We spend weeks comparing new car performance and prices ... then fall for a shiny one
THE road to new car ownership is paved with good intentions.
We’ve come to a decision, or at least a shortlist, based on hours of research, in-depth discussions with colleagues and a focus on the fundamentals such as fuel economy and safety ratings.
Then we walk into the showroom and see it in the flesh and that shiny, seductively styled car appeals directly to our ego. Bugger the budget, pragmatism can take a back seat.
“We’re not rational creatures,” says Australia SCAN social analyst David Chalke. “If we were, we’d all shop at Aldi.”
And we’re certainly not shopping in the bargain basement bins. Sales of sub$80,000 sports cars — by definition a discretionary purchase — are up by 34 per cent this year.
Chalke says a vehicle’s looks are still the key issue in car ownership — we have to live with it on a daily basis, so it needs to appeal.
The fact we each have a unique perception of what constitutes beauty explains the variety of car styles sold.
“We have an inherent appreciation of aesthetics and the car embodies that,” he says.
“The car is a statement to you about yourself and a statement to the world about yourself. It is beautiful yet a carapace (shell) that helps to protect us from the wicked, evil world.”
There’s a caveat to that: sometimes the best-looking (and it’s always subjective) car isn’t the smartest buy. Some are downright impractical, some are too pricey and some aren’t that fun to drive.
Here’s our pick of the good lookers. The Swift is a cult car,car partly due to its smart use of a small space and partly for its clean design. They’re popular simply because the sharp, uncluttered lines are backed by a sharp, uncluttered driving experience. Toss in the premium for reliability and this is one little car with a deserved big reputation. The retro-styled bubble from Fiat is a hit with the fashionistas. It’s a bubbly car in every sense and appeals to inner-city dwellers who appreciate its flair and ease of parking. The fact it can be colour-co-ordinated inside and out doesn’t hurt either. The Mazda3 proves that being good looking improves your popularity. The 3 combines an easy to identify exterior design with simple, logical and stylish interiors that feel more upscale than most competitors. The overall impression is of a car worth more than the price — and that always massages the ego. The Captur was the consensus vote in this category. Wellproportioned and svelte with a contrasting roof that makes it stand out in the traffic, it’s