Some days, among the serious business of discussing specifications and residual values, you get to see and do some great stuff. I was in Ingolstadt, the home of Audi, to see a top-secret very early pre-production car, which will replace an existing core fleet model early next year.
Unfortunately, all I can say about it is that it’s certainly got the ‘wow’ factor, but even this was put in the shade by the sight, and sound, of a new R8 being blasted round the test bowl at around 200mph. What a phenomenal thing it is. And then they offered us a drive and because of my commitment to the readers of this column, I felt I had to accept in order to report back.
It’s even better from the inside than from the outside although I must admit chickening out at 185mph – the banked corners look pretty intimidating at that speed. We’d already set residuals at CAP for it a while ago: they are even better than a Porsche 911, which is exceptional.
Geoff Cousins, managing director of Jaguar, and Dave Spencer, corporate operations manager, plus other senior managers including their used car manager, travelled up to CAP HQ in Leeds for a meeting to discuss their new four-door saloon, the XF.
The firm is very keen for us to have all the relevant data in our New Vehicle Data department – and into Monitor – well ahead of its on-sale date next March. Yes – a year away! This must be a first for Jag to be so well organised and it bodes really well for the firm’s future. Planning ahead by ensuring the fleet industry can pre-order the car months in advance of its launch is giving the XF every chance of success. And to have the managing director personally involved in ensuring it all goes to plan at all levels is a great sign too.
In fact, Mr Cousins was due to stay only for an hour, but his enthusiasm and attention to detail meant he ended up staying for four hours, talking us through everything Jaguar is planning. You’ve got to take your hat off to him – he seems like a man who is really taking Jaguar places.
VISITING us in Leeds for one of our regular meetings was Toyota’s David Bell, manager, national leasing and rental, and Stuart Drakard, contract hire and leasing manager. I was surprised when they told us that last year they sold 5,017 Prius, certainly more than I thought, and a good result for them. Like all manufacturers, Toyota needs to bring down the average C02 figures across the range. Aygo and Prius are helping them achieve this. David has high hopes for the Auris T180. It has a 2.2-litre D4D engine, low emissions at 164g/km and is a competitor in the Golf GTI market, despite being a diesel.