Earlier this year, I was planning on showcasing on TTAC my 2008 Saturn Astra as a testbed of Millennial ingenuity.
Us Millennials want the latest technology in our rides, but we don’t necessarily have the funds to buy brand-new cars. We’re a debt-laden demographic, thanks to a combination of rising education and living costs, but we want all that fancy connectivity. I figured I could probably get away with adding all theÂ technology I wantedÂ to a car that’s eight years old, thus saving on the outlay demanded by a new vehicle purchase and the corresponding increase in my insurance premium.
Then the Fiesta happened.
“Maybe we should get a new car,” I said to Jennifer as I mulled the current state of the Astra. After all, we are moving in a few months, and the last thing I want is for the aging Saturn to be stuck on the side of the road at the exit of Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! en route to Ontario.
My suggestion was, predictably, met with Jenn’s complete and utter indifference.
“Maybe,” she verbally shrugged.
It was a Friday. Both of us had put in long weeks at work, both burnt out. We usually communicate through a series of grunts and facial expressions by this point in the week, so her responseÂ wasn’tÂ unusual. Yet, for some reason, the Astra’s current condition weighed heavily on my mind.
The Saturn was a purchase of necessity. At the time, I had subcompact-car money to spend on a compact car. My significant other at the time needed a vehicle that could safely cart around an infant, requiring four doors. I have two dogs, which necessitated a hatchback. The Astra fit theÂ bill at that time. Now the Belgium-built compactÂ was at that age whenÂ any unexpected future problem was likely to arrive hand-in-hand with a high-dollar repair bill, all thanks to General Motors’ wise decision to import a vehicle that has no parts commonalityÂ with any of its other vehicles in North America.
“I think we should seriously consider a new car,” I said.
“Maybe,” she replied again.
The next day, I made a mental list of all the vehicles I’d driven in the last couple of years that were in our price range and also fun to drive. The Nissan Micra was there. As wereÂ the Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI, Beetle 1.8 TSI, and Jetta 1.4 TSI. Rounding out the candidates were the Kia Forte5, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (it’s surprisingly not horrible), Scion iM, Subaru Impreza, Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta.
Actually, I drove threeÂ manual Fiestas in the last couple of years. One was the normal 1.6-liter four. I also droveÂ a short stint in a Fiesta ST at a Ford event a couple of years ago â€” but that was outside our budget. The third Fiesta I tested, which producedÂ nearly identical horsepower and torque figures as the naturally aspirated 1.6, was the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-pot.Â That was a fun little car, I remembered,Â and so was the Beetle.
It must be said I have a soft spot for the Beetle Classic. Retro wheels. A shape that’s no longerÂ too cute. And you can have it with a manual transmission and the 1.8 TSI. I dove into Volkswagen Canada’s website and found that VW was offeringÂ $3,000 discounts on ’15 Beetles.
“When youâ€™re in the store again, could you check to see if there are any leftover â€™15 Beetle Classics in the system?” I askedÂ my friend who’s the general sales manager at a local VW dealership. “With a $3,000 discount, that might be a purchase for us.”
“I did a search of Canada for new, non-reported sold 2015 Beetle Classic manuals.Â None came up in the search,” he replied.
Off to the Ford website I went, and this time the incentive to buy was even greater.
Ford Canada was (and still is) offering $4,250 in discounts on leftover ’15 Ford Fiestas. I again remembered the littlest of EcoBoosts was a blast to hustle, even if itÂ isn’tÂ actually going that fast.
The Ford website erroneously reported an unsold 2015 Fiesta SFE at the closest Ford dealer, MacPhee Ford, so I gave itÂ a call.
“Do you still have aÂ 1.0-liter Fiesta in stock?” I asked. “The Ford website says you have a leftover ’15 Fiesta in Green Envy.”
“Erm, I don’t know. Let me check, ” said the salesman. “I’ll call you back in 10 minutes.”
Ten minutes went past. Then 20 minutes. Then an hour.
Screw this. I’ll just drive over there.
Upon my arrival, I walked around the showroom and waited for someone to say hello.
“Has someone helped you yet, sir?” asked another salesman.
“No, I was talking to another salesmanÂ on the phone, but he never called back.”
“What was his name?”
I gave his name and was passed back to him.
“Sorry I didn’t call you back. We don’t have that car. But we do have this Focus and some other Fiestas. To tell you the truth, the Fiesta is too small for you anyway,” he stated before asking me about my actual needs. “You have friends, don’t you? I bet you do. They won’t fit in the back of the Fiesta. Why don’t I get you the window sticker for the Focus?”
This banter continued interrupted numerous times by the salesman’s ADHD approach to customer service for 45 minutesÂ before heÂ looked at his computer toÂ find the closest ’15 Fiesta SFE.
“It’s at Fairley and Stevens … but how about I work you up a deal on this Focus?”
I drove to Fairley and Stevens Ford, a short five minute jauntÂ down the highway, and was greeted by Jim, a jovial Newfoundlander.
“How’s she goin’ today?” he asked as Newfoundlanders do.
We sat down and worked out a tentative deal without a test drive (I knew what I was getting). However, I told him any deal would be dependent on Jennifer’s go ahead.
I left the store. We came back later in the day together. She drove the FiestaÂ and liked it. I drove it again and liked it again. We both hated the color.
“There’s one in Saint John in Tuxedo Black. I can bring that in. That’s no problem. And we won’t charge for the transfer,” Jim said.
By the end of the visit, the deal we were offered with our $1,500 trade was $16,389 taxes in. (The tax rate on a vehicle purchase in Nova Scotia is 15 percent.) Compared to the nearly $23,000 we would have paid for a 2016 Fiesta at MSRP, I thought this was a pretty stellar deal. We tentatively agreed to the deal and went home to think about it.
When I told the guys on Slack, Bark M. piped up.
Whoa whoa whoa
I’m late to this Fiesta
But you’re giving them $500 plus holdback?
On a car that is essentially lot poison?
Invoice price on aÂ ’15 Fiesta SFE with the Comfort Package wasÂ $18,758 before tax and trade. After our trade and tax, the total based onÂ invoice cameÂ to $14,959.20. At retail, the price after trade and tax wasÂ $16403.60.
My deal, in reality, was only around $500 afterÂ an admin fee ($477) and a few other things were calculated in.
Then Bark and Bozi spoke up together:Â Get an X Plan PIN they said. One great aspectÂ of X Plan is the dealer isn’t allowed to charge an admin fee. Also, if you’re a member of the Mustang Club of America, you can get an X Plan PIN â€” no Mustang required.
We went back to the dealership the next day, suppliedÂ my newly acquired X Plan PIN along with proof that I was a newly minted member of MCA, and the price dropped considerably: $14,998.90, trade and taxes included. The dealer also found an extra $750 conquest cash, which we added to the deal post tax to come to the above number.
In the end, we ended up with a brand-new car with a warranty and a monthly payment that’s about the equivalent of what it would’ve cost to maintain the Astra over the same time frame. It isn’t Green Envy, thankfully, and Jenn was excited when she was finally handed the keys. Win, win.
I’ll be sharing my non-ST EcoBoost Fiesta experience over the lifetime of our ownership. If you have any questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll answer them as soon as possible.[Images: Â© 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars]
Mark Stevenson is the managing editor of The Truth About Cars. He is easily swayed into buying vehiclesÂ from brands that no longer exist. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.