It’s that time of year again, where manufacturers and their dealerships do their best to lure you into the office and sign on the dotted line, with that signature an offer to buy a new car. There’s always savings to be had, especially on vehicles about to be superseded such as the Nissan Dualis but beware, not all vehicles are easily available and think about service costs as well.
Before you go shopping at a dealership, set yourself a list of what you want versus what you need. When, in a previous life, I was a car salesman, I was at one dealership that sold four brands. We would have people come in and ask for a diesel, automatic, people mover and immediately head to a petrol, manual five seater SUV….why? Because it was close to $16000 cheaper, BUT it wasn’t what they asked for. At another dealership I had some potential clients, a family, shopping for a car for mum and dad. The car they were looking at was a small five door hatchback. No problem with that, the problem was that they were morbidly obese and restricted quite severely in their movements. The car they were eyeing off was unsafe and unsuitable. Another thing to think about is the distance you drive and considering most people use their car to drive to and from work, the question will be either petrol or diesel. Diesel certainly has a couple of immediate advantages, being a flat cost (not subject to the price cycle petrol inexplicably has) and economy. However, if you drive short to medium distances constantly, the diesel engine’s particulate filter isn’t brought up to the correct operating temperature and will end up clogged, potentially causing engine damage.
In the city or micro car class there’s a few cars to think about, such as the Mitsubishi Mirage, Suzuki Alto, Nissan Micra or Hyundai’s i20. These cars tend to have small engines, around the 1.2L capacity so can be quite frugal. However, as they’re intended to be used in urban areas, they’re generally not considered ideal for country runs. Another thing to look out for here is the transmission. The Australian obsession with automatics is generally brought up straight away, however most of these kind of cars tend to only come in manual as the torque output makes a traditional auto useless. The growth of CVTs (constant variable transmission) in this class is rising though, allowing more choice. Then there’s the type of fuel they run; the Alto is specified to run only on Premium, which at the peak of a price cycle can make the running costs considerable. For something like the Mirage, which is powered by a three cylinder engine, it comes standard with a five year warranty and requires a dealer service only once a year, saving on costs. And then, like any car, there’s the choice of paint. This is one of my personal bugbears; with so many cars offered in a broad range of colours and having virtually all of them in a metallic paint, it seems ridiculous to ask for an extra few hundred dollars.
When it comes to small cars there’s always plenty to choose from, with the Mazda3 competing against the Toyota Corolla, Kia Cerato, Hyundai i30, Holden Cruze, Toyota Yaris and more. This is where some savings can be found but not, in this case, with the Mazda and Toyota. Why? There relatively new and not readily available, therefore dealers aren’t prepared to negotiate as hard on these volume sellers. Holden’s Cruze is now into its Z Series mode, which hopefully indicates an update isn’t far off as it’s dating badly against better and more value packed opposition.
In the SUV class there’s a car for everyone; Mitsubishi’s Outlander is petrol or diesel or hybrid and comes in five and seven seater configurations. Holden’s aging Captiva is close to the same, with five and seven seats and either petrol or diesel, however the Captiva’s age counts against it. Nissan has the new X-Trail so there’s no doubt a few of the still brand new but superseded version around and Ford has the Kuga, Kia the Sportage (due to be updated soon) and the sister car, Hyundai’s ix35. Kia offers capped price servicing for five years but Hyundai currently offers just three.
In the mid sized category Holden’s Malibu has been struggling against cars such as the Toyota Camry. It’s not a bad drive but hasn’t inspired people to buy it nor is it as fuel efficient. But, as a result, dealers will be more eager to help you into one, as will Private Fleet. The next step up is the Commodore/Aurion/Falcon trio, still exceptionally good cars although the market has shifted towards SUVs. Holden’s decision to drop the pricing on the VF Commodore has helped move plenty of metal however the venerable Falcon should be a consideration as Ford would be willing to sell as many Falcons as possible, especially with the new and, sadly, final model, not far away now. For a bit of a sporting look and feel, the XR6 should be a serious consideration, especially with the automatic being available, if you twist the sales manager’s arm enough, for the same price as the slick shifting manual and there’s capped price servicing to consider.
For the tradies there’s the usual suspects to consider, with the locally made utes due to finish in the next couple of years there’s some good buys out there, plus, in the 4WD style, the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton are due to end their current model cycle very soon, so pricing on them will be sharp. Mitsubishi are doing driveaway pricing on the Triton and a cashback offer, in an effort to entice buyers back to the older chassis. Ford’s Ranger is a cracker and has suffered from a relative lack of supply, but now there’s benefits available for those looking at this Blue Oval ripper. With increased supply and sharper pricing from some competitors some fancy negotiation can help you save some dollars. There’s the Colorado/D-Max twins to consider as well but take them for a drive first and benchmark them against better on-roaders like the Amarok.