Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Un jour ailleurs* ...

ou  ... ici et maintenant**?

You may not believe this (unless you regularly shop for clothes in France), but these are actually two brands of clothing. 'Un jour ailleurs' is a top brand featuring high quality clothes at top range prices. 'Ici et maintenant' is a decent middle to low range brand, with ridiculously low prices. In fact, the second's brand name is meant ironically, mocking the first's somewhat toffee nosed image. 

But this post is not about clothes but about ... cars! You may recall that I had some car trouble in November. The chirping noise the engine had been making since August was caused by the alternator, which was about to fail. Luckily my friendly and extremely clever and handy car mechanic was able to fix it for far less than the initially announced 700 euros (spare parts only and excl. 21% VAT, which would have brought the grand total to about 1,500 euros!!). Although the repairs did not really fit into my 2013 budget planning, I was happy to have my little Corsa back, with its engine running as smoothly as when it was brand-new in 2006.

Since then, however, I have been considering two options:

1) Keep the Corsa for another three years (it only has 40,000 km on the metre, which is peanuts for a Diesel engine). Considering that in 2017 our offices will be moving to the centre of Brussels and if ... I say IF ... I'm not retired by then, I will be taking the bus to go to work. Traffic into Brussels is hell, not to mention the lack of parking places.

2) Sell the Corsa now at its current value, which is still very good, and buy myself a new, small car that, as from 2017 (year of office move) will only serve for my personal transportation needs (shopping, etc.).

And, that's where the real dilemma pops up: if I go for option 2, what brand should I choose? I've always been very satisfied with my current car mechanic's services. He has helped me out on many occasions and the fees that he charges are more than fair. Moreover, he's a old friend of the family and we have always been loyal to him. However, the brand he puts forward does not have a model that I fancy (and that is in my budget range). They do have one great model that I like a lot, but it is far too big for just little me. 

Another element that may influence my decision (if I go for option 2) is that my mechanic is over 60 and will probably retire in a few years or so. As his children have chosen not work in the shop, it'll probably shut down in 3 to 5 years.

And then there is this cute little VW, which I do like a lot and which is totally within my budget-range. 

The dealer and the workshop are within walking distance and they do full service. When I went in for an estimate, the salesman was very helpful and kind, but he also tried to sell me some 'nice-to-have' options, which I don't really need ... but give the car just that little extra. Luckily I came up with some to-the-point questions, giving the impression that I know far much about cars than he thought. That slowed him down a bit and I walked out with a decent estimate and two weeks'  reflection time.

So what will it be?

*  Un temps ailleurs = sometime, elsewhere
** Ici et maitement = here and now

Any suggestions or tips?


GaynorB said...

My son has a VW Polo which has done very good service. Since it was new in 2006 we have only had to have the mechanic fix things to do with normal wear and tear. The quality is excellent. So I would recommend VW, but I don't know anything about the model you are thinking about.

Good luck with your deliberations.

Nadege said...

I just bought a new car since mine was recently stolen. Very small cars never get good reviews in the US. We have such a huge number of automobiles and trucks on the roads, they've got to be safe for drivers and passengers. I don't know anything about european safety tests but read everything you can. Our "consumer report" on cars is very popular as well as great websites about car safety. I guess you must have the same kind of reviews in Europe.

Leon Sims said...

It's such a difficult decision choosing a car, like a house in a way. We have 3 cars, a Peugeot, Citroen and an MG. We have a passion for French cars I must admit. VW are nice cars but I find that buying one in Australia is like a McDonalds meal - They try to upsell.
Would you like wheels with that???

VirginiaC said... least you are being smart and weighing all your options.

The Broad said...

Since you are buying this car with a look toward the future, I think you should buy the model you prefer -- and I suspect, you know which one that is!

Ken Broadhurst said...

I had three VWs in California between 1989 and 2003, and I liked them all. But what about a French car? I bought my little Peugeot 206 more than 10 years ago, and it has been a great vehicle. My next car is going to be a Citroën, if I can find the model I want at a good price. At this point in my life, a used car is all I need, considering how little driving I do (3600 km over the last 12 months).

ladybird said...

Gaynor It's a tough decision, but I'm about to make it! More about it later.

Nadege, Sorry to hear your car was stolen. Any hope of retrieving it? It sometimes happens, you know!

Leon, I think the one I chose did have wheels. But I'll check before buying it ... if/when I decide on the VW :)

Virginia, Weighing my options is the story of my life. In the past, I've made some good and some bad decisions ...

Kathie, It's a beautiful little car ... but I'm still not convinced. Which in my case means that it's not a 'coup de foudre'.

Ken, There are some nice French cars around, indeed ... but I guess that my father's 'préjugés" towards French cars have scarred me for life :)

Ken Broadhurst said...

Martine, don't ask Walt about the only VW he ever owned -- he hated it, and sold it after only two years. He also hated a VW polo that we rented a couple of years ago. That said, I liked my VWs, especially the first (a Jetta) and third (a Passat). And as I said, my little Peugeot 206 has been a great car for more than 10 years now.