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January 2014

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I just bought my first new automobile, a 2009 Volkswagen GTI. This is also the first time I've financed any purchase outside of my mortgage (excepting tricks like using store financing solely to get discounts).

It's hard to claim that I really needed a new car, since the Integra still functions as basic transportation and since Annie's '06 Civic is a great vehicle for everyday use. Still, every month that passes makes the Integra more frustrating to operate - it's 16 years old, and both the exterior and interior are starting to show that age.

Mechanically, though, she's great. Clocking over 185,000 miles, but running like a dream. That's Honda for you.

Anyway, I said to myself, "Self, you can have a nice thing every now and then, even if you don't strictly need it. You've never owned a new car in your life, and right now you can grab the dealers by the balls and walk away with a good price."

This, mind, is after months of obsessive research. I've wanted to replace the Integra for a while, and I've been scouring the internets for a worthy successor. I honestly didn't expect that at the end I would be *buying* such a thing - I really just wanted to know what I should be lusting after.

The GTI was in a close fight with the Civic Si (which is a close relative of the now defunct Integra). Both vehicles had almost everything that lead me to the Integra to begin with: good gas mileage, fun to drive, nice (but conservative) appearance, compact size (but still able to seat 4 comfortably, 5 in a pinch).

Ultimately, 2 factors tipped the scales in the GTI's favor: first, it's not another Civic (and as much as I do love the Civic, I don't think we need two of the things), and second, I fell in love with the hatchback (which allows the GTI to cram more cargo and passenger volume into a vehicle that's actually shorter than the Civic).

My dealership experience was not at all what I expected. I had done such extensive research on the process that I was ready for a major undertaking: I armed myself with all the information I could find, and I used Edmunds to get an idea of what to expect. I was ready for a fight.

On a whim, though, I decided to try the Edmund's service to automatically get quotes from area dealerships via email. Nothing to lose from that, and it would at least give me a good baseline to start from.

Much to my surprise, one guy came in well under the rest (with a price that was well under both Edmund's FMV as well as invoice), and when I shopped the price around the other dealers (with one exception) basically told me they couldn't touch it. I went out to the lot (dragged the guy in on Saturday, when he doesn't even normally work) and tried to drive him down a bit further, but he wasn't budging at all on the price of the car beyond throwing in a couple of extras at cost. I honestly didn't expect anything different, though, given the way other dealers responded to that first quote.

In retrospect, I think I could have done marginally better with the single dealership that was able to match the price, but I don't think it would have been *much* better - a few hundred at most - and the dealer I went with has a better reputation and is more convenient to me. That's worth a few hundred bucks, I think.

Anyway, I'll put up a picture when I get around to it. So far I've got only minimal buyer's remorse, but we'll see how I feel after I start making those hefty payments...

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