As you might have already read in this week’s magazine, this Christmas and New Year promises to be a challengeing time to be in the motor trade, but also a great time to buy a new car.

The prospect of 20 per cent VAT has been bringing plenty of custom into showrooms, artificially inflating registration figures all autumn. But December’s historically a quieter month for new car sales, and if the weather stays as it is, it could be the perfect time to snap up a bargain new or good-as-new model.

And not just because of the slowdown in footfall. EU ‘Euro-V’ emissions law comes into effect on January 1st 2011, making it illegal for most dealers to register any new car that isn’t sufficiently clean of tailpipe to comply.

Most manufacturers have succeeded in updating their models with the latest engine technology this year, and so the biggest selling cars on the market – the Ford Fiestas, Vauxhall Astras and VW Polos of this world – won’t be affected. Others – importers like Mitsubishi and Subaru mainly – have been given extensions on the changeover, largely because their business depends on importing cars when the exchange rate is most favourable and holding them in storage, sometimes for up to year.