DOWN to the Millbrook testing ground to visit Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom Challenge, an event designed to enable fleets and drivers to re-familiarise themselves with Mazda product – both cars and the forgotten-about LCVs.
Over four days Mazda played host to around 500 people. Adam Pumfrey, Mazda UK’s fleet/leasing and used car manager, told me that the event was to enable customers, and potential customers, to drive Mazda vehicles in a safe environment.
FLEW to Sitges, south of Barcelona, in an Airbus A321 which Land Rover has chartered for seven weeks. The plane is being used non-stop to ferry dealers, customers, fleet and leasing industry people from around Europe to drive the Freelander 2 and the new V8 diesel engine in the Range Rover models.
On the first day we drove the TDV8 engine in Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport. What a great piece of engineering this new diesel is. It is quiet, powerful and good on fuel economy for a vehicle of this type. Why would anyone would buy a petrol Rangie?
The second day was dedicated to the all-new Freelander 2 – a huge step forward but also a bit of a leap in price, too.
Land Rover insisted that quality is paramount, and 2007 model year Land Rovers will have the best quality in its history.
The new Freelander is, as you would expect, as good on the road as it is off. We drove many kilometres, both on Tarmac and on the rough, and it was excellent.
The 2.2 diesel is the one to have, as the petrol struggled to better 20mpg, according to its on-board computer.
This event, and the press launch of the car which was taking place at the same time in Morocco, is massive for Land Rover and has cost millions of pounds. I just hope sales go beyond expectations to pay for it all.
OVER to Mercedes-Benz’s headquarters in Stuttgart with Brian Luff, the firm’s national leasing and rental manager, for a sneak preview of an upcoming new model.
As usual I had to sign a confidentiality agreement so I can’t say too much about it, but what I can tell you is that the car has four doors and might compete with the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series. The new car, due in the UK next June, looks outstanding in the metal and certainly has that ‘wow-factor’. As Brian said in his summing up: ‘Audi and BMW be afraid, be very afraid’. He might just have a point.
After the presentation we went to the new Mercedes-Benz Museum to see a feast of cars dating right back to the beginning of motoring. It is a fascinating place with the complete history of cars, vans, trucks, buses and the firm’s racing heritage all under one roof, and it only costs e8 to get in. Well worth a visit if you’re ever in Stuttgart.