BMW M3 Convertible – auto is quicker
The latest edition to the new BMW M3 is the Convertible.
Like other 3 Series Convertibles, the M3 features a folding metal hardtop for the first time. The engineers have concentrated on keeping the weight down and rigidity up, but the 414bhp V8 drop-top still loses some performance, with 0-62mph taking 5.3 seconds (the Coupé manages the sprint in 4.9). Top speed remains 155mph, however.
In the same announcement, BMW also released details of its all-new seven-speed twin-clutch semi-automatic gearbox. Similar to VW’s DSG system, this is now available to order on all M3 variants, boosting acceleration, and improving emissions. It offers fully-manual changes via paddles or the gearstick, but no clutch pedal.
The Convertible’s 0-62mph time drops to 5.1 seconds with it fitted, but it isn’t cheap at £2,590. The car itself is priced from £54,655, with Sun Reflective leather as standard. It arrives here in April.
Market watch – new and used deals
Internet car broker Drive the Deal has a number of 57-plate pre-registered Mercedes E-class diesels with as much as £7,311 off the list price.
Plenty of options make £37,655 for an E320 Sport (with automatic and leather) a tempting buy.
The Ford Fiesta is one to watch for deals this year, as we are expecting its replacement before the end of 2008.
Lowest list price for a new one is £8,595, but if you don’t mind having some miles on the clock, Trade Sales has a selection of 56- and 07-plate examples from £5,799, most with below average distances.
The summer is nearly here. Well, if you use your imagination. Anyway, in response, a number of internet retailers have offers on the Peugeot 207CC.
Mazda2 three-door – more sporty
Mazda has released the first official details of its forthcoming Mazda2 three-door hatchback.
This might not sound too exciting, but it’s the first time Mazda has ever made a three-door version of its Mazda2 supermini. And while the five-door handles well, Mazda is promising the three-door will be even sportier.
Lightweight construction and frugal engines – 1.3 and 1.5-litre petrols, plus 1.4-litre diesel – also mean it will be a strong green performer.
Safety levels are decent, too – the five-door car has already received five stars from Euro NCAP. If only the interior was a little bit less plasticky…
The Mazda2 three-door debuts at the Geneva motor show in March, alongside the revised RX-8 we mentioned last week. Sales should begin not long after, with prices starting just below the five-door’s entry-level £8,499.
Subaru enters diesel age
Subaru has finally added a diesel to its engine line-up, available in the Legacy Sports Tourer estate and Outback from February.
Sticking to its roots, Subaru’s all-new powerplant is in unusual ‘boxer’ configuration – just like the company’s petrol engines. This, it says, not only helps keep the engine compact, and the car’s centre of gravity low (good for the handling), but also boosts refinement.
The new engine is also impressively green – especially given the performance and attached four-wheel drive transmission.
The Legacy estate does 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds and top speed is 126mph, yet it returns as much 49.6mpg, and produces as little as 151g/km (depending on spec). The Outback is only slightly behind.
Prices start from £19,995, making it a highly competitive alternative to mainstream European rivals.
Seat Ibiza shake up
Seat has revised its Ibiza range to start off the new year.
Chief amongst the changes is the new £10,995 Ecomatic version we revealed a few weeks ago – Seat’s cheaper equivalent of the VW Polo BlueMotion. But also new to the range is a 1.4-litre Sport model, with new 99bhp engine.
This replaces the old 84bhp 1.4 Sport, and delivers 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds, with a top speed of 118mph. You get sports suspension, sports seats, an MP3-player socket, and it’s priced from £9,395.
Other changes see Reference Sport become the entry-level trim choice – starting at £8,695 for a petrol 1.2 – while top spot now belongs to the 1.9-litre 128bhp FR diesel, which costs from £13,350.
The Ibiza is, however, getting old – its replacement, based on the new Skoda Fabia platform, must be due any day now. It remains good value, but there are better superminis available for your money.
Merc offers E-class upgrades and servicing discounts
Mercedes-Benz has some new year offers. And alongside the usual finance deals (if you can call 5.9% APR a deal), there is actually a pair of offers worth knowing about.
First of all, buy any E-class until the end of June and, assuming it doesn’t come with them already, you will receive a free upgrade to leather upholstery and an automatic gearbox. All in the name of keeping sales moving along we suspect, as an all-new E-class is predicted to arrive later this year.
Both are practically essential from a resale perspective, so getting them free is a bonus. Speaking of second-hand Mercedes, if you are the second owner of your car, you may be able to take advantage of a 15% discount on your first service, and even accessory purchase. Phone 0808 156 1960 for more details.