Fleet News

Thinking CAP

CAP’s manufacturer relationships manager Martin Ward scours the globe for the week’s insider fleet intelligence

Monday

I’ve been using a facelifted Mercedes-Benz B-Class 180CDI over the weekend.

The car is an improvement - comfortable and economical, with has loads of room for five-adults and a huge boot. It has a high driving position, which gives it a high centre of gravity, so you have to go lightly around corners.

The beige leather interior is luxurious and oozes quality, but the Steppe Brown exterior colour got a resounding thumbs-down from everyone who saw it. It is best described as a mucky-browny-green.

Over the years I have met many colour designers at manufacturers who have told me where they got their inspiration for a colour.

One said he had been on a bike ride with his kids, saw the reflection of the trees and the leaves on a lake, and came up with a colour. Another said she had been on holiday in the Maldives and saw the sun setting over the beach, with the clear blue sea in the background and created a new shade.

I really can’t imagine where the designer was when he or she dreamt up this one.

Somebody at Mercedes-Benz HQ signed it off and someone at Mercedes-Benz UK ordered a car sprayed in it and put it on the fleet. If you see this colour being ordered by one of your drivers, have a serious word with them!

Tuesday/Wednesday

To GM HQ in Frankfurt to have a look at the new Insignia. I have seen this car before and was interested to see their reaction when the covers were pulled off. Just as expected, it got a very positive reaction.

The other 80 guests include contract hire and leasing companies, rental, end-users and corporate customers.

Michael McInerney, fleet operations director of Europcar said, “It’s a very pretty car, a massive departure from the stereotypical rep-mobile and could attract customers from premium brands such as BMW.”

Chris Crow, head of risk at Hitachi Capital said, “It is simply stunning, a great looking car with the interior quality now setting the standard for this sector.”

Ian Lathey, director of procurement for Rentokil, said ‘The Insignia should be measured against cars in the premium sector, as quality appears to be streets ahead of its natural rivals. It will probably become the most popular car on my fleet.”

Friday

Warren Richards, product manager from Skoda came up north to have a chat about the market and the SUV sector.

The Concept Yeti may well come to market in the future. He didn’t have a photograph of it, but brought a model to look at.

Although it looks a bit quirky, there probably is a place in the market for this type of vehicle - it could be described as a mini-Nissan Qashqai.

He also brought up a life-sized, German-registered, left-hand drive Superb 1.9 TDI. Its interior is even bigger than I remember – it’s enormous. I took it for a run around the Yorkshire hills and found the 105bhp diesel engine is more than adequate despite the size of the car.

It’s quiet, refined and the engine to have in this range. With prices starting at less than £16,000, it looks good value.

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