I drive a 2014 Porsche Cayman, which was a splurge in June 2013 when I had a windfall. I love it but am irritated by the higher cost of oil changes and other maintenance, and now that it is beyond the warranty (I didn’t buy an extended one) there is always the possibility of additional repairs. I am considering trading it in for a new car with a warranty, perhaps the Mercedes CLA250 Coupe, priced at $51,000 plus tax. Are there other cars in that price range which would hold their value better? – Jane
Miranda Lightstone: If being economically sensible is the goal here, then staying away from European makes that inevitably have higher maintenance costs down the road might be the solution for Jane.
Mark Richardson: If it was a less expensive car, the most economical advice is usually to keep what you have. The resale values drop most rapidly in the first few years of ownership. And if it’s leased over a long period of time, say seven or eight years, then it’s always a costly mistake to replace it before at least five or six years. But Jane probably paid cash from her windfall for this Porsche, which changes everything.
Lightstone: You mean because it’s a capital asset, rather than a liability?
Richardson: Yep. Let’s assume it’s paid off. That’s worth $40,000 to $45,000 as a trade-in if it’s a base model. There’s no extended warranty, so it’ll start costing more for maintenance. Jane can take that money and buy another car with a warranty – or she can keep the Cayman and expect it to cost her probably $4,000 a year in devaluation.
Lightstone: That’s a lot.
Richardson: Yes. It may be paid off, but assuming she keeps driving it as she should, it will keep losing value as it ages, which means less to put toward a replacement vehicle.
Lightstone: So, let’s consider the alternatives like the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 that Jane suggests. The CLA actually starts at $35,700. The one in the $50,000 range (a price she’s willing to pay) is the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45. It might not be the most practical with a minuscule backseat and poor visibility, but then Jane is already coming from a two-seater Cayman.
Richardson: Yeah, I’m not sure why Jane thinks a CLA250 will cost $51,000 plus tax. Even after you load it up with options, it comes in around $42,000 before tax. And that car makes 208 horsepower, which will feel sluggish after the 275 horsepower of a base four-year-old Cayman. Maybe you’re right that she’s really thinking of the CLA 45, which is good for 375 horsepower and really ups the ante.
Lightstone: Which is why I like the idea of the CLA 45. However, I’m not a fan of the design and the backseat is rather useless.
Richardson: It’s pretty cramped back there. I really don’t know why makers and buyers bother with such tight rear seats.
Lightstone: If Jane turns her attention to another German manufacturer and considers the BMW M240i, she’ll get the power (a few less than the Merc at 340 horsepower), with a much more usable interior space and better visibility all around. Plus, I prefer the driving dynamics of the six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive Bimmer (which starts at $47,300) over the Merc.
Richardson: That 2 Series is a lovely design, and it’s a gorgeous car to drive. But again, Jane’s getting another car that will become costly to maintain. You said it yourself that she should stay away from European makes.
Lightstone: So what are you thinking?
Richardson: I just drove the Genesis G70. It’s a sporty sedan that’s a little bigger – more 3 Series and C Class – and it handles like a European car. Genesis is the new premium brand of Hyundai and it’s coming in strong on value to pitch its stake here.
Lightstone: And it offers everything all-in, including the scheduled maintenance, right?
Richardson: Yes. As well as the warranty, it includes five years of regular maintenance in the purchase price. It starts at $42,000 for the 2.0-litre, which makes a respectable 252 horsepower. When it needs to go into the shop, you call Genesis and they come to you with a loaner car for the time your car is away, then return it to you, ready to go. All part of the initial purchase price.
Lightstone: That sounds like something Jane would value.
Richardson: It sounds like something I would value.
Lightstone: Getting into your value system would just unravel this entire column, so let’s just agree that Genesis is the way Jane should go when it comes to bang for her buck. There will still be enough power under the hood to satiate her soon-to-be bygone Cayman-driving days.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org.