Martin Ward, CAP’s manufacturer
relationships manager, scours the globe for the week’s insider fleet intelligence
Huddersfield to Maastricht taking in four countries en route – England, France, Belgium and Holland.
I went in a Ford Mondeo Titanium X Sport 2.2 TDCi estate, and what an eye-catching car it is with 18-inch alloys and bodykit.
It looked great and drove even better.
I found the Mondeo to be extremely comfortable over a distance of 530 miles, which took me eight hours to complete.
The new 2.2-litre diesel is quiet and refined, and managed 46.2mpg over the distance – that makes it a great touring car in my eyes.
The reason for yesterday’s trip was to visit Lommel, Ford’s proving ground, to have a look at the all-new Fiesta, due on the market in the autumn.
Even though it was a pre-production car, everything seemed to fit very well and again Ford has managed to take the quality to a higher level.
I got two other adults to sit in the back with me to test the space and it was pretty good – even the centre passenger didn’t complain.
The Fiesta is pretty and should appeal to all current Fiesta drivers and will undoubtedly attract conquest customers.
There will be a choice of three and five-door models, with a good choice of engines, all with lower CO2 emissions than the current models.
Ford of Britain sells around 100,000 Fiestas a year, and this new one should do as well.
This size of car is going to be in demand over the coming years as it is economical to buy and run, easy to park and in a low insurance group.
With its modern design, it all adds up to a success.
Then it was back into the Mondeo for the drive back, calling at a supermarket in Calais to stock up on beer and wine and to test if the estate is really a load lugger – it most certainly is.
Down to the IDIADA test track near Barcelona to have a look at a very early pre-production car.
Toyota was the host, and we saw a car due out next year – one of 18 new or heavily facelifted models that will be launched by the end of 2009.
I spoke to the new head of European fleet, Stratos Vakkas, who took over as general manager earlier this year.
He told me that European growth was a little behind target, but Toyota would supply only vehicles through natural channels and not play catch-up.
I sat with Katsumata-san, chief engineer at Toyota, for the evening meal.
He told me he believes the only way to test European roads is to drive on them as they cannot simulate the conditions back at their test facility.
In the past couple of years, he has been in 34 countries and on average driven more than 2,000 miles per month.
He said that by far the worst maintained roads he has seen are in Belgium.