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New Volkswagen Passat

New Volkswagen Passat announced

Details of Volkswagen’s highly anticipated new Passat have just been released in advance of the model’s introduction in time for the 151 sales rush. Preorders are being taken now and a National Roadshow will showcase the car in November. Two petrol and three diesel engines will be offered initially, with a starting price of €27,295 for the 1.4 litre TSI petrol model, which produces 125 bhp. A 1.6 diesel with 120 bhp starts at €28,940. Estate models will also be available from the start, attracting a premium of around €2,000. The other petrol engine is also a 1.4, but produces 150 bhp and also employs Active Cylinder Technology to shut off two cylinders when the car is under light loads. It’s amazing technology. In the Golf, I’ve often cruised at motorway speeds on two cylinders and you genuinely can’t tell the difference. This version will start from €35,145 in Highline trim. Two 2.0 litre diesel engines join the 1.6, developing …

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John Cusack, Ian's father and organiser of the Ian's Trust To The Moon and Back cycle and run at Kilkee last Saturday, John Galvin, The Clare Champion and Gerry O'Brien, Hyundai Limerick (sponsors) awaiting the start of the 60 km cycle to Loop Head and back in aid of children with acquired brain injuries. Pic Munsterimages.ie

To the Moon and Back

I agreed to do the cycle before I even thought it through. A 60km cycle less than two weeks away was going to be a tall order, given that I haven’t done much on a bike for years. The To the Moon and Back cycle was in aid of Ian’s Trust, a charity set up to help children with acquired brain injuries, so I felt honour bound to give it a go. In the intervening fortnight, I managed to do a few 10km runs but I felt in no way properly prepared when I lined out in Kilkee last Saturday for the jaunt to Loop Head and back. I didn’t feel any better when I saw what surrounded me. Lycra-clad bodies on carbon fibre bikes were everywhere and I felt distinctly out of place on my vintage, 20 year old Raleigh racer, with its steel frame and only 12 gears. The day was dry and fortunately, not too warm. The …

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The Alfa Romeo 4C in action at the Irish launch at Mondello Park on Monday.

Alfa trio launched

Alfa Romeo chose Mondello Park to launch three new models this week. The reason for the venue chosen is that one of these cars is very, very special. We’ve been waiting a long time for the arrival of the 4C, a car that has tantalised us at various motor shows seemingly for years. With styling robbed from the exotic 8C Competizione, the 4C could be described as the ultimate modern sportscar, with its emphasis on performance through light weight. With a kerb weight of only 895 kg, it’s lighter than most superminis. How did they achieve that? By building it from carbon fibre, the first time this material has been used in a car anywhere near this price point. Some may lament that the 4C isn’t powered by a sonorous V6, but to keep weight down, a 1750cc turbo four cylinder is used instead. Producing 240 bhp, it’s an engine with a very high specific output and it’s mated as …

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Daisy posing at Porlock Weir.

Driving Miss Daisy

… and Shelly too On our holiday to Devon and Cornwall two years ago, we were struck by how dog-friendly everywhere was, so we made up our minds that we’d come back some day with Daisy, our West Highland Terrier. Some day turned out to be last month, as we sailed again to the South of England. Ford provided an S-Max this time, a fine choice, with extra space and plenty of comfort. Not only had we all of Daisy’s stuff to bring, but my wife, Shelly, is by no means a light packer, so even starting off, we were fairly well loaded. [doptg id=”29″] We chose to travel with Irish Ferries on their Swift Service, as it involves a journey time of just two hours. Daisy would have to travel in a kennel on the car deck, so we wanted to minimise the journey time. It was terrible having to put her into the kennel and lock the door …

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The most unlikely racing car ever? It has 180 bhp but doesn't like corners much.

A day at Mondello

Last week, we had a rare opportunity to try the entire Volkswagen Group range of cars both on track at Mondello Park and on the roads outside. Not only Volkswagen models were well represented, we also had Audi, Seat and Skoda to choose from – all the latest models. When I arrived though, I couldn’t resist starting with the oldest car there, a 1977 Mk1 Golf, resplendent in lime green. Somehow the colour was very appropriate given the period of the car. As I took it gingerly out onto the road, I was struck by how noisy it was. The car was far from concourse condition but the noise coming from the front end was more akin to an air cooled engine. It really sounded strange. The second shock was the almost total lack of brakes. Polos of that period in right hand drive versions came without brake servos and I think it must be the same story for the …

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The eagerly anticipated new Mercedes C-Class definitely has the family look from the larger S-Class. It has just arrived in Ireland.

Mercedes debuts new C Class

One in five new Mercedes-Benz cars sold in Ireland come from the C-Class range, so the launch of a new model represents a very important milestone. It’s a car that Mercedes can’t afford to get wrong. Once the range is complete, it will comprise of four petrol and five diesel models, although given our market conditions, it’s only the diesels that will be of particular interest. These start from €37,950. At the moment, we have the C220 CDI, powered by a 2.2 litre 170 bhp engine, which features emissions as low as 103 g/km, courtesy in part from a Cd of just 0.24. Fuel consumption is a claimed 4 l/100 km, which is an excellent result and this particular version sells from €43,300. The other two models on sale currently are both petrol. These consist of the C180 with a 1.6 litre 156 bhp engine, with a CO2 figure of 116 g/km and a C200 2.0 litre with 184 bhp …

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MG B

Summer motoring with the ‘Champion

This week’s edition of  The  Clare Champion is not one to be missed by anybody who owns a car. Our 20-page Summer Motoring supplement has something for everybody, from those who drive a modest  small car to those who own or aspire to getting behind the wheel of a top of the range model. The supplement, our second annual edition, gives valuable information and tips on buying a car. Not only does it deal with the mechanics of the car or the exterior and interior specs but also with fiance and leasing options. With an ever increasing emphasis on reducing our carbon footprint, there is a feature on green driving As the title suggests, Summer Motoring  has plenty to whet the appetite about the joys of motoring in dry and sunny conditions, whether on holidays at home or abroad, or on a day trip  in the countryside.  

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ISPCA alert: dogs die in hot cars

With the warm weather set to continue for several days, the ISPCA has cautioned that “dogs die in hot cars”. Pet owners often think leaving a window open is sufficient for their pet but this is not enough to prevent heatstroke under intense sunshine, which can have fatal consequences. “We all love the sunshine but it is also important to be aware of the dangers that can be caused by leaving a dog unattended in a vehicle during hot weather; even for 10 minutes can prove to be fatal,” said Carmel Murray, PRO for the animal charity. “You may think leaving the car window open will alleviate the risk of heat stroke, but under intense sunshine this is not sufficient, so if you want to bring your pet on a journey it is important to have a source of cool air from the windows/sunroof or air conditioning. Be sure that the destination is dog friendly and has a cool area with plenty of …

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