Saturday, September 24, 2016

Slovenia's biggest wine day

Every Slovenian region has its own wine rhythm. Some wine-makers complete their harvests in August, while other harvests are still in full swing. However, Slovenians agree on the celebration of the largest wine holiday; St Martin's Day. Must turns to wine on 11 November, which is when numerous celebrations take place around Slovenia to honour this holiday and the hard labour of the wine-makers. You are warmly invited to visit St Martin's Day celebrations around Slovenia: in Maribor, Ormo┼ż, the Brda Hills, or in smaller wine cellars.

The grapevine has a special significance in Slovenia. Throughout the year, it is cared for and admired, and its special day comes on 11 November — St Martin’s Day. According to folk tradition, this is the day when St Martin steals the must and brings back wine.

Slovenia has no less than 14 wine-growing regions and three wine-growing areas. Podravje, Posavje and Primorska. Each of the regions has a distinct variety of wine. The soil, the climate, and wine-making traditions all affect the flavour of the wine. It happens that the same variety of grapevine results in completely different wine flavours.

Review: Fiat 500

I hadn't driven a Fiat 500, the small one, for some time until a couple of weeks ago, writes Brian Byrne. And I'd forgotten just what a sweet car it is.

It's much more than the cute retro design cues that hark back to the original launched in 1957 and produced for close to two decades in numbers that mean you can still see them happily puttering around all over Italy. Nope, the current one they launched back in 2007 is as modern as they come, and nine years on with very little tweaking, it is arguably the best car Fiat has ever built.

A big claim. But with 1.5m sold by last year, a big hit with buyers of small cars too. That the proportionate level of success hasn't been achieved by the model in Ireland is partly because the city car segment is relatively tiny here. And partly because ... well, I don't really know.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Lexus aims small crossover at Paris

This is the Lexus UX Concept which will feature on the company’s stand at next week’s Paris Motor Show, writes Trish Whelan.

Aimed at taking a premium slice of the booming sub-compact crossover business in Europe and Australia, a production version would probably be the Toyota luxury version of the upcoming C-HR small crossover.

The interior of the concept is very futuristic indeed, using touch-screens and touch-surfaces for many of the control buttons.

More when we’re reporting from Paris.

C-Class Cabrio arrives

Mercedes-Benz Ireland sales manager Ciaran Allen and chief executive Stephen Byrne keep the sunny side up as they welcome the new drop-top C-Class Cabriolet on to the Irish market.

Now in dealer showrooms priced from €54,580, the two-door, open-top cabriolet comes with a comfort package that extends the summer motoring season into autumn and beyond.

Features include an electric draught stop system and neck-level heating for driver and front passenger both of which work to extend the open-top season by ensuring that occupants enjoy maximum open air comfort, even at low temperatures.

Rob Duggan takes the Manx

Vauxhall Motorsport UK driver Rob Duggan rounded out an almost perfect season by taking his fifth win on the MSA DMACK Junior British Rally Championship last weekend on Rally Isle of Man, writes Richard Burke. Having already secured the junior title on the previous round in Ulster, Duggan was able to drive without pressure on the Manx and secured another junior win, as well as a top 10 finish on the infamous island.

New Rio aims at top Kia spot in Europe

This is Kia’s new Rio, which will debut at Paris next week, writes Brian Byrne.

It’s the fourth generation of the brand’s supermini and looks a lot sportier than the current car, which is Kia’s third biggest seller in Europe. Sportage and cee'd are their current biggest.

Globally, Rio is Kia’s biggest selling model, and the company expects the new one to bring the nameplate close to the top in local markets.

e-Crafter revealed

The prototype for a fully electric Crafter van has been revealed by Volkswagen at the Hanover Commercial Vehicles Show, writes Brian Byrne.

Based on the brand new generation Crafter, the electric version will be arriving with customers in 2017, and will have a range of 208km. Charging time is claimed to be as low as 45 minutes.

Loads capacities of up to 1.7 tonnes will be available.

Review: Ford Mustang

There were half a dozen bags to be disposed of, so I rocked up to the weigh-bridge at the local civic amenity with the boot full, writes Brian Byrne. "Green waste," I said.

The guy in the office stared for several long moments. "OK," he said eventually. "I'll let you in if you take me for a spin." Though I knew that he didn't really expect me to say yes.

As I drove on with a grin, I figured it was the first time a bright yellow Ford Mustang had come into the facility. Especially rumbling through with the sound of a 419hp V8 wafting behind. He was waiting for me when I weighed out, though, wanting to talk about the car and see it close-up and personal.

The Mustang GT is that kind of car. Iconic, people-grabbing. Not a car to try and be discreet in. And even if you had the one in grey, the sound would turn any petrolhead towards it. Non petrolheads too. It all makes for lots of spontaneous conversations with strangers.

Carey is Ireland's BOSS

Meath driver Cian Carey, 22, clinched the 2016 BOSS Ireland title at the high profile Leinster Trophy meeting at Mondello park in County Kildare last weekend, writes Leo Nulty.

The double Motorsport Ireland Young Driver nominee has set the pace for most of the races in the high powered series all season, despite competing again some far more powerful machinery in his 2.0 Formula Renault-Tattus. Having won at Kirkistown and Mondello Park already this season, the Rathoath driver approached the final round at Mondello Park, at the biggest race meeting of the year, just needing a pair of points finishes to clinch the coveted title.