Senior staff changes made headlines in April. General Motors’ chief exec stepped down, PSA fired its chief exec, design boss Chris Bangle left BMW and Ron Dennis moved away from Formula One to concentrate on McLaren’s road car business.
There was some positive news for the European motor industry when the German scrappage scheme delivered a 40 per cent boost in sales. After a long wait and much speculation, the UK government followed suit and launched its own scheme, offering a £2000 discount on new car sales. In the same month, business secretary Peter Mandelson went to Scotland to try the electric Mini E and promote a £250m incentive scheme due to start in 2011 for buyers of electric cars.
We revealed exclusive details of Porsche’s plans to build a three-door version of the Panamera in the spirit of the 928, with the green light subject to a recovery in the luxury car market. At the same time, Porsche confirmed that is considering using smaller, supercharged engines.
Talking of Porsche: in our group test of seven £7000 runabouts, Steve Sutcliffe concluded that the winner, the Hyundai i10, was “as impressive an achievement as any new Porsche or BMW from the past 10 years”. The new Suzuki Alto came an admirable second, with the Kia Picanto third.
At the other end of the spectrum, Matt Prior went to Italy to drive the fettled Ferrari 599 HGTE and concluded that the £14k it costs to improve an already very good supercar is money well spent. Meanwhile, Richard Bremner was tasked with choosing between the revised, 503bhp 5.0-litre Jaguar XKR and a PDK-equipped 911 Carrera S. By the most marginal of margins, victory went to the Jag.
Another blow for Porsche came in our twin test of the base Cayman and new Nissan 370Z. The Porsche was the better overall car, but not worth the £10,000 premium it costs in the real world (with options, that is).