Renault names new Alpine

Renault is to call its new Alpine sports car the A110, writes Brian Byrne.

With a somewhat retro look but sleekly modern in its execution, the A110 is aimed at carving out a section of the market currently dominated by the Audi TT and the Porsche 718 Cayman.

A110 is the name of a coupe which had a successful rally career in the 70s.

A 250ho 1.8 engine is being speculated on at the moment, with a 0-100km/h in the 4.5s region.

New XC60 teased

A new generation Volvo XC60 will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next week, writes Brian Byrne.

The company has revealed teaser pictures that suggest the new SUV will look very like its big and very successful sibling, the XC90 which changed the visual direction of Volvos.

Self-driving features will figure in the technology offerings with the car, which uses the same Scalable Product Architecture platform as the XC90 and S90.

A Twin Engine plug in hybrid powertrain will likely be offered as part of the engines lineup.

New DS SUV revealed

The premium brand of the PSA Group, DS, has revealed first pictures of its new DS 7 Crossback, writes Brian Byrne.

With a distinctive and upmarket styling, the new vehicle offers five options for owners to personalise their car. Premium materials, including leather, crystal, and guilloche finish are features of the car. The 'watchstrap' seat trim design which is a trademark of recent DS styling is also part of the theme.

Petrol and diesel engines with outputs ranging from 130hp-225hp will be available when the car launches, with automatic options. A 300hp E-Tense plug in hybrid variant will be available from the spring of next year.

A 'Connected Pilot' system will offer a level of autonomous driving in traffic situations and on motorways. A 'Night Vision' technology uses infra-red to identify objects, pedestrians and animals on the road at a distance of up to 100m. The digital instrument cluster shows the driver the area around the car (within the driver's line of vision) in infrared, with a yellow line around any sources of potential danger.

More details closer to the car's actual launch.

New Peugeot 3008 arrives

The new generation Peugeot 3008 is now on sale in Ireland at a starting price of €25,995, writes Brian Byrne.

Now an SUV crossover rather than the MPV in its first generation, the car is a striking addition to a very crowded segment, which include Kia's Sportage, Ford's Kuga, Toyota's RAV4, Hyundai's Tucson and several more.

The vehicle is also an example of the brand's programme to reposition itself at the top end of the mass market, and comes with a very high level of finish as well as having the latest in safety and comfort technologies available as on moves through the grades. These grades are Active and Active Level 2, Allure, GT Line and GT.

The entry engine is a 130hp turbocharged petrol as well as a 1.6 petrol with automatic transmission.

Diesels are 1.6 and 2.0 in output ranges from 100hp-180hp versions, and automatic gearboxes are available.

Peugeot Ireland expects that the bulk of sales will be in the Allure grade, which has prices ranging from €29,855-€33,605.

There has been strong pre-order activity, and given the success of the model since it was launched in Europe last October, sales will be dependant on supply more than by orders.

Des Cannon, Managing Director at Gowan Distributors Limited, noted that the car has already gained 17 international awards and demand for the new Peugeot 3008 is outstripping supply in every country. "Together with the new Peugeot 5008 SUV, arriving this summer, we now look forward to increasing our performance in the all-important C-SUV segment.”

A first drive report will follow tomorrow.

Offers available on SEAT Alhambra to end March

From now until 31 March customers can avail of offers from SEAT's 23 strong dealer network on both the Alhambra S and SE models, writes Trish Whelan.

During this time, SEAT is offering its Full Link Technology free of charge; a connectivity feature that brings all your smartphone needs safely to the road, the media centre's Read to Me feature transmits text messages as well as easy access to Spotify, podcasts and satellite navigation. SEAT brand ambassador Anna Daly demonstrates its use below.

SEAT is currently offering 3.9pc finance offer on the Alhambra SE, and 4.9pc on the Alhambra S. The deals also include a 3-year service plan for €299 which represents a saving of €400.

SEAT is gifting each family a free seat kids toy car with every Alhambra purchased until 31 March. This token will help keep the kids entertained during their travel time in the car.

The Alhambra has received the maximum five-star recognition in the Euro NCAP safety rating. Some of its safety-focused features include blind spot detection, emergency brake assistance and Drive Profile which allows you to adapt your car to your driving mood.

The Alhambra, along with the rest of the 2017 SEAT range, is available to test drive and order for the brand's dealerships nationwide.

Moffett Mops Up In Tipp

Monaghan's former Young Rally Driver of the Year, Sam Moffett, dominated yesterday's opening round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, with his Fiesta WRC leading the Birr MC's Abbey Court Hotel event at Nenagh from start to finish in treacherous conditions, writes Richard Burke.

Moffett and his co-driver James Fulton headed the high class field on the opening stage by eleven seconds and extended their lead to half a minute by the mid-point of the eight stage rally. Double champions Declan and Brian Boyle lay second with defending title holders Roy White/James O'Brien in third place.

Despite easing off over the closing stages, the Monaghan driver almost doubled his advantage by the finish, ending the day 59 seconds ahead of Boyle, with another previous champion, Donagh Kelly, getting ahead of White's Fiesta to take third position in his older Focus by just four seconds.

Gary McPhillips scored a narrow win over Adrian Hetherington in the two wheel drive category, with their Escorts finishing eighth and ninth overall, while Michael Boyle, the 19 year old son of Declan, was the clear winner of the Junior Rally.

There was lots of family rivalry in the Monaghan Navigation Trial at Clones, with no fewer than three Tynans sharing top position at the finish. Mickey, navigated by his nephew Ciaran, tied with son Martin and his navigator Fintan Clerkin after a tough 100 mile route.

Both pairings had the same penalty at the same place on the route, and both were in similar cars, so they could not be split on the tie-deciding rules and were declared joint winners. Ashley McAdoo and Laurence Keenan took third place ahead of National champions Pakie Duffy and Evin Hughes.

Don’t get the ‘killer look’, ladies

Ladies, seatbelts don’t work if you wear them under your arm instead of over the shoulder, writes Trish Whelan.

Right, that sounds like common sense. Except that too many of our gender seem to toss that out the window of the car when they buckle up. For reasons as insane as not wanting to upset their tan or crease their clothing.

Truth is, you’re likely to suffer horrific injuries if you’re in a crash with your belt this way. Placing the shoulder strap of the seatbelt under their arm leaves your upper torso — including your neck, face and head - completely unrestrained during a collision.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has launched a new digital road safety campaign focusing on the misuse of seatbelts by women. The campaign is entitled ‘Don't get this season’s killer look’.

A study of 300 women aged 17 to 34, undertaken in 2016 on behalf of the RSA, found that some 28pc admitted to misusing a seatbelt by wearing it under the arm, rising to 35pc among younger women. The study also found that 53pc of those interviewed said that their friends wore the seatbelt in this way.

The main reasons cited for wearing the seatbelt under the arm were to relieve neck tension and for general comfort. However, 9pc said it was to protect their tan and 7pc said it was to protect clothing.

The belt should be worn diagonally across the wearer’s chest on their shoulder and never under the arm. If it feels uncomfortable, adjust the height of the belt on the anchor point on the door frame, or adjust the seat position and height. Most importantly of all, avoid getting ‘This season’s killer look’ because you didn’t wear your seatbelt properly.

The RSA sought the input of Gerry Lane, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Letterkenny General Hospital in Donegal, in developing the campaign.

The campaign, will also be promoted on the RSA social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram with the campaign’s official hashtag #KillerLook.

While seatbelt compliance is consistently very strong among young females, it’s not universal. For instance, 23pc don’t always wear a seat belt as a rear passenger.

Injuries to body following improper seatbelt use:
Head: Collision with windscreen can result in severe facial scarring, and in some cases blindness. Brain injury, neck spinal injury.

Mouth: Impact with the steering column or dashboard of a vehicle can cause severe damage to teeth, leading to victims needing extensive dental repair. May knock teeth down throat, shatter jaw, block airway.

Neck:  Being thrown violently forward in a collision can cause serious injury to the neck and head, and may require surgical repair. May result in paralysis and/or partial or total paralysis.

Torso: Spinal damage caused by impact requires the wearing of a full-body cast (not always, only in "minor cases"), and may result in partial or total paralysis, life changing injuries. 
Abdomen: Internal lacerations caused by improper seatbelt use can require extensive surgical repair, and may involve the victim requiring a colostomy bag for life.

Arm: Extreme fractures may need to be surgically repaired with metal rods and pins. 
Leg: Extreme fractures may need to be surgically repaired with metal rods and pins.

Now, can we get back to common sense instead of vanity?

Facelifted Skoda Rapid for Geneva reveal

Skoda will show updated Rapid and Rapid Spaceback family cars at the Geneva Motor Show, ahead of their arrival in Ireland this July, writes Trish Whelan.

The enhancement to the Rapid is evident at the front. The modified fog lights shine in the newly designed lower part of the bumper. The Rapid Spaceback now also features an extended rear window and the boot door makes it easy to load the luggage compartment. 

Skoda claims these compact cars set the benchmark for spaciousness among the direct competitors, with a ‘tremendous’ amount of space on the inside.

Passengers will also have the option to be ‘always online’ with a WLAN hotspot and additional new connectivity features from Skoda Connect.

The cars will also have two 1.0 TSI petrol engines with either 95bhp or 110bhp outputs.  

Skoda are currently offering up to €4,000 scrappage on the current Rapid range until the end of March.

New options for the Rapid and Rapid Spaceback include interior Ambient lighting, Front Assist with city emergency and Skoda Connect which consists of Infotainment Online and CareConnect services. The Infotainment Online offers online traffic information, information on fuel stations and pricing, parking spaces, current news and weather. The Care Connect services offer further passenger assistance with a WLAN hotspot for on-board Wi-Fi connection, and an automatic emergency call feature which will automatically call the emergency services once an airbag is activated.

Irish pricing and specs are yet to be confirmed but Skoda Ireland say they are expected to be competitive.

VW Arteon to world premiere at Geneva

Volkswagen will unveil its new premium Arteon at next month’s Geneva Motor Show which runs for the public from 9-19 March, writes Trish Whelan.

Volkswagen say combining avant-garde design with a high level of versatility was the key objective for designers and developers of the Arteon and this resulted in an interior architecture which ‘is exceptionally generously spacious - with ample head and leg room at all seats - which is extraordinary for this body form’.

Key design elements of the Arteon include its completely new front end, in which the LED headlights and daytime running lights merge with the chrome-plated crossbars of the radiator grille and the bonnet. The car’s shoulder section is another defining feature of its design.

Other equipment features making their debut in the Arteon include the latest generation of driver assistance systems and some features that are typically reserved for luxury automobiles.

The Arteon is expected to be on sale in Ireland in time for the 172 plate. It will be positioned above the Passat in the Volkswagen range.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak

There's a road across the boggy area from Prosperous to Johnstownbridge in Co Kildare and it is as bad a one as I've driven in any part of the world, including in the high Andes, writes Brian Byrne. So I was very glad last week that I had a Ford Ranger under me as I travelled it. It wasn't by any means a comfortable drive, but at least I had the sense that the car would survive the trip without damage.

It's the latest generation of the Ranger, and the vehicle I was driving was the Wildtrak top of the range. Apart from a number of cosmetic additions, including a cowl behind the back window and a roller-top cover for the bed, it came with the bigger engine than the standard 2.2 diesel, a 3.2 with some amazing luggability.

I've been driving quite a few pickups recently, and enjoying them. The Ranger Wildtrak certainly looks the business, and has the underpinnings to bring its owner to territory which is neither easy nor nice.

There's a thing about 4x4 pickups. You drive them relatively slowly in poor conditions and they will take you wherever you want to go even in difficult places, and back again. It's a different kind of driving.

I suppose you could say the current Ranger is very American looking, and that's fair enough because it's an important vehicle for Ford in that vast land. Certainly, you won't miss one coming towards you.

From inside, there's a really high view, and other traffic is an almost distant concern. Visibility all around is good.

The review car was the double cab version, the one most sold here. It's roomy both front and back, and the only thing you have to get used to is common to pickups, that the internal floor height is high compared to the seat.

Lighting up the 3.2 diesel gave us a quite refined engine noise, given the power of the 200hp unit — you can have the Wildtrak with the 2.2 Durotorq as well, which only mildly limits towing and rugged terrain ability.

The transmission in the review vehicle was the 6-speed manual option, but there is an automatic available. For me, the manual was fine, and I'd expect it to be more useful in difficult conditions. The modes are 2WD, 4WD and low-range 4WD, so there are very few places where it wouldn't be possible to drive this one.

It's a Ford, and there's a lot of technology both for safety and capability, as well as the brand's SYNC connectivity system. The review car also had sat-nav, which worked well, though I was disappointed in the detail when just using the map feature.

(That Johnstownbridge road wasn't showing, though it did when I set a destination to home along it.)

Among the safety gizmos available is the Forward Alert, which can alert you if it senses a potential collision with the car in front and may help avoid an accident. In the event of a too fast approach to the car in front, new Ranger will pre-charge and increase brake assist sensitivity, so even if the brakes are pressed lightly, they’ll automatically apply a harder force to stop you quickly.

The 3.2L TDCi Duratorq offers 470Nm of torque, would probably pull down a small tree.

Depending on the version, Ranger can carry up to 1,403kg and tow up to 3,500kg. Wading depth is 800mm.

The latest Ranger's engines are more efficient than before, thanks to Auto Stop Start and new final drive ratios, plus a new Electric Power Assisted Steering system. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions from 6.5L/100km (43.5mpg) and 171g/km.

Ranger prices start at €29,150 for the base single cab. The review car came in from €45,125.

New Dacia Summit Special Edition for Geneva

Dacia will launch a new special edition version for the Duster, Sandero Stepway and the New Logan MCV Stepway (pictured above) at the Geneva Motor Show on 7 March, writes Trish Whelan.

The Summit special editions will be based on the highest equipment level and will stand out through two exclusive exterior colour options: Nordic Grey or Magma Orange (Sandero Stepway only).

In the Stepway range, these new colours will be complemented by 16-inch Grey Flex wheels, while the Duster will sport 16-inch diamond-cut black Cyclades alloy wheels.

Inside, these special edition models will have exclusive dual-material upholstery; seats will have Burnt Orange piping and top-stitching, and the word ’Stepway’ will be embroidered into the fabric in the same colour. Carpet mats will also have the Burnt Orange top-stitching. This same detailing will be found on the centre console and air vent surrounds.

This special edition is based on the Laureate trim to include air conditioning, Media Nav Evolution multimedia system, rear parking sensors, DAB radio, and cruise control with speed limiter.

The Duster will also feature wheel arch guards and protective side mouldings.
The Summit special editions will be available with the same engines as the Stepway and Duster ranges.

Pricing for this special edition range will be announced closer to the on-sale date this Spring. 

Two new Concept Cars from Citroen

Citroen will have the world debut of two new concept cars at the Geneva Motor Show next month, writes Trish Whelan

The C-Aircross concept (pictured above) is a colourful and assertive concept car that follows in the footsteps of the New C3. This is a concept that previews the French carmaker’s global offensive into the compact SUV segment.

The SpaceTourer 4x4 E Concept is a modern, high-tech ‘go anywhere’ 4-wheel-drive system that ‘invites adventure in a relaxed style. 

Also on show will be the C3 WRC that has debuted at the rallies of Monte Carlo and Sweden and which emphasises Citroen’s big WRC comeback.

Citroen’s ‘warm and welcoming’ stand at the show will feature La Maison Citroen which mirrors its future showrooms.

Increase in Toyota Ireland hybrid sales

Hybrid is now moving towards mainstream popularity with increased sales this year, writes Trish Whelan.

Toyota Ireland has sold over 1,300 petrol hybrid vehicles so far this year. The hybrid technology that, unlike electric vehicles, you don’t have to plug in, has seen the Japanese carmaker experience a 128pc increase in sales of hybrid vehicles in 2017 compared to last year.

Over 70pc of orders for Toyota’s new C-SUV, the C-HR are hybrid while 40pc of its Auris and 35pc of Yaris sales this year have been hybrid vehicles. 

In Ireland, hybrid vehicles now make up a total of 3.5pc of the market, up from 1.5pc last year. In tandem, sales of diesel vehicles have dropped, this year accounting for 66pc of the market - down from 71pc last year.

The 1.2 with 116bhp petrol C-HR with €280 annual road tax is pictured above, and is priced from €26,895. The more powerful 1.8 122bhp hybrid with €180 annual road tax is priced from €29,350. 

Mitsubishi to show ’Compact SUV’ at Geneva

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation will have the world premiere of its new ‘Compact SUV’, the first of a new generation of Mitsubishi Motors cars, writes Trish Whelan.

It is a striking all-new car that will allow MMC to broaden its customer base next to ASX and Outlander with a sporty coupe-like SUV.

This ‘Compact SUV’ will also represent a further step towards MMC’s gradual repositioning as a (near) pure SUV player in Europe.

Sharper in its expression than a conventional coupe, this new ‘Compact SUV’ will feature highly chamfered contours with a wedge-shaped belt line, a distinctive V-line in the near quarter stemming from the forward-slanted C-pillar or chunky muscular rear fenders.

We’ll bring you more details when we have them.

New Rio arrives in Ireland

The fourth generation Kia Rio has arrived in Irish dealer showrooms at a starting price of €15,950, writes Brian Byrne.

The car arrives with an 85hp 1.2 petrol engine and two 1.4 diesel options of 77/90hp outputs. A 1.0 turbocharged petrol will arrive later in the year.

Rio is the second-biggest selling model for the brand globally, though in Ireland it holds a lower position in a very competitive B-segment market.

The car is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor — the Irish Car of the Year winner in 2011 — with a longer wheelbase to provide better ride and more interior room. It also has a more muscular profile, with a longer bonnet and front overhang.

A new interior design reflects recent styling in the new Sportage, and the hybrid Niro, emphasising the width of the cabin and angling the controls sections towards the driver.

There’s more interior storage, an increased luggage capacity in the boot area, and a similar double boot floor as in the outgoing version which provides space to concealed items. A spare wheel is an option.

The volume seller is expected to be the EX at €18,150, which comes with rear sensor parking assist, automatic cruise control, and manual air-conditioning in its specification.

An EX ADAS grade at €19,450, includes safety systems such as autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning as well as a rear-view camera. Rio is the first car in the class to offer radar pedestrian detection with its AEB system.

There’s a top of the line Platinum grade at €20,450, which comes with satnav and Android Auto connectivity.

The diesel engined model starts with the LX at €17,750 and the EXE at €19,950, respectively with the smaller and larger output units.

Kia Ireland’s MD James Brooks says the company is targeting the new Rio at ‘younger and female’ customers to gain market share.

“It’s a segment in Ireland where the gender split is 50:50, so we feel there’s an opportunity here,” he added, noting that it’s more difficult for a smaller company to make inroads in the segment because of the long-established ‘hero’ models such as VW Polo and Nissan Micra.

The petrol offerings are important in the B segment, he said, because it is one where buyers are reluctant to pay the diesel cost premium. “In our outgoing model, 60pc of buyers chose petrol, and we would see the shift more towards petrol. Especially when diesel and petrol fuel prices are harmonised from a tax point, as seems to be on the cards.”

Selfless Kathy wins a 171 Renault Captur

Kathy Shine from Walkinstown in Dublin has won a Renault Captur worth €20,000 courtesy of a recent Late Late show competition, writes Trish Whelan.

She revealed how she prayed to her deceased mother in a bid to secure the new car for her brother Mike, who suffers from MS. Kathy won the car from 200,000 entries and wanted the car so she could sell it so that Mike could update his disability van. 

Speaking to show presenter Ryan Tubridy after the win on The Late Late, an emotional Kathy said “I was lying in bed last Friday night watching the show. I’d already sent in the coupon for the competition. You walked over to the drum with all the entries, and I said “Mum, I am begging you please let him pick out my card so I can give the car to Michael to update his disability van.” Her mother died 20 years ago but Kathy fells she is still there for her.

Ryan then ready out her name and address as the winner.

In an extra happy ending to the story, Renault gave Mike an extra €5,000 to help kit out his current van to make it suitable for his needs.

Karla Clifford, Renault Ireland Brand Communications Manager said “We were all delighted to see such a selfless and generous person winning the Renault Captur Giveaway. Renault Ireland wish Mike and Kathy the best of luck in the future.”

Pictured at the car handover were Conor Dixon and Kevin Troy, both of Renault Belgard, who said they were delighted to hand Kathy the keys to her brand new Renault Captur.

Motor Industry recognise best in the business

The issues of road safety, insurance and the environment have been identified as being hugely important to the Motor Industry by Alan Greene, President of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), writes Trish Whelan.

Mr Greene was speaking at the SIMI Annual Dinner 2017 held at the Clayton Hotel, Dublin 4 last night with over 700 of the Motor Industry’s senior figures and guests in attendance.

The event incorporated the Irish Motor Industry Awards, in partnership with sponsor Bank of Ireland Finance. The awards were adjudicated by an independent panel and announced by RTE Sports Commentator & TV presenter Marty Morrissey, and honoured those companies that demonstrated excellence and best practice in their Industry over the last 12 months.

Prior to the awards being announced, Mr Greene remarked that the night was a celebration of the 41,000 people who contribute to the growth of the Irish economy. Last year, he said, the Industry collected €1.5 billion from new and used car sales alone for the Exchequer, while over €5.5 billion was generated by the Motorist.

Acknowledging that car sales are an obvious barometer to measure the impact of Brexit, the effect of which is likely to be felt right across the Industry, Mr Greene noted that members across the various sectors are being faced with changing market dynamics this year, and while this will be challenging, he noted it will also present opportunities. 

He commended the ongoing work of the Road Safety Authority, offering the Industry’s support to work closely on road safety initiatives. He recognised that the Industry itself had a role to play in educating motorists on the importance of maintaining their cars, particularly in light of the fact that over 750,000 cars fail their NCT test each year.

Commenting on rising insurance costs, he expressed his concern on the increase in uninsured drivers, while also acknowledging the recent work of the Oireachtas Committee and the ‘Cost of Insurance Working Group’. He said he hoped that their recommendations to be implemented over the next two years, will deliver fairer premiums for consumers and businesses. 

On the environment, the President remarked ‘there is no doubt that we all need to be concerned about the impact of emissions on health, but we need to seek for holistic solutions that seek to maintain the benefits of lower C02 with a reduction in the other harmful emissions’.

Mr Greene praised the companies who were shortlisted in each of the award categories and said that the awards ‘are a great way for SIMI to acknowledge the diverse and dynamic nature of our Industry as a whole’.

Pat Creed, Managing Director of Bank of Ireland Finance commented “BIF is the leading provider of funding to the Irish Motor Industry through tied relationships with 14 Manufacturers/Distributors which account for in excess of 50pc of the total Industry.” He also commented that, with Brexit looming and the significant increase in used car imports from the UK and NI which was evidenced in 2016, the Industry needed to maintain increased focus at a time when we are just recovering from the worst recession in many years.

Awards were presented by Alan Green and Pat Creed. Category Award Winners on the night were:

Above - Franchised Sales Operation of the Year - CAB Motor Company Ltd., Monahan Road, Ballintemple, Cork. Pictured are L-R Conor Cavanagh, Dealer Principal CAB Motor Company; SIMI President Alan Greene; Pat Creed, MD of Bank of Ireland Finance; and John Wilkins, General Manager, CAB Motor Company Ltd.

Above - Franchised Aftersales Operation of the Year - Audi North Dublin, Exit 5, M50, North Road, Dublin 11. Pictured are Geoff Walsh, Head of Business; Pat Creed of BOI Finance; Brian Davis, Head of Service; Colin Norton, Head of Parts Department Audi North Dublin; and SIMI President Alan Greene.

Above - Commercial Vehicle Operation of the Year - Wicklow VTN, Glebe Business Park, Port Access Road, Wicklow Town. Pictured with SIMI President Alan Greene are Tara Jackson, Manager, Wicklow VTN; Pat Creed, MD of BOI Finance.

Above - Independent Sales Operation of the Year - Meridian Motors, Sleaty Road, Co Carlow. Pictured with Pat Creed of BOI Finance are Aidan Finn, Manager, Meridian Motors; SIMI President Alan Greene; and Stephen Murphy, MD Meridian Motors.

Above - Independent Aftersales Operation of the Year - Donnellan Auto Services, Oranmore Business Park, Oranmore, Co Galway. Pictured are SIMI President Alan Greene; John Donnellan and Jude Donnellan of Donnellan Auto Services; Pat Creed, MD Bank of Ireland Finance.

Above - Bodyshop of the Year - Fitzpatrick’s Garage Accident Repair Centre, Dublin Road, Kildare. Pictured are Gavan Doyle, Martin O'Brien, Alan Mahon; SIMI President Alan Greene; Andy Fitzpatrick, MD of Fitzpatrick's Garage Accident Repair Centre; and Pat Creed, Managing Director of BOI Finance. 

The Vehicle Recovery Operator of the Year Award went to, Westpoint Offices, Collinstown Lane, Dublin Airport, Co Dublin; and the Motor Factor of the Year Award went to John Delaney Motor Factors, Fair Green, Drogheda, Co Louth.

Ferrari 812 Superfast for Geneva Show

Ferrari will world premier its new 12-cylinder berlinetta, the 812 Superfast, the most powerful and fastestFerrari in the marque’s history, writes Trish Whelan.

The V12 series marked the official start of the Prancing Horse story in 1947, 70 years ago this year.

The 812 Superfast builds on the legacies of the F12berlinetta and F12tdf. It’s aimed at clients demanding the most powerful and exclusive Ferrari in the range. 

Powered by a new 6.5 V12 engine that unleashes 800hp, the car is the new benchmark in the mid-front-engined sports car segment, achieving maximum power output at 8,500 rpm. Max torque is 718 Nm @ 7,000 rpm. The 812 Superfast’s dual-clutch transmission has specific gear ratios which, combined with shorter up and down-shifting times between gears, sharpen throttle response still further.

The car is being launched in a special new colour, Rosso Settanta, which marks the company’s 70th anniversary.

Mercedes-Benz main sponsor at FTA Conference

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has once again been confirmed as ‘Main Sponsor’ for the forthcoming annual Freight Transport Association Ireland Transport Manager Seminar, writes Trish Whelan.

At the event – which will take place on Thursday 30 March at the Johnstown House Hotel and Spa in Enfield, Co Meath – Mercedes-Benz will make a presentation focusing on its 50 years in the Irish truck market. The company will also exhibit a static vehicle display and manned trade stand.

With an expected attendance of some 150 delegates, FTA Ireland's Transport Manager Seminar is set to welcome a number of industry leading speakers to discuss the latest issues affecting the sector.

Further details can be found on the Freight Transport Association Ireland's website:

SEAT Leon Cupra gets more powerful engine

The CUP RACER acronym has become much more than just a version in the SEAT range; the CUPRAS are the ultimate expression of its sports heritage, writes Trish Whelan.

The Leon CUPRA is offered in two different body types; the 5-door and the ST (Sports Tourer). 

With its 2.0 TSI petrol engine that puts out 300hp, the new Leon CUPRA is not only top of the range, but is now also the most powerful model in the range ever produced by SEAT. The engine gains 10hp more (up from 290 to 300) and torque has increased from 350 Nm to 380 Nm. 

The car’s maximum speed is electronically limited to 250km/h regardless of which gearbox is chosen, which can be manual or automatic, both of which are 6-speeds. C02 emissions are between 156 and 164 g/km, depending on the model. A claimed average consumption for the 5-door is 6.8 L/100km. It goes up to 7.2 L/100kms for the CUPRA ST DSG 4Drive version.

The car will also get four-wheel drive in the ST version together with the double-clutch DSG. The car comes with Progressive Steering System as standard. Another key element is the Haldex VAQ self-locking differential.

There are five modes to choose, Comfort, Sport, Eco, Individual and CUPRA. The car is also loaded with the latest in technology and functionality, as well as advanced driving assistance systems, multimedia and connectivity technology. Updated cameras and radar have been added for the Pedestrian Protection and Emergency Assist systems and offer more precision and better accuracy for the Traffic Sign Recognition system. 

Customers can choose from the expanded exterior colour range, with two new metallic paints - Mystery Blue and Desire Red.

Neil Dalton, Head of Marketing & Product at SEAT Ireland says “The Leon CUPRA has always been an iconic model with the Leon range and we look forward to presenting our most powerful and digitally advanced model in the range to the Irish market.

SEAT is offering 0pc finance across the CUPRA range between now and 31 March. The Leon CUPRA is available to order at the brand's 23-strong dealer network.

Breen and Scott achieve target

Craig Breen and Scott Martin (pictured) finished fifth in their Citroen C3 WRC, meeting the target set for them at this year’s Rally Sweden. 

Meanwhile, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle put their first points on the board by finishing fourth in the Power Stage, whilst also ensuring bothCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT cars scored points in the manufacturers’ championship.

Last but not least, Stephane Lefebvre and Gavin Moreau concluded a promising weekend in eight place.

The final leg of Rally Sweden on Monday resembled something of a sprint finish with three stages covering less than 60km. After two runs on Likenas, the event concluded with Torsby 2, also serving as the Power Stage.

After pulling themselves into the top five on day two, Craig Breen and Scott Martin’s aim was to hold onto this position. At the end of the Power Stage, Breen was satisfied he had met the target set for him by the team before the start. Thanks to two fifth-place finishes in Monte-Carlo and now Sweden, the Irishman stays in the same position in the Drivers’ World championship.

At Rally Mexico (9-12 March), Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT will be entering two C3 WRCs for Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle and Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau.

Core Youth Service on the road with Renault

Inchicore’s Core Youth Service have been handed the keys to a brand new 171 Renault Trafic 9-seater minibus by Renault Ireland in partnership with the Irish Youth Foundation, to help get their new outdoor programmes on the road, writes Trish Whelan

Previously known as St Michael’s, the Core Youth Service was set up in 1986 in response to poverty, a lack of recreational opportunities and substance misuse in the youth population of St Michael’s estate and the larger Inchicore area in Dublin.

Conor Dixon, Renault Ireland, with Thomas McCarthy, Core Youth Service, and Niall McLoughlin, Irish Youth Foundation are pictured above handing over the keys to a new Trafic 9-seater minibus. 

The project’s aim was to provide youth interventions, activities, developmental groups and supports, as well as ongoing broader recreational and developmental activities for the wider youth population.

Pictured below: Carol Byrne, Core Youth Service; Karla Clifford, Renault Ireland, and teenagers who attend the Core Youth Service centre in Inchicore.

The brand new Renault Trafic minibus will contribute significantly to a new programme which encourages young people to travel outside of the area and will provide them with diversionary activities which are not centre-based, and are high in energy and adrenaline. This project also enables staff at the Core Youth Service to develop relationships with young people away from distractions in the community, and promotes alternative lifestyles and fitness.

Some of the children who attend the Core Youth Service are pictured below with Conor Dixon and Niall McLoughlin.

Review: BMW 3 Series Grand Turismo

With the trend towards providing coupe variants of mainstream saloon cars now firmly established across the main premium brands, BMW has for...