Don't worry Dave, it's was a punishing hot day today, and it was terribly crowded and will be even hotter and more crowded the next days.
But let me first tell a few things about my trip.
We arrived there yesterday afternoon, and that was the better day for us. The reason is, that yesterday was not open to the public, but for the press only. And since I have a journalist pass I had the privilege to enter the fair already yesterday together with my "assistant": my wife.
The temperatures were ok, about 25 to 28 Â°C. The best possible weather, though partially a bit warm.
Most of the exhibitors were ready to go in the afternoon, so we had some nice opportunities and insights here and there. I had two things in mind for that afternoon: First, to visit Ineos, and second to meet "The Sunnyside
", which I am, amongst of all fans, the biggest fan off.
You cannot go to the area by car, but have to take shuttle buses from the parking areas to the fair area. But this day, the buses weren't active, to we took a taxi. And just when I wanted to pay the taxi, "The Sunnyside", Phil and Caro, crossed in front of the car. I was so excited that I dropped all my stuff to my wife and asked her to pay the taxi, and jumped out of the car, which should have a bad consequence later ...
Anyway, I couldn't in that moment get in contact with them as they had some other thing to do, so we went to the press office and then entered the fair.
I guess, that this fair is not as big as what you Aussies and US-guys are used to. But there is Alu-Cab, Ineos, Land Rover, Frontrunner and most of the big names we all know and which are on the European market. There is everything from the Jimny up to 30 ton super campers and expedition models, a really exciting exhibition. The most expensive 4x4 I have seen was a 865'000 â¬ 18 ton expedition model, absolutely crazy.
But let's get back to Ineos.
When I came there, they told me that there was no public passenger test-driving this day. So I talked to a very friendly and absolutely dedicated Ineos-associate, telling him that I am a press member and totally mad about this car. So he kindly asked me to wait a few minutes to clarify what's possible.
To make a long story short: We got a ride
He escorted us to the test-course, and so we took a seat in the green prototype with the white roof which we already know from youtube.
I have to put emphasis on the fact, that the Ineos-associate stayed there and cared for us all the time until we came back, and he asked us about our experience and took all the time needed to answer questions and assured us that we could come to him anytime in case anything was unclear. An excellent experience, really. Even the next day (i.e. today) he greeted us friendly and asked whether and what he could do for us. Thank you so much!
You must know, that my wife currently has some problems with her back, and she was afraid of a bumpy ride. But finally she joined me in the car, and the Ineos-associate talked to the driver to be careful. What a service.
I may tell you all, that this man is a reader of this forum. He didn't tell me which account he has, and answered: "I am a read-only-member, and I'd have a big problem if I would act as an Ineos-associate in the forum
". And he is absolutely right, I think, So I do of course respect his point of view. But he furthermore said, that he (and Ineos) is very interested about the user questions, experiences and the market reception in general. This is good news, so we all should be as constructive as possible in our discussions to stay a serious taken and become a valuable source of feedback for Ineos.
Back to the test drive: Our driver was "Edi" from Austria. A humorous, friendly, relaxed and charming test driver, which was very careful not to to catch the bumpy parts of the track. Thank you Edi!
It was only a short track, but impressive though. We had a lateral angle of well 30 degrees, some steep hills and some quite narrow curves having lateral declines and inclines. The very steep gradients haven't been any problem at all for the Diesel to move the almost three ton heavy vehicle forward at will, and at any time without even the slightest sign of strain.
After that, we went back to the Ineos stand and had a coffee and soft drinks.
We later walked around the fair, and saw amongst others the Land Rover stand. When my wife saw the new "Defender" (without knowing anything about the reception of this car and about my view on it) she immediately called out "Das ist ja Augenkrebs!". Feel free to translate this yourself.
As an anticipation for the next day: The Land Rover stand was, as opposed to all the other highly frequented, overcrowded stands, an oasis of relaxation: it seemed in some way a bit orphaned. This might be due to the clientele on such a fair, which is more camping and outdoor oriented, but not to golf courses. But I still was a bit surprised. The same picture at Matzker: An old Defender 110 which was very much regarded on the left, a permanently occupied Grenadier on the right, and in between a lonesome new defender. Yes, Land Rover, think about it. I don't think they, if they would try, can ever catch up with the Grenadier again.
On that day, I had some nice conversation with the Land Rover guys. And of course they defended their Defender - pun intended. There was of course no choice for them to tell anything different, so that's ok. But I respect that they at least admitted, that the name "Defender" probably wasn't a wise choice. I agree. The new Defender is not a problem, it's probably a great car. But it simply isn't a Defender. Period.
And such an admission can only be made on a press day, in a small circle without public audience.
Later than, I went back to the test course and had the most important conversation of the two days (at least for me) with him, his name is "Werner", we all know him already. He is very cool, a great guy
But I'll come back to this an an extra thread.
When we left the fair yesterday, I wanted to call a taxi, but I had to notice that I had apparently lost my mobile phone - which is of course catastrophic. After thinking a few minutes where I might have lost it, I knew what happened: I had left it in the taxi when I had jumped out of the car to talk to The Sunnyside ... OH MY GOD!
What to do now? Well, the easiest thing I could do: With my wifes mobile phone, I called my own one. And guess what? Somebody picked up the call, and it was - the taxi driver! He immediately remembered us, and yes, he would come to to the fair area to bring us back to the city and he'd bring the phone ... oh happy day!
REALLY good news. You know what that means: It's not only about the bank-acounts (secured by my phone), the Google-accounts and all such things ...
I paid the taxi, gave him a generous tip and an extra 20 Euros on top. He was happy, I was happy, so all's well that ends well.
That was the day yesterday.
Today, we got there at 11AM. Thanks to my journalist pass, we could get in through the "fast lane".
It was terribly overcrowded already at this time (the fair opened at 10 AM). Long queues everywhere. At the Ineos test course the queue was at least 50 persons, waiting in the sun which was mercilessly beating down all day at 32Â°C. I was so happy to have been lucky with our test drive the the day before. But not only there many people. You had to be patient for getting a drink, a coffee, to get to a toilet. Little shade, or everything there occupied.
But today I found "The Sunnyside" at their stand in the Frontrunner tent. We had a nice conversation, I even met their parents there and now know the entire family. Very kind persons. It turned out that Phil and Caro (which run the youtube channel "The Sunnyside") recently moved to a village just 60 Km from my home. Very nice. I think I will visit them there.
After that nice meeting we went one more time to the Ineos stand, and made some photographs. But I only concentrated on some details of the second seat row - I was simply not aware of the fact to see a PTO1 - and that's why I simply don't have the photos I'd like to have. And I only had a pocket camera with me, because the topic of the day wasn't photography, but rather convincing my wife of the Grenadier. So forgive me not to fulfill ones or the others expectations.
I will however post some interesting information about the second seat row and the Utility / Station Wagon question in an extra thread.
For me personally, these are the decisive point for or against a certain variant.
That was basically it.
I'll post the link to the extra thread here when done.
EDIT: And here it is