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662 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me start by saying that I didn't expect to post anything like this today. Today was supposed to be all about getting a test drive and doing some research in anticipation of changing my car in six months' time. It started off going according to plan and then diverted off course somewhat.

This afternoon, I went for a test drive at my local dealer, Rybrook of Shrewsbury, which also gave me the chance to check out their new show room (very nice). First signs went well: I was offered an unaccompanied, 40 minute test drive. Not like when I bought my current VW Golf: before I was allowed to get behind the wheel, I had to have my then-MINI valued and go through all kinds of indeterminable nonsense.

I got given a Nightfire Red Cooper and was given a brief outline of the changes between my '02 model and this one. Fairly straightforward. What was not straightforward was the fact that it was a manual. Driving an automatic is just so easy, especially when it's an utterly brilliant gearbox like the DSG one in my Golf, hooked up to a responsive and torquey diesel engine. The manual gearbox in this MINI was rather strange to me: it had reverse next to first and six gears. Needless to say, I put it in reverse once by accident, once tried to change gear without using the clutch (doesn't work) and stalled it about three times by trying (accidentally) to drive off in third or drive off in second as I didn't want to risk putting it in reverse again.

Gears aside, the test drive was a lot of fun. I drove some country roads and some dual carriageways. There was plenty of oomph under the bonnet (despite it being ca. 20bhp down on my Golf) and the feeling I got behind the wheel was just like I remembered: great fun and totally involving. Such a nice place to be, I felt at home immediately.

Back at the dealer, I parked up and pressed the spiffy engine stop button and tugged a few times at the weird key before it released itself. Inside, I went back to the salesman and told him I had a great time.

Whilst I'd been out burning fossil fuels for no good reason, he'd been evaluating my Golf, as I wanted a guideline figure as to its worth (or lack of), so I could calculate how much money I needed. The figure he gave me was, to put it mildly, shocking. Since April 2006, my car had lost 60% of its value. I told the salesman I wasn't hugely happy and invited him to explain. He told me that the second hand market is suffering due to the credit crunch (is there nothing that this hasn't affected, aside from financial pundits off the TV?) and my car is currently shedding £425 each and every month. A quick calculation told me that at that rate, I'd be looking at a further 10% drop over the next six months.

So, I asked myself a question: would it be worth changing now and taking the hit on using finance to make up the shortfall? Would the extra I'd pay in interest and the like be less than the extra money I'd have to find to make up for the lemming-like depreciation on my Golf? And there was something else to factor in: I *really* liked the MINI. And my Golf needed at least two new tyres, as well some repairs to an alloy and repairs to the paint. And then there's running costs: fuel consumption is about the same but petrol is 10p a litre cheaper. MINI dealers are somewhat less evil than VW ones. Servicing on a MINI is dirt cheap, especially if you buy TLC; Volkswagen is extortionate. Tax: cheaper. Insurance: cheaper (group 8, as opposed to group 14). Fun factor: MINI 1 - Volkswagen 0. Amount of character: MINI - lots; VW - none.

After coming up with a spec, it was time to talk figures. I immediately said that the offer for my Golf wasn't sufficient for me to agree to a deal. The salesman told me that there was a built slot open for the following week and that they'd quite like a deal to help with their monthly figures. I made my offer; the salesman said he'd talk to the manager and in the mean time, he'd introduce me to the business manager and we could talk £££. He then realised he'd forgotten to include TLC, tax and first registration in the final figure, so gave me another total price.

The business manager was a very genial fellow - most pleasant, chatty and helpful. He gave me a quote and we nattered about the credit crunch and how useless Northern Rock was. We then talked about how much fun MINIs are (lots). Having the correct figures on the table this time, I made a revised offer, lower than before, which the business manager said he couldn't do. There wasn't actually much difference between them: a mere £250.

The salesman returned and told me that my original offer was fine. There was a bit of a discussion between him and the business manager, as this was now somewhat invalidated by the fact that the original offer I'd been made was based on an incorrect total. I made a new offer, closer to the first one and it was accepted. They told me that they'd like my business and I asked for some time to think.

Out into the rain, the decision was somewhat obvious. I wanted the car, the finance wasn't too onerous, I know the dealer and they're pretty good (for a car dealership).

Back in the office, I told them I wanted the car but wanted to shop around on finance. A quick hand shake later, and that was that. I'd ordered a car. The salesman printed the spec, took my deposit and pointed me to the estimated date of 10th October for delivery. I then got him to give me another quote, this time for supplying and fitting the iPod kit. The figure: £295, which I thought was very reasonable. I told him I'd think about that.

And that was that. A day that started with me trying to find the least worse wheel repair option for my Golf and having lots of fun at the council tip ended with me being back in the MINI owners' club. And there's no place I'd rather be.

The nitty gritty now - the spec:

MINI Cooper
Astro Black
Cosmos Black cloth
Pepper Pack
Multi-function steering wheel
17" Flame spoke alloys
Heated washer jets/mirrors
Rear spoiler
White bonnet stripes
Chrome-line exterior
Visibility pack
Roof/mirror caps in white
Auto-dimming rear view mirror
Sports seats
Heated front seats
Colour Line dark grey
Additional decor rings
Fluid silver interior trim
Park distance control
Rain sensor/lights on
White indicators

I wasn't able to get them to budge much on the price for my Golf, but I managed a 2.5% discount (around £430) on the MINI. The other salesmen/women gave him a bit of flack for that...

So, 28 days to go. The wait begins. I feel strangely calm.

662 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Turned on my phone this morning to find a voice message from the salesman, asking me to call him back. I did so, expecting him to tell me it would be with them next week, but no, it arrived yesterday!

Yesterday was the 24th, I ordered on the twelfth - so it took twelve days for production to be authorised and the car to be built (complicated spec, remember) and delivered to sunny Shrewsbury. The salesman was surprised it was so quick. As am I.

I now have my registration plate number so I could sort out the insurance, and was told that I could pop over at the weekend and take a look. So guess what I'll be doing, armed with my camera and a variety of lenses?

Whilst I was on the phone, I asked for European number plates, no dealer sticker in the back window, an iPod kit and an ashtray (no smoker pack, but the ashtray is useful).

Roll on the weekend!

9,664 Posts
Excellent first post, impulse buys are always the best-remind me not to go to Shrewsbury and buy the Demo car you had :p
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