Making the grade for car of the year

The finalists for this year's European Car of the Year are:

• Ford B-Max

• Hyundai i30

• Mercedes-Benz A-class

• Peugeot 208

• Renault Clio

• Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86

• Volkswagen Golf

• Volvo V40

Germans honour Irish retailer

Volkswagen has given its highest individual award to an Irish retailer.

Kevin Connolly was recently presented with the marque's 'Diamond Pin' for services to the brand. Mr Connolly, who operates in Ballina, Co Mayo and in Sligo, was presented with the award at a ceremony at the manufacturer's world factory in Wolfsburg, Germany.

How (not) to clear that windscreen

Credit cards, spatulas, boiling water and even alcohol are among the items used by motorists to clear an icy windscreen.

And nearly one-third (29pc) use their hands as makeshift ice scrapers.

Autoglym surveyed 2,000 drivers on how they deal with an icy screen. Nearly one in seven (15pc) had used boiling water. In doing so they risked shattering it because of the huge contrast in temperature.

Sales slow down across Europe

NEW-CAR sales in Europe fell 10pc last month.

That means the 965,918 bought represent a 19-year low as buyers stayed away.

Hyundai was the only mainstream maker to show a rise – up 7pc. Renault endured the heaviest hit year-on-year decline with 27.4pc combined lower sales for its own and Dacia brands.

PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's sales fell 16pc while General Motors Europe volumes declined 13pc.

Eleven-month sales are down 7.2pc to 11.7 million, the lowest number since 1993.