Car Buying

2014 SEAT Leon Cupra – Something of a bargain

We like the new SEAT Leon Cupra here at EngageSportMode. We like it even more when SEAT UK announces keenly priced finance options, that match the power output of their car’s 2.0 TSI engine.

2014 SEAT Leon Cupra 02

Call us OCD, but having a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance deal that lets you drive a 265 PS SEAT Leon Cupra SC for £265 a month makes us a little bit happy. Oh, and that’s with a £1,000 deposit contribution from SEAT UK and an interest rate of 4.9% on a 36 month deal. SEAT haven’t provided any worked finance examples to accompany this news, so there may be hefty deposit contribution lurking behind that headline figure. But regardless, we admire the marketing work there SEAT, and it makes for an attractive payment to get behind the wheel of something which will do 0-62 mph in 5.9 seconds.

2014 SEAT Leon Cupra 003

If you’re unsure what exactly a PCP scheme entails, then have a read through our previous car buying deliberations here. Also, if you’re serious about buying a 265 PS Spanish hot hatch, ESM would suggest visiting the SEAT website or getting yourself down to your local dealership. They can provide financial advice; we can’t!

ESM’s 2012 Car Buying Predicament #6 – The Finale

Recently I wrote about the end of my ownership of the 9N3 Volkswagen Polo, following the epically long saga to replace it which began all the way back in October last year. So after several months of searching, test driving and negotiating, just what did land on the EngageSportMode drive?

volkswagen-polo-30412121018445501600x1060

A Polo R-Line; not mine.

Originally when my quest began I had dismissed the regular Polo for looking too mundane, despite the appeal of the 1.2 TSI petrol engine. But whilst researching a broker who could supply an Audi A1, I happened across a listing for the R-Line like the one shown above. Embarrassingly for such a perennial Polo purchaser, the existence of the R-Line had completely passed me by, despite being unveiled several months ago. Could the R-Line be the answer to all the requirements I’d originally asked of my new car? Let us just review what I wanted:

Essential Criteria

1. 0-60mph in less than 10 seconds. The R-Line dips under with an official 0-60 of 9.7 seconds.
2. A 120mph+ top speed. 118mph according to the manual. Close, but not quite.
3.Real world mpg of 35+. Yup. The benefits of a modern downsized engine mean an official combined mpg of 53.3, so even taking into account the fact the stated figures are impossible to achieve, it bodes well.
4. 3-Spoke steering wheel. Three-spoked, with a flat bottom, and made of a nice leather/perforated leather combination. (more…)

ESM’s 2012 Car Buying Predicament #5

I realise that calling this series of posts a “predicament” is somewhat of a dramatisation. Like having to decide on whether to pick a Cheryl Cole or Megan Fox calendar for the ESM office, this is a nice first world problem to have to deal with. But at the same time it is hardly like I’m sat here deliberating over whether to buy a Bugatti Veyron or a Pagani Huarya; everything is relative.

At the end of the previous instalment, I’d been left mulling the prospect of a MINI Cooper Coupe that I had to order within the next 48 hours to get the deal I wanted. In addition, I was also awaiting a telephone call from the Head of Business at Tyneside Audi. These two tales are entwined and interlinked, but lets deal with them one at a time.

The MINI Coupe Situation

One of the biggest problems I had with placing an order for the Coupe was the fact I hadn’t driven one. Stratstone MINI Tyneside couldn’t say when they might have one available, so the only real option would be to order blind and hope I liked it. The monthly payment was also £20 more than where I wanted it to be; this was the reason I’d walked from the showroom.

Lee, the friendly MINI sale exec, came back to me with a solution. He’d slash £21 a month off the payments, and let me drive a Cooper Coupe belonging to his (female) friend. I’d have to do this on a Wednesday evening after work, and then sign up there and then to get the order placed in time. The more I mulled this over, the more I got cold feet and given the money and length of time involved, this was not a good thing to have.

As a result, I ended it with Lee. I explained it wasn’t him, it was me, and that I just couldn’t make that level of commitment right now. This drew a line in the sand for the MINI buying experience, for now. I have to commend Stratstone that despite some initial problems, they were good to deal with. In future I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to buying a car from them, but just not right now. Ultimately, this led to…

The Audi A1 Situation

When I had walked out of the MINI dealership earlier in the week after the price was too high, my first point of call had been to head over to Tyneside Audi. Regular readers may remember the harsh criticism ESM gave this dealership for ignoring me and ESM’s mate Steve, and choosing to speak to a man in jean shorts instead. At the time, I tweeted North East Audi (part of the Benfield behemoth) who run the four Audi Centres in the Tyne & Wear/Teesside areas, and their response was apologetic. In addition, they also admitted they were reviewing weekend staffing numbers “to enable all customers to have a great experience”. As such, expectations were high that there would not be a repeat of last time. Oh, I was wrong.

Whereas on the previous visit the showroom had been quite busy, on this occasion it was virtually empty. ESM’s better half and I spent a good 5-10 minutes checking out the A1 on offer; opening the boot, sitting inside, wandering around it and generally talking quite loudly. But nobody approached. We then wandered up and down the showroom a bit more, looking at the RS3 and R8 Spyder models on offer. Again, salespeople were not forthcoming. After one last look at the A1, and a rather loud exclamation from ESM’s other half, we left. This time we hadn’t even been dissed instead of someone in cut-off denim shorts; we’d just been plain ignored.

Naturally there was no other course of action; I went straight to Twitter. Surprisingly, I got a fairly instantaneous response (perhaps I should have tweeted from within the showroom) apologising, saying there were no excuses and that if I sent them a Direct Message I would get a call from their Head of Business on Monday. Having previously said there were no second chances in this game, I deliberated before sending off my number and awaiting a call.

Monday dawned, and I did indeed get a call from Thomas, Head of Business at Tyneside Audi. He apologised profusely, and explained that they had seriously been undertaking a review of customer numbers vs staffing requirements at the dealership. This was the reason for the “kid in the bomber jacket” (as described by ESM’s other half) being by the front door of the showroom. I explained that being ignored twice was insulting, and that it made it appear that I was not the kind of person whom they wished to sell an Audi to; despite me having previously owned one.

Thomas then asked what car I had been interested in, and wondered if there was anything they could do to try to get me to give them an opportunity to redeem themselves. It was at this point that the idea of a “lifestyle test drive” of an A1 was mooted. This would give me the chance to have the car for 24 hours, rather than the regular 10-minutes round the industrial estate test. He took my details and said he would get one of their sales executives to contact me to make arrangements.

By the time the salesman, Peter, called the test drive was now being discussed as for “a few days”. That would clearly give me a superb opportunity to try out the baby Audi, and help allay any “cold feet syndrome” that I had with the MINI; should the car be good enough that is. There was only one snag; Tyneside Audi didn’t have a 1.4 TFSI (the model I’m interested in) available. Clearly I have a habit of wanting cars that nobody else seems to buy! Peter explained that they may have to order one in via Audi UK (at cost to the dealership) in order to get me one, but this was something they were willing to do.

Overall, I have to admit Tyneside Audi are doing all the right things, and making all the right noises, to try to get me back as a potential customer. Thankfully, this has all been done without the need for me to resort to wearing cut-off denim shorts. As soon as the A1 lands, hopefully this week, expect it to grace these very pages. And Twitter, and probably Instagram as well.

At this point it might be worth noting that ESM’s Mate Steve reckons that the Audi A1 is “a girl’s car”. What this is based on, I’m not so sure, but it is a view he maintains. Funnily enough, it is not one he applied to either a MINI Coupe or Hatchback, which would often be considered more feminine in my opinion. So, in the spirit of democracy, the next post is also going to include a poll to decide if Steve is right, or wrong.

So, in some respects, the predicament has become simpler. The MINI has very much gone out the window, and the Audi A1 emerges as the challenger to win my heart and wallet. ESM is still undecided on the Cheryl Cole vs Megan Fox situation though. Any help much appreciated!

ESM’s 2012 Car Buying Predicament #4

So after weighing up the benefits and pitfalls of PCP car financing, I managed to come to the conclusion that if it enables me to get a better, newer car (tailored to my specification), then it is probably a necessary evil.

Having been tempted by the seemingly generous offers available from MINI, it seemed sensible to begin my foray into new car purchasing there. Naturally, by ‘there’ I mean an online configurator for the MINI Cooper Hatchback, which has prices starting at a reasonable £14,900.00. However, the MINI selling model has been built on the old BMW “making the buyer tick a load of option boxes, to get stuff most cars come with as standard” system. This keeps the base price competitively low, and allows MINI to make a sizeable mark-up on options which the vast majority of competitors would throw in for free.

For instance, white indicator lenses are a £60.00 option on the Cooper. I personally struggle to think of any modern supermini which still comes with retro orange side repeaters. In addition, I very much doubt they really cost £60 to swap on the production line, but that’s how MINI makes its money. To try to “simplify” things, there is also a range of option packs available which combine the more popular (read that as necessary) choices into one bundle. This does save money, but does result in huge jumps in the asking price. Take the hatchback pictured below for instance:

Just a regular Cooper hatchback, nothing to see here folks.

Starting at £14,900, by picking the Chilli Pack and a smattering of other relatively sane items, I ended up with an on-the-road price of £17,845.00, adding around a 1/5th of the original amount. Cheap, this is not.

But it is another MINI variant that has really caught me eye; the Coupe. Having spent time looking a John Cooper Works version in my local MINI dealership, the idea of a two-seater, three-box coupe became quite appealing. The pop-up rear spoiler and standard fit sport button may have helped also… As a result, I found myself in a situation of getting a Sales Executive and Stratstone Tyneside to spec up a Cooper Coupe, which looked something like this:

Undecided on those sport stripes? Yeah, me too.

Obviously, it does look a bit like someone has sat on the back-end of the hatchback model, but I’m genuinely taken with the styling. Perhaps the most important factor is that it isn’t a regular MINI hatch like everyone else seems to have.

There are a couple of issues with trying to buy a Cooper Coupe though. Firstly, nobody appears to have one to test-drive. Clearly I’m not going to buy a car without driving it; especially not for the sums of money involved here. According to Lee, my friendly Sales Executive, he had no idea when they would have a Cooper Coupe available to test. The closest thing possible would be to drive the hatchback, which does share a lot of the mechanicals with the two-seater, to try to gauge whether or not I liked it.

This was how I came to find myself sitting in traffic around the Silverlink in North Tyneside, yesterday afternoon, behind the wheel of a white Cooper hatchback. Nose-to-tail congestion isn’t the best way to get a feel for how a car handles, nor is it fair to the powertrain to subject it to the demands of three people on board; the additional weight naturally blunting the performance. By the same breath, there was nothing inherently wrong with the hatch, and I would imagine the Coupe to feel a little more light-footed and sprightly. So we turned to talking finances; and failed.

For the specification of 1.6 Cooper Coupe shown above, MINI were asking £18,670.00. A chunky price jump over the similarly equipped hatchback, but such is the price of having a button to make the rear spoiler pop-up on demand! I’d set the budget for what I wanted to pay each month, what deposit I would make and what I wanted for the Polo in part-exchange. The end result was a monthly payment £20 above my target.

Due to the relative new-ness of the Coupe, discounts are apparently not really meant to exist. In addition, the generous dealer-deposit contribution that the MINI finance calculator had shown online, seemingly disappeared within the confines of the dealership. Add to this the pressure of, needing to order within the next 48 hours to “secure a delivery date before the end of the year to use this finance offer” meant that I walked. Yes, the current offer will expire on the 31st of December, just like the SCS sofa sale is always due to end; just before the next one starts.

So this weekend has solved some elements of my predicament, in that I’m seemingly happy to commit to buying a new car through PCP. But added more problems in trying to pick between the relative mundanity of a Cooper hatchback, or the potentially unaffordable (but pop-up spoilered cool-ness) of the Coupe. There also emerged a third option, this:

Audi A1 1.4 TFSi Sport

But that is for another chapter in this saga, and once I’ve had the chance to speak with the “Head of Business” at Silverlink Audi…

ESM’s 2012 Car Buying Predicament #3

The rather stylish looking MINI of Chicago dealership.

So after all the hours spent researching cars that would fit into the £8k used budget, ESM’s mate Steve threw a spanner in the works. As you’ll discover later this week, he’s just got a cracking deal on a brand new MINI Countryman for his better half. Given the state of the economy, car dealers are not having the best of times. Consequentially, there are good deals to be found out there if you know where to look and are willing to bargain hard.

But could a brand new car really be cheaper than a second-hand one? Well, yes. Potentially. Having mulled over the previous shortlist, I’d pretty much settled on a used MINI Cooper; hopefully with air-conditioning and a 3-spoke steering wheel.

To buy one of the used cars I’d been eyeing up on AutoTrader, I’d need a loan. The banks are not really up for lending anything to anyone at the moment, still reeling from the fallout of breaking the economy back in 2008. So interest rates are high, even if you can convince your “account executive” to unlock the doors to the vault. Over the course of a three-year borrowing period, the amount I’d need would cost in the region of £170 per month. That would secure a decent used MINI Cooper, probably on an 08 plate, with around 35,000 miles on the clock.

Having considered this, I travelled over to the MINI website, and checked out their current finance offers. Traditionally I’ve always been against buying a car on finance. My mantra was always from the “if you can’t afford to buy it, then you can’t have it” school of thought. Buying a car on a PCP or hire purchase deal means it isn’t really yours; the finance company is the legal owner until you make that last payment. But then look at the house I purport to “own”. A substantial chunk still belongs to my mortgage company; it’s certainly more theirs than it is mine.

Trying to keep my new open-mindedness in sight, I clicked and slider-ed my way through the MINI finance options. On a Mini Select deal, I could trade in the Polo and run a brand new Cooper hatchback for £160 per month over the next three years. Which is less than buying a used one. So was Steve actually right? Quite possibly, and then some.

It also struck me that there is more than just the hard finance aspect to consider. A new MINI would have a “tlc” pack; ergo, no servicing costs for those 36 months. It’ll also not need an MOT for 3 years; £120 saved even if the used car passed without issue every time. Oh, and let’s not forget the warranty and roadside assistance the new model would have those for – yeah, you’ve guessed it – 3 years. Realistically, buying a fresh out the packet model could save me hundreds of pounds compared to an unreliable used car.

This really had me thinking. Could I finally, for the first time in 11 years of motoring, actually consider using an online car configurator for real to spec the car I could actually buy? And, on top of that, let me justify it to myself financially?! Well yes, quite. Even ESM’s Father, the font of car-buying knowledge did not immediately counsel against such an idea. This had blown my mind just a little, and tipped all my car-buying research and knowledge on its head. The used car was always meant to be the cheaper option compared to new; not the other way round.

There had to be a catch though, surely? I guess the catch with any of the Personal Contract Purchase  type schemes are these:

  • The final “balloon” payment is the elephant in the room. Whilst it makes your monthly payments cheaper than hire purchase (or a loan), the final payment hangs over your deal until the end. You could always pay it off and keep the car, but who realistically has several thousand pounds just sitting waiting? Alternatively you can hand the car back and clear your debit, but this leaves you with nothing of value; by contrast, at least with a loan against a used car you have the intrinsic worth of the car left at the end (whatever it may amount to).
  • There is also the option to trade in your current PCP’d car against another one from the same manufacturer. With MINI this would also allow you to cash in against a BMW, but it still limits your choice of options. The world is not your oyster; unless it’s stamped Bayerisch Motor Werken.
  • In addition, for me, there’s still the niggling doubt over who the car belongs to. Legally it’s the finance company, even if you’re the one specifying it, driving it, washing it, fuelling it, taxing it and insuring it.
  • Finally, there’s the risk of “something going wrong” which means you can’t make your monthly payments. With a used car loan you can simply sell the car and use the cash to clear the debt. A car on finance adds many further layers of risk and penalty.

So the question is relatively simple. Do you a) take a loan on a used car, being able to have the greater security of owning it out right, but at the same time knowing it may cost more financially and isn’t exactly what you’d want? Or b) go for the finance option; design a car exactly to your taste but in the knowledge it doesn’t quite belong to you, and could leave you with nothing, even if it costs less per month?

It’s a tough call, especially for someone who likes to play it safe when it comes to money (to the point where people presume I’m of Hebrew descent) most of the time. The thought of being the first person to drive a car is alluring; knowing somebody else hasn’t abused it, spilt coffee in it (or worse), and that every option was picked by you personally. But this is countered by that inherent financial risk; the car you specced might end up being taken off you.

This predicament started with weighing up the used car options. It’s now a whole lot more complex…

ESM’s 2012 Car Buying Predicament #2

Previously on ESM, I set out a rather lengthy list of criteria that I wanted the Polo replacement to have. Somewhat predictably, I then went away and spent several hours days searching AutoTrader and other classifieds. When you’ve given yourself a string of demands which make your average terrorist blush, unsurprisingly the options were limited, with few covering all bases. Below are the ones which came closest, with accompanying plus and minuses:

MINI Cooper 1.6 (R56)

No, I realise there are literally thousands of them everywhere, and it’s a little bit girly image-wise. But the Cooper ticks virtually every box.

Plus Points
0-60 in 9.1 seconds, 126mph top speed, real world 35+ mpg, shorter than 4.4 metres and cheap insurance. Also has the benefit of a standard six-speed gearbox and renowned handling ability.

Minus Points
Not all come with air-conditioning or three-spoke steering wheels as standard, due to the myriad option combinations available.

Verdict
A strong opening contender, providing it has the right specification and I could live with the associated image.

Ford Fiesta Zetec S 1.6

With 120bhp and an excellent chassis, the Zetec S is said to be a real driver’s car. Styling wise, to my eye it’s also one of the best looking modern superminis out there.

Plus Points
Hits the performance and economy criteria, along with good standard spec levels. Those looks are a bonus too.

Minus Points
A bit ubiquitous? The fact it’s a Ford?

Verdict
Providing you can see past the badge, the Fiesta hits all the benchmarks. It doesn’t have that x-factor though.

Mazda Mazda2 Sport 1.5

Like the Fiesta, the baby Mazda has a strong reputation for being a real driver’s car. However, it only packs 103bhp into its compact body shell.

Plus Points
Good fuel economy, cheap insurance and the all important 3-spoke steering wheel.

Minus Points
Hits 60mph in over 10 seconds, and tops out at only 117.

Verdict
Possibly just a bit too sensible, no matter what the motoring magazines may tell you. I bought the Panda based on journalist recommendations and look what happened!

Honda Civic Type-R 2.0

The unloved FN2 Civic Type-R proves to be something of a performance bargain. Having been panned by Top Gear for failing to improve on its EP3 predecessor, used versions start from under £8k.

Plus Points
It’s a real hot-hatch, doing the 0-60mph run in only 6.6 seconds and 146 flat-out. The looks have improved with time, and it comes fitted with a pair of excellent bucket seats.

Minus Points
It’s the economy, stupid! Revvy VTEC and a lack of low down torque produces an official mpg of 31. Expect less than this in the real world. Insurance is also high, and I also worry that revving the nuts off the Civic will get a little bit boring after a while. Well perhaps not, but it’s not the easiest car to live with after a long day at work.

Verdict
Despite the criticism it received, it’s still a proper performance car. However, the running costs make it impractical; this is a car for a time before the £1.30+ litre of petrol.

Renaultsport Clio 197

Another real performance hatch that slips into the £8k budget. Fine handling, gutsy motor and a Formula 1 inspired rear diffuser!

Plus Points
It’s quick enough, it’s got that 3-spoke steering wheel and it’ll fit on the drive fine.

Minus Points
Another revvy 2.0 litre engine makes for poor fuel economy, with owners reporting 30mpg or so on average. Insurance isn’t cheap either, but to be expected given the performance on offer.

Verdict
For all its speed and handling prowess, I’d struggle to justify the costs. Plus I’d live in constant fear of it turning to bits on my drive overnight. Red Bull Racing’s problems with their Renault engines does little to change my opinion!

SEAT Ibiza 1.6 TDi

The latest Polo with hairy armpits houses average mechanicals in a rakish body. That’s all I really have to say.

Plus Points
Ermm, 65mpg officially? Very cheap road tax? 184lbs/ft of torque? And a 3-spoke steering wheel of course.

Minus Points
Hitting 0-60mph in over 10 seconds is a bit of a problem. Lacks the 6-speed gearbox, sport mode or anything else desirable to compensate.

Verdict
Snore…snore…sorry, fell asleep there. No, in a word. It’s duller than seminar on soil values in Milton Keynes. On a Tuesday afternoon. When it’s raining. You get the idea.

Realistically, it’s between the MINI and the Fiesta. The others are all too compromised to really consider as a used purchase. Several years ago I might have had the ability to justify running something as costly as the Type-R or Clio 197. But these days it’s all about the balance between performance and economy; something a wailing VTEC cannot manage unfortunately.

ESM’s 2012 Car Buying Predicament #1

The problem of being someone who writes about cars, and is generally consumed with thoughts of an automotive nature, is that it makes picking your own vehicle difficult. For instance, in the past twelve months I’ve owned the following:

  • 2006 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI Sport,
  • 2008 Fiat Panda 1.4 100HP,
  • 2006 Volkswagen Polo 1.4 SE.

The Jetta was the biggest, quickest, and the one completely underutilised by my lifestyle. The Panda was fun, but became annoying to live with on a daily basis. And the Polo? Well it exists, that’s pretty much all I can say about it; 1,200kgs of car that moves me from A-to-B. As you may be able to tell from the tone of this article, I’m looking to change cars again.

The Gods of good fortune have smiled upon me, and subsequently I find myself in a position where I can consider a better, newer car. But trying to narrow down exactly what I need, what I want, what I should have and what can have is not particularly easy. To try to help, I made a list of criteria which went something like this:

Essential Criteria

1. 0-60mph in less than 10 seconds. Like athletes, the 10 second barrier dictates the difference between quick and slow. I realise other important things matter like 50-70mph in gear acceleration, torque curves etc. But if you want to summarise performance in one simple nutshell, the 0-60 time matters. Less than 10 seconds is good, less than 9 is warm-hatch territory, less than 8 warmer-hatch and less than 7 is the real hot-hatch arena. The Polo resides in the 12 second category; it is not quick.

2. A 120mph+ top speed. This is probably even more academic than the 0-60 time. However, having owned the Panda which hit 60mph in 9 seconds, but flat-out would only manage just over 110mph gives an indication of the aggressively high gearing it had. In addition, a higher top speed means on a day-to-day basis you’re using the car well within its performance tolerances. There’s also the, childish, element of bragging rights too.

3.Real world mpg of 35+. I realise in the days of hybrids, eco-diesels and electric cars that 35mpg is a relatively low aim. It is, but it’s a realistic one. Achieving 35mpg on a daily basis with my driving style, is good. Essentially it marks the divide between a car becoming a burden, and a car helping lighten the load on the wallet.

4. 3-Spoke steering wheel. There are a few car nuances I just cannot cope with; a steering wheel with 2 or 4-spokes is one of them. Perhaps subconsciously it’s because when I think of performance cars, I think of them having tri-spoked wheels. They also are easier to hold when turning lock to lock in a very unapproved arms crossed stylee.

5. Air-conditioning. As a car enthusiast I know I should eschew complexities and additional weight. But when you’ve owned a car with air-con , it becomes difficult to imagine how you’d cope on that one hot summer’s day without it. Yes it can knacker your fuel economy, and opening a window is probably cheaper, but this is the 21st century so I expect some modern enhancements.

6. No longer than 4.4 metres long. This is mainly dictated by the size of my drive, along with the fact anything bigger falls into the “why do I need a car this big?” category. See the Jetta.

7. Affordable insurance. Car insurance is expensive at the best of times, but once you hit those higher groups it become ridiculously so. I don’t have a hard and fast rule for this, but basically the car needs to justify the payout to the insurance company.

So those are the things my next car must have. I also came up with some “added bonuses” which I’d be pleasantly surprised to have:

Desirable Criteria

8. Six-speed gearbox. I’m male, therefore 6 is infinitely better than 5 when it comes to gears. It’s the reason manufacturers will now sell you an 8-speed transmission; don’t be taken in by the talk of better economy and performance. But in all seriousness, a 6-speed ‘box generally means better low down acceleration, but longer top gears which give a more relaxing motorway experience.

9. Steering wheel mounted controls. I had these in the Panda, and the ability to change radio stations, adjust the volume, cycle through pointless menus without taking my hands of the wheel is addictive. It also makes me feel ever so slightly like a Formula 1 driver.

10. A sport mode. Given the name of this website, this should be fairly understandable. Generally, all they do is sharpen the throttle response and weight the steering up to make you feel like you’re driving sportier, without any real performance boost. Either way, I like the option of tailoring the car to suit my driving mood.

As you can probably see, this begins to narrow down the options somewhat substantially. There’s also the issue of the fact I won’t own anything built in France, nor something with a Vauxhall badge on the nose. Having owned a string of VAG products I also have quite high expectations when it comes to interior quality.

So herein lies my predicament; what car exists in the automotive world, which will tick all those boxes above but cost no more than £8,000?!