The Toyota Dealer – My Review

Posted by Mark

I’ve had my Toyota FJ Cruiser for more than 3 years now and after just completing my 80,000KM service I think I’m in a good position to write a review about my experience with the dealer. My biggest concern when originally getting the FJ was the local dealers success. They sell a ton of cars everyday and I was worried I wouldn’t get any attention or be given any importance as a customer after the sale was completed. I was also concerned because of the amount of cars they sell, a simple oil change might be a very time consuming process. I got those concerns and more answered and they’re in my review below which I’ve divided into 4 parts; the buying experience, the quick service experience, the spare parts/service prices and finally the customer service.

The Buying Experience
This is by the far their weakest aspect. I purchased my FJ from their large showroom in Al-Rai, it’s not a pretty showroom and the cars are just lined up side by side like a supermarket shelf. They seem to have very few salesman and too many customers. I don’t think there is any other dealership in Kuwait that gets as crowded as the Toyota dealership. Not a good starting experience, but everything actually gets a lot better once you do buy a car.

Quick Service
If the buying experience was the weakest aspect, their quick service garages are their strongest. After buying my FJ I was given a list of quick service locations around Kuwait which I could go to to service my car. I found my preferred quick service location and started to pass by over the weekends to get my oil changed and the experience wasn’t that great since there would always be a long line. Then I found out that my quick service garage would actually stay open till 9PM and that’s when things became so much better. I just started passing by in the middle of the week during the evenings and the quick service garage would be completely empty. Actually, even if you pass by during the day in the middle of the week there would probably be just one car ahead of you, super convenient.

Spare Parts / Service Prices
I just performed my 80,000KM service which according to the service employee is the most expensive service for my car. I paid KD200 and that price included changing front and rear brake pads. A regular oil change also costs me I think like KD11 (my FJ takes 7 liters of oil). I had also purchased a discounted service package right after buying the car which lasted me till 60,000KM. Basically if the total amount of services was going to cost me say KD450 over the years, they offered me to pay around KD250 in advance and all my services would be covered till 60,000. They even offered me another discounted package when that had expired but I decided not to take it since I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep my FJ for another 3 years.

Customer Service
I love the customer service at Toyota from small things like getting a phone call to remind me about my car services to more complicated things like customer treatment. I actually had a really good experience with one of their employees just last week which is what actually led me to wanting to write this whole review. I won’t go into details because it’s a bit complicated to explain the whole scenario, but basically the service advisor called me and told me my car would be ready at 1PM the following day. I tried to push for the car to be done by 12PM since I had a meeting at 2PM and the service advisor said he would try his best. Next day I headed to Avenues which is near my service center to kill some time. 12:45PM the service advisor calls me to tell me my car is done but I would have to pass by after 2PM to pick it up because they have to wash it and the service center closes between 1 and 2PM for lunch. I got super pissed and told him how he had promised me to have the car done at 1PM even though I was pushing for 12. I also told him he should have told me they had a lunch break from 1 to 2PM since I could have been at the service center before 1PM to wait for my car to be ready. I told him I was at the Avenues now and would need more than 15 minutes to get to my car and then to get to the service center. He told me not to worry and that he wouldn’t go on his lunch break and I could come by between 1 and 2PM to pick up the car but that it wouldn’t be washed (which wasn’t an issue at all for me). So I got there around 1:15PM and the employee was extremely professional with me. Even though everyone else was on a lunch break, he got all my paperwork signed and walked me himself to the cashier and the collection point and then even brought up my car from the garages basement himself. I told him I was really impressed at how professional he was and loved how he managed to keep his composure while I was blowing up on him on the phone (I can be a dick when I’m pissed). I was really impressed and I don’t get impressed.

At first I thought I would email the dealer my feedback on my experience but then I was like you know what, it’s been three years of great service and people generally tend to write about stuff when things go wrong (like me with my bank last week). So I figured I would take the time and write up a review about my positive experience with a company in Kuwait. If you’re considering getting a car from Toyota, you should know you’re also probably getting the best after sales service as well.


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Stones everywhere

Posted by Mark

Those white decorative stones that have started appearing around various streets in Kuwait… yeah they’re not the best idea in the world.


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Strange bus accident

Posted by Mark

Not sure when this took place but according to the guy in the video, the bus lost control and slammed into a parked red car before coming to a stop just outside the Centro Electronics store in Kuwait City. [YouTube]


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Guess the car

Posted by Mark

This horrific accident took place in Sulaibikhat. If you want to know what the car was check the comments below.


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Kuwaiti comes first in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

Posted by Mark

Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani secured his first race win in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in race two of round two at Dubai Autodrome on Friday, in what was the closest contest of the series’ fifth season so far.

Starting from pole on the 16-car grid, Ashkanani led throughout and took the flag despite immense pressure from reigning champion Clemens Schmid. Al Nabooda Racing’s Schmid almost snatched victory on the final lap, but the Kuwaiti kept his cool to cross the line first. [Article]

If guys are winning without a race track in Kuwait, imagine how much better and much more drivers we would have if we did have a track.

Note: That’s Askhaknani’s car on the left. Download the wallpaper sized version of the photo [Here]


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Calls to revive Kuwait s motorsports racetrack

Posted by Mark

Kuwait was the first Gulf country to grow a motor racing industry. But it lost out and these days, Bahrain and the UAE host prestigious Formula One races while the last proper track in Kuwait closed a few years ago.

Kuwait actually has a motor racing heritage dating back to 1964 not 74 (like mentioned in the news report) if you consider the Ahmadi karting track. [YouTube]


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GulfRun Karting Endurance Race 3

Posted by Mark

karting

The GulfRun team are holding their third 24 Hours Karting Endurance Race this weekend. This year the race is taking place at the newly opened SIRBB Circuit in Shuwaikh and will follow international regulations from start to finish. Tonight is the practice race which will be held alongside the Shakshooka Market and tomorrow starting at 4PM will be the beginning of the 24 hour race. 18 teams are participating in total so pass by and check them out.

For the full details on this event, check out their website [Here]


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The Mercedes G63 AMG

Posted by Mark

From all the cars I’ve ever driven and reviewed I don’t think I’ve ever had so much mixed emotions about a car over a three day period as I did with the G63. When I first picked up the car I remember sitting in it and trying to adjust the seating position and getting really pissed off since I couldn’t find my perfect position. I could barely see out of the rear window, the steering was really heavy and overall I was so disappointed because I had hyped up the car in my head for such a long time that when I finally sat in it I was like really? This is it? Oh but how quickly my feelings changed over the following days.

The first day after I drove the car out of the dealership lot I really didn’t like it. Yes I thought it looked gorgeous and the interior was crammed with S-Class features like electronically folding out tables for the back seats but the G63 felt heavy and cramped. By the second day the car started growing on me and by the third day I didn’t want to give it back. When I finally did return it to the dealership and I got back into my SUV did I really start to appreciate the G63 for what it is. A beast.

The G-Class has pretty much looked the same since the 70s, it is to Mercedes what the Defender is to Land Rover except in the case of Mercedes, the engineers worked overtime to cram as much technological features into it as they could. You could really tell the designers struggled to keep up with the engineers since the front screen looked like it was mounted on the dashboard after the car was completed and the same with the two screens behind the front seats. But really other than the screens they somehow managed to cram all the other features into the car without them looking out of place. It’s really an impressive feat because the G-Class isn’t as big a car as you think it is. The car isn’t that wide and it’s also not that long with just two rows of seats and a nice but not over sized booth. The dashboard is one of the slimmest I’ve encountered which again makes me appreciate the work the engineers and the designers put into the car and how they were able maximize the small space they had to work with.

Before picking up cars to review I usually start brainstorming in my head where and how I would shoot the car. The reason I don’t review that many cars is that it’s not easy to think of new locations and new styles for the shots so I tend to review only the cars I really want to drive. With the G63 I started brainstorming ideas but only once I started driving it and I stepped on the gas did I realize what I wanted to do with the shots. The G63 to me is like Walter White, a normal and boring school teacher on the outside but a dark and sinister meth lord on the inside which is why I went with this dark black and white style for the photos. The G63 looks like a brick but comes with a 544hp V8 engine that grunts like an American muscle car that just ate the white Corolla that was in front of you a minute ago.

The power the car has is over the top, you don’t really need a 544hp engine in the G-Class. Usually I’m pro more power but in this case I was thinking I have all this power but I don’t think I could ever use it since I didn’t feel confident enough to do so. But as I started getting used to the car and gaining more confidence in its handling and braking abilities I didn’t want less power I actually wanted more (and that comes in the form of the G65 V12). The G63 is just incredible at overtaking and the sound it makes just catches all the drivers around me off guard. The G63′s brakes are some of the best I’ve ever experienced in an SUV and the steering which felt heavy at first started feeling a lot better at high speeds. I still think the steering is too heavy for day to day city use but once you’re out on the highway the feel is completely different.

I dropped off the car and got back into mine and right away I realized how much I was going to miss the G63. With all the issues I had with the car they were ones I was easily able to get used to or cast aside. The only issue I probably wouldn’t be able to get over is the price point. The G63 starts at KD46,000 with the model I drove costing KD51,000. At that price point your options are pretty much wide open and that leaves the G63 in a pretty difficult position. On the other hand what this price point allows the G63 to be is exclusive and in Kuwait, where every other person seems to have a Porsche thats not an easy thing to achieve.

For more information on the G63 check out this [Link]


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Red Bull Car Park Drift 2013

Posted by Mark

Red Bull just uploaded a video of their Car Park Drift event which took place in Kuwait last month. Two of the winners were eventually flown to Dubai to compete against other winners from the region. A drifter from Lebanon ended up winning the event a few days ago. [YouTube]


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The story of the Rolls Royce taxi

Posted by Mark

I don’t remember exactly when I heard this story for the very first time and there are different variations but the one I remember went something like this:

Supposedly a man who wasn’t dressed well walked into the Rolls Royce dealer and was checking out the cars. The man asked the salesman how much the car cost and the salesman replied you wouldn’t be able to afford it. The man upset left the dealership and came back another day, purchased the Rolls Royce, had it painted orange and turned it into a taxi cab.

I always thought it was just a myth but I got the photograph above today on Whatsapp and turns out the story did happen although not like the one I had heard. The story apparently is that the local dealerships were at a car show in Geneva and the Rolls Royce dealer teased the Buick dealer telling him that he was practically selling taxis. The Buick dealer got bothered and bought the Rolls Royce and turned it into a taxi to piss him off.


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