With a huge range of car cleaning products to choose from, trawling around a motor factors or automotive accessory chain can be a confusing experience. With a large range of well-known brands that brim the shelves, it would appear that there is no more room for yet another car cleaning firm.
Yet, Sonax, the German firm of premium car cleaning products, senses an opportunity. As it takes approximately 60% of its home market, the company is gunning for a slice of the British motorists’ spend and, along with new packaging, comes a range of new products and new prices.
Out of the ten-strong new range, I had the opportunity to treat my own car to a comprehensive exterior valet, using a selection from Sonax’s range, to report back on my findings. I clean my cars regularly but, after covering 1,000 miles over the past week, my everyday car’s finish was looking a little jaded.
After treating the car to an initial dirt-loosening rinse, the required amount of Sonax Deep Gloss Shampoo (£5.99 for a 1.0-litre bottle) was added to a bucket of warm water, via a neat measuring cap, and applied to the car. The product possessed a pleasant odour and was of a strong concentration, judging by the quantity of rich, grime-lifting suds that were produced. Still, the shampoo was moderately effective. Although it was capable of removing the heavy layer of muck from my car’s flanks, it failed to lift the ‘ingrained’ remnants of insects that were splattered on the front bumper and bonnet. However, after allowing the shampoo to soak for ten minutes, some light rubbing with the sponge saw the mortal remains removed. I found this feat to be impressive.
With the car dried, the valet was continued with a coat of Sonax Polishing Wax (£6.99 for 500ml). Naturally, the main purpose of the product is to protect the underlying paintwork from deterioration but past experience shows that it is impossible to evaluate these properties until the wax has been on the vehicle for at least a couple of months. Yet, the residue buffed-off easily and neither marked any black trim nor produced any irritating chalky dust. Despite its competitive price, Sonax lists the product as containing carnauba wax and I expect it to last well.
As with the shampoo, I was impressed with the cleaning ability of Sonax’s Acid-Free Wheel Cleaner. I tried this product on both alloy wheels and plastic wheel trims, both of which were coated in both road grime and brake pad dust. This class of wheel cleaner has to contain heavy-duty ingredients that vary greatly in their efficiency. Sonax’s cleaner not only worked efficiently but it was also not strenuous to use. Unfortunately, the smell of the product does linger, especially if the car is parked in a garage overnight, but that is a minor criticism.
Finally, the Sonax Glass Cleaner (£5.99 for 500ml) worked adequately but I felt that it was not as effective as equivalents, from rival companies. While the product did not required significant buffing and the lingering lemon fragrance was pleasant, I was unconvinced that it was worth the extra cost, when compared to conventional window cleaning sprays.
Overall, I was impressed with the Sonax range sampled; its overall ease of use is a major selling point for most consumers and the quality was high. The ultimate test would be to see if the average motorist would choose Sonax over its better established (and marketed) brands. With, perhaps, the glass cleaner excepted, I would.