As 2014 drew to a close, it became apparent to Mud and I that Thomas, the 10 year old Mazda pickup truck, was ailing badly and would probably not make it through his next MOT (for those of you not from the UK , this is an annual road safety test for all vehicles 3 years and older) …… well not without us having to spend upwards of £1,500 on repairs and, to be frank, it simply didn’t make financial sensible to go down that route anymore, as this was more than the value of the vehicle as it stood. The Mazda had been a sterling workhorse over the last 10 years, clocking up around 250k miles and proving unbelievably reliable, however, all good things must come to an end and with Thomas proving more of a money pit with each passing day, something had to give.
Mud had hoped to have Ciggy on the road as a reliable daily driver, by the time Thomas retired but, due to all sorts of reasons (weather, time, illness etc), this wasn’t going to happen. It was a frustrating situation because the Mazda had been loan free for the last 5 years and we had hoped to avoid the necessity of taking out finance. With the monthly running costs for the Mazda running at between £420 and £500 for diesel and insurance (plus road tax, servicing, repairs and MOT at regular points throughout the year), the ideal would be to find a replacement for less than this amount, all in! Oh and it would help if Mud actually liked the replacement car.
This was to prove challenging.
It soon became clear that in the 10 years since we had bought Thomas, the cost of a large family car had risen to quite staggering levels, with the average consumer expected to pay upwards of £24k for the same or similar spec to our Mazda. Even well known auto magazines commented that the so called ‘family car’ group, was prohibitively expensive and out of the reach of even middle income families. Other factors that we unexpectedly had to take into account, were the extensive and far reaching changes to taxation of and surcharges for diesel vehicles, due to be brought in over the next few years. If you own a diesel vehicle in the UK and haven’t heard about, or have dismissed as rumour these changes, I suggest you take a deep breath and go look them up ….. especially if you live in/work in/ or regularly drive into any of the UK cities.
Mud pretty soon realised that to have a reliable, economic and affordable car, we were looking at the small family hatchback group of cars, especially if we wanted to achieve a total monthly spend of no more than what Thomas had been costing us to run. After hours and hours of detailed analysis of all available stats and information about each of the cars in our target group, Mud came to the world rocking conclusion that, taking everything into account, the ideal car for us was the Vauxhall Corsa! I say world rocking because anyone who knows Mud would know that Vauxhall would have been pretty close to the bottom of his preferred choices but then the whole idea of buying a small car is alien to Mud who, for the last 25 years or so, has only ever driven larger, diesel powered cars such as the Land Rovers and Pick-up trucks.
Mind you, he hasn’t selected the cheapest, bottom of the range model! Oh no! He hasn’t gone that far.
Instead he chose the mid-range Corsa E Limited Edition, with the 1.4 turbo engine. But then the maths adds up, so you can’t really blame him. Based on its’ projected fuel economy figures which Mud worked out by taking the totally unrealistic official Government combined figure and reducing it to a level more in line with real world usage (45 mpg in this case he reckoned), combined with the much cheaper unleaded petrol costs per litre, Mud was able to conclude that the Corsas’ monthly fuel costs would be significantly better than the Mazdas’.
Added to this fact was that the annual road tax would be half that of the pick-up and the insurance would be significantly smaller too! MOT costs wouldn’t come into affect for three years. As for the staged services needed for new cars, a small monthly charge, paid alongside the monthly finance installment, would negate the need to suddenly find a large sum of cash to pay for the service.
So after weeks of research, Mud announced to me that he thought the Corsa was the only viable option for us and that we’d have to think about what we wanted to do. Right! Fine! Whatever you think. So we got on with life and pondered our options …………
Actually, let me rephrase that ………. so I got on with life and pondered our options!
Mid January, Mud and Little Mudlet went out to get some milk, bread and other small items of shopping that we needed. Two hours later he came back with the shopping and announced that he had bought a car!!!!!!
Pardon! What did you say? Run that by me again!!!!!
It then transpired that Mud had popped over to a supermarket in Cleethorpes which just so happened to be next door to a Vauxhall dealership. Really? Just happened to be next door to a Vauxhall dealership huh? We’ve used this supermarket before and so I wasn’t fooled for a second.
Mud explained that as they were so close by, he though he might just as well go and have a closer look at the Corsa. Of course! That makes sense …… but how did we get from nipping out for a pint of milk, loaf of bread and assorted sundries, to buying a £12K car? A car, incidentally, which I hadn’t actually seen at this point!
To be fair ‘buying’ is a tiny bit of an exaggeration because he hadn’t actually placed the order at this juncture but all the finance, spec, options and even the colour had already been discussed and drawn up and it was simply a matter of phoning up and saying ‘yes’, so to all intents and purposes the deal was done. Thomas was to be part of the deal as a very tiny part exchange.
It took 10 weeks between order confirmation to us collecting it and just under two weeks ago we took delivery of our new Corsa. Of course Mud being Mud, he hadn’t settled for a regular colour such as red, white or black but he spent much of the 10 weeks worrying that when he saw the car, he might not like his choice of colour. His anxiety was fueled by the fact that it appeared that his colour choice was so rare, he couldn’t find any pictures of a Corsa in that colour across the entire web!!
“What if it’s awful and I don’t like it?” he would ask. Well seeings how I hadn’t even had a smidgeon of input into choice of the car never mind the colour of the car, he didn’t get much sympathy from me other than to say:
“Well you’ll have to live with it for at least 3 years!”
Luckily for all involved, we love the colour of the new car (christened Dafny) wholly due to the fact that is doesn’t look anything like the ‘green’ we were expecting. No dear readers, you are not imagining things, there is no need to adjust your monitors/resolution etc.. Dafny is green and by that I am not referring to her planet saving properties, I am, in fact referring to her body colour. She is Limelight Green apparently, hence Muds initial concerns over his choice and what she may look like in the flesh. It seems that Limelight Green isn’t …… well green at all. For around 95% of the time, the car appears lemon yellow, although we do occasionally get a glimpse of the green that we were expecting but only in shaded areas and to be honest we’re relieved. We love the colour and she sure is easy to find in a car park!!!
All in all we are really, really pleased with the look and performance of the car so far. Mud is on holiday this week but undertook his first commute to Coventry in Dafny last week and despite appalling weather conditions (strong head winds and torrential rain, so heaters, lights and windscreen wipers were needed) his first commute recorded an MPG of 52!!! This is far in excess of what we were expecting and even doing short local trips, the car is averaging around 45/46 MPG.
Sitting down and working out the combined monthly costs of finance, service charge, insurance and petrol, unbelievably Mud has achieved the ultimate goal and has found us a comfortable little car that costs less than the Mazda to own and run. In addition the interior of the car is designed in such a way that if feels much bigger and safer than we were expecting.
With Annie the Land Rover due to be fixed and put back on the road in the next month or so, the only aspect of the Pick-up that I will be missing for now is the load bed area for collecting compost etc.