123.ie Car Review 2018


67% believe drink driving offenders should be named and shamed

48% want custodial sentence for drink driving offenders

Tailgating most annoying habit

Audi and Mercedes drivers most satisfied with their cars


A survey of almost 3,500 car drivers has revealed that the majority of motorists in Ireland are in favour of the introduction of harsher penalties to combat a range of offences, including driving without insurance (95%), drink driving (93%), driving while using a mobile phone (91%), not wearing a seatbelt (89%) and speeding (81%).

The 123.ie Great Irish Car Review covered a range of issues including penalties, favourite car brands, purchasing trends, fuel preferences and the sometimes fractious relationship between cyclists and drivers. Padraig O’Neill, 123.ie’s Head of Marketing, said: ‘The results of this year’s survey clearly indicate that Irish motorists are concerned about the standard of driving on our roads and overwhelmingly support the idea of harsher punishments for those who continuously put others at risk. While we did expect there to be some frustration regarding the standard of driving, it was surprising to see nearly all respondents consistently call for more severe penalties, even for minor driving offences.’

Name and Shame drink driving offenders

3% support a mandatory life-time driving ban for a repeat drink driving offender and more than three quarters (78%) stated they would also like to see a mandatory three month ban for first time offenders. Nearly half (48%) indicated that a custodial sentence was appropriate for a drink driving offence and 67% were of the opinion that drink driving offenders should be named and shamed to act as a deterrent. More than two thirds (66%) of those surveyed felt that drivers are not observing the new 30km speed zones in designated areas. When asked if they supported increased penalty points for drivers who were 20km or more over the 30km speed limit, 88% agreed. Similarly, 89% felt fixed fines should be introduced for those breaking the 30km speed zone by 20km or more.

Low levels of loyalty for Opel and Citroen

When asked about overall vehicle satisfaction, Audi and Mercedes jointly topped the polls in this year’s survey, with both brands receiving an 82% satisfaction rating. Mazda and Skoda secured second and third place respectively, but with only a 7% difference between the top and bottom spots, Irish drivers seem to be happy with their current choice of vehicle overall.  According to the 123.ie research, Audi and Toyota drivers demonstrated high levels of brand loyalty, with 79% of owners stating they would purchase another vehicle from the same brand. Citroen drivers were least likely to purchase from the brand again (36%), followed by Opel (40%).

Renault least popular, Skoda least attractive


Of the top ten selling car brands, Renault was selected as most disliked with 27% of drivers saying it is the car they would least consider. Kia (12%) and Seat (11%) were second and third place respectively. When asked about the top selling brands in Ireland they would be least likely to buy, respondents referenced Renault’s poor reputation, Seat’s poor resale value and said that Opel offered a bad personal experience. In line with last year’s survey, black was once again the preferred car colour with nearly one third (30%) choosing it as their favourite.  Maroon was voted the most disked colour with just 3% stating it as their preferred colour.

Second hand sales most popular

Almost 4 in 10 consumers (38%) plan to change their car in 2018 – a similar proportion as in previous reviews but interest in new cars is slightly higher in 2018 at (30%) compared with 28% in 2016.  Of those who will purchase a new vehicle this year, the majority (65%) will purchase second hand and more than 61% brand loyal intending to purchase the same car brand. More than two thirds (65%) believe importing offers motorists better value but only 5% of respondents intend to purchase an import year. ‘While most people recognise that importing a vehicle can offer good value, it might be the perceived hassle involved that deters the majority from taking this route. It seems people do prefer the simple option and they there therefore gravitate towards dealers, when looking for a car’, said Padraig O’Neill.

Electric and hybrid grow in popularity

Nearly two thirds of drivers (60%) would consider switching to an electric vehicle if fuels prices continue to rise. However there are a number of deterrents to purchasing a plug-in car, including concern about battery life (33%), a lack of charging points throughout the country (22%) and overall expense (14%). Hybrids have continued to grow in popularity as 15% of drivers would now consider purchasing a vehicle with a hybrid engine, compared to just 4% in 2015

Diesel engines on the way out?

While over half (54%) of respondents currently drive a diesel engine car, there has been a significant drop in the number of consumers planning to purchase a diesel, with just half considering doing so in 2018, compared to 68% in 2015. ‘The government’s intention to phase out diesel engines is definitely having an impact on the public’s perception of the fuel’s long-term value’, said Padraig O’Neill. ‘However whether this will have a corresponding long-term impact on sales remains to be seen, of those who plan to stick with diesel  almost half of drivers say that diesel offers better mileage for long journeys and for a quarter of diesel lovers (27%), they are still seen as the most efficient and affordable vehicles.’

New Luas line


When asked about the impact of the new Luas Cross City Line, almost two thirds of respondents (63%) said that the new Luas Cross City line has resulted in Dublin city centre becoming a no go area for motorists. Over half (57%) also believe the new line makes it more difficult for drivers to get in and around the city centre. Unsurprisingly, 40% of respondents feel that the city centre should not become a car-free zone and 42% believe that the new line has made Dublin more pedestrian friendly.

Men – the greatest offenders?


In the battle of the sexes, men were perceived by respondents to be the greatest offenders when it comes to habits including excessive horn honking (82% of men versus 18% of women), road rage, (93% of men versus 7% of women) and breaking a red light (respondents deemed that 85% of men versus 15% of women are red light breakers).  Women’s misdemeanour, it was felt by respondents, was a propensity to block the overtaking lane on a motorway or dual carriageway by driving slowly.

Bad Habits


Irish drivers bad habits were put under the spotlight as a quarter (23%) of those surveyed felt strongly that their fellow drivers did not properly use indicators, 20% said motorists did not use their mirrors or check blind spots correctly and 29% indicated that other drivers failed to keep within the speed limit.  Three quarters chose tailgating as the most annoying habit on the road, followed by incorrect use of indicators (67%) and not wearing a seatbelt (63%).  Mobile phone use by other drivers also made the top five, proving an annoyance to 62% of drivers in Ireland. When asked about behaviour that would result in penalties one in ten (14%) admitted they occasionally answered a call while driving and 12% had read a text while behind the wheel.

Most drivers nervous about cyclists

When asked about cyclists, 59% of those surveyed stated they feel nervous when encountering cyclists on the road and an overwhelming majority (88%) want more cycle lanes to be introduced on Irish roads. ‘While only 29% of respondents stated that cyclists do obey the rules of the road, there were particular cycling habits that the majority of drivers classed as unsafe,  including breaking traffic lights (81%), weaving in and out of traffic (84%) and cycling up one way streets (79%)’, said Padraig O’Neill. ‘Obviously both parties want to ensure a safe environment on our roads, but the survey indicates that all road users may need a refresh on the rules of the road to ensure this is the case.’

The 123.ie Irish Car Review for 2018 was carried out online in December 2017 amongst 3,461 car owners in Ireland.