212 episodes

AutoExpert is all about cars from Australian automotive expert, journalist and engineer John Cadogan

AutoExper‪t‬ John Cadogan

    • Automotive

AutoExpert is all about cars from Australian automotive expert, journalist and engineer John Cadogan

    How to get out of any new car deal with minimal financial pain

    How to get out of any new car deal with minimal financial pain

    If you want to get out of a new car purchasing deal, here's how.  

    People want to get out of this situation for all kinds of reasons - because they got stitched up too early at the dealership and committed to the wrong car, because they get offered a better deal, lose their jobs, reconsider their options, etc.  

    In this situation the dealer often makes it very hard to back out. Here's how to work around all that.

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    • 10 min
    New car stock shortages: Discounting? What should you do?

    New car stock shortages: Discounting? What should you do?

    Let’s say you’re in the market for a new car, and you’ve heard about all those stock shortages at new car dealership. What should you do? Can you still get a discount?

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    The car industry is ruing the day it screwed all those computer chip manufacturers over, because when the pandemic hit, and demand for TVs, computers and gaming consoles went through the roof, carmakers got left out in the cold.

    Production lines didn’t exactly grind to a halt, but global demand for cars has eclipsed supply, and the thing stopping carmakers from making more cars is chip manufacturers struggling to supply more profitable chip-sets to the likes of Apple and Samsung.

    Now that we’re all caught up on the underlying causality, right now, waiting times on some models have receded over the horizon. So, we’re in a market where demand - in general - grossly exceeds supply. And when that happens (economics 101) it places upward pressure on prices.

    In other words, there’s a flood of buyers. And limited supply of new cars to satisfy them. Therefore, dealers are generally not motivated to discount. Not like they were two years ago, when car sales were in the doldrums and they couldn’t shift the stock they had.

    So, if you are in the market for a new car right now, my strong advice is: Wait if you can. Because discounting will return in earnest when supply frees up - and this may be as early as six months away. It might be longer. Anyone who tells you they know exactly when is - frankly - full of it.

    Obviously, if your car just got written off, you probably cannot wait. You need a car. That sucks. But for most other people, waiting is the smart commercial move. For many cars you’ll be waiting anyway, even if you sign on the dotted line now. And you’ll likely pay the full freight, or near enough.

    It doesn’t seem like a smart move for most people to sign, pay a deposit and wait until - allegedly - October, or something. Why not leave your options open, remain uncommitted, and see what’s happening in October? I’d play it that way.

    Some people have said to me they can’t wait because their lease is running out. To which I would retort: Dude, ring the finance company. Refinance the balloon for 12 months. Take a break on the payments (because it’ll cost you less to do that) and then reassess when supply frees up.

    Dealers are, of course, still dead keen to stitch you up. Now. Because a deposit and a signature is money in the bank at a later date, with less of a discount than they would normally have to concede to get you over the line.

    Plus, stitching you up now takes you out of play. You are unlikely to shop around much more, and you probably won’t therefore transact with a different brand, or at a different dealer, because the deposit is hanging over the head of your deal. If you back out, they’ll be keeping that deposit, which is, essentially, money for jam.

    It’s very dangerous to go into a dealership with the vague intention of ‘just looking around’ - because dealers are ambush predators, and you are standing on their X.

    • 13 min
    BMW 330e plug-in hybrid - the definitive review & buyer's guide

    BMW 330e plug-in hybrid - the definitive review & buyer's guide

    If a full battery EV is too scary (or impractical) for you, and internal combustion is too philosophically filthy, then maybe the BMW 330 e plug-in hybrid can bridge the gap.

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    This car is interesting, because it will function as a battery-only EV that you plug in overnight, and it’ll run you around town, mostly on battery, for short distance commutes. And then, if you want to drive from Sydney to Brisbane, or something, no logistic planning is required. Just run it all the way on petrol.  

    It’s a plug-in hybrid, as opposed to a Toyota-style regen-only hybrid. 

    But what does that even mean, really?  

    I spent a week in the 330 e, and I mainly drove it around town - got out on the highway a couple of times. Plugged it in at home, a few times. So, dynamics, comfort, luxury - it’s very good.   

    Very driver focussed. Excellent rear-drive dynamics package, great steering and ride. Bit of a learning curve, if you’re new to the latest iteration of BMW user interface, but ultimately very configurable, and you can store your preferences in your key, which is great.   

    Ergonomics are stellar with this car - nice fat wheel, excellent shifter operation (again: learning curve). Impossibly comfortable and supportive seats. List goes on.  

    3 Series is kinda bigger than a small car, and smaller than a big car. Family friendly - but the boot’s a bit small for two young kids.   

    New instrument cluster - take it or leave it. It’s dripping in information and changes colour with the drive modes, and it even has a ‘minimalist’ mode you can invoke in the menus if you just want the basics. And you can project the nav between the speedo and the tacho.  

    BMW is very serious about its ‘ultimate driving machine’ mantra, and they did not drop the ball with this one. One point of difference is that the 330e is made in Germany, versus in Mexico for the rest of the 3 Series range. (Except the M3 - it’s German-made, too.)

    • 46 min
    2021 Subaru Outback stop delivery safety recall - full details

    2021 Subaru Outback stop delivery safety recall - full details

    Full details: Subaru formal recall for the 2021 Outback & ‘stop delivery’ order information for pending owners.

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    Subaru will recall 1982 new Outbacks currently in traffic because the autonomous emergency braking system might activate in the absence of an actual threat. Obviously, it’s not ideal for the car to behave in this way, and it could easily do more harm than good - when there’s no threat.  This recall is not yet live on the official Federal Government recalls website at produstsafety.gov.au - you’re hearing about it here first.  Subaru says:  "In some cases, the stereo camera may mis-recognize roadside objects and/or miscalculate the travelling direction of an oncoming vehicle, unexpectedly activating pre-collision braking."    So, I’d suggest that the EyeSight camera is actually fine, because it’s just a piece of hardware, and all it does is turn photons into ones and zeroes. It’s the interpretive software that’s the problem - misdiagnosing ‘benign reality’ as ‘malignant reality’ in some weird confluence of circumstances the programmers had not anticipated in R&D.  Subaru says:  "The likelihood of these symptoms occurring is low."  So, let us all be untying our knickers, shall we? Despite what the mainstream media might subsequently report on this. It’s not the Four Horsemen, the sea as blood, Freddy Kruger knocking at the door, Scott Morrison as Prime Minister, or dogs and cats living together.   It’s a low-probbility problem.  "The recall Rectification Procedure consists of updating Pre-Collision Braking system software."  Subaru says it will take about two hours to do that, per car, at the dealership, and it’ll get done free of charge, and they’ll contact every owner individually - or you can go to productsafety.gov.au for details once the ACCC emerges from hypersleep and pushes the recall live.

    • 13 min
    2021 Kia Carnival (Sedona) review - everything you'll love & hate

    2021 Kia Carnival (Sedona) review - everything you'll love & hate

    After two weeks test-driving the 2021 Kia Carnival (AKA Sedona) - the V6 petrol and the diesel - here’s everything I loved, and everything I hated  about this vehicle.

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    My fortnight in Kia Carnival was split equally between the V6 petrol Platinum and the 2.2 turbodiesel Platinum. 

    Kia supplied both vehicles - in the same way evaluation vehicles are typically supplied to other media outlets for reviews like these.  

    My default position on Carnival is: I always try to detest Carnival, overall, because it’s a people mover, and I always fail. I end up loving it. Especially the diesel (we’ll get to that). I look forward to driving a Carnival, and I hate giving it back. Despite my sincere efforts to the contrary.  In the context of what this vehicle purports to be, it’s a very faithful execution indeed.   

    Carnival’s not perfect - no car is - so the purpose for bringing you the hate, as as well as the love, is A) hate balances out love, and B) it alerts you to the things you might not ultimately like about the vehicle, which might matter more to you than they do to me. This is, of course, important to know - before you spend the big bucks.  

    Carnival is objectively better than an SUV in so many important ways - like accommodation, access, luggage space, versatility and convenience. And, frankly I think a lot of people who buy a typical seven-seat SUV would actually be better off in a Carnival. There’s a lot more to love than to hate about this vehicle, and none of the ‘hate’ items would be a deal-breaker for me.  It’s like any relationship - you embrace the things you love and learn to live with the things you hate. This goes for every relationship from that with your lovely wife to your job and even your smartphone.   

    So, don’t get me wrong here - I love the new Carnival, and I recommend it to you without reservation. I even tried hating it, and I failed. It’s just not perfect, and going into this, spending the big bucks while operating under the delusion that you’re finally procuring the perfect car is just paving the road to heartbreak. No car is perfect. No relationship - with a car or otherwise - is perfect.

    • 27 min
    Mercedes green lights new EQA EV for Australia (plus nuts!)

    Mercedes green lights new EQA EV for Australia (plus nuts!)

    Mercedes-Benz green-lights the new all-electric EQA EV for Australia. 

    Hilariously, after all of Volkswagen’s recent poorly considered protestation concerning its inability to sell EVs here, thanks to our backward regulatory environment, Mercedes-Benz only just now says it’s rather looking forward to the new EQA coming here later this year.

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    Apparently the Germans don’t really talk to each other, or share hymn books, all that often. Because Volkswagen is falling all over itself to denounce Australia as a third-world backwater (I’m paraphrasing) while Mercedes sees a real opportunity here for its new compact EV SUV, the EQA.  Dealerships will receive their allotments of the all-electric EQA later this year. (You can order one from next month if you want.)

    As you know: not a huge fan of Mercedes. Better than Volkswagen, though. (Not hard.) The point is: Free country. If the EQA moves you, if it flips the switch on, let the current take you. Resistance is futile in that state.

    And who knows? EQA may not be a D-O-G. It offers a range of up to 480km, and comes with a Chargefox rapid charger subscription, for longer trips. I’ve used Chargefox - they’re awesome. EQU has a 66.5 kWh battery and according to official Suppository data, the electron consumption is 16.2 kWh per 100km - for the mathematics and physics cognoscenti.

    The price is interesting: $76,800 inclusive of GST and LCT. There’s also a fairly OTT Edition 1 version with a lube dispenser and other self-righteous and otherwise unnecessary features, should you want to be the most annoying guest at the world’s most boring dinner party, for an additional $7300.  What I find fascinating about this is actually two things: No word from them on how difficult it was to justify selling it here, to the factory in Germany. Which is completely at odds with Volkswagen’s recent counter-claim, oxygenated far too extensively in CarAdvice.

    Equally fascinating: the price. Roughly the same as a Hyundai Kona Highlander Electric - a vehicle I drove for approximately one global pandemic and 10,000 kilometres. And roughly equivalent on size, range, and other key operational characteristics.

    Of course, the EQA does display the coveted Mercedes badges front and rear - which is so damn compelling to many people. For mid-$70s - if that’s in fact how it plays out - which one would the average person choose to be seen in? Even for $10k more...

    So I’d suggest the advent of EQA is also going to be something of a fox in the henhouse, for Hyundai, with vehicles such as the Kona Electric - and also a cause for concern over their new Ioniq sub-brand. And also for Kia with its EV6 seemingly under consideration for Australia.

    Volkswagen’s not worried, however - it already has its excuses for failure to sell its EVs here perfectly well sorted. According to Volkswagen, their upcoming EV failure is all our fault.

    • 18 min

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