Ask Bark: Buy Now or Buy Later?

In this week’s installment of Ask Bark, we hear from somebody who likes us!

Hey, Bark!

Have enjoyed you and your brothers work for some time now on all the various sites you guys post on. I have not purchased a new car in quite some time, like 15 years.  I do have a stable of older cars that include a e28, e30 a mini cooper, and the odd van etc. I have long been a Golf GTI admirer and feel it is getting time to purchase a new car.  My question to you is, should I try to purchase before the end of the year?

Can I afford to wait until the MY 18’s start appearing on the lots?  Of course, finding a 6MT S and lighting package could be more and more difficult.  Also any advice on securing the best deal would be helpful, like I said, I’m out of practice on the new car lot.

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas and look forward to reading you in the new year!


Hey, Rolf! Loved you in “The Sound of Music.” Let’s talk a little bit about the pluses and minuses of buying at the end of the model year versus buying at the beginning of the next model year.

In the case of the Golf GTI, there are going to be a couple of minor changes from 2017 to 2018—most importantly, there’s a bump from 210 hp to 220 in the S model trim that you indicated would be your preference. The SE is set to get a bigger infotainment screen, an electronic LSD, and the bigger brakes from the Golf R, too.

You have to decide if those ten horsepower are enough to keep you awake at night, or if you’re happy enough with the 2017 as it sits. I’ve driven the 2017 pretty extensively, and I’ll tell you that it feels sprightly enough to me with the 210 HP, and I didn’t notice a huge change to the 220 that’s available now in the SE and Sport trims.

Plus, there are some stupid deals available right now on the 2017s, enough that you might be able to bump up to a higher trim level. Here’s a 6MT S that’s advertised for $5k off. However, that is the ONLY manual GTI advertised within 150 miles of me. If I widen my search to 500 miles, though, I find 94 examples of row-your-own GTIs. Unfortunately, when you live in Kentucky, this brings DC area dealers into your search, and I never trust an advertised price from a DC dealer—they tend to include all sorts of military and DoD discounts that the person off the street doesn’t qualify for.

So how do you get the best deal? I’d try heading to a dealership (that has a car that’s close to what you want in trim and color) this Saturday, the 30th. Dealers have end of month, end of quarter, and end of year goals they have to hit. You might get lucky and find a dealer who is trying to hit all three and is essentially giving away cars. You never know! Also, they probably don’t want to pay inventory property taxes—this doesn’t apply everywhere, though, so you’ll want to check to see if your state assesses inventory property tax and when they assess it. Be prepared to make some concessions, though—since you’re picking through the leftovers at this point, you might be able to get a manual S, but it might not be in your ideal color or have all the features you want.

However, if you don’t get the deal you want this weekend, it might not hurt to wait. I once got over $8000 off of sticker by buying a 2004 Mazda RX-8 in May of ’05. There are likely some places in this country that a stick-shift GTI is lot poison—namely urban, high-traffic markets where nobody wants to drive a stick. The cost of an airplane ticket to Miami might be a lot less than the amount you’ll save by buying your car there, for example.

The downside, of course, is that you’re immediately taking a fairly large depreciation hit. A 2017 will likely be worth 10-15% less than a comparable 2018 when you go to sell it. If you can make that up on the front end (which it looks like you should be able to), then great. And the longer you keep your car, the smaller that delta will be, so you might end up coming out far ahead.

Go shopping this weekend and let us know how it goes!

I also answer questions that do NOT involve Golf GTIs! If you have questions for me, please send them to or slide into my DMs on Twitter or Instagram


5 Replies to “Ask Bark: Buy Now or Buy Later?”

  1. E. Bryant

    “The downside, of course, is that you’re immediately taking a fairly large depreciation hit. A 2017 will likely be worth 10-15% less than a comparable 2018 when you go to sell it. ”

    Thank you for honestly addressing this issue, Bark. I’ve all too often seen this point overlooked, only to have it come back and bite someone in the ass two or three years later when they get the itch for something new (or if life circumstances dictate a change). If someone’s in it for the long term or if the up-front discount is sufficient enough to offset the future loss in value, then obviously it’s less of a problem.

  2. James Rodatus

    One thing to consider about the 2017s is the Sport trim level comes with keyless entry, lighting package, sport package, and no sunroof. This was exactly how I wanted my GTI and it’s going away for 2018. On the 2018, if you want the bigger brakes and limited slip diff, you have to have a sunroof. You can completely ignore this comment if you want a sunroof.

  3. Michael B

    This is all great advice, especially the part about DC dealers (not limited to VW) going nuts on the artificially deflated advertised pricing. Always read the fine print… the store with the lowest price will often be the first one to reneg on their listing. What? You mean you aren’t a recent college graduate military veteran who’s also retired with friends and family in the manufacturer employee program? No? Sorry then. STICKER PRICE!!!

    …. just kidding. We’ll see what my manager can do.

  4. George

    I don’t know about the US models, but in Canada you can no longer get the plaid seats with the sunroof on the 2018s.


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