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The new world of car launches

My first car launch proved to be another world. After arriving in Lisbon having slept not-so-well in a Heathrow-based hotel, we (22 motoring journalists) were ushered from arrivals lounge to decked-out Cadillac room to decked-out area of the airport car park, where 11 shiny new Cadillacs with Dutch number plates awaited us.

Straight on the road, with a sat-nav, where the female speaker seems to alter between three different voices (and I wonder, personalities?), and onward to our first stop. This was a stylish restaurant overlooking the sea and clear blue sky, with great food. A similar scenario occurred at all other meal times too.

Next stop was our five star hotel. Two hours by the pool, before Cadillac’s presentation, followed by a five course meal, endless wine and a conversation about how Demi Moore hates the Prius and can’t wait for Cadillac to bring out a hybrid Escalade in the US.

The next day involved more driving, more stunning views and more brilliant food. After wolfing down lunch, Cadillac had provided some snazzy bikes to cycle along the pedestrianised river-front. Unfortunately, I only found out the brakes involved back-pedalling after I’d set off.

The car, Cadillac’s new CTS, due to launch in the UK next summer, got plenty of stares in sleepy Portuguese villages and proved most fun in sports mode, when I felt a little like a (bad) racing driver.

However, apparently we normally fly business class, and there we were in cattle-market class. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers, and besides, there’s always next time.

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