Fleet News quizzed fleet decision makers on their views of Fleet News Drive.
Drivers to the second event in Cheshire were given the opportunity to try the C3 1.6 and also the 1.4 HDi. It proved timely for Citroen as the car officially went on sale during the second day of the Oulton Park event.
Fleet marketing manager Robert Handyside said: 'We've been very pleased with both events and our cars have been booked out solidly. The C3 has been really popular and some have said how easy to drive and practical it is. The Xsara VTS was another popular model with drivers. Overall it's been a good event for Citroen - it's great for getting out and meeting people - and the right people too.'
'It offers a brilliant 'bums on seats' situation,' said fleet marketing manager Tony Dittli. 'And once people drive the car they really like it.'
The 2.4 Abarth was a popular choice with visitors, but the JTD also spent much of its time on the move.
'The response to the JTD was extremely encouraging,' Dittli added. 'Someone even commented to our staff that the Stilo was the star of the show. It was important for us to have this new model at both events in a number of variants.'
Visitors also had the chance to try out the Stilo's 'infomatic and telematic' Connect system.
'I'm absolutely certain of that,' Morris said, 'in fact, conversations are now ongoing - we'll keep you posted!'
Morris said the events proved a useful exercise not only to catch up with current Honda fleet customers but also to make new contacts.
'We are pleased with the calibre of people who came to see and test our models. Obviously our sporty models proved popular, and that is where our strength lies. The track cars have been booked out solidly.'
The Oulton Park event also gave fleets the first chance to see the new Civic diesel in the flesh. Morris said the vehicle 'designed with the corporate market in mind' was well received.
'The Civic diesel was our main message at Oulton Park,' he said. Honda aims to sell 1,800 of the new diesel model to fleets this year. The sales target for next year has not yet been finalised.
Other vehicles offered by Honda included several Civic Type Rs, an S2000 roadster, an Accord Type R, new CR-Vs, the new Jazz and a new NSX Coupe.
The queues on the stand to test drive the car showed the aspirational appeal of the four-wheel drive rally-inspired sports saloon, whose fleet proposition is backed up by a three-year manufacturer warranty and residual values comfortably exceeding 40% after three years/60,000 miles.
Despite falling into the top 35% benefit-in-kind tax band under the new emissions-based company car tax system, plenty of company car drivers are prepared to sacrifice their wallets for the car with the performance and image they really want, according to Harvey France, Subaru national fleet sales manager.
He said: 'About 45% of our registrations go into businesses and fleets and some of those are made up of our high-performance products.
'Most of these drivers would normally cover fewer than 2,500 business miles a year, so for them they would not be paying more BIK tax under the new rules.'
Volvo events manager Jo Watson said fleet decision-makers had travelled long distances to drive at Oulton Park, and the majority had a clear idea of the cars they wanted to assess.
'Most people have got a particular model in mind to drive, and the new diesel in the V70 and S60 has generated most interest, although executives responsible for smaller fleets have been interested in the bi-fuel cars because they can save a lot of money on their fuel costs,' she said.
The business audience at the event was the perfect target market for Hyundai, which has bold plans to increase its sales to a corporate client base as the brand seeks to boost its total annual UK sales from last year's 30,000 units.
'To grow over the next three to four years to the size this brand deserves, we should have 25% of our sales going into non-retail channels,' said Dennis Bennett, Hyundai business development director.
He pointed to the creation of a significant demonstrator fleet (of 50 cars) for business customers as evidence that Hyundai is serious about the sector.
'The exciting thing is that we are at ground zero, 90% of our sales are retail, and our dealings with the business community has been reactive,' said Bennett.
He is specific about identifying business, rather than fleet opportunities for Hyundai, with daily rental accounting for only a smidgen over 2,000 vehicles this year.
Significantly, Bennett is the director responsible for Hyundai's Approved Used Programme, and will ensure all the rental cars are supplied on buy-back arrangements, and are well specified to provide attractive nearly new stock for the brand's dealers.
Moreover, Hyundai has selected smaller rental companies, such as Thrifty and Arriva, as partners because their customers are more likely to be local corporate renters rather than the major multi-national companies' in-bound client base.
This local corporate market is central to Hyundai's business sales ambitions, and Bennett insists the company can feature strongly on company car choice lists through specification engineering rather than major discounts on already competitive prices. The Elantra 2.0 GSi, for example, is a class larger, more powerful and better specified car than the Ford Focus 1.6, but Hyundai would try to manoeuvre the car into the same choice band.
'The choice list driver aspires to this level of performance and specification as a package,' said Bennett.
The manufacturer's sporty MG range was available for on-track testing, while the Rover 75s and a 45 completed lap after lap of the road route.
'Our MGs lend themselves to the track,' said national fleet sales manager Paul Hunt.
'And the response to road drives for the Rover models has also been very good. We've had some senior decision-makers behind the wheel of our cars, which is great.' The manufacturer also used a Rover 75 to demonstrate its Monogram programme, which allows customers to tailor cars to their own specifications, and create niches within the range.
Hunt said: 'It's a good programme for fleets, particularly for senior management looking for an individual car. It's totally bespoke, so they can choose exactly what they want.'
'It's very important for us to be out there and talking to fleets,' said Roberts, 'and Fleet News Drive has allowed us to do just that.
'We have a new impetus and focus and we are back in fleet seriously. We have a raft of new models to show and we are very excited about the forthcoming launch of the Mazda6 - that's going to be a great fleet car. We are all very excited about its launch.' Mazda used Fleet News Drive to offer visitors the chance to drive 323, Premacy, MX-5, Demio and Tribute.
Fleet decision-makers were keen to assess the new X-type 2.0-litre both for their choice lists and their own company cars, with the entry-level Jaguar now available below the all-important £20,000 on-the-road price threshold.
While the pro-drivers working for Jaguar were discreet and diplomatic in their descriptions of the race track driving abilities of visitors, the professionals were unanimous in their agreement that visitors had been 'wowed' by the X-type's driving characteristics.
Likewise, the new S-type 2.5-litre impressed visitors with its big car luxury and small car driving sharpness.
Peter Roper-Hall, Jaguar manager, corporate business development, said: 'The reaction from visitors to the cars has been amazing, and with the new X and S-type they also see Jaguar as far more accessible than it used to be and much more appropriate to add to their fleets.'