First-time car buyer: Choosing the right car
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Don't just buy a car that suits your budget. Considering how expensive it'll be to purchase and run, here are the other factors that should shape your decision.

Category: Car Buying Advice


Given how expensive cars are in Singapore, it is only right that we carefully consider which make and model to buy.

Finding a car that suits your budget is just half the story. If you're like most owners, your ride will be your one and only, and it has to cater to a variety of needs even if you'll be the only one driving.

So, where does one start? Most of us get our ideas from well-meaning friends, relatives and colleagues. It's good to listen to their suggestions, but it's even more important to think of your family's needs first. Here are some key factors to consider while making a decision.


Safety

Safety features are great, but it's even better if you learn how they function, too
Many of us have come to take safety for granted, thinking that it's something all cars have. By and large, most new cars are engineered to be safe. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention to the vehicle's standard safety features.

Apart from airbags, ABS and three-point safety belts, other features to consider include ESC or traction control.

More advanced functions include autonomous braking systems that apply the brakes if they sense an impact is imminent but there's no input from the driver.

Lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert are other functions that provide additional layers of safety.


Space & flexibility

Captain's chairs and 'business class' seating are awesome, but not if they're hardly used
Everyone wants a roomy car, but that doesn't mean you should buy the biggest and most spacious model that fits your budget. If yours is a family of five, a sedan, hatchback, station wagon or compact crossover will suffice.

Getting a seven-seater SUV or MPV might seem tempting. However, unless you're ferrying the entire family almost every day, it might be too much car to maintain.

As a reminder, larger cars are trickier to manoeuvre, have bigger blind spots, take longer/cost more to wash, and tend to be thirstier as well.


Performance

Having the performance is good, but practicality and flexibility are equally important in everyday use
This is subjective, but what we want to emphasise is that a car with too little or too much performance is not always ideal.

An underpowered car will not only struggle when fully loaded - it could end up consuming more fuel as well. On the other hand, a high-performance vehicle sounds great, but if you're inexperienced, having so much power at your command might be dangerous.

When you test-drive a car, ensure that you're comfortable with its performance and handling. Come back for another drive if you're unsure. It's better than buying something you're intimidated by.


Other drivers

That hot hatch may sound awesome to you, but it's not always music to everyone's ears
Will you be the only one driving the car? Or will your spouse and other family members also take it from time to time?

Unless the car you're buying is going to be yours and yours alone, consider the other drivers in your family. Are they just as experienced and skilled as you are? Can they handle the larger car you're thinking of acquiring?

This might seem unfair if you're the only one paying for the car. But if other drivers are going to be driving it regularly, then you must consider their safety.


Fuel economy

The electric motor in a hybrid drivetrain is what enables it to run on lesser fuel, thereby improving fuel economy
Petrol prices are likely to further rise in the future, so how efficient a car is helps determine the running costs over the course of your ownership.

That said, always take the stated fuel economy as a guide, rather than an absolute figure. Everyone's usage and driving patterns are different, and road conditions have a part to play as well.

If you want lower fuel bills, consider a full hybrid such as a Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid or Toyota Prius. But remember, as long as you own and drive a car with an internal combustion engine, paying for petrol is a given.


Looking for more car-buying advice? Check out these stories:

Avoid these five car-buying mistakes!

Don't make these six awful mistakes when buying your first car

Station wagons to consider

Five things to consider before buying an SUV

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