Ideal time to buy a new car?
MY new car was delivered this week. A Skoda Fabia Wagon since you ask, one with a manual five-speed gearbox and little 66kW 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine under its shapely bonnet. It's the new family workhorse.
I'm nudging 40 and this is only the second new car I've bought, while I've owned 20 or so pre-loved examples in the past two decades. Why? Because the used market has always offered more appealing alternatives.
I'd typically buy a five-year-old prestige or sports car (usually hailing from Germany... sorry granddad), and rejoiced that I was getting the performance and luxury of a much price-depreciated car that had higher spec and better safety features than anything for the same price on the new market.
Well, times have changed. In the past few years especially the advances in technology, safety, weight saving and fuel economy in new cars has been mind-blowing. And thanks to trade agreements, a weak Australian dollar and good old competition (we have a ridiculous number of brands vying for our business) new cars are cheaper than they've ever been, once inflation is considered.
When I bought my last new car - a Suzuki Swift S - it cost me $19,000 drive away.
My new Skoda Fabia Wagon nine years later? $19,300. And I could have got it cheaper ($17,490 drive away) if I wasn't such a big tart and spent extra on metallic paint ($500) and a Travel Pack bringing 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and cruise control ($1300).
How is this bargainous new car pricing even possible? Reasons - some obvious, some less so - are numerous, but as a consumer spending my own hard-earned, who cares? For those, like me, who typically dismiss the idea of buying a new car, it's well worth a look at how the game has moved on. It makes buying new look a lot of sense.
My 2006 Suzuki Swift's fuel economy was 7.0-litres/100km. The new Skoda? 4.8-litres/100km. That makes a mighty difference when you drive as much as I do.
Safety wise the Swift's anti-lock brakes, traction control and six airbags were key selling points back in the day. Today's Skoda adds city emergency brake, fatigue detection, multi-collision brake and rear parking sensors. Appreciated additions now I've two kids in tow.
While the safety stuff offers the most compelling argument for buying a new car, it's the latest generation of infotainment systems which are most visibly attracting.
My '06 Swift could play MP3 CDs - that seemed incredibly advanced at the time - but the new Skoda has SmartLink where my smartphone connects to the car, and via Apple CarPlay and the touchscreen monitor I can swipe through my phone's playlist, and by voice command can make phone calls and send and receive audible text messages. I can access my phone's mapping app too, giving me sat nav through the car's screen.
Shall I go on? There's the safety net of a new car warranty (although Skoda's three-year offer isn't a patch on the likes of Kia's seven-year or Citroen's six-year warranties), while interest rates remain incredibly low.
The last time I wrote an article saying there was no better time for Australians to buy a new car (July of this year) I listened to my own advice and did just that. Don't be afraid to consider it yourself. After all, we probably won't have it this good forever.