Interesting pre-Paris motor show evening for me. Firstly I managed to grab some time with Nissan-Renault supremo, Carlos Ghosn, which is always interesting. Primarily because of the way he has such a grasp on the details but also the bullish fashion with which he combats difficult questions on the less successful sides of his business, namely EV sales and the fortunes of the luxury brand Infiniti.
Needless to say he was confident that both will come good in the end when consumers finally get it. On the subject of Infiniti, though, I was rather struck with the company’s Q80 luxury car concept, which we saw revealed an hour before the CEO arrived. I thought it was a great piece of work, inside and out, with great attention to detail. It's a good indicator of what could come from the company.
It didn’t surprise me to learn that it originated from the company’s London design studio, led by Simon Cox. This Brit designer has done some great and highly innovative cars in the past, working for GM, Lotus and Isuzu. It’s going to be fascinating to see what he can do for Infiniti.
After Nissan I schlepped over the VW preview night, where the Q80 put most of the Volkswagen Group’s offerings in the shade; I loved the Lambo (who wouldn’t) and the Audi TT Sportback seems like a natural way for the brand to go. But some of the cars were pretty poor I thought. Especially the ‘special’ Ducati-engined XL1. What’s the point of this? More to the point it looked to me like one of those horrid Ferrari replicas based on an Mk2 Toyota MR2. They seemed to have ruined the purity, and point, of the original.
Mind you, one car was largely ignored, one that was perhaps the most important car VW shows at the show: the plug-in hybrid Passat GTE, which has the potential to be a good car and the financial salvation of many company car tax payers.