Fleet News

Thinking CAP

Hardworking Martin Ward scours the globe for the week’s insider fleet intelligence.

Monday
Every now and again, a car launches that isn’t very fleety but has to be worth a look for its outlandish character. There’s to be a new 300C built by Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) division.

Only 50 will be coming to the UK this year, and already they have over 100 pre-orders. The 300C SRT-8 has a V8 6.1-litre engine that produces 425bhp, goes from 0-60mph in five seconds, has a top speed of 168mph and seats five people. And all for less than £40,000 – outrageous!

Tuesday
Drove the all-new Lexus LS460, which is due on-sale in the UK in October, This is a Japanese designed and built car that will go head-to-head with the Germans.

You could go on and on about the huge amount of technology in this car, but the one option the 460 offers is Intelligent Parking Assist a combination of cameras and parking sensors.

You simply line the car up alongside a space large enough to take the car, press a couple of buttons, let go of the steering wheel and off it goes, parking itself perfectly. But you do have to do it a few times to make sure you are not dreaming.

It really seems as though this time Lexus has a luxury car that could really compete with the Germans. While it may be too much to expect that executives are going to desert their S-classes and Jags in droves for the LS, at least the Lexus bears mention in the same breath now, and that’s a big step forward for the brand.

Wednesday
Peugeot is to have a new concept car at September’s Paris Motor Show. Called the 908 RC, Peugeot describes it as a ‘stylish four-door limousine’. It is powered by a 5.5-litre V12 HDi engine, mounted behind the passenger compartment.

While this is obviously far too wacky to be considered a likely production version, it shows that the French brands just cannot get luxury cars out of their heads despite failures such as the 607 and Vel Satis. If a version of this does eventually come to market, it is going to have to be brilliant. But will that even be enough?

Thursday
It has been a techno-filled, luxurious week. I’ve had a new S-class 320 CDI that is fully loaded with goodies including Night Vision. This is the first time I’ve been able to use it and I’m still not sure if it is a good idea on a car or not.

When it gets dark, you press a switch, the speedometer converts to a TV screen and the road ahead is shown in black and white, giving you a clear view using infra red.

But this involves looking down to take in the images and taking your eyes off the real road, which is counter-intuitive. And if it happens to go wrong, do you take it to the Mercedes-Benz dealer, Curry’s or the Ministry of Defence?

Friday
Went down to Renault’s UK headquarters in Maple Cross in the S320 CDI – achieved 37.1mpg according to the on-board computer, which is pretty good for such a big car.

We went to have a short presentation on the forthcoming facelifted Scenic and Grand Scenic, due on sale from early October.

It doesn’t look too much different to the current model, but the whole range has been rationalised, with any low volume derivatives being dropped.

The best-selling engine, the 1.6-litre petrol which accounts for 35% of sales, is to get a six-speed gearbox in the new car, which gives it better fuel consumption and a 10% gain in acceleration.

It may sound a small engine, but used car buyers will buy them regardless of power, torque and performance and the changes should make this an even more popular used buy.

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