New models from Vauxhall, Rover, Nissan and Jensen will be among the stars of the London Motor Show, which opens to the public at Earls Court on Thursday.
Vauxhall’s new Speedster, shown as a concept car at this year’s Geneva show in March, is to go on sale next year. The company is expected to announce that Lotus will build the new car, which uses the Lotus Elise chassis. It will be powered by Vauxhall’s 2.2 litre Ecotec engine rather than the Elise’s Rover K-series, and will feature creature comforts such as sound insulation and electric windows, which the purist Elise omits to save weight.
Rover hopes the 25 and 45 will revive flagging sales in the small and medium market sector. The revamped 200 and 400 models receive a front-end treatment like that of the well-received Rover 75. Revisions to the chassis promise more sporty handling.
An interior redesign, meanwhile, has attempted to answer criticisms (of the 200 in particular) of a lack of headroom and rear legroom. Steptronic continously variable transmission, first used on the MGF, will also be available. The 25 will go on sale at the end of November, while the 45 goes on sale in the New Year.
Nissan’s new mid-size Almera, on sale in spring 2000, was designed and developed at the company’s facilities at Cranfield and Munich specifically for the European market. It will be built in Sunderland.
Jensen will be showing the latest prototype of the S-V8, due to go into production next spring and on sale in June. The company plans to build 300 units next year and 600 in a full year, but can break even at 200.
The S-V8 was initially expected to compete head-to-head with TVR, but analysis of the 100 people who have placed advance orders and paid deposits shows a high proportion of owners of Porsche Boxsters and people don’t own a sports car at all. A fifth are women.
* The show runs from 21-31 October, (9.30-7.00), with late opening until 9pm on three evenings, 26-28 October. Tickets cost £10 in advance, £12 on the door.