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  • Live from The Irish Times Motor Show

    February 25, 2011 @ 2:27 pm | by Michael McAleer

    Sunday 27th February:

    Irish Rugby International Rob Kearney speaking to Kathryn Thomas

    TV presenter Kathryn Thomas and professional rugby player Rob Kearney are due to attend a special live screening of this Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations game against Scotland, at the Audi stand at this weekend’s Motor Show in the RDS.

    Rob is expected to present a special pre-game Q&A session, which is an addition to the Audi stand so that car enthusiasts won’t be sacrificing the event while enjoying the exhibition.

    Rob Kearney: Will be at the Irish Times Motor Show on Sunday

    Audi is also presenting two concept cars at both the ‘Electric Avenue’ and ‘Legends Arena’ areas of the show. The €1.3 million Audi R8 “e-tron” will be making its Irish debut following its recent showcase in the U.S and Germany. The Audi R8 Spyder will be showcased outside the venue and racing fans will get to see the R15 TDI Le Mans car that last won the 24-hour event.

    To keep the kids entertained, special Audi tricycles present little ones the opportunity to have their first driving experience, upon completion which will see them receive their “first driver’s licence”.

    The Irish Times Motors Helpdesk is available at the rear of the show. Here, Michael McAleer and Paddy Comyn are on hand to answer your motoring questions and will be happy to give any motoring advice.


    Day two of The Irish Times Motor Show and today the show runs from 10am to 6pm and already there is a big crowd coming through the doors. There has been a great response to the “My First Licence” section with lots of kids getting their scrolls as they learn the basics of the Rules of the Road.

    We are here live at The Irish Times Motor Show where there has been a huge turn out to the event so far. There were queues at the door this morning at 11am when the doors open and it has been very busy ever since. The days has proven to be a massive success so far, with numbers far exceeding earlier expectation.

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    Probably one of the big crowd pullers has been the Nissan LEAF, with great interest in the electric vehicle, which goes on sale here in Ireland next month.

    Irish Times Display

  • Final touches for tomorrow’s Irish Times motorshow

    February 24, 2011 @ 5:23 pm | by Michael McAleer

    We’re now hours away from the opening of The Irish Times Motorshow and the carpenters and painters are hard at work. The stands are being built, the road markings and traffic lights are being installed for the kid’s zone and the cars are starting to arrive.
    Already in place is the Audi R15 Le Mans winner from last June as is the R8 E-Tron prototype. While no one wants to put a value on the R15, when we tested the E-Tron some months back along a closed car park track, we were accompanied by the chief engineer as the car was estimated to be worth well over €1 million. And yet here it is, sitting pretty in a corner of the RDS, awaiting it’s final parking spot.
    Alongside it is Bentley’s new Continental SuperSport, which looks magnificent in white. A gleaming red Maserati is parked in the aisle, awaiting its positioning, while Porsches and Lamborghinis queue for their allotted spaces. The Ferraris, we’re assured, are on the truck and heading this way.
    To add to the surreal atmosphere a crane is currently attempting to position a helicopter on the roof of one of the more rugged cars. Positioning is everything, but the real challenge will be when one of the crew is assigned to drive it inside and into position.
    Elsewhere valets are fighting a losing battle to keep the carpentry dust off the cars.
    By all accounts its going to be a late night for the crews hard at work, with hopeful comments about finishing up at midnight. One wise hand suggests it’s more likely to be “the wee hours of the morning”. But everyone is sure that when the doors open tomorrow, the plastic is rolled back from the carpeted aisle floors, we will be ready to give it full throttle for this year’s show.
    By 11am the doors will open at the RDS Simmonscourt and the show begins. Tomorrow it runs until 8pm. On Saturday and Sunday its open from 10am to 6pm. Tickets are available online at or on the door. Prices are €12 for adults on Friday, €15 on Saturday and Sunday. Students and senior citizens are €8. Children under 16 go free when accompanied by an adult.

  • Mazda Ice Race 2011

    February 22, 2011 @ 5:43 pm | by Michael McAleer

    I find myself doing it again. I promised after last year’s Mazda Open Race that I wouldn’t do it again, but just 12 months later here I am racing against ex-F1 driver’s, drifting champions and ex Rally drivers in a race on a frozen lake. So as you might expect I am seriously outclassed.

    Racing on Ice: Tricky

    It was pretty embarrassing in 2010 to be shown up to be the very ‘average’ track driver than I freely admit to be, but so good was last year’s event that I couldn’t really resist having another go. While last year was on a tarmac circuit in Adria, Italy, this time around we are in northern Sweden where it is -20 degrees during the day.

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    Mazda MX-5: Perfect for any kind of race really.

    Day one involved getting used to the track, which took some getting used to because it is incredibly slippery. But it is fun. You spend most of the time driving out of your side window and never get out of third gear.

  • Where are all the Celtic Tiger cars gone?

    February 10, 2011 @ 9:15 pm | by Michael McAleer

    Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

    They popped up with alarming consistency in the latter part of the last decade, but where have all the supercars from the self-indulgent Celtic Tiger days gone? Many of them are on sale in various dealerships around the country, especially in the capital. Take this 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder for example. At just €209,950 there is likely to be quite a queue for this one we expect.

    While there might not be many takers for the Gallardo at that price, there are relative bargains to be had on some of the once hugely expensive cars of the rich from this period. There are no less than 20 Bentley Continental’s on sale at the moment from 2004 onwards and that we would guess marks a significant amount of the total bought.

    For the price of a well-specced BMW 5-Series, you can have a 2004 Bentley Continental GT with 55,000 miles on the clock and this is a car that would have cost you the price of the average family home when it was new.

    Bentley Continental: €55,595

    In 2003, a Range Rover 4.4-litre V8 Vogue would have cost you a six-figure sum and to own one you would most likely have been a property developer or a banker. Now, you can have one of these for €11,945 with 90,000 miles on the clock.

    Range Rover V8: For around 10% of its original price

    How about a powerful Italian saloon? You can have the Maserati Quattroporte, which was the choice of those who found the S-Class far too common. We found one on sale in Kerry, which had a Dublin reg and would have been a €100,000+ car at one stage of its life. Today? It can be yours for €34,995 and it has covered less than 40,000 miles.

    Maserati Quattroporte: €34,995

    This Mercedes-Benz CL500 would have cost more than €163,000 in 2007 before you started putting optional extras on, but now just a few years later it is significantly less, losing more than half of its value.

    Mercedes CL500: €59,995

    There are so many of these cars sitting on dealer forecourts that you would wonder if these ghosts of the Celtic Tiger will ever sell?

  • A brief drive: Mazda2 1.3 Sport

    February 2, 2011 @ 7:04 am | by Michael McAleer

    This week we have been driving a car that is very much overlooked by a lot of critics, me included, and that is the Mazda2. The 2 has always been a very worthy little supermini – for a start it looks really good, is well built and we had always remarked that it has one of the best little chassis around. Because it is so lightweight, something Mazda worked hard to achieve in order to reduce emissions, this car gets the best out of its power.

    Overlooked: Mazda's excellent Mazda2

    This time around, the 2 has been given a very subtle facelift, one that even the most ardent of Mazda nerds would be hard pressed to point out, but the clever thing is that the 1.3-litre petrol engine is now that bit cleaner so this car now sits in motor tax band A.

    Sporty: Sport model gets smart wheels, rear spoiler and side skirts.

    While so many of us are all rushing out to buy cars with diesel engines, even if they are more expensive in a lot of cases, it is good to drive a perky petrol powered car which doesn’t negatively penalise you in terms of road tax.

    There are two power outputs in the Mazda2, with a choice of 75- or 84hp. We had the 84hp version and it really felt very lively. In fact, with this engine and the lightweight body it felt a little bit like a cut-price hot hatch because the car has really superb steering and you find yourself engaging in some rather spirited driving as a result. Mazda tell us that another improvement is that there have been changes to the front engine geometry, with softer mountings for the rear trailing arms and re-tuned rear dampers and this has made the ride quality a little better.

    Interior: well put together and good quality materials.

    The Sport model we were driving is really well equipped. You get 16” alloy wheels, rear spoiler, side skirts, front fog lights, climate control and a Sports interior trim and all this costs €16,595 or €13,595 if you are scrapping a ten year-old car. This is a cracking little car for very little money.

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