GET A LOAD OF THIS

WHY THIS IS PRIME TIME FOR UTE DISCOUNTS

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - JOSHUA DOWLING

This may come as a sur­prise but March is the sec­ond big­gest month of the year for new-car sales af­ter June. As Aus­tralia’s fi­nan­cial year ends, ac­coun­tants across the coun­try tell a lot of busi­nesses -- big and small — to min­imise their tax and buy a new ve­hi­cle. Deal­ers are also keen to close their books on a high note be­fore June 30.

March is big be­cause it’s the end of the Ja­panese fi­nan­cial year. Most cars sold in Aus­tralia wear Ja­panese badges — and when those brands start dis­count­ing so too must every­one else if they want to com­pete.

The big­gest sav­ings are on utes, which are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, be­com­ing fam­ily cars on week­ends af­ter be­ing used as a work­horse dur­ing the week. Here are the best deals.

TOY­OTA HILUX

It’s rare to find a dis­count on Aus­tralia’s top sell­ing car but that’s the case with the HiLux, our favourite ve­hi­cle for the past two years in a row.

It’s no small ges­ture: to clear 2017-built stock (as with most brands, the 2018-built ve­hi­cles haven’t landed yet) the flag­ship HiLux SR5 has lim­boed to $52,990 drive-away with auto, at least $11,000 off the full price when this model was launched in 2015.

This price is also $2000 less than the cheap­est deal the new gen­er­a­tion HiLux SR5 has ever been pre­vi­ously. A dead set bar­gain.

Don’t want one with all the chrome? The HiLux Work­mate dou­ble cab 4WD is a low $42,990 drive-away with auto.

It gets the smaller but still gutsy 2.4 diesel in­stead of the SR and SR5’s 2.8 and has a vinyl floor so you won’t ruin the car­pet with muddy boots. Need some­thing ba­sic? The petrol man­ual two-wheel drive HiLux with a Toy­ota drop-side alu­minium tray is from $22,990 drive-away.

Toy­ota has also sharp­ened the price by a cou­ple of grand on the diesel man­ual twowheel drive with drop-side alu­minium tray, match­ing the price of Isuzu’s cheap­est D-Max work­horse: $26,990 drive-away.

FORD RANGER

The Ranger was the sec­ond-big­gest sell­ing ve­hi­cle out­right in Aus­tralia last year.

How­ever, it gave the HiLux a black eye in the dou­ble-cab 4WD stakes, out­selling the Toy­ota in that par­tic­u­lar cat­e­gory. Discounts are not as gen­er­ous but Ranger prices are bet­ter than they used to be given there is an up­dated model due mid-year.

The Ranger XLT dou­ble cab 4WD is avail­able from $53,990 drive-away as a man­ual, about $6500 off full price.

The “of­fers” sec­tion of the web­site does not list the price of the auto but we’re as­sured it can be had for $2000 more: $55,990 drive-away.

These drive-away prices also in­clude a fiveyear/200,000km war­ranty on Ranger while stocks last.

HOLDEN COL­ORADO

The Col­orado LTZ dou­ble cab 4WD deal isn’t quite as sharp as it was in the fi­nal months of last year.

At the end of 2017 it was $49,990 drive-away with auto and seven year war­ranty. The price is the same this month, but the deal has switched to three years war­ranty and three years free sched­uled ser­vic­ing.

NIS­SAN NAVARA

It’s taken a few years but Nis­san has fi­nally sharp­ened the pen­cil on the Navara. It was try­ing to charge a premium when the Navara didn’t re­ally stack up — even though it looked the busi­ness, it wasn’t as good to drive as its ri­vals, even by ute stan­dards.

Nis­san has slashed prices be­cause it’s sit­ting on a heap of stock and an up­dated model — which prom­ises to drive bet­ter — goes on sale next week. Ru­nout ver­sions of the flag­ship ST-X are $47,490 drive-away with auto, a solid $11,500 off the full re­tail price.

MAZDA BT-50

Mazda, too, is strug­gling to move some metal even though the BT-50 is largely the same as a Ford Ranger un­der­neath. They are made on the same pro­duc­tion line and were jointly de­vel­oped, al­though to be fair Ford has made sig­nif­i­cantly more changes with each up­date.

Me­chan­i­cally, noth­ing has changed on the BT-50 since launch seven years ago.

Which is why the price has been slashed to $47,990 drive-away for the ab­so­lute top of the range model. That’s for a man­ual but we’re told you’ll be able to get at auto at this price — if not a lit­tle bet­ter — given the cryp­tic “2017 plate bonus” on­line, which hints at a fur­ther dis­count.

MITSUBISHI TRITON

The Triton might not be the best look­ing ute in the class, with its prey­ing man­tis stance, but it’s the best value be­low $40,000.

The discounts are al­most non-ex­is­tent be­cause the Triton has been in dis­count mode for the bet­ter part of three years.

How­ever, it’s still good buy­ing if you’re look­ing for a bar­gain: $32,990 drive-away for the base model GLX dou­ble cab 4WD man­ual, and $33,990 for the GLX+ man­ual, which gains al­loy wheels and side steps.

Ask nicely or find a dealer who is sit­ting on too many “pre-re­ported” cars — de­clared as sold to the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries but not yet reg­is­tered let alone in cus­tomer hands — and we’re as­sured you may be able to get an auto for the same price, sav­ing a fur­ther $2000.

ISUZU D-MAX

The D-Max’s trusty 3.0-litre turbo diesel may lack the power out­put of most ri­vals but it has cu­bic ca­pac­ity on its side and has been bor­rowed from one of Isuzu’s trucks.

The D-Max does the ba­sics well at a fair price. Our pick is ei­ther of the mid-range models: the $40,990 drive-away LS-M model on 16-inch al­loys or the $44,990 drive-away LS-U which comes with a bit more fruit.

These prices are for man­ual vari­ants but we’re re­li­ably in­formed by dealer sources that you can get an auto for these prices with­out much arm twist­ing.

VW AMAROK

The pick-up with the most power in the seg­ment — for now — is the Amarok, thanks to a V6 diesel pre­vi­ously found un­der the bon­net of Audi and Porsche SUVs. It is not an out­right sales chal­lenger to the Toy­ota and Ford utes but the Ger­man brand is tak­ing its share of buy­ers in the top end of the mar­ket.

The V6 has lim­boed to $54,990 drive-away with eight-speed auto and con­stant all-wheel drive, about $5000 less than its pre­vi­ous start­ing point. Un­til the end of March, there’s a five-year war­ranty on the Amarok V6 if fi­nanced with VW.

LDV T60

The T60 is the first Chi­nese ute to earn a fives­tar safety rat­ing, is well equipped and is one of the cheap­est brand-new pick-ups on sale, priced from $28,990 to $34,990 drive-away. So it has three out of four key el­e­ments right. It’s worth tak­ing for a test drive — but be sure to pay close at­ten­tion to the en­gine’s power de­liv­ery. The diesel en­gine is un­der­done even by ute stan­dards.

Also take it on a de­cent drive to test it in cor­ners and over bumps. It’s not sup­posed to be a lux­ury car but there’s am­ple room for im­prove­ment by ute stan­dards. It’s been a long time since utes felt like this to drive.

NIS­SAN NAVARA

MAZDA BT-50

FORD RANGER, HOLDEN COL­ORADO, TOY­OTA HILUX

LDV T60

MITSUBISHI TRITON

ISUZU D-MAX

VW AMAROK

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