Choos­ing the right car

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

TAK­ING a few min­utes to jot down the an­swers to some vi­tal ques­tions can help nar­row your choice of a car from hun­dreds to a hand­ful. Here are some of the most im­por­tant ques­tions to ask: Your bud­get Don’t for­get that the price of the car is only the start of the bills you’ll need to con­sider. On top of that, you’ll also need to con­sider all the on­go­ing costs: fuel, tax, main­te­nance and so on. Speak to your dealer to find out how much rou­tine ser­vic­ing costs, and shop around at in­de­pen­dent garages to get the best price.

Re­mem­ber, too, that while you will be able to get some of your money back when you come to sell your car, not all cars re­tain the same amount of money. For a rough idea of how much value your car will lose over time, take a look at ad­verts for older ver­sions of the car you’re look­ing at. Fuel cost Nat­u­rally, a car which uses less fuel is prefer­able to one that drinks the stuff. The most eco­nom­i­cal mod­ern cars can cover more than 70 miles per gallon, and although the ma­jor­ity of these have diesel en­gines, small petrol en­gines can run them close.

If you want the very best econ­omy, you could con­sider mod­els like the Volk­swa­gen Golf Bluemo­tion or Ford Fi­esta Eco­netic, which have been spe­cially tuned to de­liver good fuel econ­omy. Al­ter­na­tively, hy­brids like the Toy­ota Prius (which have two sep­a­rate power sources – gen­er­ally a com­bus­tion en­gine and an elec­tric mo­tor) are get­ting more eco­nom­i­cal all the time.

How­ever, to keep your costs down, re­mem­ber that it’s not just a ques­tion of pick­ing one of the most eco­nom­i­cal mod­els in a range. Of­ten these are among the most ex­pen­sive ver­sions and, un­less you do a lot of miles, the sav­ings from their bet­ter econ­omy won’t be enough to com­pen­sate for their ex­tra cost up front What will the car be used for? Think very care­fully about how you’ll be us­ing the car. If it’s for ev­ery­day use, you may want some­thing com­fort­able and re­lax­ing to drive, with plenty of lux­u­ri­ous fea­tures like cli­mate con­trol and a good stereo.

The dealer may try and sell you op­tions like sports sus­pen­sion and larger al­loy wheels – and, to be fair, they may well look good on pa­per – but they can lead to a firmer, more un­com­fort­able ride and prove ir­ri­tat­ing on a daily com­mute.

On the other hand, if the car is just for fun or you want style at all costs, lower sus­pen­sion, big­ger al­loys and ex­tra bodykit might be just what you want. Num­ber of pas­sen­gers Volk­swa­gen Golf-sized hatch­back or a fam­ily car like the Ford Mon­deo will be fine for four or five.

If you need more space, as well as some ex­tra ver­sa­til­ity, con­sider a small MPV (aka a peo­ple-car­rier), such as the Ford C-max or Re­nault Scenic. These also seat five, but gen­er­ally have a lit­tle more room than a con­ven­tional hatch­back or saloon; plus, the seats can slide, fold or even be re­moved to give you a choice of sev­eral dif­fer­ent ar­range­ments.

If you need still more pas­sen­ger space, there are plenty of seven-seaters out there, like the Vaux­hall Zafira Tourer, Seat Al­ham­bra and Land Rover Dis­cov­ery. How­ever, re­mem­ber that not all seven-seaters are equally ac­com­mo­dat­ing: in some, the sixth and sev­enth seats are for lit­tle more than oc­ca­sional use, whereas in oth­ers you can take seven adults com­fort­ably. Short trips or long jour­neys petrol en­gine – they’re gen­er­ally cheaper to buy than cars with a diesel en­gine and are in­creas­ingly eco­nom­i­cal. Yes, a diesel-en­gined car will cost less in fuel, but prob­a­bly not enough to make up for the ex­tra it costs to buy in the first place.

For fre­quent long trips and mo­tor­way driv­ing, the ex­tra cost of a diesel-en­gined car makes sense, as the bet­ter fuel econ­omy will make up for the ad­di­tional out­lay in the long run.

You may be tempted to choose a sup­pos­edly fru­gal small car even for mo­tor­way jour­neys, but that could be a false econ­omy. Low-pow­ered cars of­ten use more fuel at mo­tor­way speeds than big­ger, higher-pow­ered cars, as their small en­gines need to work much harder. Lug­gage space

Volk­swa­gen golf Bluemo­tion.

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