Who doesn’t like a fine set of wheels. In fact, I for one would be one of the first persons to pounce on any such opportunity that comes by. A race led by the European manufacturers, these luxury cars fulfill the tasteful needs of every kind of automobile enthusiast. If you are the motor-head or the one who doesn’t like to go home alone on a Saturday night, European cars go a deep way in aiding your ambition. Laden with a delicate mixture of tech, performance and luxury they are the things that dreams are made out of, and the higher you go up the range, the choices keep bettering to a point where you are back in that pant-wetting poster dream world of yours. Talking about entry- to mid-range luxury (right up to exotic cars), the cost of buying one might land up in the same ballpark as buying an entry- to mid-size house. Although while looking at costs for these cars in the pre-owned car market, things look much more sensible and pocket friendly. I recently remember a listing for a 2007 BMW 535i, which sells as new upwards of 50 lakh, available for a price of just 16 lakh, and with no more than 24,000kms on the odometer! That is the same kind of money that would otherwise buy me a humble Toyota Corolla or maybe a top-end XUV500 pumping out an average 150 odd horsepower from their engine unit. So then if I had the chance, would I have gone ahead for the 300+ bhp BMW? Well the answer is yes and no, and here’s my reasoning why.
European cars are manufactured with the best possible materials, blended together with the best possible engineering technology to produce the best performing engines and the best handling machines overall in the segment. But all the performance and luxury comes for a price. Its not to be said that European cars are not made to be reliable, but its this “best-at-everything” approach that makes the cars more resource hungry when compared to cars coming out of Japan or Korea or any other part of the world. There is more wear and tear that comes hand in hand with performance and while the components are built to perfection with the best possible accuracy, they are still components that will wear out. And servicing worn out components on European cars is equivalent to a small village bank heist. Not because of a strong Euro, but because they are technically complex in construction and are made keeping a multitude of situations in mind. And this is precisely one of the reasons why many pre-owned European cars are seen in the market when they are about 2-3 years old. The owners have made the best out of the new carcomponents and have upgraded to the latest versions or higher as soon as the freebies and warranties near ending. For the original owner it was never more than his college girlfriend who parted ways soon later. So he would be quite clueless about maintenance costs, but will tell you all the fun he had. Hence the possibilities of falling into a purchase that ends up as a perpetual Lobstien Syndrome are quite positive.
Generalizing on the statement that European cars are not reliable would be wrong. While compared to Japanese cars, which are made for a more down-to-earth driving, European cars have to cope up with much higher demands. One can get their buttocks massaged while driving hilariously fast through a bend as the electronics and adjustable suspensions take care that your buttocks don’t bounce off the seats interrupting the massage experience. At any given time there is more going on under the skin and with time failures are imminent. And with current day luxury cars, there is more and more going on electronically, and the smallest of errors can result in a partial or complete lockdown in functionality. Unless there is good knowledge of the components, there is quite a chance that your pre-owned purchase leaves you stranded in the middle of nowhere at least once in a while. Unless you are the kinds who carry a wrench for everything, a spare for every situation and a jump suit to fix things you must have a sleeping bag and a few cans of baked beans in the boot.
Peace of mind
I have had my share of used cars. From Italian to European and American I have seen them all. And believe me, there is no peace of mind in it. No matter how well prepared, you don’t want to be the guy who just bought a half-assed vehicle that can't decide whether to start or die on you at the time of need. Apart from that, there is a certain air of discomfort always hanging about not knowing what the car has gone through. The horrors of finding left over snot and hair is terrifying alone and the thoughts of the previous owners drunken friends not able to handle their booze just takes things to new nauseating levels (on that thought, it's not the wisest though to install UV lights to pimp out your used car). Sure, a through clean at the nearest 3M Car Care outlet can do away with these feelings for a while, but they do keep coming back to tingle the spine like a bad old childhood memory.
?On the other hand though, if the same choice was for my weekend driving car, I would hands down and eyes shut go for the pre-owned European luxury. Not so much about the luxury as it would be for the performance, it wouldn’t really matter if my buttocks were being massaged while I drive it hard through the twisties. If it breaks down, well it’s a weekend and there is ample time to get back home. As for the above-described nauseating interiors, I would be thankful to have glove box full of hand sanitizer and a through scrub once I get back home, after throwing my clothes away for good. What I am trying to say here is that it is of essence that one understands their needs from a pre-owned luxury car. While for some a breakdown here or there might not be a bit deal since their travel is mainly in the city, for others the same might mean getting stranded in the middle of the highway, away from home. Bottom line is that a used luxury car can never live up to badge in terms of giving its new owner the immaculate experience that it’s expected of, and it's not even fair asking for one. On the other hand, whatever time you would spend with the car in working condition, would be the best that you would ever have.