Thursday, December 16, 2010

Step Up to the Plate. Please. Pretty please!

Bavaria Motors and CMC Motors are upping the ante when it comes to executive saloon cars with the introduction in the Kenyan market of the latest generation BMW 5 series and the Jaguar XJ. DT Dobie is not to be left behind. last year it introduced the latest generation C and E series saloons. What is notable though is that the market has not developed to the level where sales of bent eights are routine.

While no none disputes that the bent six is a powerful power plant, it is time that all those members of the Fat Wallet Society started spending their enormous disposable incomes on something with a bit more oomph. The V8 and the V12 versions of these motors tend to be the most sophisticated and come with an array of features that would not be out of place on the deck of the Star Ship Enterprise. But it is the power that comes with an '8 or a '12 that makes them motors to desire. Take, for instance, the BMW M5 or the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. The phrase "with great power comes great responsibility" is apposite for these motors had power plants that would not have been out of place in a long-haul semi. The last generation M5 came with an absolutely mental 5 litre V10 that kept pulling when one had already run out of road. The epic battle of horsepower and top speed waged by the likes of BMW's M division and Benz's AMG are the stuff of legend. Throw in the perennial unknown, the Audi RS4, and it gets interesting in a hurry. The revival of jaguar by their new owners Tata Motors does not seem to have slowed down Jaguar one bit. The XJR promises to bring the battle to the the other three in spades. If only Kenyans spent the way Europeans did.

It is time we started eating our desserts first. A few courageous Kenyans have started buying up venerable motors on the international market. I've seen a Mazda RX8, an Audi TT, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, a third-generation E55 AMG, a Camel Trophy Defender 110, and a smattering of 300Cs. But, where are the 911 Carreras, the '64 Impalas, the '69 Mustang Fastbacks, the Caterham 7s, the Nissan GTRs, the Holden HSVs, or the Wiesmans? All those fat cat CEOs are letting the side down, concentrating almost exclusively on Land Cruiser LX470s, Range Rovers, Range Rover Sports, non-turbo Cayennes, S-Classes, and the ubiquitous Disco 3s and a smattering of 4s. Until the day we grow out of our obsession with the price-at-the-pump, Nairobi's packed roads will be populated by the likes of the Vitzes, the Marches, the Micras, sundry offerings from Korea, and the ever popular white Toyota Corolla now in its gazillionth iteration. And we will be the poorer for it.

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