Today I drove three cars on behalf of the other half as she will be needing a new car when she moves to blighty. So I had a good chance to compare the Fiat/Alfa dealership with the Japanese dudes!
The car has to be an Auto as the Canadian licence doesn't discriminate between manual and auto, so the only other choice is to take a UK driving test. Mmm... not so attractive.
So on a short(?) list of ten or so cars I drove today a Fiat Punto 1.4, a Suzuki Swift 1.5 and a Toyota Yaris 1.4D.... would have liked to have had a go in a Peugeot or Citroen but that didn't happen...
I started at the Fiat / Alfa / Peugeot / Citroen dealer as I had to book the GT in for a service. I asked the relatively simple question of how much would the 24,000 mile service would cost... but could not be told as the computer was not responding. And as my car "was an Alfa" she didn't know off the top of her head. I wonder what the large Alfa logo was doing in the dealership then?
I found a Fiat sales person after being redirected twice and luckily they had a 1,4 auto in stock. I say luckily as this model is not normally there but they had a one year old model. Had a test drive, car sucked (mainly due to the wheezey engine and auto box) but otherwise not too bad service. The sales guy was new that week and did his best.
Next I found the Peugeot sales person and enquired if they had a 207 auto I could drive. 'No' was the answer. Can you get one? I asked. 'No.
How about a Citroen C3? No. Can you get one? No.
Ya boo to the cheese eating surrender monkeys then. They are off the short list!
I had pre booked a drive of the Suzuki Swift so drove the 200m to the dealer. This industrial estate has all the big names so competition is rife!
Was presented with a bright buzzy atmosphere, polite staff and an offer of a drink as soon as I stepped in the door. None of that in the previous multi dealer.
The sales guy remembered my name, handed me the keys and left me to it! No forms, no nothing! Just took my licence and said I hoped I enjoyed the drive after giving me the basics on the car. Brilliant!
Suzuki Swift is a wicked little car if anyone is interested. Delivery in ten days if you want one. Mad eh?
On to Toyota 50m up the road to look at the Yaris. I was greeted in reception by a lovely bouncy girl called Jess (
) who took my name, called a sales person who came down within one minute, shook my hand remembering my name again.
Have you got the Yaris 1.4 in Auto? Yes, sir! Diesel or Petrol? We have two of each.
We had a brief chat and he went away and gassed up a brand new Yaris 1.4D with only 11 miles on the clock! Tearing myself away from Jess (
) I had the brief run down again and I took the drivers seat. Cracking little car again and the 1.4D pulled very well and does 62mpg. Yikes!
On the way home I popped into Mini which won't be an option due to the cost but thought it would be worth a look. I didn't want to waste their time with a drive but again I was greeted by an equally bouncy girl called Mandie (
) who eloquently told me about the range, and yes they had an Auto available to drive.
So Alfa/Fiat/Citroen/Peugeot, why is it so hard to be like Toyota? No wonder people return in their droves. The whole place reeked of professionalism. Kudos to Suzuki as well. Both fantastic.