Motor Show 1993: Saloon showdown for the big guns: Battle has been joined for supremacy in the family car sector, writes Martin Derrick

THE MAIN battleground of the British new market, fuelled as it is by massive numbers of company car sales, is the family saloon sector. So it is no surprise that for Ford, the most important launch for years was the Mondeo to replace the Sierra, and no surprise either that the three Japanese companies that have already set up production facilities in Britain are each building Mondeo competitors.

In the year to date, it is not the brand-new Mondeo but actually the Vauxhall Cavalier that is the biggest seller in the class. That success is based, says Martin Brown, marketing manager, on the wide range of models on offer, a high level of customer loyalty, a well-proven track record and, crucially, Vauxhall's continual improvement and upgrading of the product.

'The Cavalier may be five years old but it has all the technical features of any other model on the market, including those most recently launched,' he says.

While safety is of paramount importance for today's car buyers, both for its own sake and also because it projects a high image for Vauxhall, it is also important to ensure that the cars on offer are those the customers want to drive.

The recently introduced V6 Cavalier models are a case in point, says Mr Brown. Not only do they add spice to the range, but they are also technically advanced and about as environmentally friendly as a car can be, able to meet ultra-stringent 1996 emissions regulations.

Ford's response has been the launch of the Mondeo Estate earlier this year, which completes the line-up of body styles available. Ford expects it to become one of the top-selling versions of the Mondeo range, accounting for 16 per cent of sales in 1993.

'In the medium car segment Ford has always performed strongly,' says Ernie Thompson, director of sales. 'The Sierra Estate was Britain's top-selling estate car and the Mondeo Estate is likely to outperform it. It is a very impressive, class-leading load carrier.'

Though billed as a load carrier, there is no shortage of hi-tech available at extra cost: traction control; remote control central locking; CD player and CD autochanger; electric sunroof; cruise control; and heated front seats.

Initially the Mondeo Estate is only available with 1.6-, 1.8- or 2.0-

litre petrol engines but in due course turbo diesel versions will be launched, along with automatic transmission and 4 x 4 options.

High specification is also an important aspect of Rover's sales pitch with the new entry-level 620i model, now in the showrooms. Priced at pounds 13,995 it includes as standard power steering, electric front windows, central locking, security alarm with immobiliser and remote control door mirrors.

The new model joins the existing 2.0-litre versions launched in April to establish the 600 Series in the premium upper medium sector; 2.3-litre versions are shown for the first time at Earl's Court.

That same 2.3-litre engine also makes an appearance in the Honda Accord 2.3i SR, now being built in Swindon. The Accord joins the Nissan Primera, built in Sun derland, and the Toyota Carina E, now in production at Burnaston, as the third British-built Japanese competitor in this sector of the market. Honda claims that Accord sales are already up 19 per cent this year since the launch of the new model in May and says it is due to the car's success in attracting young corporate drivers.

Peugeot's recently face-lifted 405 continues to do good business, especially in the fleet markets, but the newcomer that has caused the biggest stir this year is the Citroen Xantia, the replacement for the BX.

Not only is the Xantia highly competitively priced - starting at only pounds 10,895 - but it is also

distinctively styled, well equipped, and offers a wide range of engines and trim levels. Particularly

impressive, both for their per formance and refinement, are the diesel and turbo diesel versions which set new standards in cars of this class.

A newcomer to the Show is Hyundai's revised Lantra saloon, with prices starting at pounds 8,999 for the 1.5-litre LS and reaching pounds 13,299 for the top-of-the-range 1.8 CD, a model claimed to be the UK's cheapest car to have air-conditioning as standard.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Application Developer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in the centre of Glasgow,...

Recruitment Genius: Production Engineering Manager

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Joinery Shop Foreman

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Joinery Shop Foreman is required to join a p...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Bench Joiner is required to join a privately...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada