Steering Column 30.01.09

The supreme accolade

Vauxhall, known as Opel on the continent, is quite justifiably blowing its own trumpet this week after being handed the trophy for winning the European Car of the Year title. Its large family car, the Insignia, was judged by an inter­national jury of almost 60 journalists to be the best newcomer of last year.

It’s simply one of the most coveted car awards in the world. It’s not only an honour, it’s a major boost to companies wanting to move metal. The accolade serves as a badge of excellence for buyers, and in these times of financial hardship it’s arguably more important for sellers than ever before.

The trophy was taken to the plant where the car is built and presented by the editor-in-chief of Autocar magazine which instigated the award. Steve Cropley said the standard set by this year’s con­tenders was higher than ever and the decision was one of the most difficult he could remember..

There were 37 contenders for the badge and they were judged on design, safety, handling and performance. President of Vauxhall/Opel’s parent company, General Motors Europe, praised the work of the whole design and build team but warned it was no time to bask in the success and they’d have to work hard to stay ahead of the pack.

Beefed up Berlingo

Citroen has just broadened the appeal and practicality of its mini multi-purpose-vehicle, the Berlingo Multispace. For an extra £800 on the price of a base VTR model, the Family Pack option puts an extra two seats in the back of the car, bringing the total seating up to seven.

All of the five seats behind the front two can be folded or removed to make it really flexible, and Citroen says the Berlingo wins over its rivals by having side airbags in the back. With all seven seats in, there’s 100 litres of luggage space in the boot; fold down the rear two and that goes up to 470 litres; fold all five in the back that rises to 650 litres.

The car comes as standard with a 1.6-litre petrol engine turning out 110hp, and a 1.6-litre HDi diesel engine with 90hp on tap.

The wraps come off the bikes

Honda is unveiling its 2009 range of motorcycles at the London Motorcycle Show which opens today. Top of the list is the new CBR1000RR Fireblade, and its smaller sister – the CBR600RR. The bikes are considered by many to be leaders in their respective sports categories, but the new models are enhanced by a lightweight, electronically controlled anti-lock-brake system which Honda is expecting to be hugely popular.

Also on the list, but at the other end of the performance scale, is the CBF125, a naked commuter bike that shares many of the features of its larger siblings but beats them all on fuel consumption and ease of use.

If all of those sound a bit too small for your taste, the latest version of the two-wheeled behemoth that is the GL1800 Gold Wing is also being unveiled. A full list of all the equipment and features on this ultra-luxury, mile-eating supercruiser would take up the majority of this page, so I’ll leave you to look them up.

Mike Grundon


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.