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The i3 is BMW's first electric production car.

BMW i3 is electric

It’s not every day you witness the launch of a new car brand, but that’s what we have with BMW’s new i sub-brand, which was introduced to Ireland last week. Although the i3, the first fruit of this particular tree, has been seen before, this was the debut of the final production car on Irish shores. The i brand is all about sustainable mobility and finding new ways to meet the transport needs of the 21st century. The i3 is a compact car, which was designed from the start to be electric. It uses an aluminium chassis, reinforced by carbon fibre to make the chassis as light as possible. The battery is a solid block mounted in the floor and the resulting lowering of the centre of gravity should ensure a very stable drive. In classic BMW tradition, the i3 is rear wheel drive and performance is spritely, with 0-100 km/h dispatched in just 7.2 seconds. Overall range is quoted …

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The Citroën C4 Picasso.

Citroën Picasso offers space and flexibility

Every now and then, a test car comes along that delivers a lot more than expected. From the off, though, Citroën’s C4 Picasso impressed me greatly. I wasn’t even sure what it looked like, having had to miss the Irish launch, but what greeted me was an exceedingly handsome car, with looks that are up to the minute. The interior is even more impressive, with a 7” touch screen easily accessible on the dashboard. If that’s not enough, this is joined by a secondary 12” widescreen, which is used to display all kinds of information and also becomes the clearest satnav screen I’ve ever seen in a car. This kind of technology is rarely seen in the class and it’s good to see such a step forward. The screens are used to control virtually every aspect of the car, including the audio, navigation and even the climate control systems. This allows Citroën to reduce the number of hardware buttons on …

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The new Mercedes S Class is so advanced it can even drive itself at speeds up to 60 km/h.

S Class heralds new technology

A new S Class Mercedes is something that doesn’t come along every day and when it does, it generally brings some new and undreamed of piece of technology. The S Class, after all, in various versions, was the first to sport Anti Lock Brakes, ESP and airbags, all of which are now standard on pretty much every car on the market. The newest S Class comes with a few new goodies, including an impressive 360 degree view for parking and the ability to automatically follow a car in front in traffic at speeds up to 60 km/h, steering, braking and accelerating when necessary. It’s this particular piece of tech that’s most interesting when it comes to the new S Class. Mercedes earlier this year demonstrated an autonomous car, which drove under computer control from Mannheim to Pforzheim, recreating the journey undertaken by Bertha Benz in 1888. Although computer driven cars are still effectively in development, Mercedes reckon they will be …

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Opel Insignia

Insignia brings new technology and efficiency

Opel’s new Insignia will be here next month with some bold claims to being the most aerodynamic hatch in the world at 0.25 Cd. It certainly has the right environmental credentials with a sub 100 g/km variant which is expected to be the best seller. The Insignia also promises to herald class-leading technology to the class, with the introduction of IntelliLink, a touch screen powered infotainment system, which will be standard on all but the base model, which starts at €24,995. A new 2.0 litre turbo-diesel with 140 bhp comes in with a remarkable CO2 figure of just 99 g/km and a corresponding 3.7 l/100 km, which endows the car with a huge touring range – something that will suit its target market very well. A higher powered version is also available, with 163 bhp. We drove both of these variants on the launch, but there are also two petrol options, the existing 1.4 litre turbo with 140 bhp and …

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Audi Future Now at Glenlo Abbey

Audi brand ambassador, Kathryn Thomas, recently launched the 2014 Audi Future Now Sales Event. This scheme allows Audi customers to avail of a number of upgrade packages on new Audi orders for 2014 delivery, with savings of up to €7,000 available. A range of PCP finance packages are also available, with the A1 coming in from as little as €229 per month. Any customer financing their new Audi through PCP will also receive a free 3 year Audi Service Pack. Audi A1 customers can enjoy savings of €5,705, by taking advantage of an enhanced specification pack, comprising of S Line exterior, LED rear lights, black roof or roof arch and 17” alloy wheels. A4 buyers can specify 17” 10 spoke alloy wheels, xenon lights with DRL, Nappa leather and MMI navigation for just €1,590. The A6 S-line now comes with full LED headlights, 19” 7 spoke alloys, NMI navigation and Valcona leather for an extra premium of €1,995, representing a …

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BMW 4 series coupé

New name, same class act

Luttrestown Castle has launched many a celebrity marriage in its time, but recently it was BMW’s turn to launch their replacement for the 3 Series coupé. Introducing the 4 Series, a new name intended to distance the coupé from its saloon siblings and allow it to move upmarket. To look at, it’s clear where the 4 Series gene pool lies. It’s recognisably based on the recently introduced 3, but it’s longer, lower and sleeker. Every panel has been changed and it’s undeniably a sleek design which will impress wherever it goes. To drive, it’s the same BMW experience we’ve come to know, with excellent ride, steering and handling. I drove the 420d, which is expected to take the lion’s share of sales and it represents the base model until the arrival of the 420i petrol, later this year. It’s a responsive, economical engine, producing 184 bhp. Curiously, just like the saloon, I found myself slightly disappointed with outright performance on …

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Consumers support motor industry swappage scheme

Consumer research has shown emphatic support for the Society of the Irish Motor Industry’s (SIMI) Budget submission scheme, Swappage, which proposes a reduction of €2,000 in VRT for any new car purchased in 2014 when a car aged 6 years or older is traded in. The research, conducted by Ignite Research, shows that 78% of people would be likely to purchase a new car if a new scheme was introduced to reduce the cost. The average discount that would be expected by consumers is €3,087. Alan Nolan, Director General of SIMI said; “There has been an extremely positive reaction since we proposed Swappage for this Budget. There is an overriding consensus that this works for everyone, the government, the industry and as this research shows, the consumer too. “The proposal would reduce the VRT by €2,000 on a new car with a trade-in of six years or older. However, the feedback we have had from manufacturers and dealers is that …

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The Fiat 500S

New sportier Fiat 500S launches

In the aftermath of the recently launched 500L, the Fiat 500 family continues to grow with the introduction of a new 500S, which brings a sportier look to the range. Inspired by Abarth editions of previous Fiat’s, the new car is designed to appeal to those who want the look of something a bit out of the ordinary, combined with affordable running costs. The 500S gets new front and rear bumpers, new side skirts, a boot-lid mounted rear spoiler, dark chrome detailing, chrome exhaust, rear privacy glass and new alloy wheels. A total of eight body colours are available now, with matt black available soon. The interior features new sports seats, a flat bottomed steering wheel and red detailing on the seats, wheel and gear lever. A matt silver dashboard also makes an appearance. Powering is provided either from the 69 bhp 1.2 petrol or the 85 bhp TwinAir turbo petrol. Both models come with air conditioning, Blue & Me …

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