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How to choose a new car

April 14, 2023

How to choose a new car

With the choice on offer in today’s market, it can be hard to know where to begin with the search for a new car. So here are our top hints and tips for identifying the make, model and approach to driving that’s best for you.

Determining your needs

First things first, it’s important to establish what you need from your car. Are you looking for a compact city run-around or something more substantial for a lengthy commute? Are you travelling solo or taking the family along for the ride? From safety features to boot space, figure out your priorities and that’ll get you a lot closer to deciding which car is right for you.

Start by identifying which broad category your ideal car fits into. For instance:

●     City car – a compact car such as a Smart Car or Fiat 500 – great for zipping around town and squeezing into small parking spaces.

●     Hatchback – a two or four-door car with a smaller integral boot, such as a Volkswagen Golf – these are often more fuel-efficient thanks to their lighter weight.

●     Sedan – a four-door car with a separate boot, such as a Ford Mondeo or Tesla Model S, which typically gives you more boot space. These are usually longer vehicles and, therefore, more stable at high speeds, making them great options for longer commutes.

●     SUV – a ‘sports utility vehicle’, such as a Nissan Qashqai, which usually sits higher off the ground and has features you’d expect from off-road vehicles, such as including four-wheel drive.

Fuel type is another consideration and that’s no longer simply a question of either petrol or diesel. If you’re keen to minimise emissions and want something economical for commuting, it might be worth considering a hybrid or fully electric vehicle.

Researching your options

Once you know the size of car and fuel-type you’re interested in, the next step is to research specific makes and models that fall into those categories. Make a note of features you’d like – such as Apple CarPlay or heated seats – so that you can judge a car against your wish list as well as comparing prices.

A quick Google search will bring up a few ‘car selector tools’ that will help narrow your search to specific makes and models. Here at Drive Fuze, you can search by car type or browse all our vehicles to compare what’s on offer.

It’s also worth searching online for reviews of makes and models you’re interested in. They can provide objective views on the pros and cons of each car, focusing on key factors like reliability, safety and fuel efficiency. Next, search for consumer reviews to read real-world experiences of each car. Remember to include the year of the model you’re considering - this makes a big difference because manufacturers regularly update cars without renaming them.

It’s also a good idea to try out different makes and models in person at a dealership. Just bear in mind, it’s not their role to provide you with an objective view of which car is right for you.

Financing and budgeting

Price is likely to be a key consideration in your search for the right car. It’s important to factor in all the costs involved in order to establish what you can afford each month. Remember that your total monthly budget should include all your running costs including tax, insurance,maintenance, servicing, new tyres and breakdown cover. To find out more, read our guide to car budgeting, and our post on the average cost of running a car.

There are different approaches you can take to financing a car, with the most common being to either buy or lease. In order to buy outright, you need to be in a position to pay the total purchase price upfront.With leasing, you pay a chunky deposit and pay off the rest of the purchase price in monthly installments. There are several types of lease available, so it’s worth reading up on how they differ. Don’t forget: it’s important to factor in hidden costs like depreciation and interest.

One option that’s increasingly popular with drivers is car subscription. This relatively new option rolls your monthly fee and running costs into a single payment that you can cancel at any time. This means you don’t have to worry about budgeting, upfront costs are minimal and the only additional expense you’ll have to think about is fuel or charging.

Test driving and inspecting

Always take a potential purchase or lease car for a test drive. It gives you an opportunity to get to know the car, and a chance to pickup on issues you can’t see from an advert.

During your test drive, put the car through its paces indifferent environments, from a fast dual carriageway to a slow residential street and a winding country road, to see how it copes. You’ll get a sense of how the car handles, how effective its systems are, how much storage space and legroom there is, and, crucially, how comfortable you feel.

If a brief test drive doesn’t give you the certainty you’re looking for, a car subscription is a great way to try out different vehicles without making a long-term commitment. With a rolling monthly contract, you’re typically required to give no more than around 14 days’ notice, and you’re free to change your vehicle at any time, so it’s ideal for trialing different cars to see how they fit with your lifestyle.

Finalising the purchase

If you’re buying or leasing, you might be able to negotiate a better deal by ringing the dealer’s competitors or checking out private listings. Once you’ve settled on a price, you’ll then fill out the paperwork needed to register and insure your new car and, if buying new, you’ll get an indication of how long you’ll need to wait before your car is available.

If you’re taking out a car subscription rather than leasing or buying, the process is a little more straightforward. You choose the car you want online, customise your subscription to match your needs (for example, by adding additional mileage or a second driver), then upload your documents to verify your ID. From there, you pay a month’s subscription upfront and arrange a delivery date, which could be scheduled within as little as seven days.

Whatever car you’ve chosen, and however you’ve financed it, you’ll protect your investment by keeping on top of your maintenance and service schedule so that your car remains in tip top condition. Other things you can do to protect your vehicle include:

●     Driving smoothly which helps reduce wear and tear on the components (as well as increasing fuel and charge economy).

●     Checking your tyres to make sure the tread is at the right depth and they’re not under-inflated to boost road safety and improve fuel and charge economy.

●     Keeping it clean to prevent corrosion (pay particular attention to bird muck, which damages paintwork).

●     Keeping fluids topped up such as engine oil and screen wash for engine health and visibility.

●     Keep your car undercover either in a garage or under a tarpaulin to protect your paintwork, particularly if you need to park under trees (see our note, above, about bird muck).

Are you ready to choose a new car?

Choosing a new car need not be a daunting experience. By establishing what you need and choosing the user or purchasing option that best serves you, you can identify the right make and model and put yourself in the best possible position to ensure you’re getting great value for money.

To find out more about car subscription browse our vehicles and find out more about how you could be driving your perfect vehicle in just seven days.