THE rain in Spain certainly didn’t stay on the plane. It followed us around while we were in Jerez driving the Peugeot 207CC. Its predecessor, the 206CC, sold 366,900 worldwide, with 12% of these (46,597) coming to the UK, making it a huge success.
Peugeot claims to have launched the tin-top: in the 1930s, a young dental technician watched his neighbour struggle to close the cloth roof on his car in a thunderstorm. He bought a Peugeot 301 and produced his own folding tin-top. Peugeot took up his invention and started producing cabriolets where the metal roof folded into the boot.
Back to the present day and, like true Brits abroad, we drove the car with the roof down in some of the worst weather Jerez has seen for some time. The rain did not come into the cabin while we were on the move, although we were willing traffic lights to stay green. The coupe convertible market is growing throughout Europe. In 2000, 34,200 were sold, compared to 174,400 last year. Peugeot expects to sell around 6,000 this year in the UK.
STILL in Jerez with Peugeot and the new Expert Tepee van. Typical – it was a beautiful, hot, sunny day.
Peugeot executives are adamant it’s a car, having replaced the Combi as an affordable people-carrier.
It’s hardly in S-MAX territory for style and refinement, but the Tepee is comfortable and easy to drive, and the driver can talk to passengers on the third row without having to shout.
The combi market in Europe has grown from 60,900 in 1995 to 144,500 last year. David Fildes, Red Book editor – light commercials, tells me this sector of the used market is buoyant.
Most buyers are business people who use them for taxis, private hire and airport runs, but there are hardly any bought privately for family use.
The Tepee is available in either standard or long wheelbase, with either five/six or eight/nine seats. For fleets needing workplace transport to sites or factories, it’s a useful bit of kit.
ANOTHER convertible. More rain, although it was no surprise that Brighton is wet, windy and soggy at this time of year. I was there to drive the new Audi TT Roadster. It was even too cold for a Yorkshire lad like me to get the roof down. Fortunately, its roof is as watertight as its residuals. Even an early TT Roadster, registered in 1999 that has covered 100,000 miles is still worth £6,500, and a three-year old 1.8T with 60,000 on the clock is worth a staggering £12,450, according to CAP Black Book.
CHATTED to Jon Zammet, Audi head of PR and friend of the stars/royalty (he supplies Audis to Prince Charles and sons, as well as giving Kylie and Tom Cruise lifts in his A8 limousines). It became apparent what an amazing expansion the firm is undergoing.
Audi had seven models in 1996, 23 this year and will have 40 in two years’ time.
This time next year, we’ll have Q5 and A1 – a MINI competitor. It’s tremendous growth, but will Audi dealers have space on their forecourts for all the used cars coming back? If not, and they have to be farmed out to supermarkets and independents, RVs will suffer.