Facing a Select Committee must be right up there in terms of daunting tasks. Professionally angry and often half informed, there's a menace about the MPs that must make even the most hardened executives shake.

Today, the VW Group's UK boss Paul Willis faced down a Transport Select Committee over the emissions scandal, joined by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief Mike Hawes. They put on a near textbook display - with Willis offering the most convincing performance I've seen from anyone at VW so far.

Humble, apologetic and unstinting in his declaration of being prepared to work hard to win back the confidence of customers, Willis hit the mark. He managed the hard task of saying sorry yet staying in command, holding a firm but fair line when questioners tried to put words in his mouth. At all times he stayed on top of the sometimes disparate and tangential lines of questioning.

Nor did he duck hard questions. He gave more insight into whether VW had used the manipulation software in European tests (most likely yes), confirmed 400,000 UK cars would likely need fuel injector fixes over software upgrades, revealed owners of 2.0-litre EA189 engines would be dealt with first, as the fix is most logical, and confessed he couldn't promise VW would meet the timeline to sort out all affected cars by the end of 2016.

Hawes, meanwhile, held firm against some aggressive questioning. There are so many myths around how emissions tests are conducted that some have become assumed facts, including by the MPs. Facing them down and telling them they were wrong was no easy task, but he did it well - his occasional brevity lending authority to his answers.

In fact, I would call them up on only one point, and it is a point that both were so eager to raise that I can't help but suspect it was tactical. Time and again they highlighted that the current test procedures are out of date. They are right in that, of course, but you cannot credibly claim that as an excuse when you have been caught cheating the system. If you agree to play by the rules, you must accept the consequences for breaching them. In fact, they were lucky they weren't asked why, if they felt the regulations were so outdated, they specifically and the car industry generally had done so little to hurry change through.

Now, VW would do well to study Willis's performance. He struck a tone that the firm should look to reflect globally by putting customers at the heart of his responses, acknowledging the task ahead and conveying integrity in his answers, whether he could answer them or not. This is day 23 of the crisis. In the UK at least, if they can act on Willis's words and harness the humility and personality he displayed, VW may have turned a corner.

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