Manufacturers are looking to take full advantage of strong summer sales by launching a range of limited and special edition models.
Seat is making 75 limited edition Ibiza Cupra Rs available in the UK. Powered by a 180bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged engine, the Cupra R also gains stiffer suspension, racing-derived ABS brakes and unique 16-inch alloys. However, its high pricing of £17,995 means it faces stiff competition. Seat's bigger Leon Cupra costs £14,995 and the Renault Clio 172 Sport retails at £15,495. Even the Volkswagen Golf V5 is cheaper at £17,230.
The Nissan Almera Active special edition, based on the 1.5 E, has been reintroduced, with extra equipment over the previous version. Standard equipment includes aircon, CD player, passenger airbag, body colour bumpers and chrome door handles, for £9,995 – the same starting price as the 3dr. The 5dr costs £10,745. Both models also feature one-year free insurance if purchased through Nissan's Preferences PCP scheme. The Primera range has also been restructured, prior to the launch of the all-new model next year. Many saloon variants have been dropped, leaving the 5dr hatchback to form the bulk of the range. The saloon is now only available as a 1.8 S or 2.0 Sport+. The estate model remains on sale, but again as a limited range. Prices are unchanged.
VW has two new special edition models, the Sharan SL and Bora ST. Based on the S model, the Sharan SL costs the same, but has extra equipment, including alloy wheels, integrated child seats, roof rails and heat-insulating tinted glass. It is offered in three colours – blue, silver or black – and with three engine options: a 2-litre petrol unit, starting at £18,395, and two turbodiesels. The 90bhp TDI PD costs £19,385, and the 110bhp TDI PD starts at £20,185. The Bora ST fills the gap between S and SE models. On top of S model's equipment, the ST gains remote central locking and a CD player, along with alloy wheels, sports seats and an electronic stability programme. The 150bhp 1.8-litre petrol model is £15,795, with the 130bhp 1.9-litre TDI PD turbodiesel starting at £16,310.
The Suzuki XL-7 4x4 is claimed to be a new class of car. Based on a stretched Grand Vitara 4x4 platform, it offers seven-seat capacity for far less money than 'full-size' 4x4s. Prices will be around £21,000. The XL-7 is powered by a 2.7-litre version of Suzuki's V6 engine, and features front/rear aircon, ABS, alloy wheels and CD player. The Liana family hatchback, already on sale in the UK, resembles a cross between a mini-MPV and a 4x4. It features a 102bhp 1.6-litre engine and costs £9,995 for the 1.6 GL. This model features twin airbags, power steering, electric windows and a stereo. The £11,495 GLX adds ABS, aircon and CD player. Suzuki promises further variants in due course.
The Renault Kangoo Trakka 4x4 is launched in the UK in October. Based on the van-derived standard Kangoo, the Trakka offers a choice of 95bhp 1.6-litre petrol or 80bhp 1.9-litre common-rail turbodiesel engines, both new additions to the UK Kangoo range. A Nissan-derived 4x4 system, along with better ground clearance and toughened body mouldings, allows mild off-roading which fits in well with the Trakka's 'lifestyle' credentials. Prices have not been finalised, but will be “less than £11,000”. The current range starts at £8,850 for the 1.4-litre two-wheel-drive model.
Subaru's revised Legacy promises better value than the outgoing model. Aircon and a CD player are now standard across the range, which equates to savings of up to £1,755 on the 2.0 GL when compared to 1999's launch prices. All models feature a new grille, front bumper and headlights, and better-quality interior trim. The range starts at £16,750 for the 2.0 GL estate; its direct competitor, the Skoda Octavia 4x4 1.8 T Elegance estate, costs £16,200.
As well as offering standard ABS with brake assistance, Citroen's Xsara range also features some strong cashback deals. Most models offer a £700 deal, but £1,365 is available on the 1.4 LX 5dr, and £2,400 is offered on the high-performance VTS 3dr, together with free insurance for over-25s. The resultant price of less than £14,000 places it in competition with smaller, less-powerful models such as the £13,680 Peugeot 206 GTi, and the £14,345 MG ZR 160.
The all-new BMW 3 Series Compact arrives this month. Initially available in 115bhp 1.8-litre 316i and 192bhp 2.5-litre 325i form, further engine options follow in autumn. All models feature ABS, stability and traction control, six airbags, electric windows, sports suspension and leather steering wheel. SE trim adds aircon, alloy wheels and a multi-function sports steering wheel. Prices start at £16,265 for the 316i, rising to £22,640 for the 325i, placing it in direct competition with Audi's A3, which starts at £14,590. Other rivals include Alfa Romeo's good-value 147, which starts at £13,175, and Mercedes' C180 Sport Coupe, priced £20,290.
Toyota has finally given the Rav4 an economic turbodiesel engine, which offers low emissions and running costs. The 2-litre D-4D, used in the Avensis and Previa, produces 114bhp, with combined economy of 39.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 190g/km. Only available in the 4x4, prices will be £1,000 more than the equivalent 2-litre petrol version, beginning at £15,995 for the 3dr NV, to £20,695 for the 5dr VX. It looks attractive when compared to Land Rover's £17,195 Freelander Td4 S Soft Back.