Car Buyers' Guide: European style and function
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What are the benefits of owning a European car?
When looking for cars these days, typically we have two major choices — those that come off the Asian production lines and those imported from Europe. Both have benefits and disadvantages in the New Zealand market.
European cars are packed with details that are often overlooked. For example, BMW employs someone who works on the acoustic design for the German manufacturer, specialising in noise and vibration. That person’s role is to ensure that every BMW provides the perfect sound — something that extends to the noise emitted by the boot closing, or the wipers gliding across the windscreen.
Style and function is an important characteristic of European vehicles and the proof can be found in the details.
This can be anything from the hand-stitching of the seat fabric to the feel of the plastics and quality of finishing within the car.
The BMW i3 has door panels made from hemp, which helps lower the weight of the vehicle by 10 per cent, and creates an unusual matte, fibrous finish. The combination of unmistakable, detailed design features can make European cars stand out as an attractive option in the market.
Traditionally, European cars have paved the way when it comes to safety. Take Volvo for example, and its legendary reputation. The Swedish car maker first introduced the production of the three-point seatbelt in 1959, and it has been a leader in car safety ever since.
But Volvo isn’t the only one setting those standards. Many European manufacturers are now offering a host of features that come as standard across the whole range, which makes safety accessible to anyone looking for a brand new vehicle — not just those who can afford the more expensive, top-spec variants.
Similarly, assistance technologies are becoming increasingly common in new vehicles. The 2016 BMW 7-Series has an innovative parking assist gadget that takes full control of the steering, braking and acceleration to successfully complete a manoeuvre, making its driver’s life easier when it comes to backing out of parking spaces, or getting into those tighter spots. When reversing, it also has an acceleration prohibition system that actively stops the vehicle from continuing to drive if it senses an impact is imminent — a feature in line with the industry’s move towards autonomous driving.
High-tech European diesel models run ultra-efficiently because of advanced rail diesel technologies and other emission-reducing features, such as diesel particle filters. For example, the latest Citroen Cactus has common rail diesel technologies, giving it an impressive combined fuel economy that uses 3.6L per 100km.
If you have a keen eye for detail, a European car may just fit the bill — and don’t make the mistake of assuming that it is going to be out of your price range. Being able to buy a car that leads the way in new ideas and concepts isn’t just limited to those with big budgets.
A variety of reasonably priced European vehicles are available in the current new car market but, more importantly, these technologies are slowly flowing through into the used car market, so even more of you will be able to benefit.