Key considerations when you're buying a new Family Car
From finance options to fuel types, Geraldine Herbert outlines five things to think about before choosing your next vehicle
1 Hatchback, estate, saloon, people carrier or SUV? For small families, hatchbacks are ideal and there is a huge choice of both new and used models on the market. Estates and saloons are a good option if you need that extra boot and cabin space. Nothing beats the versatility of MPVs and while not as popular on the road as they once were, there are great bargains to be had buying second-hand. Generally SUVs offer a high riding position, good space and often come with some off-road capability, but the boot space is often not that generous.
2 Petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric? There has never been such confusion surrounding the choice of what should fuel your next family car. The decision is as much about the kind of driving you do as the mileage. Unless you do high mileage - more than 20,000km per year - there is little reason to opt for diesel. Hybrids are good if you do a mix of urban and motorway, or consider a plug-in hybrid and dip into the electric car experience of plugging your car in overnight. Ideally buy the greenest option you can afford - and don't underestimate how good electric cars are. Ireland is currently let down by an unreliable network of charging points, so key to any buying decision is access to a charging point.
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3 Know your finance options. Options include personal loans, hire purchase (HP) and personal contract purchase (PCP). Loans are offered by banks, building societies and credit card organisations so compare interest rates, terms and conditions. With HP you repay, by instalments, the total cost of the car, plus interest. At the end of the contract the car is yours. In contrast, a PCP has lower monthly repayments because you are not paying off the full value of the car. At the end of the contract you have the option of returning the keys, buying the car outright or negotiating another PCP.
4 Car seats and isofix. Regardless of the type of car seat you choose, Isofix is the safest option for securing your child's car seat. Remember, when it comes to buying a car seat it depends on the age and weight of your baby and the type of car you drive.
5 Safety rating and airbags. Check the EuroNCAP safety rating of the car you intend to buy and take the time to compare and contrast safety rankings for cars you are considering. Pay particular attention to how many airbags are on offer, airbags activate during a collision to reduce the impact between driver or the passengers and the interior. Look for a car with airbags for both the front and rear to ensure all your family members are protected.