Your Thoughts : Birmingham City – 0 Swindon Town – 1

In yet another personal take on car buying, Mr C of Brackley Northants would like to share his recent car dealer experience. It makes interesting reading…

Normally, I don’t get involved with the commenting caper as I would just rather sit back and enjoy the read for most of the time and avoid the politics. I felt obliged and compelled to sound off my own recent findings when looking around for a new car after reading the points of view from Mr Cronin and Eccleshall. Just to clear the froth first, I know a thing or two about cars and driving being a retired Police Traffic Sergeant of thirty years experience, from Rover 3500’s through to the Volvo V70 there really isn’t a great deal on four wheels striped in Battenberg that I’ve not driven.

Despite my receding hair line and a twinge of arthritis in my left knee, I totally love driving. For sure I press on and maintain “good progress” as the rule book used to say, but I drive within my ability and my good lady wife’s sanity. As far as my own car matters, I read not so much into used values as I buy new, drive them hard, keep them a fair while and wring every last drop of reliability from them. It would be fair to say that by the time I look at part exchanging it for the next victim, the poor thing is past its best to say the least. Traditionally, I have been a Vauxhall driver for no other reason than I have mostly found them to be honest, cheap to operate and in the case of the Senator’s I trundled around the South Midlands while on duty – I trusted them with my life on many occasions.

Our old Vectra was coming to the point of major expenditure so we opted to look around and see what was out there and having spotted an MG6 in our town not long after reading the review on this very site, I liked the shape and thought it looked like very good value. My dealer is a half hour drive away in the county town of Northampton so we thought it best to phone ahead and arrange a viewing. If only things were that simple. We were told the “specialist” was not around to speak to and we were promised a call back before the end of the day. Well two days went by and even then I had to pick up the phone and call them only to get the same reply but we were told the best thing to do would be to pop in where we would be looked after and this we did.

When will MG ever get their act together? Is it that hard to give good service and reliability with just two models and a mere handful of dealers... it seemingly must be.
When will MG ever get their act together? Is it that hard to give good service and reliability with just two models and a mere handful of dealers… it seemingly must be.

There was no car to view but we made an appointment to come back where we would then be able to have a try. In the meantime I found out my Vauxhall dealer had been sold to a corporate PLC and moved location. I had a quick browse at the Insignia and decided against as its simply too big for our needs and the Astra was ignored as the wife once had a near death experience driving one – superstition you see though it was not the cars fault. Test drive day for the MG came and with Wife in tow we set off east for our arranged appointment. It was all another waste of time as we were told our point of contact had swapped his day off at short notice without informing anyone. Another man came to assist who knew nothing about the car but did his best by blurting the bullet points from a brochure and guess what? there was no MG6 to test drive either, but we could have a spin in the MG3 if we wanted to!!!

After looking at Judy I made that head gesture that means “come on lets scarper” and we went shopping in town instead. A few weeks went by and our opposite neighbour took delivery of a new Honda Civic diesel and he was, and still is, totally smitten with it. I had never considered a Honda before mainly because I thought they were expensive compared to the likes of a Ford or Vauxhall. Another quick look on this site revealed one or two Civic reviews with favourable outcome and that weekend while visiting family in the West Midlands we fell upon a dealer, wandered inside, were met by Craig who is one the nicest people I have dealt with in a car showroom and given a really long and thorough test drive. We mentioned we were not from the locality and not really in a position to do a deal there and then but the fella understood this and we kept the dialogue going via phone and email.

After passing on MG & Vauxhall, the writer has gone for the all new all British Civic diesel. He could have done a lot worse!
After passing on MG & Vauxhall, the writer has gone for the all new all British Civic diesel. He could have done a lot worse!

Not once during the proceedings did we feel pushed or rushed and within two weeks we had secured a deal, the Vectra was earmarked for our Son-in-Law and we gained a little extra saving for not having a part exchange involved. We took delivery a couple of weeks ago and can honestly say that its a smashing machine with fuel consumption so thrifty we initially thought the trip computer was faulty. But I will disagree with one thing Mike. You say this new radio head unit is easier to use than the old one? well I can just about get my head round it and all I really want in a radio is to listen to Radio Two and the odd CD – is it really to much to ask for simplicity?

Editors Note: Full name withheld at the request of the writer

The Humble Opinion:

I do like a happy ending and a happy customer story. I know the MG dealer you mention and was similarly far from impressed when I visited them last year. So poor in fact that I passed on my findings to the then Sales and Marketing Director of MG Motor UK who told me things were changing… seemingly they have not and its simply not acceptable in this vicious cut throat motoring marketplace.

Funny place Northamptonshire. Two of the three traditional volume brands in the main town were once run by family concerns: Airflow Streamlines Ford (a previous employer of mine) and W Grose Vauxhall. The latter bought another premise nearer to the town centre to compliment their existing Kingsthorpe showroom & HQ but soon found themselves strapped for capital and they along with Airflow ended up being eaten by the big corporate groups – a real shame!

The local Citroën dealer was once run by a mad Frenchman called Andre Baldet (Moto Baldet) and won national Citroën dealer of year… more than once I may add. Once again they too were snapped up by the big boys (Inchcape Group) after old Andre faded into retirement. In point of fact, the town was host to a myriad of franchises run by family dealer groups mostly with superb reputations – Acre Lane Lada and The Douglas Garage Ltd who amazingly kept going as a retail Rover dealer into the early 90s despite Henlys PLC breathing down their neck to name but a couple.

All the best with the Civic too. I’m sure you wont regret the purchase. I do try to be unbiased when it comes to a review but any choice is an opinionated one and purely on a personal level I find the Civic to be lively, economical, well built and a laugh out loud driving experience when you want to be a hooligan – its a very clever car and 100% built in Britain too!

One comment

  1. Re: Civic. TBH, I never knew what to make of the styling when first noticed. After a colleague at work ran one as a fleet car, I sponged a spin round the block or two and then was hooked – what a ride and handling balance. My wife fell in love with it and that was that. Good standard of care from our dealer as well – JCB Group Ashford

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