I continue to collect advice and experiences as I look for some new wheels. By the end of the weekend, things had converged to a Ford Fiesta, and a Renault Clio. Both are around 19K euro new, offer good “B” class emissions (very green, so the business gets a big tax credit), and good ratings in the car guides. (Engineers always consult someone’s spreadsheet before deciding anything).
I made an appointment to test drive the Fiesta for Monday morning and biked over in a warm rain. Unlike the US, you get to drive the salesman’s car, so it really provides a good feel for how well the car will wear and how the kids accessories fit in. I took it out onto the A2 and climbed the mightiest hill north of Maastricht (1% grade, 1/4 mile); the 1.2 L engine muscled up without having the engine drown out the radio. I drove through a neighborhood, taking the drempels (speed bumps) a mite quickly; my head didn’t bump the ceiling and my coffee didn’t spill. I used to do a test where I’d belt a toddler into the back seat; if they cried and I could still hold a normal conversation up front, that was a passing mark. Unfortunately, no toddler at hand, so I didn’t evaluate this quality.
I asked about a 4 year, 30K km/year lease on a 20K euro car; the answer came back, about 450 euro per month.
Doing a bit of quick math, the lease then costs 5400 per year, so 21,600 over 4 years. since maintenance, insurance, and road taxes are thrown in, this sounds like a reasonable deal.
A friend on LinkedIn suggested that looks could be deceiving, however: if the car goes back early or over mileage, then huge penalties accrue. I asked the dealer to estimate a lease for 3 years / 40K km/year. The answer came back, 500 euro per month.
Another friend suggested that dealers give a discount of at least 15% if I negotiated and took a payment plan. Assuming I negotiate well and put down a few thousand, I asked my bank how much the financing would be for 15K euro on a 36 month payment scheme. The answer came back, 450 euro per month.
There are clearly many paths to the same answers in the Netherlands.