IT’S QUITE POS­SI­BLE THAT NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN SO EX­CITED ABOUT BUY­ING A HYUNDAI, WHICH MIGHT BE WHY ALL THE DEAL­ER­SHIP STAFF WERE SMIL­ING GEN­TLY AT ME IN AN “OKAY SIR, JUST CALM DOWN” FASH­ION.

Wheels (Australia) - - In Gear - Corby Stephen

Or they might just grin like that all the time; I’m not sure, be­cause I’d never ac­tu­ally spo­ken to a car dealer be­fore.

Yes, that’s right, de­spite writ­ing about cars for too long to men­tion, I’ve never bought a new one in my life, so the whole thing was a bit like a wine critic ac­tu­ally buy­ing a bot­tle of wine.

Re­cently I’d been pon­der­ing on these pages about buy­ing a mid-life-cri­sis on wheels, but I sim­ply can’t af­ford any of the cars I’d like, which made me look like a sad-face emoti­con. But then my con­stantly cheery ac­coun­tant told me that a jolly, ro­tund, cigar-chomp­ing, and hugely gen­er­ous man called Joe Hockey had de­creed that it would be fi­nan­cially ben­e­fi­cial for me to buy a car.

I can’t re­call much of the con­ver­sa­tion other than the part where he in­sisted I buy my (tiny) busi­ness a com­pany car. And the bit where he said I could only spend $19,999.

This led to an ad­ven­ture on which sud­denly I wasn’t just in­ter­ested in war­ranty, trim lev­els and the re­sale po­ten­tial of au­to­matic vs man­ual gear­boxes; I re­ally cared. I also dis­cov­ered that you can get quite a lot of car for less than $ 20K, and yet at the same time, nowhere near as much as your wife wants.

Be­cause she is more spoiled, in car terms at least, than a Hugh Hefner bunny, my beloved in­sisted on things like sat­nav and leather seats... and a Mazda3.

I wanted the Mazda too, but such a car at such a price was not achiev­able, so I ended up seek­ing an i30 (old model, in run-out mode) with Ap­ple Carplay and cloth in­te­rior. And some­how ended up buy­ing a 2017 model Elantra Ac­tive for $19,990 in­stead; a car that my wife kindly says she “doesn’t hate”.

If you ask me how this hap­pened I could only say I was in some sort of bar­gain-hunt­ing trance, and that ev­ery one of the tiny hairs in my wal­let was stand­ing on end when the young and toothy Hyundai sales­man agreed to the deal. (I also hap­pen to think it’s a more at­trac­tive, less com­mon­place and more prac­ti­cal choice for our small fam­ily, but what would I know?)

I even en­joyed the post-pur­chase part, where they put me in a room and tried to sell me over­priced things I didn’t need, like Per­ma­gard pro­tec­tion and ex­pen­sive win­dow tint­ing. “No, please, tell me more about why the paint on the car you’ve just sold me isn’t very good and needs ex­tra pro­tec­tion!”

I hon­estly can’t tell you how novel the whole ex­pe­ri­ence was, nor how jeal­ous I was of peo­ple who get to do this more than once.

Other than it be­ing an au­to­matic, which younger ver­sions of me swore re­peat­edly I would NEVER buy, I’m hugely happy with my Elantra, so far, and I was quite taken with what my dealer calls the “Mo­ment of Magic”, when they present you with your car, wrapped in a rib­bon.

Driv­ing it home, I couldn’t be­lieve just how much re­tail joy I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, and it was only af­ter park­ing it that I walked past a neigh­bour’s re­cently pur­chased Jaguar F-type and was bog­gled by just how fan­tas­tic a day it must be when you buy some­thing like that; a car you re­ally want. Such a day is still un­likely to ever hap­pen for me, and I know I shouldn’t com­plain be­cause I’m lucky enough to drive great cars, and then give them back. But I have to tell you, all you lucky peo­ple who’ve bought ve­hi­cles that you love, that you dreamed of, I am of­fi­cially in awe of your good for­tune.

The whole car-buy­ing thing was a bit like a wine critic ac­tu­ally buy­ing a bot­tle of wine

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