from the latest generation Mondeo and Focus, bringing it in line with Ford’s ‘Kinetic Design’ philosophy. Like the Mazda2 with which it shares its underpinnings, the new Fiesta is lighter than the model it replaces by some 40 kgs, thanks to the use of thinner but stronger steel, which makes the Fiesta 10 per cent stiffer than before. Three Duratec petrol engines and one Duratorq diesel will be offered for the Irish market in a choice of three specification levels. The Style model

most stylish yet will come in three or five door options and has a choice of the familiar 1.25 or 1.4 litre petrol engines, or a 1.4 TDCI unit. The sportier 3 door ZetecS is powered by a new 1.6 litre petrol engine, while the five door Titanium model will be available with the 1.25 litre petrol or 1.4 TDCI diesel. A new 1.6 TDCI is also available but at present Ford Ireland has no plans to introduce it here. Prices have yet to be finalized, but are expected to start at just over €15,000. Cathal Doyle.

Mitsubishi en-route

to complete Lancer Family


y April 2009 Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will have the full Lancer family on sale in Ireland. In complementing the Lancer Sport Sedan already on sale here since last year, a 5-door Sportback version will be joined by two performance models – Ralliart and Evolution (Evo X). A new Euro5 (140bhp) 1.8 litre common-rail diesel engine will be added to the range. This marks the beginning of a whole new strategy for Mitsubishi Motors. By introducing a hatchback into the C-Segment, Mitsubishi can once again compete against the other major manufacturers who successfully market this body type that is so popular around the EU. In creating the Sportback, Mitsubishi wanted to be different in terms of design, performance, specification and price! Set to enter the Irish market next Spring the Sportback draws its inspiration from two statement making cars of their time - the Saab 900 Coupe and Alfa Romeo 156. As with a hatchback, versatility and flexibility is the norm and the Sportback is not found wanting. With a quick flick of two buttons, the split rear seat falls to open up a 1349 litre load space (through the wide opening tailgate). Initially, engine choice will include the 1.5 litre (109hp) petrol as per the saloon with a new 1.8 litre (143bhp) petrol added plus the 140 bhp 2.0 litre diesel unit supplied by VW Group (for the present). With the Ralliart, Mitsubishi is filling the gap between the Sportsback and range topping Evolution (X). Using the same engine block from the 295bhp Evo X model but down rated to 225bhp, the Ralliart, available in saloon and hatch forms, also uses Mitsubishi’s new SST Twin Clutch 6 speed Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback

Lancer Ralliart Sportback automated transmission. Other items from the Evo are also used such as the bonnet, 18” wheels and AWC – 4-wheel drive system, which includes tarmac, gravel, and snow settings. First Drives Both the 1.8 litre petrol and Ralliart versions of the Sportback were driven at the European Press launch held in Barcelona, Spain. On first sight the Sportback appealed with its slick side profile and high rear spoiler. Inside, the dash area is practically the same as the saloon version. Specification levels for the Sportback are as per the 4 door as will be the price – which at €21,261 is extremely good value. Evolution X will retail at approx €67,000 with the Ralliart some €10,000 less. On the road, the 1.8 litre with 143bhp needed a bit of shoe now and again plus some movement of gears to get it up to satisfactory (yet legal) speeds. It was a different situation for the Ralliart version as the power and driving experience was totally different – as one would expect. Horses for courses. Availing of the 240bhp on tap, the SST gear rotation up and down the box worked well in time with revs rising and lowering. The manual shift through pedals on the steering was also tried-out. With the Saloon, Sportback, Ralliart and Evolution versions of the Lancer, Mitsubishi has managed to cover four separate sectors of the market with one car family. Roll on April 2009, I hear you say! Jarlath Sweeney



Truck, Van and Car 驶Chipping始 by the experts - More Power - Less Fuel

Tom Gray TurboChip Ltd


Taghart, Shercock, County Cavan. Phone: (042) 9669620 Mobile: 087 2391111

launch pad V

Text: Gerry Murphy - Photos: Gerry Murphy



CAMPAGNOLA by the setting-up of a manufacturing agreement between itself and the Spanish 4x4 manufacturer Santana Motor S. A. Santana, a tightly run Andalucía company used to manufacture the Defender under licence for Land Rover and also some models for Suzuki. When the Land Rover relationship came to an end some years ago, Santana decided to paddle their own canoe and produce a similar model and called it the PS.


t the Alpine Militar y Training base in the foothills of the Alps, under the shadow of a snow-capped Mont Blanc, in the north east of Italy, Iveco went back in time by looking forward to the re-emergence of an old name in a new guise. The name is the Campagnola and of course, there is a story behind it all. From 1951, just after World War II, Fiat first produced a small 4x4 that was heavily influenced by the requirements of the Italian military and particularly the Alpine military who used it to extensively to monitor and patrol some of the most arduous terrain in Europe. By its nature, the Campagnola also suited farmers, local utilities and park rangers in their daily pursuits. It was discontinued in 1987 and while there was a certain regret that the famous little 4x4 was gone, Fiat always seemed to hanker after a way to bring it back and more importantly, keep the Campagnola name alive. To continue the story of the resurrection of the Campagnola, the chance came to the Fiat Group

Needles to say, it was always going to be difficult, especially out of Spain for Santana to seriously eat into the Defender market. It was thrown a lifeline when a manufacturing agreement with Iveco - a much bigger player with outlets all over Europe - was set-up. And so the relationship with Fiat began. In the meantime, Fiat subsidiary Iveco was embarking on its own 4x4 development program. Its Daily 4x4 utility vehicles were an example of this and Iveco saw the Santana as an ideal vehicle to expand market profile and through its wide supply network and already strong presence in the utilities sector and the merger set out to re-configure the old Santana PS and to give it a new identity and more significantly, a new lease of life. That is when the Iveco Massif was born. It will be launched officially at the CV Show in Birmingham in April of 2009. Like the Defender there will be threedoor, five-door and pick-up versions. And there are certain similarities about its look, which is a design that has functional properties, has stood the test of time and the rigors of the workload

that these vehicles are expected to do. Iveco chiefs then decided that there was a place in the catalogue for a slightly more plush version of the Massif in passenger form and so the chance to re-invent the Campagnola and relaunch the name came about. That is why a select number of journalists were invited to Turin to inspect the new Campagnola. And so as to emphasise how the name embodies the Italian spirit for anything driven by an engine, the Italian Alpine division of the Military Force provided their training ground, army personnel and even Olympic Skiing Champions to help in the celebration and the re-birth of Campagnola. The strange thing about this launch though was the abject aversion of the Iveco ‘big-wigs’ to even mention the Land Rover name. Strange because this range of Massif and Campagnola vehicles is unquestionably aimed at that market. Secondly, Iveco has a product here that can make an impact if it is promoted and marketed properly. All Massif vehicles will be fitted with Iveco’s superb 3.0-litre HPI engine, a real gem amongst commercial diesels. It delivers 176 bhp, that’s 54 hp more than the 2.4-litre Defender engine and a highly impressive 400Nm of torque at 1,250 rpm compared to 360 for the Defender. While Iveco didn’t even want to mention the name of its main competitor it is important that we do. Iveco should, I believe, put this car out there, tell it like it is, take on Land Rover headon, take their chance and give it a real go. You see, the Massif, or indeed the Campagnola has a lot going for it. It can handle the work, has all that power and is more comfortable with a better driving position than the Defender. However, it is highly unlikely that here in Ireland, we will see this vehicle under the Campagnola name. Even if we do, it will probably be as a commercial. If so, most buyers that will look to Iveco will probably buy a version of the Massif.



launch pad VI

Text: Jarlath Sweeney - Photos: Jarlath Sweeney

Take the free spirit of New

Fiat Fiorino Qubo power units from the Fiat Group – the highly acclaimed 1.3 litre (75bhp) Multijet diesel and the 1.4 litre (73bhp) petrol. Low running costs and respect for the environment are to the fore here. For instance, the 1.3 litre Multijet returns an impressive 4.5L/100 km, which translates, to around 1000 kilometres from the 45 litre diesel tank fitted. This version boasts CO2 levels of less than 120 g/km (which costs only €100 per year to tax).


n taking the MPV concept into ‘fr ee space’ mode Fiat has transformed the new Fiorino Van into a unique modern-day lifestyle vehicle. Called the Fiorino Qubo, this mini multi-purpose vehicle, with its distinctive personality and practicality is capable of satisfying various transport needs. While being very versatile as a second family car, it is also an ideal first car for young people that want an environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle.

Nine body colours and two types of trim are available. The vehicle also offers impressive features, depending on the market and version. For example, as far as safety is concerned, the vehicle offers ABS with EBD, 3 point seatbelts with pretensioner and load limiting device, hydraulic power steering, and front and side airbags. Customers can personalise their Fiat Fiorino Qubo by choosing freely between the numerous options available: 16” alloy wheel with a stylish design, aluminium longitudinal bars of up-to-date design, air-conditioning, leather steering wheel and gearstick, Blue&Me system, steering wheel controls, door deadlock and parking sensors. More details on

First Drives As handy as a city car yet as spacious and comfortable as an MPV, Qubo is more compact with external dimensions of less than 4.0 metres, 1735m high and 1.716m wide. Its turning circle is less than 10 metres. The new Fiorino Qubo really comes into its own as a unique car in its segment when you take a look inside. The original ‘free space’ concept combines six different seat configurations with a practical, regularly shaped interior. The result is a functional interior, with exceptional flexibility and use of space. For example, with the seats in normal position, the boot offers 330 litres of space (up to the parcel rack) and 650 litres if measured up to the roof. With the rear seats removed, the capacity increases to 2,500 litres. For maximum driving pleasure, the Fiat Fiorino Qubo relies on the smooth



How things have changed. A van that drives better than a car! Boasting the external dimensions of a B-Segment car, Fiorino Qubo is so easy to drive in the urban environment. As proved through our drive in the Italian countryside where Saturday afternoons is market day in many of the towns surrounding the Verona region. As expected the 1.3 litre Multijet performed its task well and without fuss. In the right circumstances, over 70 mpg is achievable from this impressive unit. When compared to its van brethren, Qubo features a softer looking front (to comply with EuroNCAP crash tests) and a full rear door as per the norm with MPVs.


Text: Jarlath Sweeney - Photos: Jarlath Sweeney

facelifted both the Legacy and Outback inside and out and for this diesel version it gets new cloth seat trim. Available in one specification only, the Legacy 2.0 TD comes with high equipment levels such as dual-zone climate control, cruise control, front, side and curtain airbags, front fogs, leather steering wheel and gear lever, 17” alloys and electric foldable mirrors. First noticeable aspect of driving the Boxer Diesel is that it sounds remarkably like the Boxer Petrol. There is no denying that it’s a Subaru engine. Throttle response was good with the 5 speed manual transmission well geared for both crawling and cruising.

Test Drive Report:

At a steady 100 km/h, the rev counter remained below the 2000 mark. As a result, its fuel economy impressed 6.2 l/100 kms, which is about 46.6 mpg, a satisfactory average figure considering some of the 1000 kms covered in the week were off-road. Which brings me to comment on one negative aspect of the Legacy – its low stance on the road. If the grass grows between the wheel tracks on the by-ways, look out as the under carriage could be easily damaged.

Subaru Legacy 2.0 TD Sports Tourer H

ad an inter esting Subar u r elated conversation with my colleague from Belgium recently. He is the proud owner of a 1991 Subaru Legacy 1.8 Auto and considers same as the best investment he ever made. Long service life and ardent customer loyalty come with this other Japanese brand. Renowned for its AWD (All-Wheel-Drive) systems and successful exploits in the World Rally Championship in the past, its customer base was somewhat limited due to having petrol engines as its only propulsion system. That limitation is no more as Subaru has introduced the world’s first ‘Boxer’ diesel engine in its Legacy and Outback model ranges. This 2.0 litre 4 cylinder, 16 valve turbocharged unit that’s positioned horizontally (in-line with the gearbox) boasts 150 hp and torque levels of 350 Nm @ 1800 rpm. Compared to Subaru’s 2.0 litre Petrol ‘Boxer’, the Diesel has an 11 mm longer strike and 6 mm smaller bore, for a capacity of 1988 cc versus 1994 cc. This common-rail unit is light, compact that produces little or no vibration and its low mounted fitting enhances handling and roadholding. Now that we are CO2 conscious, this Subaru 2.0 TD produces 151 g/km which puts it into Band C = 20% VRT and €290 motor tax rate.

That stated, there is no other flaw. It drove really smoothly, yet solidly on the open road. A Subaru representative stated at the British Motor Show in London in July that the moving sound levels of the Boxer Diesel @ 70.5 dB is lower than Rolls Royce Phantom’s 72.0 dB. So there you have it. Potential Subaru customers have waited for this day for the Diesel engine to arrive. And with the 2.0 TD Saloon retailing at €29,995 (ex-works) and the Sports Tourer priced from €32,795, there are few cars around that represent such good value. Consider it as an investment! Just ask Jeff, my Belgian colleague!

The Boxer Diesel will initially be only fitted to cars for the EU market. Visually, the discreet bonnet air intake scoop indicates that it’s a diesel, apart from the rear badging, of course. Last year, you may remember, Subaru 42


Recommended service intervals for the Boxer Diesel is around 20,000 kilometres.


Irish Rally Round-Up

Eamon Boland & Damien Morrissey - Tarmac Champions 2008 Photo; Podge Newe


he last week in August saw the top two Irish Rally Championships tied up.

On August 23rd Eamon Boland secured his first Global Group Tarmac crown by winning the Ulster Rally and the following weekend Patrick Elliot landed the Dunlop National Championship with a victory in the Galway Summer Rally. Both drivers were using Subaru Imprezas. Wexfordman Boland is the popular winner of a Championship that he supported so well for so many years. With wins in the Circuit, Lakes, Jim Clark and Ulster he had a great platform, and finished every Round with second on the Manx, third in Galway and fourth in Donegal. Second place in the Tarmac Series will be decided on the final round - the Cork 20. It will be between Mark Higgins, Gareth McHale and Kevin Kelleher. Kelleher is also leading Group N and he must stay ahead of his season long adversary John McGlaughlin. Third in Group N is Martin O’Donnell in a 1.4 litre Honda Civic. Former Champion, Eugene Donnelly did not chase the title this year but won the Donegal International in a Skoda Fabia WRC - the first international victory for the Czech marque in Ireland. Similarly, it was a restricted year for Kris Meeke. He finished 5th in Killarney in a Renault Clio, but could have been second only for a puncture. A similar giant killing performance in Donegal ended in a crash. The Dungannon native also had a two minute lead in Rally Germany driving a Clio S1600. Sadly, he lost seven minutes with a malfunctioning engine sensor and all hopes of a win were lost. A missed opportunity but the point was made. Patrick Elliot has been runner-up on a few occasions in the Dunlop National Championship. This year the Cavanman’s dream came true when he won the Galway Summer. He also had wins in Kerry, Circuit of Munster, Ravens Rock and Stonethrowers Rallies. Niall Maguire was second with the three times former National Champion winning in Cavan and Monaghan. Last

Fleet Transport sponsored Mike Bird and Kevin Keane Galway Summer Rally 08 Photos: Podge Newe



Patrick Elliot 2008 Irish National Rally Champion 2008 Photo; Podge Newe

year’s Champion Aaron McHale had a reduced programme but did win the first round in Mayo. With two rounds, left Alan Ring driving a Mitsubishi Evo 9 looks set for another Championship win in Group N. The one time Circuit racer cannot relax however, with Trevor Bustard, Eamon Daly and Sean Flanagan in close attendance. The Hankook Irish Forestry Championship will go down to the wire in the final rally- the Birr Forestry. With four wins to his name Ray Breen has 98 points, just two ahead of John Reid who had a podium on each round. Breen drives a Ford Focus WRC and Reid competes in a Corolla WRC. Group N is also finely poised with John Reddington, Colin Britton and Sean Heany too close to call. John Paul Ruth leads the Junior category. 2008 saw a growth of one make Championships. Last year we had the inaugural Ford Fiesta Championship, and this year’s Series is being led by Elfyn Evans. The final round is the Cork 20. The first ever Irish Mitsubishi Evo Challenge also comes to a climax in the Cork 20, with Brendan Cumiskey, Damien Tourish and Owen Murphy all in with a chance of victory. It was also the year of the inaugral Irish Citroën C2R2 Cup and the winner was Marty McCormack, the 2007 British Historic Rally Champion. Perhaps the most exciting new addition to the sport is the Motorsport Ireland National Junior Rally Championship. This new Series is confined to drivers of 26 years or less, competing in two-wheel-drive cars of up to 1600cc. It is a class based Championship with eight different categories. It is also a mixed surface Championship with four rounds on tarmac and four on gravel. Twenty six drivers registered and with two rounds left the leader is Vincent McAree of Monaghan in a Peugeot 106 with 46 points. Peter Wilson from Kells in a Honda Civic is next on 40 points. The winner gets a supported Group N drive on a National Rally in 2009. The eight class winners will be interviewed for the Billy Coleman Award Austin Shinnors worth €32,000.

Alan Ring Group N Champion Elect. Photo: Kevin O Driscoll


CITROËN C2R2 taken to the Max! A

hot new entrant has hit the per for mance car scene in Ireland. The new €62,500 Citroën C2R2 Max compact rally car was launched in the Cooley Mountains to members of the Irish and U.K. motorsport media. Journalists were treated to demonstration laps by French rally ace Sebastien Ogier. ‘Seb Two’ as he is known, is a protégé of multiple World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, drives a Citroën C2 Super 1600 in the Junior World Rally Championship and is the current championship leader. The new ‘Max’ fits into the Citroën rally range between the C2R2 and Super 1600. It is an evolution of the C2R2 and has a number of technical improvements to improve its competitiveness. The principal changes are an increase of engine torque, more adjustable front and rear suspension, hydraulic steering instead of electric steering. Its camber and castor angles can also be altered. Ogier contends that the Max is only 0.5 second per kilometre slower than the Super 1600 - for a third of the price. In the Ulster Rally, Ogier put his theory to the test-he won his class and finished first two wheel drive car. Matt Shinnors

World Championship Plans

announced by Rally Ireland F

ollowing a route inspection and approval by the FIA, the sports governing body, and the leading international teams which will take part, Rally Ireland has announced details of the Special Stages for next January’s World Rally Championship opening round. The key new features of the prestigious event will be a glamorous launch of the 2009 World Championship at Stormont Castle near Belfast on Saturday January 24th. This global live TV event, will feature all the top drivers from Ford, Citroën, Subaru and Suzuki. Shakedown, where the teams test their cars, will be held near Sligo on Thursday January 29th followed by the official start at Fermanagh Town Hall at 7.30 pm that evening. With a total of 19 Special Stages and a route covering 1407 km, the event will visit counties Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Cavan, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal. The Service Park will again be based at the 52 acre site of the Institute of Technology, Sligo which the teams will visit twice daily for repairs and service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “We are pleased with our new route which provides a real challenge to the drivers, good spectating options for the fans and spectacular images for TV viewers around the world,” explained Clerk of the Course, Gordon Noble.

The January event, which has replaced the traditional Monte Carlo Rally in the 2009 World Rally Championship, is seen as a major endorsement by the sport of Rally Ireland following its debut in the World Championship last November. This event attracted 250,000 spectators, €48 million in economic benefit and was seen in more than 180 countries by 62.8 million TV viewers and was given international acclaim for the level of organisation by the 4000 volunteers involved. Jarlath Sweeney.

Photo by:




Text: Jarlath Sweeney - Photos: Jarlath Sweeney

Can your fleet afford to be without it? As a public listed company, Trafficmaster achieved a turnover of £53m, and profit (before tax) of £6m last year, the fourth year of successive record revenue and profit. Operations exist in the US and the UK primarily. The US operation under the name Teletrac continues to expand having signed up vehicle leasing and rental giant Ryder which has 120,000 units fitted with the Teletrac ‘black-box’. “Whether it’s in the US or UK, everything is transmitted from the black-box fitted in the vehicle. Over the years this brain has diminished in size by a factor of 10,” explained Pat, “but hosting more electronics and data transmission by the same amount.”


equired to reduce your carbon footprint? Want to cut down on overtime? Aim to reduce unauthorised vehicle use? How about increasing productivity? All this and more can be achieved through Trafficmaster, the leading provider of intelligent driving solutions. A visit to Bedfordshire, near Cranfield University to be percise, to where the Trafficmaster headquarters is located brought home just how vast this system provider invests in its various services to the corporate sector. Celebrating 20 years in this business in 2008, Trafficmaster focuses its attention on creating partnerships with OEMs and currently has BMW, Citroën, Volkswagen, Vauxhall (to mention a few) on its books. Its systems range from an advanced satelite navigation, traffic alerts, vehicle tracking, speed warnings, emergency and concierge services plus a broad portfolio of fleet management and curstomer connect programmes. Currently over 175,000 clients are being supported and relationships have been established with 27 vehicle manufacturers in the UK and Ireland. From the outset, Pat Gallagher, Director of in-vehicle products was keen to emphasise that all hardware and software are designed and patented by Trafficmaster. The ongoing deal with Citroën has really taken off, according to Donegal native, Pat. “Nottingham City Homes has taken delivery of 300 Citroën Relay and Dispatch vans specified with our systems. All vehicles have Trafficmaster SmartNav satelite navigation and Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking package fitted as standard. In addition, they have taken up the optional Trafficmaster Fleet Director, our advanced fleet management package, which is fully integrated with SmartNav, significantly improving efficiency of the fleet.” He added, “Fleet Director gives the ability to locate the vans and tradesmen nearest to the next job or enable support to new employees by transferring routes and confirming attendance at jobs. The system also incorporates an ‘emergency button’ alowing the driver to summons assistance in the event of an incident.” Pat plans to focus on increasing business in Ireland and is currently talking to a number of manufacturers. “The current deal with BMW and Mazda in the UK also transfers over to the Irish Republic and is working well,” says Pat.

Trafficmaster’s impressive new headquaters 46


Regarding system relationships, Trafficmaster has ties with O2, NAVTEQ and Garmin to provide traffic services to their range of portable navigation devices. To summarise what the company is all about Pat stated, “Trafficmaster specialises in enhancing the driving experience and improving business performance by saving companies and drivers time and money and reducing their environmental impact.”

Trafficmaster – intelligent driving systems Trackstar The UK’s number GPS/GSM stolen vehicles tracking system. It protects vehicle and loads with location history. BMW’s only approved partner on both sides of the Irish Sea. Assist Live personal assistance to further enhance the SmartNav system along with a dedicated emergency and breakdown call services. Assist also has a branded concierge service. SmartNav This multi-award winning dynamic navigation service features enhanced live maps with real road speeds. Live traffic and route guidance ensures spot-on arrival times. It also informs the driver of congestion charge zones. Safe Speed Fixed speed cameras or so-called ‘accident black spots’ dotted around the UK are all mapped by Trafficmaster. Safe Speed notifies the driver of their locations including long term road works and duty of care reporting. Fleet Director Market leading interactive fleet tracking system provides live vehicle reporting from the Map Control Centre. Two way messaging with reports and alerts on vehicle and driver management are part of this package. This data is fully downloadable by the customer. Traffic 75,000 vehicle probes collect over 200 million records per day on all roads mapping real road speeds by time of day from 260 billion records. In Central London alone, 450 CCZ (Congestion Change Zone) cameras collect 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 records per h o u r . Tr a f f i c m a s t e r provides traffic listner reports to commercial radio stations and its own c u s t o m e r network.

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