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New cars and hot deals, 16th June 07

Mazda, Honda and VW announce new models and prices

Here’s our weekly round-up of new models and tempting deals, plus news of a free motor show if you’re in London over the weekend.

Special edition Mazdas for summer

Mazda6 Tamura

Mazda has announced two special editions for the summer. The ‘Tamura’, available on five-door Mazda 3 1.6 and Mazda 6 2.0 hatchback petrol models, is based on the existing TS trim. The added equipment includes an exterior sports styling kit, and savings of up to £3,126 over the equivalent TS models.

The TS 2-based Mazda 6 ‘Kumano’ comes as a 2.0-litre petrol or diesel five-door, and features upgrades including Xenon headlamps and ‘dark brushed finish’ alloy wheels, saving up to £555.

Both special editions come free with mica or metallic paint, and are limited in supply. The Mazda 3 Tamura costs £13,795 and the Mazda 6 Tamura £15,995; the petrol and diesel Mazda 6 Kumano are £17,550 and £18,650, respectively.


New Saab 9-3: styling changes, new engines, all-wheel drive

New Saab 9-3

Saab has released details of its new 9-3 range. Featuring all-new bodywork forward of the windscreen, as well as other detail changes, the 9-3’s revised looks are said to be ‘70 per cent’ new.

Technical highlights include the availability of four-wheel drive for the first time, and the introduction of a twin-turbo diesel engine claimed to deliver class-leading efficiency.

The new 9-3 comes as Saloon, Sport Wagon estate or Convertible. The new range will be available from September, with prices starting at £18,575 for the 1.8i petrol Airflow Saloon, rising to £34,495 for the 2.8 V6 petrol Aero Convertible.


Honda adds sporty GT and entry-level diesel to Accord

Honda Accord GT

Honda is broadening the appeal of its Accord range by adding sporty GT and entry-level SE diesels to the line-up from September.

The £20,767 GT gets Dark Graphite alloys, a boot spoiler, and other unique exterior trimmings including an exclusive Premium White Pearl paint option – plus sports suspension, satnav, and Bluetooth as standard equipment.

The SE majors on value, undercutting equivalent rivals with an £18,000 price tag that includes alloys, Bluetooth phone kit and a six-speed gearbox. Both cars feature Honda’s acclaimed 2.2-litre i-CDTi diesel engine, and potential buyers should be reassured by the Accord’s strong showing in our previous reliability and owner satisfaction surveys.


Confused.com and Direct Line at odds in the insurance market

Bumper damage

Direct Line is currently running an advertising campaign that claims car insurance comparison websites fail to offer customers the best value. Confused.com, one such site, disputes this, and counter-claims Direct Line is being unreasonable – especially as it refuses to allow itself to be compared.

The argument centres not only on the cost of the insurance but also customers’ understanding of what different policies from different companies offer.

Regardless of who is in the right, from a consumer perspective this serves to highlight the importance of shopping around. Even if the first quotation you receive for your car insurance seems reasonable it’s always worth checking with other providers – and make sure you find out exactly what every policy includes in the price.

If all that sounds like hard work, it needn’t be – just focus your search on our Best Buy car insurance companies – we’ve already vetted them for both good value and comprehensive cover standards.


New Daihatsu Materia mini MPV

Daihatsu Materia

People looking for a mini-MPV (small five-seat people carrier) will have another option from July: the new Daihatsu Materia.

Aimed squarely at the Renault Modus and Vauxhall Meriva, the similarly proportioned Materia has distinctive looks and lots of fitted equipment. The single trim level includes alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, six-speaker CD stereo, keyless entry and a sliding/reclining 60/40-split rear seat. The only factory option is metallic paint (£325), which makes showroom decisions a bit easier!

Powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine, Daihatsu claims it’s capable of 46.3mpg combined, and emits 165g/km of CO2. Priced at £10,995 on the road, £800 more buys an automatic, and there’s a three-year unlimited mileage warranty with roadside assistance as standard.


Free London motor show now on


There’s a free motor show underway in London until Sunday 17th June. The London Motorexpo is situated in and around the buildings of Canary Wharf and, although aimed primarily at business users, the exhibits are open to everyone. Highlights include the first UK show appearance of the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione and Audi R8 supercars, but there are many more down-to-earth vehicles to see, with big displays from both everyday and prestige marques. In addition to the static displays, potential customers can take test drives, while the Land Rover Experience passenger rides demonstrate the off-road capabilities of the company’s 4x4s.

The 2007 London Motorexpo runs until 17th June, is completely free, and situated adjacent to the Canary Wharf tube station.


New Golf estate prices announced

VW Golf estate

Volkswagen has announced pricing for the new Golf estate ahead of its launch in August. Intriguingly, the £14,347 entry-level 1.6 S is actually £180 cheaper than the equivalent five-door 1.6 S hatchback, making it very good value.

Two other trim levels are available, SE and Sportline, with three engine choices – a 100bhp 1.6-litre petrol and 103bhp 1.9-litre and 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesels. The range-topping 2.0 Sportline with DSG automatic gearbox and diesel particulate filter costs £20,417.

S models get air conditioning, remote central locking and electric windows; SE cars get extras such as alloy wheels and an alarm, while Sportline trim adds sports suspension. Load space is 505 litres with the rear seats up, or 1,550 litres with them folded (loaded to the roof).


Market trends

JATO Dynamics, a specialist provider of automotive data, is reporting that the move away from traditional car-buying patterns is continuing.

Renault Scenic

The year-to-date across Europe has seen a 17.7 per cent drop in sales of Mondeo-sized cars, and a 3 per cent drop in the premium large car market (cars such as the BMW 3 Series), as buyers move towards previously niche MPV and 4×4 sectors. Medium-sized MPVs such as the Renault Scenic are showing a 96.7 percent improvement in sales, year-to-date, while strong growth continues in every area of the 4×4 market.

This suggests that buyers of more traditional family cars may well be in for a better time when haggling with dealers in the coming months, as manufacturers look to push sales in these areas.

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