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Finding the genuinely sharp deals among the hype is not easy at this time of year because everyone is trying to clear last year's stock.
But we've managed to find 10 knock-out deals across the three biggest segments of the passenger-vehicle market: small cars, family cars and SUVs.
A new vehicle may have only been built a few months ago but as far as the dealer is concerned it may as well be a year old – and they want to see the back of it because they are paying interest on the wholesale price of the car each day it sits in the showroom.
The good news is you can capitalise on their eagerness to sell; the savings on last year's models are typically greater than the money you might lose at trade-in time in a few years because you bought a late 2014 car rather than an early 2015 one.
We don't understand the fuss either, especially when in most cases the cars are identical from year to year.
That said, be wary of offers that include free registration and stamp duty but exclude dealer delivery. That component is as negotiable as the price of the car, so haggle hard.
Likewise, low-interest finance offers are often locked into the full price of the car and the repayment terms are too short for many people to afford.
The best buys as far as we are concerned are the drive-away deals with no surprises.
Regardless of what you may be told a car is always judged by its build date. There are some 2014-built but 2015-complied cars around; that simply means the vehicle cleared the equivalent of the customs holding yard in 2015. When you go to trade the car in down the track, it will be judged by its build date, not the compliance date, so don't get bamboozled.
One other important tip: the fineprint "while stock lasts" really does matter this time of year.
Once the 2015-built cars arrive in about March or April, there will be slim pickings among the 2014 clearance stock if the dealers have done their job. Good luck.
The winner of our recent small-car test is good buying at $16,490 drive-away with automatic transmission ($16,990 in Queensland due to a different distributor, so twist an arm). Buyers in other states be warned. In South Australia the dealer is only required to provide three months registration and in West Australia and the Northern Territory the dealer is only required to provide six months registration (all other states must provide a full 12 months registration with new cars). We have been assured by Suzuki that dealers in SA, WA and the NT are given an appropriate bonus to supply a full 12 months rego at no extra charge with the rest of the nation. So don't be bluffed.
The Hyundai i20 is nearing the end of its model cycle with an all-new model due in about 12 months or so. A popular choice among rental fleets, the i20 is a solid performer and the five-year warranty provide peace of mind. The current offer of $16,990 drive-away for a five-door automatic is about $5000 off full price.
The headline price for the Yaris is $15,990 drive-away but that's for the manual. What Toyota's website doesn't tell you is that the automatic (by far the most popular choice) also has the same hidden dealer incentive, which brings the price to $17,600 drive-away, just $1600 more than the manual. The website says there is a $3900 price premium, and two dealers told us over the phone the price gap was $2800 and $2000. Tut-tut. We have a quote in our hand – and Toyota has confirmed – that $17,600 drive-away (plus $450 for metallic paint) is the right price for a Yaris auto so don't pay a dollar more for a 2014 clearance model.
Prefer the security and boot space of a sedan rather than a hatch? The Mitsubishi Mirage automatic is excellent buying at $17,990 drive-away, making it the cheapest sedan in Australia. The ES model is all you need, the LS adds automatic headlights, push-button start, and rain sensing wipers for $1000.
This price is so sharp we had to double check. The Kia Cerato sedan with automatic transmission is the same price as the manual: $19,990 drive-away (metallic paint adds $520). And it comes with an industry-leading seven-year/150,000km warranty which means Kia's historically weak resale values will start to improve because, if you sell your car in a few years, it gives the next owner the balance of the full factory warranty back-up.
It might look like a hatch to us but the Golf is Europe's biggest selling family car. Although VW has crept up prices recently it is still tearing up the price of the base model Golf. Not as sharp as last year's $24,490 deal, it's still good buying at $25,490 drive-away.
Do not adjust your eyes: $26,990 drive-away is not a misprint. This is the most metal for the money in the industry...because Toyota is trying to keep its Altona factory running and there is an updated Camry due in May. It's also one of the cheapest to service, and has bankable resale value.
Yes, Ford does sell a compact SUV and it's a beauty. The updated Kuga Mark II has a 1.5 turbo petrol engine but it has as much grunt as its predecessor yet is super-efficient. The super-sharp $29,990 drive-away offer runs until the end of March.
This is the most metal for the money in the seven-seater SUV class: $39,990 drive-away for a CX-9 is about $8000 off the full RRP. Drives well, airbags cover the third-row seats, rear camera standard, not due to be superseded for 18 months to two years. Good buying.
The Sorento is one of the under-rated SUVs in the seven-seater class. It still feels new even though it's due to be superseded in May, which is why Kia is doing deals on the current model: $39,990 drive-away for the petrol or $43,490 drive-away if you want a diesel. And the seven-year, 150,000km warranty is a winner for you, and whoever you sell the car to in a few years.