Choosing the right car
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.