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Mazda's new 3 is stylish and modern looking.

Mazda3 is all new

Mazda released their latest 3 saloon and hatchback a few months ago and at first glance, it’s obvious that the car has been completely redesigned from the ground up. The styling is influenced by Mazda’s new Kodo design language, already seen on the larger 6. With its flowing lines, it must be the best looking mid size car out there, especially in saloon form. From any angle it looks right, but the side profile is particularly arresting. It’s not only the looks that have been overhauled, the 3 is built around an entirely new platform, which uses high strength steel to be both stiffer and lighter than before. This is all part of Mazda’s SKYACTIV range of technologies, designed to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions. Essentially, Mazda use conventional engineering solutions in the pursuit of efficiency. This includes chasing weight savings, better aerodynamics and more efficient engines. There are two engine choices, the range starting with a 1.5 litre …

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Dooley protests over haulage levies

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Transport, Timmy Dooley  has called on the Minister for Transport to immediately raise the concerns of Irish hauliers with his British counterpart regarding the imposition of a new levy on all foreign vehicles entering British soil, including Northern Ireland. Deputy Dooley said that Minister Leo Varadkar must make it a priority to have the roads in Northern Ireland excluded from this levy, which could impact over 9,500 vehicles in Ireland. “Over 9,500 heavy goods vehicles in Ireland will be subject to the new levy which will be introduced on all roads in Britain and Northern Ireland from the first of April. “This will particularly affect hauliers from Donegal, for instance; that have to travel through Northern Ireland to access the South in many cases. It will also impact all businesses that transport goods between both sides of the border, it will actually discourage companies here from expanding into and trading with the North. “This could cripple …

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A marker against fuel fraud

THE Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTA Ireland), has welcomed the announcement by the UK and Ireland governments that they are to introduce a marker that will help tackle fuel fraud. This has to be good news to help reduce fuel laundering,” the organisation general manager, Neil McDonnell said. The product will be used to mark rebated fuels, including the off-road diesel commonly known in the UK as ‘red diesel’, in a move that will boost both countries’ fight against illegal fuel laundering. The marker will help HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Irish Revenue Commissioners tackle the criminal market in off-road diesel, marked with a red dye in the UK and green in Ireland, and also kerosene primarily used for heating oil. Neil McDonnell commented, “FTA welcomes any effort such as this to tackle fuel laundering. The costs of fuel laundering to the exchequer, to fair competition, to the environment are simply too high, and are not being …

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Donegal cousins, Declan & Brian Boyle, took their first ever International rally win on the Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally in their Subaru Impreza WRC.

Galway International Rally

After a demanding two days when the drivers had to deal with some appalling conditions, Donegal cousins Declan & Brian Boyle took their first ever International rally win on the Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally in their Subaru Impreza WRC. After completing the 13 stages of the opening round of the Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Championship, they had 25.5 seconds to spare over the reigning Tarmac Champion, Garry Jennings, with Rory Kennedy in the co-driver seat in their Impreza WRC. On a shortened pair of stages, completed three times on the first day, there was very little to choose between the top five overnight with Boyle holding a slender advantage over Jennings and Eugene Donnelly holding third place in the Mini WRC. Donagh Kelly and Sam Moffett were battling it out for fourth place but only 25 seconds separated all of the drivers overnight. With the first stage on Sunday being the infamous and tricky Black Road, drama …

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The new Peugeot 308

Peugeot 308 Irish launch

Kilkenny was the venue chosen for the Irish launch of Peugeot’s new family hatch, the 308. The plan was to drive down from Dublin to the Marble City, but I chose to drive directly to Kilkenny and meet the cars there. I grabbed the first car to arrive and headed out into heavy traffic. What I didn’t know was that the cars were competing in an economy run on their journey down but nobody took the details before I destroyed the fuel economy with my city driving. A belated apology for that one lads, but if you were the first to arrive, you had no hope of winning anyway. Visually, the new 308 is distinctive and a much more attractive design than the car it replaces. Details include a large grille at the front surrounded by chrome, full LED headlamps on some models and lion-claw rear lamps with LEDs on all versions. Straight away, I felt at home, the cabin …

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The Audi A8 at the launch at Carton House

Audi A8 Impresses

Although the new Audi A8 is classified as a facelift, the car has received a raft of revisions that enhance its efficiency and comfort on the road. I drove into Carton House, the launch venue in a Mini Paceman and felt every speed bump jar my spine. A few minutes later, I drove out in an A8 and hardly felt the bumps, despite a much higher speed. It was immediately apparent that the standard air suspension was doing its job. In fact, I immediately felt at home in the car and given its dimensions, that came as something of a surprise. It often takes a few minutes to get used to the size of a large executive saloon. The interior is up to Audi’s usual high standards. It’s beautifully built with top notch materials. My car had optional Alcantara headlining, which costs an eyebrow raising €2,400 so it’s easy to go mad on the options. As it stands, though, the …

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Astra after the storm

Opel Astra goes for a swim

Having set off on their routine morning commute last Monday, past the popular Tragumna Beach near Skibbereen, Rory Jackson’s wife Celine, son Aaron and German exchange student, Sid, were forced to abandon their 2006 Opel Astra, when it was engulfed by a sea wave. The family managed to escape to safety by scaling the adjoining embankment, and looked on as their car was swept by the tide nearly 10 metres along the roadway. Battered by relentless waves for over two hours, the tide then receded and the car was left surrounded by debris. Expecting the worst, Rory visited the site to assess the damage, only to discover that the car was completely dry inside, as were the contents of the boot which included school laptops and books. On closer inspection Rory was amazed to discover that both the engine and battery were also clean and in full working order, and he was able to drive the car away from the …

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Hyundai's new iX35

New Hyundai ix35

A newly updated Hyundai iX35 has just been introduced and the range starts at €25,495. Hyundai have had a good 2013, with the range as a whole capturing the title of Ireland’s fastest growing car brand and the iX35 is expected to continue the trend. Celebration trim represents the new base model and it’s powered as before by a 1.7 litre diesel engine. This comes as standard with 16” alloy wheels, air conditioning, downhill brake control, hill start assist, electric heated door mirrors, rear spoiler, remote central locking with alarm, LED DRL, trailer stability assist, tyre pressure monitoring and a leather steering wheel. Comfort trim is next up and sells from €26,995 with a 1.7 litre diesel or €30,495 with four wheel drive and a 2.0 litre diesel power unit. It comes with extra equipment including bluetooth, cruise control, heated seats, rain sensing wipers and front fog lamps. Next up is Executive, which in 1.7 litre form sells at €28,245 …

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