Without intending to sound too downbeat, it’s fair to say that 2011 is shaping up to be a tough year. And not just in terms of the miserable summer weather; it seems that the continuing global economic problems are now affecting UK households more acutely than before. All of us at Polished Bliss have certainly felt our own purse strings stretched in recent months, and cost cutting has been the order of the day. From a business perspective, we’re certainly very aware of the need to focus on value for money in these testing times, and as a result we’ve been looking at new product lines that offer exactly that. And there is none more relevant than the brand new line up from Auto Finesse…
Auto Finesse is a specialist car detailing business based in Elsenham, right on the doorstep of London’s Stansted Airport. Originally established in 1999 as a one-man mobile valeting service covering Essex, Hertfordshire and northeast London, it has since evolved and progressed to become one of the leading providers of high-end car detailing services in the UK. In addition to services, Auto Finesse now also offers its own line of car care products, all of which were developed in-house over the last two years. This is a significant first for a UK-based detailing company, and reflects the burgeoning popularity of detailing as a hobby in recent years and changing market conditions.
Working from scratch, each product in the new Auto Finesse line was formulated and tested under both studio and real world conditions. After testing, feedback was given to the manufacturer, changes were made and further testing then took place. This process was repeated until owner James Batty was satisfied; some of the products were perfected in just a handful of test cycles, while others took literally dozens of iterations to get right. As James explains, “We set out to create a range of products for the public that would also be good enough for us to use in our studio and put our brand name to. It’s been a long haul, but all of the testing and refinement of the various formulas has been worth it. All of the products do a great job, are easy to use and are fairly priced.”
We’ve followed the progress of Auto Finesse for many years now, and we were more excited than usual when we were asked if we would like to stock their new line. Why, you may ask? Simply because we knew that Auto Finesse work to an extremely high standard, and that their development process had been thorough; in theory the products were always going to be good. However, theory is one thing and reality sometimes another, so we set about testing the entire line in our usual way, i.e. by using the products on our own cars and in our detailing studio over a period of several months. This approach allows us to check performance and usability under various conditions both at home and at work. As expected, the new line did not disappoint…
Whilst it’s fair to say that all of the products are very good, in our opinion there are a handful that perform far better than what their pricing would suggest. For starters, Citrus Power is the best pre-wash bug and grime remover we have ever used. You simply spray it on, leave it for five minutes and then pressure wash it off. In every case this will remove 99% of bug splatter and grime without stripping existing paint protection, which is quite frankly an incredible feat of chemical formulation. Moving on, Imperial works similar wonders on wheels. Like most non-acidic wheel cleaners, it requires thorough agitation, but its cleaning power is second to none – on more than one occasion we’ve felt the need to double check its pH! As an added benefit, it’s also available as a full strength concentrate, which is a bonus for professional use.
When it comes to paint protection, both Tough Coat and Spirit punch well above their weight in the marketplace. Tough Coat is a fully synthetic solvent-based paint sealant and, although no less expensive than its rivals, is ridiculously easy to use, and offers excellent durability. If you don’t have a garage and need a fuss-free product that will deliver outstanding products all year round, then look no further – it’s currently being used on several of our daily drivers for this very reason. Spirit is the premium flagship wax in the Auto Finesse range, and offers a proven six months plus of protection and easily rivals the most expensive waxes in the world for looks. Compared to the flagship products in rival wax brands, it’s a steal in every sense of the word at its current price point.
In summary then, the new Auto Finesse range has a huge amount going for it. It’s been said on several forums that it breaks no new ground and is just another formulaic new brand, but such comments are missing the point. True, none of the products are game changers in terms of what they are designed to do, but what they all offer with very few exceptions is class leading ease of use and performance at a very reasonable price point (and even when they are not quite class leading they are certainly not far off). Given the current state of the economy and that fact that we are all now feeling the pinch, it’s products like those in the new Auto Finesse line that are going to remain affordable and ensure that our love of car care and detailing endures.