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The SEAT Leon X-Perience in the early morning frost at Brook Lodge in Wicklow.

Are you X-Perienced?

To lightly paraphrase the words of the late Jimi Hendrix – Are you X-Perienced? Well I am, as I’ve driven the Leon X-Perience, the first 4×4 ever produced by Spanish firm, SEAT. The Leon is now their best selling model, so it makes sense to start from here, although we’re told that this particular model is only the first of a number of four wheel drive cars which will come onto the market over the next few years. The X-Perience is based on the ST or estate model and for this particular application, the looks have been suitably machoed up with more rugged bumpers, black roof rails and crucially for off-road ability, a ride height raised by 30mm. To take advantage of the extra ground clearance, grip is enhanced by a fifth generation Haldex four wheel drive system, which normally sends all power to the front pair of wheels. As conditions dictate, though, up to 90% of torque can instantly …

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Weather alert: Frost, sleet and snow

We can prepare for frost, sleet and snow is over the next few days, according to Met Éireann. Showery rain will develop near western coasts during this afternoon (Monday) with some sleet or wet snow this evening inland in western counties. Highest afternoon temperatures of 3 or 4 degrees C. in most areas, about 6 or 7 degrees C. on parts of the west coast. Tonight will be very cold and frosty and icy. Showery rain will occur on western and northern coasts overnight, with snow showers expected inland, these mostly affecting parts of Ulster, Connacht and west Munster. Minimum temperatures 0 to minus 5 Celsius with the risk of some freezing fog patches in some eastern areas Tomorrow, Tuesday will be cold and wintry in places in the morning with widespread frost and ice. A mix of hail, sleet and snow showers in places, but these will become confined to western and northern coastal areas in the afternoon and …

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Williams and ex-Ferrari Formula One driver, Felipe Massa, at Shannon this week. Photo John Galvin.

Felipe Massa’s pit stop at Genworth

WILLIAMS RACING Formula One driver, Felipe Massa took a pit stop on his pre-season schedule to visit Genworth’s International Business Centre in Shannon on Thursday afternoon. Following a tour of the new state-of-the-art workplace located in Westpark Business Campus, Genworth staff based in Shannon and those travelling over from Europe, Latin America and China had the opportunity to attend a question and answer session with Felipe Massa before the driver showed off his skills on a Formula One simulator. “Felipe Massa’s visit has been a resounding success thanks to his passion, and the enthusiasm of Genworth’s staff. Felipe is a proven race winner, with 11 wins and 36 podiums to his name, and for a driver as passionate about his work as Felipe, team spirit, excellence and integrity are as much a part of his professional ethos as they are for Genworth,” said Bob Brannock, president, international protection, Genworth. “Our new Shannon-based International Business Centre supports the needs of over …

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Felipe Massa visits Shannon

Formula One driver, Felipe Massa will create lots of excitement when he visits Genworth Financial’s International Business Centre in Shannon on this Thursday afternoon. The Williams Martini team star will take time out of his hectic pre-season schedule to visit over 400 staff at Genworth’s Shannon site. Following a tour of the new state-of-the-art workplace, located in Westpark business campus, members of the media along with Genworth staff will have the opportunity to attend a question and answer session with Felipe Massa before the driver shows off his skills on a FORMULA 1 simulato

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Škoda's Octavia is now available with four wheel drive in both estate and hatchback versions.

Octavia hatchback 4×4 launched

In a very well-timed move, given our recent weather, Škoda have announced that their Octavia is now available with four wheel drive in hatchback form. Previously, this drivetrain was only available as an estate. The new hatchback cuts the entry-point price by €1,100. The market for 4WD models in Ireland is heavily weather dependent. During the cold snap in 2012, Škoda 4×4 sales increased fivefold as a direct consequence of the severe weather the previous winter. With the last few mild winters, interest in 4WD has decreased, but it only takes a bit of snow and ice for the market to sit up and take notice again. Like the existing estate, the Octavia 4×4 uses a Haldex electronic clutch to provide permanent all wheel drive. During normal driving, power is sent to the front wheels only to save fuel. If conditions dictate, power can instantly be sent to the back axle also avoiding the risk of a skid. The system …

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Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

The production version of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider has been unveiled in Detroit at the North American Auto Show. Still featuring a carbon fibre body, three times stronger and seven times lighter than steel, the windscreen frame is also made from the same material. Very little structural work needed to be done to strengthen the chassis to compensate for the loss of the roof. In the US version, the difference in weight between open and closed versions is just 10 kg. New for the open top version is an optional titanium exhaust system with switchable modes to give more or less noise as required, depending on your mood. Standard and racing exhaust systems are also on offer. US versions also get the option of a premium audio system from Alpine, but quite frankly, it’s superfluous in the 4C. Forget the radio and just listen to the engine. A new exterior colour (yellow) is available which should complement the shape …

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Mulcahy calls for further cut in oil price

The Regulator and energy companies have been called on to explain why electricity bills have not been reduced for customers in light of continued significant falls in gas and oil prices. Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Tony Mulcahy has pointed out that prices at fuel pumps throughout Ireland had only shown modest reductions in comparison to the dramatic fall in crude oil prices since mid-2014. “Far too often we see companies using any hike in gas and oil prices as an excuse to raise fuel prices and electricity bill and therefore, it is only right that they be questioned as to why bills are not reduced when such prices drop,” said Senator Mulcahy. “Crude oil prices have now fallen below 50USD a barrel, which is approximately one third of the value in June 2008 (144.54USD). While motorists and haulage firms have benefited from lowered diesel and petrol prices, garage forecourts and oil companies have …

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2014 new car sales up 30%

New car sales in 2014, released by car history experts Motorcheck.ie, show the Irish market is up 30% on 2013 figures. The industry had predicted total sales of approximately 85,000-90,000 units at the start of the year but the final figures have smashed this original prediction with over 96,000 (96,254) new cars sold in 2014. That’s over 22,000 more registrations than 2013 or an increase of 30%. Michael Rochford, managing director of Motorcheck.ie said, “It’s been a really positive year for the motor trade all round. Not only has there been a large increase in new car sales; new commercial vehicle sales and motorcycle sales are way ahead of 2013 and the used car market has also surged ahead of previous years volumes.” New commercial sales finished the year on a high also, up 43% on 2013 with more than 21,000 units sold, indicating confidence from the business world. New Motorcycle sales finished the year 25% up on 2013 with …

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