You would think that every Audi or BMW dealership would be offering the same models, at similar prices, and with consistent quality, this is unfortunately far from the truth. Due to many different types of government restrictions, the automotive market has been turned upside-down in China. Almost all models have been stripped of standard options and refitted with a more economic engine.
If you are looking for a big car in China, be prepared for some extra space under the hood. Models like the A8, that are typically fitted with a V8 4.2, are now being pushed along by a fuel sipping 2 liter turbo. Better for the environment, but you could fit an extra passenger under the hood where the European engine used to be. It is understandable that China has taken steps to minimize pollution, smog is a constant problem and air quality, although getting better, is still causing health issues. The extent to which European cars have modified their original design to meet the demands of the Chinese EPA is astounding.
It doesn’t stop there, build quality and the materials used are just not the same. After test driving and inspecting more than ten of the most common luxury cars in Shanghai, not one of them felt the same as their European counterpart. Yes, they are all a little slower sure to the under-powered engine, but it was something more than that. For example, sitting at an intersection, you can hear the traffic, the people talking on the corner and that fluffy little dog barking down the block. Yes, my windows were up.
The problem is that from the ground up, your Mercedes is a different car. It has a Mercedes emblem and a fancy user interface, but it is missing insulation and sound proofing from front to back, the metal is thinner (like 90’s Subaru thin) and the glass isn’t exactly approved by The DOT. It is a different car, but somehow more expensive than it’s North American or European counterpart.