CAP manufacturer relations manager Martin Ward scours the globe for the week’s insider fleet intelligence
To Gaydon, the HQ of Jaguar Land Rover, just over a month after they were taken over by Tata.
We had a meeting with John Edwards, the UK managing director of the product team which is headed by Suzanne Taylor, and Peter Roper-Hall from the fleet department.
This year is Land Rover’s 60th anniversary and it is planning a number of events to celebrate.
But John told me it was facing difficult trading conditions in the UK and had to review the sales volumes for the rest of the year.
However, other countries such as Russia, China and Brazil will take up the slack, so hardly any production will be lost.
We were shown the Concept LRX, a small three-door vehicle that has the ‘wow’ factor plastered all over it.
It will be centre-stage on the Land Rover stand at the London Motor Show.
It still hasn’t decided if it will go into production, but if it has one ounce of sense then it will.
John said Tata has seen it and is fully supportive of the project, so there is plenty of hope for it.
To Donington Park circuit to drive the hot new MINI – the John Cooper Works.
If you thought the Cooper S was fun, then this factory-produced model just takes it to a new level.
It is powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine that produces 211bhp and goes from 0–62mph in 6.5 seconds.
On the track it was dynamite.
The best and safest place to test any car is on private land, preferably a racing circuit or proving facility, and this MINI was in its element.
The handling was superb, the power delivery excellent, and the ride and comfort much better than expected.
We found it docile when needed and a super-fast, super-safe supercar when you wanted it to be.
The car is on sale now in hatch form with a Clubman version due in early 2009.
Prices for the hatch start at £20,995 and with used values continuing to hold, or even increase on some other MINIs, buying one of these could be a sound choice.
John Mahoney and Jeff Peyton-Bruhl from Hyundai fleet came up to see us and brought one of the new eight-seater i800s.
At £19,500 it looks good value and a cost-effective alternative to some more established models.
They also told us that the i20, the replacement for the Getz, will be with us early next year, and revealed that the phenomenally successful i10 has managed to get extra allocation to keep up with demand.
They apologised for a shortage of i30 entry-level models but, again, extra allocation has been secured to fulfil orders.
Additionally, Hyundai has now appointed some specialist fleet dealers and set up a dealer-based contract hire system.