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New cars and hot deals, 7th December 2007

Audi reveals A3 Cabriolet; save £10k on a Saab 9-3

Audi unveils A3 Cabriolet

Audi A3 Cabriolet

A3 Cabrio pinches some styling cues from the new A4

Audi has taken the wraps off the much-anticipated A3 Cabriolet. Sitting between the three- and five-door A3 hatchbacks in size, the Cabriolet should seat four – much like the VW Eos, with which it shares some DNA.

Four engines and two trim levels will be available when it arrives in the UK in time for spring. The engines are all four-cylinder units with turbochargers and direct injection – two of them petrol and two of them diesel – and will only be combined with front-wheel drive at launch (expect Quattro versions to follow later).

Audi A3 Cabriolet rear

Suspension choices likely to be ‘hard’ and ‘rock hard’

The trims are simply standard and Sport – which gets a lower chassis, harder suspension and bigger alloy wheels. How advisable any of that is in an Audi convertible remains to be seen – but Audi is claiming high levels of rigidity despite the new fabric folding roof.

S-line options are on offer, with SE likely to arrive later in the year. Audi’s dual-clutch S-tronic semi-auto gearbox is available, and the roof is either semi- or fully-automatic depending on specification.

Full details and pricing will be announced closer to launch. This car is likely to prove very popular, so if you want one for spring, best make some enquiries now.


Market Watch – new and used deals

Ford Focus ST

Save £2.5k on a Focus hot hatch

With the face-lifted Ford Focus very much upon us, prices for the current version are continuing to fall. Buy My New Car can do you a brand-new ST from £15,899 – that’s £2,446 less than list.

For a alternative, try Motor Provider for a deal on the Volkswagen Golf GTI: three-doors from £17,695, five-doors from £17,895.

Saab 9-3 pre-facelift

Huge discounts on older shape 9-3

Another face-lift victim is the Saab 9-3. Values for the previous version are now plummeting. Motorpoint, for example, has 2007-registered 1.9 diesel autos in desirable Vector Sport trim. 

With between 8,100 and 12,250 miles on the clock, they are each priced at £13,999 – a massive £10,765 less than the original list price.

Peugeot 308 GT

Save £3k on 308’s list price

Got an eye for a brand new model? Then try this: Drive the Deal has an unregistered Peugeot 308 2.0-litre diesel in sporty GT specification for £3,210 less than list. That’s £17,185 instead of £20,395.


Revised Mazda5 boasts better quality and economy

2008 Mazda5 cabin

Mazda claims cabin is better insulated

Mazda is updating its impressive MPV for 2008.

Every version has improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions – the 1.8 petrol and the diesels even dropping into a lower tax band – while cabin materials, sound deadening and the chassis have all been upgraded.

The biggest mechanical revisions come to the 2.0-litre petrol models, which get an overhauled engine and a new six-speed manual gearbox as standard. A five-speed auto is also available for the first time.

2008 Mazda5

Sliding doors were always good – now they’re powered, too

Tasty options include power opening for the 5’s unique twin sliding rear doors, a touchscreen DVD sat nav system with reversing camera, and Bluetooth phone connection with steering-wheel controls.

New bumpers, lights, grille and wheel designs distinguish the revised exterior, and the stereo has an auxiliary input for MP3 players.

No pricing details have been announced – we anticipate a slight increase – but the new Mazda5 is on sale in January.


Skoda prices new Fabia Estate

Skoda Fabia estate

Fabia estate starts at £9,360

Skoda has announced prices and specification for its new Fabia Estate.

It starts at just £9,360, but for that you get only the feeblest 1.2-litre petrol engine. Assuming you plan on carrying anything in the estate’s impressive 480-litre boot (1,460-litres with the rear seats folded), it will be wise to invest in a bigger engine. 1.4 and 1.6 petrols are available, alongside three diesels – two 1.4s and a 1.9-litre.

There are three trim levels – simply 1, 2, and 3, like the hatch – and the top-spec 1.9 diesel 3 goes for £13,775.

Skoda Fabia Sport

New Sport has more aggressive looks

A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, although the 1.6 is available with an optional six-speed auto. Compared with the previous version, standard equipment, quality, and attention to detail are all up.

The Fabia Estate arrives in the UK in February. Meanwhile, the Fabia hatch is gaining an additional ‘Sport’ specification, to sit alongside the current range-topping 3 spec. It features a more aggressive exterior look, and is intended to take on rivals including the Ford Fiesta Zetec S and the Vauxhall Corsa SXI.


New Impreza WRX STI £1,600 cheaper

The new generation Subaru Impreza has taken a bit of battering since its introduction in October, with critics suggesting it fails to live up to the sporting reputation of the previous model.

However, this might calm things down. Subaru has released UK prices for the top-dog WRX STI – and at £24,995 it’s £1,600 cheaper than the outgoing car.

Subaru Impreza WRX STI

WRX STI hits 60mph in under 5 seconds

With a revised 2.5-litre turbocharged engine producing 296bhp and even more sophisticated four-wheel-drive system – not to mention the entirely new platform – this does make it seem like rather good value.

Other changes compared with the standard 1.5- and 2.0-litre cars include flared wheelarches, deeper bumpers, huge rear spoiler, and, of course, the bonnet scoop. 0-60mph takes just 4.8 seconds, and top speed is 155mph.

First deliveries commence in March, with a Prodrive-tuned version set for later next year.


Ford Fiesta Zetec Blue special edition

Ford Fiesta Zetec Blue

Zetec Blue offers extra kit and new wheels

Following on from the dubiously-decorated Two-Tone Ka special edition last week, Ford has now revealed a new special edition Fiesta.

Thankfully, unlike the Ka (or the luridly green Fiesta Zetec S Celebration), Ford has left the exterior well alone. Badged the Fiesta Zetec Blue, the colour in the name refers to the seat fabric. Yes, blue seats in a Fiesta do apparently deserve their own special edition.

Ford Fiesta Zetec Blue cabin

Guess what…it’s blue inside

That isn’t quite all – you do also get a four-speaker Sony stereo and 16-inch alloy wheels. The extra equipment is valued at £800, but the Blue costs only £200 more than the regular Fiesta Zetec. Three engines are available – 1.25 petrol, 1.4 petrol, and 1.4 diesel.

Prices start at £9,995 for the 1.25 three-door, rising to £11,595 for the diesel five-door.


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