The countdown has begun! The Irish Car of the Year awards, in association with Continental Tyres, may be several months away, but we’ve already got one eye on the class of ’20.
Even at this early stage we’ve seen the arrival of several hot new models into Irish showrooms. And here, as part of our ongoing news and analysis, we run the rule over three new cars widely tipped to feature as contenders in the Irish Car of the Year awards 2020.
VW GOLF GTI TCR
First up is the new VW Golf GTI TCR, a very hot hatch with a proud motorsports heritage. And boy does it show! Inside and out, the new Golf GTI features sporty touches and flourishes including slimmer headlights, slick black air intake vents and wider side sills that give the car a crouching, powerful stance.
The sports theme continues inside, with chequered seat covers, sports steering wheel and classic ‘golfball’ gearstick.
Performance-wise, the new GTI offers a 2-litre turbo direct petrol injection engine (0 to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds) while the car is fitted with a range of performance features including electronic differential lock (XDS), advanced progressive steering and sports running gear.
There’s a cutting-edge infotainment system and a host of driver assistance options including Blind Spot Sensor with Rear Traffic Alert, adaptive cruise control (ACC) as standard and City Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring.
LEXUS RX 450hL
Next out of the blocks is the 7-seater Lexus RX 450hL, a family-sized SUV with a strong emphasis on luxury. The new Lexus hybrid features an even bigger and more versatile cargo space – think family holidays – with three rows of seats in a 40-20-40 split-bench configuration.
The new SUV is big on style too, with what Lexus describes as a ‘floating-roof’ effect created by blacked-out C-pillars as well as wrap-around L-shaped LED lights at the rear and the distinctive spindle grille.
Inside, the Takumi have been hard at work with a precision-finished cabin offering touches of craftsmanship here, there and everywhere including separate air-conditioning zones for each row of seats.
The new RX is available in Ireland with a choice of hybrid and petrol engines and a comprehensive safety package including pre-collision system (PCS) and pedestrian detection, lane-assist, automatic high-beam and all-speed dynamic radar cruise control plus side curtain airbags along all three rows.
AUDI Q8 50
Our trio of newcomers is completed by the new Audi Q8 50, another SUV that combines size with style and sporty credentials. The patriarch of Audi’s Q family features a distinctive front end with a very sleek silhouette and sculpted rear, with quattro ‘blisters’.
On the road, the new Q8 offers permanent all-wheel drive which the company says delivers better acceleration and deceleration with enhanced road-holding capabilities for a sporty drive.
This is an SUV that’s packed with technology, although in this case less (buttons) is more (convenience). The Q8 offers ‘MMI touch response’ with an intuitive control system designed to make it easier and safer to navigate between control and infotainment features. There’s also a 10-inch touchscreen and a high-res 3D map in the cockpit.
Safety is paramount, as you’d expect, with a range of assistance features including adaptive cruise control, efficiency assist, lane change warning, curb warning and a 360-degree camera, all backed up by a central driver assistance controller with a multitude of radar sensors, cameras and scanners.
Plenty more to come
Early contenders from VW, Lexus and Audi! But there will certainly be plenty more where those three new arrivals came from – we’ll be keeping you posted with more news as the year unfolds.