BMW hopes 3 is a magic number
BRIEFS:BMW has introduced the latest addition to the 3 Series family, the new 3 Series GT, and it’s already proving to be something of a controversial model. You may well remember the 5 Series GT – that halfway house between a 5 and a 7, with the double-boot format similar to that on the Skoda Superb – and that was a car that didn’t go down entirely well with either critics or the buying public.
Undaunted, BMW has introduced a smaller version of it with the 3 Series. In turning it into a GT model, it’s given the car a longer wheelbase, thereby improving rear-seat space, and a fastback rear hatch under which lies a large 520-litre boot.
Unlike the 5 GT, the 3 doesn’t get a split-function tailgate that can open like a hatch or saloon, but instead all 3 GT models will have electric power for the tailgate. Sales start in summer and you can expect the 119g/km 318d diesel to be the most popular model.
Audi opens the door to the next generation
Audi launched the second generation of its five-door A3 Sportback in Ireland this week. The car, which is essentially a five-door version of the existing A3 hatch, will cost from €27,750 or €29,680 if you fancy a diesel – and most of you will.
The new model is claimed to be around 10 per cent more economical than before, and has emissions as low as 99g/km. Audi has sold more than 11,000 A3s in Ireland over the years and is expecting the new Sportback to take around 60 per cent of the model’s sales.
French government may step in to help ailing PSA
The French government could be about to take a major financial stake in PSA Peugeot Citroen. Financial results are due out today for the troubled French car maker and are expected to be so poor that there will be little choice but for the Élysée Palace to stump up some cash in order to save both jobs and the pride of the French car industry. PSA is said to be losing as much as €7 million a day, and has seen its sales in Europe collapse while rivals such as Volkswagen and Fiat have diversified into the Asian and US markets.
On Monday the European Commission called for PSA to present a restructuring plan within six months in return for approving state aid for the French carmaker’s financing arm. The Commission said it was granting temporary approval for €1.2 billion of guarantees for Banque PSA Finance after France offered to guarantee €7 billion of its borrowing.
PSA currently has a plan in place to save money thanks to an alliance with General Motors, and is looking to shed at least 11,000 staff and close factories, but a French government stake could throw those plans into chaos, especially as there is still a 15 per cent government holding in Renault, a legacy of the post-war nationalisation.