I’ve had a look at one of only two pre-production Italian-built Focus Coupe-Cabriolets in the UK. The roof system works well and takes 29 seconds to go up or down. When the roof is up, there is massive boot space but when it is down, like all its competitors, it’s a bit limited, but acceptable.
There’s room for four adults, although the rear passengers might want to get out after a short time. The A-pillar slopes back steeply and you find yourself moving your head back instinctively to avoid colliding with it. Another Tip-Top-Tin-Top from a major manufacturer, with prices starting from £16,795.
My experience in a Range Rover Sport V8 illustrates how in the luxury market petrol engines are a dying breed. To say it is a bit thirsty would be an understatement. I drove 160 miles from Huddersfield to Oxford in it and it cost me £104 in petrol!
The V8 costs £54,072, and the equivalent diesel – the 2.7 TDV6 – costs £46,877. It does 10mpg more and costs £7,000 less to buy.
Then there’s the RVs – the diesel will be worth 45% of cost new in three years/ 60,000 miles, while the petrol will be worth 38%.
There will always be a few customers who buy petrol rather than diesel 4x4s, but these same people have more money than sense.
Fortunately, I’ve got lots of sense and no money, so I won’t be joining them.
Had a meeting with BMW about sales figures and future technology. The winners this year are the core fleet offerings – 3-series is up 18% year-to-date and 5-series up 12%.
The losers are 6-series, down 18% due mainly to its peak time being over, and X5 – down 24%.
Sales of the X5 are down for a number of reasons: production restraints, a more and crowded sector and its age. But the other SUV makers shouldn’t be too smug. An all-new X5, with the option of seven-seats, will go on sale from April, and with the order bank rising by the day, the X5 will be back in force.
New technology is just around the corner from BMW. It believes hydrogen will be the big news and reckons that by 2010 there will be a comprehensive UK network of filling stations for these clean cars, making them a viable choice.
Flew over to Munich for the day to see and drive the new hot Audi – the S3.
Around 1,500 units are expected to be sold next year. Evidence that Audi is trying to be more aggressive and in-your-face comes in the form of this day-glo orange paint job, similar to the Focus ST. Makes a change from Audi’s ubiquitous silver I suppose.
The news about the possible hike in car insurance premiums for hot hatches could have some worrying ramifications for the fleet industry.
This could be, but hopefully is not, history repeating itself, when a few years ago a similar thing happened. Prices collapsed overnight, and what were extremely popular and saleable cars one day were totally unwanted the next, with people thinkng they were always being crashed and nicked.
As the fleet market changes, more and more of these hot hatches are being bought as company cars, and a similar situation could have a big impact on budgets.
Hopefully, sense will prevail, as modern hot hatches are less easy to steal and feature electronic systems that make them less easy to crash.