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New car sales for 2013 down 6.4%

Most industry estimates for 2013 new car sales were predicting 75,000 units, but the final figure for the year will be around 1,000 short of this figure. By contrast, in the commercial side, sales finished 3% up on 2012, so perhaps businesses are feeling more bullish than consumers. The used car market was also well up but there’s a concern that a 25% increase on used vehicles into the country might result in sharp practices and buyers should be cautions, particularly if they suspect a car they’re looking at was not originally sold in Ireland. “With a shortage of used stock in the country, unsavoury practices are more evident than ever in the used car market” said Michael Rochford, Managing Director of Motorcheck.ie. “We encounter the horror stories on a daily basis, and now more than ever consumers considering the purchase of a used car need to protect themselves from clocking, badly repaired write-offs and vehicles under finance” he continued. …

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Brian Byrne, Chairman of the IMWA van jury presents the award for Car Derived Van of the Year to Ian Corbett of Toyota. Looking on is Tom Dennigan of Sponsor, Continental Tyres.

Vans of the year

The Toyota Auris Van and Ssangyong Korando Commercial have been named Category Winners of the Continental Irish Van of the Year 2014 title by the Irish Motoring Writers Association (IMWA) Van Jury. All nine voting members of the IMWA Van Jury took part in the vote. In deciding on these category winners, the jury members took into account attributes such as load capacity, reliability, overall versatility, cost of ownership and comfort. Presenting the awards to Ian Corbett, of Toyota Ireland, and John Keogh, SsangYong Ireland, Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland, commented “In today’s tough commercial vehicle market, these two vehicles have been singled out by the IMWA van experts. I am sure that these awards will provide a huge boost for both the Auris Van and Korando Commercial.” Brian Byrne, Chairman of the IMWA van jury, said “In assessing candidates for the Continental Irish Van of the Year category awards, our jurors pay close attention to how the vehicles …

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Nissan's new Qashqai made an appearance in Ennis.

Qashqai arrives in Ennis

There was an opportunity to get a sneak preview of the new 2014 Nissan Qashqai recently, when the car arrived at Dulick Motors for one day only, as part of a national tour in advance of the car’s January launch. While it’s clearly an evolution of the current Qashqai, up close, the new car is a lot more defined and seems to be sharper and more masculine as a result. The interior is a big step up from the old car, with higher quality materials and a fresh new look. As I reported last week, this new Qashqai features a whole host of up-to-the-minute technology, some representing a class first. Most buyers will choose a diesel, of course, with the option of a 1.5 or 1.6 litre unit. A competitive petrol option, a 1.2 litre DIG-T, will also be offered and for lower mileage or urban drivers, this could be an ideal choice. Deliveries will start early in 2014 and …

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Pictured at the presentation of the Continental Irish Car of the Year trophy were Tom Dennigan, Continental Tyres Ireland, Frederic Soulier, Managing Director, Citroen Motors Ireland, Gerry Murphy, Chairman, IMWA and model Adrienne Murphy.

Irish Car of the Year

The Citroen C4 Picasso has been voted Continental Irish Car of the Year for 2014 by the Irish Motoring Writers Association. The winner was revealed at an awards ceremony in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin late last week. The Picasso MPV received 377 votes from the IMWA jurors, ahead of the Volkswagen Golf (364 votes) and the Mazda6 (327 votes). It is the third time that Citroen has taken the overall Continental Irish Car of the Year title, after the Citroen Xsara (1998) and the Citroen C5 (2009). Members of the IMWA awarded their votes on the basis of key criteria including safety, equipment level, fuel economy, comfort, practicality, ride and road-holding. The trophy was presented to Frederic Soulier, Managing Director of Citroen Ireland, by Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland, who commented: “The Citroen C4 Picasso is an outstanding car and a worthy winner of our main award. It combines excellent driving qualities with a range of truly …

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The new Nissan Qashqai arrives in January.

New Qashqai majors on technologies

The original Nissan Qashqai was a huge hit for Nissan, both here and worldwide. It could reasonably be said to have kick-started the mid-size crossover segment, which is now a hugely important and hotly contested sector of the market. The first Qashqai was revolutionary and it has now been replaced with a new model that, while improved in every way, is clearly an evolution of the original. New technology is a big part of the new Qashqai, which will go on sale in time for the January sales rush. Park Assist is available for the first time. Not only will it park the car automatically but it also provides an Around View Monitor, which gives a ‘helicopter view’ of the surroundings – a class first. Park Assist can park the car into a parallel space with the system taking care of the steering and allowing the driver to control the accelerator and brake. It needs a space just 80cm longer …

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The i3 is BMW's first electric production car.

BMW i3 is electric

It’s not every day you witness the launch of a new car brand, but that’s what we have with BMW’s new i sub-brand, which was introduced to Ireland last week. Although the i3, the first fruit of this particular tree, has been seen before, this was the debut of the final production car on Irish shores. The i brand is all about sustainable mobility and finding new ways to meet the transport needs of the 21st century. The i3 is a compact car, which was designed from the start to be electric. It uses an aluminium chassis, reinforced by carbon fibre to make the chassis as light as possible. The battery is a solid block mounted in the floor and the resulting lowering of the centre of gravity should ensure a very stable drive. In classic BMW tradition, the i3 is rear wheel drive and performance is spritely, with 0-100 km/h dispatched in just 7.2 seconds. Overall range is quoted …

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The Citroën C4 Picasso.

Citroën Picasso offers space and flexibility

Every now and then, a test car comes along that delivers a lot more than expected. From the off, though, Citroën’s C4 Picasso impressed me greatly. I wasn’t even sure what it looked like, having had to miss the Irish launch, but what greeted me was an exceedingly handsome car, with looks that are up to the minute. The interior is even more impressive, with a 7” touch screen easily accessible on the dashboard. If that’s not enough, this is joined by a secondary 12” widescreen, which is used to display all kinds of information and also becomes the clearest satnav screen I’ve ever seen in a car. This kind of technology is rarely seen in the class and it’s good to see such a step forward. The screens are used to control virtually every aspect of the car, including the audio, navigation and even the climate control systems. This allows Citroën to reduce the number of hardware buttons on …

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The new Mercedes S Class is so advanced it can even drive itself at speeds up to 60 km/h.

S Class heralds new technology

A new S Class Mercedes is something that doesn’t come along every day and when it does, it generally brings some new and undreamed of piece of technology. The S Class, after all, in various versions, was the first to sport Anti Lock Brakes, ESP and airbags, all of which are now standard on pretty much every car on the market. The newest S Class comes with a few new goodies, including an impressive 360 degree view for parking and the ability to automatically follow a car in front in traffic at speeds up to 60 km/h, steering, braking and accelerating when necessary. It’s this particular piece of tech that’s most interesting when it comes to the new S Class. Mercedes earlier this year demonstrated an autonomous car, which drove under computer control from Mannheim to Pforzheim, recreating the journey undertaken by Bertha Benz in 1888. Although computer driven cars are still effectively in development, Mercedes reckon they will be …

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