The Business


Skoda's flagship Superb range is here at the end of this month. Six engine versions make up the range being sold here: three petrol and three diesels each available in three trim and specification packages and a choice of 13 colours and eight upholstery options.  Andrew Hamilton's weekly report.

Petrol models begin with an entry-level 2 litre 115 bhp version at €27,700 (ex-works) followed by a 1.8 litre turbocharged 150 bhp version at €29,500 and a 2.8 litre V6 193 bhp version at €37,400. Diesels range from a 1.9 litre TDI, 100 bhp version at €28,500 to a more powerful 130 bhp version at €30,400 to a 2.5 litre V6 TDI 155 bhp version with six-speed gearbox at €38,600.

VOLVO Car Ireland is reporting "well over 50" orders for the new all-wheel-drive XC90 to be launched here later this year. "It has happened solely on photos and preliminary information issued after the world debut at Detroit in January," says Alan Cousins, managing director of Volvo Car Ireland. "It's amazing without having a car in the showroom or a test having taken place."

BRIAN MURPHY, for Belgard Autoplatz, the Porsche Irish importer, has taken five orders, each with €10,000 deposit, for the new Porsche all-wheel-drive Cayenne. It's said to mix sports car performance with exceptional off-road ability. The Cayenne will be launched at year's end. Price is expected to be €100,000.

FORD has just announced Irish prices for its new Fiesta range. Strongly reminiscent in styling to the Focus, it's on sale in dealerships from this week. The seven model line-up starts at €14,395 ex-works for the 1.3 litre five-door Finesse. Two of the seven versions come with the much acclaimed 1.4 TDCi diesel engine. Eddie Murphy, Ford's chairman and managing director describes it as "a breakthrough engine in the small car sector."

IT'S not really an option for Irish new car buyers because of Vehicle Registration Tax, but the British have been buying abroad in Ireland and in continental Europe. Latest figures show that more than 32,000 cars were unofficially imported into Britain during the first three months of this year. Top unofficial import was the VW Golf.

THE one-time maker of the Trabant, the cult car of the former communist East Germany, has filed for insolvency and its chairman has resigned. German car parts maker Sachsenring Automobiltechnik, one of the few east German firms to survive after unification, said in a short statement it had lodged an insolvency petition at the local court of Chemnitz. The insolvency plan aims to continue the business.

Sachsenring ceased production of the Trabant, also affectionately known as "Trabis", in 1991 as part of a life-saving revamp. It currently counts Germany's main car makers, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Mercedes, among its clients for parts. Recent press reports have said Canadian auto parts maker Magna International was seen as a possible buyer for some of the business.