It was only when all its new products were parked side by side that I realised just how busy launching cars Chrysler Group has been over the past year.
I’d been over to Cheshire, where the group had all its latest additions available to drive. Of the myriad models to have a go in, the baby in the Jeep range, the Patriot, caught my eye.
It’s yet another new 4x4 and it’s made in America, never the best place for building cars.
So do two wrongs make a right? In the Patriot’s case – yes. Of all the vehicles it has introduced, and of those yet to be launched, this is by far the best in terms of quality, equipment, styling and, most importantly, value for money.
A Patriot Sport with a load of goodies and a Volkswagen-sourced diesel engine costs £16,995.
CAP Monitor predicts a three-year/60,000-mile residual value of £6,700/40% of cost new.
Over to Turin, the home of Fiat, to have a look at their new ‘bambino’ – the all-new Fiat 500.
Not since the paparazzi were trying to snap Brad and Angelina’s new sprog have I seen such a media scrum over a baby.
The day – and I use the term ‘day’ lightly – didn’t start until 10pm when Fiat gathered thousands of guests from 63 countries to what can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime extravaganza.
We were seated on specially-built grandstands overlooking the river to watch a two-hour show that was, at times bizarre, ridiculous, amazing and spectacular, with a finale of millions of euros’ of fireworks, that must have set off every car alarm in Italy.
It cost a fortune, and of all the car launches I have attended, this was the one to see.
Not only were there press, dealers, suppliers, Fiat staff and Italy’s president there to celebrate, but also the whole of Turin’s residents and surrounding areas.
I can’t work out why the public all turned up to celebrate this Italian icon – the 500 is being built in Poland!
At last a chance to see and drive the Fiat 500. After a two-hour conference, questions and answers, we were let loose in the car. It looks great – sexy, cute, different and well-built.
Ladies will just love this car, and it will be the next best thing to a MINI and a step up from an Aygo/C1/107. The interior is functional yet attractive and appealing.
It’s slightly shorter than a MINI and slightly longer than an Aygo and the boot is a reasonable size.
Alongside its great styling, the 500 also drives really well. No prices or specification details were given for the UK when it goes on sale in January, but the price in Italy ranges from E10,500-14,500 – you can be sure it will be more than that here, though.
Also in Europe, they are offering the car on a PCP, or rental for 500 cents per day, or £100 per month. If that scheme is available here, Fiat is bound to sell all it can get.
Fiat is on to a winner here – it’s good at making small cars. The 500 will be a very desirable used car for many years to come – and might even become a classic.
Talking to Craig Bridgman, our Black Book valuation relationship manager, about the state of the used car market.
It’s getting old news now, but heavy 4x4s, especially big petrol-engined ones, are on a steep, slippery slope. There seems to be nothing anyone can do to hold them steady.
However, the smaller diesel-engined semi-off-roaders, with a similar footprint to a lower-medium sector car, are still holding up and finding homes.
With all the new 4x4s that have recently arrived, and those yet to hit the market, even the most eco-friendly could be vulnerable – so beware.