Steering Column

New cars for old Vauxhall is the latest car company to take an idea of the government’s and turn it into a sales pitch.

With the demise of the scrappage scheme, there is clearly an opportunity in the market and Vauxhall is making the best of it, just like Toyota did a few weeks ago.

The “swappage” scheme is a mixed bag of blessings in that, on this occasion, the restrictions on the trade-in car are much slacker than they are with the scrappage scheme, and the money you can make is better, but your choice of new Vauxhall is rather limited.

Basically you can trade in any roadworthy car that is seven years old or more and you will get at least £3,000 off the price of any new Astra, Astra Sport hatch or Corsa (excluding the S and Exclusiv models). In the case of the Sport Hatch 1.4 you can get £3,885 off the £16,880 price tag.

There is no upper limit on the age of the car and you only need to have owned it for 90 days … well below the one-year limit there is on the government’s scheme.

There is one other major restriction though. Your new car must be ordered or registered before the end of next month or you’ll have missed the bus.

No frills Ford deal Ford has taken a more straight-forward approach to making its cars more attractive.

It’s got a marketing campaign running till the end of March that just offers savings of up to £5,000 on the price of its 10 most popular vehicles.

There are deals to be done on selected models of hatchbacks like the Ka, Fiesta, Fusion and Focus. The MPVs the C-MAX, S-MAX and Galaxy have reductions, and the Mondeo and the 4×4 Kuga also offer savings in certain models.

Drovers in overdrive Here’s something that will come as no surprise to anyone: during this winter of snow and ice, sales of Land Rovers has leapt hugely over last year’s figures.

The company says sales of the Discovery this January almost doubled over the same month last year, an increase of 92 per cent. Range Rover Sport was up by 66 per cent, Freelander up by 57 per cent and Range Rover up by 24 per cent.

Needless to say the company is rubbing its hands together with glee, not just to warm them in the wintry weather. Managing director John Edwards says he believes “buyers were looking for a vehicle that provides them with the all-terrain capability to keep them on the roads”.

On a personal note . . .

Just a thought and a personal comment. I’d caution anyone thinking about buying a new car against being caught up in the current media feeding frenzy that’s thrashing around Toyota at the moment.

Okay, it’s recalling a series of cars that have an accelerator problem that needs putting right. Okay, it’s also recalling a model of Prius because of perceived problems with the brakes. And okay, as I write this there’s a growing scare in America about the steering on the Corollas over there.

But here’s my take on it …

Toyota is a company with a well-deserved reputation for building tough, reliable cars that last well. It has held its hand up about accelerator problem but it has taken the responsible line and is setting about fixing it as quickly as possible.

The Prius braking issue is, we’re told, not a safety problem – it’s more about the feel of the brakes when they’re applied on certain road surfaces.

My view is that this recall is to stop the issue dragging on through the press and to get it sorted so the company can move on, rather than because any driver is in any danger.

As for the steering, it’s too early as I write this to give a valuable opinion, but I’d guess this will turn out to be a symptom of this feeding frenzy.

It’s up to you, but vehicle recalls are happening all the time with almost every brand of car and if I was in the market this week I’d still have absolutely no hesitation in buying a new Toyota.

Mike Grundon


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