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WhichCar should I buy - should we avoid small brands?

By Tim Robson, 03 Jul 2019 Car Advice

2019 Jeep Compass

A young couple thinks they can get a new car bargain by shopping the smaller brands. Are they right?

Hello WhichCar,


I really enjoyed your deprecation article of the other day, and it’s got me thinking! We are looking for a new car, and the budget isn’t that high. My fiancé wants us to buy new so we get the whole warranty, but I really think we might get a better deal by shopping for a car that’s not super popular.

And also we are looking at brands that are not so popular to save even more money. But this is also causing an argument! What is wrong, for example, looking at Peugeot? It is a huge brand in Europe. Same for Skoda, too. Or even Jeep?

We don’t want to spend much more than $35,000, and there is only two of us at the moment. Do you think there is a good car for us?


Thank you!

Anton, Parramatta, NSW


Hey Anton,

There are pros and cons to buying from less popular brands, and a lot of it depends on where you live. Because you guys live in the heartland of Sydney’s new car kingdom, for example, you will have access to more brands – and crucially, their dealerships – than a couple who live outside of the city.

It can also depend on how you plan to use the car, as well. If your commute is short and parking is limited, for example, a smaller car may be an advantage.

If you do longer miles as part of your weekend travels, though, a small city car – say a Skoda Fabia – won’t be as suitable, and you might want something a bit more powerful and spacious.

Skoda Fabia

And just because the brands you mention aren’t especially popular, it doesn’t automatically follow that their cars will be cheap as a result. The cost of a car can’t, by dint of the low profit margin between head office and dealership, suddenly plunge in price on the showroom floor just because it doesn’t sell quickly.

MORE Depreciation heroes - the almost-new bargains of 2019

Sure, you might save a couple of grand on a $35,000 car, but it will have sat on a showroom for a good long time before you’ll find a dealer desperate enough to lose every dollar he/she could potentially make on it.

Of the brands you’re talking about, Peugeot’s 308 is a great five-door, five-seat hatchback that should sell better but just doesn’t. Jeep, too, should be doing better with cars like the small Compass SUV (which actually starts at less than $29,000 drive-away), while of the larger players, Holden’s Astra continues to offer brilliant value for a five-seat, five-door Astra hatchback.

If you need something larger, Ford’s Mondeo sales are through the floor this year, so there may be some stock on dealer’s floors out there in Parramatta that is keenly priced.

MORE Confessions of a car dealer - five top tips for getting the best deal

In terms of dealership support, all of those companies offer five-year warranties, and Jeep offers five years of capped price servicing to boot. Again, your location means that servicing at a dealership – often a prerequisite of getting a good deal on capped-price services – means that you have more choice when it comes to smaller, less popular brands.

But given where you live, we’d say sacrifice a Saturday, pull on your best walking sneakers and hit Parramatta Road. After another slow sales month, every yard is brimming with metal, and every salesperson is keen to make a deal.

Make sure you’ve read our guide on how to avoid the hard sell, narrow down what car (or at least type of car) you and your partner want, and start hunting.

 2016 Ford Mondeo Ambiente