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Love affair is back on with Opel Astra



The Opel Astra.

The latest version of the Opel Astra follows a long line of compact family cars since the first Opel car to carry the Kadett name was presented to the public in December 1936. Through the years and the many versions of the Kadett, and later the Astra, Irish car buyers have had an on-off love affair with the brand and cars in this segment in particular.

Some pundits have been declaring that the Astra in previous form did not quite come up to the driving standards of the likes of the Volkswagen Golf  and the Ford Focus. However, those of us with longer memories will remember the first front-wheel drive Kadett the Kadett D. Here was a car that was way before its time in terms of handling – if not in looks – and was only matched at the time by the Alfa Sud in terms of grip and road holding.

Now the latest Astra is back at the top of the pile from a driving view point and most certainly in the looks department too. Overall its sleek body is a little smaller in outside dimensions than the previous model but it offers more room on the inside. It is a clever trick by the Opel designers giving more knee room and more elbow room too. They also manage to give you a healthy boot with 370 litres with therear seats upright and 1,210 litre with the rear seats folded.

Speaking of the inside, they have also upgraded it substantially with quality materials, a stylish layout and a noticeably improved build quality. To be fair the last version wasn’t too slack in this department either but this one is a step above that model and a leap above the opposition too.

My test car was the Astra SC 1.6 diesel with 136hp and a price tag of €23,245 with a number of extras added. CO2 emissions of 99g/km puts it into Tax Band A2 with giving an annual road tax of €180. The base price of the new Astra range starts at €19,995.Fuel consumption comes in a 5.2L/100km after almost 1,000 kilometres of mixed driving.

Standard features include cruise control with speed limiter; multi-function trip computer; electrically operated front and rear windows; and steering wheel mounted audio and cruise control. It is also fitted with Opels R4.0 IntelliLink system wihich gives you IntelliLink smartphone projection, 7-inch colour touch-screen, AM/FM/DAB digital radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and mobile phone portal, USB and aux-in audio connection.

Added Optional Extra’s in the test car will cost you €150 for a full spare wheel, €1,350 for the Opel IntelliLux Matrix LED Headlights and €250 for Front & Rear Parking Sensors.

Out on the road is where Opel have made the major changes to this car. The engine is one of their new ‘Whisper Diesels’ that is a quiet as a mouse especially when it is heated up. They have also upgraded the noise protection in the car and that adds to the quietness on the road.

Cornering, handling and the overall ride quality is now right up there with the best cars in the segment and surpasses almost all of them. While the steering is fairly light, it never lacks for confidence on the twistiest roads, it is extremely stable on the motorway and easy to operate in urban conditions too.

Connacht Tribune

Western Motors to host EV information day



The Volkswagen ID.7.

Recent registration figures released at the end of last month show that the Volkswagen’s ID.4 is the best-selling electric car in Ireland. Since it arrived in 2021 there has been nearly 6,000 registered and it now leads the charge to electrification here making it officially Ireland’s number one electric EV.

Even more exciting for the brand is the arrival of their new ID.7, the brand’s first global electric model for the upper mid-size class. It was launched globally last month, and Volkswagen chiefs are promising a battery range of 700km. This is massive step up for Volkswagen and will be a game changer for the brand.

Volkswagen Ireland are saying that it will arrive here later this year, and prices will be announced closer to that Irish launch date.

“With the ID.7 we are taking the next step in our electric offensive,” said Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars.

“The saloon offers a high level of comfort and long ranges. Already by 2026, we will offer the widest electric range of all manufacturers in Europe. Our goal is to achieve an electric car share of 80% in Europe by 2030. As from 2033, Volkswagen will produce only electric vehicles in Europe.”

Galway Volkswagen dealers, Western Motors are holding an electric vehicles information event on Thursday May 25 where they will have information on hand for potential buyers of any of the Volkswagen EV range.

The Western Motors sales team and service team will be able to provide information on along with additional information on the grants available and application for same and electrician to talk about the EV Charging Boxes and so forth.

For more information, call Western Motors on (091) 709970.


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Connacht Tribune

Award-winning IONIQ 6 is set to rock the Irish market



The Hyundai IONIQ 6.

Following the success of the Hyundai IONIQ 5, we now have the IONIQ 6, a completely different kettle of fish with the same running gear but a completely different design.

Both have been lauded at world level as the IONIQ 6 follows the 5 by winning the 2023 World Car of the Year title.

Not only did it pick up this gong, but it also won the 2023 World Electric Vehicle as well as the 2023 World Car Design of the Year awards.

This is the second consecutive triple win for the Hyundai Motor Group – the Hyundai IONIQ 5 was last year’s winner in the same three categories. A jury of 100 international automotive journalists from 32 countries selected the winners by secret ballot based on their evaluation of each eligible vehicle as part of their on-going professional work.

Up to now, the majority of electric vehicles have been SUVs. It’s the most popular shape of our times as buyers go for taller features and practical family characteristics. It might be strange that Hyundai would bring out the IONIQ 6 which is more like a coupe styled sedan with a lower, striking silhouette that they describe as a ‘streamliner’.

It certainly looks pretty special and while it uses the same battery, motors and platform. There are indications however that it is somewhat offers better range than the IONIQ 5. It is lower to the ground and has a lower drag co efficiency meaning reduced resistance and hence, better distance from a charge.

Under WLPT measurement the car has been tested to return 614km on a full charge. And, it can be charged at a much faster speed than other cars on the market; 315km in just 15 minutes.

There’s also a host of clever technology on board. Of course, a lot of what’s on offer these day are just toys and are not needed for everyday driving but, it is what the customer wants and he/she is always right! You can even opt to have the door mirrors on screens inside the car with cameras outside taking the pictures.

Prices for the Signature version with a 53kW battery starts at €48,295 rising toe €71,250 for the top-of-the-range Finesse all-wheel drive model with a 77kW battery.

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Connacht Tribune

Alfa Romeo making a comeback with the stunning new Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4



The Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV Q4.

By Gerry Murphy

There is always a flutter of expectancy when a car company like Alfa Romeo brings out a completely new car. Since the heady days of the Alfa 156, the fortunes of the manufacturer have been slowly eroding and they now need their new Tonale to be loved more than ever.

Launched a couple of weeks ago, the Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4 is truly a landmark for the Italian brand. In what they call the Alfa Romeo’s “zero to zero” process, which will take it from being a 0% electrified brand at the start of 2022 to being a zero-emissions, 100% electric brand by 2027 it will start off a complete conversion in just five years.

Indeed Alfa Romeo has positioned itself to be one of the fastest automotive brands to reach carbon neutrality.

Alfa bosses tell us that the Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4 combines maximum efficiency and Italian sportiness; the all-electric range (AER) is 56km, up to 80km all-electric range city, 600km in the total cycle and emissions reduced from 29g/km.

I have had the pleasure of taking the new Tonale for an extended test drive on the day of its official launch recently. The best compliment that I can give the car is that it is a ‘proper’ Alfa. Those who have history with the brand will fully understand what that means and why it is important that it lives up to its heritage.

The interior especially wraps itself around the driver just as in the days of old. It is a wonderful place to be, and you are completely at one with the vehicle. The quality is right up the in the premier league; dark and moody with clever details and the right amount of new technology.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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