CAP's manufacturer relationships manager Martin Ward scours the globe for the week's insider fleet intelligence
A trip down the rain-soaked M1 to SEAT’s headquarters in Milton Keynes for a meeting about the Spanish manufacturer’s new upper-medium sector car, the Exeo.
When the newcomer arrives here next year it will be an important step up for the company, which is working hard to make sure it gets its fleet proposition just right.
Some details are still being firmed up, but it’s clear we’ll see both saloon and estate versions of the new car in 2009.
The firm says the emphasis is on quality – SEAT president Erich Schmitt, an ex-Audi man, is a stickler for it – as well as value.
All being well, I’ll be off to Barcelona to drive it in a few weeks’ time, so I’ll know more about how well it performs then and if the quality is as good as we’ve been promised.
Down a very wet memory lane, to a place three years ago I thought I would never go back to – Longbridge.
Going back into the old MG Rover plant was very strange.
The area around the old factory has changed a lot, and inside it seems empty and almost derelict.
I went to meet Stephen Cox, who has many jobs within NAC MG UK, to talk about the imminent
re-launch of the MG TF sportscar.
The company is now owned by the Nanjing Automobile Corporation, and it was apparent that many Chinese executives have travelled over to help the UK staff set up the new company and procedures.
The TF is mainly assembled from parts made in China, including the engine and body parts that come over in containers, although around 35% of the components are sourced locally, including the sub-frames, brakes and minor parts.
The containers are sent to China with UK-produced goods to fit on to Chinese assembled TFs for their market.
I drove the TF in pouring rain around the area and found it to be exactly the same as the original in the way it drives, handles and sounds.
MG expects to sell around 2,000 cars in 2009 in the UK, with left-hand drive production starting next spring.
The first 500 cars will be fully loaded with hard top, air conditioning, leather seats and special paint for a cost of around £16,400.
There is never a good time to launch a new car with a 300bhp-plus 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine costing £33,000, but Cadillac has done just that with its new CTS executive model.
Nobody could have imagined in all those months of planning that this week would be so bad for launching this type of car.
There is some good news, though – there is a smaller-engined version available at £6,000 less: the 2.8-litre that produces 210bhp.
The two engines produce very similar CO2 emissions – 263g/km and 264g/km – and almost identical fuel consumption figures –25.7mpg and 25.4mpg.
The quality and styling of the new CTS is much better than the previous car, but to be honest it has to be to compete with the competitors Cadillac has targeted: Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Although the CTS is 5 Series-size on the outside, it is more 3 Series on the inside.