German cars are fun. German Flagship cars are beyond fun, they are, for lack of a better word pleasant. They have simple subtle to complex spaceship type additions that make driving pleasurable.
In Kenya and many parts of Africa, anything and everything with a German emblem is considered luxurious regardless of their target market. Granted, in a way, society decides what is luxurious and what is not.
Nevertheless there is no questioning the appeal of big, powerful luxury flagships such as the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8, BMW 7-Series.
Thing is, these class of cars are simply out of reach as a new car purchase for the larger driving population. It is only when a car gets to five to 20 years that it becomes attainable to drivers of average financial standing.
I cannot blindly recommend such a car to a friend, however, I still cannot fault anyone for wanting one and buying one blindly. These machines even in their old age are stronger than the newer 2nd and 3rd tier cars.
Interestingly while the price of admission may not be a problem, you can get a 2010 Mercedes C 200 at less than Shs 2.5m. Problem is though in most cases, the cost of staying in the game might be too much for some to handle, think having to purchase original parts for the machine. It’s silky roar when you press the pedal might not be so silky anymore.
Too much technology
We have all heard the saying “Nothing is as expensive as a cheap used Mercedes”. The reliability levels on many German flagships exponentially dips to levels where they fail in the most dramatic of fashions.
Luxury cars do have an insane amount of technology firsts. For instance the BMW 7 Series E32 (1986 -1994) had a system that automatically increased spring pressure on the windscreen wipers, to keep them firmly pressed on the glass at highway speeds, that’ is over 20 years ago.
The Mercedes S Class W140 (1991 -1998) had self-closing doors and boot. This list can go on and on. The problem is at some stage all those little engineering marvels break down, one by one, and the repair costs may eventually exceed the price paid for the car.
Fact is all these technologies eventually filter down to the average cars but that is when the manufacturers have worked out all the kinks. For instance the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is so common place nowadays; 20 years ago this tech was only reserved for drivers in aristocratic circles. The intended owners have possibly moved on to newer models that are under warranty and time is their only loss at the dealership.
German cars specifically flagships don’t have the best track record for reliability in their old age. The main reason I stopped believing in German cars is how criminally little thought is put into the long-term costs of maintaining the car.
Japanese cars are vastly superior in this respect. Many times though this is a combination of poor handling by a previous owner or simple failure to take care of the car like it should. I, however, find the latter reason to be trivial.
Again you shall often hear, “If you take care of it like you should, it should last you a lifetime.” While this might hold true, you have to understand that it costs quite a bit of money to hold that line up, money many would-be or current owners are not willing to part with.
If you must buy one
But despite the challenges that come with German cars, you and I still want one, so how do we do this? Because you are buying it used, unless of course you are buying from a friend, you might not have a chance to test drive and have your mechanic check it. Even from the Bazaar, there is only so much testing you can do. While it shall drive, there are things you might fail to see during the short trip.