In June I purchased my first new car (a demo) and it's the first car I've owned in 20 years. The car was needed as I had recently returned to Australia after living in Vancouver, Canada for over a decade. A car is not a necessity in Vancouver with there being a brilliant public transport system, the city is very pedestrian friendly and for the weekends away and Ikea trips there are several car-sharing options (I've driven X3s, Lexus, Prius, Minis and even an Hyundai Nexo, so car-sharing is not just economical, but fun!).
My priority in a new car was safety and fuel efficiency and I had a budget of around $20,000. I was open to a used car but with my desire for safety features and longer warranty, nothing on the market met my needs. I did my research and read all the car reviews, looked at ANCAP ratings and created a spreadsheet of possible options with a points system for a variety of comfort, convenience and safety features.
Cars considered (but ruled out), included the new Corolla Hybrid (boot space), Kia Rio and new Cerato hatches (both lacked features and poor fuel economy), Suzuki Swift (thought a little too 'cheap' feeling), Skoda Fabia/Rapid (lacked safety features), Holden Astra (resale, features for the price), Subaru XV/Impreza (price, fuel economy). I also considered the French trio of small hatches (again a lack of features/safety for the price).
A huge temptation was the new Mazda 3, which at the time was only available as a hatch. Such a lovely interior and a nice drive but with auto and the optional safety pack I was looking at a $30k drive-away price, and there was no way a dealer would knock that down to $25k (although maybe I'd have more luck now...). If there was a new Mazda 2 with Mazda 3 features/quality at reduced prices, that could have been my pick.
Being a first-time car buyer, I have to say I did not enjoy the process. Some salespeople were not interested (wouldn't even offer a test drive), others were too pushy (wouldn't take no for an answer) and others just disorganised (didn't have stock of specific models even when asked in advance). I even tried a broker but they couldn't get me a better price. I can now see the appeal of online, fixed price purchasing.
After the last-minute temptation of a used 2018 Golf Comfortline (matching the Polo for features and improving on some shortfalls, but being less fuel efficient, a little too big for my needs and only having a 3 year warranty) in the end I decided on a Volkswagen Polo Comfortline in white, with the DSG and Drivers Assistance package. As a demo it cost me $23k which was a few grand over my budget, but a combination of fatigue and desperation meant I settled for the car/price.
I definitely wanted the Drivers Assistance Package. The R-Line and Sound & Vision packages had appeal but both packages had downsides (lowered suspension on the R-Line and reduced boot capacity for the S&V). I'm still not sure I made the right decision, but given the extra cost I think I made the right call. I just wish VW would let buyers mix and match the options!
Overall I'm thrilled with my Polo. It's comfy, safe, fuel efficient and fun. With almost 10000km on the clock it is averaging 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres over mostly country driving, using 98 RON. I live on the NSW South Coast and drive mostly along the Princes Highway. The Polo has had no issue keeping up with the 100km/h speed limit and the undulating hills.
As for the DSG, sure it is not perfect but I have no major issues with it. It is a little hesitant at low speeds but I drive fairly sedately and don't try to speed off the line, so it really doesn't matter. If the DSG offers improved fuel efficiency, I'm happy to put up with a less-than-perfect transmission.
The car has had some quality issues - annoying rattles and one air vent not working but these were fixed easily by the dealer. CarPlay has also been temperamental on rare occasions but a software update has since fixed that.
I'm happy with my purchase, and I'm wondering how long my Polo will stay in the family. Once electric cars drop in price, I'll be tempted to make the switch and I seriously doubt my next car will have a combustion engine.
Features I love:
-Auto headlights (but sadly not for high beam)
-Apple CarPlay/media system (it even has a CD player!)
-Engine provides plenty of power on the highway
-Reversing camera is clear and easy to use
-Boot space for a little car
-Side mirrors that fold in when parked
-Adaptive cruise control and speed limit feature
-Steering wheel feel and controls
-Manual handbrake, electric would be so much easier
-Digital display only shows one item at a time, can't view speed and fuel use at the same time
-Headlights just do a basic job, and could be brighter. Fortunately I avoid driving at night
-Seats are comfy but could do with more support
-Speed limiter is great but going downhill it gains too much speed and sets the beeping off, which is too loud and annoying (and no options to adjust the volume)
-Centre console armrest is too low, wish it was attached to the seat or had a riser like other VWs
-Wiper/indicator stalks have rough edges, not sure if this is a common problem or specific to my car
-Adaptive cruise control increments of 10km/h, when 5km/h would be preferred
-Park Assist - I've not had the best experience, and admittedly I need to learn how to use the system better. My parking spot is at the end of a row of bays and pretty narrow, so I was hoping the Park Assist could make it easier to park but as I'm at the end of the row, the system can't identify the spot to park in.
-Digital radio (not a nigh priority for me)
-Auto high beam
-Moon or sunroof
-Heads-up display (not expected at this price, but on the new Mazda 3 it is a lovely feature)
-Rear air vents