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MG Rover launches its performance saloons

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MG Rover's new range of MG performance saloons has been launched. The ZR, based on the Rover 25, starts at £9,995 for the ZR 105 1.4-litre three-door, to £14,845 for the ZR 160 1.8-litre five-door; this latter model compares to the 137bhp, £13,680 Peugeot 206 GTi three-door, and the 122bhp, £13,495 Vauxhall Corsa 1.8-litre SRi five-door. The 45 saloon and hatchback provides the base for the ZS, and begins at £12,495 for the ZS 120 1.8-litre. The range is headed by the ZT, based on the excellent 75 saloon, and starts at £18,595 for the ZT 160 2.5-litre KV6. The faster ZT 190 costs from £20,495, compared to Ford's less powerful 168bhp Mondeo Zetec-S 2.5-litre V6, which costs £500 more. There are various trim levels within the ranges, and numerous options too.

Mitsubishi's Space Star Mirage special edition has alloy wheels, alloy-effect dashboard trim, colour coded bumpers, central locking, electric windows and twin airbags. It is available in either silver or blue metallic colours, with an 81bhp 1.3-litre or 96bhp 1.6-litre engine. The 1.3-litre starts at £9,995 and the 1.6-litre at £10,695.

Daihatsu has introduced a new entry-level YRV model, which costs £1,445 less than the current base version. The 'Radical' costs £7,995, and features twin airbags, power steering, radio cassette and electric windows. There is also a 'Radical2', costing £8,495, which adds central locking, electric mirrors and a sports steering wheel.

Ford has introduced its latest special edition Focus, using the 1.6 Zetec three-door as a base. The 'Black' costs £12,495, and naturally offers standard black metallic paint, along with air conditioning, leather trim, CD player, 15-inch alloy wheels and a mesh front grill. It is on sale from July. Additionally, 0% finance is also offered on the Ka and Fiesta range, as well as selected Focus models.

Land Rover has developed two new special editions. Complementing the big-budget film, the Defender Tomb Raider LE boasts fashionably rugged styling cues as well as special Tomb Raider trim. Featuring the 2.5-litre Td5 turbo-diesel engine, it costs £22,995 for the 90 Station Wagon, and £23,995 for the 110 Double Cab. The Range Rover Bordeaux follows a 'Bordeaux red' theme, with special Alveston Red paint, 18-inch alloys with red detailing, leather trim with red piping, and matching carpets. Limited to 200 vehicles, 100 of which feature the 2.5-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, and 100 offer the 4.0-litre V8 petrol unit. Both feature automatic transmission, and cost £38,995.

Daewoo is currently having a special edition blitz. The Matiz Xtra costs £5,995 and features twin airbags, whilst the Matiz Special Edition adds electric front windows, alloys, metallic paint and a CD player for £6,995. There is also a Lanos Special Edition, costing £7,495, and available in both three and five-door variants. Standard equipment includes power steering, twin airbags, alloys, metallic paint and a CD player. The £17,995 Musso 4x4 Special Edition, meanwhile, is based on the 2.9 TD and adds leather trim and a 10-disc CD autochanger.

Toyota has introduced a new 'semi-mini-MPV', the Avensis Verso; it is larger than Vauxhall's Zafira, but smaller than Ford's Galaxy. Based on the all-new platform of the forthcoming Avensis hatchback and saloon, it offers seven seats and unique features, such as standard rear air conditioning and satellite navigation on the GLS model. There is a choice of 2.0-litre engines, either a 147bhp VVT-i petrol unit, or a 114bhp D-4D turbo-diesel. Prices start at £17,795 for the GS petrol model, rising to £20,795 for the GLS petrol and diesel models. The Zafira range starts at £12,995 for a 1.6-litre Club, with the cheapest Galaxy, the 2.3-litre LX, starting at £18,245. The Avensis Verso is on sale from August, in either GS or GLS guise.

Prices for the revised Audi A6 range have been announced. There have been both price increases and reductions – the 1.8 T now costs £21,750 instead of £21,440, though there is a new entry-level 2.0-litre model, which retails at £20,450. The 2.4-litre quattro SE now costs £24,800 – down from £25,670 – whilst the 3.0-litre quattro Sport, which features a new engine, costs £29,400; the old 2.8-litre quattro Sport cost £28,640, but was slower and less powerful – 193bhp, instead of the new model's 220bhp. The 1.9-litre TDI engine has also been improved, offering 130bhp instead of 115bhp, and when installed in the Avant, costs £23,125 – up from £20,720. Finally, the 4.2-litre quattro Sport now costs £39,150, an insignificant increase over the previous £39,128 list price.

Honda has also announced prices for its high-performance Civic Type-R, too. The three-door model will cost £15,995 when it goes on sale in September, and promises to be one of the fastest hot hatches on the market. Its 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine produces 200bhp, channelled through a six-speed gearbox and controlled by race car-inspired suspension. And, although the standard specification is less luxurious than the standard Civic five-door, all the performance essentials are there – including front and rear spoilers, 17-inch alloy wheels, Alcantara-trimmed sports seats and ventilated, ABS-backed disc brakes. A CD player, remote central locking and electric windows are also included as standard.

Much of the Nissan range is now available with three year's 0% finance, with a 30% deposit, until the end of September. This means, for example, a Micra 1.0 Sport three-door costs £156 a month for three years, with a deposit of £2415. Also, as they don't qualify for 0% finance, the Micra S and Activ are offered with a year's free insurance instead. The Almera range, excluding E, and the Almera Tino S and SE, are also offered with free insurance, if purchased through Nissan's Preferences finance scheme.

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