Hi guys,

I'm new here as you might have guessed. I've been a Renault owner for over 5 years now, and the addition of a large dog and no doubt the soon to be addition of child (nothing planned yet, but y'know) has led us to look for a larger vehicle. Also, 5 years of French car ownership has prompted to me to "go German" in search of a car that stays in as many pieces as when it was purchased.

I've only ever had cars on PCP finance, to be perfectly honest the thought of owning a car has never crossed my mind, I don't see the point in owning a depreciating asset. Recently I've been exposed to the contract hire world, to give you an idea my boss has just got his latest company car, a brand new C-Class Estate for only £278 per month for 2 years. Sounds quite high, but here's the killer, I pay £316 per month for my Clio over 3 years!

This opened my eyes and made me look around, I drove his C-Class Estate and thought it was nice so began to broker a deal with them at a similar price. That was until I drove what is now the "old" 3-Series Tourer, and I fell in love. I began to talk prices with BMW however on a virtually identical OTR price car, they were unable to get within £200 of the Mercedes price, per month! I loved it, but not that much!

Much was said about Mercedes aggressive marketing and how they're desperate to sell cars, but with that much of a chasm in the pricing, they're going to sell cars! However, I'm still hung up on the BMW and have considered a 5-Series Tourer also. What I need is some buying advice, do I go new or used (ex-Demo's or 1yr old sorta thing). My budget is around £350pcm and I want to put as little down as possible, I don't want money tied up in it as in 2/3 years time I'll get rid of it. Is there a good time to start doing a deal or does anyone have any tips on how to barter with BMW, as they seem incredibly inflexible in comparison to Mercedes.

I know the new 3-Series is out soon, I spoke to BMW last week and they don't seem in any great rush to get me prices or allow me a test drive, I guess that's just their style?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.