Over to Trollhattan, the home of Saab, to have a look and drive in a lightly-disguised 9-3 MCE (Mid-Cycle-Enhancement), which goes on-sale in September. The new car has a completely new front end, the style of which will no doubt generate debate.
This year is the 60th anniversary of Saab cars and things are finally looking bright after years of neglect by GM, as sales in Europe were up by over 8,000 units to 88,702, compared to seven years ago. I was told that GM is now totally committed to Saab and production will remain in Sweden for the foreseeable future.
Ian Hull, head of RV management, GM Europe, reckons that within GM at all levels, residual values have been placed at high priority status. All have been told they must investigate and understand what impact residuals are having on their businesses. As a result, Saab is 100% committed to ensuring it achieves realistic prices across Europe and is pro-actively looking at RVs – and finally admit that used vehicles play a huge part in the business.
Another week, another 4x4. And this week it was Jeep’s turn, so at least it was a 4x4 launched by a manufacturer with a strong track record in this area. We were in Glasgow to drive not one, but three new models. First was the Compass, aimed at the Tuscon, Grand Vitara, CR-V and RAV4 market, and perhaps all I should say is that, in my opinion, it drives better than it looks. Next it was the all-new Wrangler two-door which looks, drives and handles so much better than any previous Wrangler. It’s nearly been brought into the 21st century now.
You no longer have to wrench the steering wheel half a turn to go anywhere – it was positive and easy to drive.
Last but not least was the Wrangler Unlimited, a unique vehicle as it is four-wheel drive go anywhere, convertible with four-doors. It also has an automatic diesel option. Prices start from under £20,000 for a six-speed manual, which has to look good value. Jeep says the Wrangler range is now a serious competitor to the Land Rover Defender. In the short term maybe, but nothing will hold its value long term like a Defender.
Which brings me back to an ongoing subject of interest at CAP, and one that I’ve talked about for a long time in this column. With so many 4x4’s about to hit the new car market, we are carefully watching this segment’s residual values. If used prices start to dip faster than they already have, you can be sure we’re best placed to detect anything in the way of a genuine trend and report it to you as soon as possible.
I’ve been sent pictures of the new Daihatsu Materia. Apparently these ‘cube cars’ are going to be all the rage. According to people who claim to know what they are talking about, these are already popular in Japan and California and it’s only a matter of time before they come here. But can you really see a high-mileage Materia being desirable in three years time on a wet Wednesday at auction?