As any fleet manager know, list price bears no relation to transaction price, although sadly private buyers seem to have ignored this, so when Ford cut up to 13% from the cost of its models, this did not necessarily mean they got any cheaper. Lex Vehicle Leasing had to increase contract hire rates by up to ú250 over a three year/60,000 mile contract because of the 'price cuts' to reflect the higher true change of car prices, and other leasing firms have followed.
Take our long term Ford Focus 1.8 Tdi saloon, which was listed at ú15,000 on the road when we got it. The same car is now ú14,095 - what a bargain!
Well, not actually, because the contract hire rate has gone from ú332.72 to ú336.34, with HSBC Vehicle Finance, which supplies our contract hire rates, blaming the increase on the price changes. For anyone from the Consumers Association who is bothering to read this, there it is in black and white. Well done, a great victory! I would now be paying ú130 more over a three-year contract.
The only winner is the fleet driver, who if they were driving 15,000 miles a year and moved to a new car would see the cost on which they were liable to pay benefit in kind tax bill fall from ú3,750 to ú3,523.
However, the confusion behind pricing should not detract from what it turning out to be a thoroughly dependable workhorse. Economy is regularly topping more than 50mpg, just short of the manufacturer's figure, and although the power unit is not one of the best diesels I have driven, it does the job respectably enough if you keep it under 3,000rpm.
I have noticed with annoyance that while the rear seat backs are set into a 60/40 split fold arrangement, the seat base is still in one piece. Furthermore, there are some niggles with the boot release. An intermittent short circuit means it opens on its own while on the move, quite disconcerting, but when I press the dash mounted button to open it, it stubbornly refuses to do anything, a visit to the dealer might be in order.