Published on October 14th, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


German or Japanese Crossover. Which Tickles You?

About 10 years ago, if we were to ask this question, we would probably get a barrage of calls from German car owners telling us how silly (being polite here) we were in comparing a German made vehicle to a Japanese made vehicle.

Now, some ten years later this is a question the global press have been asking and it seems that the reverse has happened. There are Japanese made vehicles that are giving the Germans brands a run for their money and readers and vehicle owners are not holding back on their responses. Yes, the Japanese have caught up, and not recently, about 6-7 years ago, many Japanese brands stood and said that enough is enough and we are ready to take on the ‘premium’ brands. 

Today, we see many all Japanese brands bringing to market well built, well engineered and beautifully put together vehicles that stand equal with premium brands and they continue to have a better pricing strategy (this means the Japanese are priced lower and yet offer neck to neck features, safety equipment and also build quality)  

Recently, Subaru launched in Malaysia an all new Forester in 3 variants. Its top variant comes with class leading safety features better known as EyesSight. 

BHP petrol

Let Us Explain EyeSight

EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology is the culmination of everything Subaru engineers know about safety and Subaru has already sold over 1 million EyeSight-equipped vehicles. Adding confidence to every trip, EyeSight monitors traffic movement, optimizes cruise control, and warns you if you sway outside your lane. EyeSight has been found to reduce the rate of rear-end crashes with injuries by up to 85%.

When equipped with EyeSight, all tested 2019 Subaru models receive the highest possible rating for front crash prevention by IIHS. The Pre-Collision Braking feature can even apply full braking force in emergency situations, helping you avoid or reduce frontal impacts.

To date, more than 85% of Forester buyers in Taiwan and Philippines and 55% buyers in Thailand buy the Forester 2.0i-S Eyesight model since its launch a few months ago.

In Malaysia, the take up rate for the 2.0i-S Eyesight model is said to be at least 30% of the current 3 variant lineup as more Malaysian car buyers focus on safety on the road. 

Nearest Premium Rival

So, which is the nearest premium rival to this all new Forester. Well, in our books, the BMW X1 is the nearest in terms of looks, features, build and also cabin size. The BMW X1 offers rear passengers about the same room as the Subaru Forester, with comparable head- and legroom. The Subaru Forester offers just a little more front head- and legroom than the BMW X1, offering the driver and front passenger a bit more room and comfort.

The BMW X1 is about the same width as the Subaru Forester, but the BMW X1 is slightly shorter than the Subaru Forester, which may make it easier to park.

Due to its much higher engine output from its 4-cylinder twin turbo engine, the BMW X1 is quicker from rest, better top end and has better torque spread than the Subaru Forester which has a normal aspirated 2.0L engine.

The BMW X1 has significantly less cargo capacity than the Subaru Forester. The X1’s cargo capacity falls short due to its smaller stance.

Off-road capability is good for both vehicles and they each have their ability to take on the rough or Klang Valley floods with ease. 

Now comes the price. The BMW X1 at RM220,000 is almost RM60,000 more expensive than the Subaru Forester with EyeSight which sells for RM159,000. This is quite a bit of a price premium and here is where branding plays an important role.

The BMW ownership experience comes with more than just the ability to say you driving a ‘bimmer’. There is X1 ‘Butler On Call’ which is the ConnectedDrive Services option that enables the use of the BMW Online internet portal via the SIM card embedded in the vehicle, as well as the integration of smartphone apps into the car. It also includes the Intelligent Emergency Call and BMW Teleservices. This is great to have when you are on the road daily.  But is it worth the RM60k premium.

We must not forget the BMW events and parties that comes with ownership. The Malaysian office will host owners with get together events, dinners, movies premiers and more. But, is this worth the RM60k premium. 

Well, ask any BMW owner and they say yes without hesitation. Ask any Japanese car owner if they are happy with their what they paid and would they have paid a premium for the BMW, they, without hesitation would say that they are very happy with their Japanese car, but probe further and they would prefer a BMW where financials allow it. 

So, it is clear that branding and the ownership experience in society keeps the premium brands ahead and the Japanese brands will continue to better their products. 

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