Last week, well-heeled Malaysians woke up to find that they now have the chance to adorn their marble-floored porches with two rather sumptuous sports cars – the Mercedes-AMG GT S, and/or the Ford Mustang. Thanks to our punitive duty structure, no car sold in Malaysia can be called “cheap”, but between these two fine specimens, one is definitely a bargain, and it may not be the one you think.
Mercedes-AMG GT S
Sometimes, it’s better to let the bald numbers do the talking, so here goes:
Now, for something around the performance ballpark of the AMG GT S, you either fork out close to RM1.5 million (that’s a RM350,000 difference or a new E-Class) for the Porsche 911 Turbo (320hp, 3.8s, 315km/h), or RM1.25 million for an Audi R8 V10 (525hp, 3.6s, 325km/h), which by the way is due to be replaced by the all-new 2015 model.
Since the GT S is already a higher powered variant of the GT range, the RM1.15 million buys you all the specs you’ll ever need; sports exhaust system, electronically controlled rear differential locker, adaptive dampers and those dynamic engine and transmission mounts which are part of the included AMG Dynamic Plus package. One could conceivably indulge in his/her inner-ah beng/ah lian by opting for the Edition 1 package comprising aesthetic bits such as flaps, wings, carbon fibre, stickers and alcantara, we think the GT S looks fine without them. Then again, we don’t have RM1.2 million units of something sitting in an off-shore account, do we?
The price positioning of the Mercedes-AMG GT S in Malaysia appears to confirm the premium that Porsche currently commands over other brands around the world, including the three-pointed star. In the UK, the 911 Turbo is priced 20% higher than the AMG GT S, with the gap widening to 30% in Malaysia. So kudos to Mercedes-Benz Malaysia for keeping their Stuttgart counterpart honest and offering a very sane price for what is their most sought after car at this point in time, even if they don’t really need to. We had a brief ride in it, chauffeured around Sepang circuit by a professional driver who was eager to explore the track limits so to speak. Yes, it went like stink, stopped even faster, sounded a million bucks (as it should) and looked simply sublime in red.
Apparently, existing stocks have already been spoken for, but you can place a booking today and expect your very own Formula 1 safety car to arrive within six to eight months.
Now, this is really interesting – the latest iteration of Ford’s iconic pony car of the 60s and 70s is finally available for right hand drive markets, and that includes Malaysia. While American muscle car followers and local motoring journalists are in raptures after Sime Darby Auto Connection (SDAC) – the official distributors of Ford vehicles in Malaysia – confirmed the Mustang’s availability by opening its order books last week, the indicated prices sent alarm bells ringing.
Let’s put things into context.
BMW 428i Sport
2.0L turbo-charged four-cylinder
0-100km/h: 5.8 seconds
Even if we assume that enthusiasts become brand agnostic (unlikely, but can happen) when it comes the acquisition of sports coupes dripping with emotional appeal, or in the Mustang’s case, a beautifully rendered fastback, the prices put out by Ford is, to say the least, highly optimistic.
Granted that Ford Motor Company has had to invest additional R&D to develop a right hand drive version of the Pony car, it does not even begin to explain why the Mustang is priced at close to RM80,000 more than a BMW 428i coupe (Sport trim), especially when both are fully imported and attract similar duties (the Ford is taxed a slightly higher excise duty bracket of 90% against the BMW at 80% due to its slightly larger engine size; both have an import duty of 30%).
Consider also that in the United Kingdom, the biggest RHD market for the Mustang, prices start at a whisker under £30,000 for the 2.3L EcoBoost, whereas for the 428i Coupe, it starts at £36,500, which means the BMW is priced at a 22% premium over the Ford. But remarkably for Malaysia, the tables are turned – the Mustang is 22% more expensive than the BMW 428i, and 8% more than an Audi A5 2.0 TFSI Quattro. Yes, the weak Ringgit is a factor, but it affects everyone, including the Korean and Japanese brands. So, something doesn’t quite add up.
Having said that, this is not in any way to imply that Ford Motor Company and SDAC are so profit-centric, after all, halo models like the Mustang have different objectives. Furthermore, launching a halo is no less costly and resource-sapping than launching a Ranger or Fiesta that sells in the thousands. The scary part is even if the Mustang were to start at say…a more palatable RM350,000 for the 2.3L EcoBoost (the 5.0L V8 is RM550,000 by the way), the sales numbers would still be modest, but at the very least it gives interested parties fewer reasons to shop German (or worse, parallel imports that could arrive soon after). So the question is: after those who crave for a slice of Americana have had their fixes, would there be more takers at these prices? We will find out when the pony gallops into Ford showrooms this December.