TO NEW OR NOT TO NEW?
Basics. You might want a sporty two-seater, but if you have kids and a dog, it’s going to be either impractical or incredibly illegal. Do you really need an SUV when a more efficient and fun-todrive saloon would make just as much sense? We’ve gathers together a few brand-new cars and then gone scouting for something secondhand that’s just
a little bit more interesting for similar money. Our price ranges are verified by De Silva Motor Engineers: with close to 50 years in the trade, they know what they’re talking about.
PORSCHE 718 CAYMAN R S 2 4 – 2 7 M I L L I O N
Porsche enthusiasts across the globe kneeled over when it was announced that the “718” generation of the Cayman and Boxster would be powered by turbo-charged flat-fours. We then went on to breathe a collective sigh of relief after getting behind the wheel and discovering that this was probably the best generation of the Boxster/ Cayman yet. Porsche is notorious for keeping the best bits as pricey optional extras, and there’s no change here. Ignore the fancy paintcodes and shiny wheels if you must, but absolutely spec it with Sportchrono and PASM – they make a world of a difference!
FORD MUSTANG R S 2 1 – 3 0 M I L L I O N
When it comes to road presence, there’s little that can challenge the Mustang. Even in the company of the Cayman, eyes are immediately drawn to what has been cemented as an American icon. Crowdeating jokes aside, the surprise of the Mustang is how refined and dare we say “European” this generation has made itself. The exterior styling is still brash and in-your-face as expected, but the rest of the car has been toned down to suit a more discerning driver, with actual emphasis on handling and not just power. It’s an acquired taste though, and certainly not for shrinking violets. A used early 2.3- litre eco-boost should be had for the lower range Rs20 million, but expect to pay “upper-Cayman” prices for V8s.
Two-door speed demons
When it comes to sports cars, there’s not a great deal of choice in our market – especially as it doesn’t always make sense for an agent to offer a low-volume model to the local market. On the used front, it’s a niche that only a few have been lucky enough to journey down, which in turn, has kept residuals of some of the rarer offerings high. But if you keep an eye out and make the right connections, you might just find something you’re after.
Crossovers or SUVs?…
The crossover bubble doesn’t seem to want to burst, and with the ever-increasing amount of choice, you can get a lifted AWD in pretty much every sector these days. However, look at an older horse from the same stable, and it turns out you can get a lot of car for your money if you’re looking secondhand. It all depends on where those priorities lie…
MITS U B I S H I MONTERO R S 1 0 – 1 6 M I L L I O N
The Eclipse is a surprisingly acceptable thing, but wouldn’t you rather have a PROPER SUV that can actually go off-road, lug tons more stuff and has a lot more presence? In that case, you can’t go wrong with the good old Montero, SriLanka’s favourite SUV. This generation first came around in 2007, which is a lifetime in new-car terms, and in some ways (like the decidedly old-school infotainment), it definitely feels it. Also, it’s a bulky old thing, which you definitely notice when trying to park in tight spaces or thread through our increasingly congested cities.
That bulk, on the other hand, translates to acres of space inside and, despite the size, the Montero is pretty wieldy on the road thanks to unibody construction and independent suspension all round, which also gives it a very comfortable ride. Engine choices are a V6 petrol in 3.0 or (much rarer) 3.8 litre sizes, or fourpot diesels of 2.8 or 3.2 litres. Petrolengined cars tend to have higher specs with leather, etc, but have a fuel consumption of 4km/l in the city against the diesels’ more reasonable 7.8km/l. Reliability is generally good, thanks to old-school mechanicals, and basically anyone with half a brain can figure out how to fix them. Sometimes old school can be a good thing.
Austerity has a new look, and if you’re Mitsubishi, that look appears to be one filled with crossovers and SUVs. Gone are the days where the three diamonds were affixed to fast saloons and genuinely engaging sports cars. By sharing the name of one of Mitsubishi’s most revered coupes, this 1.5-litre crossover SUV irked an entire generation of car lovers, seemingly desecrating Mitsubishi’s sports car history.
But this, so we’re told, is the way to get more people into Mitsubishis. If your average car buyer’s thirst for raised platform hatches says anything, they might just be on to something. In comparison to what’s parked directly across from it, the Eclipse packs a lot of kit, with various sensors and active safety features to keep you and the family safe. It has a great many more airbags than most Monteros do too, and that kind of thing is something that should matter to this segment of buyer. What it lacks is presence, size and off-road ability – all of which are near impossible to find brand new in this price range.
FOR WHATEVER REASON, THE MONTERO’S PRICES DON’T SEEM TO BE ELASTIC. BUT HOW LONG WILL THAT LAST?
FOR WHATEVER REASON, THE MONTERO’S PRICES DON’T SEEM TO BE ELASTIC. BUT HOW LONG WILL THAT LAST?
Luxury on Four Wheels
Nothing says you’ve arrived quite like a Mercedes, especially one with the latest “three-letter” number-plate, hot off the metal press, emblazoned under the grill. Except when you realise that your neighbour’s “plate-envy” will fade in under 3 months. Why not look at something a bit beefier for your money then? Like the big daddy: the S Class…
NEW C- C L A S S R S 1 6 M I L L I O N
USED S – C L A S S R S 1 2 – 1 6 M I L L I O N
For almost the same money as the new C-Class, you could roll around in the preferred choice of the modern dictator. This S-Class has become affordable to buy at prices starting in the Rs12 million range. Packed with everything Mercedes could throw at this flagship car, it really is a steal, but be warned, you will probably spend the savings you make on the new C-Class on fuel and maintenance if you buy a bad one. Dynamic to drive even though it’s the size of your living room, and it’s bound to be comfier than said living room too. The place to be! JS
SRI LANKA PLANS TO EMBRACE EVS. BUT WHERE ARE THE EXTRA MEGAWATTS COMING FROM? AND HOW WILL INFRASTRUCTURE KEEP UP?
MAHINDRA E2O R S 1 . 9 M I L L I O N
Being the first officially supported EV introduced to the local market, it’s a viable option only if you solely reside in the concrete jungle, and don’t care what people think. You can expect a realistic range of around a 100 or so kilometres – especially at the start, as it takes some getting used to its driving dynamics – but once you realisethis is no Tesla and overtaking manoeuvres need to be carefully considered, you can eke another 30ish more k’s, which is plenty for most in the concrete jungle. And it’s the first car to be offered for saleonline too, via Takas. Just don’t hit anything. JD
N I S SA N L E A F R S 1 . 8 – 2 . 6 M I L L I O N
Perhaps the only comparison where the Leaf is ahead for street-cred. The first-generation Nissan Leaf was a revolution in its own right. It was the first real mass-market electric car, which operated and felt just like, well, a car. Shame then, that Nissan since hasn’t been able to capitalise on being one of the first to market. It’s not as slow as you’d think, and in traffic serves as an antidote to the loud madness outside. We’ve seen early 80KW Leafs (or is that Leaves?) advertised for as low as Rs1.8 million, but at that point, expect knackered batteries. Stump up more for a verified, healthy, battery. SS
Save the planet while doing your groceriesThe current darlings of dinner party conversation, proper EVs are being considered by a lot of people these days. The choices are moving on apace (albeit very quietly). Soon to be launched in Sri Lanka are Hyundai’s Kona EV and MG’s eZS, both of which claim 400+ kilometers of range for under Rs7 million. But what if your budget is considerably less than that?
A Dummy’s Guide to Buying a Car Fear not – being utterly flummoxed at this point is natural.
Here’s where you can begin…
+ The safest bet when buying a new car, as you will have peace of mind with manufacturer warranties that typically cover 2-5 years.
+ Certain manufacturers will also sell you certified used vehicles, which have been given a proper once-over and come with their own warranty. A good choice if you can’t afford brand new.
+ Test drives. Take one without fail. The car you pick might tick all the boxes, but it won’t be worth a damn if it’s uncomfortable on the roads you will typically travel.
– You will typically spend more here.
– Wait times for certain models can be longer.
3rd Party Dealer
+ They aren’t limited to a few specific brands of vehicles, giving you a wider range to pick from.
+ Prices are typically a bit cheaper and you are bound to have one in your area as they outnumber main dealers by a considerable amount.
– You won’t get the same support as you would from a main dealer.
– Watch out for some of the smaller dealers as they have been known to partake in shady practices (odometer resetting and the like).
+ A slew of cars ranging from new to crapbox can be found on the interwebs, giving you options for any budget.
+ Cheap. If you get lucky, you might get a proper bargain, especially if the seller is looking to sell quickly (grain of salt here, they could be scams).
+ You can haggle!
– Pictures and whatever images the seller decides to upload are pretty much all you have to go off of. The typical practice, especially when it comes to older cars, is that the images are either blurry or very selective in what they show.
+ Proper bargains are to be had.
+ Not many know they exist in Sri Lanka.
– Third-party dealers typically flock to auction houses, making it difficult to get any vehicle that has any sort of demand in the local market.
– You could buy a proper duffer and be completely stuck with it.