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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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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 “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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