Video report below:
The Suzuki Alto is Australia’s cheapest car. (However, Suzuki probably prefers the terms ‘inexpensive’ or ‘affordable’.) It's just $11,990 – drive-away.
OK – so it’s not a BMW, a Benz ... or the Batmobile. But I guess it can dream.
The Alto runs on the smell of an oily rag (4.5 litres/100km official fuel test rating). It’s also pretty safe – four stars there – it’s got three years’ warranty and – importantly – new-car smell.
You love new-car smell. Admit it.
With interest rates at all-time lows and new-car affordability at all-time highs, there’s something of a perfect storm brewing for new-car buyers. Repayments have hit rock-bottom, and you can lock in the rate for the next five years, effectively insulating yourself from the Reserve Bank’s prevarications.
Eight bucks a day is not that much of a sacrifice. If you can do without a takeaway coffee and make yourself a sandwich, in the kitchen, the old-fashioned way, rather than buy one at the shops – you’re already rich enough to own a Suzuki Alto.
To put into perspective just how affordable new-car ownership is, up here in the shallow end of the pool, I scoured the known universe for the sharpest car loan available.
Shaun McGowan is a director at www.CarLoans.com.au. But I prefer to think of him as the Financial Stig. “It’s so important to shop around for finance," he says. "With interest rates at record lows, there are some great rates out there … from reputable Australian lenders."
McGowan says people often obsess about negotiating the sale price of the car down, and forget that getting a low interest rate on the finance is just as important. "Getting the finance right is just as important as negotiating the best deal you can on the car. Sometimes it’s even more important.”
McGowan shopped around for finance on the Alto. "We got a really sharp rate, added in the fees and charges, and set the term so the $11,990 is fully paid off after five years. The repayments are just $56.30 a week – we think that’s pretty cheap for a brand-new car.”
So, the Alto is cheap. Affordable. Inexpensive. It’s not exactly nasty. Small cars used to be awful. But not any more. The Alto is loaded with standard equipment. It ticks plenty of boxes. It’s got Bluetooth, USB, stability control, ABS, air conditioning and six airbags, etc.
It’s not exactly a powerhouse. One-litre engine, three cylinders. 50kW. It's - let's be kind - sedate. But if you're buying it for a teenage driver, what's not to like about a car with three years' warranty, with all the tech features, lots of inbuilt safety systems - which also doesn't go very fast...
The flipside of low power is great economy. You’ll probably drive more than 700 kays on a full tank of petrol, which in the Alto's case is just 35 litres of fuel. So you’ll fill it up from dead empty for around $50 bucks. No chance of a nervous breakdown at the bowser – even considering it drinks 95 octane premium unleaded.
You can buy the Alto for $11,990. It'll cost you $56 big ones every week, for five years. The interest is fixed for the term, so the payments don’t change even if the Reserve Bank pumps up the cash rate. Five years down the track, you’ve got an asset worth – rough estimate – five grand. That’s not a bad sort of trade-in, if you want to go again.
Fill in my contact form to find out more about getting cheap finance deals from reputable Australian lenders in today's market.