Monday 29 September 2008

Corvette ZR-1 pricing announced (UK)

GM has confirmed pricing for the 638bhp Corvette ZR-1, which will cost a cool £109,000 when it goes on sale in the UK next month.

It will certainly be a rare sight in the UK, with the company planning to register just two examples over here in 2008 followed by ‘single-digit volumes’ in 2009.

The announcement means that the ZR-1 is nearly £47,000 dearer than the £62,100 Z06. Corvette would argue that, seen against similar 600bhp supercars like the Ferrari 599 (£197,425) and the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 (£217,375) the ZR-1 could seem like something of a bargain.

British ZR-1s will be left-hand drive only, and the current dollar exchange rate means that potential buyers might be tempted to skip the warranty and bring one in direct from Stateside – the same car is selling for $103,300 (£56,000 excluding taxes) in the U.S.

Press Release:

Ultimate American Corvette ZR1 supercar boasts 205 mph top speed
Supercharged 6.2-litre V8 delivers 647 ps and 819 Nm
0-to-62 mph in 3.6 seconds, with 1.0g cornering ability
Advanced Driver Training Programme for every customer
Very limited numbers available in UK priced from £109,000 on-the-road

The fastest ever and most powerful series production car from General Motors, the 2009 Corvette ZR1, is on sale in the UK with first customer deliveries scheduled for late 2008. The eagerly-awaited ZR1 made its UK debut at the British International Motor Show in July, just a few weeks after claiming the ‘unofficial’ production car lap record at the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife circuit with a time of just 7 minutes 26.4 seconds. The left-hand drive ZR1 will be available in the UK featuring a single premium specification level, with a number of exquisite and exclusive details inside and out setting the ZR1 apart from every other Corvette and supercar on the road. The ultra exclusive proposition will be available in the UK in small numbers with just two Corvette ZR1 arriving in 2008 and only single digit volumes available to order for delivery in 2009. The ultimate American supercar is priced from £109,000 on-the-road.

“The ZR1 combines a series of cutting edge technologies such as carbon-fibre, ceramics and sophisticated electronics with the instantly recognisable and distinctive design to create the ultimate American supercar,” explains Jonathan Nash, director in charge, Corvette UK. “The result is spectacular. The Corvette ZR1 boasts astonishing performance, is visually striking and feels very special to drive. It outperforms much of the exotic supercar competition costing twice as much, while presenting buyers with a unique balance of stunning performance and exceptional driveability.”

“In addition, Corvette UK is determined to deliver an ownership experience par excellence, which starts with the specially-designed driver training experience and continues with technicians in the official Corvette service network receiving specific training on the unique features of the ZR1,” adds Nash.

Race-bred Technologies:

To achieve its incredible performance, the new ZR1 features a range of technologies from the elite echelons of motorsport, including lightweight carbon-fibre panels, carbon ceramic brake discs, an advanced aerodynamic package and lightweight race-engineered titanium engine components. At the heart of the ZR1 is an all-new, hand-built, race-tuned supercharged LS9 6.2-litre V8 engine that produces maximum power of 647 ps at 6500 rpm and peak torque of 819 Nm at 3800 rpm. The force behind the ZR1’s performance and refinement is a large, positive-displacement Roots-type supercharger with a new, four-lobe rotor design. It is augmented with an integrated charge cooling system that reduces inlet air temperature for maximum performance. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via an upgraded six-speed, ‘short-throw’, close-ratio race-bred manual transmission featuring a high-capacity twin-plate clutch. This new system also contributes to the ZR1’s exceptional driving quality, with smooth and easy shifting. The twin-disc design allows the clutch to handle a higher torque capacity with levels of inertia and pedal effort similar to the Corvette Z06. The ZR1 has a curb weight of just 1528 kg and its staggering power-to-weight ratio betters that of the significantly more expensive Porsche 911 GT2, the Ferrari 599 and even the Lamborghini LP640. The mighty Corvette V8 engine launches the ZR1 to 62 mph in just 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 205 mph. The ZR1 is built on the same aluminum-intensive chassis as the Corvette Z06 and features similar independent double wishbone front and rear suspension, manufactured in aluminium. Vehicle weight is distributed 51%/49% front/rear and the independent double wishbone suspension (front and rear), works with the ZR1’s advanced Magnetic Selective Ride Control to deliver a highly compliant ride without compromising on its exceptional handling and grip that is capable of generating more than 1.0g lateral acceleration in corners. Colossal engine power is matched by massive Brembo carbon-ceramic brake discs, clamped by six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers. Ventilated and cross-drilled, the discs measure 394 mm (front) and 380 mm (rear) – making them among the largest carbon-ceramic discs available on any production vehicle. The brakes are prominently visible through the ZR1’s exclusive 20-spoke polished chrome alloy wheels – 19 inches in diameter at the front and 20 inches at the rear. These are fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres – P285/30ZR19 (front) and P325/25ZR20 (rear) – which have been developed specifically for the ZR1.

A Truly Exclusive Appearance:

The exterior of the ZR1 is truly distinctive. Widened, carbon-fibre front bumpers with specific, dual lower ports, and a full-width, body-colour rear spoiler (incorporating the centre high-mounted brake lamp) are also unique to the ZR1. All of the exterior features were developed to enhance high-speed stability. One of its signature features is a raised, all-carbon-fibre bonnet incorporating a clear, polycarbonate window. This provides a view of the top of the engine’s intercooler, with the legend ‘LS9 SUPERCHARGED’ embossed on the left and right sides, and an engine cover with the Corvette crossed flags logo at the front. Exposed carbon-fibre is used for the roof, sill mouldings, underside of the bonnet and for the prominent front splitter. A choice of seven exterior colours will be available – Black, Blade Silver, Velocity Yellow, Cyber Gray, Victory Red, Atomic Orange and Jetstream Blue. Inside ZR1, high-quality materials, craftsmanship and functionality support the premium-quality experience promised by the car’s performance. A custom leather wrapped interior package is standard, and unique features include ZR1-logo sill plates and headrest embroidery, a bespoke instrument cluster design, and a Head-Up Display that includes a boost gauge. Driver and passenger are supported firmly and comfortably in lightweight, power-adjustable, heated, leather seats. Infotainment is courtesy of a Bose® premium audio system with seven speakers and a dual-slot CD and DVD player, plus a DVD-based navigation system with 6.5-in LCD touch screen.

Unique Ownership Experience:

In order to ensure that UK buyers can safely enjoy the performance potential of their ZR1, each owner will receive an exclusive invitation to a specially-developed driver training course. Highly experienced instructors will help customers to develop and advance their driving skills – for both track and road driving. UK customers will also receive an exceptional level of ongoing aftersales care commensurate with the exclusive nature of their new acquisition. The UK’s official Corvette service network will provide specialist care in their workshops, where cars will be maintained by dedicated technicians specially trained on the unique bodywork, running gear and powertrain features of the ZR1. The ultimate Corvette supercar comes with a three-year / 60,000 miles manufacturers’ warranty.

Saturday 27 September 2008

Ford Ka production begins in Tychy

While the 2009 Ka will be at the Paris motorshow, the first volume production examples of the new city rolled off the production line at a special ceremony in Fiat’s Tychy plant, in Poland. The new Ka is jointly developed with Fiat, but while it shares most of its underpinning with the Fiat 500 that is also built along with the Panda in the Tychy plant, the two city cars don’t share any sheetmetal or any major interior components.

"It was three years ago that we reached agreement with Fiat to produce the new Ka here in Tychy," explained Ian Slater, vice-president communications and public affairs, Ford of Europe.

"One of the strengths of this co-operation has been that both parties wanted to produce vehicles which would be very different in looks and character. I'm satisfied that in doing so, we've set up a 'win-win' opportunity for both companies."

Ford’s investment in the 500-Ka project amounted to €210 million and it resulted to the addition of another 1,000 jobs in the plant and more among locally-based suppliers. Annual production of Ford Ka will be 120,000 units a year.

2 engines will be available; 1.2 litre 69PS Duratec petrol engine that returns 119g/km of CO2, while the 1.3 litre TDCi 75PS Duratorq turbodiesel returns 67.2mpg and emits just 110g/km. UK models will come as Studio, Style, Style + and Zetec. Option packs and individual options like heated front seats, panoramic glass sunroof, Bluetooth connectivity/USB port and 6 speaker audio system will be available alongside other options. Sales start in Spring 2009.

Related link:

LaCrosse mules ditch heavy disguise

Spies have caught the all-new LaCrosse sedan undergoing final shakedown tests in Detroit, MI. The LaCrosse prototype has been spotted before but never without heavy camouflage covering the restyled sheet metal.

Carrying design cues from the Buick Invicta concept car - shown in China earlier this year, two distinct prototypes were present — one with a solid rear bumper and no visible exhaust pipes, and a second model with sporty dual exhaust tips peeking through the bottom of its rear bumper and larger tyres.

A quick glance into the LaCrosse's interior reveals a much more upmarket cabin, similar to the Cadillac CTS. Spy photographers on the scene reported that the 2010 LaCrosse was testing with rivals including the Lincoln MKS, Mercedes E-Class and Volkswagen Passat.

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse is expected to debut in mid-November at the 2008 Los Angeles motorshow.

Daytime running lights to be compulsory by 2011 (UK)

All new cars could have headlights that remain on all of the time from 2011. A Dutch study found that daytime running lights could prevent 5,500 deaths and 155,000 injuries across Europe each year, and the switch has been backed by the European Commission.

The proposal is now being sent to the European Parliament for final approval. Daytime running lights were made compulsory in Scandinavian countries in the late 1970s. In 2006, Austria, Croatia and the Czech Republic became the first countries outside of Northern Europe to follow suit. Volvo cars have always had daytime running lights as standard and now other car firms are slowly following suit.

However, the proposals have come in for criticism, as it is estimated that having headlights on all the time will increase the average fuel bill by up to 5% or £160 a year.

Britain has opposed the measure as unnecessary, but is unable to block it because a majority of other EU nations were in favour and transport issues.

Fiat's compact commercial van scheduled for a refresh

Following the successful launch of the Citroen Berlingo, Fiat is upping its game by redesigning the popular Doblo van. Redesigned bodyshell, interior and door-mirrors with indicators are all part of the new package.

As soon as engineers saw spy photographers hiding in the bushes, they turned the van around giving us a clear, 360° look at the newcomer. Like its predecessor, the vehicle will be aimed at young families in the passenger-car variant segment with a conventional top-hinged rear door but will be available as a commercial version featuring a split back doors as well. The tall grille and high mounted headlights hint heavily at the PSA Fiat Fiorino/Peugeot Bipper and Citroen Nemo commercial vans. One mule, sighted in Turin, Italy, showed different headlamps designs to the mules in these photos. 2 body sizes or another variant on the way?

Prototypes are currently testing in Austria and Germany and upon its release in 2010, the Doblo will rival the Renault Kangoo, Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo, VW Caddy and the Ford Transit Connect/Tourneo.

BMW sales dip (U.S)

BMW has become the latest car firm to announce a dramatic decrease in sales in the U.S market, with the company’s North American boss announcing that BMW USA has stopped shipment of 44,000 cars that were due to cross the Atlantic before the end of the year.

CEO Jim O’ Donnell, previously boss of BMW GB, reportedly took the decision due to the increasing cost of the incentives necessary to keep BMW’s sales figures buoyant in the U.S.

The weakness of the U.S dollar against the Euro has reduced BMW’s ability to make profits on American sales. The news is a major blow for BMW and proof of the depth of the economic slowdown. BMW sales in American had previously remained strong even as other European premium brands began to suffer.

And with dealers in the UK reporting their slowest September since the registration plate change was moved to the beginning of the month, the news from this side of the Atlantic is unlikely to get any more cheery.

Friday 26 September 2008

New Car: 2009 Hyundai i20 (Part 2)

After a teaser earlier on this month, Hyundai decided to release a new set of images and further details on its new i20 supermini. At the Paris autoshow, we’ll only see a five-door model but according to Hyundai, a sportier 3dr i20 variant will debut sometime in January 2009.

Based on an all-new platform with a 2,525mm wheelbase, the i20 is lower, longer and wider than the Getz it replaces. Designed and developed in Europe, the i20’s exterior styling is clearly inspired from the i30.

The i20 will offer numerous ‘smart’ storage spaces along with a 40:60 split flat-folding rear bench with a low lip for easy loading into the 295 litre luggage compartment.

The i20 will debut with a range of seven petrol and diesel engines. The petrol line-up comprises of the 78PS 1.2 litre, 100PS 1.4 litre and 126PS 1.6 litre engines all available with five-speed manual transmissions, with the option of four speed automatic on the 1.4 and 1.6 models. Turbo diesel powerplants in the i20 will be offered with a 1.4 litre engine, which is available in two specifications – 75PS and 90PS – while the flagship 1.6 litre oil-burner is available in 115PS and 128PS trim and emits just 125g/km of CO2. The 1.4 litre CRDi is likely to emit 118g/km of CO2. Both 1.4 models come with five-speed manual transmissions, while the flagship 1.6 is mated to a six-gear manual drivetrain.

When the i20 goes on sale in Europe later this year, it will be offered in four trim levels – Classic, Comfort, Style and Premium. All models will feature six-airbags, ABS, climate control, a four-speaker radio, CD and MP3 audio system, a multi-function steering wheel, tyre pressure monitoring system, height-adjustable driver seat, keyless entry and electrically windows and electrically operated mirrors as standard. UK flagship Premium models are most likely to be equipped with 4x electric windows with bounce back - a system that stops the window from going up if something is obstructing its path, heated front seats, leather interior, steering wheel with audio controls and gearstick, cruise control, 6 speaker audio system, alloy wheels and ESP. The only customer option will be metallic & mica paint, although Smartnav satellite navigation system could be included aswell. Expect heaps of accessories available for customers too.

Related link:

Thursday 25 September 2008

Hyundai i10 wanted down under (AU)

As yet the i20 is not even confirmed for Australia, though Hyundai Motor Australia has done well with the i30 and is pushing hard for the smallest of the Euro-focused cars, the i10.

“We'd like it come to Australia, however it's yet to be confirmed,” Hyundai Australia spokesman Ben Hershman says. “But it won't replace the Getz. We see it as a larger and more sophisticated car, so if it comes it will most likely be a premium model, which will be at a price point above the Getz.”

Hershman says the competition in the i20's sights will be the Japanese hatches, specifically the Mazda2 and Honda Jazz and the Toyota Yaris.

The i20's styling echoes the larger i30, though it has a few more creases, with a chrome-finished grille and strong character lines leading back from the teardrop headlights.

“We would do our best to have a choice of which engines would arrive in the i20, but we're not sure at this point which way we're going to go,” he says.

“Depending on the strategy we follow we may have one or two engines. We haven't decided on whether we would have petrol or diesel. But clearly we are delighted with how i30 diesel is going.”

The i20 will be produced initially only in Hyundai's Chennai plant in India, which builds the i30, Getz and the i10 for Europe.

It has had its production capacity increased from 250,000 to 400,000 cars to satisfy demand.

“We've done some preliminary studies on shipping from India and it's all very feasible,” Hershman says.

“We want to make sure that if we do this, we want all the pieces of the puzzle to work.”

In similar news, the i20 and i30 may reach U.S shores within a few years. Hyundai said that the i10 is far too small for U.S roads. Since the Elantra Touring is based on the i30 estate, it makes sense to consider the i30 hatchback.

Related link:

Renault Megane pricing announced (UK)

Ahead of its world debut at the Paris motorshow next week, Renault UK has announced pricing for the new 5dr Megane with ordering due to start on Thursday 2nd October. The Megane range launches in the UK with 11 versions priced from £13,995 to £18,795. Buyers can choose from three petrol engines, two 1.6 litre units developing 100 and 110bhp and a 180bhp 2.0 litre turbocharged engine as well as three oil-burners; two 1.5 litre units producing 86 and 106bhp and a 1.9 litre engine with 130bhp.

At launch, three trim levels will be available for the new Megane: Expression, Dynamique and Privilege. Standard equipment across the range includes, ESP with ASR (Anti-Skid Regulation) and CSV understeer control, air conditioning, six airbags, electric heated body coloured door mirrors and front and rear electric windows.

The entry-level Expression offers a 4x15W RDS radio/CD player, height adjustable driver’s seat, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, keyless car with Renault card and trip computer.

The Dynamique adds 16-inch alloy wheels (17-inch for the 2.0 TCe 180), 4x15W RDS radio/CD player with Bluetooth and multi-function TunePoint, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, hands free Renault card, height adjustable passenger seat, leather steering wheel and front fog lights.

Flagship Privilege offers additionally dual zone climate control, electrically folding door mirrors, electrochome rear view mirror, rear armrest with storage and rear parking sensors.

Like any other Renault in the UK range, you can expect heaps of options like bi-xenon headlamps, panoramic sunroof and metallic paint etc.

The Megane coupe will be available in January 2009.

Model, Engine OTR Price


1.6 VVT 100 - £13,995

1.6 VVT 110 - £14,345

1.5 dCi 86 - £14,995

1.5 dCi 106 - £15,795


1.6 VVT 110 - £15,425

2.0 TCE 180 - £17,745

1.5 dCi 106 - £16,695

1.9 dCi 130 - £17,895


1.6 VVT 110 - £16,145

1.5 dCi 106 - £17,595

1.9 dCi 130 - £18,795

Related links:

Saturday 20 September 2008

Top 10 worst & best selling cars of 2008 (UK)

Times are hard in car showrooms across the land but some sales teams are fairing worse than others. And if things are grim now they look to get worse before they get better, with the SMMT forecasting a 10% drop in sales for the remainder of the year.

So who's really feeling the pain? Well, when compiling the 10 worst selling cars in the UK we've looked beyond the bald figures - after all Rolls Royce is clearly going to sell fewer cars than Ford but they operate in totally different ballparks. Instead we've picked out cars that are selling badly compared with direct rivals.

If you're into stats the figures are fascinating too, with gems like the fact with 630 sales in the year to date the Audi R8 actually outsold the Subaru Legacy, Nissan 350Z and Mercedes GL-Class to name a few. Here though is a selection of 10 cars who really should just give up and go home if the sales figures for this year are anything to go on.

As expected Ford and Vauxhall dominate, the latter accounting for four of the top 10 with the Corsa nibbling at the Focus's heels for the crown of Britain's favourite car. Meanwhile the relegation of the Vectra and Mondeo to the bottom two places reflects a shift in our car buying habits.

While this is mainly directed to smaller, more affordable cars the presence of two 'premium' German players shows we haven't quite lost the desire to use our car to project wealth and success. Note, in particular, the 3 Series, now as much as a fixture on British roads as the Vectra and Mondeo it now comfortably outsells.

Top 10 worst selling cars in 2008:

Mercedes Maybach 57/62 - 1 unit sold

Whether it's the credit crunch, an attack on eco awareness or simply the realisation that money doesn't buy taste, the Mercedes-derived über-limo hasn't exactly got super-rich buyers queuing up. In the same period, Rolls-Royce sold 146 Phantom variants. I wouldn't mind buying one myself...

Cadillac BLS/Escalade - 57/8 units sold

The American symbol of being excessive. The brash, bold, in-your-face SUV only sold a mere 8 units. Cadillac's most popular car, BLS isn't as popular as the company hoped with sales topping 57 units.

Lexus SC - 50 units sold

The Mercedes SL shifted more than 700 units this year compared to the 50 units for the Lexus SC and who can blame the sales figures? The Mercedes is better looking and is easier on the petrol. The SC looks bloated and American and has a V8 that can't return more than 24.8mpg.

G-Wiz - 30 units sold

£10,000, top speed of 50mph and runs of batteries....No wonder sales have plummet. You can buy a Seat Ibiza Ecomotive, VW Polo Bluemotion and Skoda Fabia GreenLine for a similar price tag. All of which are far more spacious, better looking and better equipped than the ugly G-Wiz.

Hummer H3 - 11 units sold

Certain American looking cars don't sell here in the UK. Check out sales for the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Magentis, Cadillac STS etc. The H3 hasn't exactly set the sales charts alight. Blame the lack of a diesel engine for that and the £26,495 asking price.

Citroen C6 - 78 units sold

The C6 is sold throughout the world in order to boost sales. Its not the best looking sedan on the market compared to the BMW 5 Series, Volvo S80, Mercedes E-Class and Lexus GS. Its comfortable, good value for money, easy on your wallet, however, it sits too low to the ground compared to the E-Class. The C6 looks alright in certain angles but its not good enough to steal sales away from established premium marques.

Volkswagen Phaeton - 150 units sold

Would you buy a Mercedes S-Class or Volkswagen Phaeton? I thought so. Considering Mercedes sold 1,400 S-Classes this year, the Phaeton has the typical boxy roofline and the wooden interior. Its not all bad, it sold very well in Germany.

Peugeot 1007 - 200 units sold

Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes...or there it stays in the Peugeot showroom. I like the electric sliding doors but that's about it! Bad enough in isolation but when you consider over 10,000 107s were sold over the same period buyers rejection of the radical city car appears complete.

SsangYong Rodius - 200 units sold

The biggest shock with the SsangYong Rodius is that nearly 200 people this year have looked at all the many wonderful, keenly priced and stylish cars on the market, then chanced upon the Rodius and thought "Yup, that's the one for me..." They're brave, I'll give them that.
The looks are enough to have mothers covering their kid's faces as it passes. But just pity the poor child who gets dropped off at the school gate in one of these beasts every morning. The playground taunts alone will take years of therapy to resolve. Not following the herd is a laudable aim. But there are limits...

Perodua Kenari - 70 units sold

One of the most dated and aged cars on the British car market. Similarly priced is the better looking Fiat Panda. Bigger, stylish, more practical...Why buy one of these?

Top 10 best selling cars in 2008:

Ford Focus - 73,429 units sold

With over 1m sold since the first generation debuted in 1998, it remains a popular family car. Although the Corsa outsold it last month, the Ford maintains a healthy lead in the year to date figures, cementing its position as Britain's favourite car. The Focus has a superb ride quality and handling and its range of clean and efficient engines. The fact that all the 1.6 diesels offer CO2 emissions of less than 120g/km, £35 per year running costs is just one of the Focus's many strengths.

Vauxhall Corsa/Astra - 65,593/64,028 units sold

Almost as popular as the Focus, the Corsa is a class-leader when it comes to sales. Although certain Corsa's suffer from faulty handbrakes, the Corsa offers big car comfort and supermini practicality, alongside low running costs.

Set to be replaced next year, the Astra still remains well-liked despite being 4 years old. Low running costs, variety of body-styles, practicality and heavy discounting makes the Astra an all-round winner. Will the next Astra be as popular?

Ford Fiesta - 61,176 units sold

The Fiesta is the fifth best selling car in the country before replaced by an all-new model shows how much Britain love the baby Ford. In the overall rankings for the year to date, the Fiesta does one better too, slotting in behind the Astra to take fourth place.

Given the excitement over the all-new model it's a wonder Ford buyers aren't biding their time for its October sales debut. But it seems the Fiesta's honest, down to earth charms haven't worn out, despite the fact it's somewhat off the pace of its rivals in many areas. Ford will rightly be expecting big things of its successor.

Volkswagen Golf - 43,948 units sold

It was a very slow start for the current Golf. First year sales in Europe topped no more than 40,000 units. The current Golf majoring on quiet luxury, excellent build quality and all the performance you could wish for. Quiet petrol engines are a strong point but the aged diesels aren't the best for refinement. This has been sorted out for the Mark VI, which will offer the new VW Group common-rail diesel and give the Golf the tools it needs to go hunting its Astra and Focus rivals.

Peugeot 207 - 37,965 units sold

Following in the footsteps of the 206, the 207 was in fact the biggest selling car in Europe last year, with sales nearly topping 500,000 units. Small Peugeots have always been very popular in the UK, especially among younger drivers, and this tradition is reflected in the 207's success. Further evidence of this is provided by the fact that Peugeot has already sold over 10,000 107s and 20,000+ 308s so far this year too.

BMW 3 Series - 34,004 units sold

The biggest shock is that the 3-Series outsells both the Vectra and the Mondeo, both considered the default high volume sellers among fleet buyers. The fact that despite this huge success, BMW still manages to contrive an air of exclusivity and status must be a huge irritation to rivals. BMW's uncanny ability to record ultra-low CO2 figures with its company car driver-friendly EfficientDynamics innovations. If this wasn't bad enough the facelifted version out soon is further improved.

Vauxhall Zafira/Vectra - 31,424/29,048 units sold

Taking the format pioneered by Renault with its Scenic and running with it, the Zafira's killer blow is its neat Flex7 seating system, which transforms it from people carrier to load lugger in the blink of an eye. Affordable to buy and own it's not hard to see why Vauxhall leads the field here.

The launch of the Insignia at the British International Motor Show in July officially heralds the venerable Vectra's retirement. But it's enjoying a last hurrah by beating the Mondeo in the sales figures. Thank heavy discounting for this, as dealers clear stock ahead of the Insignia.

Always a fleet favourite, like many cars in their final phase of life the Vectra has matured into a decent, dependable vehicle. It's less graceful than its glamorous successor but has a hard working honesty many drivers appreciate. The Vectra's passing marks the end of an era but few would bet against the Insignia continuing the lineage.

Ford Mondeo - 27,804 units sold

The Mondeo remains a vitally important car for Ford but the trend for downsizing means it could soon be edged out of the top 10 by smaller rivals like the Honda Civic, Renault Megane or the Mini. When it comes to space, comfort and handling though the Mondeo remains a benchmark.

Related links:

Ford Transit production halved (UK)

Production of the Ford Transit van at Southampton is likely to be halved with the introduction of the next-generation model in 2011.

Unions are currently considering proposals from Ford that reduce the plant to building Transit chassis-cab variants only, cutting annual production from the current 75,000 to around 35,000.

“The market for cars and commercial vehicles is intense and it is vital that Ford vehicles and locations remain cost competitive,” the company’s statement said. If the proposal comes to fruition it will mark another decline in Ford’s UK production, coming less than a decade after car production ended at the Dagenham plant.

The Ford Transit is the only vehicle that the company currently builds in Britain, although engines are manufactured in Bridgend and Dagenham. The Transit is also built at Ford’s Otosan Kocaeli plant in Turkey. Under the company’s proposals, this factory will build all the other Transit variants from 2011. It is cheaper and more cost effective to build vehicles in Turkey than in the UK.

White coloured cars cost when it comes to selling your car (UK)

White has become an increasingly popular colour choice for cars in the last couple of years, but used values show that only a minority of cars can get away with wearing it.

According to sources, white works best on exclusive models when specified with sports styling kits and big alloy wheels. But in most instances white remains a major turn-off for used buyers, with ordinary cars finished in it tending to suffer from a major residual value penalty.

An Audi A4 S-Line in white performs strongly on the used market but a white version of the standard A4 is worth up to £1000 less than an otherwise identical car in a more desirable colour. Some models do extremely well in white, including the Audi S3, Audi RS4, Audi R8, BMW M3, Porsche 911 GT3 and Porsche Cayman.

But for other prestige saloons and SUVs, white can be the kiss of death, shaving up to £3000 from the value of the car compared to one finished in a more popular colour.

“The recent favourable reception for selected white vehicles on the used market has, in part, resulted from more vehicle manufacturers using white cars on their press launches, generating widespread national media exposure,” says Crosthwaite, “white car values have also been supported by low levels of supply... Our assessment is that, if supply increases significantly, or if white falls out of favour with fashion-conscious buyers, values could fall sharply, even on those sports derivatives where they currently perform well.”

Great Wall Motors copyrights Toyota Ractis clone (EU)

China’s Great Wall Motors whose GWPeri city-car was recently banned from Europe because its appearance was ruled to be too similar to that of the Fiat Panda and Nissan Note, has successfully managed to patent the design of the Feel Free minivan at the European Patent Office.

The GW Feel Free compact MPV is basically a revised Toyota Ractis (Yaris MPV) which is only sold in Japan.

As you would expect, Toyota is not a happy bunny!
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