You’ve been hearing an awful lot about VW’s new MQB platform – which underpins the new Golf and the latest Skoda Octavia among others – over the last couple of years. 

From the car buyer’s point of view, it is notably light and strong. And, ultimately, it means that there will be more model variants offered by the VW Group’s various brands.

In truth, though, MQB is more of a manufacturing marvel, which will allow VW to build more cars more quickly and more accurately using as few unique parts as possible. Moreover, VW will be using the same MQB factories all over the world. 

You could argue that MQB is one of the most industrially ambitious projects ever attempted by a car maker. But there again, it’s ambition lies in its inherent simplicity: using the same basic building blocks – from the basic structural architecture to the infotainment systems – to build cars locally for all the global markets.

Fresh from the Beijing motor show, I’ve just been to see a brand new MQB plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang. It was a two-hour flight from Beijing and another 90 minutes on a bus before we got to the new 300,000-vehicle capacity plant, which only started production last October. The reason for its remoteness became apparent later.