Toyota’s GT86 gets a facelift

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The first car I ever test drove was Toyota’s GT86 back in early 2013, the reincarnation of the classic AE86 and the 2000GT which helped to establish Toyota’s reputation as a sports car maker. I was interviewing Dave Shannon, then the managing director of Toyota Ireland, about something else entirely, when I asked him about the brand’s model range. Shannon mentioned the GT86, which had only recently landed, and the sheer joy that came from barrelling around the roads in Glendalough in this new beast. One thing led to another, and several weeks later I found myself behind the wheel of the new model.

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Hop in and go

Councillor Ciarán Cuffe Chairman of Dublin City Council’s Transport Committee, Shane Ross Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, and Steve Tormey, Chief Executive Toyota Ireland
Councillor Ciarán Cuffe Chairman of Dublin City Council’s Transport Committee; Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport; and Steve Tormey, Chief Executive Toyota Ireland at the recent launch

Ireland’s car sharing service GoCar has a new competitor – Toyota Ireland has announced the launch of YUKO Car Club (Yuko means ‘Let’s Go’ in Japanese), part of the company’s vision to help create a more environmentally sustainable future and ease urban congestion.

A range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, EV and fuel cell vehicles will be available to hire, including the Yaris, Auris and Prius models, with the C-HR and the Prius plug-in hybrid arriving at the end of the year.

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Driven: The Game Changer? Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV

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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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The Juke’s competition

downloadIt’s been a week for concept cars, and Toyota have added another entry into the ring. Also due to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show next month, the C-HR concept is a compact hybrid crossover. A much sportier model than the RAV4, it looks like Toyota will be going head-to-head with the similar Nissan Juke.

There weren’t any specifications included with the photos, but the C-HR does include a hybrid drivetrain, what appears to be keyless entry, muscled wheel arches and a sleek profile.

We’ll reserve judgement (it’s not mindblowing).

The customisable U2

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This is Toyota’s latest concept car, which has just made its world debut in New York. We’re not really sure how to describe it. For now it’s known as the U2, and was conceived by Toyota’s design studio in California.

Built with urban utility in mind, it has a few nifty features like a retractable utility bar for holding equipment, or your shopping, customisable side panels, tough bodywork, and a drop-down tailgate which can serve as a loading ramp. It’s as small as a compact car, but has the space of a van, and can serve as a pickup truck too.

Although it’s designed with Americans in mind, it’d be interesting to see a few pottering around on Irish roads.

Armchair racers, rejoice!

Toyota_Gives_GT86_Drivers_The_Chance_To_Race_ThemselvesIt’s a scorching day. You’re hammering down the Fuji Speedway International Course, neck and neck with yourself in your Toyota GT86. Nope, it’s not that slightly uncomfortable dream you keep having, nor is it an especially vivid acid trip – it’s just the latest technology on offer from Japanese giants Toyota and Sony.

You see, one of the best things about Gran Turismo for many of us is the fact that you’re controlling (and crashing) real cars, cars which any one of us could – theoretically – own or drive some day, if we won the lotto or never had any bills to pay. Unfortunately, if your broadband isn’t great (read: quite a lot of Ireland), your competitors don’t really exist, and the thrill of beating virtual opponents doesn’t always last for terribly long.

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Batbike Begins

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Honda have built a batbike. At least that’s the easiest way of describing the NM4 Vultus, which sounds like the name of an ice planet several thousand lightyears away, combined with a regional road network in Britain.

In its recent announcement, Honda maintain that the team of youthful designers behind the Vultus (meaning ‘appearance’ in Latin) drew inspiration from the futuristic machines on display in Japanese anime and manga. It’s not the first vehicle to do so – apparently the latest iteration of the Toyota Aygo has its origins in cartoon superhero, Astroboy. Having never actually seen any of these Japanese products, we can’t say for sure – all we know is that with its matte black surface and stealth bomber echoes, the only cartoon the Vultus could relate to involves one caped crusader.

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