MotorNews ... 1 April 2000:

Toyota’s newest sporty car on sale

The latest version of Toyota’s MR2 sports 2-seater is now on sale in Ireland at a price of £25,990 for the soft-top and £27,340 for the version with the detachable hard-top.

The car is powered by the same 1.8-litre VVT-i engine as is in the Celica, and is stylistically very smart and sexy. The cabin area is roomier than either of the two main contenders in this niche class, the Mazda MX-5 or the MGF. But storage space for luggage is more curtailed, with most available being in a lockable area behind the seats. The engine is also located behind the passengers, on top of the rear wheels. The exhaust system fills what would otherwise have been a rear ‘boot’ area.

Toyota are hoping to gain 25% of the 200-odd opentop market here in the first year with the car, partly by expanding the niche.

A short weekend with the car has shown it to be a fun machine with many admirable handling and driving characteristics. More in these pages soon.


Smart Car for BofI smart savers

A 2-door Smart Car is the prize being given by Bank of Ireland for a lucky person who opens a new SmartSave account with the bank before the end of June 2000. The car will be used in promotional events at major shopping centres and other locations throughout the country over coming weeks.

The car is just 2.5-metres long, and is a 2-seater designed specifically for city use. It is also the first mass-manufactured car with a bodypanel system that can be changed in an hour to make the car a different colour.

Other SmartSave incentives include holiday, hotel and airfare discounts.


Racing Puma comes to Ireland

Just 20 special ‘Racing’ versions of Ford’s diminutive sporty Puma are available to Irish motorists, with a special post-registration kit designed by the company’s motorsport division, Ford Racing.

The car is based on the 1.7-litre VCTi model, with a special uprated engine that outputs 155bhp and underpinned by a specially tuned suspension with revised springs and dampers as well as uprated brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a number of body changes .

The cars will also come equipped with Ford Racing seats and the paintwork is in Ford Racing Blue. The Puma was first launched in 1997 and has been acclaimed for its style and handling. The price of the ‘Racing’ is £28,500.


Peugeot shows off Feline

A 2-seater roadster based on the upcoming 607 executive saloon from Peugeot was a high point of the company’s concept presentation at the recent Geneva Motor Show.

The car has an innovative glass ‘bubble’ that completely covers the passenger area, and which can convert it into an open-top by rotating the rear section into the bodywork.

The doors are also innovative, sliding almost entirely into the front wings of the car, which has a single-piece carbon-fibre bodyshell. Another interesting angle is the ‘direction-seeking’ headlights, which will follow the turning of the wheels for better visibility in night cornering.

Meanwhile, the new Peugeot 607 saloon is due for release in Ireland in the autumn, along with a 206 coupe-/cabriolet.


Astra coupe in last half of year

Opel’s stylish and very comfortable Astra Coupe will not be available in Ireland until September.

The car is styled and built by Bertone in Italy, and is expected to sell 200 units in Ireland in a full year. It will initially be available here with a 1.8-litre engine currently used in the Zafira and Vectra. Later it will have an all-new 2.2-litre aluminium engine and a 2-litre turbo option.

Prices have not yet been announced.


Opel’s new baby here for summer

Opel’s new Agila will be launched in Ireland in June. The car is a joint venture between Suzuki in a new factory in Poland and is a version of the Japanese company’s very successful (in Japan) Wagon R.

The ‘Opelisation’ of the car has been conducted very well, and on a recent short test-drive it proved to feel solid and interesting. It will be powered by Opel’s 3-cylinder 1-litre engine and its 1.2-litre four, coming in at a starting price of £9,900.

Standard equipment includes power steering and CD player, dual airbags and rear headrests, and power door mirrors. A second level not yet priced will offer the 1.2-litre engine as well as the 1-litre, and will have power central locking and power front windows.

Sales forecasts for the Agila are 800 this year and 1,100 next year. The car is placed below the Corsa in the Opel range.


Rover dealers call ‘last orders’ for Mini

After 41 years an a production run of 5.3 million, the Mini ceases production later this year. Rover have called ‘last orders’ for the car that was voted the European Car of the Century, and was an icon owned by such icons as Peter Sellers, the Beatles, Steve McQueen, Britt Ekland ... and ‘Mr Bean’.

According to David Harpur, managing director of Rover Ireland, there has been ‘phenomenal’ interest in the Mini in the first two months of this century. “Faithful fans are flocking to purchase the legend before the all-new Mini comes on stream next year,” he says.

However, with the recent sale of Rover by BMW, the link between both cars will be broken, as the new car will be built by BMW.


Accident report form is launched

The Vehicle leasing Association of Ireland has launched an Accident Statement form which can be used by motorists involved in an accident to clearly put down all the elements of the incident at the time.

The form contains all the information requested by an insurance company in respect of an accident, and is designed to be kept in the glove compartment of a vehicle. It includes guidelines and questions which should be answered at the time, and can be divided into three copies, for the insurance company, the owner, and the driver of the other vehicle.

VLAI suggests that filling in the form and having it signed by both parties ensures that facts cannot be refuted at a later date. The form does not ask for, nor apportion, any statement of liability.


© Telling Tales Ltd

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