Ms Ang Kaisi, 29, used to share her mother’s Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan when she first got her driving licence.
Thereafter, she shared her partner’s Japanese hatchbacks but realised that she missed the sturdy feel and solid build quality of continental cars. Ms Ang decided to switch back to continental cars and recently bought a 1.2-litre Volkswagen Polo in March.
“This is my first compact continental car and it is one of the few in the market that are within my budget,” says Ms Ang, a corporate sales manager at a relocation services company.
She paid $92,000 (of which $42,000 was for COE) for the Polo. The car comes with Volkswagen’s TSI twincharged technology that boasts performance and reduces fuel consumption, allowing downsizing of engines but not compromising on the driving experience.
The trend of compact continental models on our roads is becoming increasingly popular, as drivers are more willing to pay a premium for the appeal of the badge from a continental brand despite being able to get a bigger car from an Asian brand for the same price.
Just in the first quarter of this year, European car marques have been launching compact models — there was the Audi A1, Citroën C3 and more recently, the Volkswagen Polo GTI.
Mr Declan Lim (right), 30, who bought a Fiat Punto four years ago as his first car, has quite a different rationale for driving continental cars.
Finding Asian cars too common, the sales manager at Mandom Corporation wanted to be different and hence chose a car that is not easily seen on the roads.
“Most of the new Japanese or Korean cars these days come with a lot of new technologies and unique features such as keyless entry and automatic rain wipers that are comparable to continental cars. The key difference is the emotional aspect from the brand heritage that the continental car can give to the driver versus that of a typical Asian car.”
However, the rapid development of technology in continental cars might mean higher aftersales bills due to the complexities of the technologies.
Mr Lim says: “There aren’t a lot of spare parts for my car as it is quite a rare model and so aftersales costs can get quite high at times. Also, there are few third-party workshops that are not familiar with the technology in continental cars and hence can hardly service them.”
*This was first published in The Sunday Times.