Christmas comes early - prices slashed on new cars
THERE'S a clause in Santa's contract specifying he doesn't have to deliver new cars so if you want something flashier than tinsel around the Christmas tree this year, there's no time like the present.
Car sales have slowed in the second half of the year but it takes a while for the makers to turn off the supply from overseas, so a lot of dealer showrooms are overstocked.
The slowdown also means some dealers are struggling to hit sales targets - and collect healthy bonuses - so December is shaping up as a great time to buy a new car.
From straight-up discounts to no delivery charges, longer warranties and comparatively cheap comparison interest rates, dealers are trying every trick in the book to clear cars before they become last year's stock.
If you're happy to buy a 2018-plated car so close to 2019, here's our list of the sharpest deals available.
The standout is Holden's Astra sedan. Prices start from just $17,990 drive-away for an auto demo model backed by a five-year warranty and with a 0.9 per cent finance rate to approved buyers. That's about $6000 off the usual on-road price.
Often these "demos" are new cars that have been registered and recorded as sold but don't have a buyer, so the number of kilometres on the clock will be very low.
If you must have a new model, it will be an extra $1000.
Kia's run-out Cerato hatch is also good value at $19,990 drive-away for the automatic. It's missing some of the safety items on the newer Cerato sedan but the seven-year warranty makes it attractive for budget buyers.
If you're willing to go a size smaller, Hyundai has the Accent Sport from $16,990 drive-away for the auto, almost $4000 off.
Toyota has the Yaris auto for $17,490 drive-away, a discount of about $2500 on the regular price.
Volkswagen's Polo is $17,990 drive-away for the manual version, a discount of about $3500, while the Golf Trendline auto starts from $28,490 drive-away, down from $31,259.
Ford's EcoSport Trend won't look too bad on the credit card at $24,340 drive-away but Nissan's Juke is even cheaper at $23,990 out the door for the ST manual.
Hyundai's Kona is $25,490 once you take advantage of the $500 factory bonus, a discount of roughly $1500.
Over at Honda, you can get an auto HR-V in VTi spec for $27,490 drive-away, not a great sticker price, but backed by a seven-year warranty and seven years' roadside assistance if bought before the end of the year.
Mitsubishi's Eclipse Cross ES is $29,990 out the door, bringing Christmas cheer by saving buyers dealer delivery and registration fees, worth about $2500.
Toyota's C-HR with continuously variable transmission is $30,990 drive-away with three years' roadside assist.
The Suzuki Vitara is also being spruced up for Christmas deals and the range starts at $21,990 drive-away for a manual ST-L, up to $28,990 for the auto-equipped Vitara S Turbo. You'll save roughly $3500 on each.
There aren't many dud gifts in this segment and the competition for your dollar is huge, which should mean you keep more in your account.
An auto-equipped Nissan Qashqai ST can be yours for $27,990 on the road - a discount of more than $5000 - or you can choose a larger front-wheel drive X-Trail for $2000 more.
The Peugeot 3008 Active is $37,990 drive-away, a saving of $2500.
Toyota has cut RAV4 prices with a new model on its way. The GX fitted with continuously variable transmission is $30,990 on the road, effectively saving registration and dealer costs. The deal also includes three years of roadside assistance.
Hyundai's Tucson Go is $29,990 drive-away for the auto, a saving of more than $4500.
Mazda makes the running here with facelifted versions of the BT-50 rolling out the door, the XT for $44,990 and GT for $47,990. That's $7000 less than retail.
Ford's discontinued MY18 Rangers are down to $44,990 for the XLS and $54,990 for the XLT on the road, or well under their recommended list price. On the current model, Ford's doing deals on five years' servicing or $2000 of accessories.
The XLT price isn't quite as sharp as Toyota's. The country's most popular vehicle, the HiLux, is $52,990 out the door for the SR5 dual-cab with free automatic. That's almost $7000 off the regular drive-away price.
Mitsubishi is shining the Triton up in preparation for the new model, so the top-spec Exceed auto is $46,990 drive-away, or $2000 off the regular cost. The Christmas deal includes a $2000 fuel card (which can be used to take another $2K off the price) along with $1000 of accessories.
If packing a pallet in the back is a priority, Volkswagen's Amarok Core with eight-speed auto is $5000 cheaper than the list price at $41,990 drive-away. At the top of the Amarok tree, pay $58,990 for the V6 Highline workhorse-cum-family truck.
If you're lucky enough to shop for high-end toys, Volvo has the best deal with the V90 Cross Country at $82,990 drive away with 1.9 per cent finance rate and five-year warranty. That's a whopping $27,000 off.
Lexus has some sharp deals across the range, starting with the CT 200h hybrid hatch for $39,888 drive-away with free prestige paint thrown in. That's about $6500 off the regular on-road price.
The IS300 sedan can be had for $57,888, almost $9000 off the retail price, while the RX300 family SUV is almost $13,000 off at $69,888 drive-away.
BMW's 3 Series 330i with M Sport or Luxury line trim is good value at $67,900 drive-away, a saving of $3000 on the regular retail price.
Land Rover has just released a new Evoque for Christmas, so the old one's in run-out mode ahead of local deliveries and comes with free servicing for five years, five-year warranty and "savings equivalent to the GST". I'm no actuary but that sounds like 10 per cent off. Sister brand Jaguar has similar deals on selected models.
Mercedes-Benz has 1.9 per cent interest on finance.