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New Ford Focus RS is an absolute gem of a car that won’t disappoint



New Ford Focus RS

By Gerry Murphy

It’s easy to spot the petrol heads when you are driving a car like the new Ford Focus RS. Like Meerkats, their heads pop up from behind the hedges with their eyes out on stalks.

If there are a group of them together, they get giddy and excited to see it coming and chatter amongst themselves, one trying to outdo the others with how much they know about Ford’s latest incarnation.

For last weekend’s Lady Gregory Hotel, Galway Summers Stages Rally, the RS was my ‘working vehicle’ for the day and the week leading up to the event. Groups of guys and gals clambered all over the car, wanting to know the details and what it could do.

Ford had been promising us something really special when they first announced the plans for this car. Others may have been sneaking ahead of them in recent years, but not now. Here is a car that does live up to the hype and leaves all other hot hatchbacks in its slipstream.

As you can guess already, I have been smitten by it and believe this is the best hot hatch that reasonable money can buy. It will set you back a cool €52,600 for the standard model but, take it from me – the car is outstanding value for what you get. Indeed, the car is just outstanding; full stop.

Why? Three hundred and fifty, yes 350 break horsepower, all-wheel drive, 2.3-lite EcoBoost, four-cylinder turbocharged engine, zero to 100km/h in a blistering 4.7 seconds, 440Nm of torque, four pre-set drive modes: Normal, Sport, Racetrack or – I kid you not – Drift.

On the open road you should rule out the Track and Drift modes unless you have the environment to extract the best from them. Track mode tightens the car so much that a smooth racetrack is the only safe place to check it out.

The Drift mode has been one of the key selling points for the car in the lead up to its launch. It actually softens the suspension and the ride so that the car can be driven sideways at will with the power shifting to the outside rear wheel as you let it loose.

However, it is in Sport mode that this car is at its ultimate, beastly best. It is relatively sensible in Normal mode, and you can drive it as a road car but, as soon as you flick it into Sport, all the technology and the sheer guts of the car come together to give you a sensational, foot-perfect response. Think Usain Bolt half way through the 100m sprint. Kick on and there is nothing in the sector that will catch it.

And the sound? Oh what a sound! Take a dollop of heavy metal, mix it with the percussion section of a symphony orchestra, a dash of Rory Gallagher added to the rhythm of a reggae band and somewhere amongst the popping, growling and purring of the exhaust, you are taken to a place that no composer has yet reached.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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