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Five new cars for Hongkongers with more money than sense

Mercedes-Maybach Cabriolet makes Rolls-Royce Dawn look chunky as BMW M5 and Land Rover Velar seem doomed to underperform in Hong Kong’s traffic

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 2:42pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 6:33pm

Several fast cars have been launched overseas, this week, but few might reach their speed or technical potential in congested Hong Kong.

In 2014, the Hong Kong Government’s Transport Advisory Committee reported that the city’s traffic stop-started at “around 20km/h” on the island; edged at “23.5km/h” in Kowloon; and crawled at “39.9km/h” in the New Territories.

Despite such warnings, Hongkongers still invest in overpriced, overtaxed and overpowered rides. So, here are five cars for Hongkongers with more money than sense.

Watch out for the sixth-generation BMW M5, as it is a technological marvel and really far too big for Hong Kong. The 4.4-litre V8 has a potentially locally unatainable top speed of 302km/h and lots of engine and handling electronics you might play with but never need on Hong Kong’s meagre 2,107km of public roads. Launched in the United States on Monday, the F90 nevertheless gives great “face” to its owner in local BMW circles as it stems from the original E28S of 1984, and the superfast 1998 E39S V8 and the E60 V10 of 2005, all of which burnt rubber in Europe, but were also arguably underused in Hong Kong. The new M5 also gives a Hong Kong owner a 600hp thrust, 40hp bigger than its predecessor, and reaches 96km/h on 19-inch wheels in “a lightning quick” 3.2 seconds. It also vrooms to 200km/h in about 11 seconds, but space for such feats seem increasingly rare here. The new M5 offers new stability with the M-specific and configurable all-wheel-drive system, M xDrive, and is lighter, thanks to a carbon fibre reinforced plastic roof and a weight-optimised exhaust system. Track-tested on the Nurburgring Nordschleife, this wonderful car is doomed to underachieve in tiny Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong auction favourite Aston Martin seems to be teasing mainland Chinese collectors with a broadened bespoke range. It is also building 325 Vanquishes in four variants with Zagato, all of which are based on the Vanquish S and have a 580bhp V12 with a Touchtronic III transmission. Aston Martin talked up this range in Carmel, California last week, revealing that it had sold all 99 of its Vanquish Zagato Coupes; all 99 of its Vanquish Zagato Volante, and all 28 of its Vanquish Zagato Speedsters. However, look out for the “double-bubble” roofed Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake two-seater “conceived as an individual and exceptionally practical GT”, the marque says. The collectible has a powered tailgate, carbon-fibre facia, bronze rotary controls and converstaion-starting “Z” motif upholstery. It’s probably not the best car for local traffic, but the rarity of this model could pay off, eventually.

Hello Mercedes-Maybach, goodbye Rolls-Royce. Hong Kong’s Rolls-Royce devotees might debate this observation, and recall how Goodwood’s Phantom outsold Daimler’s Maybach 62 and 57. Times are changing, however, because Mercedes-Maybach regrouped as Mercedes-Benz’s top brand in 2014, and relaunched the stunning Jessica Rabbit of a car, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, at last year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. On Monday, the marque reaffirmed its claim as the world’s poshest marque when it presented the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet, a 6-metre electric all-wheel drive with a 500km battery range. Packed with Daimler’s best technology, the Cabriolet is a sublime mix of blue-metallic paint, white upholstery, advanced cabin lighting and a subtle use of chrome and shape on beautifully spoked 24-inch wheels. The Cabriolet also has a Hollywood-ready smiley grille and its overall design seems a refreshing return to refined touring after the chunky brashness of the Rolls-Royce Dawn. Built for California, the Cabriolet would be the ultimate Repulse Bay boast if Hong Kong’s roadside pollution didn’t choke the city’s convertible fans.

McLaren Special Operations (MSO) unit last week presented a stunning 720 S in a “Fux Fuchsia” tone with bright white upholstery. The body colour was originally created for US-based philanthropist Michael Fux by Rolls-Royce, “and subsequently redeveloped by MSO”, the marque says. The four-litre V8 720 S tonnes in about three seconds and is also arguably wasted in Hong Kong with a top speed of 341km/h. However, the car and its soon-to-be Mong Kok-replicated colour should get you noticed in 16km/h traffic in Admiralty. If you are thinking of chucking in your job to become a pimp, this could be your starter car.

Land Rover dealer British Motors will unveil the Range Rover Velar at Shaw Studios at Tseung Kwan O on September 8. The event’s a long way out of town for another big, bulbous sport utility vehicle that was intended to “fill the white space between the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport”. The Velar has been well-received overseas, but it retails for £44,830 in Britain and should be suitably expensive after Hong Kong’s first registration tax. However, the Velar is not a top of the range SUV and it is potentially packed with largely useless traction, descent and two-tonne towing technology for Hong Kong. Admittedly, the Velar has an interesting Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with two 10-inch touch screens, but if you don’t need a wading depth of “up to 650mm” or “class-leading ground clearance of up to 251mm”, then you might you might consider ... a car. A 1.4-litre engine is all you need in compact, speed-camera-filled Hong Kong - unless you have money to burn.