PRESTIGE PAINT, BY THE NUMBERS
WHEN it comes to luxury cars, the headline price is increasingly just a tease. At least that was the case when I visited the dealerships of the three popular German brands this week.
I was helping a friend to buy a car. Her budget stretches to the starting price of their most popular models.
There was just one catch — at every dealer. There were none in stock. In fact, representatives for all three brands boasted they never stock the basic models.
Every car we wanted was bundled with “popular options”, which also happened to inflate the price by at least $6000 or roughly 10 per cent of the advertised cost of the car.
You could in theory order a base car but that would require a three-month wait while it is built and shipped.
Just as I was wondering what the consumer watchdog would make of this practice, we got to the price of metallic paint and dealer delivery. Add $1100-$1500 for sparkles in the paint — the same sparkly paint that costs $550 extra on a Holden or Toyota, or is free on most Mazdas.
Dealer delivery — contrary to perception, it does not cover the cost of getting the car to the dealership; that’s covered in the dealer’s invoice from the manufacturer — was $4000.
To put numberplates on the car and remove the protective tape, that seems a bit rich. Especially when you’d be lucky if the car came with a full tank of fuel.
So, as ever, it pays to do your homework online before walking into a showroom.
And if you want to pay close to the attractive RRP of the most affordable model, then be prepared to be patient while they build you one, then ship it.