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  • Nissan to recall 7,000 cars in Ireland

    October 28, 2010 @ 2:52 pm | by Michael McAleer

    Nissan will recall over two million vehicles globally for an ignition problem that may cause the engine to stop running. Up to 7,000 Irish cars could be affected.

    A problem has been identified in a relay in the ignition system that could, at the worst, cause the car to stop. However, no accidents have been attributed to this potential fault and Nissan is recalling the cars as a precautionary measure.

    The fix will be carried out on a list of cars made between 2003 and 2006. It will apply mainly to some Micra and Note drivers in Ireland, though in other markets it could include the Cube, Tiida saloon and Titan pick-up.

    A spokesperson for Nissan Ireland, speaking to The Irish Times today said that there have been only a handful of incidents of the problem occurring and none of them affected the safety of the car. None of these occurred in Ireland.

    Affected: Some Nissan Micra models from 2003-2006

    “We are unsure of the exact number of cars with this issue here in Ireland, but we would stress that it is a very minor one and there have been no record of the fault in Ireland. We will be contacting Shannon (Department of the Environment) to find out exact numbers and from here we will contact customers. The fix will take 15 minutes and will be carried out free of charge to customers.”

    Affected: Small numbers of the Nissan Note

  • The Motoring Week: Friday 29th October

    October 27, 2010 @ 11:19 am | by Michael McAleer

    Friday 29th October: (6.01am)

    We are off to Barcelona this morning to drive the new Volkswagen Passat, which is set to be a massive-seller in Ireland. We will bring you live coverage from the event as it happens throughout the day as well as some first impressions on the car.

    You can read the review of the new Passat this Wednesday in The Irish Times Motors.

    Thursday 28th October:

    Here are some initial details on the Astra Sports Tourer. You can read the review in this week’s Motors on Wednesday.

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    Wednesday 27th October:

    I am in Istanbul, Turkey, for the launch of the Opel Astra Sports Tourer, which as the name suggests is the estate version of the Astra. There are no major surprises really, in that it looks good, handles very well and has a massive choice of engines, with the 1.4-litre Turbo probably my favourite despite the fact that the diesels make all the sense in the world.

    I am really not sure about the choice of Istanbul as a venue to launch a car. The roads are shocking, as is the driving. The weather is awful so the cars are all covered in mud and you can’t photograph them and it is a nightmare to get to Turkey in the first place.

    Opel Astra Sports Tourer

    I had a good chat with Chief Designer Malcolm Ward and you can hear the interview on next week’s Irish Times Motors Podcast. He chats to us about the challenges about making a pretty estate car that is also versatile and useful!

  • The Motoring Week: Friday 23rd October

    October 19, 2010 @ 1:30 am | by Michael McAleer

    Friday 23rd October:

    Thursday saw the return of the Mini, to be swapped for a white, BMW 520d M-Sport model. The M-Sport features a sport setting which will firm up the car’s dampers and even though this car comes with 18″ alloy wheels for some reason even these don’t really look big enough to fill the arches.

    There has been a lot of talk about “boy racers” again, what with the Garda clampdown that took place during the week, where 100 arrests were made and this morning I spoke on 4Fm about the fact that it isn’t always fair to tar the good guys with the same brush as the thugs. I’ve been around the modified car scene and there are a number of genuine enthusiasts who spend lots of money and even more elbow grease in getting their cars just right and they certainly don’t trash them around industrial estates.

    Joyriding and anti-social behaviour in cars is not new and won’t go away any time soon, but often we fear what we don’t fully understand. Better clamping down on insurance and road tax defaulters might actually separate the good from the bad.

    Wednesday 20th October:

    Back to the DeLorean

    It has been 25 years since Back to the Future was launched onto our screens and I took the chance to catch it in the cinema this evening. There was always two stars of the film for me and they weren’t human. One was the stunning customised black Toyota Hilux which was solely responsible for me still loving that pick up truck to this day. The second and more obvious, is the DeLorean DMC-12. Six were used in the making of the film and in the film, Doc Brown’s rationale for choosing the DeLorean was stated as: “The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style!” Doc also started to say something about the stainless steel construction being ideal for “flux dispersal”, but he was cut off by the time machine’s arrival. The choice of the DeLorean was actually for the purpose of a gag in the film that occurs when the car arrives in the year 1955 and is mistaken for an alien spacecraft due to its resemblance to the picture on the cover of the farmboy’s comic book, as well as for its gull-wing doors.

    The story of the John DeLorean and the car’s demise has been well documented but there are some modern twists to the DeLorean story all these years on. While the original DeLorean in Back to the Future ran on petrol with a little help from plutonium, the Italian version of Wired magazine have decided to make an electric version, which will run from Milan to Rome on the 25th of October. You can follow (depending on your Italian) this project on

    If you want your own DeLorean, you can generally find a few around, despite their relative rarity. Most ended up in America and you can but restored models from a company in Houston. You can check out a documentary on that firm below.

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    Since the car’s were made in Northern Ireland there is quite a flourishing scene in Ireland as you might imagine. Check out this video on some of the Irish DeLorean car club.

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    Nissan GT-R gets more power

    Although we didn’t see any of sold officially in Ireland, there is already a revised version of the awesome Nissan GTR. For the new one engine output is improved to 530hp, with the maximum torque of 612Nm from 3,200 to 6,000rpm.

    Revised Nissan GT-R: Power up to 530hp

    The new GT-R is actually cleaner and more fuel efficient than the last one too. Fuel economy has also been improved by modifying the boost pressure of the turbocharger, valve timing and air mixture ratio along with larger diameter inlet pipes and a modified exhaust system. Don’t expect to see any sold in Ireland anytime soon, where it would cost around €100,000.

    Tuesday 19th October:

    We recorded the Irish Times Motors Podcast and it really isn’t hard to be jealous of Ben Oliver, who joins us on the show this week. He is one of the only people in the world to drive the new Bugatti Veyron Supersport. Bugatti have added nearly 200hp more to the already, hardly slow Veyron. That is like adding the power of a Volkswagen Golf GTi to a car that was one of the fastest cars in the world.

    If you want to read about a car that has €20,000 tyres then click here. Also in this week’s show Michael McAleer has been driving the new Mercedes-Benz CLS and you can read about that in next week’s Motors and we also spoke to Renault Ireland’s ever-enthusiastic boss Eric Basset about the arrival of the Fluence and Kangoo V.E electric vehicles to Ireland.  Unlike Nissan, who are planning to sell the Nissan LEAF outright, you will pay the same price for the Fluence Z.E as for a high-grade diesel one and then lease the battery for €72 per month. The Fluence Z.E will cost €21,620 and the Kangoo Z.E will cost €15,800, with both vehicles getting the same €72 per month battery lease based on 15,000km.

    Renault Fluence Z.E: Will cost €21,620 with battery leased at €72 per month.

    To hear this week’s Irish Times Motors Podcast click here.

    Monday 18th October:

    It was a busy weekend catching up with three of the latest small cars to come to the Irish market. Audi’s A1, the revised Mini and Nissan’s quirky Juke. Aside from a very packed driveway it gave us the chance to see which of these cars are likely to be popular in 2011. We know a lot about the Mini already so there really isn’t that much to tell about the facelifted version. It is a case of blink and you will miss it, but Mini have got the formula right in this car, while Audi are new to this genre.

    Mini Cooper D: it is a new model, but blink and you will miss the changes

    The A1 is a harder car to figure. It certainly takes itself more seriously and doesn’t have the cute and cuddly image of the Mini. We have pitched these two cars head to head and you can read the results in the coming weeks in Motors. Our test car was very good, but cost €30,566, which seems to be an outrageous amount of money to spend on a small car but I spoke to an Audi salesman this morning who just sold one for €35,000. He says he is getting lots of older buyers – empty nesters who want want compact luxury. There certainly isn’t anyone with grey hair in the A1 brochure.

    Audi A1: Good, but at what price?

    The real surprise of the weekend was the Nissan Juke, which I fully expected to hate but ended up loving. It looks…interesting, but from the right angle it sort of works. It drives really well and is really well equipped for the money. When you are testing lots of cars at once, be they for comparison tests or otherwise if you keep grabbing the keys of one car over all the others it tells you something and I kept reaching for the keys of the Juke.

    Nissan Juke: It looks a little odd, but it is a great little car.

    Monday afternoon saw the arrival of the Toyota Hilux. They are well known for their strength and durability. We didn’t give it the most difficult task this evening, but it passed with flying colours. Hilux 1 Couch 0.

    Toyota Hilux: Good at carrying couches amongst other things.

  • Hyundai ix20: Video from launch event

    October 14, 2010 @ 12:30 pm | by Michael McAleer

    Hello from Dubrovnik where we are driving the new Hyundai ix20, a car you can read a full First Drive review of in this week’s Motors on Wednesday.

    Here is a short video on the car, live from the event.

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  • Plugging the car into the future

    October 8, 2010 @ 9:46 am | by Michael McAleer

    I remember the first time I came across a car with electric windows. It was in a Mercedes-Benz and I was amazed. I pressed it up and down so many times that it was amazing that I didn’t burn out the motor. I thought that it was the most amazing thing I had seen in a car. Things have certainly changed. I have just spent a day trying to get my head around the exhaustive list of technologies that BMW is planning to implement over the coming years, all in the name of making our life easier. Some were genius, some seemed pretty pointless, but you can be pretty sure that they are all coming our way sooner rather than later.

    Using NFC (Near Field Communication) technology your car key will serve many purposes

    BMW is merging its fuel saving technologies, its safety technologies and its information and entertainment technologies together and we got a sneak preview of what the results will be at an old military airbase, somewhere outside Germany.

    Technology has taken over our lives. We get up in the morning, check our e-mail, many of us are glued to our iPhones or Blackberries all day long, we sit at a computer or have one in our briefcase and in-between the car used to be somewhere where you might listen to the radio or catch up with someone phone calls. But the addition of WiFi technology and other wireless technologies such as Near Field Communication are opening to door to greater opportunities to what we can do in a car. It now means that we can take our multimedia lives with us, that our car can prevent us running over pedestrians and even bring your car to a safe stop on a motorway if you have a heart attack at the wheel.

    As with any BMW event that mentions technology, there were lots of acronyms and working titles, many of which we won’t bore you with. But, let’s group these things into items that will make your life easier, ones which perhaps make you live longer and ones that will make you live more frugally.

    Take the humble car key for instance. You fling them at the table when you come home from work and you probably don’t think about them much more than that. But there are, we are told, many more things that you could and can do with your car key. NFC (Near Field Communication) is something you will have come across already if you have used a hotel room key card, the ones that allow you to just hold up a card to access your room. The same technology allows a variety of information to be applied to a key fob. So, if you are driving from Cork to Dublin, you could check into a hotel on route, and book a Luas ticket and these would all be accessed from your car key. Your car key will open your room in the hotel, you can swipe it to get onto the Luas or to access a Dublin Bike. And then purchase a sandwich and a coffee. Traveling abroad, your car key could be used to access a hire car.

    BMW remote functions will operate on your smart phone, be it an iPhone, a Blackberry or an Android device. From an app, you will be able to turn on your heating in the car remotely, flash the lights and sound the horn to find your car in a car park and even find your way back to your car if you can’t remember where you parked it.

    BMW Remote services allow you to source your car and operate the lights and horn from your iPhone

    Internet access is slowly starting to happen in cars, although don’t hold your breath for zippy in-car access anytime soon, but when it is sorted out you will be able to access your work e-mail account from the dashboard and iDrive of your BMW and have the e-mails read out to you. You can press a button and dictate an e-mail in reply to these e-mails too. It is like having your own secretary in the car. This would obviously be of benefit to driver’s whose working lives are spent on the road, but when the Road Safety Authority has difficulty with people using handsfree Bluetooth kits while driving they might have something to say about being able to compose an e-mail while you drive, handsfree or not.

    You will soon be able to have your e-mail read out and you can dictate an e-mail in return.

    An apparently the BMW driver of the future might be such an information and attention junkie that they won’t be able to cope with sitting at a red traffic light for 45 seconds without filling the time with information. A micropause app uses the refrain of a traffic light or traffic stop to beam you in news headlines, twitter messages, or any other kind of information distraction for those executives who can’t stop doing stuff.

    However, for the more balanced, there will be the facility to integrate all your music and media from your home servers to your car. So-called Seamless Media Access will use WiFi to allow you to continue listening to the audiobook you started at home in your car on the way to work, just where you left off and if you want to listen to an album that it at home, no problem, you can downloads it easily enough. It will even use Gracenote technology, which groups music by genre to allow you to choose music that suits your mood or the mood you’d like to be in!

    The increasing number of sensors in and around the car are being put to good use too. We’ve all been in a situation that you find a car park that will fit our car but getting out of the car will mean scrapping yourself down the side or the car next to you. No problem if you have remote controlled parking, which takes control of the acceleration, braking and steering functions and manoeuvres the vehicle autonomously into the narrow spot – or out of it again.

    Preventing collisions with other vehicles and with pedestrians will get a lot easier too. BMW Group is developing a proactive pedestrian system designed to minimise injury or prevent an accident in the first place. Pedestrians are detected using a camera and this camera can be used for other driver assistance functions such as traffic sign recognition, collision warning and lane departure warning. These cameras, however, can also detect a pedestrian in the road and figure out of there is imminent danger and in 600 milliseconds can help with emergency braking.

    But what about children popping out from between parked cars. A camera can’t see them because a driver can’t see them either. Project AMULETT aims to create the ability to see through objects by fitting at-risk road users, such as our children, with transponders that emit electromagnetic waves. Should whichever user that is carrying these transponders, which could end up being about the size of a €2 coin, the system will alert the driver. The demonstration of this was superb and it would almost certainly save lives.

    Project AMULETT will use transponders to make children visible to the car even if they aren't by the driver.

    They will have a system that will counter steer if we wander across our lane into the path of another car on a motorway and there is even a spooky system, but a very interesting one, which will intervene if someone has a heart-attack at the wheel. Designed for older driver’s who may suspect or even know they have a heart condition, the user will wear a heart monitor when driving and in the event of a heart-attack will take over the steering and braking of the car and safely guide it to the side of the road, call the emergency services and give them a GPS location of the stricken driver. In the demonstration, we sat at the steering wheel and took our hands and feet away from the controls, while our car eerily waited for a gap between the traffic (on a closed, controlled road) and pulled us into the side of the road.

    Driver's that suffer a heart attack at the wheel will be driven safely to the side of the road.

    Finally new systems will also be added to vehicles that will encourage us to drive more ecologically. A new coast feature on car’s with automatic transmissions will knock the car into neutral when you aren’t accelerating and in a special Eco mode will map the acceleration in such a way as to encourage you to drive at your most frugal. In the MINI range, there will even be an iPhone system that will reward you with stars for driving more economically and you will be able to compare your achievements with your friends.

    The MINIMalism Analyser rewards more efficient driving.

  • Paris Motor Show Live 7: Day 2

    October 1, 2010 @ 11:31 am | by Michael McAleer

    YouTube Preview ImageKia’s Optima is impressive. We have seen really good things from them of late and this big rival to the Volkswagen Passat or Toyota Avensis is handsome and feels of high quality.

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    Saab ePower is an electric version of their 9-3 and it will be trialled in Sweden soon. A 184 hp electric motor drives the front wheels through a Saab in-house designed single speed transmission. Instant torque enables zero to 100 km/h acceleration is just 8.5 seconds, together with a top speed of 150 km/h.

    Audi’s e-tron Spyder shows that by combining TDi and battery technology you can produce a pretty awesome supercar.

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  • Paris Motor Show Live 6: Day 2

    @ 11:08 am | by Michael McAleer

    It is Day 2 of the Paris Motor Show and all the fuss last evening surrounded the launch of not one, but five new Lotus concept cars. The return of the Espirit will be welcome by most motoring fans. The 5.0-litre V8-powered 2-seater puts out 620hp and 720Nm of torque. The car goes into production at the end of 2012 and will be on sale at the beginning of 2013. Top speed will be 330km/h and 0-100km/h takes just 3.4 seconds.

    Lotus Espirit

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    The Elan marks a return to a name plate we haven’t seen since the early 1990s and this 2+2 is set for release during the second half of 2013, the Elan features a 4.0 litre V6 pressure charged engine capable of delivering up to 450hp and taking into consideration its relative light weight of 1,295kg, the Elan would likely be a rocket. 0-100km/h will take just 3.5 seconds. The car will go on sale in Autumn 2013.

    Lotus Elan

    Set for release in 2014, Set for release in spring 2014, the Elite is a GT 2+2, that is absolutely stunning. A front-mid positioned 5.0 litre V8 engine delivering up to 620 hp meaning drivers can expect to go from 0-100 km/h in approximately 3.7 seconds.

    Lotus Elite

    There is a new version of the Elise, which has traditionally been regarded as one of the world’s best-handling cars. The new Elise is due for release in 2015 and will feature a 2.0 litre inline 4 pressure charged engine delivering up to 320hp, the Elise 2015 should reach 0-100km/h in under 4.5 seconds. Yet emissions will be just 150g/km.

    Lotus Elise

    The Eterne is a four door, four seater sports GT, set to rival the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLS. With a 5.0 litre pressure charged V8 engine delivering up to 620hp the Eterne is set to enter the market in Spring 2015.

    Lotus Eterne

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