If you're after an Audi TT, now is the time to buy
SATURDAY - There I was at the local tip dropping off another Berlingo-load when an elegant-looking lady rumbled in and parked beside me in her top-down, early to mid-2000s Mercedes-Benz SL600.
She stepped briskly out, dropped off several well-trussed bags of upmarket rubbish and drove away, all in the time it took to ditch the latest litter of cardboard boxes that breed in our barn.
So enticing was this Merc’s shape and sound that I had to rush home and discover what they cost. Pistonheads soon revealed that they sit £2000 either side of £14,000, depending on age and history.
Of course, you’ve got to cope with the costly road tax, insurance and servicing and not be scared of 90k odo readings – but what superior motoring these fine cars offer at a supermini price.
MONDAY - If you want an Audi TT, you’d better get your skates on. Glass’s guide trade experts reckon the TT coupé was the car that spent least time on dealer forecourts in March before finding a buyer.
Which is good news for a three-year TT owner changing his car, too, because dealers will view his swapper as prime stock. Interesting how directly this info translates to our Autocar experience. On our fleet is a TT 2.0 TFSI quattro S line ‘owned’ by Mr Chief Photographer Papior. It’s hardly ever in the car park because someone has always bagged it. Drive the car and you instantly know why.
TUESDAY - Can’t believe the behaviour of the Volkswagen Group’s top men, who have allowed an internecine battle between Ferdinand Piech, head of the founding family, and Martin Winterkorn, ‘group car guy in chief’, to go public.
Germany’s big bosses normally like things at the very top to be opaque, so arguments never come to light, let alone run on and on like this one. It’s a bit like the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury taking swings at one another on a street corner.
Latest seems to be that 78-year-old Piech has lost the battle with soon-to-be-68-year-old Winterkorn, but since Piech appears still to control his family’s 51% stake in the group, I’ll bet this isn’t the end of the story. Strikes me that given their combined age of 146, it’s probably time for this pair to make way for a couple of the well-qualified 50-something group striplings waiting in the wings.
WEDNESDAY - To Hethel for a meeting with CEO Jean-Marc Gales to flesh out the fascinating story of Lotus’s new Chinese joint venture. Just the notion of a new Lotus SUV is enough to stop the traffic.
The fact that the car will sell in serious volume from a new factory in the world’s biggest market, opening the strong likelihood that it’ll feed complex and pricey under-skin components (wiring looms, infotainment, heating and ventilation bits) back to next-generation sports cars is downright fascinating.
In case you didn’t know, this is exactly how Porsche did it; the company launched the big-volume Cayenne in 2002 and then used the economies of scale to feed better-hidden bits to its fast cars. Seems to have worked quite well.
FRIDAY - Chauffeur-driven from the office in the morning to one of those nice event hotels in Surrey, first to hobnob with Seat’s UK bosses (bidding for their eighth successive sales record) and then to drive away in a Leon ST Cupra 280, a high-performance estate that strikes me as a wonderful option for the dog-loving family owner addicted to performance.
We’ve already clocked the five-door version at 5.9sec from 0-60mph, which used to be Porsche territory, and when the Cupra’s potent engine is mated to VW’s six-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox (now superbly developed for near-instant changes and crisp kickdown) you get one of the easiest cars to drive on the road. Hard to resist.
And another thing...
Lotus chief Jean-Marc Gales is fast becoming one of my all-time heroes for the way he mixes logic and solid achievement with huge aspiration. At last, Hethel’s best stories are not all in the past.
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