Unusual not to have a silver car, but just to prove other colours do exist, I had two brightish-coloured cars on my drive at the same time.
An orange Audi S3 certainly brightened up my cul-de-sac, but then a bright yellow SEAT Altea Freetrack 4 made it look like summer was just starting.
It is brave of manufacturers to produce these garish paint finishes and even braver for people to buy them. You can almost lip-read what other road users are saying as you drive along – but great fun to drive and nice to be different.
Emmanuel Bussière, Infiniti’s fleet and used car manager, came to the office in Leeds to give us a presentation on the models it intends to introduce to the UK late next year.
Emmanuel, like most Infiniti Europe employees, has been with the company for just a few weeks – he was previously with Peugeot in Paris.
Infiniti is based in Geneva and there will be no regional or country offices. It has ambitious plans, but breaking into the luxury market with so many established players is not going to be easy.
However, Infiniti is well established in North America and has sold more than a million units since it was launched there in 1989.
It was good of Emmanuel to take a day out of his busy schedule to visit us, and that does prove that Infiniti is not sitting in its office in Switzerland expecting the industry around Europe to know and understand the brand. Hats off for initiative.
The next stage is to see the cars and drive them, which will probably be next spring.
With around 100 fleet companies and end users I went to General Motors’ testing ground in Dudenhofen, near Frankfurt.
We were guests of GM UK Fleet, hosted by fleet sales director UK and Ireland Maurice Howkins. He wanted us to see a couple of the models due on the market next year.
First was the Vauxhall Agila, which now has a very modern look and has moved away from its ‘boxy’ features’. The new Agila is 205mm longer than the current model and build quality looks to have improved dramatically.
More than 420,000 Agilas have been sold in Europe since its launch in 2000, with half of them going to the style-conscious Italian market.
The second new model is the Chevrolet Aveo – the replacement for the Kalos. It is a stylish little car and if it’s priced right will be a competitor to other more well known cars in this sector. It appeared to be well put together, but the interior plastics were a bit hard.
Jonathan Akeroyd, GM Europe director of fleet, and his product managers gave us a presentation on current and future models from all GM brands. He and his team had also organised around 50 cars and LCVs, including Cadillac, Hummer, Corvette, Saab and Opel, for the guests to drive around the test track and high-speed bowl.
Emil Gaynor, director of pan-European sales and leasing, confirmed that the Chevrolet Epica, an upper-medium saloon, will be on sale in the UK by mid-2008. It will be powered by a 2.0-litre six-cylinder petrol or a 2.0-litre diesel engine.