Steering Column 17.10.08

Giving Mazda the boot

HERE’S a pretty thing. Mazda has announced it is to bring out a fully revised four-door saloon version of the excellent Mazda3 hatchback. The first pictures suggest it’s a gorgeous little car with an expressive front end, a sporty tail and the elegant and air-slippery roof line of a “proper” car. It’s almost too desirable for words.

It’ll be seen in the flesh for the first time at the Los Angeles Auto Show in a month’s time so there aren’t many details yet available.

However we’re told it’s sporty, refined, economical and quiet. They would say all that anyway, so we’ll have to wait a while to find out for ourselves.

Start to queue for iQ

Toyota is releasing more details about the new micro-car it’s launching in January. The oddly named iQ is being promoted as an economical city car but I see no reason why it couldn’t be a funky little commuter vehicle here in the islands.

Powered by a one-litre VVT-i engine, fed through a manual gearbox, we’re told the little car will give just under 66 miles of motoring from a gallon of unleaded. It also turns out such a small amount of carbon dioxide that you don’t have to pay any road tax at all. However, if you add the multidrive auto box those figures suffer a little.

It’s a fabulous looking little three-door and it comes in two trim levels called iQ and iQ2.

Prices begin at £9,495 for the manual base model with 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning and a six-speaker sound system. They rise to £11,495 for an automatic iQ2 with front fog lamps, automatic lights and wipers, a smart entry and start system and proper climate control.

All iQs have nine airbags to protect passengers from the villains outside who are, by the very nature of the size of the car, much closer to you than they are in most cars.

Seven seat BlueMotion

If you think the only way to get top fuel economy is to stick with little cars, Volkswagen has some news for you. It’s added a couple of people carriers to its “BlueMotion” range of clean and frugal vehicles.

It’s brought out a Touran that will give you an average fuel consumption of over 52mpg, and a palatial Sharan with an economy figure of 47mpg.

In the Touran, that’s achieved by tweaks to the 1.9-litre petrol engine, the addition of a new turbocharger, a lowering of the ride height to cut wind resistance, and some bodywork changes to improve the airflow. Something similar is done to the Sharan with the two-litre TDI diesel engine.

Both cars come with seven seats and prices begin at £16,725 for the Touran BlueMotion S and £21,290 for the Sharan BlueMotion S.

Back end bike bargains

Honda’s trying to encourage us to buy bikes in the winter with a tasty little bait on the hook.

Buy one of four steeds before the end of March and you’ll get free 45-litre colour-matched top boxes and heated grips included in the price.

The offer runs on the sports-tourer VFR800, the touring NT700V Deauville, the adventure bike XL1000V Varadero and the smaller adventure bike, the Transalp XL 700VA.

Worth a thought.

Mike Grundon


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