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Britain's best selling junior executive car improved

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BMW has revised the 3 Series, Britain's best-selling junior executive car. Prices are up by around 1.5%, but it has new sportier suspension and faster steering, and a new grille and headlights for saloon and Touring models. Aircon is standard and all six-cylinder cars have dynamic stability control. The 318i has a new engine and power is boosted by 25bhp to 143bhp. It costs £19,930, compared with Audi's £18,640 A4 2.0 and the Mercedes C180 Classic (£21,140). The entry level 316i costs £18,070.

Mercedes-Benz has given its E-class saloon a boost too, prior to next year's all-new model. Buyers of Classic versions can choose a free pack, with metallic paint, 16-inch alloys and leather steering wheel and gearshift – £1,200 of extras for no charge. The Elegance pack, costing £1,000, features alloys and metallic paint, and adds leather, heated seats too. Meanwhile, the sporty Avantgarde again offers a £1,000 pack, with metallic paint, 17-inch alloys, leather trim and Xenon headlamps – offering savings of £1,700.

Volvo's Cross Country Ocean Race Edition has unique metallic paint and aluminium skid plates and leather sports seats and alloy dash trim inside. The S model costs £29,150, the SE £32,010 (each price is a £600 premium over the base derivative).

VW has reduced the prices of its Polo Match special edition. Already featuring aircon (a £860 option) as standard, prices have been reduced by a further £355. Volkswagen says the total “added value” is £1,215; the 3dr costs £9,260, with the 5dr retailing for £9,725. The Match benefits from recent ABI insurance group cuts across the Polo range, dropping by two groups to group five. VW has also expanded its range of diesel engines, with new 100bhp and 150bhp units debuting in the Golf and Bora. Prices will be around £300 higher than for the 90bhp engine – this means the Golf S will retail from around £14,265.

Ford has responded to the increasing popularity of mini-MPVs at the expense of traditional family hatches, by offering a 'versatility' package for its soon-to-be revised Focus. The new pack includes a front passenger seat that folds into a table, rear seats that split three ways to form another central table, and a host of trays, stowage nets and cubbies. The pack is expected to cost around £500. Buyers have been switching to mini-MPVs as they offer more flexibility than traditional hatches, for little extra expense or inconvenience; Ford's response is intended to stem the flow.

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