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Stabroek News

$80-million ride - Jamaica's most expensive cars
published: Sunday | March 30, 2008

The Audi A8 Security can be yours for $80 million on special order from the Issa Transport Group.

John Myers Jr., Business Reporter

What would you do with $80 million? Most persons would likely invest it, either in real estate or perhaps a business.

But what about spending it all on a car - yes, one car - that offers unsurpassed luxury, elegance, speed and more importantly, high-level security.

The Issa Transport Group (ITG), the local representatives for German automaker Audi, has available the Audi A8 Security for a cool $80 million.

At that price, you could also buy five to eight middle-income homes. But Deborah Stewart, Audi brand and sales manager at ITG, says given its features, the A8 Security was 'reasonably priced'.

The car comes equipped with the most advanced security features and luxury amenities.

None of the A8 Security vehicles has been sold here, but the B6 European ballistic certified vehicle is available on special order. Stewart will willingly take orders.

But what exactly does an $80-million car offer?

'Standard' features

The Audi A8 Security sedan has 'standard' features such as full-cage outer-body armouring certified by the German Federal Police, run-flat tyres, gas tank and battery armouring, double-mirror interior, emergency door exit, silky-soft power-adjustable leather seats, refrigerator, retractable rear-seat tables, heated wind screen, multi-zone climate controls, and a slate of other comfort features.

The car is more than three times as expensive as the nearest luxury rival.

The Mercedes Benz S500 - minus the security armour - was the next priciest luxury ride at $24 million.

Brian Stevenson, managing director of the ITG said the swanky-executive ride is bought by successful businessmen who pay up front with company cheques.

Olive McNaughton, marketing manager at Euro Star, adds that there are some who opt, out of convenience rather than need, to finance their purchases through the banks and use the cash for other purposes.

McNaughton said the vehicle is available by special order.

Various choices

The S500 comes fully equipped with features such as keyless ignition start, premium-leather ventilated massage front seats (rear seats optional), eight-way power-adjustable front seats (rear seats optional), parktronic with rear-view camera, night-view assistant, multizone climate-control system, blind-spot assistance, and 20-inch AMG sport wheels, along with a range of optional features that can be selected by the buyer.

Another German-made driving machine, the BMW 7 series, and new kid on the block, the Audi SUV, come in third on the price list at a million dollars below the S500.

Sales and marketing manager for BMW vehicles at Stewart Motors, the local distributor, said the 2008 BMW 760i would set you back $23 million.

If it is a vehicle with style, power and off-road capability that you require, ITG's Deborah Stewart told Sunday Business that the Audi Q7 4.2 V8 SUV, which has been added to the Audi range this year, can also be had for $23 million, while the A8 sedan and Q7 3.0 V6 SUV sell for a more manageable $14 million and $11 million, respectively, when compared to their high-priced cousins.

Stewart said the customers of Audi were mainly young professionals, company executives and business owners.

"A number of the present customers that we have, have already driven the brand overseas before so it is nothing new to them. It is just a continuation of an experience," said the Audi brand manager.

The sportier BMW M3 can be had for $16 million.

Comfort, off-road traction

However, those with a desire for sophistication and comfort, while not giving up on off-road traction, can go for the British marquee, Land Rover's Range Rover HSE V8, which sells for $15 million-$17 million from local dealer, Kingston Industrial Garage (KIG).

Dawn Green, Land Rover sales and marketing manager, said the Range Rover Sport V6 is a little cheaper at $9 million-$11 million.

American luxury makes such as the Cadillac Escalade and Hummer H2 are sold by GM Challenger for about $14 million.

The hybrid Chevy Tahoe and flex-fuel Avalanche are also available at a more affordable price of $5.7 million and $4.4 million, respectively.

Think of all the luxury vehicles on the world market and you will find that virtually every model is available in Jamaica, an indication of the vibrancy of the luxury-car market.

Healthy market

McNaughton said the market was healthy, with sales rising 30 per cent last year.

Stewart concurred, noting that many of the buyers of luxury vehicles have either driven or have been exposed to the brands in North America and Europe.

"The Jamaican population is actually more educated; they are a lot more exposed," said Stewart.

"We have so many young professionals who have experience in Europe, North America and they have been exposed to these brands."

McNaughton said, however, that the folding of the various alternative investment schemes could put a damper on luxury-car sales this year.

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