By Hugh Maguire
SOMETIMES adversity brings out the best in us. When things are a bit tough many manage to dig deep into their reserves and come up with innovative and often enterprising ideas. So it is with the motor industry. Faced with pressures to produce ever more “green” cars, a depleted customer base, poor availability of finance and further pressure to keep prices competitive, the motor industry continues to fight back with better and better cars.
The Nissan Juke was voted 2011 Continental Irish Car Of The Year by myself and my colleagues in the Irish Motoring Writers Association, and indeed the new Juke is a fine example of the innovative and forward thinking of which I am writing today.
I drove the new Nissan Juke at the Irish Press launch and came away suitably impressed. The Juke is a crossover, that aims to attract a younger type of buyer who will appreciate its funky styling allied to its practicality. Engines available include a 1.6 petrol, and a 1.5 diesel, with low emissions.
My initial impressions are of a car that proved great to drive, really distinctive, and yet is quite practical. Prices range from €18,195 to €23,995. A full road test will follow over the next few months but from my brief sortie in the new Juke it is definitely worth considering.
Another car that caught my eye at its recent Irish launch was the new Honda CRZ. The CRZ name is not new to Honda but we last saw one in the range back in the 1980’s. The new CRZ is a real eyecatcher. Interestingly it is also a Hybrid, using both a 1.5 petrol engine and an electric motor to maximise economy and reduce emissions. The new Honda CRZ is also the first Hybrid to offer a manual transmission, in the case of the new CRZ it is a smooth 6-speed box.
I really liked it despite feeling that it will appeal to a limited number of buyers due to the fact that it is really just a two plus two with very limited space in the rear and a small boot. Nevertheless it drives very well and really is the first Hybrid that I have driven that actually is good to drive. The new CRZ is a very attractive looking three door coupe that proves to be a real head turner. I liked it and look forward to bringing you a more complete review in the near future when I have had a chance to do a complete road test.
Until then if you fancy one prices for the new Honda CRZ start at €26,630 rising to €29,400. Needless to say it comes with Honda’s legendary reliability.
Back in 2006 the then Suzuki Swift won the Semperit Irish Car Of The Year Award. Since then some 2,700 people have bought one. Well, now we have a new model and it is a most impressive small hatch. The new Swift was launched to the Irish Press in Germany where we tested the car over a variety of roads from country lanes to the famous German Autobahn.
The new Suzuki Swift acquitted itself very well indeed. It is compact, agile and roomy. Powered by a super low emission petrol 1.2 litre 94 bhp engine the new Swift performs well. With seven airbags, ABS and ESP, the new Swift won a full 5-Star Euro NCAP test result. Priced from just €14,650 for the 3-door GL to €17,500 for the range topping 5 door GLX automatic it is really worth a closer look.