Enlarging the Mini

The new Mini Countryman might have ‘Mini’ emblazoned front and back, but there’s nothing small about it. The second generation of Mini’s chunkier compact crossover is larger and wider than its predecessor, though it’s a little sharper and leaner on the outside.

Looks might be subjective, but I think it’s fair to say the new Countryman isn’t good-looking in the traditional sense. Like all Minis since 2000, the Countryman has a bulbous air about it, like someone who’s overindulged a little too much at dinner. Having said that it’s got a nice stance on the road, and if you’re opting for a colour beyond the usual black or red, Island Blue with the go-faster Cooper stripes lends a great degree of attractiveness.

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Introducing Project Giorgio

On a recent sunny Sunday in the Powerscourt Hotel, the car park was full – as you might expect – of varying Mercedes, BMW, Audis and Range Rovers. In the midst of them all and stealing most of the admiring looks was the new Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Developed under the Giorgio platform, bringing the rear-wheel drive Giulia to life was something of a daunting task for Alfa – taking an entirely new platform from concept to tarmac within a timeline of three years as part of the brand’s expensive relaunch plans. But the result is quite stunning, visually speaking, a sporty five-door saloon that combines Alfa’s rich heritage with the driving experience you expect. There’s no denying that they’ve created a head-turning beast.

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A Hooligan in Disguise

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There are a few cars that have made a lasting impression over my few years of motoring reviews. The Audi R8, for obvious reasons. The outlandish electric BMW i3 and the fantastic Toyota GT86. And now the Skoda Octavia RS has joined that list.

There is the possibility that I may be a little biased when it comes to the Octavia. My first car, the car in which I learned to drive, was a Mark I Octavia, which I quickly came to appreciate for both its simplicity and its cavernous boot during my college years. And the latest Octavia RS is a great example of how much the brand has evolved.

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Finding the perfect new car

car-shoppping

I recently got the itch to swap my car for a newer model, and as a result spent several Saturdays travelling from one dealer to another around Dublin, hoping to find the perfect combination of condition, mileage, style and price – no easy task. There are a few tips and tricks you can employ, however, to make the search for your new car a little easier.

Dealer or private?

The age-old question – do you buy private or trek along the forecourts? It’s definitely a tricky one. Dealer cars are generally more expensive but usually come with a warranty and hopefully a service, and you can rely on your consumer rights should you realise they’ve sold you a lemon. However, just because it’s a dealership doesn’t mean they’re reliable. Always do your research beforehand – search forums like Boards.ie for other peoples’ experiences.

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