Wheels & Deals: Latest news from Frankfurt Motor Show

The 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show is nearly upon us and there will be the usual barrage of new car unveilings at the event, not least of which will be the fourth generation Lexus RX.

As the best-selling model in the brand’s 26-year history — with sales of circa 2.2 million units — the RX represents three out of 10 vehicles ever sold by Lexus.

Lexus says the all-new RX’s mix of sharp creases and curves represents a bold evolution in the model’s styling, sharing the same design DNA with other recently-launched models in the Lexus line-up.

We are also promised an RX interior which reflects an impeccable balance of functionality and luxury.

The redesigned interior offers a sense of spaciousness with intimacy that proves ideal for driver and passenger comfort alike.

Moreover, the RX is equipped with advanced redesigned hybrid powertrains, sophisticated safety technologies/driver aids that include the innovative Lexus Safety System+, and new convenience and technology features to make this the best Lexus sport-utility vehicle offering to date.

Doubtless we will have more in due course.

Toyota’s hybrid success

Over at parent company Toyota, chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada likes to tell the story of how his team couldn’t get the first Prius prototype to move for 49 days.

According to him: “We had no idea what was wrong, so we worked late every night trying to figure it out. We finally got it to move around Christmas time, but it only went 500 metres!”

That was back in 1995, when hybrid cars were unproven, experimental machines with a very unclear future. Fast-forward 20 years, and Toyota is proud to announce that it has now sold over eight million hybrid vehicles, with just 10 months between this and the last million-unit milestone.

It can be hard to get a sense of what the number eight million might mean for the environment and for hybrid owners. For a bit of context, Toyota calculates that as of July 31, its hybrid vehicles have resulted in approximately 58 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions than would have been emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance.

Toyota also estimates that its hybrid vehicles have saved approximately 22 million kiloliters of gasoline compared to the amount used by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar sizes.

The message is clear: Having found homes in driveways around the world, hybrids have staying power. Since the launch of the Prius in 1997, Toyota has been gradually adding hybrid models throughout its range, from the compact Yaris Hybrid to the recently announced RAV4 Hybrid. As of this month, Toyota sells 30 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in more than 90 markets.

Over just the past year, Toyota has made several new hybrid models available, including the Esquire Hybrid (Japan only), the Lexus RC300h, and the recently launched Sienta Hybrid. Other new hybrid models are just around the corner, such as the Corolla Hybrid and Levin Hybrid (China only) and RAV4 Hybrid. This ongoing roll-out will only continue, with new hybrid models being added to Toyota’s range and sold in more markets than ever before.

Skoda most reliable brand

Elsewhere, Skoda has been named as the most dependable brand in a new JD Power study. The inaugural 2015 UK Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) asked owners to report problems with their new cars — from serious breakdowns to troublesome in-car entertainment issues. Once analysed, the results gave Skoda a clear victory, with the brand comprehensively outscoring luxury brands.

The study, which focused on new cars registered between April 2012 and March 2014, used owner data to generate an overall dependability score for each brand. Skoda’s score of 77 was the lowest in the entire survey, with the Industry Average for 2015 recorded as 114.

Every Skoda in the survey performed better than the industry average, with the Fabia ranked as the third most dependable car in the Small Car category.

Commenting on the survey, Raymond Leddy, Head of Marketing at Skoda Ireland said: “This really illustrates the progress that the brand has made over the past decade. Our cars have always been reliable and well-built with excellent spaciousness.

“We are quietly optimistic of building on this success with the new Superb that was launched in Ireland in July.”

Following the JD Power report findings, UK Consumer organisation Which? has also named Skoda as a firm favourite with owners.

The organisation’s 2015–2016 Car Guide named the Superb and the Yeti as the most satisfying cars to own in the estate and SUV classes, achieving owner satisfaction ratings of 96% and 93% respectively.

Honda set for big month

Back to Frankfurt and next month’s show will underline an important year for Honda and will see the brand presenting its new model range of entirely refreshed and all-new cars displayed together.

Alongside the new line-up, Honda will also showcase design concepts and advanced technologies, all demonstrating the company’s creativity in meeting the personal mobility challenges of today and the future.

The show will witness the global premiere of ‘Honda Project 2&4.’

Winner of the global design competition run by Honda between its global design studios, Honda Project 2&4 represents the company’s drive to inspire and reward creative thinking.

Embodying Honda’s concept of ‘creative craftsmanship,’ Honda Project 2&4 was designed together by Honda’s motorcycle design centre in Asaka and by Honda’s automobile design centre in Wako, Japan.

The Honda Project 2&4 is the result of the company’s continuous effort to create a more exciting user experience.

Honda Project 2&4’s cabin-less structure produces an immersive driving environment combining the experience Honda has in providing the freedom of a motorcycle and the manoeuvrability of a car.

Also at the show, will be the all-new HR-V and Jazz. Due to arrive in Irish showrooms from late September onwards, both models combine sophisticated new design concepts with the safety, class-leading interior space and versatility customary to Honda models.

One of the best-selling SUVs in the world, 2015 has seen Honda’s CR-V refreshed for the European market with a new diesel engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, as well as world-first technologies to enhance occupant safety.

The 2015 Honda Civic and Civic Tourer feature new sporty exterior and interior styling enhancements, reflected by a new Civic Sport, as well as introducing Honda Connect, an advanced Android-based infotainment system offering WiFi, Bluetooth, USB, HDMI and Mirror Link connectivity.

Nolan delighted with win

Gerry Nolan from Portarlington, Co Laois, is the lucky winner of Ford Ireland’s Mustang Drive Experience competition that will see a fleet of new Ford Mustangs depart from Chicago to California for two weeks in September.

To celebrate the arrival of the new Ford Mustang in Ireland later this year, Ford Ireland ran the competition on the company’s Facebook page.

Gerry, who will be taking his partner, Martina Wilmot, with him on the dream trip, entered the competition because he has always loved Mustang cars.

Speaking about his win, Gerry said: “I have always just loved the look of the Mustang and I am delighted to see that the new model has retained that classic pony car look… what a prize to win; we just can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the new Mustang on the drive to California.”

It is fitting that Gerry won the opportunity to drive the iconic Ford car as his grandfather lived in America for a number of years and he actually worked for the Ford Motor Company in Michigan.

John Manning, Marketing Director with Ford Ireland, said: “Congratulations to Gerry and Martina on winning such a great prize — we are delighted that Gerry is already a fan of Mustang and we are sure that he will be really impressed with the latest version of the car which goes on sale in Ireland later this year for the first time in the car’s history.”


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