Thursday 17 October 2019

Family values

Despite the increasing popularity of SUVs and crossovers, families are still opting for saloons and hatchbacks

Audi A6
Audi A6
Ford Focus
Lexus ES
Nissan Leaf
Opel Insignia
Toyota Corolla

Geraldine Herbert

Audi A6

Inside the new A6 is as stylish and gadget-filled as you'd expect from Audi, with generous luggage space of 530 litres. All A6 models now feature some sort of mild hybrid system that is designed to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy. Although the BMW 5-Series offers a better driving experience and the infotainment system could be easier to use, the A6 has the edge in terms of overall appeal and is unrivalled for design and technology.

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Engine Range: 2.0 petrol; 2.0 and 3.0 diesel

CO2 Emissions: 145-189g/km

Price Range: €51,360 - €68,955

Trim Levels: SE, S Line

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2018)

Ford Focus

The Focus has celebrated its 20th anniversary and a new generation arrived in Irish showrooms late last year. Available in a hatchback, estate and a saloon, it comes in several colours but if you want to stand out from the crowd, opt for Orange Glow or Desert Island Blue. Inside, it feels more spacious and airy, and rear passengers ­­- even tall ones ­­- will not be complaining in the back. Crucially, the drive is still as impressive and is responsive, agile and precise.

Engine Range: 1.0 petrol; 1.5 diesel

CO2 Emissions: 119-146g/km (wltp)

Price Range: €22,513 - €33,766

Trim Levels: Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium, Vignale

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2018)

Hyundai i30

Updated last year, Hyundai's i30 is a smart-looking hatchback that is a comfortable and well-priced family car. Inside, there is plenty of space front and back, with a boot space of 395 litres. Rear seats fold easily to create a flat-floored boot that is ideal for a trip to Ikea. Well equipped and priced, the i30 will keep many buyers happy and is designed to withstand the rigours of family life, plus Hyundai's reliability reputation bodes well for its longevity.

Engine Range: 1.0 and 1.4 petrol; 1.6 diesel

CO2 Emissions: 99-130g/km

Price Range: €20,245 - €27,995

Trim Levels: Classic, Deluxe, Deluxe Plus, Deluxe Turbo

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2017)

Lexus ES

Shrinking the best elements of the larger LS, the ES is dramatically styled and unmistakably a Lexus. The distinctive design will certainly set the neighbours' curtains twitching and is a refreshing departure from rivals. Inside, its charms are more discreet and is well made throughout but it is not quite as practical as some rivals. The ES is surprisingly good behind the wheel; the steering is well weighted and it is a compelling blend of refinement, performance and technology.

Engine Range: 2.5-litre petrol hybrid

CO2 Emissions: 120g/km

Price Range: €49,450 - €62,390

Trim Levels: Executive, Luxury, F Sport, Premium.

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2018)


The seventh-generation Mazda3 was revealed at the end of 2018 and has just arrived in showrooms nationwide. Sporting a very stylish new look, it combines Mazda's unique blend of automotive technology and distinct design aesthetics. On the road it more than lives up to those good looks and it is responsive, firm and quick. On the downside it is a little cramped inside and headroom is on the sparse side, but overall the new 3 is one of the best hatchbacks around.

Engine Range: 2.0 petrol; 1.8 diesel

CO2 Emissions: 106-126g/km

Price Range: €26,295 - €35,715

Trim Levels: GS, GS - L, GT/Platinum, GT Sport/ Platinum Sport

EuroNCap rating: Not yet tested

Nissan Leaf

Nissan's Leaf is the car that has turned more of us into EV-drivers than any other car in the world. For the second-generation model it has been given a smart, modern profile and inside it is spacious enough for four adults to sit comfortably. Storage is good throughout and the boot is a decent 435 litres. The Leaf is packed with new technology, including the e-Pedal that allows the car to be driven with just one pedal ­­- making it a smooth and very comfortable car to drive.

Range: 270km

CO2 Emissions: 0g/km

Price Range: €28,690 - €32,600

Trim Levels: SV, SV Premium, SVE

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2018)

Opel Insignia Grand Sport

Keen to reinvent its popular but ageing Insignia, Opel has rebranded the stylish large saloon the Insignia Grand Sport. Climb inside and the first thing you'll notice is the supremely comfortable and supportive seats, and then how spacious and airy the cabin feels. Available with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission and torque vectoring, there is also the option all-wheel drive. It is a refined drive, smooth and surprisingly economical.

Engine range: 1.5 petrol; 1.6 and 2.0 diesel

CO2 Emissions:129-173g/km; GSi model 198-202g/km

Price Range: €29,345 - €55,300

Trim Levels: SC, 120 Years Edition, SRi, SE and Elite, GSi

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2016)

Skoda Superb

With more space than most could use, the interior of the Superb is cleanly laid out, solid and has been carefully planned. There is a good engine range to choose from for now, but a facelifted model is on the way for 192 registrations that will offer a new engine range, including a PHEV plug-in hybrid. Skoda's Superb is pretty unbeatable. While is not as cheap as it once was, it is still excellent value when you consider the space, equipment and running costs.

Engine Range: 1.5 petrol; 2.0 Diesel

CO2 Emissions: 125-213g/km

Price Range: €29,475 - €49,495

Trim Levels: Active, Ambition, Style, Sportline, L& K

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2015)

Toyota Corolla

Traditionally the Corolla has appealed to those who care more about reliability than performance, price over style and fuel economy more than driving dynamics. With the new Corolla Toyota is hoping to woo a new and younger audience and it now comes with sharper styling and a hybrid option. Most impressive of all is the way the new Corolla drives ­­- it is a vast improvement on the previous version. With stylish looks and good driving dynamics, the Corolla is a welcome addition to the hatchback market.

Engine Range: 1.2 petrol; 1.8 and 2.0 hybrid

CO2 Emissions: 77-116g/km

Price Range: €26,370 - €30,720

Trim Levels: Aura, Luna, Luna Sport, Sol

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2013)

Volkswagen Golf

The appeal of Volkswagen's Golf has always been broad. Whether a small family or single driver, the Golf offers everything most motorists will ever need and we have been happily buying them since the Seventies. Despite a new version due here this year, the current Golf is still a compelling choice. Whether you opt for the all-electric version, the hybrid or the regular one, the Golf is brilliantly solid, beautifully finished and fabulously reliable.

Engine Range: 1.0 and 1.5 petrol, hybrid; electric, 1.6 and 2.0 Diesel

CO2 Emissions: 0-148g/km

Price Range: €23,270 - €40,270

Trim Levels: Highline, Trendline, Comfortline

EuroNCap rating: HHHHH (2012)

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