How To: What is the best car for me?

That’s the question people have asked since cars were invented.

In the early days it was easy, there were so few options. Over a hundred years later, and brands have come and gone based on sales alone.

What about a second-hand car?

Second hand cars make sense if you budget is tight. There are a few things to keep in mind. First should be safety. How safe is the car you want?

Of all advances over the last few decades, none has gone further than the safety features. Most of these are not available in older vehicles. The last decade has seen a dizzying array of additions and advances, each with their own particular benefit. On their own, they represent an incremental creep in advancement, but together, they wrap occupants in a technical, cotton wool, cocoon.

First came seat belts. Followed by ABS, airbags, and stability control. This opened the world to possibilities Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler could only dream about.

Many of the modern advancements such as Stability Control, Hill descent control, Off Road Control, and electronic diffs, use the ABS system to brake the wheels in different ways. It improves traction and therefore performance.

AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) also uses the ABS, with a difference. It uses cameras, often combined with radar, to sense danger, and apply brakes. This is now required in Australia for a 5 star ANCAP rating.

Most recently, the addition of electric steering has given rise to steering assistance. This is used in collision avoidance and lane control. Smart cruise control uses radar or cameras to sense cars in front and slow down or speed up as needed. It also allows for automated parking, and has brought us closer to self-driving cars.

But I digress.

Older cars have none of these features. More importantly, a car that scored 5 stars 5 years ago, would almost certainly not get 5 stars now. The star rating only applies to the year tested so all cars tested that year will be rated by the same criteria.

If safety is your first consideration, a new car is your best choice.

Features to consider:

  • AEB
  • Active cruise control (radar auto)
  • Active lane guidance (with steering control)
  • Airbags (min of 6)
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Spare tyre (at least a space saver)
  • Warranty/roadside assist
  • Apple CaprPlay/Android Auto

Also consider price. Have a figure in mind before you go to the dealer. Do you research online and remember, the price displayed is just a starting place.

What is the car used for? Do you need a hatch or a boot, or perhaps a utility tray?

Finally, is performance important to you?

My best advice is not to by on brand. The biggest brands are not always best.

Some 5 Star rated cars

Jaguar I-Pace

Hyundai NEXO

Mazda 3