Car subscription: What is SIXT NZ and what does it offer Kiwi drivers?

Composite of photos from SIXT media event, including fleet of luxury vehicles and reporter getting out of a McLaren
The service is providing Kiwis with an alternative to traditional car ownership. Photo credit: Supplied

In today's fast-paced, ever-changing world of short-form media and content that can be skipped or swapped at the flick of a finger, we've become a society of commitment-phobes: accustomed to chopping and changing as soon as our interest begins to wane or the shiny new model comes along. 

With our ever-shortening attention spans, subscription services are becoming the way forward. Like hitting the refresh button, subscription models allow us to run the gamut of entertainment, tech, food, fashion and beauty - out with the-old, in with the new before we have a chance to get too bored. Why be wedded to one perfume when you can try a new scent every month? Why commit to a phone when you can lease one out until the latest model is in your hands?  

With our busy lifestyles and ever-changing needs, subscription plans also allow us to cancel, freeze, or change our minds at a moment's notice - offering convenience and flexibility, sans commitment.

Whether you want to 'try before you buy', upsize your city car for a week of travel, or are simply a motorhead that wants to change up their wheels, Kiwi commitment-phobes wanting to hit refresh on their car without the hefty price tag can now do so.

Car subscriptions are not a new phenomenon, but often have rigid rules and limitations, including on the types of models available. SIXT is hoping to change that: the international mobility business has coupled up with the Giltrap Group to deliver its rental range and first-to-market 'new mobility' service to New Zealand, allowing Kiwis to swap out their ride as often as they want or need via its flexible packages.

With a fleet of premium, state-of-the-art vehicles - spanning EVs to sports cars - available to lease for a fraction of the retail price tag, the service is providing Kiwis with an alternative to traditional car ownership, which sees you wedded to a single model for any number of years.

Photo from SIXT's media event - showing lineup of luxury vehicles
Photo credit: Supplied

Earlier this year, I was able to get behind the wheels of eight vehicles included in SIXT's luxury fleet for a day of driving, which gave a small taste of what the subscription model might look like. Some of the models I test-drove were the Mercedes-Benz GLS 400D AMG, the electric Audi e-tron GT, and the Land Rover Defender. 

Spanning city streets to motorways to the rural roads in Auckland's west, I was able to see how the different cars responded to differing terrains and styles of driving. For those with an ever-changing lifestyle or who frequently travel throughout New Zealand's diverse landscapes, it demonstrated how having the right vehicle can make all the difference - and being able to swap your wheels depending on your needs could be a major plus-point. 

Photo from SIXT's media event - reporter gets out of McLaren
Photo credit: Supplied

SIXT's model aims to provide that convenience to its customers, allowing cars to be subbed on a monthly basis or in six, nine or 12-month stints with an extensive range of vehicles to choose from: from EV options like the Audi e-tron GT, Mercedes Benz EQA or the Polestar 2, to popular sedans, hatchbacks and SUVS - whether it be Japanese fail-safes to sturdy European offerings - and even luxury marques from McLaren to Porsche to Aston Martin. 

"Our advantage is that we offer both the traditional favourites - Corolla, Yaris, X-Trail - coupled with New Zealand's largest premium and luxury fleet," Giltrap Group's CEO of Retail and New Mobility Dane Fisher said.

"Now with SIXT fully integrated into the group we can leverage the Group's breadth of brands and buying power to give customers flexible solutions at great pricing."

In a nutshell, what is a car subscription? 

Car subscriptions offer an alternative to car ownership or leasing, allowing a flexible solution for those who don't need a car all the time, want to try before they buy, or have changing and evolving needs. You pay a monthly fee to use the vehicle, just like you would for Netflix, the gym or Spotify.

You don't legally own the car, but you can drive it as much as the agreement allows - usually more than 1000km per month.

The biggest difference between rentals and subscriptions is the duration: rentals are typically short-term contracts, such as a few weeks, while subscription enables longer term solutions, from one month to one year.

Photo from SIXT's media event - showing lineup of luxury vehicles
Photo credit: Supplied

What does SIXT offer? 

  • Each car is new or near-new with an average age of three months, meaning each model is equipped with the latest or modern safety features and technology. 
  • There are three different products for retail and corporate customers to choose from: a standard 'Rent a Car' service, typically for travellers; 'Subscribe Monthly', an all-inclusive, rolling monthly rental option for short-term requirements; and 'Subscribe New', a subscription for brand-new cars available over six, nine or 12-month terms. 
  • You can flex your subscription to suit your plans and lifestyle, with the vehicle able to be upsized or downsized for differing needs: mileage allowance upgrades are also available.
  • The short-term rentals provide another option for travellers and holidaymakers, with the choice of supercars for a luxury getaway, SUVs for off-roading or practical, around-town models for day trips or business. 
  • The cars are fully registered and ready to drive from day one, so there's no need to worry about insurance, maintenance, registration, warrants of fitness, or depreciation. 
  • The cars can either be picked up from SIXT's forecourt or delivered to you. 
  • You can try before you buy, giving you the option of experiencing a car to see if it fits with your lifestyle before committing to it long-term - for example, an EV.
  • The website offers a simple set-up to pick the type of car you want based on specs, colours, and ranges before determining what your monthly subscription cost will be - the price reduces the longer the term.

What does it cost?

Subscriptions start from just over $1000 per month and range up to $8995 for a top-spec McLaren GT.

What other options are out there? 

  • Turners offer a subscription model with a wider range of vehicles, although many are older, from as little as $140 per week for a 2012 Nissan Leaf: this price limits you to 1000km per month with a 20c/km charge beyond that, and a $1500 damage liability charge in the event of a crash.
  • Snap Subscribe offers an EV subscription starting from $449 per month for a Nissan Leaf, right up to Teslas and Polestars for $2090.
  • Europcar, Avis and Budget also offer long-term rental arrangements.
Photo from SIXT's media event - showing lineup of luxury vehicles
Photo credit: Supplied

Vehicle rental has failed to evolve with the times, Fisher added, with SIXT ultimately aiming to straddle the space between rental, traditional ownership and outdated lease models.

"For businesses, it means flexibility from having company cars on the books plus the option to scale the fleet up and down on demand, and for private use it's ideal for those who want to upgrade regularly, plus have the ability to flex depending on what's going on in their lives with family, work, even financials," Fisher added.

"For renters it means they can choose their car as to their holiday or weekend's runsheet, drive something cool that might be on the wish-list or simply mirror the creature comforts of their usual A to B when travelling."