BMW launches emissions allowance

BMW diesel emissions

Fancy a new BMW or Mini with €2,000 chopped off the price-tag?

BMW Ireland has just announced its Lower Emissions Incentive Allowance, essentially a €2,000 grant towards a new electric, hybrid or standard model with CO2 emissions of 130g/km or less.

Available until December 31st, to qualify for the scheme you’ll need to trade in a diesel vehicle that meets the Euro-4 emissions standard or below. If you don’t have any idea what that means, BMW has developed a handy online tool to see if your old car qualifies.

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Peugeot’s hottest hatch

308 R HYbrid

When you hear the word ‘hybrid’, it’s understandable that your attention begins to waver. There’s no blame from us – you can’t help but picture the terribly boring Toyota Prius. However, several manufacturers are determined to get rid of this negative image, particularly BMW’s i3 and i8 models, which are quite fun to drive. And it seems as though the Peugeot’s new 308 concept, known as the 308 R HYbrid, will arrive along similar lines.

A compact hatchback with a petrol-electric powertrain, it has 500hp (more than a BMW M4!) and four wheel drive, along with an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h, not that you’re likely to get anywhere near that. Given the power bubbling away beneath the bonnet there’s no surprise that this very hot hatch is very fast: 0-100km/h takes a mere four seconds.

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April Fool’s, auto style

April 1st is the day when many companies around the world completely misunderstand the concept of creating something fake yet believable, and instead come out with something a little ‘wacky’ and offbeat. And the auto industry is no different. Here’s a round-up of the best (or worst, depending on your view) efforts from car makers in 2015.

Audi A8 JapanThe tasty Audi A8

There’s no doubt that Audi Japan knows their market. Although April Fools’ Day gags aren’t generally a part of Japanese culture, they are slowly but surely creeping into life in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Audi enthusiasts in the east were teased with the announcement of a special edition A8 luxury saloon known as the 5.5, which would feature a rice cooker. Audi Japan said that the new device, which honoured the rice-eating culture in Japan, could be controlled via a special touchscreen with multiple cooking options. Customers who bought the new model on April 1st would also be greeted by a special gift in the form of an Audi-branded rice paddle.

Top notch stuff from Audi. Though we imagine there may be a few confused and disappointed customers out there.

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Driven: the Jeep Cherokee

Jeep_1935_FS

The iconic Jeep brand has its roots in World War II. As war raged in Europe, the US military realised that it required an update for its reconnaissance vehicles, and invited 135 manufacturers to submit their ideas. From this competition, a design from Willys-Overland Quad prevailed, and soon became known as the Jeep, though it’s still uncertain exactly why – some people believe it was named after the popular Popeye cartoon character Eugene the Jeep.

Whatever the reason, it was a success, and more than half a million were produced for action. The name was trademarked by the company after the war, and was first turned into an off-road vehicle for farmers, swiftly followed by a civilian version. The rest, as they say, was history, and in the following years, the recognisable brand has remained the same at least in spirit, and Jeep has become a by-word for 4x4s or SUVs in Ireland.

Redesign

Jeep_1929_FSLooking at the new Cherokee, which comes after a ten year hiatus, you sense a coming together of past and present. The iconic front grille is still there, but has been pulled over the bonnet somewhat; the boxier shape and simple headlamps replaced by flowing curves and aggressive daytime running lights. Stitched into the leather steering wheel which features voice activation control is the phrase ‘Since 1941’. It’s all very nostalgic, but not over-the-top. It’s likely a divisive overhaul in the looks department, but you really need to see it in the flesh before you make up your mind.

Jeep haven’t been the biggest sellers on this side of the pond, but they’re hugely popular in the US, similar in some way to the success of Land Rover here and moreso in the UK. My test version was the Limited 2.0L turbo diesel with FWD and 138hp, married to a six speed manual gearbox. You can also get 4×4 versions of the Cherokee with either 140hp (six speed) or 170hp (nine speed auto). Once you get behind the wheel, you’ll quickly realise that it’s a car built for comfort rather than performance. Max speed is 187, 0-100km/h takes 10.9 seconds (which, to be honest, feels a little sluggish). It’s good for overtaking, but you won’t be winning any drag races (if that’s your thing).

Annual road tax is €280, given CO2 emissions of 139g/km, and we averaged a combined 6.5L/100km (43mpg) which isn’t bad for the class, and better than rivals from BMW or Volvo. In 4×4 models, the Cherokee has a rear axle disconnect feature – basically speaking you don’t expend as much energy when you’re not using all four wheels leading to better fuel consumption, and the car does the switching for you.

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Driven: The Game Changer? Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV

76508mit

There’s no doubt that we live in an age of motoring evolution, watching history unfold before our eyes. Hybrid and electric vehicles were once the butt of many motoring columnists’ jokes, discarded as a waste of time or, at their worst, as something which threatened the joy of true motoring. In a way it’s an ironic viewpoint, considering that electric cars have been around almost as long as their counterparts which rely on miniature explosions for propulsion. But they’re steadily gaining a foothold in the modern era, thanks in part to government schemes, the interest of early adopters and increasingly efficient technology.31

Nissan’s Leaf is an affordable electric car which has got a lot going for it in terms of comfort and ease of use, even if it isn’t the best looking vehicle on the market. Ford have an electric Focus which doesn’t look altogether different from the outside. Mitsubishi’s i-Miev might look a like a bug which has crashed into your windscreen at speed, but it’s a useful city car and isn’t all that bad to drive. Even BMW have got in on the act, with their luxury i3 and the electric sportscar, the i8. And eventually we’ll see Tesla’s beautifully crafted Model S reach European shores, looking for all the world like the offspring of a Jaguar and an Aston Martin. For the electric car enthusiast there’s quite the range of options, a list which continues to grow.

These vehicles have one thing in common – they’re all road cars, designed for smooth tarmac, urban (and rural) roads. And if you want to delve deeper, off road, via battery power? The options are limited. There’s Toyota’s RAV 4 EV, but that’s only sold in California. Porsche, meanwhile, have launched a hybrid Cayenne, although that is likely to be out of reach for the ordinary EV driver. You could always try to manoeuvre a BMW i3 around a muddy track, but you’re not likely to get very far. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (plug in hybrid electric vehicle) is another story, however.

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