First Gear English edition, Choosing your ride (Chapter 02)


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Everything you need to know about your first car.

Welcome to the wonderful world of wheels!
We know that every single person dreams of owning a car. It’s understandable: a car epitomises independence. Success. Stature. Mobility. The freedom to go your own way. But we also know that the decision to purchase a car can be fraught with challenges. What car do you buy? What can you afford? What about the servicing requirements? What safety features should you look out for? What about safety out on the road? These and many other important questions plague your mind. First Gear aims to address all these topics and many other essential issues associated with car ownership. We have canvassed the opinions of the world’s leading authorities and this book aims to give you independent, authoritative and utterly essential advice. We want to take the mystery and malaise out of car ownership, and replace it with easy to follow advice and tips… so that your road to car ownership isn’t filled with potholes! We trust that it will provide you with a stress-free introduction to the world of wheels.

Enjoy your first car; you’ve worked hard for it!

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First Gear English edition, Choosing your ride (Chapter 02)

  1. 1. CHAPTER 2: Choosing your ride 14  First Gear   First Gear  15 
  2. 2. As the Wisebuyer’s Guide notes: “Buying a “green” vehicle, sports car or SUV perhaps car requires commitment. The two of you – will be defined by your motoring are going to be seeing a lot of each other, requirements. Ultimately, there is no right so it’s best if you’re happy. There’s a lot of or wrong choice: the type of vehicle you money at stake, so you don’t want to be select is dependent entirely on your disappointed.” individual needs and budget. So where do you start? How do you pick the vehicle that’s absolutely perfect for 2. New or used? you? Should it be something practical and We all dream of buying a brand new set of sensible or something wild and wicked? wheels, complete with that incredible new And how do you know you haven’t selected car smell but in reality used cars often do a complete lemon? Follow our ten-point offer a good value for money proposition. If guide and chances are excellent that you you cannot afford a new car, invest in a low will meet your dream date (in terms of mileage used car instead. But make sure Prefer something a little sportier? wheels anyway). you buy a car with a full service history (a Then consider a hatchback or a coupe. 7 service history is a record of all the 1. Decide what type of vehicle hours mechanical work that has been done to you want the car). And only buy from a reputable There are so many different kinds of organisation. Resist that unbelievable vehicles on the market, and your choice – bargain at all costs; remember… if the deal The average length of time that three quarters of car buyers a sedan, hatchback, coupe, 4x4, pickup, appears too good to be true, it probably is. spent online when making a new vehicle purchase in 2008, according to J.D. Power and Associates. Do you want something that’s especially 3. Evaluate the value adds that you won’t have any unexpected versatile, and can be all things to all people? All cars come with extra bits and pieces. motoring expenses that will blow your Maybe a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) could be the answer. We’re not talking about dangling dice and monthly budget out of the water. fluffy seats; we’re referring to value-adds such as service plans and warranties. 4. Google it These can vary significantly from car to car The Internet is a wonderful source of and, when things go wrong, they can make information on your potential car. Google a huge difference. A warranty generally whatever cars interest you and see what covers all the major mechanical items on pops up. If that car is unreliable, you will the car – ideally, you want a warranty that find loads of motorists complaining about is available for as many years and it on consumer sites. You will be able to kilometres as possible. The same can be read reviews by independent motoring said of a service or maintenance plan – you journalists too, which could steer you in the want it to be valid for as long as possible, right direction (if you will excuse the pun). Do you want something so that you have peace of mind and know practical with a boot? A sedan will work for you.16  First Gear First Gear  17
  3. 3. How about something that’s dead sexy? Hello sports car… Do you really need a bigger engine? Fancy the idea of heading off-road? A 4x4 could be the ideal vehicle for you, or maybe even a pickup (if you fancy the notion of being able to toss stuff in the load box). 5. Consider colour Colour is important due to resale values. fuel just as fast. Similarly, a vehicle such as a large saloon or SUV will typically be thirstier 8. Pick a brand Now that you have decided what type of Common errors Cars in popular colours may be easier to sell and boast better resale value. When than a small hatchback or sedan. That’s because bigger cars are generally a bit vehicle you’d like, and whether you’re going the new or used route, it’s time to nail your when buying a car deciding on colour, also bear in mind that heavier, so while they do offer sensational colours to the brand mast of your choice. certain colours are more popular in certain versatility and practicality, there is a price to This can be a tough one: you may be Rushing into a decision markets than others. pay at the fuel pump. There may also be a tempted by the bargain basement pricing Buying with your heart only price to pay in terms of CO2 emissions. options of some lesser known brands or the 6. Fuel consumption to the fore glamour of an exotic one. It’s very important Blowing your budget Before you sign on the dotted line, you need 7. Safety features are important to be sensible in this regard though. Deal Only considering the to investigate the facts and the figures. It We have a whole chapter devoted to the with a company with a proud heritage, one purchase price costs an arm and a leg to fill a fuel tank – so vital issue of safety. Decide which safety that has been around for a while and has an how economical is your potential car? That features are the most important to you and excellent reputation for delivering quality Purchasing a cheap, sports car may accelerate faster than a ensure that your new car has these features products. You’re making a substantial unknown brand rocket, but remember that it may gulp down before you make your purchase. investment, so only deal with a company18  First Gear First Gear  19
  4. 4. that is ethical. Take Ford Motor Company, 9. The test drive Ideally, you want a warranty that is available for instance. It has been recognised as one (and pay attention) for as many years and kilometres as possible. of the world’s most ethical companies by Once you’ve decided on a short list of the Ethisphere Institute, an international vehicles, you need to take each one for a business ethics think tank. This is quite test drive. The single most important some honour; thousands of companies in question you need to ask yourself is this: 10. Finally... pick a ride a bigger (and often thirstier) engine? Do you more than 100 countries and 36 industries would I be comfortable and happy in this So you have made your decision. You have need the luxury specification level? Are were evaluated and Ford was the one vehicle each and every day for the next few decided which car to buy. The last factor you electric windows really necessary at the and only automaker to receive this honour years? It’s a good idea to test drive the car need to take into consideration is the back of the car (when you will hardly ever in 2010. on roads that you will typically drive on specific model. Cars are generally available use the back seat)? What safety features once you have purchased a vehicle. If, for in a range – models within that range will are on offer with each specific model? instance, you spend most of your time in differ in terms of engine capacity and Remember: the bigger the engine and the city, ensure that your test route includes specification level. Carefully compare the the more luxurious the car, the higher its driving on busy city roads. models within the range. Do you really need price tag. Are you looking to save money? A vehicle with great fuel economy could be what you’re looking for. 20  First Gear  First Gear  21