Super-Minis Proving That Less Is More; CAR PRICES: As Parker's Guide Is Published, Our Motoring Editor Checks out Its Findings and Reports on Trends and Value
Byline: ROBIN ROBERTS
SMALL cars are the big sellers today.
The latest Parker's Price Guide reports that the best-selling sectors in the new-car market are now superminis and small family cars.
People are favouring safer, roomier and better-equipped small cars. The Focus leads, followed by Astra, Peugeot 206, Fiesta and Corsa.
The Mondeo, at sixth place in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' sales league, is the only medium model in the top 10. Seventh to tenth places are occupied by Clio, Megane, Golf and Xsara.
The city car hardly existed 10 years ago, but models like Matiz, Seicento, Agila and Lupo now have a growing following. Nearly 5,000 Smart coupes have been sold in a year, while there is a waiting list for BMW's all-new Mini. Innovative prestige models such as Audi A2 and Mercedes A-Class may be expensive, but many motorists are prepared to pay the price. For them, less is more.
Even people-carriers are feeling the effect of downsizing: larger MPVs such as Galaxy and Espace are now being outsold by the more compact Xsara Picasso and Scenic.
Diesel cars took a 17.8pc share of the new-car market in 2001, a sharp rise on the previous three years. This is probably because the technology behind oil-burning engines has improved rapidly in recent years.
Not only are diesels now cleaner and more efficient, but many of them are also enjoyable to drive.
Top contenders include the new generation of high-pressure injection TDi PD units from VW Audi and the HDi engines from Citroen and Peugeot. And BMW's confidence in their responsive turbo-diesels is so assured that they even sell the 330d and 530d models with Sport badging.
Ever since the classic Golf Mk 1 GTi of the late 1970s, sporty hatchbacks have had an enduring appeal.
No more so than now, with younger motorists snapping up affordable late 1990s "hot" hatchbacks or more easily insurable "warm" alternatives.
Citroen's Saxo 1.6i 16v VTS and the very similar Peugeot 106 16v GTi are both in steady demand.
pounds 5,000 buys a tidy P-reg Saxo VTS;
its Peugeot cousin fetches pounds 200-pounds 300 more. The "warm", less powerful alternatives are a Saxo 1.6 VTR for about pounds 5,000 on a R-registered '98 plate, a 106 XS, or one of the rare 106 Rallye models for about pounds 500 less. …