Shopping expedition - Part One

Mr Average heaves a weary sigh as he checks his bank balance before setting out to find a new vehicle that will fulfil his everyday motoring requirements. Where is he going to find one?

The Germans: Opel were showing the flag at Bologna with the world premiere of the Zafira 1.6 CNG Turbo. A serious everyday family eco model, it is powered by natural gas, packs a respectable 150 turbocharged horsepower and offers plenty of cabin space. In the Insignia Sports Tourer, Opel had yet another strong contender. The competition at Ford presented the new Ka as the sensible choice with the 300bhp Focus RS for those less inhibited moments in life. VW were the other German marque to lay on a world premiere with the Golf Plus, though sadly, its many fans have nothing to get too excited about this time. On the other hand, the new Golf GTI got a better reception; officially it counts as a concept car, but unofficially we are told that this is exactly how it will look when it appears in the showrooms. As for Mercedes and Audi, attention was focused on their new compact SUVs, the GLK and the Q5. Mr Average won't be able to afford one of those for a while yet.

The Italians:
The natives did not appear to be taking this home match very seriously, as they had virtually nothing new on offer. Fiat displayed a few eco variants; Lancia and Alfa Romeo attracted attention with two models rarely seen out and about, the Delta and Mito.

The French: Much better things from this source. Renault charmed with their Mégane Coupé; Peugeot staged the world premiere of the 107 and also presented the affordable and witty 308 CC; Citroën meanwhile paraded the C3 Picasso, a nippy mini MPV. Realistically priced cars that still manage to be fun to drive.