Monday, January 17, 2011

The Search for the Perfect Car

So I want to dedicate this post to all those young women out there who are looking into buying a car. Unless you know exactly what you want, this process can be really daunting and confusing. So this is how I did it, I hope it helps you! 

The search for the prefect car was definitely not easy. I needed a car that would be reliable enough for me to mission the pothole-ridden roads of rural Mpumalanga, and that was affordable and economical as I was financing it myself (although my dad did help out with a deposit).

The options seemed endless, and the biggest decision was whether to buy  brand new or used. Eventually, I settled on a brand new car since I expected to be putting quite a lot of mileage on it in the first two years and I really wanted something on motor-plan! Also, you never really know what previous owners have done to the car. Even a year-old Avis car is still a risk (I know people who do wheely's with their rental cars!) I really couldn't stand the thought of being stranded on a lonely Mpumalanga road at night. Roadside assist or no roadside assist!

So once I'd decided on a brand new car, the question was, which one?
My budget was around R150 000. This proved to be a little low, so I restructured my expenses and savings to allow for a more realistic amount of R200 000.  Also, I wanted to buy the car, not lease it, and I plan on trading it in after 2-3 years. So trade-in value and depreciation was definitely a priority.

So here were the options: Polo Vivo, Toyota Auris, Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 and the Honda Jazz.
I visited all the dealerships and test-drove all the cars (save for the Polo which I decided early on to exclude due to it being a high-risk for hi-jackings). I tried to stay away from European makes such as the Renault's and the Peugeots as in SA, the parts for these slightly more exotic models are hard to come by and rather expensive!  And here's what I thought of them:

Toyota Auris: This was a magnificently average car. Its drive was slow and smooth and the car looked as perfectly boring as it was. Apart from that, it was incredibly overpriced and the fact that Toyota's squeaky-clean reputation had recently taken a dive into a smelly pit didn't help much. Compared to its predecessor the Run X, which was really cool, this car was a real drag.

Mazda 2. This was a cute,zippy little car. It won car of the year in 2008 (followed by the Ford Mondeo and Mercedes-Benz C-Class) and I actually liked it quite a lot at first. It looks really great, but is admittedly quite small. The problem is,apart from its good looks, there isn't much else going for this car. Rumors got to me that the car was quite troublesome and gave lots of problems so I decided that it wasn't the car for me.

That left me with my final three choices: the Fiesta, the I20 and the Jazz. In no particular order:

The Ford Fiesta: Now I really liked this car. I liked the drive, I liked the interior, I loved the look. But there was just one thing I really hated: the NAME! Who would call a car a Fiesta? What were they thinking? It dropped the 'cool-factor' of the car quite a few notches, although admittedly, I did start to see these cars everywhere. And yes, they did look super cool! The only troublesome thing was that its profile was very low. On the bumpy Mpumalanga roads, with all the profiles, I didn't think it would do very well...

The Hyundai I 20: From the second I saw this car, I loved it. It was sturdy, reliable and safe. It was economical and affordable. The dealership threw in loads of great extras such as a 5 year/100 000km warranty and a special combo (smash-and-grab windows, paint scratch insurance and dent insurance) for only R100 a month (financed). The car had great resale (book-value after 2-3 years).  To be honest, I was absolutely ready to buy this car. Sure, the drive was a little machine-like, but compared to the pansy-like clutch of the Auris, it was refreshing. The only issue was this: I couldn't get the finance! Due to me not having a credit history to speak of (duh!) the bank declined my request! What?!! I'm a graduate engineer for God's sake! If I cant buy a car of this price, how can anyone? The finance woman at Hyundai told me to go out and buy some clothes on my Edgar's account. It turns out that she was just screamingly useless at her job, which cost her dealership the sale. Sorry for you, Hyundai!

The last dealership I visited was Honda. I went on Xmas eve but they had already closed, so I had to come back after I got my license drama sorted out. See Rhea Gets a Driver's License. Still, this was really strange since the Honda Civic has been my (short-term) dream-car for ages now! (My long term dream car is a Porshe 911) I guess I just wasn't keen on the idea of settling for a Jazz when what I really wanted was a Civic. And the old Jazz was just so small and unappealing (apart from the fact that I was in an accident in one last year) that I was quite put off. But my god, was I wrong!
Honda Civic hatch

The Honda Jazz: This is undeniably a good-looking car. Its classy and much more solid than the (admittedly plastic-like) exterior of the I 20! When I got behind the wheel, I knew that this was different to the other cars I'd seen. Everything about it, the attention to detail, the little things, (10 cup holders is a bit excessive, but is useful!) just put the Jazz a cut above the rest. The most amazing feature by far was the incredibly large boot, still leaving enough space in the backseat. The back seats fold down forwards and backwards at the lightest touch and the clever mechanical designs got my engine revving even before I'd turned on the ignition! Apart from the sexy physique, the resale was about R10 000 above book-value and maintenance wasn't an issue. Even though Honda parts are hard to come by, these cars DO NOT BREAK.

On the test-drive, I fell in love. I must say, a lot had to do with the sale's woman, a wonderful old bird from Rustenburg, complete with BIG hair and RED nails and the sweetest personality! She was just brilliant, and took her time to make my experience with Honda simply fabulous. Everyone in the dealership, from the sale's staff to the finance lady were equipped to help me, a young, female, first-time buyer, buy this car. It was so easy, so fast and when I picked up my car less than a week later (along with a large bouquet of flowers and champaign and gifts from the dealership), I was beamingly happy and very satisfied! I am so in love with my Jazz, its spunky and cute but a real performer when it needs to be (as it proved on the long drive to Steelpoort). In fact, it reminds me a lot of myself!
My Car. This is the exact colour and tint. (without the body-art and the sunroof that is) 

So thats my tale. The car is still awesome, but VERY dirty and every time I want to get it cleaned it rains...:( Sunshine where are you? My Jazzy jazzy jazz needs a make-over!


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Leave a comment and let me know what you think of this post. I love getting feedback from readers!