NO flying today, but I did end up in Italy. Ford launched the new Focus Coupe-Cabriolet at the Bedford Autodrome to dealers and fleet people, and gave the event an Italian theme, with minibuses emblazoned on the side with Alitalia jets ferrying people about, ‘passports’ handed out and spaghetti and meatballs for lunch.
Rumours were circulating among the dealers that the CC launch was planned to be in Italy, but had been canned due to Ford’s need for cost-cutting. Hence windy Bedford became sunny Bologna.
Aside from its financial woes, Ford is still building cracking cars, and the CC is no exception. It expects to sell around 5,500 CCs in 2007, with fleets being one of the main targets.
BEEN using a facelifted Hyundai Coupe, which has got a new front and rear end.
When the lights are on it has bright-blue dials, radio controls and centre console, which are a bit off-putting at first, but you soon get used to it. It has been renamed Coupe S111, to denote it is the third, and probably last version of this model, as a new one is expected in a couple of years.
Headroom in the rear is a bit tight, but it’s still a good-looking car even after a few years on the market.
DOWN to Barcelona (the real one, not Bridport or Bangor) with Mitsubishi, who took a risk in launching two new vehicles at the same time, as one can water down the effect on the other.
The first we drove was the new Shogun, which keeps only 25% of parts from the current car. Like the Grand Old Duke of York, we marched the Shogun to the top of the hill and marched it down again.
Except that the hill was in fact a very high, very rocky mountain. It was one of the most extreme bits of track I have ever driven on and I don’t mind admitting it was scary at times. But the Shogun performed brilliantly and handled anything in front of it – a true off-roader.
Glad we had lunch after the adventure, and not before.
As for the new Outlander2 (see Trevor Gelken’s full report in our archive), it’s more of a soft-roader. Like the Shogun, it did everything we asked it and got us around a muddy course that seemed like a child’s playground after teetering on the brink of oblivion in the Shogun.
It’s on-road that the Outlander2 is at its best. I’m sure the good people down at Mitsubishi in Cirencester won’t be too disappointed to hear me say that their new 4x4 is more car-like in many ways than a SUV and is miles ahead of the current one.
With its decent diesel engine, it will make a good fleet choice and a great alternative to a regular estate. Andy Wertheim, Mitsubishi’s fleet sales manager, has around 1,000 Outlander2s to sell and I reckon he’ll have a reasonably easy job with what is a pleasantly surprising car.
But don’t tell Lance Bradley, his boss.