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New cars and hot deals, 5 September 2008

Save £11k on a BMW X3; Vauxhall's Astra ecoFlex

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Market watch – new and used deals

VW Touran

Big savings on large Touran

Are you after a practical people carrier, but still want a premium image? Then the Volkswagen Touran is just the thing.

Broadspeed offers a decent discount on every version in the range, with prices starting at £11,999 for a 1.9 diesel in basic S trim – list price for this car is £15,925.

However, if you’d prefer the ultra-economical BlueMotion version, go to Autobytel.

It is offering the Touran BlueMotion S at £12,960 – a saving of £3,765 compared with the £16,725 list price. Far cheaper than the £14,868 that Broadspeed is asking for the same model.


Huge X3 savings

Proving once again how difficult dealers are finding it to shift petrol 4x4s, Motorpoint has three unregistered, delivery mileage 2008 BMW X3 2.5i SEs in stock, priced at £21,999.

That is the entry-level X3, and the X3 is a car that lags behind the competition these days – but it also represents a massive saving of £11,141.

Toyota Yaris SR180

£££s off the SR180

The range-topping Toyota Auris SR 180 five-door retails at £18,545. But if you’re happy buying used, All Approved Cars is showing a 5,000-mile example, first registered in 2008, for £15,493. That’s more than £3,000 off, for a car that’s barely run in.


Astra ecoFLEX arrives

Vauxhall Astra ecoFLEX

Astra ecoFLEX – low CO2

Following the existing Corsa ecoFLEX, Vauxhall has announced a new Astra ecoFLEX.

The ecoFLEX badge is Vauxhall’s equivalent of Volkswagen’s BlueMotion and Ford’s ECOnetic (it’s all about inventive capitalisation, you know…), representing the most environmentally friendly models in the company’s range. The Astra ecoFLEX is based on the existing 1.7 turbodiesel, but actually produces 10 more brake horsepower, bringing the total up to 108bhp.

Despite this, CO2 emissions are reduced to 119g/km (from 135g/km for the non-ecoFLEX equivalent), and fuel economy is up to 62.8mpg (from 56.5). That means road tax will be just £30 a year from March 2009, while buyers will also make regular savings at the pump.

Vauxhall has been quite specific about the changes necessary to make the ordinary Astra into an ecoFLEX.

There’s a taller axle ratio, new engine management, reduced idle speed, and low-rolling resistance tyres. Overall weight drops by 30kg, while aerodynamic improvements include lowered suspension, revised air intakes, and fitting a lower engine compartment panel. Even the power-steering pump has been modified.

The Astra ecoFLEX is on sale now as a five-door hatchback, priced at £16,340 in Life (a/c) trim – meaning it still includes air-conditioning. A three-door and an estate are coming soon.

Citroën sale; win a Lexus for a year

Citroen Xsara Picasso

Xsara Picasso – under £10k

Citroën is having a September sale event in an effort to ease people into the brand new 58-plate registration, in spite of the credit crunch.

Selected models are available with either three or four years of 0% finance. This includes four years’ interest free on selected C4 Picassos with a modest 20% deposit; four years’ interest free on selected C4 hatchbacks with a 30% deposit, and three years’ interest free on the new Citroën C5 with a 40% deposit.

Cashback continues to be a strong Citroën selling point, too, bringing sporty versions of the C2 down to a starting price of £8,095, and the C3 five-door to just over £9,000. Best deal of all, however, is on the Xsara Picasso which, with £5,400 in cashback, is down to under £10,000.

Offers run throughout September; see your local Citroën dealer for more details.

Lexus RX400h

Lexus Hybrid Drive weekend

Meanwhile, Lexus is having a ‘Hybrid Drive Weekend’ this weekend, 6-7 September. This gives prospective customers the chance to try out its GS 450h, RX 400h and LS 600h hybrids at ‘Lexus Centres’ (otherwise known as dealerships) all over the country.

Anyone taking part gets the chance to win a ‘365-day test drive’ in an RX 400h. Register in advance at www.experiencelexus.co.uk.

LPG Protons – at no extra cost

Proton GEN-2 Ecologic

Proton GEN-2 Ecologic

Proton is introducing a GEN-2 that run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as well as petrol.

This is badged – guess the first syllable, go on – ecoLogic, and available as hatchback or saloon. But what’s particularly unusual about Proton’s approach is that the dual-fuel ecoLogic GEN-2s cost exactly the same as their petrol-only equivalents.

So, not only are you saving £1,500-£2,000 in aftermarket LPG conversion costs by buying an LPG Proton straight from the manufacturer, with LPG around half the price of petrol (58p/litre LPG, £1.12/litre petrol according to a recent Fleet News survey) running costs are reduced, too.

Fuel consumption increases slightly, but harmful emissions are reduced. The LPG tank is placed in the spare wheel well, resulting in the loss of the spare and a small reduction in boot space. A second fuel flap and gauge are the only obvious external differences.

The GEN-2 ecoLogic costs £10,795 for the saloon, £10,995 for the hatch, and for a limited time a leather interior is included in the price (usually £1,000). LPG is currently available from more than 1,400 filling stations throughout the UK.

Twingo offers Renaultsport fun

Renault Twingo Renaultsport

Renault Twingo Renaultsport

Renault latest Renaultsport model goes on sale Friday 5 September – and it’s the cheapest yet.

The Twingo Renaultsport 133 costs £11,550 in standard form, plus another £650 if you want the even grippier, track-biased ‘Cup’ chassis. Visually it gains a sporty bodykit and 16-inch alloys (17s on the Cup) on the outside; bucket seats, an up-shift light, and ‘Blood Orange’ seatbelts on the inside.

Lowered, sports-tuned suspension sorts out the handling – while under the bonnet sits a Renaultsport modified version of Renault’s well-established 1.6-litre petrol engine. This produces 131bhp, does 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds and is capable of 125mph.

The Twingo is considerably cheaper than the hinted-at £13,500 price of the Fiat 500 Abarth. But the Fiat is quicker (0-62mph in 7.9 seconds) and more fuel efficient thanks to its turbocharged 1.4-litre engine, and has a higher quality interior. If you’re in the market for this kind of car, it’s also worth checking out the Suzuki Swift Sport.

Paris Motor Show announcements

The Paris Motor Show isn’t until October, but we’ve had more announcements about what’s going to be on display – this time from Hyundai, Kia, Seat, and Toyota.

Hyundai i20

i20 replaces the Getz

Hyundai will debut its all-new i20 supermini, replacing the lacklustre Getz in what is sure to be far more Europeanised style. Expect clever packaging, lots of standard equipment – and an i20 ‘i-blue’ eco concept car.

Also on the Hyundai stand will be a Santa Fe petrol-electric hybrid concept, the ix55 SUV (which won’t be coming to the UK), and the new Genesis luxury saloon on a new rear-wheel drive platform.

Kia Soul

Kia Soul – box on wheels?

Korean cousin Kia is showing the production version of its new Soul ‘urban crossover’ (translation: a supermini shaped like a box). It has also confirmed a diesel and petrol engine for the Soul, both producing 124bhp. Alongside the striking design, the Soul will benefit from large amounts of interior space.

Seat Ibiza new Ecomotive

New Ibiza Ecomotive on way…

Seat will show sporty Cupra and economical Ecomotive versions of its new Ibiza. The Cupra uses a 178bhp 1.4 petrol with turbocharger and supercharger, and comes with a seven-speed paddleshift gearbox, 17-inch alloys and a bodykit.

The Ecomotive will emit just 99g/km CO2 – the same as the current Ibiza Ecomotive – and uses the same 1.4-litre diesel engine, too, claiming 74mpg. Aerodynamics, gear ratios, engine management, and weight savings all aid efficiency.

Toyota Avensis

New Avensis – good looking?

Finally, Toyota will unveil the all-new Avensis – and the big news is that it actually looks quite good, judging by the single picture we’ve seen so far. It’s on sale in January, and will feature engines both more powerful and more efficient (which we would speculate to mean they will incorporate direct injection).

Alongside the new Avensis, Toyota will also be showing production version of the Urban Cruiser (a Nissan Qashqai competitor) and the diminutive iQ city car. The key here again is CO2 emissions, with the four-wheel drive Urban Cruiser emitting just 133g/km, and base versions of the iQ just 99g/km. The iQ will also debut the world’s first rear curtain airbag.

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