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Bumpy roads, impure fuel, traffic jams and hot weather: What's the ideal car for Egypt?

Finding the right vehicle doesn’t seem a big deal but finding a vehicle that adapts well in Egypt is

Mohamed Abdel-Razek , Sunday 4 Feb 2018
traffic jam
File Photo: traffic jam in old Cairo (Reuters)
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Terrain, weather, type of fuel, after sales services, spare parts, aimed market, return on investment… the list keeps going. Writing or talking about the ideal car or the best car to buy is definitely stripped of emotions compared to an individual who is in the process of buying a car that he always dreamed of owning.

It would be difficult for Lewis Hamilton himself, the 2017 Formula One world champion, to persuade someone that his adorable car has many cons. So let’s agree on something: it’s very difficult to convince anyone to change his mind about a car he has already fell in love with.

Mindsets vary when it comes to choosing an ideal car because people have their own needs, and before all else, different background information about cars. Some believe that a car is a type of transport dedicated to carrying occupants from one place to another.

Others believe that a car is a piece of art that deserves appreciation and love. Accordingly, on both banks of the river, the other side doesn’t always have to appear greener, but the river always looks the same. The same thing works for the country or region that you choose to drive your car in.

There are facts that are one way or another visible to car owners, or become visible after they buy the car. Sometimes it may take days to figure out or maybe even years.

You can’t get everything you want in one car easily because there are many factors that you have no control over that play a big role in delivering the package of satisfaction to your doorstep. For example, if you watch a review online of a car you are about to buy, and you end up loving it and decide it’s the car for you, once you get the car, after a couple of weeks of driving you figure out that the review you watched was filmed in Germany, where the roads are perfectly paved like an airport runway.

But you’re actually driving the car in Egypt where the roads are way different, which made you realise the car’s suspension is unforgiving and uncomfortable. Even with all the options that the car carries, plus the good looks, the whole package of satisfaction won’t be delivered.

Then comes another common ditch that many people sometimes can’t avoid falling into: cars that are not meant to operate in certain regions or countries. Yes, it may appear the same car overall with minor changes, but it certainly has had much done to it from the inside to be able to adapt to the weather, types of roads, type of fuel and many other factors.

For example, engines that require a certain quality of fuel -- one of the main problems Egyptian consumers have faced in the past couple of years especially with some cars from Swedish, French and German manufacturers. Engines are jammed and broken down due to bad fuel quality, even while using 95 octane, the best commonly available fuel grade in Egypt.

Air conditioning systems cannot cope with high temperatures, by not performing the job as expected or by breaking down, because most such cars are designed to operate in Europe where temperatures are completely different from those of the Middle East and Africa. In Egypt, it depends where the cars are imported from by car distributors. Is it the right spec for Egypt? Or is it just the right profit margin?

Transmission problems as well have been widespread in past years, with mainly European cars not prepared for hot summer conditions and traffic jams.

These situations require orientation and knowledge from customers to avoid falling into the ditch because this is where all the problems start. A car that gets a bad reputation loses a huge portion of its value, so for the first owner this sounds like a nightmare, having to pay tons of money to get it fixed and selling it, after waiting for long, with a highly depreciated price tag.

Cars with bad after-sales services or unavailable spare parts are another nightmare in Egypt. It may have nothing to do with the car itself. You may watch all the reviews you want, and the car is performing very well in Egypt, but you might later find that the official service centre in the country lacks experienced and qualified personnel, or you might wait for months unable to use your car because there is a spare part that is not available at the dealer. Here the honeymoon ends.

“I don’t believe an expensive quality car deserves to operate in everyday Egyptian conditions,” said Moataz Atef, race car champion and car show TV presenter, who added that road bumps and parking make it difficult to keep your car in good condition. Atef also believes that the most suitable cars in Egypt right now are SUVs and 4X4s for their durability of dealing with harsh terrain and weather conditions.

At the end of the day, the ideal car for Egypt remains debatable but like it or not, there are factors that decide whether this car or that will be reliable and for how long will it be able to keep the smile on your face.

So to do it the easy way, if you’re not that much into cars and you don’t trust the salesman in the showroom, you have to read the specs sheet from the official dealer’s Website. You can send them emails asking questions, and also watch trusted reviews online targeting countries with the same conditions as Egypt. You can find someone who owns the same car and learn from his experience.

And always remember no car is perfect. It’s how much you love it which makes you accept its flaws.

The Lada 4x4 Urban is already available to buy in some countries in the Middle East now with speculations that it will soon hit the Egyptian market in 2018, lets take a look on some of the options the SUV holds.

4WD with manual gearbox, driven by a straight 4 cylinder gasoline engine located in the front that outputs 85hp and 129 pft at 4000rpm, through 5 gears of the MT, reaching 100km/h in 17sec, to a top speed of 142km/h. Fuel consumption is 9.9P/100 combined with tank capacity of 42L. The Urban rests on a front independent suspension with springs and rear coil leaf suspension for durability.

*This story was first published in Al-Ahram Weekly 

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