Do you plan on purchasing a new vehicle? You’ll be able to zero in on the perfect automobile with the assistance of our guide.

How to buy the best new car 1

Going automobile shopping for a brand-new vehicle should be an experience that’s fun and thrilling for you. It is your opportunity to customise your new wheels to your specific preferences, whether it involves a high-performance or zero-emission engine, high-tech inside equipment, or simply an outlandish colour scheme.

Although purchasing a new automobile is a substantial commitment, there are many different ways to finance your next pair of wheels, so it’s possible that you’ll find it easier to get into your desired new car than you would have imagined it would be. In addition to attractive financing options, there are a number of other advantages to purchasing a new vehicle.

Not only will you receive a brand new manufacturer warranty, which in some instances can last for as long as seven years, but you will also be able to drive with the peace of mind that your vehicle has not skipped a service or been otherwise poorly maintained by a previous owner, both of which are factors that can significantly affect the vehicle’s lifespan in later years.

What kind of vehicle should I buy?

Even if you think you have a good idea of the kind of car you want to buy, it is still a good idea to think about the needs that are really necessary. It’s possible that the automobile you need and the automobile you want are not the same thing at all. For instance, despite the fact that a large SUV’s roomy cabin and elevated driving position may give the impression that it is the ideal vehicle for those who routinely transport a large number of passengers, options such as all-wheel drive are expensive and not typically required unless you live in a remote rural area or frequently travel off-road.

Do you require a huge vehicle, for instance, to carry a large number of children or a lot of luggage? Or are you seeking for anything that would help you save money throughout a protracted trip on the interstate? It’s possible that the low maintenance costs of the newest electric cars and plug-in hybrids have peaked your interest in these vehicles.

They unquestionably give the impression that they offer the answer to the ever-increasing costs associated with motoring, but our investigation reveals that, depending on the specifics of your case, it can wind up costing you even more. In the most recent Which? Car Survey, respondents told us that easy driving, comfortable seats, and overall value for money were the most important considerations when looking for a new car – a definite sign of the times where cost and whether or not something is suitable for its intended use take centre stage.

Your needs can be different, especially if you’re looking at the high-end luxury or sports automobile segment of the market, where performance and passenger volume are given higher attention than in other segments.

Couple and car dealer in showroom

There will be tens of thousands of pounds on the line regardless of whether you go with a model that is brand-new or one that is practically new. This article will walk you through the most important decisions you need to make in order to find the appropriate car at an affordable price.

What exactly are “almost new” automobiles?

A dealer or manufacturer, typically someone who does not intend to keep the vehicle for more than a short length of time, is the person who will register an automobile that is nearly brand new. Cars that are only a few years old typically have fewer than a few thousand kilometres on the odometer. When you buy a car that is only a few years old, you might be able to save a lot of money, but the warranty on the vehicle will be much shorter.

This is due to the fact that the warranty begins as soon as the automobile is registered, which could be months before you buy the car. However, this is less likely to be an issue if you choose a manufacturer that offers a warranty that is longer than the average warranty offered by other manufacturers. Typical features found on nearly new automobiles are:

Ex-demonstration vehicles, often known as “ex-demo” cars, were once utilised to give test drives to potential customers at a dealership. The odometer may already have a few thousand kilometres on it, but it will almost always contain a large number of aftermarket additions. In order to make a good impression on potential purchasers, it most certainly received careful maintenance.

Pre-registered vehicles are automobiles that dealers have purchased in order to meet sales quotas and then resold at a discount after a period of approximately three to six months (there is typically a minimum period that must pass before a dealer is eligible for sales bonuses or discounts from the manufacturer). It should just have delivery kilometres, which are often less than a couple hundred, but it could have been sitting unused on the forecourt of a dealer for several months.

Car forecourt and customer

Which kind of fuel is the most efficient?

It is essential to give serious consideration to the propulsion system of your next brand-new automobile, whether it be a conventional internal combustion engine, electric power, or a combination of the two. As the automotive industry readies itself for the prohibition on the production of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles in the year 2030, there is an increased focus on plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models.

These are supposed to give superior fuel economy for individuals who need a bigger range (and quicker recharging) than what is now offered by electric cars. These are designed for people who need a larger range than what is currently offered by electric cars. The advertised fuel economy estimates of PHEV automobiles are fantastic; yet, when put up against our independent fuel consumption and emissions testing, we’ve seen them fall short time and time again. This is due to the increased difficulty of our tests, which are designed to more accurately reflect the conditions and driving styles of real-world environments.

Not only have certain models been called out for their poor fuel usage, particularly when the battery is dead while driving, but some of these models also produce far greater levels of emissions than the statutory norms allow for.

Audi hybrid car dials

Drivers who want to lower their fuel usage and emissions but don’t have regular access to easy charging facilities may find that full hybrids are a more practical option for them than all-electric vehicles.

Full hybrids are able to function because they are able to recover the energy that would otherwise be lost during braking and coasting. This provides electricity to an electric motor, which can either aid the gasoline engine, so reducing usage, or power the automobile emissions-free for certain distances. Mild hybrids operate in a manner that is comparable to that of full hybrids, but their batteries are far smaller, and as a result, they cannot be driven solely on electric power.

Some automakers are working on what they call hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCEV), which are gradually becoming recognised as a viable alternative to battery-powered electric cars. However, at the moment, there is just a small selection of pricey models that can be purchased, and there aren’t a lot of places in the UK where you can get hydrogen refilled.

Car door handle

Why you should make it a point to read our vehicle reviews Our in-depth car evaluations expose the truth about how each vehicle we examine performs in every category that really matters, and this information is relevant regardless of what you want to get out of your next vehicle. We are here to assist you in any way we can, whether you are looking for accurate and comparable boot space measurements or fuel consumption information that actually bears some relevance to real-world driving so that you will know what your running costs will be or whether you are looking for information that actually bears some relevance to real-world driving so that you will know what your fuel costs will be.

The passenger space in each vehicle is measured in minute detail and included in each of our online reviews of new and used automobiles. Because of this, you won’t have to second-guess yourself about whether or not all of your adult passengers will be able to sit comfortably in the vehicle based on the limited length of time you spend driving it during a test drive.

In addition, we look at how easy it is to use everything about the vehicle, including the controls, the view from the driver’s position, and how comfortable it is overall. We take care of this so that you won’t have to squander your time test driving automobiles that aren’t up to par.

The results of our investigations frequently make for unexpected reading. For instance, many multi-passenger vehicles (MPVs) and huge sedans debunk the misconception that massive off-roaders are the greatest models for practicability and passenger space. Variability in seating configuration and ease of access are equally as significant in terms of practicality as absolute space.

Couple car shopping

Which vehicle is the most secure option?

You might be shocked to learn that different new cars have varying degrees of safety features. In the crash testing conducted by the safety organisation Euro NCAP, the vehicles that typically do not receive all five stars include the more compact “city cars” and other models that are priced more affordably. It is essential that you give some thought to whether or not the safety measures are adequate. In particular, make sure that the automatic emergency brake is an option on any vehicle you’re considering (autonomous emergency braking).

Visit our breakdown of automobile safety features for more information on the essential pieces of safety equipment that every vehicle ought to have. At Which?, we never skimp on quality control or the safety of our products. Any vehicle that received three stars or fewer from Euro NCAP is immediately classified as a Don’t Buy and should be avoided at all costs.

Car passenger with seatbelt

A rigorous high-speed hazard-avoidance test is also performed on every vehicle that we evaluate. This test exposes how the vehicle performs in extreme circumstances. Do not make the mistake of assuming that all new automobiles are comparable in this regard, as the results of this test have revealed that more than one model falls short of expectations. No matter if you’re interested in purchasing a brand-new or previously owned car, the professionally curated guides that we provide make it simple to zero in on a model that comes highly recommended by our team as well as ones that we believe you should steer clear of. Follow the links down below to learn more about the best cars in each of the most popular categories:

Man leaning into car

Your favourite and least favourite automobiles

Of course, there are occasions when you’ll want to go with your gut, and you’ll be set on a particular model no matter how well it actually operates, despite the fact that this may not be the best option. Tens of thousands of drivers respond to our annual poll, and they share with us the reasons they adore (or, perhaps, despise) the automobiles they drive. It is possible to be surprised by what you read, since certain models that we would not recommend due to problems such as unreliable performance can work their way into the hearts of their owners.

The cars you love and hate

Accessories and options available for new automobiles.

When you go to buy a brand-new automobile, you will almost certainly be confronted with a bewildering selection of add-ons and accessories that are available as optional extras. These can quickly drive up the total cost of your purchase. It is not uncommon to feel compelled to purchase the most cutting-edge equipment possible, particularly if the cost can be broken down into manageable monthly instalments.

When you’re trying to drive, many options may not provide much of a benefit at all, and at worst, they may be distracting. We have discovered that equipment such as gesture control, in which you can manage the infotainment system by waving your hand in front of it, and remote parking choices, in which you may move a car back and forth across short distances using an app on your smartphone, are of little utility. However, there are some expensive add-ons that are well worth the money because they will actually improve both your driving experience and your level of safety. The following is a list of some choices that you might want to take into consideration.

It is important to keep in mind that the majority of the optional add-ons have to be ordered before the automobile is manufactured and, in most cases, cannot be added afterwards. These are referred to as factory options, as opposed to dealer options, which are modifications that can be made to your vehicle by the supplying dealer after you have taken delivery of the vehicle.

Upgraded stereos and entertainment systems

There are now a multitude of options available, including DAB digital radio and Bluetooth streaming, which have largely replaced the traditional CD multi-changer. Premium entertainment systems are beneficial to have if you have children or spend a lot of time in the car. If you do not have children but spend a lot of time in the car, you may also find them beneficial. However, if you decide to sell your car in the future, you may not be able to recuperate the cost of the updated audio because it typically comes with a four-figure price tag. It is important to keep in mind that before committing to the purchase of many cars, you won’t have the opportunity to evaluate the sound quality of an enhanced stereo.

Thank goodness, smartphone mirroring in the form of Android Auto and Apple Carplay is helping to level the playing field when it comes to in-car entertainment systems. Your smartphone is used to control the operations of the infotainment system, and the display in the vehicle only serves as a mirror image of the smartphone’s screen.

Adaptive cruise control

One of the most helpful features that can be added to a vehicle is called cruise control, and it relieves stress during extended drives while also keeping drivers from inadvertently going faster than the posted limit. The typical function of cruise control, which is to maintain a steady speed for the vehicle, has been expanded upon in the form of adaptive cruise control.

This will slow you down to match the pace of the automobile in front of you by using sensors to determine how far away it is. This is a significantly more secure alternative to traditional cruise control, which is dependent on the driver remaining vigilant to the upcoming traffic scenario.

surveillance of the surrounding area

Even if rear-view cameras and parking sensors for the entire vehicle are becoming more common features that come standard on even less expensive vehicles, it may be worthwhile to upgrade to a system that covers the entire vehicle.

These can be slightly different depending on the manufacturer, but the vast majority of them use cameras to display a top-down perspective of the vehicle. Because of this, even the largest truck is able to be manoeuvred easily in confined spaces.

A head-up display is yet another helpful driving aid that should be taken into consideration. Although the quality of displays varies from brand to brand, they all project crucial driving information onto the windshield, which means that drivers spend less time taking their eyes off the road to look at dials.

In-car technology

How to make payments on a car

Automobiles are among the most pricey items a person will ever purchase, second only to real estate in terms of expense. Therefore, it is essential that you do not pay more than you have to or overextend your financial resources. Paying for your brand-new automobile can be accomplished in a myriad of different methods. What is appropriate for you will ultimately be determined by the specifics of your particular situation as well as the deals that are currently available on the automobile that you are interested in purchasing. Conduct a forthright analysis of the funds that are at your disposal.

Keeping in mind that although a financing package could make the price of a car more manageable in the short term, purchasing a vehicle outright is typically the most cost-effective method to do so in the long run, especially if you want to keep the vehicle for a considerable amount of time. The dealerships themselves will provide the financing choices, which may come in the form of hire purchase (HP), personal contract purchase (PCP), or a lease agreement. The initial deposits and regular payments that you are required to make will differ from one deal to the next.

You will also need to take into consideration the fact that after the conclusion of the lease arrangement, you will not have the opportunity to purchase the vehicle on your own. When purchasing certain items, you may be required to adhere to strict mileage constraints and may also be required to have any necessary maintenance or repairs performed by a franchise dealer.

In this section of our book, we explain vehicle financing in detail and provide you with all of the facts you need to examine before entering into any loan deal, as well as other possibilities for personal financing that may better suit your needs. Remember to include in ongoing costs such as fuel, car tax, auto insurance, servicing, and depreciation in addition to the price at which the vehicle was initially purchased (more on this below). Then, compare the same items with different pay-monthly finance agreements, as some of these charges may already be included in some of the packages.

Example car loan agreement

Taxes on cars and other potential expenses are also factors.

If you buy a new automobile, you won’t have to take it in for a MOT check for the first three years of its existence. This is a benefit of buying a new car. However, there are a number of upfront fees that you’ll need to think about, and these costs can change a great deal depending on the brand-new automobile that you decide to purchase.

Car tax

Car tax, which is more formally referred to as Vehicle Excise Duty, is an annual levy that must be paid in order to operate a vehicle on a public road. The answer to this question varies based on the age of the vehicle, but the following applies to any models that were released after April 2017:

A rate for the “first year,” which is determined by the amount of CO2 emissions produced,

A following “standard” charge, which at the moment is set at £150 per year despite the fact that it has nothing to do with your car’s CO2 rating.

If the total cost of your vehicle is more than £40,000 (including any add-ons), you will be required to pay an additional £325 in taxes every year from years two through six of ownership. This will bring the total amount of taxes owed to a total of £1,625.

This supplement is not applicable to vehicles that produce zero emissions, such as those powered by hydrogen or electricity. These are exempt from the standard duty rate as well as the duty rate for the first year, which means they are fully free of taxation. If you are unable to purchase a car with zero emissions at this time, it is in your best interest to select a vehicle with low CO2 emissions. The tax rate for the first year of ownership of the most polluting vehicles can reach an astounding $2,175 in some cases. For further information, please refer to our page that explains the auto tax.

Car insurance

Even while having insurance that protects third parties is required by law in order to drive your vehicle on public roads, we strongly advise purchasing insurance that protects you and your brand-new vehicle in the event of any and all damages. There is a wide range of prices for insurance; however, there are a few things you may take into consideration to bring your rates down as much as is reasonably possible:

Choosing a high-performance model could result in a higher premium for you, depending on how experienced you are driving it and how desirable it is to potential thieves. If you have access to a garage or driveway, it is strongly recommended that you leave your vehicle there rather than leaving it parked on the street overnight. Think about the real world while estimating your yearly mileage.

Your auto insurance price can go higher if you purchase coverage for miles that you don’t drive. If you don’t use your automobile for getting to and from work or for any other business-related purposes, you should look for an insurance coverage that covers you exclusively for personal, non-commercial usage of your vehicle.

Performing necessary repairs and upkeep

It is recommended that you take your brand-new vehicle in for maintenance once a year. However, many of the newest models use something called “condition-based” servicing, which modifies the intervals between services based on how far or how hard the vehicle has been driven (determined by how much gasoline it has burned).

To retain the validity of the warranty on your vehicle, it is not necessary for you to take it to the dealership from where you purchased it (or to any other franchise dealer, for that matter), despite the widespread belief to the contrary. You won’t have any problems even whether you choose to take your car to a specialist or an independent garage because long as the recommended components are used and the servicing plan is followed correctly, you won’t have to worry about anything.

In order to keep customers coming back, many dealerships incorporate maintenance costs (for a predetermined amount of time) into the price of the vehicle itself, or offer them as an additional component of an optional package, especially if the customer is purchasing the vehicle using a financing option.

It may be worthwhile to purchase this, but it is important to pay close attention to the specifics of the work that is performed so that you are not overcharged for unanticipated additional services. Learn more by reading our comprehensive guide on the best ways to locate a reliable garage.

Car depreciation

There is a startling rate of depreciation for brand-new automobiles. After only three years, the value of your brand-new automobile is likely to have dropped to somewhere about half of what you paid for it. If you intend to keep your car for an extended period of time, this is of far less consequence. However, if you don’t intend to keep the item for an extended period of time, purchasing the incorrect model could end up being quite pricey for you.

Even if you are leasing, making an informed decision will save you money because the rates for auto financing are based on an estimate of the vehicle’s depreciation over the course of the contract. When it comes to loss of value over time, certain automobiles fare better than others. As a general rule, expensive luxury cars have a tendency to degrade at a faster rate than other types of vehicles because of the high costs associated with maintaining and operating them. On the other hand, you will suffer less financial loss if you choose a mainstream model that is in high demand. There is no one rule that always applies when it comes to depreciation, but you can help reduce the impact of it if you do the following:

Choose a popular model. Used prices for cars that are always in demand, like the Ford Fiesta and the BMW 3 Series, can be significantly higher than those for comparable vehicles produced by manufacturers with a lower market share. Be careful with the colour you choose. According to the statistics collected on new cars, the colours black and silver make up the majority of the used cars purchased. Although colour is subjective, you may discover that you need to reduce the amount you are asking for a vehicle that is a particularly unique shade in order to make a sale.

Include desirable components such as air conditioning and active safety technology in your description. If you’re shopping for a car that’s not quite brand new, however, depreciation can work in your favour. In spite of having very few miles on them, they will be several months to a year old, which means that the list price will be significantly lower than it would be for a brand-new comparable. This can save you thousands of dollars.

Driving a brand new automobile for a demo

After you have narrowed down your options to a select few models, it is essential that you spend some time behind the wheel of each one to see whether or not it is a good fit for you. Do not be satisfied with a test drive that lasts only ten minutes around the block because some manufacturers provide test drives that last for a full day or even the entire weekend. It doesn’t matter how nice a car appears on paper if it’s difficult to get in and out of it or if you just don’t like the way it feels to drive it.

As a result of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, options for test drives have been severely limited because dealers have been classified as non-essential enterprises during the lockdown (although, click-and-collect sales are still allowed). You can anticipate that they will reopen with stringent social distance measures in place.

As an alternative, an increasing number of websites are becoming more commonplace that provide a money-back guarantee in the event that you are not totally satisfied with the product or service. If you are unable to visit a dealership, this may be a practical alternative for purchasing a new vehicle. However, if you are unable to test drive a vehicle, the next best thing is to read one of our in-depth reviews. These reviews provide comprehensive information about a vehicle’s handling, as well as its safety, fuel economy, and passenger capacity. Our comprehensive guide to the best vehicles includes recommendations for makes and models across the board.

Woman test driving a car

Where to find a brand new automobile

You may be more accustomed to – and feel more at ease with – the thought of purchasing a vehicle by going to the dealership in your immediate area; but, it is now possible to purchase a new (or used) model totally online or over the phone.

If the idea of haggling with a dealer makes you uncomfortable, there are a number of broker services that can not only negotiate a discount on your behalf, but some of them (like Carwow) will send your proposed purchase to dealers nationwide, who will then come back with their best price. If you are not comfortable with the idea of haggling with a dealer, you can use one of these services.

If you are interested in negotiating the price of the vehicle on your own, our article on how to obtain the greatest price on a car outlines the specific steps that you need to do in order to ensure that you get the best possible offer. Because shopping for a car in person or online each have their advantages and disadvantages, we suggest that you go through our comprehensive guide to auto shopping locations before making a final decision on which method will work best for you.

Compared: the best-selling automobiles

We have driven every one of the most popular automobiles in the UK. To assist you in determining which of the four most popular models is most suited to meet your needs, we have provided an overview of its most salient features below. You might also check out our rundown of the greatest automobiles currently available for purchase.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta hatchback

Size: insignificant

Price: beginning at approximately 16000 GBP

The Ford Fiesta is, and has been for many years, the most popular car purchased in the United Kingdom. There is a large variety of trim levels available for this compact car, as well as a reasonable selection of gasoline (including mild hybrid) and diesel engines, making it possible to find something that is suitable for almost everybody. Visibility is satisfactory, unlike in some competing compact cars, and it is not difficult to keep an eye on the flow of traffic around you. This is an especially important feature to have if you frequently travel in congested urban areas. Because its primary controls are organised in a logical manner, and because its pedals and gear lever are positioned in an optimal manner, driving it is a piece of cake.

Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa hatchback

Size: insignificant

Price: beginning at approximately 16000 GBP

The Vauxhall Corsa has been an adversary to the Ford Fiesta for a very long time, and it has been a contender for the title of the most popular car in Britain for quite some time. Alongside more traditional models powered by petrol and diesel, the most recent model, which will be all new for 2020, will be made available for the first time as an all-electric model. When we tried it, we discovered that it had a reasonable amount of power, was inexpensive, and was enjoyable to drive. This is not a combination that is typically found in a compact car.

However, it suffers from the typical problems of a compact car, such as a cramped rear seat and a limited amount of room in the trunk. Find out how well this model fared in our road and lab testing by reading our comprehensive assessment of the Vauxhall Corsa.

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf hatchback

Classification: medium

Price: beginning at approximately 23,000 GBP

For many years, the Volkswagen Golf has been a top contender in the segment of the market for family-oriented hatchbacks. And the brand-new eighth generation of the car didn’t debut until the year 2020. You can select from the tried-and-true gasoline and diesel powertrains, with some of the engines now featuring mild hybrid technology.

Alongside the more traditional six-speed manual transmission, Volkswagen continues to make available their fast DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox. The level of quality inside is sufficient to make you question if you’d need the more luxurious cabin of the closely related Audi A3, with which the Golf shares much of its basis. The A3 and the Golf share a lot of their underpinnings.

What you could find less amazing are the new all-digital controls, which let you operate practically all of the car’s features from the centre touchscreen. This is something that can be distracting when you’re driving, so you might find it less clever.

This family hatchback has, to our relief, not lost any of its outstanding legroom up front, and it is, all things considered, a pretty practical prospect. But in terms of operational costs and dependability, how does it fare? Our Volkswagen Golf review shows all.

Focus on the Ford

Ford Focus hatchback

Classification: medium

Price: starting at approximately $24,000

Because of its keen handling balance and snappy high-performance revisions, the Ford Focus is the go-to choice for keen drivers in the medium car category. This is because the Ford Focus is the constant competitor to the Volkswagen Golf. In general, it is available at a little lower cost than its German competitor, and the most recent variants come packed with several technological advancements. There are nine different trim levels available to pick from, including one called the Active model. It has a slightly higher suspension and plastic body cladding to give it the appearance of a rugged crossover. Even the most basic versions come with a decent amount of standard features (crucial safety kit such as AEB is standard across the range). If you would rather spend a lot of money, the luxurious Vignale trim comes standard with an active park-assist system and a B&O sound system, both of which are normally extra upgrades. The interior is quite spacious, and there is a useful trunk, just like the Volkswagen Golf.

In addition to the five-door hatchback model, the Focus is also offered as an estate, which is equipped with the same range of engines and trim levels as the hatchback.

Volvo XC40 Plug-in hybrid

SUVs of the compact and tiny class.

Price: starting at approximately £36,000 The surge in popularity of crossovers is being felt in the UK new vehicle sales tables, which used to be dominated by small and medium hatchbacks. However, Volvo’s premium XC40 is now a component of the top 10 rankings, which indicates that crossovers are becoming increasingly popular. It is not hard to understand why it is so popular given that it has a pleasant interior, a driving that is enjoyable, and a striking outside design.

It is also now available in a plug-in hybrid variant, which is advertised as having a driving range of up to 28 miles with zero emissions and an average fuel consumption of up to 117.7 miles per gallon.