Pumpkin power: Vauxhall van put to the test ferrying giant veg

Vauxhall Combo giant veg stand

Vauxhall has taken on a unique project to put its Combo Cargo van to the test. It’s helped create the UK’s biggest fruit and veg stall. How? By lugging 800kg of vegetables, including three-foot square pumpkins and four-foot square marrows.

No, they’re not props for a scene in a Harry Potter film. No, it’s not a scale model of the Combo van. Those really are enormous vegetables in Vauxhall’s compact hauler.

“The giant veg stall is our way of celebrating the hard work of giant veg growers and other small businesses around the UK,” said giant veg world record breaker Kevin Fortey.

Vauxhall Combo giant veg stand

“Transportation is key in the giant veg growing community. After growing these beauties for up to 10 months, you need to be able to get them from A to B safely and securely. But with the enhanced capabilities of small vans like the Combo Cargo you don’t necessarily need the biggest van to be able to get the job done.”

Vauxhall took on this weird and wonderful challenge to highlight just how useful its small van can be to small businesses. No matter how specific their business area. Lugging prize-winning monster vegetables is one fun way of getting that message across.

Small businesses in London have been feeling the fire recently with the introduction of the ULEZ. Vauxhall is keen to highlight that the Combo is low-emission zone-friendly.

Vauxhall Combo giant veg stand

“Vauxhall is delighted to support the diverse and creative small businesses across the UK,” commented Patrick Fourniol, marketing director at Vauxhall Motors. 

“From plumbers and plasterers to more niche fields like giant vegetable growing, the capabilities and features of modern commercial vehicles have been designed to turbocharge sole traders and small businesses so they can meet customer demands, no matter the payload.”

Vauxhall Corsa is the UK’s best-selling car

Vauxhall Corsa best-selling car in September

The Vauxhall Corsa was the UK’s best-selling car in September. This, in a month in which new car registrations rose by just 1.3 percent.

A total of 343,255 new cars hit the road in September, fuelled by an 8.6 percent rise in the number of fleet registrations. Private sales rose by a modest 0.1 percent, as the new registration changeover failed to have a significant impact on the depressed market.

Year-to-date figures are down 2.5 percent overall, as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) warns against a ‘no deal‘ Brexit.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “September’s modest growth belies the ongoing downward trend we’ve seen over the past 30 months.

“We expected to see a more significant increase in September, similar to those seen in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, given the negative effect WLTP had on all European markets last year. Instead, consumer confidence is being undermined by political and economic uncertainty.

“We need to restore stability to the market which means avoiding a ‘no deal’ Brexit and, moreover, agreeing a future relationship with the EU that avoids tariffs and barriers that could increase prices and reduce buyer choice.”

Corsa is number one

Vauxhall Corsa

The Vauxhall Corsa has toppled the Ford Fiesta as the nation’s number one, as dealers clear the decks ahead of the next-generation Corsa’s arrival in 2020.

Registrations have been boosted by highly competitive finance and leasing deals, with the Corsa offering extraordinary value for money to those who aren’t prepared to wait until next year for the new car.

The all-new model – which shares a platform with the new Peugeot 208 – will include an electric variant.

Ford shifted 11,643 Fiestas in September, so it remains the best-selling car of 2019 with 64,564 registrations. Meanwhile, the Vauxhall Corsa (47,574) leapfrogs the Volkswagen Golf (46,492) and Ford Focus (45,932) to become the second best-selling car of the year so far.

Top 10 September registrations

  1. Vauxhall Corsa: 12,921
  2. Ford Fiesta: 11,643
  3. Mercedes-Benz A-Class: 9,807
  4. Mini: 8,269
  5. Nissan Qashqai: 7,987
  6. Ford Focus: 7,944
  7. Volkswagen Golf: 7,272
  8. Kia Sportage: 5,860
  9. Ford Kuga: 5,691
  10. BMW 3 Series: 5,038

A false dawn?

News of a positive month is tempered by the fact that last September saw a massive 20.5 percent decline in sales, when new emissions regulations and lack of testing capacity across Europe affected supply.

It’s also worth noting that the UK’s small increase is in stark contrast to other major European markets which saw a double-digit rise in registrations.

“The market is being subdued by the added pressure of the political and economic uncertainty, with weak confidence stopping consumers from committing to big ticket purchases,“ said the SMMT.

On the plus side, the electric car market recorded a 236.4 percent (5,414 units) increase in registrations, with plug-in hybrid sales up for the first time in six months.

Corsa-E Rally racer debut at Frankfurt

Vauxhall has made an electric Corsa rally car

Corsa-E Rally racer debut at Frankfurt

Vauxhall’s European sister company Opel has made an electric rally car. It’s to be the first car manufacturer in the world to offer an electric car for customer rallying. The Corsa-E Rally, based on the EV variant of the new hatch, is to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.

In appearance, it’s as much a grassroots rally hero as any internal combustion-powered car. A lurid silver and green livery covers aggressive front and rear bumpers. The wheels are lightweight, four-stud Speedlines and there are bonnet clips.

Corsa-E Rally racer debut at Frankfurt

We’ve no view of the cabin yet. You can bet that it’s been comprehensively stripped, though. Bucket seats in place of the standard items and a competition wheel are dead certs. We’d be surprised if there was a sequential shifter to be found in there, though…

The car will be used in the Opel e-Rally Cup, which is also the first branded cup for electric cars in the world. The series is set to begin in the summer of next year, and should offer young rally drivers a great first step on the rally ladder.

Each race will feature 15 examples of the electric Corsa rally car, which will cost less than £46,000. In terms of performance, it should produce around 130hp and 177lb ft. How that instant electric performance will feel off-road will be interesting to see.

Corsa-E Rally racer debut at Frankfurt

As above, the rally car, of course, complements the new road car. You can reserve one of those right now for £500. The first 500 customers will get a home charge kit for free.

The road-going Corsa-E will cost from £26,490 (after the £3,500 plug-in grant). It should be capable of up to 205 miles of range, and should recuperate up to 80 percent of its battery capacity within 30 minutes if connected to a fast-charger. 

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Own an electric Vauxhall Corsa-e for £270 a month

Electric Vauxhall Corsa-e

The all-electric Vauxhall Corsa-e is available for a competitive £270 a month when you sign-up for a four-year PCP deal.

Furthermore, if you’re one of the first 500 customers to place an order, you’ll receive a free electric home charging kit worth more than £800.

The cost-effective PCP deal is based on a relatively hefty deposit of £5,549.40, but you’ll enjoy four years of zero-emissions motoring and a 205-mile electric range. The one catch: you’re unlikely to take delivery before April 2020.

All that’s required is a £500 reservation fee, although this is fully refundable on purchase.

Electric Vauxhall Corsa-e free charger

The electric Corsa-e comes with an 11kW on-board charger, with 62 miles available from a 2.5-hour charge via a standard household socket. Use a 7kW wallbox and a full charge is available in 7.5 hours.

Use a public fast charger, and 80 percent capacity is available in just 30 minutes.

There are two electric Corsa-e models available: the entry-level SE Nav for £26,490 and the Elite Nav for £29,810. These prices are AFTER the £3,500 government plug-in car grant.

SE Nav offers a generous level of equipment, but Elite Nav adds a rear-view camera, 10-inch colour touchscreen, eight-inch colour instrument cluster, lane departure warning, winter pack, keyless entry and start, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The optional Orange Fizz paintwork (pictured) costs £650.

Corsa-e or e-208?

Electric Corsa-e interior

The all-electric Vauxhall Corsa-e will receive its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, ahead of series production starting in January next year.

Alternatively, you could opt for the platform-sharing Peugeot e-208. The French supermini undercuts the Vauxhall by around £1,500, with prices starting from £25,050 after the plug-in car grant. 

First deliveries will take place in early 2020, but you’ll have to wait until 22 August to place your order. The Vauxhall Corsa-e is available to order now, but you’ll need to be quick if you want a free home charging kit.

New Vauxhall Astra prices start from £18,885

Facelifted Vauxhall Astra with new engines

Vauxhall has opened ordering for the facelifted Astra range with prices starting from £18,885. Deliveries are set to begin in November 2018.

As before, Vauxhall has a somewhat bewildering array of seven different variants. The range opens with SE, while £700 more buys the fleet-focused Business Edition Nav.

The sporty-looking SRi costs from £21,895, and is also offered as an SRi Nav and SRi VX Line Nav. Elite Nav and Ultimate Nav sit at the top of the range.

The Sport Tourer estate is the load-lugging alternative to the five-door hatchback. It costs from £20,335, or £1,440 more than the hatch.

Sport Tourer models are easier to buy: they’re only offered in SE, Business Edition Nav or SRi Nav guise.

We’ve included full prices at the bottom, but they’re not the only area that’s changed. Here’s what else you need to know about the new Astra

New active aerodynamics

Facelifted Vauxhall Astra with new engines

The new Astra is one of the most aerodynamic cars in its class. The hatchback and Sports Tourer estate achieve drag coefficients of 0.26 and 0.25 respectively.

Parts of the suspension have been streamlined, in combination with underbody smoothing to reduce turbulence.

At the front, the upper and lower areas of the grille can open and shut independently depending on cooling requirements, to further optimise airflow. Who says active aerodynamics should be the preserve of McLarens and Ferraris?

Infotainment from the Insignia

Facelifted Vauxhall Astra with new engines

Inside, the first thing you’ll notice is the eight-inch touchscreen with new Multimedia Navi and Navi Pro systems from the larger Insignia. The implementation is sleek, although it’s still a bit of a stretch for the driver. Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility comes as standard.

The partially digitised instrument cluster doesn’t quite match fully digital setups in rivals for configurability and sophistication, but it’s a worthwhile update nonetheless.

Wireless phone charging is available on some higher-end models, as is a heated windscreen with near-invisible heating elements. A seven-speaker Bose sound system should liven things up a bit, too. Vauxhall says it “transforms the Astra into a concert hall”.

No more four-cylinder engines

Facelifted Vauxhall Astra with new engines

The Astra is available with a new range of petrol and diesel engines. All have three cylinders and feature new CO2-reducing tech and electrically activated turbos. Water-cooled in-head manifolds significantly reduce post-start emissions by speeding up the warm-up process. 

The headline figure is that consumption and emissions are reduced by up to 19 percent versus predecessors.

There are four petrol engines available. Three come in 1.2-litre format, offering 110, 130 and 145hp. They achieve between 51 and 54mpg on the WLTP fuel cycle, and produce between 120 and 127g/km of CO2.

The 1.4 matches the top-end 1.2 for power, with 145hp, but has 174Ib ft of torque – versus 165lb ft for the 1.2. It does, however, suffer in efficiency terms, delivering between 47 and 49mpg while producing between 132 and 136g/km of CO2. The 1.4 is available exclusively with a CVT auto transmission.

Facelifted Vauxhall with new engines

The new 1.5-litre diesels come in 105 and 122hp outputs. The latter is available with the latest nine-speed automatic transmission.

They manage a WLTP-rated 61 and 62mpg with the six-speed manual ‘box, and between 53 and 57mpg with the auto.

Emissions for the diesel Astras are between 117 and 124g/km of CO2 (manual) and between 130 and 139g/km (auto). 

New Vauxhall Astra: prices

Astra hatchback


1.2 110: £18,995

1.2 130: £19,185

1.4 145 auto: £20,875

1.5 105 diesel: £19,905

1.2 122 diesel: £20,330 (auto: £21,985)

Business Edition Nav

1.2 110: £19,585

1.2 130: £19,885

1.4 145 auto: £21,575

1.5 105 diesel: £20,605

1.5 122 diesel: £21,030 (auto: £22,690)


1.2 110: £21,895

1.2 130: £22,445

1.4 145 auto: £23,885

1.5 105 diesel: £22,915

1.5 122 diesel: £23,340 (auto: £25,000)

SRi Nav

1.2 110: £22,595

1.2 145: £23,145

1.4 145 auto: £24,585

1.5 105 diesel: £23,615

1.5 122 diesel: £24,040 (auto: 25,700)

SRi Nav VX Line

1.2 145: £24,195

1.4 145 auto: £25,635

1.2 122 diesel: £25,090 (auto: £26,745)

Elite Nav

1.2 145: £23,955

1.4 145 auto: £25,395

1.5 122 diesel: £24,850 (auto: £26,510)

Ultimate Nav

1.2 145: £26,755

1.4 145 auto: £28,195

1.5 122 diesel: £27,650 (auto: £29,310)

Astra Sport Tourer


1.2 110: £20,355

1.5 105 diesel: £22,255

Business Edition Nav

1.2 130: £21,205

1.5 122 diesel: £24,060

SRi Nav

1.2 145: £24,615

1.4 145 auto: £26,035

1.5 122 diesel: £26,920

Vauxhall EXTENDS its £4,000 scrappage deal

Vauxhall scrappage event June 2019

Vauxhall has extended its scrappage offer, meaning you now have until the end of September to get a minimum £4,000 guaranteed scrappage allowance on selected vehicles.

The ‘Trade Up’ offer – which was set to expire at the end of June – is available on Astra, Mokka X, Crossland X, Grandland X and Viva Rocks models.

The trade-in car must be at least seven years old to be valid for the scrappage allowance.

Alternatively, if the vehicle isn’t ready to be scrapped, Vauxhall will offer a minimum of £3,000 part-exchange allowance, plus the value of the car, towards a new Vauxhall.

On its website, Vauxhall claims the scrappage allowance is best suited to cars worth less than £1,000, while the part-ex offer is designed for cars worth upwards of £1,000.

Either way, please check that a collector or enthusiast isn’t interested in your ‘scrappage’ candidate before leaving it at a Vauxhall dealer. Price guides and trade valuations aren’t always 100 percent accurate when it comes to rare, interesting or in-demand vehicles. Use social media or specialist forums to find out what it could be worth to the right buyer.

Stephanie Howson, Vauxhall’s retail sales director said: “There really isn’t anything quite like driving off the forecourt in a brand new car for the first time, and thanks to our exciting Trade Up event, motorists will be able to share in that feeling.

“People often assume they can’t afford to buy a brand new car, but that’s simply not the case. We would like to encourage anyone considering upgrading their vehicle to visit their nearest Vauxhall retailer and take advantage of this fantastic offer.”

Get your money off Rocks

Vauxhall Viva Rocks available with scrappage discount

If you’re looking to spend the least amount on a new car, the Viva Rocks is the cheapest Vauxhall available with the scrappage discount. It’s essentially a Viva with raised ground clearance and crossover-like styling, with prices starting from £12,240.

With the scrappage allowance, it takes the price down to £8,240, which is less than an entry-level Dacia Sandero Stepway.

Alternatively, Crossland X prices start from £17,715, the Astra range kicks off at £18,905, the Mokka X from £20,645 and the Grandland X from £23,415.

Visit the Vauxhall website for full terms and conditions, but again, do think carefully before scrapping your current motor. Vauxhall’s “old wreck” might be another person’s valued vehicle…

Remember, the offer ends at the end of September… unless Vauxhall decides to extend it again.

Ellesmere Port Vauxhall Astra

Britain will build next Vauxhall Astra IF no-deal Brexit is avoided

Ellesmere Port Vauxhall AstraThe next-generation Vauxhall Astra will continue to be built at the firm’s Ellesmere Port, Cheshire plant – if the UK can agree a favourable post-Brexit deal.

Vauxhall owner Groupe PSA has announced the next Astra will be made, as today, at two plants. One of them will be Russelsheim in Germany.

However, Gliwice in Poland, which builds today’s car, is set to lose the Astra production deal – as the thriving Groupe PSA has chosen to keep Ellesmere Port instead.

Ellesmere Port - Home of the Vauxhall Astra

This will be seen as a major vote of confidence for the UK automotive industry, if Britain is able to meet the French-owned company’s conditions.

The firm wants to see the final terms of the UK’s exit from the EU first. This is seen as a coded warning that a no-deal Brexit will lead to no new Astra deal for Ellesmere Port.

Groupe PSA also wants the Unite trade union to accept the New Vehicle Agreement, which the two have been negotiating.

Ellesmere Port 50th anniversary

British unions have been commended by car industry bosses in recent years, and Groupe PSA chairman Carlos Tavares has previously praised Unite for its positive work in saving van production at Luton. Unite has already been working with company bosses to improve the business case of Ellesmere Port, which opened in 1964.

This second condition is thus seen as less troublesome than the first. Unite has already expressed its desire to see no-deal Brexit taken off the table. 

‘This news demonstrates the continuous effort and commitment of Groupe PSA to Vauxhall Motors,’ said the firm in a statement.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) welcomed the news, albeit with caution. “This latest news is potentially hugely positive but reinforces what we have been saying all along.

“The threat alone of a ‘no deal’ Brexit is preventing companies from committing to investment in the UK.

“Thousands of jobs depend on us getting a deal so we can retain our competitiveness and regain our global reputation.”

The current Vauxhall Astra is mid-way through its lifecycle; a facelift is expected later this year. It is expected to be replaced in 2021.

New electric Vauxhall Corsa-e now available to order

Corsa-e opens for ordering

The all-electric version of the new Vauxhall Corsa is now available to order. Don’t expect to receive your new car until 2020, though.

The Corsa-e is the ‘flag-bearer for a completely new Corsa range’, which Vauxhall wants to ‘normalise electric car ownership’. A good start is accessibility: the Corsa-e will cost from £26,490 (after the government electric car grant), but you can reserve one now from £500. The first 500 reservations will also receive a free home charging kit.

That seems steep, but all electric Corsas will come well-equipped, with standard features including sat-nav, LED headlights, parking sensors, a DAB radio and a seven-inch touchscreen.

Corsa-e opens for ordering

You can drive a Corsa-e from £270 per month on PCP, over a 47-month period, with a £5,549 deposit payment.

The Corsa-e’s battery is warrantied to deliver 70 percent or more of its capacity up to 100,000 miles or eight years. The 50kWh unit is good for 205 miles of range and can be recharged to 80 percent capacity (using a public fast-charger) in as little as 30 minutes.

In terms of power, the Corsa-e has 136hp and can reach 62mph in 8.1 seconds. 

Corsa-e opens for ordering

The new Corsa, along with the all-electric Corsa-e, will debut in the metal at Frankfurt Motor Show in September. First deliveries will start next year, after series production begins in January.

Will this be the model to popularise the electric car? We suspect it may get in a tussle with the new electric Peugeot 208 for that honour.

Rare Opel Manta 400 is a bargain Group B rally hero

Most spell-checkers don’t recognise the word ‘homologation’, but most car enthusiasts surely do. Essentially, it’s the requirement to build a certain number of road cars in order to satisfy racing regulations. It’s also responsible for some of the most pulse-spiking machines ever to wear number plates.

Group B rallying, banned in 1986, produced its fair share of homologation specials. Audi Sport Quattro, MG Metro 6R4, Lancia Delta S4, Ford RS200 and Peugeot 205 T16… all are household names, and rightly so, but how many remember the Opel Manta 400? 

This particular Manta will soon be listed on Collecting Cars, a new online auction platform that aims to emulate the success of American website, Bring A Trailer. It’s backed by Top Gear presenter Chris Harris and already has a diverse selection of classics consigned for sale.

Here a few of the early highlights, starting with that Opel…

Opel Manta 400 (1983)

The Manta 400 uses the same 2.4-litre four-cylinder 16v Cosworth engine as the earlier Ascona 400. That car – the European version of the Vauxhall Cavalier – achieved some WRC success, piloted by the legendary Walter Röhrl. But the rear-driven Manta found itself immediately outclassed by four-wheel-drive rivals, including the all-conquering Quattro.

In road-going guise, the fuel-injected Manta makes a modest 144hp, although a dry weight of 1,128kg means acceleration is brisk. A live rear axle makes for frisky handling, too – despite the presence of a ZF limited-slip diff.


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Opel Manta 400 (1983). One of 245 made for Group B homologation – and only 59 with those stretched Irmscher wheelarches. Up for sale soon via Collecting Cars.

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A total of 245 Manta 400s were made, only 59 with the Irmscher bodykit seen here. Those steroidal wheelarches stretch over wider Ronal alloys, while a jutting spoiler sits atop the bootlid. The Recaro seats are equally eye-catching: trimmed in oh-so-70s ‘Opel Blitz’ cloth. 

Valuing such a rare car is tricky, so it will be fascinating to see what the Manta achieves at auction. We reckon about £60,000 looks likely – a relative bargain for a homologation hero.

Porsche 968 Club Sport (1994)

Porsche is masterful at charging more for less. You want no back seats, fewer luxuries and fabric door-pulls? It’ll cost ya… However, it wasn’t always this way. Back in the mid-nineties, the Club Sport was a hefty £5,000 cheaper than a standard 968.

At 1,335kg, it was at least 50kg lighter too. Factor in a 10mm suspension drop and a pair of fixed-back Recaros, and the result was B-road bliss. With only 1,923 built, the Club Sport has since become a sought-after cult classic.

The four-cylinder Porsche isn’t especially quick 0-60mph in 6.1sec and 158mph – but it’s beautifully balanced, the weighty steering alive with textured feedback. It’s less intimidating than a contemporary 911, but no less rewarding.

This 968 has covered just 41,000 miles and has been in storage for the past four years. Looking at comparable cars in the classifieds, we think about £40,000 sounds right. The registration ‘A968 POR’ is included in the sale.

Ferrari 550 Maranello (1999)

A V12 Ferrari with an open-gate manual gearbox? Where do we sign? Launched in 1996, the 550 Maranello channelled the spirit of the classic 365 GTB/4 Daytona, with a 485hp naturally aspirated V12 beneath its long, elegant bonnet.

The 550 morphed into the 575M from 2002. However, many Ferrari experts, including Ed Callow of Collecting Cars, reckon the 550 is  a sweeter drive. It’s not short on straight-line speed, either: 0-62mph takes 4.4sec and top speed is 199mph.

The 1,774kg Ferrari turns in with alacrity that belies its bulk. Its clutch demands a determined shove, and that thin metal wand needs careful guidance across the gate. Nonetheless, the reward for getting it right is like little else. Its V12 is simply sublime, piling on speed in a linear rush to the redline.

For our money – and you’ll need nigh-on £100,000 for a 24,000-mile example like this – the 550 suits darker colours such as the Blu Tour de France seen here, rather than trad-Ferrari Rosso Corsa. Just keep your grubby mitts off that cream leather.

In pictures:

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The Vauxhall Insignia is the fastest (selling) car in the UK

Vauxhall Insignia VXR Supersport

The Vauxhall Insignia and Mercedes-Benz A-Class are the fastest-selling cars in Britain, according to the automotive online marketplace, CarGurus.

The pair spend just 17 days on forecourts in Scotland before being sold, making them hot property north of the border. Indeed, Scotland appears to be a used car hotspot, with vehicles selling a full six days faster (that’s 25 days) than the nationwide average (31 days).

In contrast, a used car will remain on a forecourt for an average of 35 days in Wales, 34 days in East of England and 33 days in the South East and South West of England. The best performing region of England is the West Midlands, where used cars tend to sell in 29 days.

Vauxhall Zafira

Interestingly, a Vauxhall was the fastest-selling car in half of the regions listed, with the Insignia and Zafira proving to be popular amongst secondhand car buyers. The BMW 1 Series is the fastest-selling used car in London and Wales.

“When shopping for a car in Scotland, buyers should be aware that cars are selling more quickly than average for the UK, particularly the most popular used models,” said Chris Knapman, editor at CarGurus.

“Doing research ahead of a visit to the forecourt should allow the consumer to make an informed decision more readily. When acting quickly, trust and transparency are key.”

Fastest-selling car by region

RegionFastest-selling modelAve. of days listed on CarGurus
1. ScotlandVauxhall Insignia and Mercedes-Benz A-Class17 days
2. North West EnglandVauxhall Zafira19 days
3. South West EnglandVauxhall Zafira20 days
4. South East EnglandVauxhall Zafira22 days
5. West MidlandsVolkswagen Polo and Ford Ka22 days
6. East MidlandsFord Mondeo and BMW 4 Series23 days
7. East of EnglandVauxhall Zafira23 days
8. Greater LondonBMW 1 Series23 days
9. North East EnglandVauxhall Insignia23 days
10. Yorkshire and the HumberSeat Ibiza and Mercedes-Benz A-Class25 days
11. Northern IrelandNissan Qashqai26 days
12. WalesBMW 1 Series29 days