THE average cost of the UK’s favourite superminis is continuing to fall and even some family models are down by more than £1,000.
Latest figures from Glass’s New Car Market Trends report show that last month the average list price of superminis such as the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa went down by a further 0.3 per cent.
This represents a further saving of £27 year-on-year and follows similar reductions throughout the year.
The greatest list price fall of all was on the Seat Toledo 1.9 TDI PD Stylance, which had a cut of £1,055 to £14,342.
However, in other sectors prices of new models rose whilst their second-hand values fell, making nearly-new models the greatest bargains of all.
List prices of compact MPVs rose at a faster rate than those of any other new car sector during July, up by 3.1 per cent year-on-year compared to a market average rise of 1.7 per cent.
A number of the compact MPV sector’s best selling vehicles have had list price increases in recent months.
Models in the Ford Focus C-MAX and Renault Scenic ranges increased by £200 and in the Vauxhall Zafira range some prices were up by £400.
The list price of the average compact MPV will also have been affected by the arrival of the new Mazda5, which has a higher starting price than the outgoing Premacy.
While prices of new compact MPVs are climbing, their residual values appear to be heading in the opposite direction, albeit slowly. EurotaxGlass’s reports that during the second quarter of the year the residual values of the average three-year-old compact MPV fell 4.8 per cent or £275 compared to 4.1 per for the used car market as a whole.
The higher rate of depreciation largely reflects the greater numbers of compact MPVs now available in the UK’s used car market.
List price inflation was again above average in the compact family car sector – Vauxhall Astra, Toyota Corolla, etc – up 2.9 per cent, year-on-year or equivalent to an additional £361.
In the large family car sector – covering cars like the Mazda6 and Ford Mondeo – prices rose by 2.9 per cent, year-on-year, representing an extra £468 on the average car.
The single biggest list price increase was for the Honda Civic Type R, which had a £570 rise to £17,147.
DAIMLER returns to the showrooms in November with a limousine that the company believes is the last word in luxury.
Taking the name of Super Eight, it is based on the £70,000 long wheelbase version of the Jaguar XJ Super V8 with subtle styling touches to justify the use of the 109-year-old Daimler name.
It is the latest development in the evolution of the Jaguar brand that is attempting to re-invent itself after a period in the doldrums, courtesy of cash from parent company Ford.
Jaguar bosses believe that the image of the company is strong enough again to support the introduction of its flagship brand at the top of the range for those who aspire to the best of British.
The traditional Daimler hallmarks are to be seen on the new model in abundance, including the distinctive fluted grille incorporating the swirling D badge that is also on the boot release and head rests.
There is chrome on the wing mirrors and rear-light surrounds and special 18-inch Rapier alloy wheels.
Of the six body colours, two are exclusive to the Daimler brand and not shared with Jaguar. They are Westminster blue and metallic burgundy.
Inside there is a choice of three trims in champagne, ivory and charcoal.
All of the burr walnut veneer has handcrafted boxwood inlay and there are fold-down business trays and lamb’s wool rugs.
However, whilst the newcomer heralds the return of the UK’s oldest car brand, it is very much a 21st century offering.
Equipment includes voice-activated four-zone climate control, electrically-operated reclining rear seats and a full multi-media entertainment system.
At this stage there is no indication of the cost of such luxury but do not expect any change from £75,000.
DRIVERS are being warned to prepare for the most dangerous time of the year on the nation’s roads when the clocks go back, plunging us into darkness for the journey home from work.
This weekend is one of the most vital of all, being almost the last opportunity to prepare for the onslaught of winter.
It is the time to give vehicles a thorough check, and either to get them booked in for a pre-winter garage inspection, or to get the essentials necessary for DIY servicing.
Every year millions of motorists are caught out by the “sudden” arrival of winter. Well, now you’re forewarned: the clocks go back in just a couple of weeks and the early morning frosts will arrive any day now.
Even so, many drivers will still be ill-prepared, without de-icers, windscreen washers that do not work properly, misaligned vehicle lights, and tyres with poor tread.
The problem is made worse by the associated autumn hazards of falling leaves that make roads slippery, the possibility of floods and the inevitability of November gales.
Safety experts warn that young children returning from school are especially vulnerable and parents are urged to ensure that they wear clothing or carry bags with reflective strips.
It is also the responsibility of parents to check that lights and reflectors are working properly on youngsters’ bicycles.
Accident statistics show that the few days after the clocks go back are among the most dangerous of the year as drivers leave brightly-lit places of work to drive in darkness for the first time in months.
Driving experts say that the problem is being made even more critical because of woefully inadequate tests for learners.
BSM managing director Paul Atkinson says: “Current regulations mean that there is no requirement for learner drivers to practice at night.
“As a result, the very different conditions of dramatically-reduced visibility, altered perception of distance and road conditions and the blinding glare of other driver’s lights come as a dangerous shock to thousands of newly-qualified drivers.
“Every year accident figures remain disproportionately high for young drivers after nightfall.
“For the sake of all road users we must stop giving newly-qualified drivers the freedom of the road without any prior supervised experience of driving at night.”
The calls for night-time tuition have the backing of the Driving Standards Agency, which has published proposals for training programmes to include driving in darkness, whilst falling short of making it mandatory.
AA spokesperson Denise Raven says that it is vital for drivers to make preparations for driving in the dark during the next two weeks, beginning with checking all of the lights on their vehicles.
And here are some more tips to help you negotiate the onset of autumn in safety…
* Use the correct lights. Dipped headlights should be used most of the time. Full beam can be used on unlit roads, but revert to dipped lights when following another vehicle and when oncoming vehicles approach.
* Drive at a speed within which you can see and stop.
* Avoid dazzle by not staring at oncoming lights. If dazzled, slow down or stop.
* Keep the windscreen clean inside and out. Dirty glass not only reduces visibility but increases glare too.
* If your eyesight is poor, make sure you use driving glasses.
* If you are not confident of driving after dark, plan your journey to use familiar and well-lit roads.
* Check that all of your vehicle’s lights are working correctly, and that lenses are clean.
* Do not dazzle following drivers by using high-intensity fog lamps unnecessarily. It is an offence to leave them on when visibility is more than 100 metres
* Beware of black ice. It increases a vehicle’s stopping distance by up to ten times.
THE Government will rake in an extra £7.5 million a year in taxes from new car buyers as a result of the changes to Vehicle Excise Duty announced in this month’s Budget.
This huge nett increase in tax revenue has been calculated by vehicle sales and pricing specialist JATO Dynamics.
The Budget cut the cost of tax discs for less-polluting cars but raised it for those that emit higher levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), with a new top band of £210 a year for cars that produce most CO2.
Based on an analysis of the CO2 ratings of the 2.5 million new cars bought last year, JATO calculates that in the coming year almost 800,000 new-car-buyers will pay less as a result of the Budget and one million will pay the same as last year.
But almost half a million will pay more.
However, while the average gain for buyers of low-CO2 cars will be £8, the average extra cost for buyers of cars in the top two bands will be £29.
Overall, the Exchequer will give about £6.5 million back to small-car buyers but add almost £14 million to the road tax it receives from buyers of larger cars.
JATO Dynamics’ analysis also shows that 4x4s make up only a quarter of the vehicles in the two highest CO2 tax bands. A fifth are people carriers and the majority of the remainder are medium and upper-medium saloons and estates.
MOTORISTS could be putting lives at risk by using high pressure water washers to clean their vehicles.
This is the warning from TyreSafe, which was formerly known as the independent Tyre Industry Council.
It says that the problem is being made worse because there are now tens of thousands of companies operating mobile car wash services that involve the use of high-pressure hoses.
TyreSafe has issued a warning of a potential safety risk involving the equipment used by these groups that could lead to potential tyre failure.
It warns that there is growing evidence that pressure washers used by hand car wash providers can cause tyre damage unknown to most motorists and that they could be putting their own lives and those of their passengers and other road users at risk.
Heavy-duty pressure washer machines are capable of dispensing water at extremely high pressure and if aimed directly at the tyre, the jet can cause sidewall damage, especially if the water is heated or if the pressurised water is applied for an extended period.
German safety group DEKRA has discovered that if a washer nozzle is held close to a tyre at very high pressure, serious damage can occur in just five seconds.
Even tyres that appear undamaged after being subjected to a pressure washer may have microscopic perforations that can weaken the sidewall and cause a blow-out.
Other contributory factors to sidewall damage are the width of the water jet and the strength of any soaps or detergents used. Strong soap can remove protective chemicals that are embedded in the sidewall.
* A light-to-medium duty pressure washer of 110 bar or less should be used
* The washer jet nozzle should be at least 20cm from the tyre
* Always use a fan nozzle rather than a circular nozzle
* Avoid prolonged exposure to a specific area of the tyre
* Do not aim the water jet directly at the join between the tyre and the rim
Consult The Car Doctor every week for answers to all your motoring problems and advice on car concerns.
Back to the futureI’m 4′ 10” and have been learning to drive in the family’s Ford Focus. However, I’m having real problems with my back now and have had to stop my lessons for a while – because I can’t get my heels on the floor! (I have to press the pedals down with my tip-toes.) I’m used to the Focus and don’t really want to swop cars – is there anything on the market that could make driving easier for me?
- TJ, Newcastle
The Car Doctor says:Your local Ford dealer should be able to source pedal modifications for you. However, as you’re only just under 5 feet, I’m surprised that the seat in your current car doesn’t allow you to adequate adjustment. If you can’t move it up and down as well as back and forth, speak to your Ford dealer about fitting a seat from a higher specification model.
Yank tank alternativesI’d like an MPV with American-style bench seats (like the ones in the old movies) but don’t seem to be able to find anything suitable. Any suggestions?
- SO, Liverpool
The Car Doctor says:These bench style seats are actually illegal for safety reasons. However, you may want to try out the Honda FR-V and the Fiat Multipla – both vehicles have six seats in two rows, like the old American vehicles you’re describing. I’ve recommended these two as a lot of MPVs – like the Renault Grand Scenic and VW Touran – offer up to 7 seats in three rows, which reduces luggage carrying capability. Six seats are a great compromise – on the FR-V for example, you get the boot space and can slide back the middle seats if you’ve only got four passengers, allowing for extra comfort.
Stuck on a plateI need to fit some new number plates to my Clio. The plate on the rear appears to be glued on. Any ideas on how to remove it? It feels like I’m going to damage the body if I apply any force.
- PK, Birmingham
The Car Doctor says:Number plates are usually stuck on with double-sided sticky foam pads which won’t cause any damage to your car. Firm but steady pressure will eventually tear the foam – patience and long fingernails will probably be needed to coax the remaining bit of the pad. I’ve also heard that applying heat (using a hairdryer for example) may do the trick – good luck!
WHO SAYS motorists with mobility problems can’t have fun?
Not the organisers of the forthcoming Mobility Roadshow 2004 who aim to prove the point with a touch of white-knuckle fun for visitors.
Over the years, the roadshow at Donington Park has earned a reputation as ‘the Motor Show for disabled people’ , but this year the Ford-backed Fun-Zone will offer the more adventurous visitor the chance to really let rip.
Whether it’s flinging a hand-controlled Ford Mondeo around a skidpan or taking on all-comers in a hand-operated Go-Kart, the zone promises to live up to its name and will be one of the central attractions at the Roadshow which is being staged at the Derbyshire race circuit between June 17 and 19.
Those preferring a more sedate form of motoring can book a circuit around the race track in a range of adapted Ford vehicles, including the Focus, Focus C-MAX, Mondeo and Galaxy. The automatic Fiesta – a new addition to the Motability scheme – will be making its Mobility Roadshow debut.
Experts from a number of aftermarket adaptation companies will also be on the Ford stand, demonstrating some of the extra modifications that can be made to Ford vehicles.
Staff from MAGIC (Mobility and General Information Centre), Ford’s free telephone information service for disabled and mature drivers, will also be available to help with any mobility enquiries.
And Ford is even providing a shuttle service to ferry visitors to the roadshow gate from various points around the car park.
HOW many times have you almost been tempted to call on divine inspiration when struggling to see what you are doing while fumbling about in dark conditions?
Should you forget to have a torch to hand, that unlit cupboard under the stairs is able to keep its innermost secrets intact while cars without illumination in the boot or glovebox do pose more than a problem when darkness descends.
There is, of course, an answer to the problem if you are capable of doing some DIY electrics yourself or prepared pay an electrician to wire up the problem area in car or home.
However, all this could be about to change as John Mills Ltd (JML) has introduced a new gadget which may prevent you getting caught out in the dark ever again.
JML’s LED Spotlights are a practical lighting solution that can be used in the car to read maps or placed in the glovebox or boot to avoid all that fumbling about in the dark.
This set of three versatile, stick-on spotlights are simple to use. No wiring or drilling is required, just peel off the adhesive backing and press on to stick to a clean, flat surface.
Operating these LED spots couldn’t be easier, just push down on the rim of the light to switch on or off. Three long-life AAA batteries per spotlight are sufficient to produce energy efficient, super bright LED lighting.
These sticky spotlights for instant illumination cost £6.99 (batteries not included) and are available from JML at www.jmldirect.com, Direct TV on Sky Channel 631 (Tel 0871 2222 631), ASDA and Woolworths.