What you need to know:
- As soon as I saw the word “reliable”, my mind immediately rushed to Toyota, and when you said 7 million pieces-of-eight, I knew I had the car for you.
- I know I am asking you to buy a brand new car, and why not? It comes with a warranty and you are sure you are the first owner.
How are you? I am a keen reader of your motoring column and respect your expertise in this area.
I would like to replace my DISCO 3 2007 with a reliable, comfortable SUV in the price range of Sh7million. My driving is mostly in the city, doing about 100 km per day. I am not a big off-road driver though I would like to have an off-road car for an occasional u/c sojourn! I do not drive my kids to school, I previously owned a TOUAREG V6 diesel that nearly bankrupted me. Please advise a brother on how to make a good decision (investment?) for another four years of motoring.
As soon as I saw the word “reliable”, my mind immediately rushed to Toyota, and when you said 7 million pieces-of-eight, I knew I had the car for you. Allow me to introduce the winner of the Motoring Press Agency Car of The Year Award for 2018: the Toyota Fortuner.
For the sake of full disclosure, here is the revealing paragraph from January 2019 gushingly justifying the win:
So how did the Fortuner win? It's stylish, economical, smooth, torquey, comfortable and contemporary without being too complex, but most interestingly, it will do everything the Prado will do but at half the price. At about seven and a half million, its pricing is at par with a large number of entries in this entire list (except the X5... and the Scania), but the interior screams Lexus, and so does the exterior, somewhat, if you think about the LX570, the multimedia infotainment user interface is infinitely more friendly, the vehicle is a lot easier to manoeuvre, extremely capable, has realistic and usable seven-seat practicality and it's so shiny, Like a treasure from a sunken pirate's wreck; Scrub the deck And make it look shiny... It will sparkle like a wealthy woman's neck; Just a sec...
Seriously, the brown metal flake paint on my test car is the stuff wish lists are made of, so in keeping with the Theme Of Shininess, here is something shiny in return to the Toyota Fortuner: The 2018 Motoring Press Agency Car Of The Year Award.
Four years is underestimating the lifespan of a Toyota SUV, the Fortuner may outlive those same children you are markedly not dropping at school, and unlike the Touareg, it is not going to take the food out of their mouths and deplete their college fund.
I know I am asking you to buy a brand new car, and why not? It comes with a warranty, you are sure you are the first owner (some innuendo in the previous correspondence may hint at what I'm driving at), you are promoting the local motoring industry, the seven-seat capacity means you can now drop your kids off at school (my BMW has only a single spare seat - the back seat has the battery and fuse box underneath it and it's loose and wobbly so anybody occupying that seat could easily short the battery and start a fire or inadvertently activate the immobiliser when they sit on a fuse but I still pick my son from school in it) and... and you won't regret it. I promise you.
However, I have to ask: with 100km of city driving... do you really need an SUV?
Thank you for the good insights on Car Clinic, your column has been an eye-opener. I'm looking forward to buying my first car and have, for a long time, been fixated on the Nissan Dualis, but I've been reading and rereading your reviews and I'm having a second thoughts, hence leaning more towards the Mazda Axela. Which one would you advise me to go with? Or is there a better crossover other than the Dualis?
I am glad this column has been useful to you. I have faith that it will continue to be - yea, about that pun: you will be seeing a lot of it shortly.
Now, I could play into misguided stereotyping by people with poor reading comprehension, the calibre of literature-averse individuals who believe Baraza has lost faith (ha!) in the Nissan brand and is out to attack it. I don't dabble in that kind of unproductive nonsense, read their financial reports and you will see the company is in dire straits.
I have not digressed, your faith in me (ha!) is not misplaced, that paragraph has a bearing on what I'm building up towards: the Dualis. Sure, it's a crossover, the hottest and trendiest motor vehicle segment at the moment. Sure, it's Japanese, meaning simplicity, ease of ownership and affordability are par for the course. It makes sense on paper... until you buy one.
Why exactly do you want a Dualis? It's not a class leader on any front. The objective parameters we use to test and review motor vehicles: acceleration, braking, handling, comfort, specification levels, standard safety, advanced safety, controls and displays, fit and finish (build quality), fuel economy, access and accommodation, cargo space, transmission, whatever... the Dualis, a.k.a the Qashqai, does not stand out in any of them. The outlook on subjective parameters, best judged with fellow enthusiasts, doesn't bode well for it either.
Let's not even get to the name: there are two formulas of naming a car. The first is the American method, which is very quickly catching on amongst car makers globally. It uses an alpha-numeric system of nomenclature that makes whoever sounds it out seem like they are referring to a weapons system... or the part number of a computer graphics card. Audi RS6. Mazda CX-5. Scania F310. Cadillac CT-4... that kind of thing.
The second is also the American (and also global) method of giving the vehicle evocative or unsubtle names and titles that sound earth-shattering and inspire emotion: Range Rover Evoque (too easy). Land Rover Defender. Dodge Viper. Ford Raptor. Nissan Patrol. Toyota Landcruiser. Bentley Continental... you follow, right?
So what a "Dualis"? It sounds like a flower, but is it? In the UK (and when it was introduced to this market back when the Nissan brand was under DT Dobie), it was called the Qashqai. Apart from setting my spell-check software on fire, that name sounds like nothing that immediately comes to mind? It's hard to tell what they were going for here, but when the car was launched locally in an embarrassing affair that I did not hesitate to troll the hell out of.
A 2013-2014 Duaqai Qashialis goes for around Sh1.5 or 1.6 million, which is a lot of money. How much is a lot? Enough to get you a Mercedes. Again, I'm not just stating things randomly, there is a method to my madness.
You said you are considering the Axela, which is a saloon car. That means you are cross-shopping across segments. I will not make assumptions that you are open to all segments otherwise I'd suggest a Prado J120 for that money, but it comes with its own set of complications, so I will stick to the two segments you listed. So a Mazda.
But why limit yourself? You can get a Mercedes-Benz for that money, a car that is both objectively and subjectively superior to the Axela. Get a C180, the W204 generation, and enjoy life. In the era of the cand COVID-19 pandemic, never has the slogan “YOLO!” could never have been more pertinent. You only live once. Make it count.
There will be no disregard to the fact that you are a first time car owner, so this is the conundrum. You could get a Dualis which will ease you not-so-gently into the world of motor vehicle ownership (for a gentle deflowering, you are best off in a Toyota).
Or you could get an Axela, which is pretty and nice to drive but you will be scouring for parts like you are searching for a miniature dog in a cluttered house: that is the feedback I get from people out there, though my own ownership of a Mazda was 100 percent painless. To each their own.
Or you could get a Mercedes. It's a freaking Mercedes-Benz, do I need to explain anything? It doesn't even have to be a C Class, you can get a very nice W211 E Klasse for that kind of cabbage but... baby steps.
As a first time car owner, just like the first time in the sack, the introductory experience is everything. The Dualis will lead to disillusionment because it is bland and uninteresting and having been created at a time when Nissan's back was against the wall, it may not be entirely dissimilar to a fumbling lover that has you asking, “Do they even know what they're doing?”. It will take a lot to restore the faith (ha!).
The Mazda is the one with a face and body to die for, and hits all the right spots, but will never buy you anything nice - again based on feedback. The lamentations about availability of spare parts has me trapped between the two worlds I represent in this column: the car owners and drivers who say they have found hen's teeth more frequently than they have found spare parts for the car, and the franchise dealerships who insist they have those parts and can the owners please stop going to Globe Roundabout and its environs to look for things they will never find there?
I don't know who is telling the truth and I have my hands full with road safety and climate change and the Motoring Press Agency, I may not have the inclination to go establishing for myself who stocks Mazda parts, for real.
Or you could get a Benz. There is a whole lot of other cars that you can get for that money but I will stick with the Benz. I have two (both E Klasses, a W210 and a W211), a lady friend has one (the same one that I am asking you to get, the W204), a male friend has one (an E Klasse, W212, the second best E Klasse ever made after the W124) that I recommended and he cannot thank me enough for setting him on the right path, and so enamoured is he with the brand that he wants to get a Mercedes GLS, which is something you buy when your bank balance reads like an electricity token. He may have already acquired the GLS by the time you are reading this.
But you don't need generational wealth or graft money to own a Mercedes. For the price of a Qashqai, you can pay cash and carry a Benz.
Have faith in me (ha!)