There was a time when the four wheel drive market was restricted to rugged, no-thrills vehicles with little or no creature comforts aimed almost exclusively at outdoor adventurers, hunters and farmers. Not anymore. The Range Rover, Toyota Landcruiser. Mitsubishi Pajero and Nissan Patrol have all brought the four wheel drive market into the realms of luxury motoring. And over the past few years, even more luxurious models have hit the Australian market, with Porsche, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen all introducing their own line of prestige four wheel drive vehicles. Here we look at some of these blueblood four wheel drives.
The BMW X3 and X5
BMW was one of the first of the luxury marques to introduce its version of the off-road vehicle into the Australian market with the X5. The BMW X5 is a stylish four wheel drive vehicle, which is exactly what you’d expect from the German carmaker. While it’s a four wheel drive, BMW doesn’t pretend that this is for the serious off-roader. Instead, they point out its very impressive on-road capabilities including its quick acceleration and smooth ride. The BMW X5 is available in 3 litre petrol and diesel versions, a 4.4 litre, and the top of the line 4.9 litre model. There’s also the smaller and less expensive X3 with a 2.5 litre or 3 litre 5 door wagon. New car prices for the BMW X3 start from around $65,000 while the BMW X5 starts from around $81,000.
If looking for a used car, check for any signs of damage from off-roading. As most are strictly city cars, you’ll be best buying one that has never left the tar. Also, look for a car that still has a warranty, as BMWs can prove expensive to fix.
The M-Class Mercedes Benz
The Mercedes Benz M-Class has been a success story in Australia thanks to its ability both on and off the road. Of course, the prestige of owning a Mercedes Benz also helps with this vehicle’s popularity. The M-Class comes in both petrol and diesel engines. The ML270 CDI Classic turbo diesel has plenty of torque at low revs making it a good proposition for going off road. However, at around $75,000 brand new, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t get too many scratches from overhanging branches. At the other end of the spectrum is the ML55 AMG 5.4 litre five door wagon, which will cost you a little more than $140,000. At this price, you’ll probably want to keep this one firmly on the tar.
If looking for a used car, buy one from 2000 onwards as earlier models had some problems. Also, go for a newer model that is still covered by warranty
For Porsche to jump onto the four wheel drive bandwagon, you know that it must be a market that cannot be ignored. Long regarded as a purebred German sports carmaker, Porsche has produced what is arguably the fastest four wheel drive on Australian roads with the Cayenne. It will comfortably cruise at more than 200 km/h thanks to the 4.5 litre V8 engine. There are two models available: the Cayenne S, priced new at around $137,000 and the Cayenne Turbo which will set you back around $204,000. If you can’t afford this price tag, perhaps look at the VW Touareg.
If the Porsche Cayenne is just a little out of your price range, then perhaps you should consider this VW off-roader. In fact, the Touareg was designed in conjunction with the Cayenne, so there will be more than a few similarities between these two prestige vehicles. The Touareg can also reach the 200 km/h mark on the highway, and it’s off road capabilities are assisted by its electronic traction aids. With plenty of room inside, it can fit three adults across the back seat, the Touareg may just be the right car to impress your friends with in the bush. Prices for new cars range from around $67,000 to $138,000 for the V10 5 litre model. If looking for a good used car, go for a one owner that is still covered by warranty, and check for any off-road damage, although like most of these prestige four wheel drives, most have probably never seen the dirt.
oneowner is an online classified specialist in new and one owner used cars.