Just how difficult should it be to arrange a test drive before buying a new car? Not as difficult as it is if you happen to be dealing with Hexagon BMW in north-west London, I can tell you.

The Rendell household will change its car next spring, so enthusiastically I filled out the contact form on BMW’s web site to arrange a road test of the new 177bhp, sub-140g/km 520d SE Touring.

A bod from Hexagon rings back keen-as-mustard. But as soon as he discovers the car will be supplied by a lease company, talk of a test drive is off the agenda. Staggering considering that fifty per cent of new cars sold in the UK go to fleets, and I’m guessing that the percentage is much higher in the premium segment.

In some ways I can’t blame the young salesman. He’ll set aside an hour of his time and any sale, along with a commission, is likely to slip through his hands, unless I can persuade the lease company to put the deal through his books.

But dealers are there for other reasons than to fill salesmen’s pockets with commission. What is the point of BMW or any other car-maker having a high profile, nationwide network of dealers if they can’t offer the most basic of services to customers? Surely a test drive is one of those basic services?