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Puma 'thunders' into extinction

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The need to use its assembly line for newer models means Ford Puma production is to cease. The Puma Thunder special edition, costing £13,995, marks this - 2,000 will be produced to arrive in showrooms at the end of this month. Extras over the standard 1.7-litre model include leather trim, 15-inch alloys, aircon, six-disc in-dash CD player and metallic paint. It comes in grey or silver. Ford says it has sold more than 45,000 Pumas in the UK alone, though competition has intensified recently from rivals such as the £12,600 Mini Cooper and £12,980 Volkswagen Lupo GTI.

Vauxhall has boosted its performance car range, with two new special editions. Only 100 of the 'Lightning Yellow' VX220 specials will be built, which naturally feature vivid yellow paint to set them apart from standard models. Other changes include black leather seats with standard floor mats, a black windscreen surround and 'anthracite' (black) alloys. A CD player and body-colour hard top are also included. At £24,995, the special VX220 is £2,000 more than the standard model, but features enough extras to more than compensate for this increase. A Lotus Elise, which is not available with the standard ABS and driver's airbag, costs £22,995. Vauxhall has also released a special edition Astra Coupe, the '888', based on the 192PS turbo model. Again 100 will be made, to celebrate Vauxhall's British Touring Car Championship success. Offered only in Europa blue, the 888 has a body kit including front splitter, rear wing, side skirts and wheel arch extensions, and 17-inch OZ alloy wheels with larger tyres. Alcatara Sparco front seats sit alongside alloy details and a new steering wheel, colour-coded in blue to match the exterior. At £20,995, the 888 costs £2,000 more than the standard car, a modest increase considering its exclusivity.

Mitsubishi has fitted new, more efficient engines to its Shogun Sport LCV-based SUV. The biggest advance comes with diesel power: the new 2.5-litre turbocharged unit is 16% more powerful and 5% more efficient than the old engine. It produces 177bhp, and 31.4mpg on the combined cycle. Meanwhile, the 3-litre V6 now produces 168bhp - 6bhp less than the old engine - but it now meets the important Euro III regulations. Combined economy is 28.5mpg. The new engines come with no price increase - the Shogun Sport range still starts at £19,000 for the 2.5 TD Classic, ranging up to £24,495 for a 3.0 V6 Elegance.

Volkswagen is drawing attention to its Sharan SL special edition. As well as the aircon, ABS and seven seats of the standard model, it adds 16-inch alloys, two integrated child seats, heat insulating glass and roof rails - worth £1,300 in total - for no price increase. Available with a 115bhp 2-litre petrol engine, or TDI PD diesels of 90bhp and 115bhp output, the SL costs from £18,395.

Land Rover has launched special editions just for the Scottish market. The Braemar editions of the Freelander, Discovery, Range Rover and Defender all feature metallic silver paint and have a number of extras. Freelander models come with a 1.8-litre engine, 17-inch alloys, CD player and privacy glass and cost from £16,995. The Discovery Td5 has 18-inch alloys, PlayStation and privacy glass, and starts at £28,995. Range Rovers, offered in 2.5-litre turbo-diesel or 4.6-litre V8 guise, also have PlayStation and privacy glass, and cost £42,995. Finally, the Defender's 'County Pack' option, including driving lamps, winch and access ladder, is limited to 25 models and costs £19,995.

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