IT’S not often I work on a Sunday, but I’ll always make an exception when there’s the chance to drive a supercar, especially when it’s Audi’s stunning £76,000 R8 in the south of France.
This car is as happy being thrown around the Le Castellet test track by a professional driver as it is tootling around St Tropez at 10mph. The quality is typical Audi and will stand the test of time – it will be as good in three years’ time as it does now. The R8 looks fantastic, but goes even better thanks to a 420bhp V8 engine.
The crowds it pulled every time we stopped was amazing, with people clamouring to take photographs. If you want one be prepared for a very long wait, though. If you order now you won’t take delivery for another two years unless you’re prepared to pay £15,000 to jump the queue, which is what some speculators have been advertising recently. This lack of supply will help demand and keep RVs strong – they currently stand at 47% after three years/60,000 miles.
OVER to Wolfsburg – otherwise known as Volkswagen City – to drive the new Golf estate. This is a huge improvement in terms of styling over the last one, which was discontinued in 2005.
More than 1.2 million Golf estates have been sold worldwide since 1993, but traditionally the hatchback has always been more popular in the UK. This means the Golf hatch has always had better RVs than the estate, and even the raised-roof Golf Plus.
Volkswagen expects to sell around 2,800 units in the UK in its first full year in 2008, with the 1.9 TDI SE taking around a third of sales. It will be interesting to see if the new estate will, in time, be worth the same or even more than the five-door hatch, or will us Brits still prefer, despite how much better the sleek estate looks, to pay more for the three and five-door hatches?
BACK to France, although unfortunately no supercar this time. Instead, I travelled with the two Steves – Harris and Lambert – respectively director of fleet and leasing and head of product at Peugeot UK, to visit the PSA Peugeot Citroën group’s design headquarters in Velizy, just south of Paris. We had presentations on forthcoming models, including the 4007 SUV.
We were picked up from Charles de Gaulle airport in an early-build 4007, and it certainly looks better in the metal than in photographs. Peugeot expects to sell around 2,000 units in the UK in the first full year – it goes on sale from September.
In Velizy, Peugeot was making a strong point on the importance it is placing on bringing high-quality production techniques and materials, normally the preserve of executive cars, to its new vehicles.
It will be interesting to see how this applies to the 307 replacement, naturally called the 308, which is due to make its first appearance at the end of June.