Bon­sai bar­gains

Prices pruned as Ja­panese fi­nan­cial year ends

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR

THIS may come as a sur­prise. March is the sec­ond big­gest month of the year for new-car sales, as a num­ber of fac­tors cre­ate ideal buy­ing con­di­tions.

Deal­ers are ea­ger to clear the last of the pre­vi­ous year’s stock (2015-built ve­hi­cles are only just be­gin­ning to ar­rive) and March 31 marks the end of the Ja­panese fi­nan­cial year.

This means a big push by six of the top 10 brands to close off their books on a high (their suc­cess is mea­sured on sales re­sults in the 12 months to the end of March, rather than the cal­en­dar year), and their ag­gres­sive dis­count­ing forces the rest of the mar­ket to re­spond, or risk los­ing out.

As al­ways, it pays to know where to look.

“Not all drive-away deals are cre­ated equally,” says a mul­ti­fran­chise dealer with 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence. “Some deals are so sharp we can’t af­ford to throw in floor mats, while oth­ers, say in the $40,000-plus range, might have an­other $1000 or $2000 left in them but we usu­ally use this mar­gin to help some­one out of a trade-in.”

Some brands (such as Subaru and Honda) are of­fer­ing a five-year war­ranty and the prom­ise of “huge fac­tory bonuses” (the name given to hid­den dealer in­cen­tives which cus­tom­ar­ily range from $1000 to $4000).

Other deals have low fi­nance, such as Nis­san’s 1 per cent rate, but th­ese of­ten have short re­pay­ment terms (in this case three years) and oblige cus­tomers to pay full price for the car. That can make the in­di­vid­ual re­pay­ments as high as a nor­mal fi­nance rate on a heav­ily dis­counted car.

But the fi­nal dis­counted prices for most cars on the Nis­san, Honda and Subaru web­sites are not clearly de­fined, which means the deal comes down to your ne­go­ti­at­ing skills. In­evitably some buy­ers will pay Six of the top 10 brands want to close the Ja­panese fi­nan­cial year

on a high more than oth­ers. We pre­fer trans­par­ent drive-away pric­ing in bold type and with no hid­den ex­tras, so you know ex­actly what you’re get­ting.

Some “spe­cial of­fer” drive­away deals don’t amount to much of a dis­count but the prices on the fol­low­ing cars re­ally caught our eye.

SMALL CARS The Suzuki Cele­rio is still Australia’s cheap­est car from a big name brand and it’s a brand­new model: $13,990 drive-away with auto (metal­lic paint adds $475).

One of the few drive-away deals we could find on the

Nis­san web­site is for the Mi­cra hatch­back. It’s in run-out (a facelifted model is due within months) for $12,990 drive-away for man­ual. Auto adds $1500, metal­lic paint $495.

The price for a Toy­ota Yaris man­ual is un­changed from last month ($15,990 drive-away) but the com­pany has fi­nally put the price of the au­to­matic up in lights: $17,990 drive-away (pre­vi­ously the au­to­matic was open to dealer ne­go­ti­a­tion, although Toy­ota Australia told us at the time it could be had for $17,590 drive-away, so be sure to hag­gle). Metal­lic paint adds $450.

The Hyundai i20 may be near­ing the end of its model life but it’s one of the sharpest deals avail­able: $12,990 drive-away for a man­ual three-door (add $2000 for auto and $495 for

metal­lic paint). The Hyundai i20 five-door auto is also a bar­gain, $15,990 drive-away (plus $495 for metal­lic paint).

Need a small car that’s a lit­tle big­ger? The deal of the decade is the Kia Cer­ato auto sedan or hatch from $19,990 drive-away in­clud­ing front and rear park­ing sen­sors, park­ing steer­ing mode and Australia’s long­est new-car war­ranty (seven years/un­lim­ited km). The catch: metal­lic paint is a lit­tle dearer than oth­ers ($520).

FAM­ILY CARS

With a facelifted model around the cor­ner the Toy­ota Camry auto has lim­boed to $26,490 drive-away ($500 less than it was last month, and about $8000 off the RRP) in­clud­ing rear-view cam­era and metal­lic paint. The Camry is also Australia’s cheap­est new car to ser­vice ($560 over three years: $140 ev­ery nine months or 15,000km, whichever comes first). In re­sponse, the Nis­san

Al­tima comes un­der the dis­count knife: $27,990 drive­away with au­to­matic trans­mis­sion (metal­lic paint adds $495). It comes with al­loy wheels (as does the Camry) but the Nis­san lacks a rear-view cam­era. Want more oomph? The

Toy­ota Au­rion V6 auto is sharp buy­ing at $29,990 drive-away in­clud­ing metal­lic paint and costs the same to ser­vice as a Camry.

Con­tem­plate a deal: Hyundai i20, above; Kia Cer­ato, right; Mazda CX-9, be­low; and Ford Kuga, bot­tom Main pic­ture, cover: Thomas Wielecki

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