Month: December 2011

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Nissan Qashqai named as CAP Used Car of the Year 2011

Nissan Qashqai named as CAP Used Car of the Year 2011
The Nissan Qashqai has been voted ‘Used Car of the Year’ for the 2nd year running by CAP – the UK’s independent benchmark used car pricing experts.
A panel of judges comprising of used car market and vehicle valuation experts at CAP chose the Qashqai from a shortlist of 6 models. Points were awarded by the judging panel based on CAP’s criteria of excellence in the following areas;
• Affordability and practicality of ownership
• Trusted reputation
• Retail popularity
• Innovative impact on motor industry
Unlike other car awards, the CAP Used Car of the Year is designed to acknowledge all-round excellence from the perspective of everyone touched by the vehicle, including private owners, company car drivers, fleet operators and even used car dealers themselves.
The Qashqai scores highly in every area of CAP’s judging criteria and delivers significant benefits to everyone in the chain of supply, from dealers to owners and drivers.
Judging panel chairman Mark Bulmer, Editor of CAP Black Book – the industry’s independent benchmark guide to used car trade values – summed up the Qashqai’s ongoing success as a used car. He said: “It is a great all-rounder that is perfect for its purpose, delivering on style as well as practicality for the motorist and providing a great retail proposition for used car dealers.”
The CAP panel noted that even on the question of depreciation, the Qashqai is a consistently strong proposition that tends to outperform the general market.
The Qashqai was chosen from a strong shortlist of Citroen DS3, Nissan Qashqai, Vauxhall Zafira, Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio.
Full judging summary
CAP always believed this vehicle had the potential to become a great used car, beyond the excellent marketing hype that generated so much interest in it as a new vehicle. Last year was the first time that 3 year old used examples began escaping from the main dealer network and entered the open market, where the true qualities of a vehicle are finally revealed.
Their performance in terms of demand and trade price was excellent but CAP needed to see more volume. We were there when the first large numbers of Qashqai were entered into one sale. The hall was full and bidding started at CAP Clean. Internet bidders could not keep up as all the major buyers present kept raising their hands to acquire these first offerings. Since that first sale the Qashqai has consistently performed well and whenever a vehicle goes through a sale there is always a buyer, even in a slow market. Despite growing volumes the number seen for sale on forecourts never seems to build up thanks to a steady stream of retail activity. When we speak to people in the trade the Qashqai model range is always at the top of the list for acquiring stock and volumes available on the internet always seem relatively low.
In late 2010 a serious challenger to the 07 Qashqai entered the market. But this serious rival was simply the newer model and that is now becoming the dominant player in the market, despite the main changes being generally cosmetic. The new buzz word in the auction is N-tec and this striking derivative ticks all the boxes for the wholesale buyer and retail customer alike. The Nissan Qashqai has created an entirely new ‘crossover’ sector and prompted other manufacturers to follow by marrying the practicality of a people carrier style car with the looks of a quality 4×4. By achieving this in a package that also offers economy, handling, strong build quality and reliability the Qashqai has become the perfect used car for our time. It is also worth noting that this has been achieved without a premium brand badge and the inevitably high price tag that would come with it. The trusted Nissan brand reputation is sufficient here, without the need to impress neighbours with an ‘aspirational’ badge. Finally, in a market which is currently vulne

Used car values end the year with smaller falls than usual…..

December 2011

for December, reports CAP Black Book

THE AVERAGE REDUCTION in used car trade values of 1.8% reported in the December edition of benchmark price guide Black Book was smaller than the historical ‘norm’, according to CAP.

The unusual stability in used car prices at a time when larger falls are typically recorded reflects a continuing delicate balance between supply and demand in what is still an essentially fragile market.

On the demand side of the equation dealers are consistently reporting difficulty in finding cars of sufficient quality for retail, which has forced many to pay more for vehicles with minor damage and absorb the cost of reconditioning.

The problem is partly fuelled by the ongoing troubles in the new car market, which remains very weak. This has forced franchise dealers to compete with their independent counterparts in the open market in actively sourcing used car stock due to the lack of part-exchanges that would normally be generated through new car sales.

According to Black Book, a recent snapshot of more than 100 dealers’ experience of sourcing retail quality stock revealed 73% of independents having difficulty, compared with 59% of franchised dealers, who benefit from first choice of manufacturer used stock. In terms of stock levels, 80% of independents described their own as too low, compared with just 47% of their franchised counterparts.

Crucially, however, these complaints revolve around the quality rather than quantity of vehicles available. One of the issues CAP has identified is the number of ex-fleet cars entering the market that fail to qualify as prime retail stock.

Black Book identifies one of the main factors behind this as fleets disposing of many ‘tired’ vehicles as they take advantage of manufacturer incentives on new replacements.

CAP also believes the ongoing stability of the market will be heavily dependent on the volume of nearly new cars which enter the marketplace in the coming weeks, driven by the hunger in some quarters to meet new car registration targets.

Black Book Editor, Mark Bulmer, said: “Much will depend on the behaviour of manufacturers in relation to pre-reg and late plate supply. One major volume player has a vast quantity of metal to shift which, at recent rates, could take up to 9 months to move on. In general there is a lot of late plate stock around and this was illustrated recently when scrutiny of one major trade and retail website revealed 88,000 cars available up to one year old.

“That said, there is still very significant demand for older vehicles around the £3-4,000 price mark and those who specialise in turning these around for retail are enjoying very strong trading.

“Bearing in mind the cautionary note around pre-registering and late plate supply levels we still expect dealers to be out in the marketplace actively seeking stock in the lead up to the New Year and possibly into January. After all, the lessons of being caught short in early 2009 will not be easily forgotten.”

ends

For further information contact Mike Hind, Communications Manager, CAP on 0113 222 2044 / 07710 152030

Don't Give Winter Tyres The Cold Shoulder…..

07 Dec 11

As temperatures plummet across the whole of the UK, is urging to 'warm' to winter weather tyres to stay safe on the roads.

Following one of the warmest autumns on record, winter has now arrived and with it air temperatures, which are crucial to how a tyre performs, have plunged. When temperatures drop below seven degrees Celsius the tread compound in 'normal' summer tyres begins to harden, changing their performance and reducing road safety.

However, with a higher content of natural rubber in their tread compound and advanced silica compounds, winter tyres function at their best in these cold damp conditions and are able to provide better grip, shorter stopping distances and overall improved safety.

Indeed, in tests conducted by the British Tyre Manufacturers' Association, a car braking at 60mph on a wet road at five degrees Celsius stopped five metres shorter, equivalent to more than one car length, when fitted with winter weather tyres. In icy and snowy conditions the differences were even more dramatic. At 30mph on snowy roads the difference increased to eight metres and on icy roads at just 20mph, the difference increased to nine metres.

Data from the Met Office* further supports the argument for drivers switching to winter tyres. Its latest average climate figures for the UK show that for three months of the year, the maximum temperature is below seven degrees Celsius and for eight months of the year, the minimum temperature is also below this key threshold.

While snow and ice present an obvious hazard to drivers in terms of steering, acceleration and braking, there is also a hidden danger that can dramatically affect the performance of tyres.

"We all remember the particularly harsh winters we've had in last two years, but it's not just these extreme wintry conditions that present dangers for drivers. Cold, damp roads can be just as hazardous and should be treated with the upmost respect. Fitting winter tyres is the safest option as they provide extra grip in these types of conditions, making driving much safer," said Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe.

"Although winter tyres can be used all year round, they should be especially considered for fitment from October through to March when they come into their own and help reduce the risk of an accident. Normally, the temperature barely creeps above seven degrees during this entire period, especially in the morning and evening rush hours when the roads are at their busiest," said Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe.

Motorists who decide not to fit winter weather tyres can still carry out tyre checks to lessen their chances of being in an accident. Tread depth should be inspected to ensure that it easily exceeds the legal minimum requirements of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference. The tyre should be checked for any cuts, bulges or embedded objects and tyre pressures should be checked at least once a month or before a long journey.

Further information about the benefits of fitting winter tyres can be found by visiting the TyreSafe website at www.tyresafe.org. Included on the site is a video demonstration which clearly shows the added safety benefits of winter tyres.

Notes
*Statistics taken from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/averages/19712000/areal/uk.html

– TyreSafe is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of correct tyre maintenance and the dangers of defective and worn tyres.

– In 2009, TyreSafe was awarded with the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in recognition of its achievements in raising awareness about the dangers associated with driving on defective and worn tyres.

– TyreSafe supports the government's ACT ON CO2 campaign which promotes Smarter Driving tips to help cut CO2 emissions from driving.

– TyreSafe is a signatory to the European Road Safet

New jewel in the WRX crown…….

Subaru has announced the crown jewel called WRX STI S206 in the Impreza WRX STI range, which is designed and engineered completely for Japanese market. It adds power boost to 318 pound feet of torque and 316 horsepower, with its new dual-scroll turbo, redesigned air filter, upgraded ECU, bigger intercooler, sports exhaust, all bolted onto flat four powertrain. The performance figures aren’t available right now, nevertheless it promises an extra low to mid range torque and heightened accelerator response. The current WRX STI model’s 2.5 liter engine churns out 297 horsepower and accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in the time range of 5.2 seconds with the top speed of 155mph

Hidden under the bonnet is a surprise that could melt the heart of even the most hardened petrolhead

If you’ve seen adverts for the Fiat 500 TwinAir you’ll be under the impression that this is an eco-special. That only tells half of the story because hidden under the bonnet is a surprise that could melt the heart of even the most hardened petrolhead.

First of all let’s deal with the question of image. The Fiat 500's retro design is a wonderful interpretation of the 1957 original but it is not what you’d call a bloke’s car, it’s a bit … dare I say it … girly. However, choose the right colours and you can give it a more masculine presence and this test car fits that bill quite nicely. The paint is Electroclash Grey metallic (£440 option) with gloss black roof and spoiler (£180 option) and satin black 15-inch alloys. It’s still lacking the rear-view presence of a typical hot hatch but it’s far enough from the cutesy 500 image that a few observers thought it was the sporty Abarth 500.

Go On Then, Pop The Bonnet
Lift the 500's stubby bonnet and you’re greeted by an 875cc petrol engine with only two cylinders, just like the original 500 but with twice the capacity. By modern standards this might seem like extreme downsizing but two cylinders means less internal friction and when twinned with a Stop&Start system it allows the TwinAir to achieve a diesel-matching EU economy figure of 68.9mpg.

With a turbo strapped to the tiny engine the 500 TwinAir offers 85bhp and 107lb/ft of torque. Not a lot, you may think, but factor in the 500's low kerb weight of 930kg and there’s more pace on offer than you might expect.

Two Cylinders? What’s It Sound Like?
Turn the key and the TwinAir settles into a slightly lumpy idle, with a ‘put-put’ beat reminiscent of the classic 500. It’s an unusual sound for a modern engine, far away from the characterless hum of the common four-cylinder engine. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard it for the first time.

Once you get moving and start to stretch the engine you really start to appreciate the noises it can make. It’s loud on full throttle, building to an angry wail with a cheeky rasp as you approach the 6,100rpm red-line. It’s as if someone worked out the best bits of the old 500's character and then added a sporty undercurrent with some modern-day exhaust tuning. It’s an unexpected pleasure and encourages you to make the most of each of the five gears.

At low-speed the 500 pulls away like a scolded cat, making the most of the torque dished up by the turbo. In real terms it’s not a fast car, with a 0-60mph time of 11 seconds and top speed of 108mph, but it feels quicker than those figures suggest, a sensation magnified by the rorty exhaust note.

Once out onto the open road the 500 is eager to please, building speed rapidly. The ride is soft and there is some body roll to contend with but if you wanted flat cornering and a firm ride you’d go for an Abarth 500. Undulations in the road surface can set off a slight bobbing motion from the suspension, but that’s a characteristic you’ll find in many small cars.

Grip is high considering the low-resistance 185/55 tyres and you can put your foot down early on corners and roundabouts, wait a fraction of a second for the turbo to spool up and then feel the 500 pull away cleanly. The advantage of having only 85bhp is that there’s no messy scrabbling from the front, no wheelspin or interference from nannying electronics – the 500 always makes the most of what it’s got.

The 500 is also happy to cruise at motorway speeds as the TwinAir engine provides enough power to mix it with the big boys in the fast lane. At cruising speeds the exhaust settles down to a background hum, although that tends to make the wind noise and tyre roar more noticeable. The steering is a little fidgety, thanks in part to the short wheelbase, so it’s not a relaxing mile muncher.

My main criticism of the 500's driving experience is the steering. It’s one of those electrical systems that varies the assistance depen