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The new Nissan Juke

Nissan reinvent the Juke

When the Nissan Juke arrived on the scene in 2010, it looked like it came from another planet. Based on a concept car, a lot of those features made it to production and the result, with its high, bug-eyed headlights polarised opinions but it was a quirky car that quickly found fans. In fact, it could be said to have started a new market segment for small crossovers, a segment that now accounts for around 10% of the overall market in Ireland. Now there’s a brand-new Juke just launched and we had the chance to drive it in Barcelona. Based on a platform shared with the Renault Captur, the Juke is new from the ground up and in contrast to the petrol and diesel offerings in the outgoing car, there’s only one engine choice, the 1.0 litre turbocharged triple petrol turbo that already sees duty in the Micra. For this application, the power output is 117bhp and there’s an over …

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James Hehir retires from the motor industry after almost fifty years.

Half century for James Hehir

A legend in Clare motoring circles is calling it a day this Friday. James Hehir, who started his career in the motor industry almost fifty years ago, will sell his last car this week at Sheils Motor Group, main Ford and Honda dealers on the Gort Road, Ennis. In a neat twist to the story, James’ career began at Sheils in 1971 where he started off straight away in car sales. At the time, the showroom and garage were located in the centre of Ennis, by the river near the CBS. There were only a few car showrooms in Ennis at the time with James recalling just Volkswagen and Morris. Ford, especially in the 1970s were seen almost as an Irish car company with their plant in Cork, the first to be built outside the US in 1917. That loyalty was repaid in car sales with Ford the undisputed number one. The big seller was the Escort, a revolutionary car …

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Night falls in Bourton-on-the-Water with the Christmas tree in the background.

Cracking Christmas in the Cotswolds

Just before Christmas my humans took me for my regular Christmas trip to Dublin and I was excited to meet all my friends in Mutt Ugly doggy day care and to take a trip around town to see the lights. Although I didn’t get to see the moving crib this year, I was smuggled into a lovely pub off Grafton Street and when the barman finally spotted me, he came over with a bowl of water so I took it that I was in the clear. It helps to be cute. The following morning I got us all up very early as I had a surprise for my humans. On my trawls through the world wide woof, I’d come across a company called Pets Pyjamas, who specialise in doggy holidays and I’d used my bone allowance to book us all Christmas in the Cotswolds. I directed them through the dark streets of Dublin (one woof for left, two woofs for …

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Audi’s A4 diesel flagship is a cracker

Every time I drive a new car, I play a little game with myself. Would I swap it permanently for my much-loved 2008 5 Series? Normally, the answer is no. Of course my head gets turned by powerful engines and swoopy styling but once I bring the practicalities of comfort, convenience and running costs into the equation, it’s rare I find myself yearning for something new. But there’s always one… and that one is the new Audi S4 TDi. Yes, Audi’s A4 performance flagship is a diesel and it’s a cracker. Power comes from a 3.0 litre V6 but instead of the usual twin turbo arrangement, Audi have chosen to use a single, larger unit. Normally, that would be a recipe for lots of turbo lag and a lack of low down power and to solve this, an electrically driven compressor, or supercharger, squeezes the air at lower engine speeds. It’s an idea that occurred to me years ago. I …

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The e-tron tackled the off-road course with ease. Here you can see the flat bottom of the car.

Audi’s shock SUV

Alright, whose bright idea was in to launch Audi’s first electric car in the oil state of Abu Dhabi? Either someone was having a laugh or there was a real sense of irony behind the choice. I’ve never been to the United Arab Emirates, or indeed anywhere near this part of the world, so it was quite a culture shock to see the city for the first time. Everywhere you go, you can see signs of serious money having being spent. You get the impression that if you came back again in five years, any scrap of desert you see would have another skyscraper built on it. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, in the heart of the city, in my view is one of the wonders of the world. Completed only 2007, it contains €30 billion of white marble and if you ever get the chance to see it, grab it with both hands. Now, we’ve seen many Audi e-trons at …

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Competitors race towards their bikes at the start of the Brompton World Championships in London.

Brompton World Championships – again

Another year, another Brompton World Championship but unfortunately, this year I didn’t manage to win a place in the lottery to get an entry to the race. Fortunately, only a week before the event, I managed to ‘acquire’ an entry and made arrangements to ship both myself and my Brompton folding bike over to London. Last year, I competed with a bulging disc in my spine and the rain was incessant. I had high hopes that this year’s race would be better on all counts. On the day before the race, I met up with friends from the London Brompton Club near Buckingham Palace and we cycled through St James’ Park and Hyde Park to end up at the Brompton Junction shop in Long Acre, near Covent Garden for champagne and nibbles. It was an enjoyable run, despite the heavy rain that fell for most of the hour. I got talking to an Australian who had come over specifically with …

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Never leave your dog in a car in hot weather.

Never leave your dog in a hot car

With the current heat wave showing no signs of abating, Škoda are highlighting the dangers of leaving your pets in a car in hot conditions. Even a few minutes in a hot car can prove fatal to a dog. A car’s interior can reach 47 degrees in an hour when the outside temperature is 22 degrees. If it rises to 26, a car can reach 37 degrees in just 10 minutes. Such temperatures can prove fatal to a dog in under 20 minutes. You can take precautions to keep your dogs safe on a hot day: Never leave your dog in a car in warm weather, even if it feels cool outside. Don’t excessively walk or over-exercise your dog. Avoid walking your dog at the hottest time of the day – often morning or later in the evenings can be cooler. Always take plenty of water with you when out with your dog. Make sure your dog has shade to …

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Having fun with a 5.0 litre V8 Mustang on the frozen lake.

Tyres and tech in the Tundra

Continental are one of the biggest names in the tyre business but that’s not all they do. It’s hard to name a single car on the market that doesn’t have some component supplied by this huge company. Regularly, they invite us up to the frozen North to try their latest tyres but this year, we’d also get a chance to test some of their active safety systems. Our trip began in a classroom, about half way up Sweden. For a thoroughly fascinating afternoon, the boffins explained their latest breakthroughs, including intelligent tyres and wheels capable of altering rim width and pressure to adapt to prevailing conditions. Intelligent tyres are three to five years away. Already, we have tyres with embedded pressure sensors which pass their data to the car over a radio link. These prototypes are conductive and the data passes through the tyre itself. They are also able to instantly detect a puncture and can measure temperature, pressure, tread …

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