Blog: Back from Barcelona
Dave Leggett | 9 May 2005
It was a pretty busy second half of last week in Barcelona at the Crain bash. I’ve plenty of notes to write up for a feature and a few interesting memories, as usual. Several things stand out. The new SEAT Leon is a nice looking car, should do well in its segment. Toledo still looks odd though, smooth lines abruptly upset by the reverse C-pillar. I drove the Ibiza Cupra during a visit to Martorell – that car goes (though I could not keep up with the guy in front of me, Mark Carbery). The speakers at the conference were the usual mix - some good, some not so good. The big names tended to be a little disappointing and they didn’t hang around either, which is a shame.
Okay – here’s a personal one liner summary on some of the speeches:
Carl-Peter Forster (GME) – GM school of complacency, dodged questions
Joe Greenwell (Ford PAG) – Came close to admitting X-type errors, ‘gorgeous’ cars coming (as opposed to current un-gorgeous ones) and Jag future hinges on that
Alain Margaritopol (Renault) – Good C&E Europe overview, but surprisingly downbeat on Russia during Q&A
Paul Stokes (Ford purchasing) – Just a hint of iron fist in velvet glove. ‘I say to suppliers, come and talk to me’ (and he could almost have added: and then I will tell you how it is)
Eckhard Cordes (Mercedes-Benz Car Group) – Let’s talk about Europe, the business environment and the need for reforms, lower taxes, lower social costs (sounded like a presentation that might be delivered in Brussels). Oh, someone wants to talk about quality? Following the biggest recall in Mercedes’ history, it’s all fixed now, end of story…
And did I retire early, cup of cocoa in one hand and a good book in the other? Not exactly. It would be almost criminal to visit such a city and not have a look around at some point. Let’s just say that if you like narrow alleyways, gothic architecture, pavement cafes and tapas bars, Barcelona has all that in abundance. And Gaudi’s cathedral is something else. The metro is easy to negotiate also; taxis are inexpensive and easy to find. Lots of history, atmosphere and culture.
And then there’s the strip of bars in the Port Olympic district for those who want, ahem, a more basic experience (scantily clad dancing girls, loud music etc) into the early hours – you really could be anywhere. I did both (got dragged kicking and screaming to Port Olympic of course), but do the real Barcelona first and foremost would be my advice – unless it’s a stag/hen party perhaps. Horses for courses I suppose.
The Barcelona motor show itself had a pretty provincial feel compared with the big European shows – SEAT had the big product splash with the new Leon. Lovely site and location though.
That Seat Toledo rear-end
Showground afforded extensive views over city
The striking towers on Gaudi's cathedral
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