Haggle hard and hold your nerve to make the most of new car registration discounts

New car buyers can negotiate some stunning discounts as manufacturers rush to record sales ahead of September's registration plate change...

Author Avatar
What Car? Staff
26 August 2015

September heralds one of the busiest months of the year for new car sales, thanks to the arrival of the new ‘65’ plate. In September 2014, 425,861* new cars were registered, a rise of 5.6%** on the same month in 2013. In total, UK car sales have now risen for 41 consecutive months as the economy rebounds.

The unique What Car? Target Price team reveals that substantial discounts are still available on new cars – the biggest current discounts available are £14,153 off a BMW Activehybrid 7 SE or £7208 off a Volvo S80 2.0 D4 SE Lux S/S. You could also save £6501 on a Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 CDI.

However, the UK’s biggest car-buying brand, What Car?, is also urging eager buyers to hold their nerves in negotiations with dealership salesmen in order to secure the best prices.

Whatcar.com editor, Jim Holder, said: "The temptation for buyers is to rush into the dealership as soon as the new registration arrives but there are some things they should be aware of before committing to a deal.

"While dealers will naturally try and capitalise on the arrival of the new reg plate in September, there's no reason to think that large discounts shouldn't be available. At What Car? we mystery shop dealers of every make and publish the highest prices you should really pay - and our Target Price figures suggest there are some bargains to be had if you haggle well.

"The key is to do your research before you set foot in the dealership, and to drive a hard bargain every step of the way. If you know what you want and what you should pay, it's you who should be celebrating harder than the salesman."

Advice from Whatcar.com includes:

  • Always consult What Car?'s Target Price research before you visit a dealer - and remember it is the most you should pay for your new car. Try to negotiate lower; if the dealer won't budge then give us a call

  • Finance commission is a major source of income for dealers. Some will give away all their profit on a car but still make money through the finance deal. Get a written finance quote, check the APR and shop around for the best deal from other finance companies

  • When a salesman asks how much you would like to pay per month, always keep quiet. Just ask for the best price possible and shop around at other dealers, so you can compare prices

  • A salesman will also often claim that he has to go away and check a deal with his sales manager. This is normally a ruse to blunt your attempts to negotiate. Ask politely to deal directly with the decision maker

  • Don't be fooled in to thinking the manager is on your side. They will often appear to overrule salesmen with 'one-day only' prices and by raising a trade-in value, but neither of these decisions are likely to be to your ultimate benefit

  • Sometimes the dealers will make more money on add-on sales than for the actual car. So think carefully before committing to special paint treatments, GAP insurance and the suchlike

  • Don't let the dealer scrabble back some of your savings elsewhere; insist the car is delivered with a full tank of fuel and car mats, for example

  • Watch that you don't lose some of your hard-earned savings by getting a lower than expected price for your trade-in. Agree a price for your trade-in separately, if possible. Be resolute every step of the way.

Latest What Car? Target Price research indicates the largest average savings by sector can currently be found in Luxury with savings of 12.35% or £9226, then Executive, with average savings of 10.59% or £3843, and finally Estate with average savings of 10.20% or £2789.

Latest deals from the What Car? Target Price team

City car 
Fiat Panda 1.2 Pop
List price £9375
Target price £7839
Saving £1536

Small cars
Citroën C3 1.0 PureTech 68 VT
List price £11,075
Target price £8995
Saving £2080

Family cars
Renault Mégane 1.2 TCe 115 GT Line S/S 5dr hatchback
List price £20,070
Target price £15,601
Saving £4469

Executive cars
Volvo S80 2.0 D4 SE Lux S/S
List price £33,720
Target price £26,512
Saving £7208

Luxury cars
BMW Activehybrid 7 SE
List price £66,200
Target price £52,047
Saving £14,153

Volvo V70 2.0 D3 SE Nav S/S
List price £31,620
Target price £24,698
Saving £6922

Renault Grand Scenic 1.5 dCi 110 Dynamique Nav
List price £22,615
Target price £17,561
Saving £5054

Small SUVs
Peugeot 3008 1.6 VTi 120 Active
List price £19,250
Target price £15,835
Saving £3415

Large SUVs
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 PHEV GX3h
List price £33,304
Target price £26,188
Saving £7116

Renault Mégane 1.5 dCi 110 Dynamique TomTom S/S coupé
List price £20,945
Target price £16,275
Saving £4670

Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 CDI
List price £33,150
Target price £26,649
Saving £6501

Hot Hatches & Sports Hot hatches
Renault Megane 2.0T Renaultsport 265 coupé
List price £25,935
Target price £22,265
Saving £3670

Please visit whatcar.com for more information on Target Price data and car-buying advice, or call the Target Price team on 0845 527 6394*.

*Calls cost 5p a minute plus your standard access charge