Martin Ward, CAP manufacturer relationship manager, scours the globe for the inside story on the most important launches.
Across the water to sunny Cork in Ireland to drive one of the industry’s best-kept secrets – the all-new Subaru Forester.
This was launched back in April with a 2.0-litre petrol engine, and has gone almost unnoticed.
But now there is a diesel version, and a very good diesel at that.
Subaru sees the competition as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail, but others have to include the Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Tiguan.
The interior on the Forester is not up to European standards as the plastics are hard and not particularly nice to look at or touch.
We did not get the chance to take it off-road, just
on to a beach on the southern tip of Ireland.
It seemed to handle it OK, but it was hardly an adventure.
The Forester rode over potholes well without any squeaks or bangs, and on the motorway it cruised effortlessly at 70mph.
The six-speed gearbox is a bit notchy and not the best I have used.
Lawrence Good, managing director of Subaru UK, told me that he hoped potential customers who have been put off the brand because it has not had a diesel offering will now give it a try.
He also thinks the country set will also see the advantage again of driving one of its products.
Volkswagen chartered two Boeing 737s to take 236 customers from the fleet industry to Berlin to see and drive the all-new Golf.
On the first evening they were given a one-and-a-half-hour presentation that in parts was interesting and informative.
Hans Andree, head of fleet sales, Europe, told us Volkswagen will not over-supply rental companies, admitted the Passat sector is declining, and people generally throughout Europe are downsizing.
Total new car sales this year to date are down 4.4% in Europe and down 9.5% in North America.
The new Golf comes 34 years after the first one was introduced, and since then 26 million have been sold worldwide.
This Golf, like all Golfs, is an evolution and not a revolution – we were told that the styling had to be “simple, universal, recognisable and responsible”, and that just about sums it up.
The Portuguese had overtaken the Germans with interior quality where the Eos and Scirocco are built, but the German-built Golf has now possibly overtaken them.
There are some nice finishing touches on the switches, and attention to detail is superb.
When driving the Golf you immediately notice just how quiet the cabin is, as many improvements have been made including thicker glass and better seals.
Volkswagen claims it is best in class, and I think they may be right.
The company car driver will benefit from new, lower CO2 engines that are more economical – for instance, the 2.0 TDI 140 now achieves 57.6mpg, compared to the current car’s 51.4mpg, and C02 is reduced from 145g/km to 129g/km – reducing the tax rate from 20% to 13%.
This event is going on for another four weeks with a further 12,000 guests.
I guess this demonstrates just how important the Golf is to Volkswagen.