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We discover there is more than one way to buy a car

Johnson & Staunton was established 25 years ago. It occupies an unassuming premises on the main road from Bray leading into Greystones. Despite the somewhat cramped forecourt, it still manages to provide adequate space for customer parking, and a reasonable stock of used cars is provided.

The garage is a little off the beaten track of the N11, which means that passing trade is essentially local unless a customer in Wicklow is specifically looking for a Toyota dealer – as many are, of course.

The showroom is unpretentious, with normal ceiling heights that are a far cry from the spacious glass palaces we have increasingly come to expect these days. But despite space being tight, the proprietors have still found room for two customer seating areas.

On our visit we were browsing in the showroom for less than a minute before being approached by the receptionist. She was helpful without being overpowering. Had we said we just wanted to browse she'd have been happy to have left us to it.

However, we expressed an interest in the new Auris Hybrid and she immediately fetched sales manager David Molloy.

It was clear from the start that David has not just received sound induction training on the product but has a genuine interest in the vehicles he sells. He was only too happy to spend time educating this customer on the workings of hybrid cars.

The standard vehicle is comprehensively specced, including multimedia touch screen, Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning, reversing camera and "follow-me-home" headlights and starts at €27,000.

For €2,000 more you can have the luxury model with heated leather sports seats, driver lumbar support, dual zone climate control and electrochromatic rear-view mirror. David made a convincing case for the vehicle without over-selling it.

Then we talked about how to finance the purchase and it was immediately clear that knowledgeable as he is about cars, when it comes to the money side of the business he's a true expert. He introduced me to ToyotaFlex, the company's Personal Contract Plan. PCPs are increasingly a feature here. Your deposit can be as little as 7pc (up to 36pc). Monthly repayments will vary, depending on the model and the anticipated mileage. The dealer provides a "guaranteed future value" for the car, which can be used as a deposit at the end of the 36 month term for the next new vehicle purchase.

At the end of three years the customer can upgrade to a new car on similar monthly repayments, return the car with nothing more to pay, or keep the car and simply pay the "guaranteed future value".

David said that while it is an excellent way of financing a purchase, it would not suit everyone and that HP finance is also available. We had a detailed discussion on the pros and cons.

We came away comfortable that if we wanted to go ahead with a purchase we'd get an informed appraisal of finance options from him.

Irish Independent