Car prices going down

Smart shoppers know that the best deals on new cars emerge before and after January 1. In less than a month’s time, anything built in 2011 will be immediately deemed, like, so last year. Literally. That means dealers are become desperate to clear stocks to avoid hanging onto an ‘old’ model.

But what new cars are attracting the biggest discounts? We’ve trawled through dealer ads and special promotions to bring you the keenest deals around, and put a new-car in your driveway for the new year.

Let’s start with the sub-$20K light car class. Although we reckon the Polo 77TSI is the best car in its category, VW are having supply issues so don’t expect major discounts off the $23K driveaway retail price. Our pick is the Ford Fiesta, which in mid-range LX spec (with alloys, cruise and side/curtain airbags) is advertised at one Queensland dealership for $17,785 driveaway. If you can’t stretch to a Fiesta LX, Mazda will give you side/curtains and cruise in the facelifted 2 Neo for $16,490 driveaway.

Step one rung up to the small car class and the choice is again between Volkswagen and Ford. A Golf 77TSI manual advertised for $21,990 driveaway is superb value. If you can’t stretch above $20K, however, we’ve seen the all-new Focus Ambiente advertised for $19,990 driveaway. Especially at these prices, the two Euro-hatches render everything else in the class (Corolla, Cruze, Mazda 3, Lancer) irrelevant.

Don’t be lured by $23,990 driveaway run-out deals on the mid-sized Holden Epica – it was mediocre when it launched four years ago. For the same price, a Skoda Octavia 90TSI rates as both outstanding value and an excellent mid-sized car. Stretch towards $30K, and a Honda Accord Euro manual advertised for $29,990 driveaway, or a packed-to-the-rafters Mazda 6 Touring auto for $31,990 driveaway, are better options again.

Compact SUVs? Difficult to go past the big, honest Mitsubishi Outlander LS for a target-price of $26K driveaway. More inspiring choices will cost you, with the class-leading, and now front-drive Volkswagen Tiguan pushing past thirty-large. A base CR-V for a target price of $27,990 driveaway treads a happy middle ground – it’s better than the Mitsu, not quite as good as the VW.

Big Aussie sixes might lose a bomb in resale value, but there’s no breed of car you’ll get bigger discounts on. Entry-level variants like the Commodore Omega and Falcon XT should be haggled down to around $28K driveaway, while we’ve seen demonstrator Calais and G6E sedans for around $36K on-road.

Some premium brands are also more inclined to haggle than others. We’ve seen an Alfa Romeo 159 – with the new 1.7 turbo – for $42K driveaway. A Volvo S60 T4 should hand you back plenty of change from $50K. Neither will hold their value as well as German, however, so it’s worth stretching to an Audi A4 – just over fifty driveaway is the target for a 1.8T with CVT – or a runout BMW 323i at closer to sixty on-road. Remember: the Germans love exorbitantly-priced options, so stay away from the options list unless the dealer will throw them in for close to nothing.

Other luxe-sports recommendations include the Lexus IS350 (target $60K on-road for a Prestige), Audi TT 2.0 quattro S-tronic (aim: $70K on-road), and Jaguar XF 3.0D (less than six figures driveaway).

Many mediocre models (like the previously mentioned Holden Epica) are soft targets for big discounts, but it’s the excellent models recommended here that also get major cuts that hand buyers a real win-win – top deal, great car.

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