I’ve been testing a facelifted BMW X3. This particular X3 was the 3.0sd – sd for Sports Diesel – and comparing the technical spec to other 4x4s puts them to shame. The £36,000 3.0sd produces 286bhp, goes from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds and has a top speed of 149mph, compared to a £45,000 Porsche Cayenne S (290bhp, a leisurely 8.5 seconds and only 141mph).
Unsurprisingly, X3 sales are flying in fleet – up 11% year-on-year – and this engine is really powering that move. Used X3s are still selling well, but the 2.5 manual seems to be the weak link, according to Tony Styles, our Black Book database manager. He also tells me that Sport and M Sport are the preferred choice of spec. Not many of these have hit the used market yet but of those that have, the 2.0d is performing a little worse than the regular 3.0d due to the higher numbers on the market.
Fiat’s sales figures for 2006 are nothing short of a miracle for a company that has been in the doldrums for years.
They’re up by more than 64% compared to 2005, while the market was down by 3.9% over the same period. This resurrection is almost entirely down to Grande Punto and Fiat has proved that if the car looks right, drives OK and is priced to sell, then it sells.
Fiat has had its share of losers, Stilo and Croma being the latest in a long line, but the Grande Punto proves that if it sticks to what it does best then it can become a real force again.
Called in to see a disposal manager at a well-known car and van rental site. The place looked fairly empty with stock a bit thin on the ground. A few reasons for this – the usual pre-Christmas rental rush, but also this year a bit of fog at Heathrow, something that didn’t affect us Up North.
Customers were being ditched all around the country, so needed to rent cars to get them home or to their destination.
So some rental companies rented out cars that were destined for the used car centres or back to the manufacturers, relieving the queues at the airport rental desks, but causing a shortage at the disposal compounds and leaving some car supermarkets with a shortage of stock at the start of the year, which proves the weather can affect the used car market.
Drove one of the motor industry’s best-kept secrets today, a Suzuki SX4. Even though the badge may infer it, it isn’t a 4x4 (one is available but called 4GRIP).
Maybe fleet managers should look at some of Suzuki’s offerings as an alternative to some mainstream manufacturers, although our test car was the 1.9 diesel priced at £12,799, which is a bit excessive.
Forecast manager Jeff Knight tells me that in three years/60,000 miles, it will be worth £4,200 or 33% of cost new – a decent return.