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New cars and hot deals, 2nd May 2008

Save £10k on a Jag; Citroen's credit crunch cure

Market watch – new and used deals

Lexus LS600h

The cosseting Lexus LS

A slowdown in sales of larger cars seems to be showing at Buy New Cars 4 Less. It can save you £8,100 on a BMW 760Li (the long wheelbase V12 petrol), reducing the price to £77,445, and a massive £10,553 on a Jaguar XJ Sovereign 4.2 V8 petrol, bringing that down to £47,710.

And if the Congestion Charge is still a bother to you there is always the Lexus LS600h hybrid – not cheap at £79,597, but loaded with toys and at a price that’s actually £8,214 less than list.

Suzuki Swift

Be swift for Suzuki offer

At the opposite end of the scale, the Suzuki Swift supermini remains a difficult car to get a discount on at the dealer, since demand usually outstrips supply.

But it’s getting on a bit now (and due for a facelift soon), and Online Cars has access to a number of pre-registered examples, in a choice of colours at £8,495.

That’s for the 1.5-litre GLX petrol five-door model, and represents a saving of over £1,000 less than the recommended retail price.

Vauxhall Meriva

Meriva offers available

Need something a little more practical? Then try Buy My New Car, which is offering new Vauxhall Meriva 1.3 diesels for £9,999 – a £2,945 saving.

And if that isn’t large enough, consider buying used. A three-year old Vauxhall Zafira seven-seat MPV, with as little as 30,000 miles, can be found for just £6,000.

Carcraft has a large selection in stock, including both 1.6- and 1.8-litre petrols.


Citroen extends finance offers

Citroen C4 Picasso

70% of buyers choose finance

In a move it’s calling “Citroen’s credit crunch cure”, the French manufacturer has extended the range of its current zero percent finance offers.

These offers now cover over half the cars in its model line up.

Understandably, this is a typical rate, rather than a guaranteed one, but customers have the option of applying for it on versions of everything from the tiny C1 city car to the rather larger C-Crosser SUV.

According to Citroen, 70 per cent of all C4 Picasso buyers have taken advantage of similar deals since it was launched, and things are moving in a similar way with the new C5.

Citroen C5

Citroen finance deals

And to illustrate its point further, you would apparently save £2,628.32 buying a Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 diesel in VTR+ spec through the manufacturer, compared to a 13.1 percent typical bank loan.

As always, if you are considering such a deal, make sure you check the small print very carefully, and investigate all of your options.

Citroen’s zero percent finance is subject to status, and available over three or four years depending on model.


Audi A3 updates

Audi S3

New Audi S3

This summer sees the arrival of an updated Audi A3.

Not an all-new car, just a facelift. But alongside the sharper looks, the upgrades bring a host of new technology options to Audi’s entry-level hatchback.

These includes the latest versions of the “S-tronic” semi-automatic double clutch gearbox – which means seven speeds for some petrol engines – and the introduction of magnetic ride to this model, the clever adaptive damping system already seen on Audi’s TT and R8 sports cars.

Audi A3

Inside the new A3

Of the seven engines available, the two 2.0-litre diesel units stand out. These have been revised to include the latest common rail injection technology, making them not only smoother but more frugal.

And for the first time the range-topping S3 performance model, complete with 3.2-litre petrol V6, will be available in five-door form. The interior in all versions is now higher quality.

Prices will be revealed closer to launch, but one of the market’s most desirable hatchbacks should be even better.


Sporting Ford Focus and VW Passat

Ford Focus ST

New sporting Focus ST

Ford’s Focus ST has been given a makeover, bringing its looks in line with the rest of the Focus range.

Priced from £18,250 to £20,850, the ST continues to be available in a choice of three trims – ST, ST-2, and ST-3 – and uses the same 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine as before.

However, all versions now get electronic stability control as standard (as per the rest of the Focus range), a starter button, ‘Easyfuel’ capless refuelling system, and changes to the suspension and brakes. Three and five-door models are on sale now.

VW Passat R36

New, rapid Passat

Meanwhile, Volkswagen has given the staid and sensible Passat a sporting shot in the arm, as the R36 performance flagship finally makes its UK debut.

This features a 296bhp 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine, six-speed DSG semi-automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, and a sporty chassis set-up.

Lower ride height, more aggressive bodywork, 18-inch wheels, and twin exhaust pipes distinguish it from the outside, while the interior gains sports seats, ‘R’ logo dials, and some aluminium highlights.

Prices start at £30,990 for the saloon, £32,150 for estate. The R36 Passat is on sale now.


Vauxhall Tigra ‘fabric’ roof

Vauxhall Tigra Rouge

Fabric… or metal?

In one of the strangest announcements outside of an April Fools joke, the Vauxhall Tigra coupé-convertible is now available with a fabric finish to its folding hardtop roof.

Part of the new Sports Rouge specification, which replaces the previous Sport model, the new roof isn’t exactly subtle either, since it’s coloured Bordeaux Red.

Apparently the idea is ‘designed to appeal to those who love the look of a fabric soft top but who also want the convenience, security and safety of a hardtop’. Who knew such people existed?

Vauxhall Tigra Rouge

Unique metal-fabric roof

Anyway, as with the regular car, the roof can be lowered or raised in 20 seconds.

Fitted kit includes central locking, electric mirrors, steering wheel controls for the CD stero, alloy wheels, sports seats, and an auxiliary input for MP3 players.

Yours to order now with a choice of 1.4- or 1.8-litre petrol, or 1.3-litre diesel. The Sport Rouge Tigra costs between £15,705 and £17,195. Is this the beginning of a vinyl roof revival?


Limited Edition Alfa Romeo Spider

Alfa Romeo Spider

Limited Edition Spider

As we remarked last week, if it’s offers on convertibles, summer must be on the way. Here’s the second such car this week.

The Alfa Romeo Spider Limited Edition is based on the 2.2-litre petrol model, but includes a massive £3,000 worth of extra equipment – for no additional cost.

The emphasis is on luxury and looking good, so alongside the include Blue&Me telephone and entertainment system, the Limited Edition includes heated leather seats.

The colour of the leather is dictated by the colour of the exterior, (choose from four stylish shades).

The other upgrade is to the alloy wheels – which grow two inches over the standard car’s 17-inch wheels.

The Spider Limited Edition is on sale now, priced £25,500.

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