A LONG journey south-east to Sale of the Century land – Norwich – to drive Proton’s all-new car, the Satria Neo, neo meaning new in Malaysian.
This sporty three-door sits between the Savvy, priced from £5,995 and the GEN2, from £8,995. It will be available in January with either 1.3 or 1.6-litre petrol engines and they expect to sell 1,100 next year. The number of Proton dealers has risen from 67 a year ago to 86 today, with 100 planned by the end of 2006.
WENT down to the Capital City of the Motor Industry, Milton Keynes, for a fleet, leasing and rental presentation by Lawrence Good, sales director of Chrysler, Jeep and now Dodge.
Lawrence told guests that the group will go from a nine-model range to 18 in less than a year.
Growth will come from a host of new models from all three brands, including the Chrysler Sebring saloon due next June, Jeep Patriot, a softroader, in July 2007, the Dodge Nitro in March and Avenger in a year’s time. He told us that the 300C diesel was now sold out until early next year, so if you want a Bentley look-alike at a fraction of the cost, order one now.
Lawrence stated that Chrysler Group saw the fleet segment opportunity as a significant contribution towards the planned volume growth and this meeting was the starting point for a closer working relationship with the leasing companies and associated wholelife cost providers.
OVER to Paris to have a full presentation on Renault’s plans to improve its build quality and reliability.
Among the aspirations are reducing panel gaps and using softer, warmer materials throughout that have a better perceived quality.
Testing on all new models will be painstaking and intense and they will be tried out in a range of extreme conditions in Russia, Malaysia, Australia and Argentina.
The next day we drove what Renault describes as the ‘new Scenic’ around the countryside, south of Paris. It is just a minor facelift, with revised bumpers, redesigned headlights, LED rear lights and new alloy wheels and wheel trims. Renault staff insisted we drove the 1.6-litre petrol version to prove how good it was.
They weren’t wrong as it is sufficiently quiet and powerful for this type of car. For the first time, an automatic diesel option is also available.
We did actually get a real-life opportunity to test the revised bumpers as an elderly man, who actually wore a beret, reversed his old Renault van into us at some speed in a completely empty car park.
Our Scenic was unmarked – thankfully!