Hi, Botchi! I recently read your article on car ownership 101, and I'd like to get help on our next purchase. My husband and I are planning to buy our first brand-new car. Our previous one was a secondhand car from Subic. Our choices are the Toyota Wigo, the Suzuki Swift Dzire and the Kia Soul.
Do you have a review of these cars' performance as well as the best offers from dealerships? I have come across lots of payment-scheme promos, such as 10% down-payment deals. One sales agent told me, however, that these schemes are just an enticement.
I'm looking forward to your recommendation before we decide.
Hi, Lorna. Thank you for your e-mail. I'm glad that the previous article I wrote was of use to you and your husband.
I've never reviewed the Suzuki Swift Dzire, which is essentially a short-rump sedan version of the Swift hatchback. I've tested the previous-generation Swift hatchback and was impressed by its performance, but rather disappointed by its interior space, which I found quite tight when compared to the Honda Jazz and the Toyota Yaris.
Colleagues who have tried the current-generation Swift hatchback were impressed with its handling, but felt that the engine lacked power to make it really enjoyable for long out-of-town drives where you will need power for cruising comfortably at highway speeds and overcoming tough ascents.
The Kia Soul is an interesting choice. Unfortunately today, only the smaller-engined 1.6-liter variant is available. Power is important to me, not just because I like to drive fast and push the boundary of speeding (I like driving right up to and slightly past the posted speed limit), but because as mentioned earlier, you will need extra power when you're fully laden and you're overtaking a slower-moving vehicle on the highway or up a steep mountain road. You never mentioned where you live and where you will be using the car you plan to buy, so I am considering all possible road conditions here.
As for the Toyota Wigo, never has such a small car built to a budget impressed me: Power is surprisingly good, Toyota having the common sense to provide low gearing for the three-cylinder, 64hp mini hatchback. Despite its modest output, acceleration is punchy. It's really fun to drive and interior space is really, really good. The only letdown is the next-to-useless rear cargo space. Some cars in the C-segment (think Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Corolla Altis and Honda Civic) have worse back-seat space than a Wigo, which in my book is very impressive. But it will definitely not make for a good highway car. The wake of air from a rushing bus or truck is enough to rock the Wigo rather disconcertingly for me, which says a lot.
(Read: Toyota Wigo 1.0 G AT review)
As for financing and buying a car, look around various banks for what they have to offer. I've had great success with BPI, Maybank and BDO, so check them out. It's cheaper to have your own financing package rather than availing the financing package offered by a car dealership, which costs a few thousand pesos more per month.
You can go to a bank, apply for an auto loan, get yourself approved within a fixed budget cap, and then buy your car. The first place to try and get yourself pre-approved for an auto loan is your own bank (that is, where you have your savings deposited).
If you're considering buying a Wigo, ask the dealership for its lease-to-own package via Toyota Financial Services. The lease-to-own package is cheaper than traditional bank financing; you can save an easy P1,000 per month on your monthly payments.
I hope this helps. Good luck, and I hope you'll get to enjoy motoring freedom and mobility at your own convenience soon!