AN AS­TRA-NOM­I­CAL SAV­ING

Holden tears up vir­tu­ally a quar­ter of the hatch’s re­tail price — if you ask

Herald Sun - Motoring - - MOTORING - JOSHUA DOWLING

Holden has slashed an as­ton­ish­ing $6500 off the As­tra hatch — from $26,500 to $19,990 drive-away with auto — but buy­ers will get the deal only if they ne­go­ti­ate. Holden deal­ers con­firm the record sales re­sult for the As­tra in De­cem­ber was boosted by a hid­den $4000 bonus on cer­tain mod­els.

To hit Holden’s am­bi­tious an­nual sales tar­get — dubbed “fast fin­ish” — deal­ers were re­quired to re­port cars as sold, even if they didn’t have a cus­tomer name on them.

The deal back­fired for Holden be­cause it still fell 5000 cars short — and now deal­ers have too much stock.

Deal­ers es­ti­mate there are more than 1000 As­tra hatches in show­rooms that have been de­clared as sold but are unregistered and un­de­liv­ered.

Th­ese are 2017-built ex­am­ples, even if some deal­ers re­fer to them as “demon­stra­tor mod­els” or “un­driven de­mos”.

The bonus means deal­ers can limbo to as low as $19,990 drive-away for the As­tra R Plus hatch auto with a safety pack that in­cludes au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing and lane keep­ing as­sis­tance — sev­eral Holden dealer sources have con­firmed this and some have even pub­lished th­ese prices on their web­sites.

That’s $6500 off the car’s full re­tail price and $4000 off the cur­rent dis­count deal on the Holden web­site, which also in­cludes three years’ free ser­vic­ing to the end of the month.

“It’s up to the dealer how low they want to go,” says a high rank­ing dealer.

“If we can get close to $24,000 for the car, which is what it says on the web­site, then we will ob­vi­ously try to get that. But in the­ory it’s pos­si­ble to de­liver one for just un­der $20,000 on the road. That’s un­be­liev­able.”

There is one caveat: metal­lic paint adds $550. Deal­ers were sur­prised Holden “ripped up” so much money on the R Plus ver­sion rather than the base model. “That’s a lot of car, that’s the most metal and tech for the money in the mar­ket right now,” an­other dealer says.

The only other small car to match the As­tra on price is the Kia Cer­ato at $19,990 drive-away with auto for hatch or sedan.

How­ever the base Cer­ato lacks the As­tra’s rear view cam­era, emer­gency brak­ing and lane keep­ing as­sis­tance. Most ri­vals such as the Toy­ota Corolla and Mazda3 start at $23,990 drive-away with auto.

Sharp deals apart, the As­tra so far has yet to ig­nite sales, in part be­cause Holden has kept the $4000 fac­tory bonus hid­den from the pub­lic.

Cus­tom­ar­ily, there is be­tween $400 and $1200 profit mar­gin for a dealer to work with in the low $20,000 drive-away range.

“Some deals are so skinny there’s not enough mar­gin in them to in­clude floor mats,” says a dealer, “but if buy­ers shop around I think they will be amazed what they will get an As­tra for. The deal is so good they’ve been snapped up by some of our staff.”

What’s not clear is whether Holden will hon­our the on­line deal for a fur­ther $500 dis­count.

In the “build and price” sec­tion of the Holden web­site, a pop-up says: “sim­ply en­ter your de­tails ... and we’ll email you your dis­count voucher straight away! Of­fer ap­plies on top of the best ne­go­ti­ated dealer price.”

If buy­ers took up that op­tion and Holden hon­oured the deal, a new As­tra would be $19,490 drive-away, or $7000-plus off the full re­tail price.

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