Great British Cars – Vauxhall Astra

LAST MONTH I wrote about the most expensive cars in the world with a mention of the cheapest car also.

Well, the majority of the new cars sold today are the less expensive models, compact cars as they are referred to in the US. I call these bread and butter cars. An example of this is that new car sales volume in the UK at the moment are at the highest they have been for over five years and the leader is the Ford Fiesta which has a base price of £9,759. A few enhancements though and the price can escalate to £17,545.

It has been about 10 years since the last Ford motor car was built in England which proves that many British motorists are not too patriotic when purchasing a new motor car. The Ford Fiesta’s that are for sale in the UK are all made in Germany, despite the fact that the cost of producing a car in Germany is about 1.5 times the cost of what it would be to build the same car in the UK.

September 2013 sales figures in the UK for the Ford Fiesta showed a little over 20,600 units, next in line was the Vauxhall Corsa, with 14,500 units sold in September 2013. Size-wise, and looks-wise for that matter, there isn’t much between the both, yet the majority of British buyers have been unpatriotic and have opted for the German Fords.

Vauxhall Astra web

Vauxhall Astra

After the Ford Fiesta and the Vauxhall Corsa the same period sales figures are as follows: 3. Ford Focus, 14,295 units. 4. VW Golf, 12,265. 5. Vauxhall Astra, 11,014. 6. BMW Series 1, 10,084. 7. BMW Series 3, 8,309. 8. Peugeot 208, 7,953. 9. Nissan Qashqai, 7.771 and 10. Fiat 500 with 7,422 units sold.

My pick would be, and it’s a bit smaller than the rest, is the Fiat 500, or I perhaps would opt for the Abarth, which is a souped-up version of the Fiat 500. I’m not too patriotic either, I just think that the Fiat has a bit more style about it than the rest of the compact cars. Even the less expensive cars can outshine the luxury models when it comes down to style.

The UK new car market is the second biggest in Europe, Germany takes top spot. Buyers typically tend to replace new cars after three years, but because of economic conditions in recent years may have left that longer. It is three years since the ending of the vehicle scrappage scheme, which gave people incentives to trade in their old cars. Cars bought under that scheme would now be around three years old. Total new car sales in Britain so far this year are at 1.79 million compared to Germany’s 2.22 million.

One car that is out of the picture now, as it has been discontinued, is the Aston Martin Cygnet. The company had targeted annual sales of this mini car at 4,000 units when it was debuted in 2011, this year however the total sales for this model has been less than 150. It is a stylishly cute little car, perfect for speeding around the city, plus, being coupled with the great name and status of Aston Martin one would have thought it to be an immense success. Its demise is due to just one thing, the price. At £32,000 this price was just too much for a little city runabout even with its stylish looks and Aston Martin pedigree. So it is discontinued starting this month. If you happen across one languishing in a showroom somewhere it might be worth buying immediately, as this Cygnet now has become somewhat of a rarity and could be worth considerably more than the original cost sometime in the future. The Aston Martin Cygnet is basically the same car as the Scion iQ which costs about half of the price of the Aston Martin version. The Cygnet was upgraded all round of course but not so much as to double the price. Facial features and the Cygnet has got it, whereas the Scion iQ doesn’t – rather like the best looking girl at the dance and the plain Jane, there isn’t much between them but it’s strikingly apparent all the same, much of it is because of the iconic Aston Martin radiator grille. But does the best looker rate double the cost of the plain Jane; well the British public didn’t think so.

Anyway, top dog amongst the British made cars this year is Vauxhall so good luck to them, neither the Vauxhall Corsa or the Astra are my cup of tea but I’m in the minority so hats off to the Vauxhall for being the most popular British made car in Britain. But wait, and many Brits may not realize this, the Vauxhall Corsa is not made in Britain, it is made in Germany just like the Ford Fiesta. Fortunately though the Vauxhall Astra is made in Britain, in Ellesmere Port to be exact, so it’s the Astra that takes the prize. It is not the greatest British car but it is the most popular.

Happy Motoring


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