The joys of a big diesel engine are sometimes hard to beat

Reach is all about reach. This is the mantra surrounding the electric vehicle debate.

During the recent launch of the very impressive Audi Q4 e-tron, questions were asked about how people, accustomed to diesel cars that could travel half of Europe without refueling, would cope with the idea. with a range of between 330 and 511 km from the new model.

I remembered it a few weeks later
when picking up the BMW X3 diesel for our last five days in Connemara. Before leaving, the available range was over 1,000 km.

I thought this was extremely optimistic as we would be going full blast on the motorway to Galway, before continuing more leisurely on the stretch to the Cashel House Hotel. But no, the Beemer’s intelligence was perfect.

When the car was returned last Monday, we had traveled 1,021 km without refueling and the refueling warning had just come on.

Sure, the days of diesel are numbered – but it was wonderfully liberating that for a week we could get in the car and never think about finding a place to plug in.

Of course, we could have traveled in an EV – the Cashel House parking lot, while we were there, boasted an electric Tesla, VW ID.3 and Mitsubishi PHEV. Unfortunately, at the moment, they all had to recharge by plugging in through a three-pin system. A full charge can take up to 15 hours.

Although the X3 was not our first choice, it was wonderful to have. It has grown considerably over the past two decades and is now longer and wider than the original X5. He swallowed all of our luggage with ease, and for the first time – although we massively overpacked – the aft cabin was completely empty of bags, so Ziggy and Dooey could travel like the little royalty they aspire to.

The X3 is now lighter and much more fuel efficient. Driving in Connemara has its own challenges; you need patience and sharp handling skills. The powerful engine of the X3 provided power when needed and gave a superbly confident experience.

We could cross the sand to Omey Island with ease, even when the nervous Nissan Qashqai ahead of us decided to turn around. Coming down the highway last Sunday in almost biblical rain, it was good to have the excellent driving and safety systems on board. The fact that many smaller cars were still flying in front only shows the stupidity of many people.

The current X3, which is essentially a third-generation model, has a starting price of € 61,485 and offers variants in all modes, from a fully electric iX3 to a plug-in hybrid, gasoline and diesel.

It has come a long way from the rather odd early models that weren’t known for their style or reliability. All that has changed and the X3 has settled into a very advantageous position at € 20,000 above the X1 and the same below the X5.

It is perhaps the best performing premium SUV – with the exception of the aforementioned Q5, which we will come back to later.

It’s quite a slab of a machine, with looks that aren’t helped by the all-black color of the test car which looks corporate popular, but aesthetically uninspiring. It received no compliments, unlike the Q5 or the recent Skoda Enyaq.

It was great to be back at the Cashel House Hotel, where we spent time with our beloved dog Sam a few years ago. The 50 acres of garden are even more lush, and Ziggy and Dooey have taken many delightful walks through the incredible secret garden and the many forest paths – including the one to the headquarters of De Gaulle, commemorating where the legendary French leader enjoyed spending his time when he came to stay there for a few weeks in 1969.

Since our last visit, inspiring garden owner and designer Kay McEvilly has passed away. She was a force of nature, running the hotel on her own for 10 years after her husband Dermot died in 2008.

She was usually seen walking around the gardens and talking to guests one-on-one after dinner. Much of this interface has been taken over by the tireless Ray Doorley, the General Manager who has dedicated 44 years of service to the hotel.

Despite some recent deep personal losses, Ray is a tour de force; always helpful, always concerned. He is supported by Kay’s children and wonderfully loyal staff like the delightful Mary Jane, who has served in the dining room for 13 years.

Like many restaurants and hotels, Cashel House has struggled to find enough good chefs. During our visit, food first struggled in the foothills of mediocrity – especially with vegetarian options – before reaching kitchen heights for our final two days.

There were a lot of dogs at the Cashel House Hotel, but it’s a shame they were limited outside and in the rooms. Irish hotels could learn a lot from the UK and the mainland, where a more inclusive approach is taken for our four-legged companions. But all that being said, our days in Connemara were wonderful.

I had one of the best swims in many years and the dogs loved all the attention and activity. While it was nice to have a big diesel like the X3 to drive, hopefully next time it will be fully electric. But you can’t do without the pleasure of having a powerful, versatile vehicle with a range of over 1,000 km.

It takes a lot of pressure off and lets you enjoy the holidays a bit more. Plug-in hybrids wouldn’t work under such circumstances, and many – but not all – are gradually being discovered for the comedy that many people think they are, with high overall emissions and higher fuel consumption.

Anyway, in the years to come we will look back on our Connemara X3 trip with great pleasure.

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