In Summary

Solomon Were quickly noticed that his car would need a lot of maintenance when on a test drive in 2015, its side mirror fell off. However, he says, this did not deter him from buying it

Solomon Were is a proud owner of a 2005 Volkswagen Golf MK5, which he bought in March 2015. While test-driving the car, the side mirror fell off and replacing it cost him Shs100,000. Apart from that, there was a faulty airbag sensor which was rectified as part of routine service. With that experience, Were named his car, Madonna, after the artiste because like her, he calls it material girl.
“Also, like the artiste, it is a timeless car and can have a mind of its own at times. For instance, there was a time she had a problem of rough idling and the mechanics did all they could to fix it but it persisted. Finally, Were read somewhere that the issue could be that he was using adulterated fuel and when he changed, the problem stopped.
“At that point, I knew that it was going to need above average maintenance,” he says.

Were says his car requires minimal maintenance as long as service is done on time.
“The car will remind you when service is due which saves me from forgetting or continually checking on the tag usually put below the steering wheel for mileage. You can also prompt the dashboard to tell you how much time you have left before the next service,” he says.
He adds that service is usually after 3,000 kilometres to 12,000 kilometres or 180 days to 360 days and is also determined by a combination of your driving style and the consumables-oil, fuel you use. It costs him anywhere between Shs200,000 and Shs400,000.

Fuel consumption
“She has a two-litre engine that takes around 50 litres of fuel to fill and that should be enough to cover a distance of 450 kilometres, say Kampala to Mbale and back. That comes down to 9 kilometres per hour,” Were says adding that one’s driving style will also determine consumption. “It also has a display that shows average consumption as you drive allowing you to change style in case your current style is consuming lots of fuel,” he adds.

Were says his Madonna is a comfortable ride. “The chairs are very firm and comfortable that my elderly father always jokes that they are good for his aged back,” he says, adding that they are made of cloth, which is easy to clean. Safety is also paramount with airbags for all occupants.
It is put together well and is very functional with relevant controls within reach. The layout is slightly different from the Japanese setup so it takes some getting used to. For example, Were says, the indicator buttons are on the left side of the steering and not the right side as it is in Japanese made cars. Another difference is that the headlights switch is close to the dashboard and not on the steering wheel.

The overall body has a curvy sleekness to it. However, the ride height is low and this gets challenging on bumpy or rough roads if a driver is careless. To resolve that, Were says bigger profile tyres are the better option as opposed to adjusting ride height with spacers.

Spare parts
“Spare parts will usually cost me twice as much as the Japanese equivalent but will last there to four times as long,” he says. He adds that most spare parts for his car are easy to find but he leaves the sourcing to his mechanic. “I only checks online to get an idea of the prices so that I ensure that I am not cheated,” he says, adding that sometimes they buy the part from Kenya and rarely from Asia or Europe. “However, that is because I prefer new parts to used ones,” he confirms.

Memories with Madonna
“When I bought the car, the air conditioner was not working. We put off the repairs because of the anticipated cost with estimates going above Shs3m,” Were says. The mechanics finally got round to doing the job last year and it took them close to two weeks but they managed to get it to work again.