Martin Ward, CAP manufacturer relationship manager, scours the globe for the week’s insider fleet intelligence
Bank holiday Monday
Holiday or not, I’m in Oslo following an invitation to visit the headquarters of Th!nk.
It was the tiny electric city car which Ford once used to own.
I genuinely thought I was going to see and drive a modern, electric version of a Reliant Robin, or Bond Bug, but that could not be further from the truth.
The Th!nk is well made from quality materials, and the power developed from the electric motor – not dissimilar to that found in a washing machine – is fantastic.
It creates zero emissions, does 120 miles on
£2-worth of electricity and is not shy of pulling away at traffic lights or doing 70mph.
It may look expensive on paper, and probably is, but it is green, cheap to run, and requires hardly any servicing, so maybe it’s not that expensive after all.
But above all, I had great fun driving it for 100 miles around Oslo. It does look a bit strange, – style and greenness have never gone together.
Still in Oslo – coincidence, or well planned?
I’m here to drive the all-new Dodge Journey, to be assembled in Mexico.
The Journey has a 5+2 seating arrangement and is in the MPV category but looks a bit like a 4x4 SUV.
The rear seats are more than adequate for two adults, and two children would be more than happy with the space and comfort.
There is really only one engine available – a Volkswagen-sourced 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
There is another, a 2.4-litre petrol, but that is unlikely to be popular in the current climate.
We have driven the diesel engine many times before in a variety of different makes and models, and all have proved to be a bit noisy.
So we naturally expected the same in the Journey, but it proved to be extremely quiet and refined.
The Journey is aimed fair and square at the Ford
S-MAX and other similar vehicles, and is a competent competitor that should do well with user-choosers. Prices are expected to start around £16,995 when it goes on sale in August.
Over to Frankfurt to have another look at the Vauxhall Insignia.
The cars we saw were pre-production, but a few stages on from the last ones we viewed and they just seem to get better.
The final production models will not go into full production until late summer, which gives them plenty of time to iron out any small problems.
While I was there I had a chat with Jim Federico – vehicle line executive, global midsize vehicles.
Jim is head of the Insignia project, along with other group model launches.
Jim and his team are confident that the new Insignia will be a huge step forward over the Vectra and sure it will be 100% right when it arrives in November.
Quality is his main aim, and driving pleasure a very close second.