I've been on many new car launches over the years and I can almost always tell how well a car will do by the company reps on hand and the product presentation.
Extremes exist at these launches. I've travelled to a few where we were handed the keys to the car, given a map, driving directions and were set free to drive the car all day without nothing more than a “Hello, thank you for coming” and “Off you go!”
It is immediately clear to me in these instances that the OEM is entirely confident in their car or truck. So much so that they leave us auto journos free to discover what the vehicle is really all about before they jam-pack marketing strategies and trunk volume specs down our throats.
Standard new-car launches have us fat auto critics eating breakfast and then sitting through a Powerpoint presentation. Lengths vary, but most are roughly 45 minutes long. The point here is that car makers that are happy about the product they are representing will often times rush through the slideshow to get us out on the roads. This does not happen very often but when it does, we know we're in for a treat.
|Photo: Michel Deslauriers
Other times, we are required to sit through tedious, long, self-indulgent, over-bearing presentations where the company reps are telling us, convincing us, that this vehicle is awesome. It more often than not fails. We are not a bunch of fools... nor is our readership or the buying public.
Sometimes, I go in knowing what to expect and am prepared for long-winded details on how sporty, young, dynamic the car is. According to car builders, they all are. Rarely have I fallen into the trap, well, not in the last few years anyhow.
I'm generally open-minded and try to see the vehicle with a fresh disposition. However, when on-hand company staff project fake enthusiasm and smiles, I know that they're not happy with what they are selling and I know that I won't be content either.
I know that manufacturers have to believe in the product they are pushing but honesty always goes a long way, especially with well-versed and experienced auto journos.
I understand that they have a job to do and it becomes my job to filter the information given and put the real details in my reviews. Sorry, but that's the way it has to be.
If a new car or truck cannot stand on its four (or six) wheels on its own, something is wrong and no amount of convincing and sweet-talking will change that.