Importing your own car is becoming much more popular in recent years offering a real alternative to purchasing from official UK dealers. Described below is a single example of how the author imported his UK spec' Subaru Impreza WRX MY03 from Belgium. This article attempts to capture all the stages of importing from initial research, through purchasing and to first service.
Rational of importing
Importing effectively allows a country with a strong currency, e.g. the UK, to purchase cars in another country with a weak currency and high car tax. Usually the country with the highest tax on cars (VAT, fuel/emissions, road tax, etc.) will be the cheapest as they receive larger discounts from the manufacturer in an attempt to make purchasing as attractive in country as in another. This is where the savings are; it's all about timing the biggest currency difference between the Sterling and the Euro with the country that offers the best tax incentives to their citizens for running environmentally friendly cars - which Scoobies aren't :-)
Best research is from import magazines. Read a couple of issues of 'Car Import Guide' and look at the garages being advertising. You're looking to get a feeling of which European Union (EU) country is selling the cheapest cars. In this case it became clear that Belgium had the cheapest prices. Select a couple of Subaru main dealers and given them a call. Use the web to check they are listed on the Subaru global web site as an official dealer. You're looking to select a dealer that is used to exporting cars to the UK. The author settled on Garage Knockaert nv, Ypres, Belgium - a small family run firm with over 18 years experience of Subaru's and the guy to speak to was Alain Knockaert.
First visit a UK main dealer and test drive the car you intend to purchase. Make a mental note of everything and bring back a brochure with a full specification included. The author requested a full specification (brochure) from the dealer. The two specifications were compared to ensure they were the same as a UK Euro car. The author noted the following differences which the dealer had already pointed out:
- No locking wheel nuts. Talk to the dealer, they usually throw these in if asked.
- No Category (CAT) 1 alarm, however it has a CAT 2 immobiliser. The CAT 1 part of the alarm is always fitted by the country importing the car - in the UK this is International Motors (IM). Most insurance companies require a 'tracker' monitor device on Impreza's so this is extra weather importing or not.
- No PPP upgrade option.
Extras (yes extras available by importing):
- Free travel safety pack including emergency triangle, fire extinguisher, first aid kit etc.
- Choice of seats, either the 'sports' seats as is only available in the UK (these include side air bags) or the 'bucket' seats as we have been accustomed to over the years. The bucket seats are the same as on the STi with material to match the WRX interior. Note, the bucket seats for the WRX and STi do not have side air bags. If the author was honest, this is the main reason he imported in the first place - to get decent seats.
- In fact there are many more options to chose from. Prices for options are near on half price e.g. Leather, larger wheels, fog lamp covers, towbars, etc.
You need to choose your dealer now, and get firm fixed price quote of everything including:
- Base price of car
- Transit plates which includes 3rd party insurance - only required if you intend drive the car home
Currency (to do)
Deposit (to do)
Usually 50% up front
Delivery (to do)
Insurance (to do)
Alarm (to do)
Registering (to do)
DVLA & International Motors (IM)
Servicing (to do)
Warranty (to do)
Resale (to do)