Wolfsburg: more green conundrums, this time over the Polo BlueMotion, Volkswagen’s attempt at being environmentally friendly. The BlueMotion has aerodynamic improvements and changes to the drivetrain. It’s powered by a 1.4-litre 80bhp TDI engine modified to increase efficiency to 72.4mpg. On start-up and at low speeds it is noisy, but at around 70mph it is ticking over at only 2,100rpm and is extremely quiet.
We achieved 53.3mpg, but Paul Buckett, head of Volkswagen’s press office, claimed to get 76.3mpg when he drove one from Milton Keynes to the Eden Project in Cornwall, staying under 70mph. But being green costs money: prices will start at around £11,995 when it goes on sale in August, while a Polo 1.2 S 55 with nearly 50mpg economy costs £8,577. Combine the £2,500 price premium, the cheaper cost of petrol and only perhaps a 10mpg difference in real world running and the BlueMotion looks a tough sell.
Went to Nissan’s UK HQ in Maple Cross to have a presentation on the Micra price re-alignment by managing director Gary Frigo and marketing director Justin Elias. They, like us at CAP, agree Micra retail prices were too high and needed to be adjusted to compete with other superminis. As a result, the actual transaction prices will hardly move as the discounts to dealers have been removed, or reduced. The lower prices are good news for company car drivers as BIK is reduced. It’s a sensible – but tough – decision and one that had to be taken.
On a brighter note, Qashqai is well ahead of expected sales. At the end of March, Nissan had taken more than 6,000 orders against a budget of 3,900. To try to keep up with demand, all Qashqais destined for Nissan ‘company’ cars have been reallocated to customers.
In Bracknell for a meeting about one of this year’s most anticipated new cars: the BMW M3. This all-new super-coupe goes on sale in the UK in early September, although prices and spec have not yet been announced. The current M3 has sold more than 90,000 units worldwide since it was launched in 2000, and an 04/04 with 60,000 miles is still worth £21,500, which is more than half of its original cost new. The new M3 is likely to sell in larger numbers over its lifecycle as demand, and lack of genuine competition, makes it very desirable. A 10-year-old M3 Coupe will still achieve more than £4,000 with 100,000 miles on the clock, illustrating just how desirable any M3 is.
Just after leaving the tropical climate of my native Yorkshire for the rain sodden dankness of Lancashire, I hit fog while driving a cracking little Peugeot 207 GT THP 150. But the auto headlights failed to come on, and I had to do it manually.
Why is it that on some cars with auto headlights, one cloud starts a sequence of illumination like the spotlights during a prison break, while with other cars it takes almost pitch blackness? Surely there must be an EU-wide standard for this safety feature? I can’t believe the Eurocrats in Brussels haven’t put on their thinking berets about this one.