The consumer magazine reckons discounts will be slashed when lockdown is lifted.

Drivers looking to splash out on a new car when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted could save thousands by buying now, according to a consumer magazine. Research by What Car? suggests drivers could save as much as 16 percent of the vehicle’s list price by ordering their new car now, rather than waiting until the lockdown is lifted.

What Car? says it expects a “backlog of pent-up demand” to be unleashed when the lockdown, which has now been in place for more than five weeks, is finally lifted. The magazine says that, mixed with the factory closures resulting from the outbreak, will mean supply cannot keep up with the number of vehicles ordered, and discounts will be slashed.

As a result, the magazine suggests getting orders in now before the demand increases. Manufacturers are already beginning to open up factories, and the government has confirmed that dealers are still allowed to sell vehicles remotely.

According to What Car?’s analysis of discounts for the first three months of 2020 up to the start of the lockdown, Citroen is currently offering the best deals. The magazine says the French manufacturer will offer an average of 16 percent off the price of a new model - equivalent to more than £4,000 off.

4. Vauxhall Corsa

Following close behind is Seat, which What Car? says will offer motorists an average of 14 percent off, while Nissan is offering similar discounts. Skoda and Mercedes-Benz round out the top five, offering averages of 12 and 11 percent respectively. That means Mercedes buyers could be getting more than £5,200 off their new cars.

Close behind those two car makers are Volkswagen, Suzuki and Smart, all of whom are joining Mercedes on 11 percent. Meanwhile, BMW and Vauxhall are both offering customers average discounts of 10 percent. Although that’s only a £2,300 average discount for Vauxhall buyers, it’s a massive £4,800 off the price of a new BMW.

Happy man smiling at his new car in dealership showroom

Pat Hoy, who heads What Car?'s team of mystery shoppers that establish and analyse target prices, said: “While the market is frozen, dealers that remained open have been nurturing leads, making it harder to get a clear indication of what their plans are for when business opens up again. But the clear expectation is that, as soon as demand outstrips supply, they will look to reduce incentives and discounts and focus on profitability.

“Of course, there will be variables within that. Some manufacturers will sacrifice profit for market share but the likelihood is that most buyers will face the double whammy of discounts narrowing and waiting lists extending as soon as the market opens up.”