Published on June 12th, 2022 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Are You Getting Value For Money In Luxury Cars Today?
Or are you just getting branding and perceived prestige with luxury cars?
There are new cars that you can buy for under RM60,000 and there are new cars that go for a cool half a million ringgit and beyond. And there are dozens of models to choose from that fall between these two extremes. With so many different price ranges available, a common question is “What do I get for my money?”
What is the difference between; let’s say a 4 door sedan costing RM89,000 and one costing RM139,000? Will the more expensive car last longer? Will it be built better? Is a BMW 7-Series really worth 2 times as much as a Lexus ES?
We decided to explore this question in depth and, for the sake of efficiency, chose to compare popular vehicles in the various price brackets to see what value you can find in the typical sedan in each segment. We will start at RM89,000 and below and look at what you get for your $$$, then jump in larger steps as we reach for the stratosphere.
You should know that there are many different cars that compete in each price category and you will often see features in some cars that are normally associated with more upscale offerings, but there are features that you should expect in all cars in a particular class and that is what we will focus on.
If you are more interested in other body styles, like a nice convertible or a practical MPV or maybe an SUV, you can still use this information as a guideline, but expect to pay a premium for some of those body types.
I am often amazed by advertising that claims wonderful features that you will find on the model they are selling, the inference being that you get more for your money if you buy one particular model over the next.
Many advertisements talk about their car containing multiple air bags, crumple zones, side guard door beams, etc. What they do not tell you is that these features are required by law in most developed countries, just like a steering wheel, 4 wheels, a horn and an engine.
Other features that you can expect on any car that you buy these days are dual remote outside mirrors, rear door child safety locks on 4-door models, air-conditioning, rear defroster, intermittent windshield wipers, windshield washers, quality tires and… oh yes, a quality Apple car play and Android auto ready car entertainment unit.
They compare favorably in build quality, reliability, fit and finish. Great engineering does not make a car cost more; in fact, engineering cleverness is what keeps the price down. What makes one car cost more than another is content!
Larger, more sophisticated engines and transmissions, costlier sound deadening materials, more refined steering and suspension systems, upscale features like leather upholstery, powered seats, power accessories and killer sound systems all serve to drive up the price.
Expensive cars require more complicated assembly processes and are often trimmed with more expensive materials, like real wood instead of imitation wood made of plastic or no trim at all.
The more expensive the car, the more profit is built in, which makes it more expensive still. At RM199,000 you can get a fabulous sedan that can be as luxurious and well-built as they come, take the large and well built Toyota Camry.
When you get past RM199,000 for a car, you reach a point of diminishing returns. You get less added content, but more exclusivity.
While a RM3,8850,000 Rolls Royce is an excellent car, it’s not all that much better than a RM600,000 BMW 7-Series from which it borrows much of its running gear. And that BMW or Audi in the RM350,000 to 390,000 range is not all that much better than that RM299,000 Lexus ES.
Sure, you get hand-finished exotic wood paneling and matched, hand fitted Connolly or Nappa Leather hides for the seats, but what you are really paying for is the longing stares from bystanders and the grudging admiration from peers as you claim the best parking spot at the local golf club or 5-star Hotel jockey parking.
In order to produce a new model that can be sold worldwide, manufacturers must invest hundreds of millions if not billions of ringgit before the first car reaches a customer’s hands. For this reason, manufacturers are not often willing to take chances on vehicles that will not meet customer’s expectations.
This is why there are no longer any really bad cars sold in the world today. If you don’t do your research, you may wind up with a car that doesn’t meet your needs, but regardless of what you buy, it will be reasonably reliable, rarely if ever break down, and it will last for many years as long as you give it proper maintenance (please note that plug-in hybrids are not included in this equation).
Even the cheapest commuter cars today will have a quality paint job, smooth, straight body panels that fit together precisely, durable upholstery and carpeting and a power train that should perform reliably in all weather conditions.
They might have front and rear air bags, seat and shoulder belts for all passengers, child seat anchors, a good warranty and will deliver excellent mileage.
So what do you really get for your money when you buy a new car? Branding and prestige in expensive vehicles and value for money with the rest of the vehicles on sale.