Back down to Spain for another short break. This time I hired a Peugeot 207, which is fit-for-purpose as a rental car, unlike the Kia Picanto I hired a couple of weeks ago.
On the Costa del Sol I noticed lots of UK-registered vehicles and on closer inspection discovered very few had current tax discs. This made me wonder if they had an MoT either.
This made me think even more about all the foreign-registered vehicles I see around the UK. Are they roadworthy, are they insured and does anyone check?
It’s obvious in Spain they don’t.
Up to Seaham on the north-east coast to drive the all-new Smart fortwo which goes on sale in the UK in a couple of weeks.
We first drove this car in Madrid, but this was the first opportunity to drive right-hand versions.
The fortwo has grown by 20cm and the engine has grown to 999cc, with a semi-automated manual five-speed gearbox that now feels part of the car. This new Smart is a vast improvement on the current one.
Also there were a couple of left-hand drive, German-registered Brabus versions – this is the ‘hot’ model and it absolutely flies. It has the same 999cc petrol engine, but with a turbocharger which boosts power to 98bhp. It is great fun to drive, feels safe and has plenty of power.
Down to Stratford to drive the Peugeot 308. Peugeot, like other French manufacturers, has been banging on about improved quality all year, which is good – quality and reliability have not been its strength.
After spending quite a bit of time in a number of 308s during the day and looking in every nook and cranny, it would appear that quality has improved noticeably.
The 308 is longer, lower and wider than the 307 it replaces, so its proportions are much better.
Keith Ryder, Peugeot’s design director, was there to answer any questions about the car.
He admitted that the 307 was a bit too ‘top-heavy’ but was designed 10 years ago in the days when the growing trend was to have a higher roof line for convenience at the expense of styling.
He says the 308 is more in proportion.
John Wallace, corporate sales and leasing manager, and Bruce Greenwood, used car development manager, from Volvo Car UK, came up to the office in Leeds to tell us about future plans.
John told us Volvo first started selling cars in the UK in 1959, with the peak year being 1990 when more than 80,000 were sold – well up on the 30,000 units sold in the UK last year.
The 2.0-litre diesel and petrol engines due in the S80 and V70 will be able to be ordered shortly, with first deliveries early next year.
Volvo expects the forthcoming R-Design models to be a success as they offer drivers a sporty-looking Volvo on C30, S40 and V50 with most engines being available.
Volvo is being realistic with sales, price and spec and this strategy is improving sales enquiries and RVs.