What do they say about something that looks too good to be true, that’s because it is too good to be true !.
The ‘deal’ which pulled me and no doubt many other suckers in isn’t a deal at all its just a bit of very smart marketing.
Essentially you can have the vehicle for £147.00 per month so long as you agree to pay the huge residual value, nearly £18k at the end of the 36 month period, its not Personal Finance and you have to buy a car in 2017, by then it will probably be worth less than a second hand settee. Also the dealership we visited will not take your existing vehicle in part-exchange so you need to make a £5000 down payment, now the car will have cost over £27,292, all this for a Vauxhall four seater !. Just to top it off the annual mileage was only 7000 !
The Test Drive
We arranged by email and telephone to take a car out for a long test drive, I wanted to try it out on the motorway and as Sheffield is v1rtually minutes away from the M1 I thought the local Sheffield dealer would be the best place to visit.
Mrs B and me arrived a little late, not that it mattered as no-one had a clue we were coming !. So I wasted some of the idle time asking them to move an ICE car out of the charging bay and attaching our Tekna for a bit of free fuel whilst we waited, and waited and ..eventually someone came free from their busy day and could attend to us. The person who was supposed to be seeing us was taking a day off, the car we were supposed to be driving had been taken home by a rep leaving our man the task of finding another car. The replacement car was a ‘for sale’ new one so no motorway test, the very reason I had come to Sheffield in the first place. I took the car around a half mile circuit which told me very little apart from the fact that it moved from A to B without breaking down. The instrumentation is interesting, if a bit ‘busy’ but the miles left looked to be pretty accurate, unlike the guess-o-meter on the Nissan Leaf range. My thoughts on the car were this. The boot is odd, it seemed smaller than the Leaf’s and without a proper covering so if you were using it for overnight travel or you are a representative then all your goodies in the boot are on full view when you park up. The inside has quite nice leather or leather looking seats but the rest of the finish is a bit plasticy although Mrs B quite liked it. There is a huge rubber skirt on the front of the car and I heard it scrape as we left the forecourt, a bit disconcerting especially as where we live we have massive speed bumps in the access road to our property, I could see this getting ripped off on a weekly basis. The look of the car isn’t bad, bearing in mind we have a Leaf which is just plain ugly so I guess anything would be a distinct improvement !. A real no-no is the electric charging port, it can only take the domestic slow charger so all Dale’s nice fast DC ecotricity chargers are wasted on the Ampera. Overall I guess we could live with the car … so now for the financials …
Ha! yes it is £147.00 plus the £5k + the mandatory residual. So I asked for a Personal Finance Plan as we don’t wish to be stuck with the car in three years time. The car retails at £28,694.99, they only get £4,199.99 off the Government for this vehicle which means the Govt do not class this car as a real EV possibly as its range is so low in EV mode ?. You have to pay a Road Fund License of £55.00 making the on the road price £24,550.00. Putting £3000.00 down as deposit brings the car to a huge £322.35 per month over 24 months leaving a cash whopper balance of £17,125.00 to pay if you wish to keep it. Interesting that they would only PCP it over 24 months, the low Govt grant and the road tax which I did not expect. This was the Ampera Positiv 5 Door, there is another level of vehicle with Bose in-car entertainment etc but we didn’t even ask about that one.
Not a bad bundle if it really was £147.00 per month over 36 months with say 12000 miles per annum then return it for something else. The overall spec is good, it could make a reasonable rep-mobile if the boot had a real cover for your goodies. The lack of a fast charging port is a really serious issue, ditto the low rubber skirt v road bumps the non P/X could just be this particular dealers policy as they seem to ‘stack em high and sell em fast’ so maybe another Vauxhall dealer would be more approachable as most people usually have a car to trade. I was very disappointed with the sharp sales tactics for getting folk in to look at the car, it should be sold on its features and benefits not by this sort of used car salesman approach. Honest solid sales result in customers returning over many years.
So the search continues for a hybrid that we can afford that actually does what it says on the tin ….. without the sale waffle !.