Car Buyers' Guide: Used imports practical choices
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AA Motoring discusses Japanese imports
When vehicle import regulations were relaxed in the 1990s, our doors opened to a flood of low-cost and reliable used cars, many from Japan. Affordable and rich in variety, Japanese cars immediately made an impact on Kiwis and continue to.
Service and parts
Fast-forward a few decades, and the dominance of Japanese vehicles in our market means there’s an excellent availability of spare parts and mechanical support for their owners.
Workshops often have more experience of servicing and maintaining Japanese vehicles as these cars are popular with motorists. Problems with Japanese vehicles can often be quickly resolved.
The New Zealand market receives many cars that are relatively unheard of overseas. That’s in part because many are specifically designed for Japanese domestic drivers, but these vehicles tend to suit our needs, too.
The only challenge with Japanese imports is the language barrier. Months after buying the car, you may still discover it comes with features you didn’t know it had. Through the Japanese market, we also get access to performance or high-spec models not usually available here as new. Price
The Honda Jazz
If you’re looking for a quality, affordable car from a reputable manufacturer, there is a good chance you’ll end up driving home a used or new Japanese vehicle. Their prices have been driven down by the vast amount of used vehicle dealers, but they still offer excellent value.
The Japanese automotive market is fiercely competitive and consumers there expect more for their money but also, in Japan, cars older than three years have to undergo a costly compulsory safety inspection. To avoid this payment — and because of the low costs of buying a new vehicle in Japan — it’s more economical for Japanese motorists to frequently replace their vehicles. Hence a lot of quality cars with a lower price tag are brought here.
Don’t automatically assume that quality is compromised because Japanese cars cost less.
Back in the 60s and 70s, Japanese vehicles were some of the few you could rely on to start the first time you turned the key in the ignition. If things didn’t work, Japanese manufacturers simply worked on them until they found a solution to improve it. Their cars have become known for their reliability.
Top Japanese imports
According to the Motor Trade Association, the five most popular Japanese imports for July 2016 were the Toyota Rav4 and Corolla, Suzuki Swift, Mazda CX-5 and Honda Jazz. So, if you’re thinking of buying a used Japanese vehicle, you’re bound to come across one of these cars as they are popular in New Zealand.
The Japanese vehicles available now offer a different driving experience to European vehicles as they tend to focus on practicality and durability, making them well-suited for company and fleet vehicles.
They are competitively priced and they can offer as much value as their European rivals, at a smaller price. But their appeal is based upon more than just functional or practical requirements — Hondas, Toyotas and the like have been around so long now that they’ve earned their place as favourites with Kiwi motorists.