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Car buyers guide: Bigger picture still important with luxury cars
By jack Biddle • 17/01/2015
Charlie has come into some serious money and decided to spend it on a new sports car, but is torn between a famous German model and a couple of new players in the New Zealand market.
“I really love the Porsche 911 but as I’m still in my 30s does it scream, ‘mid-life crisis’?” asks Charlie.
He also likes the look of the new Jaguar F-Type, either coupe or convertible, and has heard good things about the Maserati Ghibli. After receiving this email I read a feature called Money and Me in the Herald business section. Kirk Hope, chief executive of the NZ Bankers Association, answered one question on financial matters by saying, “you need to understand the risks you are willing to take with money and making sure that the rewards or returns are real.” He told another reader most cars are a depreciating asset.
I guess most who can afford such high-end vehicles understand the risks but they are often outweighed by the rewards of being able to own and drive a luxury vehicle. And why not, if that’s what you want to do with your money? After all, if we won Lotto wouldn’t a new car be somewhere near the top of our shopping list?
In this price range consumers are definitely badge-conscious and will be drawn to a vehicle that has instant street appeal and a keyring that will raise eyebrows at dinner parties.
The biggest risk, however, is buying on impulse and not looking at the bigger picture — for example, secure parking, resale values, servicing costs, interior space for passengers and the grind of sitting behind the wheel during the day-to-day commute. As good as these cars are, they often become hard work and not much fun to be in when stuck in traffic or when it comes time to park or reverse.
Maserati Ghibli S
Colin Smith summarised this vehicle best when it was awarded Driven’s Luxury Car of the Year 2014. He said the Ghibli embodies key attributes for a luxury sporting saloon — head-turning looks, strong performance from a V6 turbo engine that also sounds brilliant and a state-of-the-art eight-speed transmission. Of course there’s badge appeal in spades and vast scope to personalise the car but sticking close to a standard specification puts the Maserati marque at an all-time accessible price point. If the Ghibli S is a little compact for your luxury desires then much the same qualities are delivered by the larger — and closely related — Quattroporte.
I’m not sure if the 911 screams ‘mid-life crisis’ or more ‘it’s all about me’. Not much spare interior room and it’s a vehicle that loves the open road or a closed motor racing circuit even better. I’m sure a high percentage of owners will have alternative everyday transport and use their 911s as their special fun day drives. Your price range stops you buying new (cheapest model 911 Carerra is $199,500 and that’s a manual), so it’s the used market you have to focus on. This can have benefits as well as risks. Benefits are: somebody else has taken the big initial drop in depreciation; risks are: not knowing just how much full throttle has been undertaken in the past. You could consider the Cayman range which gets you into a new top-of-the-range GTS auto for around $175,000 but that may look like a compromise for the trainspotters.
The Jaguar is proof of the true power of a brand. Under Ford ownership it struggled to maintain its uniqueness and for a number of years got somewhat lost in the mix of mass-produced vehicles. Under new ownership since 2008, the Jaguar has almost been reborn and once again has the air of desirability and individuality. The F-type is everything you would expect from the badge. It oozes mouthwatering good looks and has the performance to match, whether it be the V8 or 6-cylinder power unit (your budget rules out the V8). Downsides are lack of luggage space and poor rear vision. But who drives a Jaguar to look backwards!