Renault teams with Irish Restaurant Awards 2017

Renault Ireland and The Restaurant Association of Ireland have announced Renault Ireland as the official car partner of the Irish Restaurant Awards 2017, writes Trish Whelan . The Irish Restaurant Awards (RAI) will travel around the country driving new Renault models for a series of regional events this March to announce county and regional award winners across 15 different categories. County winners will be announced at four regional events with over 600 guests expected to attend each. This year’s host counties for the events are Kilkenny, Fermanagh, Limerick and Sligo. This year over 80,000 individual nominations were cast online from 11-25 January. Pictured above are Ciara Doyle (Business Development & Sponsorship Manager, Restaurant Association of Ireland), and Liz O’Gorman (Marketing Manager Renault Ireland) with two chefs from The Radisson Blue St Helen’s, Stillorgan Road, Dublin. Speaking on the quantity of nominations received, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland

Review: Volvo S90

Volvo has always been at the upper end of mass-market, not generally accepted amongst the premium brands as a peer, or considered so by those who aspire to premium brands, writes Brian Byrne.

And in fairness, that was partly due to presenting not always inspiring cars in the key medium-large executive space. Like the S80, always worthy, nicely specified, but not meriting a second glance for any presence.

That changed somewhat with the arrival of the new XC90 a few years ago. Somewhere, Volvo had relearned style and well as adding to the not inconsiderable substance which much of the rest of its model range had already developed.

And now, with the S90 which was launched here earlier in the year, Volvo has to my mind definitely earned its place in the privileged car classes, right there with BMW's 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

The S90 has become one of those cars that turns the heads of even those who have no particular interest. Somewhere, the designers tapped into that very hard to find part of the senses that triggers the silent 'wow!'.

So it was with quite a sense of anticipation that I got back into an S90 last week for a full review opportunity. I wasn't disappointed, though there's a caveat here about how extras can wind up a price considerably.

As is obvious from that preamble and from the pictures, the S90 is a very good-looking car. It has the required sleekness elements in its style, but there's enough character in the details of the front, rear, and especially the C pillar to give the overall look edginess without becoming aggressive.

Those headlights with the daylight running lights sliced across the covering glass are from the same pen as in the XC90 stylist, and are already an unmistakable signature of Volvo of these and future times. And the rear treatment is distinctive too, and with the lights there taking advantage of LED technology so that they don't have to be massive.

For those who recall the fairly spartan design of the S80's interior, the new car's inside space is a big change indeed. Even taking account of the fact that the Inspiration grade and a lot of extras gave the review car a boost, the basic setup looks and feels impressive. The potential dominance of the centre stack screen is cleverly subdued by the design of the tall air vents beside it. And a big volume button underneath is reassuring for those of us who dislike distracting screen-based controls. The graphics on the screen, which has iPad style swiping between panes, are exceptionally high resolution and pinpoint clear. Also those on the main instruments, which provide a seriously large amount of information without clutter.

Ancillary controls, the keyless starter is by a stylish rotary switch on the centre console, no hunting for a button hidden behind the steering wheel. The shifter for the 8-speed automatic gearbox is blessedly a traditional one on the same console.

The review car came with leather everywhere, in a mix of 'blond' cool white and charcoal. Looked great, felt great, and the seats front and rear are a tour de force in comfort and support.

Accommodation is excellent, with room for three adults in the rear and lots of leg room for them. A fine boot, electrically operated in the review car, is finished as well as is the inside of the car.

Driving the car, powered by a 190hp diesel, is an elegant progress in every normal situation, and an audibly impressive one if you like your music played through the very high end Bowers & Wilkins sound system. The engine doesn't intrude, the gearshifting is seamless, and there's just such a great sense of being in a good place.

Volvo make much of the semi-autonomous technology in this car. Yes, it can park and park out automatically. And its active cruise system works very well in even busy highway traffic. Also, the lane-keeping assist will maintain the car around curves on properly marked roads, though you are required to keep your hands on the wheel. Truthfully, though, I think we're much further away from self-driving cars than most companies will admit.

Didn't matter. Apart from the active cruise control, once I tried out the other things, I switched them off and concentrated on my driving. Which was no hardship in the S90.

Did I mention money? Oh yes. The starting price for the S90 is €48,400. This is the Momentum grade, and it does come with all the technology as standard. The Inscription grade adds a bunch of things that I'm not going to go into here, and that brings the price up to the mid- €50,000 space. The review car options brought it up to €75,195, a big chunk out of anyone's bank account. But also to be fair, getting the same options on the key pair of competitors would probably also bump them up to the same rarified strata.

I think most people looking at the S90 will have no complaints about buying in at the more affordable level. They're not going to feel deprived, as that basic specification is so good anyhow.

I guess by now you've noticed that I like the S90. A lot.


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