_THE _ week between Christmas and New Year is not only one of the best times for retail stores that can make between 10 and 15 per cent of their holiday sales in just a few days, it is also one of the busiest weeks of the year for car dealers.

The only time dealerships expect to be busier is the last week of the financial year.

This burst of activity to finish the year is driven by a couple of different factors.

The primary motivator is that manufacturers are looking to sell off the last of their 2012-plated stock to make way for the new 2013 models.

Come January 1 new-car buyers want their purchase to reflect the year in which the car was bought but for those who are prepared to settle for a 2012-built car the savings can be significant.

Meanwhile, dealers and manufacturers are also trying to meet both their monthly and annual sales targets.

And while this year we are set to break the all-time sales record, both nationally and here in WA, there will still be plenty of manufacturers and dealerships looking to finish the year with a flurry. All this means there are plenty of good deals to be had this week.

As well as keenly priced vehicles, car buyers visiting dealers this week can expect to be offered anything from zero per cent finance, to additional features at no cost, drive-away pricing, cash back, special hampers and a variety of gifts, gift cards or free fuel.

Parkland Mazda is throwing in a free iPad with every new car sold before the close of business on Saturday.

Quite a few dealerships, including Barbagallo's, which sells most of the high-end vehicles in town, are also using the week to dispose of their 2012 demo models. So if you have always wanted a new Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini or Maserati, now would be a good time to fulfil that dream.

If you are looking for a car with a European flavour you can save up to $10,000 on the top-of-the- range Peugeot 508 GT Touring, one of 20 demo models on sale at Allpike Peugeot in Osborne Park.

There is also a fair bit of incentive to visit a Holden dealership over the next few days with big savings to be made on Commodore and Colorado.

The high-performance Commodore SS Z-Series manual sedan is selling for $40,990 drive away, a saving of nearly $10,000. Similar savings are being offered on the SV6 Z-Series sedan and wagon.

Colorado savings are nearly as good, with the top-of-the-range LTZ reduced by about $8000.

Holden is also planning a big 2012 plate sale early next month but is keeping details a closely-guarded secret until closer to the date.

This year we saw the introduction of low and zero per cent finance offers and many manufacturers are re-introducing it for the Christmas period.

It is an offer that can definitely save you money but make sure you read all the fine print before signing up. Each manufacturer has its own program, either financed internally or in conjunction with a variety of financial institutions, and all of them are different.

Ensure you are fully aware of what your payment requirements are, the length of the loan and the size of the residual at the end of the loan period.

With a number of new models expected to hit showrooms in the first few months of 2013 you should also be able to find plenty of well-priced runout models.

Taking the option of a runout Mazda 6, for example, could result in a saving of close to $5000 - not a bad way to cover the Christmas expenses.

Other models in runout are the Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester - all vehicles with huge family appeal. The medium-sized SUV is now one of the bestselling segments in Australia with the versatility, styling and size all striking a chord with Aussie families.

Ford is also running out the Kuga SUV, offering savings of up to $3000 on current stock, while Kia is tempting buyers with a gift voucher with each Sorento SUV sold.

And Suzuki is adding an additional $500 worth of accessories to each car it sells as well as extending the new-car warranty from three to five years.

While it may not have a lot to do with the Christmas sale we are about to see a small-car price war in Australia.

Hyundai has reduced the price of its entry-level i20 by $2500, which reduces it to a drive-away price of $13,990 and Mitsubishi announced last week that its new Mirage will have a starting price of $12,990 when it goes on sale next month.

And it is not just new car buyers who will benefit this week.

The State's largest car dealership, AHG, is offering free three-year warranty and roadside assistance on every used car it sells before the close of business on Saturday.

'This year we are set to break the all-time sales record, both nationally and here in WA.'

The West Australian

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