When we refer to German car we’re specifically talking about a BMW, a Merc, an Audi or a VW.
The German auto makers enjoy a good reputation based on a uniform brand identity for quality. Basically, instead of getting a reputation for family cars or sports cars etc. they focus first on promoting German Engineering. This gives them the flexibility for each brand of German car maker to claim a specific application of German Engineering like, the best German family car, or the best German daily driver.
Clearly the German car reputation is effective for sales since 30% of all cars sold in 2019 were German cars.
So, what is the German Engineering Brand?
Germany is known for “performance machines” and “muscle cars”. The stereotype is that the cars are built with military precision. But is it really justified, or is it more accurate to say they’re constructed with pragmatic appeal?
What some classify as affordable luxury with a solid reputation, combining the best engineering and the best quality. Others would say, too expensive to be a daily driver, too expensive to maintain as a family car, and chalk full of impractical features. In other words, by prioritizing performance and speed before niche specific objectives, are German cars…over engineered?
Many BMW’s cost $200 dollars for an oil change, and don’t get us started on the tire prices.
Is the German Car Impractical?
Do you really need a German car, something like a Ford Focus is better suited for a daily driver when compared to a BMW. The Dodge Grand Caravan, which is rated as the top two minivans of 2020, sells for thousands less than the Mercedes Sprinter Van. Indeed, by calling German cars a muscle car, it sort of suggests a car only for a bachelor not a family at all. The status symbol of the car only goes so far, you don’t want to pay for the name alone.
However, the consumer needs to decide for themselves if they need a daily driver or a family van with a top speed over 150 that corners like it’s on rales. If money is no object, why not? Unless the reputation is hokum.
Is the German Car Reputation Misleading?
Let’s compare two models that are examples of this dual-design mishmash.
The VW Golf has four cylinders and a top speed of 155 mph. This might be a bit too much for a family hatchback, but it’s a lot of fun.
The BMW Turbo meanwhile is designed to combine a light body with a powerful engine, although its mantra was always about supporting those who love performance. The 2002 model altered the functioning of the suspension.)
The question is, why does it needs the word “Turbo” written backwards on it. It works on an ambulance, so that you can easily identify it in your rearview mirror, but on a car…not so much. You’re really putting all your cards on the table calling it a Turbo. So, the Golf may be preferable for most uses and the turbo is for someone who sports car that looks like a luxury car???
To be fair, there are many other BMW’s to pick from if you require something specific. There are a number of innovative BMWs out there, not just the Turbo and something like a station wagon or a SUV might be preferred? Alternately, you check out a cross over or one of the later “Series” cars such as the Series 6 or 7.
On the topic of Variety and Customization:
If you decide on an Audi you can tailor the seats, upholstery, door finishes and even your dashboard? To play Devil’s Advocate is there a bit too much choice here for most buyers?
Most people are unsure what kind of seating they require, after all. They might be confused as to what twin leather is. (It’s a combo of both leather and artificial fabric). Twin leather is marketed by saying, “people cannot tell the difference,” but you be the judge. The advantages over cotton fabric is its premium feel and being much easier to clean. These options are not uncommon with German cars but the Audi is especially known for its stylish interior.
On the Bright Side:
The German car does hold its value. The sort of person who buys a BMW or a Merc is the type of person who will buy a new one every couple years, so it is not impossible to obtain an affordable German automobile second hand. This could be due to the high performance and the dependability of these models. Still, the price of the oil change is the same on a car you bought used as it was on the one you bought new.
There is a market out there, but it might not be the family market or the practical commuter vehicle.
See also “VW Mondays” Posts on the Kicker.