New-car sales have recovered faster than expected in the wake of the pandemic – with demand surging in the last two months of 2020 – which has led to severe stock shortages of some models.
After almost a decade of record low prices and sharp drive-away deals the balance of power has shifted in favour of dealers who are scrambling for cars to sell.
However, demand for certain new cars is so strong the waiting list stretches up to 12 months and some buyers are paying well over the odds.
Here are the most difficult new cars to get your hands on right now, no matter how rich you are.
Suzuki Jimny: Six to 12 months
This pint-sized four-wheel-drive is the darling of the moment. The Suzuki Jimny RRP of $25,990 plus on-road costs is just a tease.
Before the pandemic – and travel restrictions forced Aussies to holiday at home – this equated to about $30,000 drive-away, or “in the traffic” as the industry calls it.
But you won’t get anywhere near this price today. The RRP has risen by $1000 to $26,990 plus on-road costs (for a manual) and by the time registration and other fees are calculated you’re looking at about $35,000 drive-away as a best-case scenario.
Some dealers are charging a $3000 delivery fee – or more – because buyers are prepared to pay.
A small number of savvy dealers have even pushed brand-new Suzuki Jimny 4WDs onto their used-car lots and put $42,000 on the window. And people are, incredibly, paying it.
Indeed, some genuine used examples are currently being advertised for more than $40,000 drive-away. That’s nuts. But that’s also because the waiting time stretches between six and 12 months for a new one, depending on which dealer you order the car through and which colour and transmission you want.
This long waiting time is despite the fact that Suzuki Australia has gone above and beyond to secure more cars for our market.
Indeed, last year Suzuki reported a record 2368 examples of the Jimny as sold in 2020, an increase of 70 per cent in an overall car market that had declined by 13.7 per cent.
Our tip: Be patient, shop around, and don’t pay silly money. You may have to pay full price to get in the queue. But paying over-the-odds to jump the queue is a risky move.
The bubble will eventually burst and you will have ended up paying too much for the car. If it’s on finance, you’ll be “upside down” in no time. That is, the car will be worth significantly less than your finance repayments.
Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain: Three to six months
The waiting time varies depending on which dealer you talk to, but based on what we know so far there is a three to six month wait on the top-of-the-range Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain.
Customers who ordered one late last year still have a three-month wait; walk into a dealer today and don't be surprised if the dealer quotes a six-month lead time.
Demand is so strong, Isuzu discreetly increased the price from $58,990 drive-away to $59,990 drive-away – even though the price of cheaper models remained unchanged – and the orders kept coming in.
Be patient, more cars are coming. But dealers aren't likely to be overstocked until the second half of 2021 once the hype subsides.
Toyota GR Yaris: Six months or more
Okay so this one is predictable. The first 1000 examples of the Toyota GR Yaris sold out in seven days and the next 100 cars sold out in one month even after the price went up.
The 200 Rallye editions may as well have evaporated; there were fewer of those allocated to Australia in the initial batch than Toyota has dealers.
Most Toyota dealerships in Australia have an office with a stack of deal folders piled high with GR Yaris orders that will need to be refunded. Feel sorry for the person making the calls as well as those on the end of the phone receiving bad news.
Some customers have decided to wait, others have cut their losses and taken a refund of their deposit.
Barring any cancelled orders, if you put a deposit on a GR Yaris or the Rallye edition today you’re looking at a delivery date in the second half of 2021 at the earliest.
Nissan Patrol: Three months or more
There is a small number of Nissan dealers dotted around the country who were smart and ordered up big late last year. They have a handful of cars between them.
But walk into most Nissan dealers today and order a Patrol and you’re looking at a wait of at least three months.
Sales of the Nissan Patrol went up by 44.5 per cent last year amid a market downturn of 13.7 per cent.
As for the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series, there is limited stock coming but most examples are accounted for and buyers won’t have the luxury of colour and trim options unless they’ve already placed an order.
Production of the 200 Series is poised to end within weeks.
This will likely lead to a longer waiting time for the Nissan Patrol as demand shifts to that model.
The Nissan Patrol will briefly be the only full-size heavy duty 4WD available in this price range until the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series arrives in the second half of this year.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Three to 10 months
Despite Toyota’s significant efforts to reduce waiting times, social media pages still report some customers are waiting up to 10 months.
The good news: most customers are taking delivery of their new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid within three to four months after the company ramped up production.
While customers aren’t paying silly Suzuki Jimny price premiums, most Toyota RAV4 Hybrid models are going out at full tilt and with expensive dealer delivery fees.
Don’t want to pay full price? Don’t worry, the dealer will sell your car to the next person in the queue.
Kia Sorento GT-Line diesel: Three to four months
The Kia Sorento GT-Line diesel is in hot demand, though fortunately most dealers canvassed by CarAdvice are not charging over the odds.
Most showrooms are quoting the current national drive-away offer price of $65,290 (not including metallic paint). If you pay a deposit and order one today at this price, Kia will honour the deal, no matter when it arrives. However, if supply remains restricted, prices could rise later in the year.
Barring any cancelled orders or demo stock, most dealers quoted a delivery time of April or May for a Kia Sorento GT-Line diesel.
Kia is selling on a first-come, first-served basis, so the queues hopefully won't stretch out to 10 months, as is the case with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
Tesla Model 3 Performance: Five to six months
Anyone who ordered a 2021 Tesla Model 3 Performance electric car could be waiting until the middle of the year to take delivery.
Given similar waiting times are being experienced by Tesla customers in the UK, it's understood the delay could be caused by strong demand in the US resulting in right-hand-drive production being paused and/or transferred.