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Wednesday, May 29

Seeing Red - Car Purchasing Fun

The dramatic art of this story is non existent. Here's the ending. I bought a car. I bought a VW Passat Estate, a bit like the one pictured. It's red. A large red car like that seems to shout one thing to me: "Oooh, look at me with my big red car", but I can live with that, since it has the body of a skip, but the heart of a boy-racer-mobile.

I guess this is the first true Ash-mobile for nearly six years. An Ash-mobile might be defined as a car that Ashley owns and drives as opposed to a car that I drive but is very much provided on loan, be it permanent or otherwise.

Perhaps the rules for Ash-mobiles are different when you're a teenager, since I'm sure one or more of the cars I borrowed while 17 and 18 were also classifiable as Ash-mobiles. But I digress.

As well as seeing red, quite literally, when I drive my car, I was also beset with a lot of frustration while I was trying to buy a car. It goes a bit like this:

  • Man drives car for all his life since he passes his test
  • Man never really counts the cost, since the bills get paid, and cars cost what they cost
  • Man gets job with company car and fuel card
  • Man never really counts the cost, since it's a fixed tax cost to him
  • Man's job decides to swap car and fuel card for money
  • Man tries to calculate what he can afford to do with that money
And this is where I would have to say a lot of people can just go stick their heads up their arses. Even better, perhaps they can stick their heads up the arse of one of the Daily Mail journalists who consider bullying and race-related polemic to be acceptable - let's kill two birds with one stone. The people who can go Littlejohn themselves and be Phillipsed include:
  • The man at Toyota, the makers of the most fuel-economy focused manufacturers, who told me I should get a hotel room, rather than commute
  • The people at Inchcape VW in Cirencester who decided that finding a car to suit me was below their business objectives
  • The sales person in VW in Reading who took me for a test drive and then never got back to me with any possible car
  • The various people I emailed for quotes, who ignored me, or didn't answer my questions
  • Whichever twat in the government thinks it's reasonable to put tax on tax on tax on fuel (one of those taxes is not real, the other is unreasonable)
Anyway, the bottom line is that I had a lot of sums to do. As a result I've become obsessed with miles per gallon. The easy way to see why is this graph:

On the Y axis you have how much I would spend on fuel over 148000 miles and on the X axis, you have the different MPGs. As you can see, it's a non-linear scale. Every drop in MPG is extremely costly.

When I thought I'd be driving 148000 miles over the next three years, I realised the sad fact that I'd have to get a car that wasn't a gas guzzler. Cars I'd owned in the past were probably doing around 30-something miles per gallon. As it happens, I'd become accustomed to quite nicely efficient diesel TDIs, but that's only a piece of the puzzle.

In addition to fuel, there's the servicing costs, which are multiplied by the mileage to get a total service cost of ownership. Then there's tyre wear and tear, and other replaceables.

On top of that there's depreciation of the vehicle. There's no point in me buying a new car as I'll decimate its value after 2 years.

So I needed a car which wasn't worth a huge amount, and yet had the ability to do decent miles-per-gallon. I also wanted someone to show me the total cost of ownership and perhaps sell me warranty and servicing packages to help.

Not a private sale, then.

It seems like no second-hand car seller, either dealer or independent, wanted to offer this sort of service. It's possible that Carshop might, but I never found a car on their site that met my other criteria. I only really found two helpful sales people. One was the team I bought my Passat from, and the other was a nice chap in Cirencester who really tried to find me a suitable car, but got it down to one. One unsuitable car. The Kia Rio, or to give it its proper title - the Fuckin' Kia Fuckin' Rio. Not impressed.

I just saw a survey that put the Kia Rio 10th in the least customer-appreciated cars on the market. The Passat isn't in the top 10, though its cousin the Passat CC was. In short, you can't really go wrong with a VW, and everyone who thinks a high mileage driver can be fobbed off should go and have a long hard look at themselves.

I for one am happy with my big red boot on wheels. I even get 54MPG+ out of it... if I drive it in a way that might be described as soporifically leisurely. Who's in a rush, though?

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