Readers Write

Choosing the perfect car…

Does the perfect car exist? No. But your perfect car certainly does and here’s a list of the things you should consider when shopping for your perfect car.

TWO THIRDS OF Australians drive their cars every day. Many of these drivers love their car; the experience; the physical form; or potentially as a form of self-expression. Others are indifferent, considering them a mere tool in fulfilling a purpose. Either way finding the right car to suit our tastes, lifestyle and needs is a modern day conundrum.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics we consider a number of factors when buying a car, including (in order of importance): price, economy / running costs, size of vehicle, type of vehicle, reliability, appearance, manufacturers reputation, age / kilometres, safety, seating capacity, accessories, performance / engine capacity and environmental impact.

For the majority of us buying a car is a significant outlay. It’s a stressful and potentially emotional experience that we don’t usually want to repeat too often. So possibly that’s why you’re here, on PM, figuring out what will be your perfect car, looking to understand what’s out there and to be reminded of the many considerations of owning, driving and maintaining a car.

The perfect car…what is that? We could indulge our desires and compare the performance stats of the most alluring and elite cars available, but that’s just day dreaming. If you’re budget is big enough then there’s competition for the perfect combination of luxury, space, latest technology and exceptional performance. Think Porsche Panamera Turbo or BMW X5 M. But as good as some of these cars are it’s really hard to be perfect at everything.

Perfection is a nebulous concept and in reality none of us accept compromise in equal terms. So, for the purpose of this article, let’s consider the perfect car to be: you really like it, it suits your needs, and you can afford it. In other words, it’s perfect for YOU!

Regardless of your budget it’s prudent to start your research with a list of requirements (something like the list below), ranked according to importance. A bit of rational thinking upfront can save you a lot of heartache and money. Don’t get me wrong; should feel a tug on your heart strings when you buy a car. After all, you’ll probably be spending a lot of together. However, an impulse buy that doesn’t meet any of your needs will be painful in one way or another, eventually. So use this type of list to help you create a shortlist of the cars that best suit, before you hit the classifieds.

This is not an exhaustive list, but provides a good range of things to consider:

  • New or second hand;
  • Type of vehicle;
  • Price / bang for buck;
  • Image / status;
  • Standard features / options;
  • Warranty;
  • Insurance;
  • Age / condition;
  • Exterior style / design / colour;
  • Interior style / design / colour;
  • Ergonomics;
  • Ride comfort;
  • Size;
  • Storage space / seating;
  • Safety features;
  • Engine capacity / performance;
  • Dynamics / handling performance;
  • Transmission;
  • Driver engagement;
  • Technological convenience / gadgets;
  • Build quality;
  • Reliability;
  • Driver vision;
  • Maintenance / repair costs;
  • Economy / fuel requirement;
  • Resale value / depreciation; and
  • Spare wheel (or lack thereof).

Here’s the fun bit where you get to contribute to PM. Your experiences are very valuable to your fellow readers, so I’d like you to share details about your perfect car. Make sure you include: Make, model and year; Why it’s perfect for you; What would you change if you could.

Enjoy the ride!

  • Kim Kinninmont

    FIAT Abarth 4 Spider. A Mazda MX5 with all the bells and Whistles.

  • Darren

    Perfection for me isn’t related to the type of motor vehicle – they are all compromises according to intended function. Perfection is more about a set of standard attributes that go across vehicle type: Reliability first and foremost, and ease of servicing is important. Vehicles are expensive to purchase, so I want to defray the cost over at least 10 years. In the past an F100 and then an 80 series met those requirements for me. My current 100 series Landcruiser is 2003 model – and has had exactly zero mechanical faults develop.

    I like cloth seats – I find them cooler in summer, and less harshly cold in winter. Comfortable seating, airconditioning, cruise control, and power steering are important to me. Power windows and the infotainment centre are not. Hence I also have an SS, and not an SS-V. The lack of leather was a plus for me.

    Fuel economy isn’t that important to me, other than I value operating range. Engine responsiveness is important, as is predictable handling. I dislike narrow interiors – for me, the 80 series was about as narrow as I wanted to go. The 200 series is too bloated for my tastes (although not as monstrously porcine as that V8 Patrol) so I doubt I will buy another cruiser.

    I prefer the power delivery of a naturally aspirated large capacity engine. I don’t tend to enjoy driving smaller turbocharged engines, pretty well regardless of output. I’ve not yet tried an electric vehicle, but the cost of the thing combined with the doubt it would last long enough (batteries) to pay its way pretty well puts them out of the running for me.

  • Monty

    It’s funny what makes and breaks a deal. I wanted an SUV as an all round vehicle now that I am retired. However, rear passenger vents are essential for me. That ruled out a lot of otherwise good vehicles. Price – of course. I would love the new Jag SUV or a Range Rover. They are out of my price range.

    I had to put aside some prejudice against the way VW has treated its customers and I ended up with a Tiguan. So far all is good.

Vicky Rowe

Vicky Rowe

It’s not uncommon to know a woman who love cars, but it is unique to find one as passionate and as knowledgeable on the topic as Vicky. An advocate for women in motorsport, you’ll often find her at the race track, with her Lotus, having fun and working on her driving skills. Vicky is also a business woman and family person who hopes her individual perspective will help you to enjoy your everyday driving experience.