STRATSTONES, the Cadillac dealer in Leeds, insisted I tried a new Cadillac Escalade it had just registered. To say it is big would be an understatement. It’s huge. Some would say that this is a true Caddy, thanks to its monstrous 6.2-litre V8 petrol engine that produces 404bhp, making it the only 4x4 I’ve ever driven where you can get wheelspin.
It was fully kitted-out and had everything except sat nav for some reason, and parking it in a normal supermarket space is impossible. The car I tested was £54,000, but Stratstones are dealing them out at £45,000, so maybe the struggling Leeds footballers may be able to afford one after all. But think of the money their WAGs will save by not being able to go shopping in it.
CREWE, at the home of Bentley to meet Felix Welch, the firm’s retail standards and pre-owned manager. Felix told me they are re-focusing on used cars within dealers and are expecting a larger customer base for used Bentleys as more Continental GTs come back on to the market.
More than 5,000 have been sold in the UK since launch three years ago and as used prices steadily drop, they will appeal to more people as they become more affordable. Used Bentley buyers expect the cars to look brand new, but at a lower price, so this is a challenge to ensure they are of a high standard, externally and internally.
The Continental GT continues to be sought after, and will be for many more years. An early example that has covered 60,000 miles is still making £60,000 at trade, but they have to be the right spec and the right colour.
WENT down to Milton Keynes for a meeting with Chrysler/Jeep and Dodge about this year’s new models. It was confusing. From Jeep there is the Compass, due in May.
Two new Wrangler models – a two and four-door which is called Unlimited and then the Patriot in July. From Chrysler there is the Sebring in June. From Dodge there will be the Nitro, another 4x4 to compete with Sorento, Santa Fe and X-Trail in July, and another four-door saloon called the Avenger. Chrysler Group now has a fleet department, a first for them. So many new cars to be sold in a year is a big challenge, and a busy time for them. Can they cope?
I got to drive the new Corsa VXR from the home of Vauxhall fleet’s Andy Savage. Andy had the only car in the country at his place, and it was much more convenient than going to some exotic location, and the tea was much nicer than some of the stuff that passes for it abroad.
Like Andy’s tea, the Corsa is a fine brew: a 1.6-litre turbo with 188bhp which goes from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and costs £15,595.
The one criticism must be the exhaust could have sounded a bit more sportier.
Only 2,500 will be available this year, so if you need one, be quick. I’m now looking forward to the Vectra launch later this year, and secretly hoping for an invite to the house of Vauxhall fleet’s top man Maurice Howkins for that one. Milk and two sugars please, Maurice!