Friday, October 28, 2005
Ramadhan car shopping
I don't know if it's the case in other countries, but for some reason Ramadhan is THE time to buy a car in Oman. Is it because they feel it's a blessed time of the year to buy a car or or is it just because the dealers keep their best offers till Ramadhan.. who knows. Car dealers go crazy, for example the Toyota dealer is giving away a Corolla a day for the whole month. I never understood the appeal of entering a competition when the price of entry is buying car. Why not give some real value to the buyer instead. I don't want to buy a car to win another car.
Anyhow, towards the end of Ramadhan for the past few years we like to play pretend and go car shopping like all our fellow citizens. Two years ago it was for a 4X4 to be used as a second car. The year before it was for a small econo-compact to use for work. Didn't buy either, but who knows maybe this year will be the one I actually bite the bait and actually buy one.
This year I've been thinking what to do about my car. If I were to sell or trade-in my BMW, I probably can't afford to go for another one- not that I like any of the current BMWs (except for the 6 series). I'd want my next car to have 6 cylinders. It should have good resale value which means I can use it for a few years and then sell it without losing too much value. But at the same time it has to be a trouble free car that's actually fun to drive. I'm surprised by how few the options are.
Basically if you want to a car with a good resale value you have to cross out all non-Japanese cars as well as Japanese cars which are considered by Omanis to be of lower quality or those which the dealer's reputation isn't highly regarded, like Mitsubishi. The options are: Nissan Altima 3.5, Toyota Avalon and Infiniti G35. I crossed out the Camry from the list because they're just too common and way too boring. Slim pickings, eh?
The Nissan Altima is a pretty good deal. It has 250 hp with lots of options. It's supposed to be a fun car to drive. The only downside is that the dealer here doesn't bring it with navigation or a premium sound system. The Toyota Avalon is a bigger car with 280hp. It comes out with all the options except for navigation. Say what you want about the Avalon, it's not a good looking car but it's value for money: It has leather ventilated seats, keyless entry and start, for almost the same price as the Altima. The Infiniti G35 is a smaller car, more the size of a BMW 3 series than a 5 series like the others. It's got plenty of power too, 289hp, and lots of options. Best of all it's rear wheel drive, which is a huge plus. Like the other two, it doesn't have GPS navigation. I guess car dealers in Oman think Omani car buyers are idiots who wouldn't know what to do with GPS.
The price of all three cars is approximately RO. 12000. Amazingly, 7 years ago when I bought my car the price of a BMW 523 was 12000 and a 528 was going for 15,500. Nowadays the only BMW you can get for 12000 is a 1 series.
Note: the pic above is from the basement of the new Toyota showroom which might turn out to be one of the largest showrooms in the world.