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New cars and hot deals, 9th November 2007

Fiat’s 500 undercuts Mini; Mazda and Renault deals

Fiat 500 is cheaper than expected

Fiat 500

Retro-looking 500 will start at under £8,000

Fiat has finally announced UK pricing for its new 500, a stylish supermini set on stealing sales from Mini.

On sale in January with three engine and three trim choices, it starts at £7,900 for the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol Pop.

You don’t get much standard kit for that however – five airbags, CD/MP3 stereo and electric mirrors the highlights – so the £1,400 upgrade to Sport or Lounge may be worth considering.

Costing £9,300, both these versions gain air conditioning, Bluetooth communication system and 15-inch alloys. Sport adds a roof spoiler, foglights, sporty interior and window tints, while Lounge counters with a split/folding rear seat and a glass roof.

Alternatively, £9,300 also buys the more powerful 1.4 petrol or more frugal 1.3 diesel Pop. Sport and Lounge are again £1,400 more, making the most expensive 500 £10,700 as standard.

Fiat 500 rear

Option costs could soon add up, though

But just like Mini, Fiat is offering an extensive options list to tempt buyers keen on personalisation – making it easy to spend considerably more.

Don’t expect this to put many people off, however. Demand for the 500 was already expected to be fierce; the competitive pricing will make it even more so.

Our advice is to wait a few months until the fuss has died down, and any teething reliability problems have revealed themselves. Fiat as a brand is poor in our car reliability charts but, encouragingly, the Panda upon which the 500 is based looks reasonably reliable so far.


Renault Clio Cup prices; Ford’s special edition ST

Renault Clio Cup

Clio Cup is sure to excite, but air-con and curtain airbags are optional

Pricing and specification details for the Renault Clio Renaultsport 197 Cup have now been officially confirmed.

At £14,995, the Cup is £1,000 cheaper than the regular Renaultsport 197. Air conditioning, curtain airbags, cruise control, keyless entry and many other items have been relegated to the options list, but you do get a more aggressive ‘Cup’ chassis, and reduced weight.

It only comes in three colours (two of them at extra cost), and is on sale in November. Form an orderly queue, as it’s likely to be popular.

Ford Focus ST500

Special edition ST500 for £20,495

Meanwhile, Ford has announced a special edition version of its Focus ST hot hatch. Badged the ST500, it’s based on the top-spec ST3 trim but with extras including ‘scarlet’ leather interior and Xenon headlights.

Just 500 will be made, all in metallic black with silver stripes, priced from £20,495 – £500 more than the standard ST3.


Market Watch – new and used deals

Panda 100HP

Save £1,800 on the Sporty Panda 100HP

Given its pricing, Fiat’s 500 is likely to cause Panda sales to dip – so expect to see some excellent deals in January. However, if you don’t want to wait, Drive the Deal can save you between £1,700 and £2,200 on selected versions.

Pick 1.1 Active, 1.2 Dynamic, or the sporty Panda 100HP from a selection pre-registered in September (just remember this also reduces the amount of manufacturer warranty you’ll receive. Or brand new 1.3 diesel Dynamics at only £6,495. The Panda may not be as stylish, but it is certainly more practical than the 500, and great value here.

Mazda 3

Mazda 3 is a terrific used car for sensible money

Need a sensible family hatchback? Trade Sales has a selection of Mazda 3s available on 06 and 07 plates. Sub-£9,000 with less than 10,000 miles for a 2006 1.6 TS2 petrol is good value, and there are lots to choose from.

Alternatively, Mazda is offering a 0% finance deal on some versions of the Mazda 3 if you want to buy new.

Renault Clio F1 Team R27

Clio R27 F1 Team is a limited run – but you can still save £2,880

Can’t want for the Clio Cup? Then try Look 4 My Car. It’s offering the R27 F1 Team limited edition Renaultsport Clio brand new at £14,361 – more than £2,880 off, and actually cheaper than it’s selling the ordinary Renaultsport Clio.

The R27 was the first Clio to get the Cup chassis, is a genuinely limited edition, and should maintain decent resale value as a result.


£32k for all-wheel-drive Saab Turbo X

Saab 9-3 Turbo X

Turbo X previews more 4WD versions of the 9-3

Next year sees Saab step away from its traditional front-wheel-drive philosophy, with the introduction of a new four-wheel-drive chassis on some 9-3 models.

Dubbed ‘XWD’, the system is able to split torque not only between the front and rear axles on demand, but also between the rear wheels, depending on levels of available grip.

Saab 9-3 Turbo X rear

Limited edition Saab is yours for £32,495

It should ensure a dramatic improvement in the 9-3’s currently lacklustre dynamic performance.

Celebrating this, and 30 years of turbocharging at Saab, is a new 9-3 ‘Turbo X’ limited edition, featuring XWD and a 276bhp V6 turbo petrol engine. Priced from £32,495, it’s on sale now for delivery early 2008. Just 500 will be made available to UK buyers, in a choice of saloon and estate bodystyles.


New entry-level diesel for Suzuki SX4

Suzuki SX4 front

New 1.6 diesel for Suzuki’s mini MPV-cum-4×4

Suzuki’s SX4 mini MPV-cum-4×4 has gained a new 1.6-litre diesel engine.

Supplied by Peugeot, the new unit joins an existing 1.9-litre diesel and a 1.6-litre petrol in the SX4 line up.

With 89bhp, performance is likely to be adequate rather than lively – 0-62mph takes 12.2 seconds, top speed is 109mph – but it has reasonable environmental credentials, with 53.3mpg combined, and CO2 emissions of 139g/km.

Air-con, 16-inch alloys, roof rails, fog lights and heated mirrors are all included in the asking price which, at £11,999, is £1,000 more expensive than the equivalent petrol 1.6 GLX.


Audi Q7 diesel boosts power and efficiency

Q7 with 3-litre TDI

Q7’s 3-litre diesel engine is now more efficient

A revised 3.0-litre diesel engine sees improvements all-round for Audi’s seven-seat Q7 off-roader.

Advancements in technology mean the diesel V6 now delivers 34.9mpg combined, compared with the previous version’s 33.6mpg; CO2 emissions have been reduced from 279g/km to 260g/km – which should help business users, even if it is still in the top road tax bracket.

Q7 hybrid

Petrol-electric Q7 is on the way, too

Power is up from 230bhp to 237, while torque improves from 369lb ft to 406. The benchmark 0-62mph time is cut from 9.1 seconds to 8.5, according to Audi’s test figures.

Available in standard, SE, and S line grades from £38,075 to £41,475, you can order one now. A petrol/electric hybrid Q7 is also on the way, but not expected until the end of next year.


Want to know more?

Don’t forget, for up-to-the minute details of new and used cars, and current selling prices, all Which? members can log into the Car Buying Guide. There, you will also find our in-depth test-drive reports and reliability information on hundreds of different models.

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