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

Region Fastest-selling model Ave. of days listed on CarGurus
1. Scotland Vauxhall Insignia and Mercedes-Benz A-Class 17 days
2. North West England Vauxhall Zafira 19 days
3. South West England Vauxhall Zafira 20 days
4. South East England Vauxhall Zafira 22 days
5. West Midlands Volkswagen Polo and Ford Ka 22 days
6. East Midlands Ford Mondeo and BMW 4 Series 23 days
7. East of England Vauxhall Zafira 23 days
8. Greater London BMW 1 Series 23 days
9. North East England Vauxhall Insignia 23 days
10. Yorkshire and the Humber Seat Ibiza and Mercedes-Benz A-Class 25 days
11. Northern Ireland Nissan Qashqai 26 days
12. Wales BMW 1 Series 29 days

PSA Group on a roll: Vauxhall in profit, Peugeot going to the USA

PSA Peugeot Citroen Vauxhall Profit

In the summer of last year it was reported, to the surprise of many, that Vauxhall/Opel was returning to profit under new PSA Peugeot/Citroen ownership.

This was a quick turnaround following PSA’s acquisition of the two marques from General Motors not two years previously. Final numbers indicate that Vauxhall/Opel’s profit margin was 4.7 percent in 2018.

Brexit confidence 

Peugeot, Citroen and DS, meanwhile, have doubled profits in the UK since the Brexit vote two years ago. Indeed, chairman Carlos Tavares isn’t worried about Brexit, saying “Vauxhall is warm to the hearts of UK consumers. Maybe we are the ones who have the best opportunity out of it”.

That doesn’t necessarily secure the safety of the Ellesmere Port plant, though. Tavares is no stranger to making difficult choices in the pursuit of progress: “If we have to make tough decisions, we will”. 

Going global

PSA Peugeot Citroen Vauxhall Profit

With revenue up 18.9 percent compared with 2017 (at more than £63 million), PSA Group is now looking to go global. Just two years after Opel was withdrawn from Russia, there are plans to return. This is part of a strategy to increase sales outside Europe by 50 percent, which also includes Citroen heading to India.

By far the most interesting facet of PSA’s future expansion, however, is the plan to reintroduce Peugeot to North America. We never thought we’d see the day where a Peugeot 508 vs.Toyota Camry twin-test was a possibility in Automobile magazine.

Overall, the group aims to launch 116 new models by 2021. A Core Energy Strategy will also see 50 percent of the Group’s offerings electrified by 2021, with 100 percent targeted for 2025.

Baby steps have already been made with the new 208, available with a 50kwh electric powerplant from launch. So too with the new Vauxhall Corsa later this year, which will be available with electric power.

Tavares’ success

PSA Peugeot Citroen Vauxhall Profit

This will be the fifth year in a row that Carlos Tavares has delivered impressive results for the Peugeot Citroen Group. What’s the secret to his success?

Agility is a word that keeps popping up, as a descriptor for the Group’s ability to adapt to new challenges. Tavares claims that “we will be continuing our Darwinian transformation and approaching each challenge as an opportunity to stand out against our competitors”.

Would you buy this British-built Vauxhall MPV for £40,000?

Vauxhall Vivaro Life £40,000 MPV

Vauxhall has unveiled a new MPV based on the Vivaro commercial vehicle called the Vivaro Life. There are two trim levels for it – the passenger-carrying Edition, and the Elite ‘luxury limousine’. Yes, the latter is a £40,000 Vauxhall Van…

That’s right, a £40,000 Vauxhall van…

Vauxhall Vivaro Life £40,000 MPV

That might sound a bit barmy, but there’s got to be something to the ‘luxury limousine’ description. Let’s break down the Vivaro Life Elite. Vauxhall describes it as a ‘well-appointed, go-anywhere family car or luxury limousine’. In the front, you get a head-up display and electrically adjustable heated and massage-equipped seats.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come along with a smart navigation system as part of the 7-inch touch screen in-car entertainment. As for those trickier parking manoeuvres, a 180-degree rear-view camera has you covered, as does blind spot monitoring.

Vauxhall Vivaro Life £40,000 MPV

There are five seats as standard, although you can get two individual seats in the back that can rotate for ‘conference seating’, or a third row for a total of eight seats. A table is also optional for a more opulent conference seat layout. Needless to say, the potential for luggage space dwarfs anything available in a normal car.

Sliding blinds and reclining seats mean passengers can settle down for a snooze overnight with, if they so choose, a nice view out at the night sky through the panoramic roof. Other distinctive inclusions on the Vivaro Life Elite include 17-inch diamond-cut alloys, xenon and LED lights and a split opening tailgate (have that, Range Rover) for ease of luggage loading.

Fully-electric version due in 2021

Vauxhall Vivaro Life £40,000 MPV

Being based on the EMP2 modular car platform as used by the Grandland X, the Vivaro should boast more car-like driving characteristics. While it’s initially to be offered as a diesel, an all-electric version is due in 2021. That will join the fully-electric Corsa we’ll be getting soon in Vauxhall’s EV lineup… 

The Brit-built MPV

Don’t worry, there are other versions. For the more conventional family that fancies a van-flavoured MPV, the £27,000 Vivaro Life Edition offers an intriguing alternative to conventional people carriers. Vauxhall still reckons it’s ‘built for business’ but this built-in-Luton up-to-nine-seater van could be a family favourite.

Vauxhall offers servicing and breakdown cover for £19 per month

Vauxhall service and breakdown

Adding to the list of things we can pay for monthly is Vauxhall, with its new car care package. It starts from a reasonable £19 a month.

The scheme includes three years’ servicing and roadside assistance cover, with the first MOT also thrown in. It builds upon the existing three-year warranty and one-year Vauxhall Assistance package when you buy any new Vauxhall.

The roadside assistance includes both home-start and recovery – good peace of mind for your first three years of motoring in your new car.

While the package costs £19 per month for petrol-powered cars, diesels are a little pricier, at £22 per month. Overall, you’ll end up paying £684 over three years with a petrol car, or £792 with a diesel. A one-off up-front payment for the total is available.

Given servicing is quoted on Vauxhall’s website as ‘£159 for interim or £259 for a main service’, you can expect to pay £567 just in servicing over three years. That means three years of breakdown and home-start, plus the car’s first MOT, costs you £117. Not too bad, by our reckoning.

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Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

The best car features owners didn’t know they had

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

A survey of 2,000 UK motorists by Citnow has uncovered the 10 best-loved features owners found in their cars.

These range from interior ‘easter eggs’ that surprise and delight, to genuinely useful features that we’re surprised aren’t seen more widely.

Let’s look at the list…

Volkswagen Golf GTI: golf ball gearknob

Volkswagen Golf GTI Golf Ball Gear Shift

‘GTI’ is one of the most prestigious names in hot hatchery and by extension, one of the most revered badges on the road. Today, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the perfect double act of genuine class-beating competency and fun throwbacks to GTIs of old. One example of the latter is the golf ball on the gearknob, which heads the list of best-loved features .

Volkswagen Beetle: flower vase

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [from above]

If you thought the golf ball shifter was a fun trinket, the Volkswagen Beetle and its dashboard vase will appeal. The ‘New Beetle’, when it arrived in 1997, aimed to distil the cultural phenomenon of the original in a contemporary package. Yes, even down to some flower power… Motoring meets botany, resulting in perhaps the weirdest feature of any car from the last 20 years. It makes number two on the list.

Vauxhall Corsa: Flexfix integrated bike rack

Vauxhall FlexFix Bike Rack

The Beetle’s vase can be best described as a gimmick that’s most useful when you’re without a place to store your pens. The Flexfix slide-out bike rack on the Corsa (available as far back as 2000) is of rather more use to more people. Clever packaging makes it third on the best-loved list.

Skoda: integrated umbrella

Skoda Superb Umbrella

This one, especially for Brits, is a no-brainer, and somthing you’ll find in both a Rolls-Royce and a Skoda Superb. The door-stored umbrella has to be a godsend whenever you park up in wet weather. The challenge is remembering that it’s tucked away there.

Mini: ambient lighting

MINI Ambient Lighting

In the coolness stakes, this is close to the top. Ambient lighting has proliferated throughout the car market, but the playful implementation in the Mini is rated one of the best-loved features by buyers.

Honda: Magic Seats

Honda Magic Seats

Heading the list of practical but not necessarily cool quirks are Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’. These flip-up rear seats, which create a floor-to-ceiling storage space, debuted on the Jazz in the early 2000s and eventually made their way onto the Civic. Unlike a lot of what’s on this list, they are a genuinely useful feature if your Jazz or Civic is thus equipped!

Mini Convertible: Openometer

MINI Openometer

Aaaaaand… we’re back to the gimmicks. It doesn’t get much sillier than the Mini Convetible’s ‘Openometer’. This gauge records the amount of time you have spent travelling with the roof down. At least you can say with the utmost certainty how much sunshine you’ve got, before deciding whether to buy another drop-top.

Nissan: curry hook

Nissan Curry Hook

As unknown features go, this is about as middle-of-the-road as they get. How many cars do you know of with a hook specifically for takeaways? Er, none? Well, there is one. From 1996, the Nissan Almera came equipped with this feature, which you can now find in the boots of many new cars.

Renault Modus: Boot Chute

Renault Modus Boot Chute

This is a feature that was absolutely infamous at the time, mostly among journalists. The boot chute is one of those great ideas that simply didn’t catch on (the name surely didn’t help, although this was, remember, the company that also gave us the Renault Wind).

Too close to a car or a wall behind you? Need to load shopping? No problem! The lower part of the tailgate opened to create a ‘Boot Chute’. It provided excellent access for luggage in confined spaces. Bring it back, Renault!

DS 3: perfume dispenser

DS 3 Perfume Dispenser

The last item on the list is the DS 3’s perfume dispenser. Of course, it’s not actually exclusive to the DS. Many cars are now getting integrated fragrances, but it remains a laughable hidden feature.

Or is it? Plenty of us fit our own air fresheners, so why should a built-in one seem weird? Regardless, it rounds off the top 10 hidden features that buyers love.

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Vauxhall Calibra

Vauxhall Calibra V6 review: a classic coupe that still turns heads

Vauxhall Calibra

Take a best-selling family saloon, re-skin it with a curvaceous body that could have straight from an Italian styling house and you have the Vauxhall Calibra. It was based on the Vauxhall Cavalier and designed in-house, not by Italians, but by Wayne Cherry, GM’s American-born Design Director.

This is not an uncommon approach to building coupes: start with an unexciting saloon or hatchback and sex it up. VW did it with the Scirocco and Audi TT, both to great effect. The key is to start off with well-engineered building blocks, something both VW and Vauxhall/Opel had to their advantage.

What we have here, then, is a three-door, four-seat coupe, its wide-opening tailgate neatly disguised within the flowing lines down to the rear bumper. Launched in 1989, the Calibra was sold in the UK for the best part of 10 years, although it’s rare to see one now – especially anything as nice as this extremely low mileage example from Vauxhall’s heritage fleet.

Vauxhall Calibra

Power came originally from a couple of 2.0-litre petrol engines: either 8-valve/115hp or 16-valve/150hp. In 1992 a four-wheel-drive 2.0-litre turbocharged Calibra was launched. A power output of 200hp still sounds respectable, but the Turbo wasn’t popular at the time and now has the shadow of expensive gearbox problems hanging over it.

The car we have here is the last proper iteration of the Calibra, the 2.5-litre V6. With around 168hp, it wasn’t as fast as the Turbo, but the silky V6 engine brought a whole new level of sophistication, arguably making the Calibra more of a grand tourer than it had any right to be.

So, how does the Calibra V6 stand up today? We drove it to Normandy for a four-day classic car event – enough miles to stretch its legs properly.

Calibra to the continent

Vauxhall Calibra

We took the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe and then headed down to Forges-les-Eaux, along winding D-roads through quiet villages and dense forests, scenes to be repeated over the following three days. What you notice immediately about the Calibra is how civilised it is. That V6 engine is a gem, not especially powerful by today’s standards but honestly quick and genuinely refined.

The leather interior provides a low, sporty seating position and some real comfort, while there’s room for a couple of adults in the rear as long as they’re not too tall.

Luggage space is impressive, and there’s masses of volume available with the rear seat folded. I know this from experience, by the way: nearly 30 years ago when the Calibra was still new, I carried four garden chairs back from Switzerland. 

Vauxhall Calibra

There’s no escaping the Calibra’s origins, although most today will have forgotten what a Cavalier dashboard looked like, so with its white dials, the Calibra V6 simply feels classic rather than outdated.

The ride and handling are far from sporty, however, which means you’d be better off enjoying the easy power steering and decent air-con than chasing old Golf GTIs across the countryside.

Take that on board, and you’ll revel in a long journey in a Calibra V6. It may be more than 20 years old, but this classic Vauxhall gets more desirable all the time.

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