Fleet News

New cars for 2004

2004 will see a fresh focus on the fleet car, with the number of new and revised lower-medium model unveilings comfortably in double figures. Simon Harris looks ahead to a busy year of new vehicle launches

Alfa Romeo

The GT Coupe will arrive in March and will share much of its engine line-up and components with the 156.
Facelifted versions of the 166 are also expected to arrive.

Audi

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AUDI will introduce its first 12-cylinder model to the UK in March with the A8 6.0L (above) – a long-wheelbase version of the lightweight A8 saloon using a W12 engine. A unique grille design will distinguish the A8 6.0L and despite its size it promises strong performance thanks to its aluminium construction.
The big news for fleets is that it will be all change for the A6 in the summer with the debut of an all-new model. It is expected to feature a grille design similar to that on the A8 6.0L.
The firm will also launch a high performance S4 Cabriolet model in May, while a long-awaited five-door A3 arrives in the autumn.

BMW

THE 5-series Touring will offer company car drivers a more practical alternative to the saloon in May, while 3.0-litre diesel versions of the 3-series and 5-series will become Euro IV-compliant in March, helping them avoid the 3% benefit-in-kind tax supplement. The engine upgrade will coincide with the launch of the 330Cd, a diesel coupe.
6-series coupe (below) and convertible models should arrive in the UK in March, while the new X3 – BMW's compact sports activity vehicle – will reach the UK in May. An all-new small BMW will be launched in the autumn – the 1-series – which will be the new entry model in the range.

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Citroen

CITROEN will expand the range of cars using its automated manual transmission in the spring, with the C2 and C3 being offered in 1.4 HDi variants with the SensoDrive transmission, as well as a new petrol engine in the C3 range – a 16-valve 1.4-litre with 90bhp, also fitted with SensoDrive.
Next generation HDi diesel engines are beginning to find their way into PSA Peugeot Citroen models, so we should expect to see them appear in the Citroen range next year, along with a greater range of Euro IV-compliant diesels.
A replacement for the Xsara, called C4, is expected to make its debut at September's Paris Motor Show, while a low-volume flagship executive car, called C6, will be launched in 2005.

Chrysler

FOLLOWING last year's Crossfire launch, Chrysler is expected to have a quieter 2004, but an updated Voyager and a 2.8 CRD diesel model will be added to the range, featuring a long-awaited automatic transmission for diesel versions of the MPV.

Daewoo

A FIVE-door hatchback, called Lacetti (above) and sharing components with the Nubira saloon, will join the Daewoo range in the spring, while a Nubira estate will boost the manufacturer's medium car line-up later in the year.

Fiat

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THERE will be subtle revisions to the Stilo range during 2004, but Fiat will also launch two new models this year.
January will witness the launch of the Panda (above), which fits in the range below the Punto. Meanwhile a Punto-based small MPV, called the Idea, is expected to go on sale in March.

Ford

FORD will build up to the launch of the new Focus in the second half of the year, developed from the same platform that has spawned the Mazda3 and the Volvo S40/V50.
However, new additions across the rest of the Ford range include a higher power Mondeo TDCi and a sporty Fiesta, increasing the choice offered in Ford's collection of ST models.

Honda

A DIESEL version of the Accord will go on sale in February, promising class leading refinement and fuel economy along with strong performance and low company car tax. The Accord 2.2 i-CTDi boasts 138bhp and will be Euro IV-compliant from its launch in saloon and Tourer variants.
Another model earmarked for the new diesel engine is the CR-V sport utility vehicle. Meanwhile, the Civic IMA hybrid vehicle (pictured) has gained a new-look front end.

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Hyundai

AN all-new Hyundai will make its debut this summer. The Tucson is a four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle which will fit in the range below the Santa Fe, and will be offered with a choice of 2.0 and 2.7-litre petrol engines, or a 2.0-litre common rail diesel.
The Getz supermini will gain a 1.5-litre common rail diesel (already used in the Accent and Matrix) in February, while the Elantra will be revised in March and the Trajet MPV in May. Towards the end of the year, a new Sonata saloon will make its debut.

Jaguar

JAGUAR'S first factory-built Estate will make its long-awaited appearance in March, offering drivers a choice of body styles in the X-type range. The estate will be offered in petrol and diesel variants, with four-wheel drive offered on petrol models.
Jaguar's diesel range will expand next year with the introduction of a V6 oil burner in the S-type, while the whole S-type range gets freshened up. The revised S-type will go on sale in April, while the diesel debuts in May.

Kia

THE South Korean manufacturer will introduce a new small car this summer, called the Picanto.
Meanwhile, the Sorento will gain a few engine upgrades early in the year, and the Mentor saloon will be replaced in the autumn.

Land Rover

AFTER a year that saw revisions to the Freelander range, Land Rover's 2004 will build up to the launch of a new Discovery in the autumn, while rumours persist about a new, smaller member of the Range Rover family, provisionally badged as Sport, which could see the light of day in 2005.

Lexus

LEXUS will introduce ground-breaking new technology to the premium sector in 2004 with the launch of the RX Hybrid (pictured).
Based on the RX300 sports utility vehicle, the petrol-electric hybrid will have two wheels driven by its engine and two by an electric motor, offering lower fuel consumption and emissions.
The RX Hybrid follows the launch of the Prius by parent company Toyota.

Mazda

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MAZDA will begin the year with the launch of its 323 replacement – the Mazda3 (pictured). Developed alongside the Volvo S40 and next generation Ford Focus, the Mazda3 will be offered as a saloon and hatchback and will have new common rail diesel engines. Mazda's other new offerings for 2004 include a minor facelift and an equipment-laden special edition called MX-5 Euphonic, and featuring a premium audio system.

Mercedes-Benz

FLEETS will be offered a revised C-class in the spring. Details are unavailable at the moment, but it should be an opportunity for Mercedes-Benz to ensure diesels comply with Euro IV emissions requirements.
The Viano large MPV, which shares its shape and underpinnings with the Vito van, will also come to the UK early in the year, while the new SLK convertible will be launched in the summer.
However, looking beyond this year, Mercedes will also launch a new A-class, and at the top end of its range the CLS, a luxury coupe with four doors.

MG Rover

BOSSES are still tight-lipped on details, but it seems that the whole 25/45/75 and ZR/ZS/ ZT ranges will receive a new look in 2004. Information should come out of Longbridge shortly, but expect to see the first of the new models in time for the March new registration.

Mitsubishi

AFTER the launch this month of the Outlander, in both petrol and dual-fuel LPG versions, there will be two new models from Mitsubishi later in the year. A new MPV called Grandis (pictured) will arrive in the summer, followed by a new Colt – sharing about 40% of its components with the new smart forfour – in September.

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Nissan

MINOR changes are expected for the Primera range in September, while the Almera will go under the knife a few months earlier, to keep it fresh for 2005.
The revised models follow the changes to the X-trail range at the end of 2003, with an upgraded diesel.
Meanwhile a one-off racing Micra shown this autumn, using a Nissan touring car engine mounted behind the front seats is meant to herald new, sportier Micras. Could we see the first evidence of this in 2004?

Peugeot

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THE big news from Peugeot in 2004 is the 407 (above), which will be launched as a saloon in May, while an estate version, called SW (below), will arrive soon after. The car is all-new and will have the range of next-generation HDi diesels, most of which will comply with Euro IV emissions rules from launch.
Meanwhile the 206 now has a 16-valve 1.4-litre petrol engine, boasting 90bhp, while a 136bhp six-speed diesel 307 will arrive after the new 04 registration in March.

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Porsche

THE Cayenne has gone down a storm in Europe, helping boost sales, and the range will be expanded in 2004 with the launch of a 3.2-litre V6 version, which should bring the marque within the reach of even more user-choosers.

Renault

RENAULT will begin rolling out its first Euro IV diesel cars in 2004 with the Vel Satis 2.2 dCi, offering lower benefit-in-kind tax liability than previous versions of the car.
Meanwhile, the Clio range will begin the year with two new additions: a 100bhp 1.5 dCi and an upgraded RenaultSport Clio with 182bhp.
The seven-seat Grand Scenic will arrive in the spring, along with a 225bhp turbocharged RenaultSport Megane.

Saab

THE Saab 9-3 range will be expanded in 2004 with a normally-aspirated version as a new entry point to the range, aiming to offer customers a Saab for about £17,000. Meanwhile the 9-3 will gain GM-Fiat-derived diesels for the 2005 model year cars at the end of the summer, followed by versions for the 9-5 towards the end of the year. A decision is expected soon on whether the Subaru Impreza-based 9-2X will come to Europe after going on sale in North America this summer. If it gets the green light this month, we should see it by 2005, when it will be joined by the 9-3 Sport Hatch.

Seat

THE SEAT Ibiza will come with a new high-performance version called the FR early this year, with a 150bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged engine, although there is already talk of a more powerful Ibiza Cupra to follow.
Meanwhile the new Altea small MPV (pictured), built on the same platform as the new Volkswagen Golf, will be launched in May.

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Skoda

THE Octavia will be replaced with an all-new model in the summer, promising more space and better quality.
Sharing its platform with the new Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3, the new Octavia will be one of the many lower- medium cars launched this year.

smart

THE first four-door smart will be launched this summer, bringing the trendy brand into the volume supermini sector.
The forfour (pictured) will share many components with the new Mitsubishi Colt, and will be offered with a choice of petrol and diesel engines.

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Toyota

NO surprises from Toyota in 2004, as we have either driven or heard about changes to the range already. They all happen in January with the launch of the new Prius petrol-electric hybrid, and include the 2004 Avensis Verso and two new engine options for the Avensis.
They include a 2.4-litre direct injection petrol engine with an automatic transmission, and a 2.0-litre D-CAT diesel, which has the lowest overall emissions of any diesel available.

Vauxhall

COMPANY car drivers will be able to take advantage of lower benefit-in-kind tax liability with Euro IV diesel Vectras and Signums expected to be launched in February.

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But the big fleet model from Vauxhall in 2004 will be the all- new Astra. Fleet News will be driving it next month before it goes on sale in May. Meanwhile, a replacement for the Tigra will be launched in the autumn.
Meanwhile, a high-performance V8 coupe will go on sale in April. The Monaro, based on a Holden sold in Australia (above), is expected to be priced at about £28,000 and will offer 328bhp and rear-wheel drive.

Volkswagen

LIKE many other car makers, Volkswagen will launch a key fleet model this year. Going on sale this month, the new Golf is expected to continue in the tradition of the European best- seller as a benchmark for quality and exceptional diesels.
The Polo range will gain two new models, one based on the Polo Fun concept seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show with raised suspension and plastic body mouldings, which should go on sale in March and the other a high performance diesel called the GT and boasting 130bhp.
The Caravelle range will expand with V6, automatic and four-wheel drive models, while the Phaeton will gain two new engines – a V8 petrol and V10 TDI – as well as a long-wheelbase option. The Beetle Convertible will also expand with the addition of a 150bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged engine.

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Volvo

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VOLVO'S key launches of 2004 will begin with the all-new S40 (above) in February, while the V50 will arrive in April. There will be 1.8, 2.4 and 2.5 T5 petrol engines and a 2.0 diesel, with smaller engines arriving in 2005. Both models will get a Sport version later in the year.

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