Thinking CAP - CAP manufacturer relationships manager Martin Ward scours the globe for the week's insider fleet intelligence
To Coleshill, West Midlands, to the HQ of IM Group. It is best known for importing Subaru and Isuzu, but this time I went to have a look at their latest models – from China.
It will start selling Great Wall vehicles by the middle of the year, starting with a double-cab pick-up called the Steed. Early next year will see a B-sector hatch.
I had a good look round both and they looked to be good quality, but won’t be cheap.
We used to say the Koreans are coming; now we can safely say the Chinese are coming.
Drove the facelifted Mazda5 to Lille in France so had plenty of time to give it a thorough appraisal.
The exterior has changed dramatically, with a new front end that gives it the new Mazda face.
There are some very clever lines on the side that run from front to back, but repairing these delicate body-pressings could be difficult.
The car we took had the new 1.6-litre 115bhp diesel engine which does sound a bit underpowered for a seven-seat people carrier.
But surprisingly it was very good.
The problem with the Mazda5 is that it is one of the best kept secrets in the motor industry.
Talk to virtually anybody about compact seven-seaters and it never gets a mention.
However, its new 1.6-litre engine, sliding rear doors and ease of use with the seats means the Mazda 5 is certainly worthy of getting on to more choice lists.
To Kia’s UK HQ in Weybridge for a product catch-up meeting. Kia doesn’t seem to stand still and in the next year it will be launching four new models, including the all-new Picanto, which for the first time will be available in both five-door and three-door versions.
The introduction of the cute three-door will bring a whole new audience to Kia showrooms, certainly more younger people, which is what the company needs.
Over to Paris to drive an early version of the Peugeot 508.
I think a Frenchman has been peeping over the wall of a German premium brand to see how it is done!
The quality is the best Peugeot has produced with fit and finish almost perfect. The car drives really well, is comfortable and has a good choice of eco-friendly engines.
But there is more to come when it gets the Hybrid4 system. This car, saloon or estate with 4WD, diesel engine coupled to electric power will certainly be a fleet-hit.
The D-sector is going through turbulent times, but the 508 if priced correctly it might just steal some much-needed sales.