My first thought was the prices were extraordinarily high for 1990. 20 years down the line a Renault Twingo – perhaps the closest thing to a Metro today – costs from £7695 and it’s a massively better car.
According to the automatic inflation generator I found on the web, the Metro would cost £10,000 in today’s money, showing how much the car buyer’s lot has improved over the years. Today’s motors are hugely improved and cheaper in real terms. So I went through the price lists of a UK car magazine dated November 1990, executed the conversions, and found a few surprises.
In 1990 a four door BMW 316i cost £12,950. According to the inflation calculator that’s £22,000 in today’s money, bang on the cost of today’s 318i ES. And today’s 3-er is better made, safer and better equipped.
A 1990 Ford Sierra 1.6 Lx cost £10,380 or £18k today. That’s a touch more than today’s entry-level £17,295 Mondeo Edge. (Interestingly, back then Ford charged almost the same for the entry Sierra as it did for the entry Escort. The same applies to today’s Focus and Mondeo).
By contrast luxury seems to be getting cheaper. The top of BMW’s 1990 range was the 750iL at £57,100, around £97,000 in today’s money. Today’s equivalent is a comparative bargain at £71,495.
Here are a few more interesting comparisons.
An entry-level 1990 Saab 9000 was £21,000 or £36k in 2010 money. A new 9-5 with the same 180bhp (a 1.6T) is £26,695 or £28,495 with a 220bhp 2.0-litre motor.
A Porsche 911 Carrera 2 cost £45,821 in 1990, or £78k in 2010 money. Today’s 3.6 Carrera costs £65k.
A Golf GTi was £12,148 (£21,000) in 1990. Today it costs £24,250. But perhaps that’s not a fair comparison because the original has 112bhp and the new model has 208bhp. Today, £21k gets you a 160bhp Golf GT.
VW’s coupes are more of a bargain. The excellent 112bhp 1.4 TSI Scirocco costs just £18,860. In 1990, the peaky 139bhp Corrado 16v cost £16,991 or a huge £29,000 in real money.
One car that has seen its real price hiked is the Range Rover. In 1990 a V8 Range Rover Vogue cost £32,000 (or £56k today). Today’s V8 (diesel) Vogue starts off at £66,640. That said, of all the cars here, the Rangey has probably made the biggest technological advance.
The lesson seems to be that we are getting much more for less.