Sunday, March 26, 2017

Opinion: Thoughts on car prices & labour costs elsewhere and the soon to be replaced Honda CRV

I haven't had the time to really rave and rant in recent times. So today I think I should share more car related stuff with you folks out there as it's a sunday night as I type this and my mind is at ease. Well, maybe not so much at ease because tomorrow is the start of another week where a lot of things will be happening. 

Anyway, I met a chap from Denmark the other day at the Volvo S90/V90 customer launch and we had a nice long chat about motoring in general. He had a lot to say about cars and motoring in general. About how he hated the fact that MINIs are now super large cars and that there was no real need for extra large SUVs to be prowling the roads. The thing that made me raise my eyebrow a whole lot was his statement on car prices and labour costs in Denmark. When he was back there, he bought a fully loaded slightly ysed E60 BMW 535id wagon at around RM600,000 after conversion. The same car brand new costed RM1.2million brand new due to the government's 300% taxes on imported cars (so he had a used one imported in). Aside form that, labour costs for servicing his BMW is about RM700 per hour (both prices after conversion) caught my attention. 

Denmark is a country in the European Union. So even after all the cross border sharing fully imported cars in Denmark are expensive when new and labour, like most of Europe could kill an unsuspecting car owner over there if he suddenly emigrated from Malaysia. A country where labour could be between RM50-70 per hour if you calculate in that sort of way. 

That 300% import duty and tax also seems familiar doesn't it. It is basically the same amount for imported cars over 2500cc or thereabouts here in Malaysia. Somehow, it affects premium cars over there too. Of course, it also shows us that if you stayed in Denmark, you'd still be driving a small compact car like you did here in Malaysia. Especially so if you factor in future labour costs when you need to service the car. The chap's BMW did require some TLC as it was a BMW - 'Banyak Makan Wang' in Malay meaning 'Big Money Waster' in some ways. He loved the drive though. Every 300 over horses of it.

And I also remembered my friend who lived in Australia for a year or so. He bought a second hand Mitsubishi Lancer 1.6 and did most of the servicing himself. The car's alternator cost him AUD150 new but labour would have cost him another couple of hundred dollars. So he promptly changed it with some friends. Things aren't as rosy elsewhere if you know what I mean. And one should always remember to factor in servicing costs for their car at all times. Especially if you are running a European car like my acquaintance here. With great horsepower and high levels of technology inside these cars, comes great cash requirements. 

Anyway, I also had a go in the soon to be replaced (here in Malaysia) fourth generation Honda CRV 2.0 together with the Nissan X-Trail 2.5 and the Mazda CX-5. All courtesy of another automotive manufacturer. The Honda CRV is one of the best selling mid-sized urban SUVs on sale here in Malaysia. In 2.0liter form it isn't all-wheel drive but only front wheel drive. It does not matter as it is mainly used by its buyers on road. You do not need all-wheel drive in most situations anyway. 

But the CRV drives like a boat. It rolled too much in the corners. It wasn't just me saying this. Many of us who tested the cars also said so. Many of them will be mum about it as many of them like Honda very much. But since I pay myself most of the time I can safely say that if I wanted a Japanese mid-sized, C segment SUV it won't be a Honda CRV. My first choice amongst the three above would be the CX-5 followed by the X-Trail. 

It is no surprise in the handling stakes that the Mazda would be my favourite. They build great cars these days. The Nissan is a surprise. I actually thought the CRV would drive better. It may have been older, but I always thought the 'Power of Dreams' would put the Nissan SUV to shame. 

It was otherwise. This 'Power of Dreams' could put me to dreamland. It rolled in the corners like as if it were a baby's rocking cradle and you're rocking it trying to put the baby to sleep ASAP. It's steering was as lifeless as a sleeping or dead person's limbs. The 2.0liter slightly over 150hp engine struggled to reach 80kmh and I fell asleep waiting for that to happen. 

The selling point of this car was that it was a Honda SUV. It had Honda resale value. It had the Honda badge. I have to say that the CRV also looked bloody good on the outside and when you sat in it, the first impression was the futuristic dash in front of you (some hard plastics but who looked good). It is also a practical SUV for soccer moms. 

But the point is, the current CRV would put me to sleep driving it enthusiastically. It could be like having Margot Robbie in bed with you but she has the sexual performance of a telephone pole. This is truly the Power of Dreams. Dreamland mattress actually. Puts you to sleep in an instant.

But let's give them some benefit of doubt. I have to state that the car is old. It was launched in 2011 and the new one is already out (pictured below) in Thailand (the car capital of S.E.A). The CX-5 and the X-Trail are newer cars and have better suspension setups. The upcoming one could be an improvement. But heck. I never expected the car to be the equivalent of a Nissan Almera (against the Toyota Vios and Honda City - City is the best of the lot BTW) when it comes to driving pleasure, handling and fun to drive. 

God, this is a topsy turvy world we live in these days. 

(c) 2017

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