Buying a car in the Philippine market is a hard task as there are so many options available to the prospective buyer. However, one factor that you should never take for granted when buying a new car is its value for money. As a hard-working individual, it's understandable that you would want your money to be spent on something that will satisfy you until the end of the vehicle’s life, and that’s what makes the value for money metric so subjective. People have different expectations and budgets, just like some have varying preferences when it comes to exterior design. In this regard, more affordable doesn’t necessarily mean better.
So for the confused consumer, here is a quick guide to our process for determining a vehicle or variant’s value for money. We usually use a series of questions regarding the car in question. To make things simple, here is the Mazda3, a compact car with both a sedan and a hatchback (now known as the Mazda3 Sportback) body style. For this outing, we’ll pretend to be a customer figuring out if the 2.0L Premium presents itself with value for money.
What do you want to do?
When buying a new car it is always a good idea to ask yourself what you plan to do with it. If your home is off the beaten path, and on dirt trails, a sedan will not be the best bet for you. If you have a large family, a small hatchback would be a bit inappropriate. Just choose the right vehicle for your lifestyle whenever appropriate. If you find yourself with many occupants in the car, then perhaps a 7-seater should be a priority or even a full-size van. If you find yourself hauling more cargo all the time, then perhaps a pickup is the best value for money option. Cars come in different shapes and sizes for a reason, to cater to different consumers and their differing needs.
In this example, the Mazda 3 sedan, is more geared towards young professionals who are either single or married with one or two children. This makes the sedan adequate for most tasks and errands as its trunk and legroom at the back are good enough for two individuals at the rear.
What’s your budget?
More often than not, your vehicle choices will be limited to your spending power. This is why you will need to carefully consider which cars will fit your budget. When given a limited budget, it’s important to figure out the options available that meet your needs and wants at the same time. It’s tough business if you don’t have the proper resources. In this question, it is important to search for the best value between all brands. Honda has a compact sedan as well, so perhaps considering a competitor will allow for a clearer picture of your money’s buying power.
For example, in its top-of-the-line trim, the Mazda3 sedan will cost P1,695,000, while a close competitor like the Honda Civic will cost you P1,690,000. With only P5,000 between the two, this ultimately boils down to your choices of which vehicle best fits your needs and personal preferences.
Is power important to you?
It's no secret that a higher price tag will often grant you access to better features and a bit more power under the hood. More power makes for a livelier drive, but it will cost you a premium over the base model. It may also cost you more in the long run when it comes to fuel efficiency. Some powerful cars aren’t as fuel-efficient compared to their entry-level counterparts, so it's something you need to consider before you buy into more power under the hood.
That’s the case with our example today, the Mazda3 1.5L Elite variant is missing a 360-degree camera, a feature that the 2.0L Hybrid variant has. You also get adaptive cruise control, which the Premium variant has among a plethora of other features.
Is the car refined to drive?
It's always a good idea to research on your own, read up or watch reviews, and check the car you are interested in before you buy it. While words and pictures can also explain so much, nothing beats touching and driving the car in the metal.
As driving is also another point of consideration, we highly recommend going on a test drive. A car may look good standing still, but feel horrible on the pothole-laden roads. You have to test drive a car to determine how well put together everything is. Comfort and sound insulation is also an area manufacturers invest heavily in, which makes it a priority for us to test in our reviews.
Going back to our example, the Mazda3 features some of the best build quality in its segment. Panels as dense and as robust as these take time and money to engineer, as well as a skilled hand to assemble at the factory. The point is, skill and craftsmanship make for an automobile with value woven in because the manufacturer has given the time and effort to prepare a good experience for its customers. This quality will continue once the car is rolling on the road as well as per our review. It’s a premium car experience with a mainstream price tag, so let that sink in.
What’s your verdict?
To round out our point, a car has good value for money if it offers more than its price tag suggests. If you see a car and feel short-changed by its features and driving characteristics, then it’s probably best to back off or reassess your buying decision.
Just because it has a low price tag doesn’t mean that it has a good value proposition. Perhaps the better experience is one variant away from the one you’re currently looking at. Perhaps you’re overpaying for features that might not matter to you, or the price of a variant is too high to justify the premium tag it comes with.
If a model or variant punches above its weight in terms of the overall quality and features it offers, then the price even if it can get quite high, can be justified. In Mazda’s case, the Mazda3 sedan is a bit on the pricier side, but compared to its rivals pricing, style, refinement, and features, it is an amazingly good value proposition especially since it’s a premium car for mainstream prices.