Greetings from the Madrid motor show – which you probably imagine is home to thousands of gesticulating, excited industry execs and journos from the Spanish-speaking world.

Not a bit of it.

The atmosphere here on the showfloor is strangely subdued and serious, Europe’s motor industry collectively coming to terms with the increasing challenges of the harsher global economic climate.

The downbeat nature was exemplified when Kia showed an image of its new Soul production car – one of the most significant presentations of the day. When asked what the reaction had been like, a senior source shrugged and said “to journalists, it’s just another car.”

Not quite the response you’d expect for a model that’s meant to broaden Kia’s appeal to a whole new group of buyers.

Fortunately the Soul seemed to get a decent reception – and will likely sell well in the UK if our enthusiasm for the Nissan Qashqai is anything to go by. It would also explain hints by Kia insiders that the final production car might get unveiled at the London show, rather than Paris.

Over at Seat the new Ibiza looks far better in three dimensions than it does in photos. And I’m assured that the forthcoming three-door (“sport-coupe” according to Seat) is virtually identical to the fine-looking Bocanegra concept.

Speaking personally, Audi’s A1 concept is the star of the show. This perfectly-formed Teutonic baby appeals to me in so many ways that I suspect, whether consciously or not, Audi has created the perfect model to target the female market.

Providing the production car keeps the cute looks, compact dimensions and offers a decent driving experience, it should become the best reason yet not to buy a Mini.

And the show itself? From a hack’s point of view it’s great to have such a quiet, calm atmosphere to work in. But I shall leave Spain thinking there was something essential missing from the Madrid motor show. It’s called fun.