If you’re in the market for a new euro car, you’ve already made one good decision. A new vehicle is a significant investment, so remember “buyer beware”. The salesperson’s job is to make sure you sign on the dotted line… it’s how they earn their living! To help you make the right choice, here are our top tips for test driving a new car.
Think with your head not your heart
It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment when you slip behind the wheel of a prestigious new Audi, Skoda or Volkswagen.
– Set your budget. Don’t be a tyre kicker, only test drive a car you can afford to buy.
– Do your homework. Read reviews, check buyer’s guides online, talk to your specialist mechanic.
– Make a short list of cars that meet your specific needs and must haves.
– Be clear about what you want and what you can afford before you set foot in the dealership.
Take someone with you
It’s always a good idea to take along someone impartial, who can make notes on the cars you consider and the ones you test drive. It can be useful to have an independent opinion, especially if a salesperson is offering you a deal you can’t refuse.
– You’ll probably be test driving a demonstrator model. Find out what features are included in the model you’re purchasing. This can significantly affect the price you pay. Think about the features that are important to you and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
– Ask about fixed price servicing, extended warranty, roadside assist and free upgrades.
Before you take the car for a spin
You won’t test drive every car you see, so it’s important to remember to ask some basic questions before you set off.
– Insurance – you need to know you are covered and there is no liability if something unexpected happens.
– Adjust the seat and mirrors and make sure there are no stickers or decals that restrict your vision.
– Get comfortable. If you’re new to the brand, familiarise yourself with the controls so you’re aware of where the indicators, horn and wipers are. The controls of an Audi, VW or Skoda are probably on the left-hand side of the steering column.
– If you are using the built-in Sat-Nav, make sure you know how to operate it.
– When you set off, make sure the car accelerates smoothly and brakes effectively. Listen out for any unusual noises or vibrations and how it maintains directional stability.
– How does the car handle? do the gears change smoothly, is the car responsive? Has it been tuned for economy rather than performance?
A short test drive will give you a feel for the car, but don’t be afraid to ask if the seller will allow you to test drive it overnight. This allows you to park, reverse and drive the car for longer and in a range of conditions.
Finally, take your time. Talk over the pros and cons, and never feel pressured into signing a contract that you’re not 100% happy with.