TUESDAY – motor show press day
10am – It’s always nice to see managing directors of car companies on their stands at motor shows, and there are plenty of them in attendance in London. Mazda UK’s Rob Lindley shows me around the Sassou concept and tells me it gives an indication of how the firm’s next supermini will look. The current Mazda2 has never really set the world on fire, but the next one promises to be a lot more funky. We are joined on the stand by David McGonigle, formerly of Mazda UK fleet and now MD of Mazda Motors Southern Ireland. He’s only a few days into the job, but is really enjoying it and sees it as a challenge. He couldn’t keep away from London, though.
10.40am – Have a chat with Dave Murfitt, Nissan’s fleet director, and his new MD, Gary Frigo, about the future of Nissan. They say they will have more niche vehicles over the coming years and confirm that the luxury arm of Nissan – Infiniti – will be here in the UK in a couple of years and will be sold separately to Nissan.
Talking of Japanese firms with luxury divisions, I have a good look around the Lexus LS460 which is due on sale later in the year. It seems, for the first time, that Lexus may have a car that will be a real threat to the Germans – and it’s only taken them 15 years to achieve this.
11am – Sit in the back of the Bentley GTC, the convertible version of the Continental GT. To say it’s a bit tight for room in the rear is an understatement – there’s more room in a Peugeot 206 CC! Unlike the 206, the GTC costs from £130,500.
11.15 – There seems to a heavy police presence prior to the Land Rover Freelander2 unveiling. Speak to a WPc from the Met who tells me they are expecting some protesters who don’t like what they see as ‘gas guzzling’ SUVs. She also says they are keeping a close eye on the Hummer stand as well.
1pm – Ford has a full-sized Focus Coupe Cabriolet modelled out of ice which, in the heat of Excel, is melting rapidly. I speak to someone on the stand who tells me it is made out of Canadian ice, specially flown in. Why Canadian ice and not English ice? Is there a difference? Answers on a postcard please...
2.30pm – Go outside to the BMW Plaza, where all the group’s cars are displayed – BMW, MINI and Rolls Royce. I feel sorry for the staff who, like the Focus, are melting. The best place for them is in the back of the Roller with the doors shut, the climate control set to chilled and quaffing a glass of champers.
3.45pm – Have a look at two concept cars from Renault – the eccentric Egeus and Altica. Mmm, I’ve got a feeling of déjà vu here… Vel Satis and Avantime, anyone?