Steering Column 03.07.09

Feel the power

Vauxhall is responding to this time of financial hardship, enforced austerity and climatic crisis by bringing out a 325bhp version of its Insignia large family car, a version carrying the company’s performance badge VXR.

Few facts are yet known, except that it is being unveiled, virtually as you read this, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The official media launch will be a week later when we can all either try it out or read about it in the magazines.

What we do know is that it’s got four driven wheels and it’s been going through its 10,000km proving at the Nurburgring in Germany. The rest we’ll have to find out later, but the first pictures suggest it’s a masterpiece in understated presence and gravity.

It’ll be quick – no doubt there – and if it follows the lead of its lesser siblings the build quality will be beyond reproach. The Insignia is the current European Car of the Year, voted for by an international team of motoring journalists.

I can only hope I get a shot in it before too long so I can share the impressions with you as soon as possible.

From screen to reality

Anyone keen on Playstation 3 gaming will probably be well ahead of me in knowing about the mad-and-bad concept supercar made by Citroen known as the GTby CITROEN – and yes that’s how it’s written.

It was created in cyberspace for the latest Gran Turismo game. It is long, low, sleek and fast with airscoops that look like the front of a Manta Ray, lights so narrow as to be little more than a minor split where the bonnet joins the nose, a cockpit so low it’s little more of a split than the lights, and an air-slippery overhang at the tail end.

Well it may have been invented as a mythical creature of the computer programmer, but a real-life version has been produced by the French manufacturer and it’s been turning head in central London.

It too will appear at Goodwood and there’s no doubt it will be grabbing attention like a white Batmobile. The fact it’s taking on the 1.16 mile Goodwood Hillclimb suggests it’s more than just a C6 with a body-job. We’ll be watching with interest.

More coins for your cars

Ford is blaming the continued weakness of the UK pound against the euro for its decision to increase its prices by an average of four per cent.

The change came in at the start of the month and the managing director of Ford of Britain, Nigel Sharp, says that because so many of the company’s costs are priced in Euros, there’s no choice if it is to remain a viable business.

He says the impact so far has cut Ford income by a “nine-figure” sum.

In the showroom the change means the best sellers like Ka, Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo will go up by between £600 and £650, while bigger vehicles like the S-MAX and Galaxy will go up by £700 and £800 respectively.

Mike Grundon


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