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Brands cut price, add spec

The Suzuki Alto now breaks the $12,000 price barrier with the GL manual now $11,790, a $700 reduction.

As importers rush to slashed prices and pass on the 5 per cent import tariff drop others are putting more equipment into their cars.  Buyers can save as little as a few hundred dollars on a popular hatch or as much as $5500 on some four-wheel drives because of the tariff drop.

Leather, electronic stability control and curtain airbags - previously options on many cars - are now becoming more widespread.  Suzuki is leading the way with a new price benchmark for its Alto and Swift.

The Alto now breaks the $12,000 price barrier with the GL manual now $11,790, a $700 reduction.  However, but for this month it is available for $12,490 driveaway.  The GLX is $12,490, $2000 less than when it first went on sale last year.It is available for $12,990 driveaway and comes with anti-skid brakes, electronic stability control, six airbags and alloys and driving lights.  "Let's see the Koreans match that," Suzuki Australia general manager, Tony Devers, says.

The entry Swift now starts at $16,290, $500 less than it was last year. A Swift automatic is $17,990.  Joining Suzuki are Peugeot and Chrysler, while Subaru has opted for a driveaway price for its Impreza R sedan.  Before the recent limited driveaway offer, the Impreza R's price varied between $26,400 and $27,164 nationally.  The new price is $24,990.

Subaru Australia managing director, Nick Senior, says the company is applying the Federal Government's duty reduction in two ways. "Via increased equipment and specification levels on our newest models, including Liberty and Outback, and through tactical driveaway pricing programs, such as with Impreza R," he says.

Nissan has boosted equipment on its X-Trail models for a modest lift in prices.  Honda has already passed on tariff cuts of between $1500 and $3000 on its Japanese and UK imports.  But it has also now upgraded its Thai-built Civic range.  Curtain airbags are standard on the VTi sedan while the VTi-L gets 10-spoke 16-inch alloys.  The Civic 1.8 VTi now starts at $22,900, rising to $34,490 for the Hybrid.

Chrysler has clipped Dodge Journey and Jeep Cherokee Limited prices.  The Journey SXT is $36,990, a saving of $1000 while the R/T models are $3500 cheaper.  The Jeep Cherokee is $37,990 for the 3.7-litre V6, a saving of $2500 while the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel is $44,990, a saving of $5500.

Peugeot Automobiles Australia cut prices by up to $2200 to coincide with the addition of electronic stability control as standard on all its passenger vehicles.  Even the new 4007 four-wheel drive has benefited.It now starts from $44,990, a saving of $1000 for the ST 2.2-litre HDi manual.  Peugeot light commercials have also been reduced between $600 and $2600.

And the upper end of the market is not ignoring the trend.  Porsche and Audi are the latest luxury brands to grab a slice of the tariff reduction action, passing on huge savings.  At $105,000 the entry-level Boxster 2.9-litre is now $9800 more affordable than it was last year, while the 3.4-litre Boxster S is  $131,000, a saving of $10,900.

Cayman buyers get some of the biggest savings.  The 2.9 is now $114,000, a saving of $10,400, while the 3.4-litre Cayman S is $146,000, a saving of $11,300.  But 911 buyers don't miss out either.

The 3.6-litre Carrera coupe, is $3900 cheaper at $220,800, while the 3.8-litre Carrera S coupe is $250,300, a saving of $4200.  Similar reductions have been applied to the rest of the 911 range.

The 911 Series II Turbo is $360,100 for the coupe and $386,200 for the convertible, down from $361,000 and $387,000 respectively.  Cayenne and Panamera prices remain unchanged because the Cayenne 4x4 is already subject to a 5 per cent import duty.

When Panamera prices were revealed in October Porsche already factored in the duty change.  All Audi models benefit from the price drop, except the Q5 and Q7 four-wheel drives.

The A3 1.6 Attraction is now $34,700, a saving of $1200 while the R8 manual is now $268,500, a saving of $8700.  The A8 W12 longwheelbase gets the lion's share of the savings. It now costs $331,300, a saving of $14,600.  The volume selling A4 1.8T Multitronic is now $52,000, a saving of $2100.

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