Buying a new car
When it comes to buying a new car there are a few simple things you need to bear in mind before handing over your cash.
If you’re buying a new car then odds are you’ll be keeping it for some time. So it’s vitally important you like the look of it, you like the colour choice, and most of all you can live with it on a medium to long-term basis. If there is something about the car that bugs you right now, it’s going to be driving you crazy in the months and years to come.
CONSIDER THE COLOUR
Your colour choice can actually be a safety issue. Yep, insurance companies worldwide routinely reveal that dark-coloured cars – especially dark blue and dark green – are involved in more accidents than any other coloured cars. Why is that?
Well, simply because those dark colours blend in with surroundings far more easily than brightly-coloured cars, meaning that often they’re not seen so easily by other motorists, resulting in an increase in accidents.
In Australia, red is another colour with a few issues. This time it’s due to the often bright sunlight. When you brake and those brake lights come on in daylight they are the same colour as the car’s bodywork, so all-important seconds can flash by when a following driver fails to recognise the lights have come on. Of course, many people are not bothered about the colour of their car one way or another, bur do bear in mind that metallic finishes, for example, usually cost extra, adding hundreds of dollars to the final price. Most car makers charge extra for colours other than the very basic, and often even black is extra.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
The next step after assessing the colour and the exterior, is to sit in the car. Is it comfortable? Is the driving position spot-on? By that we mean, when your feet are operating the pedals is the reach to the steering wheel comfortable.
Can the steering and seating be adjusted to suit you? Are all the controls within easy reach? It is a fact that different cars suit different people when it comes to sitting behind the wheel. Despite loads of different seating positions offered by most new cars these days, it’s sometimes simply not possible to get a comfortable position. So, always sit there for a while, try and get comfortable, and see if it really suits you.
Before you set off on the test drive, check the instruments and switchgear. There are two reasons for this – firstly you need to know where everything is of course, but you also should be looking for anything that, once again, is likely to annoy you as ownership lengthens.
Of course, there are some things that only become apparent after many kilometres behind the wheel – there’s not much you can do about that at this early stage – but do take the time to carefully assess the cabin, its comfort level, roominess, ease of access, seating position and equipment levels and position.
Then think about those personal requirements we mentioned before. If you need fold-down rear seats, check how they work because there are many different permutations. Not only that, some car makers let the rear seats fold down on the seat cushion, so you don’t get a fully-flat load area, while others have much better designed systems that allow the rear seats to recline, side forwards and aft and even be removed altogether (Skoda’s Varioflex seating system in the Yeti, is one example).
If you are in the market for a sedan, look to see if there is either the ability to fold one or other of the rear seat sections down or if there is a hatch between the seats where longer objects can be pushed through. If you are looking at an SUV, consider what you will do with it because that plays into whether you want four-wheel or two-wheel drive. If you’re going to use the vehicle off road or routinely driving on dirt roads, then four-wheel drive is well worth having. But if most of your motoring is in town there is much less need, perhaps even none at all, for a four-wheel drive because most of those systems are about rugged go-anywhere ability.
More than that, four-wheel drive systems in most SUVs adds significant weight which means more fuel consumed and, often, not so sprightly performance, so it’s only worth having if you’re going to use it. Having said that, some four-wheel drive systems – bolted underneath car bodies are primarily aimed at performance – think Subaru WRX and Audi quattro – and these are more usually called all-wheel drive. There is no doubt that with four wheels grabbing the bitumen rather than two grip is improved. On the minus side, you will go through tyres quicker as all four work hard, not just the front or rear driving wheels, so that is a cost issue to think about.