CAP's manufacturer relationships manager Martin Ward scours the globe for the week's insider fleet intelligence.
Down to Kettering to have a drive in the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate, which is 55mm longer than the saloon and due in showrooms next week.
Since the current C-Class Estate was launched in 2001 it has ranged in sales volumes from 2,700 per annum to its highest in 2003 of 4,815.
Mercedes Benz expects similar figures for this all-new model.
The current C-Class is heavily weighted towards the automatic, which accounts for 93% of sales.
But Mercedes-Benz is expecting manual sales to rise as Hill Start Assist is now standard on all manual cars.
The tailgate is power operated on all models, which is a nice touch and very useful.
The estate costs £1,200 more than the saloon, but hangs on to around £700 of this after three years and 60,000 miles.
The one to have, like the saloon, will be the Sport version.
Drove 490 miles from Huddersfield to Hasselt, on the Belgium/Holland border, in a Ford S-MAX 2.0 TDCi Zetec.
What a pleasure it was to drive that distance in such a short time.
There was not a squeak or rattle from anywhere in the car, it was extremely comfortable and it achieved 43.1mpg, which is a good result considering most of the journey was on motorways.
The interior fit and finish is particularly good, with quality to a high standard.
The S-MAX has been on the market since June 2006, but this was the first opportunity to drive one since the original press launch, and it was every bit as good as I remembered.
It is a full seven-seater, but there is limited space in the luggage compartment when the third row of seats is being used. But with seats folded down, the boot is huge.
One annoying feature is reflection in the windscreen from the top of the dashboard, especially when driving into the sun.
The S-MAX is to get improvements from March 3 production – the LX is being replaced with the Edge, all models will get Bluetooth as standard, the Titanium will get a solar reflecting windscreen, ambient interior lighting and chrome door handles and lower grille.
Drove the S-MAX the short distance from Hasselt to Ford’s proving ground at Lomell to have a look at the all-new Kuga.
This is Ford’s first serious attempt at the 4x4 crossover SUV market, and it sees its main competition as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Volkswagen’s new Tiguan.
The Kuga will be launched with a very simple line-up – one engine, a 2.0 TDCi, and two trim levels, Zetec and Titanium.
Ford has been brave with the design, both externally and internally, and by starting with a clean sheet of paper it has managed to create a stunning-looking 4x4 that should appeal to non-Ford drivers.
The cars we saw were pre-production, but as close to the finished product as you can get.
The quality appeared to be very high and probably the best Ford has produced to date.
The Kuga goes on sale in June with prices from £20,495.