Steering Column 21.11.08

Good news in bad times

Vauxhall’s new large family car, the Insignia, has been voted Car of the Year by one of the most respected motoring magazines in Europe.

It is more than 20 years since the company last took the title.

No fewer than 59 senior motoring journalists from 23 countries took part in judging the 2009 Autocar awards. In second place was the new Ford Fiesta and in third was the Volkswagen Golf.

Editor in chief of Autocar, Steve Cropley, says the Insignia is a great car which deserved to triumph, and General Motors UK, the parent company for Vauxhall, is hugely pleased by the award.

The badge is recognised as a major selling aid and in this; the toughest time for the car trade in 20 years, every bit of help is needed.

This year there were 37 cars put forward for the Car of the Year award, seven of them winning through to the shortlist. It is only the third time Vauxhall has achieved the coveted badge. In 1985 the Astra won the title, then two years later it took it with the Carlton/Omega.

Boxing bigger

Citroen’s hugely popular little Berlingo van has undergone a bit of an upgrade.

A new L2 version has been launched which lengthens the load deck by almost a foot and adds an extra 0.4 cubic metre of cargo area. It can carry loads up to 3.25 metres long.

It doesn’t replace the old L1, it fills a perceived gap between it and the larger Dispatch van. As well as the larger cargo-hold, it also has a sliding rear door on both sides for flexibility.

All Berlingo L2 vans have a Trafficmaster Smartnav satellite navigation system and the Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking system fitted as standard . . . so if you’re transporting gold in yours, you’ll be able to find it fairly quickly.

It comes in two versions – X and LX – and they are both powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine with 90bhp on tap. The maximum payload is three quarters of a tonne.

Prices begin at £12,395, ex­cluding VAT and delivery charges.

Return to go

I used to have a car that stopped every time you pulled up at the lights.

It had a problem with the car­burettor, but Toyota has put a proper stop/start engine in its little hatchback, the Auris, to make the already very economical car, even more economical and even cleaner.

The all-new 1.33-litre petrol engine is a product of Toyota’s Optimal Drive programme, set up to get the best efficiency, economy and emissions possible.

When the car is stationary and in neutral, the engine automatically closes down, then starts again on demand when the driver steps on the clutch to put it in gear.

The company says it has dropped its carbon dioxide emissions by 17 per cent compared to the previous 1.4-litre engine, and fuel con­sumption has been improved by 19 per cent. The bottom line is it will do a theoretical 48.7mpg with emissions down at 135g/km.

The car has 100bhp on tap and it has a six-speed manual gearbox. You can buy it now in three or five-door bodyshell and with a choice of three equipment levels. The prices begin at £12,705 for a T2 three-door and rise to £14,205 for a T3 five-door.

Mike Grundon


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