Sunday, 1 January 2017

Dream time

I won't be setting off before dawn this year, to rendezvous with the sunrise. For the last few days I've been suffering with a bad cold. It reached the coughing stage quickly, the stage I hate most, because I end up coughing until it hurts. Sleep becomes very difficult, a luxury to be had in snatches. I have had to cancel not only my New Year's Day plans, but every social engagement. Not only don't I feel up to the effort of seeing people, but it would be unfair to infect them with whatever virus has had me in its grip.

That grip is loosening, though: the last twenty-four hours have been better. The next twenty-four may see signs of a rapid recovery. I usually do throw these things off quite fast once the symptoms lessen, and I'm certainly eating and drinking all the right things to encourage that. But for me the New Year will be spent in self-imposed quarantine. I have books to read, this blog post to write, DVDs to watch, and I've looked at two TV programmes - a Channel 4 programme about the lost sketches of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore - that was worth a look - and yet another episode of New Tricks on the Drama Channel.

Both of those are commercial channels that carry ads. I dislike having to listen to TV advertisements, so I always turn the sound off. That reduces them to a series of silent images, and exposes how they aim to get the attention of the viewer. It's an interesting study. After nine in the evening the ads are geared towards adults, specifically mainstream adult couples with families and nice homes, who have a reasonable amount of cash to play with. So the ads tend to be aspirational, pandering to wishes and dreams. I saw ads plugging furniture and beds. Ads about cruises, cleverly presenting images to entice one on board.

And an ad about a dashing, go-anywhere car for rugged types, the Jeep Renegade, being offered at £199 per month. That's not much! I decided to look into that a little further, to see just what lay behind that astonishingly low price. I can assess cars, if not oak furniture, beds and cruises.

In the ad this Jeep Renegade was doing amazing things in freezing Arctic territory, conquering every difficulty. It seemed every inch the Action Car. The 'Jeep' part of its name summoned up wartime toughness and durability; the 'Renegade' part suggested this was a car for those who were rebels and outlaws, in spirit at least. All for £199 a month! Was the headline cost too good to be true? I went onto the Jeep website.

Well, there it was. In black. In the snow. And there was a stylish orange Renegade too.

And look, it seats five. 

But...where does the luggage go? There can't be any boot to speak of.

Despite the lack of boot space, this is '4x4 of the Year', meaning both 2016 and 2017. And there's the price confirmed. 'From £199 per month'. 

Ah... 'From'. 

The small print explains that actually one has to put down a whopping £3,383 as an initial payment (£199 x 17 = £3,383), followed by 42 months paying £199, by the end of which the customer will have paid a grand total of £11,741. But this is only to have use of the car, as if hiring it, and not to own it. If ownership is the intention, then at the end of the term the customer must pay several thousand pounds more to buy the car. So the thing will have cost maybe £18,000 all in. 

There would also be two other options: enter into another PCP-type hire agreement for rather less money; or just walk away, carless, having settled any outstanding charges. Outstanding charges? Well, the small print says you are limited to 10,000 miles a year on this deal. Exceed that, and they want some more money!  

Is this nevertheless a great car, and a great deal? 

The current TopGear New Car Buyers Guide for Winter 2016 thinks the Jeep Renegade is in fact an OK car - if you want a small modern crossover with Outward Bound looks. But TG adds that the Renegade is best in its top-spec Trailhawk version, and that costs (for cash) about £29,000. Meaning this version, which the Jeep webpage now concentrates on. As you can see, someone has driven it onto rocks:

So that £199 a month buys you only the base model - a car with a comparatively gutless 110 horsepower petrol engine, only front wheel drive, and a manual gearchange - and not the genuinely adventurous Trailhawk. In able hands the base model might still get you into the picture above, but I personally wouldn't like to try. (Fiona has a 205 horsepower diesel engine, all wheel drive, and bigger wheels - and I still wouldn't risk her on those rocks)

So the £199 is just a come-on. You are going to want more, and end up paying more. 

I have to say that, to my eyes, even the Trailhawk version looks tacky and lacking in substance. I'm not impressed by its 'distinctive' and 'aggressive' styling points:

Clearly I am not the type of customer Jeep have in mind!   

This example confirms me in my opinion that all product advertising is deceptive, and not to taken at face value. I'm not saying it's dishonest, just that it pays to read all the small print.


  1. Happy New Year, Lucy. Hope you feel better.

    Oh, the small print! You have that in the UK also?!!! Sorry about the car....


  2. Changing a car has to be one of the nastiest things we ever have to do. Even before arriving at a dealership I feel violated since you know that they treat every customer differently and you are sure to be charged more than some other one and probably humiliated along the way. Fighting through the small print and being forced to buy a more expensive model to get a fairly essential safety feature is all part of their nasty game! Can you tell that I may have to consider the prospect some time soon?

    Going to spoil my new year but I hope you have a happy one.

  3. I look forward to sitting in your latest purchase then. Although apart from the missing aircon, there seemed nothing amiss with the old one.

    Presumably it won't be a Jeep Renegade...


  4. A Jeep with only two wheel drive! I don't think so!!

    As you say, nothing really wrong with the old one a good wash will not cure...


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