All of the participants are vetted, so the manufacturers know the kind of person who’ll be in the room, if not the precise foibles of each personality. So there were no greenies, no cycling nut-jobs and no-one who wasn’t both a competent and enthusiastic motorist.
We were, in short, intended to represent the manufacturer’s target market in microcosm. And if that’s true, then the manufacturer’s target market is ever so slightly deranged. It was a credit to Kim, the moderator, that she didn’t punch anyone, barely raised her voice, and that she didn’t throw anything.
We were asked about cars we’d owned previously. We were asked about our ideal car of the future, and opinions of electric, hybrid and good old-fashioned petrol-driven variants. We heard sets of characteristics of different cars and different manufacturers and we were asked to nominate brands that fitted particular sets of attributes. And we ended up with Kia and Lamborghini together in one group, Bentley and Holden in another, and Trabant in the same group as Porsche (I can’t resist being a smart-arse sometimes).
We were asked to assess potential advertising slogans and sort them in order of preference considering the level of rationality versus emotion in each statement, and whether a given slogan differentiated the car from the pack. For the most part, the slogans were variations on the same theme – you don’t need to be embarrassed about wanting to own something as unapologetically awesome as this car – that didn’t really work for me because I have never, ever, been embarrassed to own the very best cars I can possibly afford (and even ones I really can’t afford).