Flew to Hungary for launch of the Volkswagen Tiguan – VW’s first entry into the already over-crowded compact SUV sector.
First the downside – its styling is predictable and conservative.
Volkswagen describes the Tiguan (pronounced Tig-one) as the Touareg’s little brother, but some on the event described it as the Golf Plus’s big brother – it’s probably somewhere in between.
The upside is quality – probably the best so far.
The Tiguan is built in Wolfsburg, but by Volkswagen’s subsidiary company Auto5000, which was set up to keep production in Germany, but at an affordable level, rather than shipping production to countries with cheaper labour rates.
I spoke to Andreas Mindt, head of exterior design for the Tiguan, who said he was really pleased with the result and there was very little he would change. I wonder if he will be responsible for the new Polo?
Over to Barcelona for a meeting with Nissan Fleet and a tour of its plant just outside the city centre.
I have to admit I didn’t know Nissan produced all Navara Pick-ups, Pathfinders and some of the world’s production of the Primastar van alongside Renault Trafic and Opel Vivaro, in Spain.
Jose Vincente de los Mozos, vice-president of Nissan SA, told us that quality was much improved with warranty claims very much reduced.
He said the companies in the Renault/Nissan Alliance had to fight together to survive as it was tough for European manufacturing to export – everybody wants higher quality, but at a lower price, which is something Nissan and all European plants are finding difficult to achieve.
In the long term some of these plants would inevitably have to close and move to cheaper countries.
Jose said there were plans to build a new factory in Morocco.
Francis Bleasdale, who organised the visit and is based at Nissan’s European HQ in Paris, was keen for us to see the facility and get us to see and drive the products that are made in Spain.
We were all impressed.
Honda wants to be seen as an alternative premium brand built around the dealer experience and new products – led in June by the all-new Accord.
Jeff said Honda mentioned its green credentials with the FCX fuel cell vehicle which will go on sale in selected markets from next year – but not the UK.
Jeff spent part of the evening in the company of Makoto Toyoda, the UK adviser to the president of Honda, who was interested in our view of the UK market.