Life in Japan

Buying a car in Japan

18 February 2015

We did it! Finalized the documents to officially put ourselves in debt ahem I mean, get a cool ride for the next few years!!!

We started shopping for a car two days after I got my Japanese license haha! [read the story of how I passed here!]

We thought to buy a Japanese car, since duh, we are IN Japan. But after a bit of thought, we decided, hey, might as well try out the European cars as well! Fu was all “When else will I get to drive a European car for so cheap?!”

Our car shopping spanned 3 weekends, and we decided by the third weekend.

I won’t bore you with the models of cars we looked at, but we only considered the compact car models because Japanese roads are scarily narrow. It’s the kind where it absolutely looks like it’s a one-way street because of how narrow the road is, but is in fact a two-way street :S

This is officially my first time shopping for a car, so it was pretty exciting for me!

I didn’t take a whole lot of photos cause Japanese phones are stupid and the camera sounds even if your phone is in silent mode -_- But I tried to capture the more unique aspects!


First stop: Mazda

No matter which car dealer you go to, you will most certainly be offered a drink menu. I pick different drinks at different places (green tea, apple juice, orange juice, etc) but Fu is super boring. Forever plain water! -_-

At Mazda

Another similarity across all car dealers: Left alone for extended periods as the salesmen prepare the quotation.

The price is NEVER that of the car price listed because many different charges will be tacked on. Like fees for recycling the car (dunno why they charge now), installing the electronic toll device, etc.

In addition to that, there are about a billion options you can select. The ridiculous thing is that some things that we take for granted actually are not included in the car price! For example, floor mats. If you don’t add that option then your car will not come with any floor mats!


Honda’s toilet

I was so amused to find that Honda provides free diapers in the toilet! I guess Honda’s target market is families?

Anyway, Honda was the only place we didn’t get to test drive any car. The salesman was such an arrogant asshat. He talked to us and treated us in a patronizing manner, giving us vague answers to our questions and not even bothering to sell ANY of the cars to us. His attitude was all “I don’t need to work for your business since Honda practically sells itself.” You think Honda is too good for us? Fine. Be like that. We’ll see who cares at the end.

We struck Honda off the list even before we stepped out of the shop.

Side note: The following week, said asshat had the cheek to call us! Madness. Obviously did not return his voicemail.


First thought as I walked in: Whoa. This is an entirely different class from last week!

The design and layout of the showroom, the lighting, right down to the drinks menu were all superior to those we visited last week!

You know, just in case you forget where you’re drinking tea

Fu was obsessed with the A Class, having read reviews, watch YouTube videos, etc on it. It felt as if we were just one test-drive away from buying the car!

After the test-drive, we confirm that the A Class has the stupidest seats in all of automobile history. Well, our automobile history at least. The head rest juts out in a way that there is a space created between the neck and the seat. THE SPACE THERE FOR WHAT?!

Halfway during the test-drive, Fu happened to look in my direction and he had this incredulous expression on his face that the first thought to cross my mind was that he was looking at me properly for the first time in a long while and was about to tell me I suddenly looked 20 years older than yesterday.

Do not ask me why that thought came up. It just did.

But instead, he exclaimed “You look so uncomfortable!”

Haha, I guess I was relieved for a split second!

Anyway, there was no way to change the seats and B Class was not available for test-drive, so we left.

We were headed for BMW, but Audi was right beside Mercedes-Benz, so we decided to pop in. It’s free anyway lol.


First thought as I walked in: Wow, so many salesmen standing around! Nobody wanna buy Audi ah?

A bright-eyed, super polite salesman stepped up and introduced himself. Let’s call him A (for Audi haha). I have to say, this was by far the best salesman of all that we encountered. He assumed nothing, and was not in the least bit judgemental. He explained everything patiently and when we talked, he listened to us so attentively, as if we were the most important people in the world. He was also the youngest of all the salesmen we encountered, so perhaps that’s a reason? Other salesmen all jaded and sian already haha.

Audi wasn’t in our list at all, so we just randomly looked at the compact cars they had in the showroom. We took the A3 for test-drive and unlike Mercedes-Benz (which was located just beside Audi) that took us on a typical route with lots of traffic lights and whatnot, Audi led us on and over the Rainbow Bridge:

Audi really knows how to sell things!

With little traffic and no red lights to distract, a balance of long stretches of road and turns, it’s perfect for a driver to really experience the joy of handling the car! Fu really loved driving the car and said it was the most fun car to drive!

Back at the Audi showroom:

Part of the showroom

Customer lounge area

Check out the personal console! #likeaboss

Audi one-upped Mercedes-Benz and had ceramic wares with their logo emblazoned on them!

We decided to resume our original itinerary, and make our way to BMW.

The most amusing thing was that when A realized we were taking public transport, he offered to drive us there!!! Delivering your customer right to the door of your competitor. If this is not confidence (or good service), I don’t what is.

Pictorial proof!


BMW’s salesman was a middle-aged uncle and he was also very nice! But too bad the cars he’s selling aren’t too nice. Fu finds the engine too noisy (he’s super sensitive to noise).

Not only that, some of their car designs are very questionable. Fu opened the door of one car and promptly whacked the top edge of the door into his own face D: It left a red mark and it still hurt the next day!

BMW had the nicest snacks though haha! I finished everything in the snack bowl like a 饿鬼 lol.

Won’t buy this car, but still can sit in it and take a photo!

By the way, cars here are super cheap compared to Singapore! Yes, even European cars!

For example, this BMW 320i here costs about SGD 240,000 in Singapore, but less than SGD 60,000 in Japan! A quarter the price!


If Mazda and Honda were Class B, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW would be Class A.

And Lexus would be above them all at Class AA.

This is what class looks like.

There were individual, private spaces for each customer, unlike all the other car dealers we visited.

Even the drinks menu came in a luxurious padded satin cover, which the staff held out for us while we browsed the menu!

Unfortunately, the budget we had was only enough to look at the lowest model of Lexus, which wasn’t the best car of all that we tried. Lexus cars are also one of the most expensive brands in the second-hand market, as the value does not fall a lot even after several years.

So as much as Fu likes the Lexus brand, no Lexus for us this time round!

Which car did we choose?

From the way I wrote the post, I think you’re probably able to guess.

We went with…


Half was because the car is a good car – powerful engine, responsive handling, nice interior, kick-ass services (tell you more next time!)

The other half was because of A! As mentioned earlier, he’s the nicest and most attentive salesperson we encountered. If you’re wondering why the salesperson is important, because 1) I’d rather not buy than to give my business to people who don’t deserve it and 2) the interactions with the salesperson does not end after the sale is closed.

When we asked what should we do if we meet with an accident, without a shred of hesitation, he said “Please call me. I’ll make the necessary calls (to insurance company, etc).”

When we asked if we must come back to this branch for future maintenance, he swiftly replied “Don’t worry. I can pick up the car from your house, send it for maintenance, and send it back to your house.” (at no charge, in case it wasn’t clear haha)


Ok la, maybe he say only. Say whatever it takes to close the deal. After that heck care lol. But judging from how he has been interacting with us, I think we can trust his words. Unless Fu and I both so fail at reading people lol.

The car is arriving end of the month!!!


Excited not because I’m going to have a car, but because I’m going to have a tool that will let me experience Japan in a completely different way from before! :D

1 Comment

  • Reply Buying a Car - 5 Ways Japan is Different • tripleRIN 21 February 2015 at 3:32 am

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