Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I have all but given up purchasing a used car. Now my goal is to buy an Opel Astra, perhaps one of the few quality small cars GM produces. This car intrigues because of the fact that it is not sold in the US (but will be soon as a Saturn), and because it is generally considered a high quality German engineered machine. Even though it is produced under the enormous American umbrella that is General Motors, the Opel subsidiary, at least to my knowledge, seems to be a somewhat independent entity.
But I must wait. I have only been working at my company for two months, and another month must pass before I am officially off "probation" and get all the goodies and bonuses that are given when you work for an international conglomerate. GM vehicles at a discount is one of these goodies.
So I am left with the Astra. The Corsa is too dated and too small, the Vectra too big, the Chevrolets too cheap or ugly, the GMCs and other trucks too expensive and vulgar. Astra once again.
The Astra, for those who don't know, is the size of a Golf. It is considered a family car in Europe, and the car of an elf or a western expat in the Middle East. I am an expat.
What is remarkable about the Astra, is that even though it is an extremely popular car in Europe, especially in the UK and Germany, I have to date only seen one in Dubai. Of any model year. In fact I haven't seen many Opels altogether.
Why? The answer probably lies in the fact that the Opel dealership is in Sharjah, the neighboring Emirate (but really almost a continuation of Dubai). Now this worries me. If the car dealership is in Sharjah, will I be charged extra for having the car registered in Dubai, where I live? Hopefully not.
My other big dilemma is the engine size. Is a 1.6 capable of cooling my body and maintaining highway worthy speeds in Dubai? The 2.0 would probably succeed, but insurance is higher, as well as price.
Does anyone know? What should I do? I'd rather have the 1.6, but I'm worried it won't be enough. And the 2.0, while expensive now, would probably be a vehicle I could be happy with for a few years to come as my career progresses and my income grows too. When I'm a big CEO and we have the monthly engine size comparison contest, a 2.0 won't merit as much of a ribbing. I'm taking a five year loan out, so this is important!
I recently sold my VW Bora Sport 1.8T (180ps) for a 2005 Lacetti/Optra 5, and while I'm down roughly 50ps in power, I'm quite happy with the overall package, especially the lighter weight of the vehicle vs. what I was used to. I'm also a tad over 1.91m and fit wonderfully in all seats sans the middle back row.
Technically you'd be getting the drivetrain from an Astra... just the pre-world car Astra.. More of the Opel Kadette MkII/F, though given the durability of such drivetrains, and availability of parts, not to mention the nice Italian designed body (which pretty much all Daewoo's had since the mid eighties), you might find it a bargain.
I chose the Opel Astra over the Optra.
I didn't do the research, and didn't know that the Optra shared so many parts with the Astra, and I find that bit of information interesting.
But I am a little bit of a badge snob, and as you may have read in other entries on my blog, I wanted to buy a GM vehicle because I got a percentage off since I work for a supplier of theirs.
I felt that the Opel was better looking, and again I am a snob. Reviews I had read about the Optra stated that it was competent but bland. I thought the vehicle was completely South Korean, and because of that not as safe or reliable as an Opel. But obviously I'm wrong, so I probably should have test driven it.
But at the end of the day, for many people, including myself, I want to drive a vehicle I find aesthetically pleasing, and I did not find the Optra pleasing and I found the Astra quite striking. But I think your analysis is eye opening.
Think of it like this. Most car buying in the UAE *used* to be done on opinion and visibilty. I.e, if your brother had one, you'd buy the same. Similarly, if you didn't see that many on the roads, they can't have been good, because no one was buying them - boneheaded though this assertion is.
Most people still associate the Chevy brand, for instance, with the Caprice Classic, which had an ironclad image - particularly among Arabs - , and remained very popular even after they ceased importing it. So the booming trade Chevy has with their small cars now, is one part price and other parts folks encouraging their kids to buy one on the strength of the Caprice.
If you buy the Astra, caveat emptor: depreciation will be utterly savage and buyers will be thin on the ground. On the plus side, it's the same as the Vauxhall Astra, which is by all accounts a good little car. Word of advice, go for the 2.0. When the summer gets toasty, you'll need every hp to keep the A/C going.
I think what you are saying is largely correct. Your insight into why these cars do not do well is also interesting, and probably correct as well.
I think I will be hurt in reselling this car, but I have no plans to do so in the near future, and will probably keep the car for four-five years, before moving on.
I bought the 1.8 liter, which is the biggest engine available in the Middle East unless I special order. The a/c is good but if it gets above 45 degrees, then it is only adequate.
Thanks for writing me.
将被节省 ... 只是通过在城市乘公交车往返我储蓄过来 $ 5000/yr 与我的以前的汽车，吉普车切诺基相比。超过 5 年，会是 $ 更不用说会进一步增强我的储蓄的最近的比率远足的 20K。这样除非你是在你的父母的地产上吸的一个浪费的儿子，你的声明是一束公牛。
45mpg 每天是 2 加仑在我的旧车上>与 8 加>仑相>比。那每天是 6 >加仑的一笔>储蓄， 120 加仑每月， 1440 加仑每年或者 5040 美元（根据 3.5 美元/加仑） ... 加上它发表 1/10th CO2。多愚蠢是它不要骑一个，去算进今天和年龄。
4.缺少了解 ... 是真的，实际上我个人这样那样喜欢它我可能享受所有鼓励；税，合伙用车，免费停车米， prius 业主之间的秘密的信号，等等；这样自私地说那我真地在那里在享受在所有气体汽车业主上的所有权那没有一个想法多少我这辆汽车有的嬉戏。我 junked 我的 SL，郊区对我的 Prius ... 你应该也。