Sunday 17 December 2017

This is the wheel deal with a history of quality service

garage watch

donal ryan motor group Nissan main dealer, Limerick Road, Nenagh

(also at Roscrea and Thurles)

Location/access: 7

Customer Parking: 9

Signage: 7

Showrooms: 8

Customer facilities: 6

Customer service: 10

Models on display: 8

Deals Offered: 9

We liked: The friendliness and openness of the staff we met.

We disliked: The awkwardness of the entrance beside a roundabout.

Overall impression: A professional and helpful dealership. The premises might be considered adequate rather than spectacular these days but were certainly clean, bright and functional.

This is the wheel deal with a history of quality service

This garage group has a long history. It started in the early 1960s when Donal Ryan snr began selling petrol, tyres, parts and electrical goods in Templederry, Co Tipperary. In 1966 he opened the village filling station and garage and in 1973 secured a Datsun (now Nissan) franchise.

In December 1982 he opened a second branch in Thurles. Three years later the group added a body shop in Templederry which was extended in the mid-1990s.

The Roscrea branch was added in 1987 and Mr Ryan went into car and van hire. It currently operates a hire fleet of 100 cars and vans.

In 1993 the group won the Nissan dealership of the year for the first time and in 2003 it opened its new showroom and garage in Nenagh, refurbished Thurles and picked up its third dealer of the year award. Three years later it opened a new showroom and service department in Roscrea.

Why the history lesson? Because, in part, it explains why this group is capable of delivering good quality service: it has a true pedigree and an appetite for investment in the business.

And those are exactly the reasons why people go to a family-owned and run main dealer with a track record such as this. People like to do business with those they've done business with before and with whom they have developed a level of trust.

With this kind of company you expect to get informed advice, you expect to find yourself dealing with people who know their stuff inside out and who are willing to share that knowledge.

Our expectations, therefore, when we recently visited the Nenagh branch one Saturday afternoon were set at a very high level. We expected to be treated well.

For a long time we've been attracted by the Nissan X-Trail as a well spec-ed, capable and reliable SUV. Unlike many others, it also has a tailgate that opens upwards rather than sideways.

We consider this useful because it provides protection from the rain when changing out of sodden outdoor sports gear after a day's activity.

The Nenagh branch had a nice example, a 2008, 2-litre diesel with 93,000km on the clock and a top-level spec that included heated black leather seats, cruise control, panoramic roof, roof rails and alloys, at an asking price of €18,500.

Eugene was in charge of the shop that day and was a mine of information on SUVs and 4X4s in general and the X-Trail in particular. We discussed in detail the pros and cons of various models, engine sizes and individual years and the implications for each in terms of motor tax, availability and residual values.

I was dealing with someone who really knew his X-Trails inside out, a genuine enthusiast. The information was precise and clear, helping to clarify why one model might command a premium over another seemingly almost identical one. We talked about my possible trade-in, too, and he told me about another X-Trail being traded in the following week. True to his word, he texted me to let me know when it was available for me to inspect.

I was happy we could have reached a deal which would have pleased us both.

There was a good selection of pre-owned vehicles at a range of prices.

Stock is held in the three locations, but the group website helpfully indicates which vehicle is where.

But if you want to see it at a different showroom they will undertake a rapid process of rendition to enable you to see it at the one most convenient to you.

We recently found on the group's website, for example, a 2012, 1.6 diesel Nissan Qashqai with 17,200km on the clock, looking stunning in Magnetic Red and on offer at €26,995. At the other end of the scale there was a 2002 1.4 petrol Honda Civic at Nenagh with 131,000km on the clock for under €3,000 and a 2004 1.6 Opel Zafira in Roscrea with 100,000km at an asking price of €2,500. There was also plenty between these extremes.

What's more, many of the vehicles – including the Qashqai and the Zafira mentioned above – come with a Nissan Gold Standard warranty.

This is provided on selected pre-owned cars and covers the cost of any repair that's not normal wear and tear within the first 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

The Nenagh showroom is just off the N7 and is open seven days a week. Once you know where the entrance is you'll have no problems. But it is set well back along the main road to prevent it being too close to a roundabout. Our guess is that this was probably a planning condition. We missed it on the first pass.

The showroom had a good display of new vehicles, too, although it is somewhat lacking in terms of the luxury customer seating one sees in many of today's ultra-modern glass mausoleums. To be honest, though, the Nenagh showrooms were certainly "fit for purpose". The forecourt was also tidy. But far more important to us, we came away with a strong sense that this would be a dealership we would want to do business with. Eugene's combination of knowledge, helpfulness and professionalism left us in no doubt about that.

Irish Independent

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