Why Opel launch proves we should be making motoring part of international tourist push
They were at a loss, frankly. Such a wonderful country, great challenging roads, beautiful scenery and a warm welcome everywhere they went.
Why, the senior Opel executives asked, has it been 15 years since a car company held an international launch here?
It is a question I've often asked. Yes, there are a few drawbacks: We're an island and we drive on the 'wrong' side of the road.
Against that, we have plenty of airports, loads of flights and they drive on the 'wrong' side in other countries where I've been to launches.
I'm used to the spin PR people put on things but Christopher Rux, assistant manager International Product Communications for Opel, was genuine in his sentiment as we lunched at Palmerstown House (where some of 'Charlie' was filmed) and spoke later over dinner at Druids Glen. He loved the country.
Journalists from all over the world are attending. Those I spoke to loved the place too. Yes, the weather was cold, windy and cloudy. "Great," said Opel executives. "We can get blue skies any time. Look at that landscape. You can't get that anywhere else."
Bord Failte has done its bit by recognising Opel Ireland's efforts. I think it would be great if this could be built on now.
Think of the benefits for hotels, restaurants, businesses etc. Alright, an Italian firm won the contract for cleaning and re-fuelling cars that might have generated even more business but overall there was an overwhelming vote for Ireland.
I hope, as a result, more motoring people can press the case that this is a great country for car launches. There is real potential.
When you consider the mammoth organisation associated with it you realise how much of an investment a launch represents.
And this was 'just' for two new engines, not a new car which would be even bigger. I told you about the engines last week. I drove them subsequently - the 2-litre diesel in the Insignia and the 1.6-litre diesel in the Mokka. They will be on sale here from April.
While bhp in the Insignia's 2.0 CDTI is only up 5pc (to 170hp) it has 14pc more pulling power (torque) and that came through in my drives. Also I reckon now the suspension in this is as good as anything around. With emissions at 114gm/km, road tax is €200. Prices start from €30,395 ex-works.
The 1.6 CDTI 'whisper' diesel in the Mokka is an all-aluminum 4cyl (already in the Zafira Tourer, Meriva and Astra) that replaces the 1.7CDTI. It has a lot more power (136bhp) and gave us a crisp drive around Kildare/Wicklow. The emissions of 109g/km mean road tax is €190; prices start from €25,245 ex-works.
The 'whisper' name is self-explanatory. Crucially it also has lots of pulling power. Which is exactly what we need to get more car launches here. Any ideas?