Like it or not, you get advice when buying any car throughout a lifetime. Don’t get metallic paint, select all the options for resale, get rid of it before the warranty runs out. It is usually relentless. This advice is always followed by a horror story of a friend of a friend who must now only eat beans, and live without heating because of the grave error.
Tell people you are considering a 10yr old German luxury car and you will see their eyes widen as a litany of “DON’T” and “BEWARE’ noises are preparing to be uttered.
The thing is though, given that the admission price for such a car is very nearly a new base model Commodore’s price tag, what exactly would you be getting? Take my 2004 D3 Audi A8 for example.
Cars in the A8’s class are, as you would expect, well equipped. Quality leather, polished timber, electrical everything, and a depth of engineering not seen on anything below this level of car is de rigueur. For example, a fingerprint scanner is incorporated into the start button. Pressing this adjusts the various settings for your personal preferences. It also fires the characterful 4.2 Audi 40 valve V8. Even with nearly 200,000klms of use, the engine is almost silent.
Wafting around town barely bothers it, especially as the A8 spends most of its time slurring though its 6 gears unfazed. Prod it with the right foot, or pull one of the paddle shifters, and it hasn’t failed to seduce with a proper V8 soundtrack, giving exceptional pace and economy.
Adaptive Air suspension is standard, as are the monumental brakes, and, rock solid stability on the move over any road surface due to Quattro all-wheel drive. The A8 is unique as it has what Audi call an Aluminium Space Frame. This means that the car is relatively light. At 1780kgs, it is more than a Holden Caprice say, but less – much less – than its contemporaries. The lack of mass doesn’t affect safety with 10 airbags, present. Then, there are the toys.
The windows are double glazed to make external sound disappear. The BOSE surround sound system takes care of the internal noises and has more clarity and depth than many ears can handle. The climate control has 4 independent zones. The voice control means you rarely have to touch a button at all, but when you do, the MMI system makes the myriad of selections easy. As is the fashion of today’s houses, the car comes with a solar panel and diffused mood lighting. Simply put, nothing you can touch, hear or see feels cheap.
This fact is harshly relevant come service time because these things – especially the ones you can’t see – aren’t even on nodding terms with cheap. The adaptive air suspension is the same price as a small Kia to replace. If – like Holden – Audi enacted a fixed price service for every car it ever made, I would weep with joy. So would my tortured wallet. There is some truth to the saying “If you can’t afford the running costs when new, you can’t afford them now”.
Try $900 for a battery. $690 for a set of brake pads. $2,200 for one of the 3(!) motors that opens and closes the boot lid. $523 for each of the tyre pressure sensors. Audi also feels things like Automatic lights and wipers, IPod connectivity and Reversing cameras should be extra charge on a car that retailed for more than $200,000, which is ridiculous. However, Audi wasn’t alone in this.
The advice-spouting people would claim a Commodore would come with a warranty because it is new. They claim new is always better. But would you rather own something built to a price or a standard? This car with its impeccable paint finish, understated but crisp styling and 20” wheels, still turns heads on the road, returns relatively excellent economy, works exactly like it did on day one, and – most important of all – makes me smile from the inside whenever I drive it.