Last week we were intrigued to be invited to Vauxhall’s New Astra Sport Tourer press day. Vauxhall is our main sponsor and Astra is Vauxhall’s biggest selling model so we were curious to see what the new model would be like. Would it be an average, safe car designed for the masses or would it be like the the lovely Insignias we were driving around during LFW and look sophisticated and high quality?

What is a Sport Tourer anyway? When we discovered it is basically a revamped estate car our team were somewhat dubious – I mean we work with the best, edgiest fashion designers in the UK and estate cars are for... well... families and business people aren’t they?

Anyway we travelled to a special test track outside London to meet with Mark Adams, Vice President of Design for Vauxhall and Opel. I felt like such a fool – I instantly starting telling him how we all loved the Insignia, how it looked and felt like a premium car, like an Audi or BMW, how the interiors were really stylish and how it was much better than what we thought Vauxhall did and.....

Then I realised that I had not only managed to insult our main sponsor but I had probably also insulted the person who is in charge of design. Oops! To our surprise he laughed and said perfect, that’s what he wanted to hear. It turned out that the Insignia was the first completely new model that he and his design team had created.

With Charlotte kicking me to stop me from putting my foot in my mouth again Mark told us about his design team, the design process and all the work that is going into the new models to give them a modern premium feel. He invited us and some of our fashion designers to join him in the future at their design centre and meet with his team. He named some of his team and, whilst their names were new to me, the colleges where they are from, like the RCA, are ones that we know well.

So on to the New Astra Sports Tourer – what is it like? We were relived to see that it actually does look great. The exterior has smart lines and curves so it seems to sit low on the road and yet fits in a huge amount in the back. The interiors are cool and slick. Listening to the team talk about it reminded me of talking with fashion designers about their new pieces. There are lots of intelligent design features and we must admit it worked.

The result was that we decided that we give one a trial. As LFW’s leading independent event we need a car and Vauxhall have offered to lend us different models to test throughout the year. We’ll give them a try and lend them to our designers, media and VIPs to see what they think. So if you are nice to us you might just get a brand new car to drive around. Perhaps an Insignia for a sunny summer day in Brighton with your friends or an Antara for a naughty weekend in the country.

To find out more about Vauxhall (or to choose the car you would like VFS to lend you) visit their online showroom at http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/

Martyn Roberts

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