As sales tank, car brands are throwing money at dealers to sharpen their offers. Now's a good time to go kick some tyres - if you have the means
New vehicle sales in Australia have been receding for 11 successive months – compared to the corresponding month in the previous year – which after four years of sales records tumbling has come as a bit of a shock to the system.
Headwinds like the overall slowing economy, weak house prices in NSW and Victoria, looming finance sector reform, the drought, and of course the imminent federal election are all playing funny buggers.
However, given every car brand in Australia reports to an overseas headquarters impatient for growth, you can be sure franchise dealers across the land will be offering razor-sharp deals to move stock and stimulate the market.
On top of this fact, March is the end of the Japanese financial year, and Japan is our biggest source of cars. So expect brands from this country (Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Honda) to be particularly aggressive with their deals.
While Australia has around 65 car companies, an atypically competitive space given overall annual sales hover between 1.1 and 1.2 million units, the top 10 sellers own combined market share of 76.8 per cent this year.
With this in mind it’s easy to justify honing in on these, and flagging some deals that each is offering nationwide during March. Naturally, check in with various dealers near you, because these national campaigns serve as a baseline.
As a side note, it’s pretty telling that every top 10 brand has a dedicated ‘Offers’ page. So much for brand-building! This piece isn’t about marketing, it’s just showing you what kind of deals to expect. We advise you to haggle harder from this starting point.
If you want a cheap, no-frills SUV, you could do worse than buying a runout RAV4 before the new one comes. Toyota has added a heap of equipment lately, with even the base GX getting autonomous emergency braking, factory satellite-navigation and LED headlights.
If you buy one of these 2018-plate cars, you’re eligible for a 2.9 per cent comparison rate over a five-year loan, backed by Toyota finance. The policy also applies to MY18 Klugers, as well as some dealer demos. Cheap family wheels, anyone?
Even Mazda, often reticent to discount anything other than the BT-50, is doing deals. The ones that look the best are on the soon-to-be-replaced Mazda 3, which is about to be replaced by a pricier and more upmarket new generation.
That means 2018 runout models are going for $21,490 drive-away in either body style, while the SP25 GT upper-grade model is $29,990. There are also drive-away deals on CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9 – nothing drastically cheap, but certainly cheaper than usual.
The whole Mitsubishi range is on sale, which is common for the brand. Small wonder it’s one of very few showing growth at the moment.
A few deals stand out: MY19 Eclipse Cross ES auto for $29,990 drive-away, and MY19 Outlander ES seven-seater auto for $30,990 drive-away are two, since both also come seven-year warranties, two years free servicing and $1000 of free accessories. Yeesh.
Hyundai is off to a bit of a slow start this year, so it’s no surprise there are deals. Hyundai is doing drive-away offers and throwing in discounts off the advertised price of between $1000 and $3000 (called Factory Bonuses), and offering tens of thousands of Virgin Velocity points.
The Kona Go costs $25,990 drive-away with $1000 cash back or 80,000 Velocity points, a Tucson Go is $27,990 and a Tucson Active X $30,990, both with a $1500 cash back bonus and 100,000 points, while an i30 Go is $20,990 with $1000 cash back, making it $19,990.
Two that stand out are are MY18 zero kilometre versions of the underrated Escape SUV: a trend front-wheel drive automatic for $32,990 and the ST-Line 2.0 EcoBoost auto AWD $39,490. Of course, there are Ranger deals, with the 4x4 dual-cab XLS there for $41,990 and the XLT at $50,990.
Do you have an ABN? Then you can have any Stinger or Carnival at a zero per cent comparison rate, if you’re willing to pay it off within three years and lay down a 30 per cent deposit. Everyone else gets a still-good 2.7 per cent rate.
A few other deals that grab us are the MY19 Sportage ‘AO’ with 18-inch wheels, AEB and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto at $30,990 with a 2.7 per cent rate, and the bigger Sorento ‘AO’ seven-seater for $43,990 (petrol) or $46,490 (diesel).
Thus a $25,990 Golf 110TSI will cost you 36 payments of $443.86, with a $11,136 final payment (either pay it out or trade the car), taking the total spend to $27,114.93. If you are relying on finance, this is quite reasonable.
Nissan is clearly gearing up for a big month. You can get into a Qashqai from $26,490 drive-away ($27,990 with a free $1500 Eftpos card), the volume-selling X-Trail ST auto for $30,490 on the same basis, and a Pathfinder seven-seater in ST form for under $40k.
The Navara SL 4x4 twin-turbo in Silverline form with alloy wheels and sports bar is $37,990 if you’ve an ABN, plus another $2500 for the seven-speed auto.
The offers page here is a little sparse, though there are a trio of deals that look alright. All are drive-away prices, and all get a seven-year warranty with no distance limit and full roadside assist for the term thrown in.
It’s no secret that Holden’s sales are falling at a rate of knots. It now considers itself a challenger brand, sitting 10th overall in a market where it was once the outright leader. Ergo, deals! Frankly, you’ll get discounts on everything. But what stands out?
Technically, there’s the MY19 Trax LT auto at $25,990, the MY19 Astra R hatch for $20,990, the MY18 Commodore LT turbo liftback for $33,990 (including the $2000 cash back added in) and a flagship Colorado LTZ 4x4 auto for $49,990. But we are highly confident you’ll do even better, based on the classifieds...
All of these deals were active when the piece was written, and serve as a good clarifier of what you should be paying as a maximum. It's a good guide, and intended as such.