Down to Proton’s head office near Norwich to drive a pre-production GEN-2 saloon which goes on sale in January.
The hatch version has been available for a couple of years, with sales of around 1,500 per annum.
Proton expects to sell around 500 four-doors, with a very simple model line-up – one engine (1.6-litre petrol) and one derivative, a GLS, priced at £9,500. The GEN-2 is similar in size to a Focus or Megane saloon.
I drove it around Norfolk and there were no surprises.
Its ride, handling and comfort are exactly what you would expect – nothing exceptional, but functional and everything worked.
Oh – and it has a big boot.
CAP Monitor’s forecast manager, Jeff Knight, was telling me about his trip to look at the all-new Citroën C5.
He was saying what a change in styling for Citroën it was, and how good the C5 looks in the metal.
And having now seen the first pictures, I have to agree.
What a refreshing change, and if the quality can match the looks Citroën could be a serious player in the upper-medium sector.
By this time next year, this segment will have more great looking cars that have style and appeal. Who said the upper-medium car sector is dead…
Had a meeting with James Hopkins, head of fleet and remarketing at Mazda UK, and took the chance to have a poke around the new Mazda6.
Brand manager Claire Andrews gave us a presentation on specifications for the 6, which all looks impressive, complete and good value.
We sat in it and had a good look at its improved quality. The styling inside and out is stunning.
The current Mazda6 still has appeal even after five years, but the new one moves it up a gear. I did manage to prise the keys of the German-registered car and gave it a quick “road test” around the car park.
Not much of a test, but it did leave me wanting to drive it more. Prices and specs should be announced shortly. As I said earlier, with cars like the new C5 and Mazda6 and many others in the pipeline, this sector is about to get exciting again.
BMW hold fairly frequent multi-model drive day events. I went to Newbury to drive a couple of their recent additions to the ever-growing range.
First it was the 1 Series Coupé with a new engine, the 123d.
BMW says the Coupé is designed to appeal to younger customers, but its styling has the Marmite effect – some at the event loved it, others hated it.
The one new car that everyone was agreed on is the £56,000 635d Coupé – the first time BMW has fitted a diesel engine into the 6 Series, and something they should have done years ago.
The 635d uses a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre engine that goes from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds and has CO2 emissions of 183g/km. The car is expensive and won’t be on too many choice lists, but it just oozes quality – the interior finish and attention to detail is fantastic.