Wheels & Deals: Cupra success; Defender's arrival; VW plug-in; Volvo models; Irish dealers' awards

Declan Colley reports on the rapid rise of the new Cupra brand; Land Rover Defender reaching Ireland; VW's new plug-in hybrid; new Volvo models; and a Tipperary dealer's top prize

Wheels & Deals: Cupra success; Defender's arrival; VW plug-in; Volvo models; Irish dealers' awards

Last year was a huge one for SEAT as global sales went through the roof. This year is also going to be a big one for the company too, as it will also be for its’ new sub-brand, Cupra.

Late last week and coinciding with its second anniversary, Cupra not only inaugurated the brand’s new headquarters (called the Cupra Garage and located next door to SEAT’s own HQ at Martorell just outside Barcelona), but it also launched its first model range.

Thus, we got the first sight of the new Cupra Leon in a variety of models, including new racing cars and an indication what the company’s journey to electrification will entail as it displayed its first hybrid model.

After closing 2019 with a 71.8% growth over the previous year and nearly 24,700 units sold, the brand kicked off 2020 with a full schedule of novelties. In addition to opening the doors of its new home, a 2,400 square metre eco-efficient building, the brand is also remodelling its racing car workshop, the Cupra Racing Factory.

“The decision to establish Cupra as an independent brand two years ago could not have worked out better, because in this short time it has become our most profitable business unit,” said Carsten Isensee, SEAT Acting President and Executive Vice-president of Finance and IT.

“Cupra gives SEAT the opportunity to produce more profitable models and reach new customers, and the two brands together give us the resources and operational base to continue growing. We have now decided to strengthen the brand by building its own corporate headquarters,” he added.

This year, Cupra says it is intent on demonstrating its capabilities in the automotive market by broadening its range and expanding internationally. In addition to the success of the Cupra Ateca, the brand is going to strengthen its product portfolio with the Cupra Leon, in its hatchback and Sportstourer versions, and also with the Formentor, the first model designed specifically for the brand.

Cupra CEO and SEAT Executive Vice-president for Sales and Marketing Wayne Griffiths highlighted that the results achieved in these past two years, with close to 40,000 cars sold, prove the great potential of the brand.

“Cupra is growing more than we had expected, and therefore we had to build a home for the Cupra Tribe and doubled our staff to 200 employees. We are now entering a new phase where we will demonstrate that sportiness can be electrified with the launch of three hybrid cars and we plan to reach one billion euros of SEAT’s total turnover when we will have the full range available,” he said.

Griffiths also announced that the production model of the Cupra Formentor will make its first public appearance at next week’s Geneva Motor Show and is expected to reach the market in the second half of the year.

The Cupra Leon is the brand’s best-selling model having sold 44,000 units when known as the SEAT Leon Cupra. Now it is the Cupra Leon and the company last week presented the hatchback and Sportstourer versions with a wide range of high-performance engines, from the petrol engine to the plug-in hybrid with three options of 245, 300 and 310 bhp.

The Cupra Leon is set for market launch in the last quarter of the year and is considered the ‘King of Leons’ – and no, that’s not a band.

The first Leon with the Cupra brand’s logo features design, comfort and the latest technology for car enthusiasts who are open to electrification and looking for driving fun and performance.

We will have more in due course when the cars reach our shores.

Finbarr Galvin is SEAT Ireland Dealer of the Year

In the meantime and in other SEAT-related news, Bandon-based dealership Finbarr Galvin Ltd. has today been announced as SEAT Ireland’s Dealer of the Year 2019.

This is the third time the Cork dealership has claimed award having claimed the title in 2015 and 2016. The dealership has consistently been one of SEAT’s top-performing retailers and employs 16 staff in the SEAT side of the business, and 32 staff in their entire operation.

Finbarr Galvin Ltd. has been retailing the SEAT brand for 10 years but have been in business since 1975 with a SEAT management team including Managing Director and Dealer Principal Justin Galvin, Aftersales Director Anthony Galvin, SEAT Brand Manager Seamus Allis, Service Manager Brian Duggan, Parts Manager Brian O’Mahony, and Business Manager Johnny O’Connor.

Commenting on the recognition, Managing Director Justin Galvin said: “We are honoured to have been awarded as SEAT’s Dealer of the Year for the third time, and it is a testament to the hard work of all our staff here in Bandon. I am particularly proud that a substantial percentage of our customers are repeat customers as we have a very loyal customer base. The SEAT brand is blossoming here in Ireland, and that makes growing the brand within our business that much easier. We focus on the customer experience and thankfully, it has been acknowledged not only by awards but more importantly, by the happiness of our customers.”

Niall Phillips, Brand Director at SEAT Ireland commented: “I would like to congratulate Justin Galvin and all of his team on demonstrating excellence across all areas of their business. We have awarded Finbarr Galvin Ltd. with this title as they have excelled in all areas of their business, not just in the sales of new cars but also in their Aftersales business, customer sentiment, innovation in marketing, over the year.”

Land Rover Defender's arrival in the Irish market

We featured the new ‘James Bond’ version last week, but this week we have the first details of the on and off-road-going Land Rover Defender for the Irish market.

Nigel Coulter, the Land Rover Brand Ambassador UK, travelled to Dublin for the big reveal was on hand to answer questions about the all new Defender, which will cost from €68,160.

Eddie Kavanagh Managing Director Jaguar Land Rover Ireland was also at the gig and he said the new car had been much anticipated and the reaction to the new model was fantastic.

“This is the most durable and capable Land Rover ever produced; it is the most tested vehicle ever and a vehicle with huge appeal. We expect strong interest from the Irish market when the vehicle arrives later this Spring,” he commented.

Land Rover has defined all-terrain capability and toughness from the conception of its very first 4x4. The Series and Defender models before it, have gone above and beyond for decades, securing iconic status for their ability to help people make more of their world. The new Defender is said to take these much-loved characteristics and reimagines them for the 21st century.

The result is a visually compelling vehicle that couldn’t be anything else but a modern Defender for a world that has changed massively since the original was created.

With its distinctive silhouette and optimum proportions, the new Defender has toughness at its core while its interior’s rugged modular architecture embraces the spirit of adventure that has been a fundamental part of Land Rover DNA for more than 70 years.

We are told that every detail of the exterior design has been creatively developed to re-enforce Defender’s DNA; sophisticated, durable and extremely tough, a vehicle design like no other.

The new Defender is available in perfectly proportioned 90 and 110 body designs, with six models available; Defender, S, SE, HSE, Defender X and First Edition, with practical commercial models set to join the line-up later in the year.

Irish prices start from €68,160 for the Defender 110 2.0 SD4 AWD Auto model.

We will be testing one soon.

Volkswagen Touareg R - the first plug-in hybrid R model

One interesting car making its debut at next week’s Geneva Motor Show is the Volkswagen Touareg R - the first plug-in hybrid R model.

Details are a little sketchy pre-launch, but from what we do know, this is going to be a pretty impressive beast and we do know it will be coming to Ireland.

The car will boast a power output of 462 bhp and some 700Nm torque and VW says it expects order books to open at the end of this year with RHD Irish deliveries in early 2021.

We will get more details on pricing etc later this year, but you can guarantee one thing – it won’t be cheap.

Volvo's exciting new innovations

Volvo Cars has revealed refreshed versions of the S90 saloon and V90 estate, including a refined exterior design and a brand-new, state-of-the-art sound system by Bowers & Wilkins.

In a broader portfolio upgrade, the company's 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain options are now available on every Volvo model, further boosting the company's electrified offer.

In terms of exterior design, Volvo designers have introduced a number of refinements on both the front and rear of the S90 and V90, including new fog lights, a new spoiler design and a new lower front bumper.

On the V90, the most striking feature is a brand-new rear light design, including full LED-powered signature lighting and a sequential turn indicator. A range of new exterior colours and wheel options further improve options for personalisation.

Inside, a comprehensively upgraded Bowers & Wilkins audio system introduces an even better in-car sound experience, thanks to new features such as an upgraded amplifier, automatic vehicle noise cancellation and a new setting that mimics the sound of your favourite jazz club.

Another new feature inside is an Advanced Air Cleaner with a PM 2.5 particle sensor. First developed for the Chinese market and now rolled out globally, just in time for Covid 19.

The system allows drivers to monitor interior air quality via the centre screen. If desired, the Advanced Air Cleaner can clean the cabin air of almost all tiny particles within a few minutes.

Both the new Bowers & Wilkins audio system and the Advanced Air Cleaner technology are now available on all 90 and 60 series models based on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform.

All models in the 90 and 60 series now also come with double USB-C charging points in the rear, replacing the 12-volt outlet. The wireless charging functionality for smartphones, first introduced on the XC40 compact SUV, is now also available on most variants in the 90 and 60 series.

Elsewhere in its model range, Volvo Cars is significantly expanding the number of its 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain options, making these engines available on every single Volvo model.

Introduced on the XC90 and XC60 SUVs last year, the mild hybrids are now also available on all other 90 and 60 series cars, as well as on the XC40. The mild-hybrid powertrain options on the V90 Cross Country represent the first electrified variants in the history of the Cross-Country range.

Tom Harvey takes top VW award

Tom Harvey Motor Company in Thurles, Co Tipperary has been awarded Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Retailer of the Year 2019.

This award, which celebrates excellence within the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Retail network, recognises the retailer's contribution in a number of areas including sales performance, local market share and overall customer experience and is the highest honour that a Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles retailer can achieve.

The award was presented to Breda Harvey (Retailer Principal) of Tom Harvey Motor Company, by Alan Bateson, Managing Director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Ireland, at a ceremony held at their dealership recently.

Commenting on the award, Breda Harvey said she was delighted to receive such an accolade: "Winning retailer of the year for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is a brilliant achievement for our incredible team here in Thurles, and we would very much like to dedicate this award to my late husband, Tom.

“I am extremely proud and very appreciative of the hard work and commitment that is constantly required by the entire team to ensure every one of our valued commercial vehicle customers is given the service level that is right for them and their business," she said.

Congratulating the team at Tom Harvey Motor Company, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Managing Director Alan Bateson said: "2019 was once again a successful year for the brand in Ireland, and 2020 has started the same. New models like Transporter and Crafter alongside long time best-selling vehicles in Ireland such as the Caddy are one of the reasons for this, another is our specialised Commercial Retailer network, and Tom Harvey Motor Company are an example of this.

“They deliver not only our award-winning and best in market products but a service in sales and aftersales that ensures that our customers don't just make a purchase, they make a partnership with us. In 2019, Tom Harvey Motor Company helped to deliver a 19% market share, making Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Tom Harvey Motor Company the number one choice in Tipperary."

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