Hazards of summer driving

Overheating

This can be a serious problem not just for the car, but for the driver too! Driving in hot weather can cause the engine to overheat and can cause issues with the coolant system. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge in your car and check your coolant levels before heading out. It’s also handy to keep some extra coolant in the car or some water as a backup. Air conditioning can put some added strain on your engine, so if you suspect the engine is overheating turn this off. It may make the next few miles unbearable but can be the difference between a breakdown and getting somewhere safe to call for help. If you’re the driver, make sure you keep hydrated in the car, especially during longer journeys. Make sure you take plenty of breaks and keep a water bottle with you.

Roadworks

For some reason, there always seems to be an increase in roadworks during the summer. Road conditions can be affected by the change in temperatures from winter in to summer, so keep an eye on any cracks and potholes that may appear on your daily route. For any major roadworks, there is usually plenty of notice given, so keep this in mind to allow extra time to get to your destination.

Increased traffic

Along with increased roadworks, traffic levels are also higher during the summer with school holidays meaning more people are on the road than usual. Public transport use can increase during the holidays too, so expect traffic and a lot of it. If you get stressed in these situations why not try a different route? It may add a few minutes on to your journey, but it could help avoid any road rage situations.

Cyclists

During the warmer weather, many drivers decide to swap the fast lane for the cycle lane, which can increase the number of cyclists on the road. Many people are taking advantage of the nice weather or simply trying to get that summer body ready. It’s not only adults cycling to work, many schools are encouraging children to cycle now, reducing congestion and pollution around school areas. Always be aware of cyclists on the road, slow down when you’re near and keep as much distance as possible.

Glare

The sun can be pretty rare in the UK, which is why it can often catch us off guard, especially when we’re behind the wheel. Glare from the sun can seriously affect your sight and can be a serious distraction leading to accidents. The best way to stay prepared is to keep your windscreen nice and clean, replace any worn out windscreen wipers, keep your screen wash topped up and keep a clean pair of sunglasses in the car. Sun visors are there to help, but if you’re not so blessed in the height department, it may be time to invest in extendable visors.

Hayfever

If you suffer badly from hayfever the best option, if you can, is to have someone else drive. Hayfever, when particularly bad, can affect your eyesight, cause drowsiness if you’re taking medication and can make driving very uncomfortable. If you do need to drive, keep windows and air vents closed to keep out any pollens, keep your car clean of any dust, keep tissues in your car and wear sunglasses to block out the light.

Driving in the summer can mean long journeys with children and even pets, so make sure you check out our blog for tips on driving with kids and pets.

Are you thinking of a new car for summer? Maybe a sporty convertible? Then search our thousands of deals, from local, trusted dealers.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Choice

The first task is to identify what kind of car you want. With 1 in 5 drivers regretting buying their car within minutes of signing on the dotted line, it’s important to choose the right one for you. Be honest with yourself and make sure you are realistically operating within your budget. Take into account servicing costs, fuel bills, insurance, road tax and any other easily forgotten expenses like parking. Your final balance available may not be as big as you at first thought. Modern ‘supermini’ cars like the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa could offer the space you need with the added benefit of low fuel bills, zero road tax and cheaper insurance.

In addition to whether you can afford it, think about practicalities. Where will it be parked most of the time, do you need something that’s a bit smaller for those tight city parking spaces? Is your first car a family car – think boot space, number of doors and safety features. Are you into the latest gadgets? Don’t be fooled by paying for fancy extras that you won’t use. Remember, most new cars come with Bluetooth as standard and smart phone navigations are just as good as built-in Sat Navs.

Tips and Tricks

Do your homework. Turn that guy in the shiny suit from a car salesman into a mere facilitator. You’re in charge! Take it for a test drive. Make sure you understand the controls and choose a varied driving route. Compare the car with a competitor, never buy directly after taking your test drive and don’t feel obliged to buy the car. Once again, you’re the boss. Think carefully about colour. Garish yellows and pinks can be difficult to sell on, opt for something subtle and timeless that won’t affect the resale value.

Where To Buy

Most first-time buyers will look no further than their local franchised dealer, and if you want a low-hassle, safe way of buying a car, larger dealers normally have the best finance options and largest choice of cars. However, you may well find other avenues that can offer savings. If you’re looking for huge choice, visit s1cars. com, where you can search from large and independent dealers plus private sellers so that you can choose from thousands of deals local to you. Contact multiple sellers from the comfort of your own home, finding the right car for you before you venture out for a test drive.

Insurance

This is a biggie. If you’re young and have recently passed your driving test, you can be seen as high risk in the eyes of insurance providers. You can opt to piggyback onto a parent’s policy as a named driver but many insurance providers are wise to this and will not only ramp up the price of your parent’s policy but you’ll also run the risk of ruining their no claims bonus if you have a prang. The flipside of this is that you will be missing out on building a no-claims discount of your own, so the best thing to do is accept that it may be a few years before you can own something with a high insurance rating and plump for something modest. The best option when it comes to insurance is to shop around. Use online comparison sites to your advantage, taking the time and hassle out of contacting multiple providers. The amount you pay can vary depending on what cover you opt for, fully comprehensive insurance would obviously be the ideal cover, but you might not be able to stretch to that initially. If you can afford it however, it could be well worth paying out the extra, which would give you cover for damage to your car and to any other involved in an accident, whether you were at fault or not. Get as many quotes as you can – as different companies may well vary wildly in how much they charge. Use one company’s quote to beat another down in price. You’ll often be asked what the best quote you’ve received is. Again, sometimes a little creativity can work wonders! Remember, get the best cover you can afford, insurance is expensive only until you need it. ‘Pass Plus’ is a post-driving test instruction course backed by the Driving Standard Agency designed to help young drivers cope with the reality of driving in all conditions. There’s no examination, but if the instructor is satisfied that you’ve cottoned on, you’ll be issued with a certificate that can reduce your payments. Also look out for providers that offer Telematics or ‘Black box’ insurance that uses data from how you drive to lower the cost of your insurance.

Finance

This can be a minefield, simply getting your head around the different type of finance agreements available. You’ll need to understand the difference between good credit and bad credit and realise that not having a pile of cash up front rarely diminishes your bargaining power. The important thing is to take time to consider your options, however keen you might be to get behind the wheel. It might sound obvious but be clear about exactly how much you can afford. Work out your monthly outgoings – miss nothing out – and subtract the total from your monthly income. Leave a small surplus to cover any extras – loan protection insurance and documentation fees for example. If buying outright with cash isn’t an option, there are many ways to finance a car, from bank loans, credit cards and leasing. If you opt for a finance agreement, remember there’s the period of time to decide for repayment. Obviously, the longer you take to repay, the more interest you’ll end up having to cover; be clear about what you’re taking on and opt for the shortest repayment period you can manage. Now it’s a case of deciding which of the many means of financing is right for you – and be under no illusions; there are many, often embellished with fancy marketing names. Make finance work to your advantage – and don’t assume that you necessarily need to own the car. Usage is what matters – and the easiest, most flexible and cheapest way to achieve it is what you’re looking for. Knowledge is key, do as much research as possible, talk to friends and family, but most of all, make the right choice for you. And most importantly, have fun!

Is your next car written in the stars?

Match up with your Chinese star sign and see which car you’ve been paired up with.

The Tiger

Tigers can be extremely short tempered, excessive in everything they do. As up-front opportunists, they may take their pent-up emotions and aggression into the car with them and become involved in confrontations with other drivers over a parking space which they perceive as belonging to them. Or they may infuriate others when they spot a gap and cut into the traffic queue at the last moment. Tigers are insatiable adventurers and love the thrill of risk-taking, so are most likely to have a disregard for any rules that get in their way – speeding when they are in a hurry or parking in an inappropriate place would be typical behaviour. So charismatic and passionate are they, however, that they would probably be able to charm the traffic warden out of issuing the ticket and into a dinner date instead.

Famous Tiger – Stevie Wonder

The Tiger’s Transport – Lotus Elise

The Rabbit (sometimes known as the Cat or Hare)

Rabbits are the diplomats of society, ambitious, detached and elegant. They cope with difficult situations with logic and courtesy. They will be the drivers who anticipate a road problem ahead, bring down the speed of those vehicles behind and open a gap with a shrug of their shoulders to allow in the “chancers” who have rushed up the outside lane. Their cars, like them, will be ordered and tranquil, they will have regularly updated their knowledge of the Highway Code and will probably have studied advanced driving techniques. They loathe confrontation, however, and will back away from any contention over road space or parking place.

Famous Rabbit – Angelina Jolie

The Rabbit Ride – VW Golf 

The Dragon

Flamboyant and energetic, dragons like to be sovereigns in their own kingdoms. They are also excessively stubborn and as drivers rarely admit that they are in the wrong – even when it’s plain to everyone else that this is the case. Their impetuous energy might mean that they take chances – like driving all night and all day to achieve a goal. Like the mythical dragon, they love to confront the “enemy” in battle and are intolerant and impatient of other drivers who get in their way. Once they have conquered their opponents, however, they will flash a stunning smile, which will disarm their actions.

Famous Dragon – Robin Williams

The Dragon’s Den – BMW 3-series

The Snake

Snakes know exactly how to get their own way. Their intelligence allows them to instantly sum up a situation – they say little but possess great wisdom. The snake driver will stand back and allow the traffic warden to give them a lecture and then strike by quoting the exact sub-section of the historic bylaw which allows them to leave their car in that precise spot on the third Thursday of every month beginning with a J. The snake loathes failure and will quietly pre-plan every journey so that he can be there first and score a point over everyone else. They care little about creature comforts and will have negotiated a discount on a sparse but design conscious car.

Famous Snake – Elizabeth Hurley

Snake’s whip – Fiat 500

The Rat

Rats enjoy life’s pleasures. Magnetic and charming, rats often make friends with others who might benefit them. The rat may have cultivated a keen acquaintance with a car dealer who can get them a good deal or a police officer whose brains they can pick on traffic issues. Skill as a strategist contributes to the rat’s success in life and as a driver – their quick wit enables them to find the quickest “rat run” around the car park to the only remaining parking space. But their intolerance to boredom and lack of tenacity means that they probably pull out of a traffic jam and go for a coffee until the congestion has cleared.

Famous Rat – Prince Charles

Rat Runaround – Smart Fortwo

The Ox (or Buffalo)

The ox’s physical and mental strengths mean that they never back down. Their driving skills will be solid and determined and while slow to anger, their stubbornness and fierce temper when roused means that they will face any confrontation head on. If another driver cuts them up, the ox will have no hesitation in telling them the error of their ways. The ox will be one of the safest drivers on the road but their pedestrian pace and love for home comforts may infuriate others when they insist on travelling by country roads and stopping for sustenance every hour.

Famous Ox – Sigourney Weaver

The Ox Cart – Volvo Estate

The Horse

The symbol of all happiness in China, horses are loyal and elegant. One of the horse’s biggest failings, however, is impatience. As drivers, horses will be infuriated by traffic delays and are likely to impetuously decide to take a short cut across a field rather than wait in a queue. They hate to take advice from anyone and may disregard the wisdom of authorities when told not to travel or ignore the traffic broadcast telling them of delays. They love to travel and, not surprisingly for such swift animals, probably love to drive fast too but get excessively bored motoring on the same routes so will be constantly trying out new ones.

Famous Horse – Barbra Streisand

The Horse Carriage – Land Rover Discovery

The Goat (or Sheep)

The goat adores idleness, loathes work and is very bored by everyday routine. Driving probably falls into this category so the goat’s ideal would be to be transported as a passenger. As goats also have a love of luxury and constantly strive to be taken care of, however, they are less likely to wait at the bus stop for public transport and more likely to prevail on a richer friend for a lift or, ultimately, to be driven by a chauffeur. Most goats are too pre-occupied with artistic thought to concentrate on mechanical skills like driving and would be puzzled as to why anyone want to be bothered learning such a mundane thing.

Famous Goat – Bill Gates

The Goat Getaround – In their dreams a luxury limo, in reality, a mini-cab or friend’s car

The Monkey

Said to be the cleverest sign of the Chinese zodiac, the monkey is also the most crafty, imaginative and mischievous. They want to be first at any price and will do anything to achieve it. It is the monkey driver who will attempt to weave in and out of the traffic to reach the head of the line. If confronted by another driver for their audacity, however, monkeys will attempt to extract themselves from the awkward situation with servility and flattery. If that fails they will resort to humour, then downright lies or even tears. They will jump from one lane to another, attempt reckless shortcuts and arrogant overtaking. They like to flaunt their success in the cars as an exterior sign of their value.

Famous Monkey – Diana Ross

The Monkey mobile – Mini Cooper

The Rooster

Vain and precocious, the strutting rooster likes to parade ostentatiously in public. They are the drivers who are most likely to sport a personalised number plate featuring their own name emblazoned on a flash car. But they are more concerned in looks than content and get depressed if they are not the centre of attention. They are likely to have meaningless “add-on” to their cars – the biggest spoilers, shiniest alloys, most noticeable colour – but are more interested in show than quality. They are however, real conformists and will never break a speed limit because they fear the consequences.

Famous Rooster – Jayne Mansfield

The Rooster rocket – Lamborghini Gallardo

The Dog

Dogs are loyal, can be eccentric and always expect the worst from others – they are deeply distrustful of anyone they don’t know. As motorists, these expectations are often met – and when other drivers behave badly, dogs are always prepared for it. They are never surprised to be tailgated by a bigger vehicle and are never caught off guard as they have already identified a gap in the inside lane. Fiercely altruistic and defensive of other’s rights, they will quickly report a driver endangering others or tackle him themselves. Careful and honest, they will track down the best bargains when buying a car.

Famous Dog – Jane Asher

Dog Kennel – Dacia Duster

The Pig (or Boar)

Pigs hate artifice, lies and hypocrites. If they go through an amber light, they agonise about it for weeks. At roadworks they sit for an extra ten minutes while they allow other drivers to go before them. They are incapable of saying no and often get lumbered with taxi-ing the whole neighbourhood around. Power games on the road re-vile them and they operate to their own strict code of conduct and will duck out of any confrontational situation. They love the pleasures of life but are unconcerned with money or appearance – even in their car.

Famous pig – Emma Thomson

The Pig Pen – Renault Clio

Like what you see? Search from thousands of cars today and find your perfect mate.

Car insurance – it pays to shop around

What’s the first steps?

You first have to supply the pertinent information like where you live, the make and age of car you drive, the engine size and other factors all naturally come in to play. You’ll be expecting to answer questions about no claims bonuses, accidents, convictions, age, address and profession. What you might not be ready for are the more searching questions some companies are now asking to gauge the `lifestyle` of potential customers. Do you have children, do you smoke, is your home rented or mortgage and so on.

Once you’ve provided all the answers, you have to choose which type of cover you prefer. If you can afford it, fully comprehensive is always the best policy – insurance always seems expensive until you need it.

If your answers to these initial questions reveal that you’re such an inoffensive, low risk person that you iron creases in your jeans or fold your pyjamas neatly, then you’ll have no trouble at all in getting really good low quotes for your insurance.

But let them sniff the first hint of a ‘hot hatch’, dubious postcode or a peccadillo in your driving youth and your premium can rocket, however careful you might think you are.

Even when you have a fairly ordinary request, the variation in quotes, no claims bonuses and excess options can produce a mystifying variation in quotes.

When comparing prices make sure you are comparing like with like. Some Insurance companies, like Direct Line for example, do not participate in comparison websites but still offer very competitive insurance rates so make sure you check these out too!

What if I am renewing?

If you are already with an insurance company and have just received your renewal notice, don’t assume that you are already receiving their best rate. A huge proportion of motorists just renew their insurance without question each year. The Insurance companies know this and only offer discounted rates to new customers. What existing customers don’t realise is that if you challenge the Insurance Company and ask why you don’t get the same rate as new customers, they may offer you the discounted rate.

One sure way to keep insurance down is to select your car with the premium in mind. Next time you go out to buy a new one, don’t just think about a budget priced alternative that’s easy to service and cheap to run; ask about the insurance grouping too.

Life After L-Plates – The Options

Of course, the people who get hit hardest by the insurance companies are young drivers – those who can least afford the high premiums. If that’s you, what can you do? Well, if you only need a car to get out and about at weekends, you might well be able to share your mum or dad’s, especially if theirs is the second car in the family. It will probably work out cheaper on insurance, too, as your parents should be able to add you to the policy without too much trouble and without sending the premium through the roof.

Providing of course, that the family car isn’t a souped-up GTi or other sporty model.

Shop around all the same – the best deal for your parents alone won’t necessarily mean the best overall when your name goes on the policy. The same will apply when you do finally get around to insuring your own car.

If you don’t feel confident with all the jargon, go through the small print in the policy with someone who has more experience. Fully comprehensive insurance, as suggested earlier, would obviously be the ideal cover, but you might not be able to stretch to that initially. If you can afford it however, it could be well worth paying out the extra, which would give you cover for damage to your car and to any other involved in an accident, whether you were at fault or not.

Nor should you have to find your annual premium in a lump sum. These days many Insurance companies are happy to arrange payment by monthly or quarterly direct debit if that would suit you better – though they may well charge you for the privilege.

Get the best cover you can afford – and remember, insurance is expensive only until you need it.

Breakdowns – what should you do

Suspect 1 – Flat Battery

In the colder months, we put more strain on the battery than at any other time, by powering our heaters, de-misters, windscreen wipers and lights. Short journeys, such as the quick trip to work, or to the shops, can bring about the downfall of many motorists, as the battery, drained of its full strength, fails to recharge in the short time between departure and destination.

Action

Have your battery checked before the cold weather sets in. Ideally, you should check it once a month during the winter. Always remember to turn your lights down or off when driving in full daylight and in clear visibility, and double check they’re turned off before leaving the car.

Suspect 2 – Frozen Engine

In very cold weather, the engine can freeze if precautionary measures are not taken. Motoring organisation Green Flag reports that it deals with around 3,000 cases each winter where engines have seized, the radiators having been starved of anti-freeze. One Boxing Day, a desperate motorist had poured neat anti-freeze over his ice-covered radiator and water pumps, but to no avail. The car had to be towed away, and left to slowly defrost in the warmth of the operator’s service station for the rest of the holiday.

Action

While your vehicle may run perfectly well in summer, if it has not been recently maintained, dampness can set in, causing failure to any part of the complex ignition system. Keep anti-freeze levels topped up to maximum capacity: never fall short of the recommended measure as the damage can be expensive.

Suspect 3 – Flooded Engine

Heavy rainfall over recent years has led to an increase in flooding in many areas across the country. Unphased by the threat of danger, scores of motorists, choosing to brave the wet have found themselves in need of drying out. Air filters on the front of any vehicle are designed to suck in air, thus keeping the engine cool. When immersed in water, the filters will naturally draw it in, flooding the engine and causing the vehicle to stall. While elevated four wheel drive vehicles may be more advantageous in standing the test of nature’s hazards, the air intake systems on smaller cars will be far closer to ground level

Action

In either case, never drive through water that is more than two feet deep and – if you are at all unsure of its depth – take a detour. Should you successfully negotiate a water hazard, always test your brakes immediately afterwards, to ensure they haven’t been affected.

Suspect 4 – Lock-Out

Hundreds of motorists using immobiliser key fobs to secure their vehicles have found themselves locked out of their cars as their remote devices were unable to penetrate the snow or ice covering their windscreens.

Action

The reliability of your immobiliser fob during the rest of the year can lead to a false sense of security, as a device with a relatively flat battery can work even at some distance from your vehicle. However, following a snow fall this is often not the case. Be sure to change your batteries regularly on a hand-held immobiliser. If you do come unstuck in the snow, at least have your personal key codes to hand, either for a remote or key entry system. This will allow a cheap and quick production of a replacement (the typical cost to replace a master key/locking system is around £150).

In summary, it all boils down to the old adage – prevention is always better than cure.

Reduce your monthly motoring costs

Car maintenance – DIY can save you money

Regular car maintenance is essential, so make sure you have your car serviced regularly, especially during the winter months. In between services, there are things you can check to ensure it runs efficiently and avoids any unwanted trips to the garage.

Tyre pressure – Low pressure causes tyres to have uneven contact with the road. Not only does this affect the tyres performance, but it will cause your tyres to wear out quicker. It also reduces fuel efficiency and increases C02 emissions. Therefore, it’ll be costing you more in fuel and potentially for a new set of tyres.

Fluid levels – This includes oil, brake fluid, coolant, power-steering fluid and transmission fluid. Topping these up can improve engine life and road safety.

Filters – Relatively inexpensive, changing these can improve engine life, increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

Improve your driving style

Did you know the way you handle and drive your car can save you money and the environment? Most modern cars are well-equipped with technology that reduces fuel consumption and C02 emissions, but making sure your car is well maintained and handled with the right driving style can ensure you get the most mileage from your fuel.

Extra weight – Do you have a roof rack or tend to store a lot in your boot? Roof racks can affect the car’s aerodynamics which cause it to use up more fuel. So, take it off when it’s not needed and remove any extra weight.

When you’re driving – Unnecessary accelerating and braking can cost you in fuel. Try to keep your revs low (between 2000 and 3000), drive in top gear from around 30 MPH and avoid warming the engine no longer than 30 seconds at a standstill. It will warm up faster being driven. Your engine burns fuel whilst idling, so if your car comes with Start/Stop technology – use it.

Shop around to reduce your costs

Fuel – The choice of petrol station can come down to convenience more than anything, but if you have the time to shop around it can pay off. Many of them also offer loyalty schemes with money off vouchers or supermarket vouchers.

Car Insurance – Again shopping around for car insurance guarantees you’ll get the best deal, so take the time to do so. Check the level of cover is suitable for you and relative to the value of your car.

Could you increase the excess or add an experienced driver to the policy? Both of these could reduce the cost. Paying monthly can reduce outgoings but could also cost you in the long run. It’s also worth asking your current provider for any discounts if you’ve been with them for a while.

Parking – Are you paying a lot for parking? Make sure you compare other car parks near you, and expand your search that little bit further. If it means walking an extra 5 minutes or using Park and Ride facilities, it could save you in the long run.

You could also save money by looking at long-term parking or paying monthly. Also consider car sharing with a work colleague to split the cost.

What To Look Out For In The World Of Cars In 2018

The growth of electric vehicles and the move towards driverless

Although electric cars are now very much normal, they still only make up a small percentage of sales. They do, however, continue to grow and 2018 is sure to see them grab a bigger slice of the market.

There will be several new electric cars hitting the road in 2018, with the new Nissan Leaf one of the most anticipated.

With registrations of alternatively-fuelled vehicles trebling over the past five years, it’s set to be a big year for electric. And, although somewhat further off, expect to see real progress in driverless cars in 2018. Sure, they won’t be on the roads any time soon, but manufacturers are working hard on them and expect to see big strides made.

New models – electric and alternative fuel

Audi has been waiting, it says, for battery tech to improve enough to give any all-electric cars it produces a 300-mile range. That time has come, so expect an e-tron SUV to come along in 2018.

 

Hyundai is planning a dedicated fuel cell model, previewed by the FE Fuel Cell concept. It’ll follow the ix35 FCV, which brought the tech close to production territory.

Jaguar will bring its I-Pace to the market, with a range of at least 300 miles, power of 395bhp and 62mph in four seconds. And the best-selling fully electric car in the world will get a major facelift. The second-gen model gets a more powerful battery pack which, crucially, on paper, increases its range to 235 miles.

New models – supercars

While electric cars are sure to make big progress in 2018, that doesn’t mean that the other end of the scale – supercars – is any less lively.

Bentley will unleash its new Continental GT, which shares a platform with the Porsche Panamera and will have the flagship twin-turbo W12 petrol engine at launch. That means a whopping 626bhp, 62mph in 3.6 seconds and a 207mph top end. A cheaper V8 and a hybrid V6 version will follow.

BMW’s hi-tech i8 supercar will go topless in 2018 with the launch, at last, of a roadster version. The petrol-electric drive system will remain and the roof will be fabric to keep weight down and use as little space as possible.

Ferrari’s California T will be replaced by the beautiful new Portofino. Even the name is sexy. It’ll remain front-engined, rear-wheel drive and a 2+2. Power will come from a mighty 592bhp, twin-turbo V8, giving it 40bhp more than its predecessor. It’ll make 62mph in 3.5 seconds and hit 199mph. Despite all of that, it will be the cheapest Ferrari on sale.

Lamborghini’s Aventador will continue its evolution with the roadster version of the S model. It’ll give drivers the chance to enjoy the 730bhp V12 with the roof down, with 62mph in three seconds and a top speed of 217mph.

The best of the rest 

SUVS and superminis are set to be the biggest news in 2018 for those of us who can’t afford supercars.

Highlights will include the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A1 and VW Polo.

For those who like their hatches hot, Ford will give us the Fiesta ST, with 197bhp and 62mph in 6.7 seconds. All that with CO2 emissions of just 114g/km.

In the SUV sector we can look forward to the hot version of Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio – the Quadrifoglio. A 2.9 V6 twin-turbo petrol with 500bhp will get it to 62mph in less than four seconds.

Audi is set to replace its Q3, set to be lighter and more economical than the outgoing car, which is the oldest in its current range. The German marque will also launch the Q8 – a flagship SUV set to have lots of top-end tech on board. BMW will fill another niche with the X2, set to be a sportier version of the X1 and based on the same platform.

Citroen will bring us the C5 Aircross, its biggest SUV to date, which will feature hydraulic cushion suspension and double-glazed front windows to reduce noise.

At the cheapest end of the market Dacia will update the Duster, with all new body panels aiming to make it look more upmarket.

For those looking for a posher French SUV, we will welcome the DS 7 Crossback.

Ford will also update the EcoSport with a new front, new tech and four-wheel-drive.

Honda will ditch diesel for the new CR-V, meaning buyers will have a choice between a 1.5 petrol or a hybrid setup.

At the posh end, Lamborghini will launch the Urus, its first SUV, as it looks to tap into the market. It’ll have a 4.0 twin-turbo V8 and share a platform with the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Cayenne.

Talking of the Cayenne, the third-gen car will join us 15 years after the original was launched. Its smaller sibling, the Macan, will get a refresh as well.

SEAT will launch a third SUV to join the Ateca and Arona. Based on the large Skoda Kodiaq, it’ll be called either Alboran, Aranda, Avila or Tarraco after bosses launched an online competition to decide the name.

Volvo will continue with its XC range, with the XC40 joining the XC60 and XC90. It’ll have plenty of tech from those cars.

Getting the most of our your test drive

Spend Time On Your Test Drive

Ask if you can have the car for the day or the evening: they can only say no. If the answer is negative, try and at least get a few hours with the vehicle and try and ensure that for some of that time, the sales person leaves you alone.

Bring Your Family Or Your Partner

After all, they’ll have to live with the car too and they’ll bring a useful extra perspective.

Get a Thorough Rundown Of The Controls Before You Set Off

Don’t be too proud to do this. You’re not going to be able to properly concentrate on the job in hand and you’re going to be dangerous if you find yourself trying to figure out the stereo or what various buttons are for halfway round your test route.

Choose A Varied Driving Route

You’re not going to learn much about the car if all you do is shoot up and down the local dual carriageway. Try and include a mixture both of challenging roads you know and some you don’t.

Get Someone Else To Drive At Some Point

There are things about the car you’ll discover from the passenger seat that you’ll never know if you constantly stay behind the wheel.

Ask Questions

Don’t worry about sounding stupid. Moreover, some of the things that irritate you might be distinct to the derivative of the demonstrator you’re driving. Dealerships can’t run demonstrators of every derivative in a particular model range and it might be that a different engine, transmission or specification choice would solve your irritations.

Always Drive At Least Two Comparable Cars From Different Brands

Preferably on the same day or over the same weekend.

Never Buy There And Then

At the end of the test drive, always walk away and think it through. 

Don’t Feel You Have To Buy From The Dealer That Gave You The Test Drive

Just because you like the car, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it from that dealer. All they’ve earned from giving you the test drive is first shot at quoting you on the sale. Don’t feel obligated to take it further.

Master the art of haggling

Know what you want and what it’s worth

The first step is to know the market and do some research, this will give you the confidence when securing a deal and will convince the seller that you are a serious buyer. Decide on what your needs are and what you’re willing to compromise on. And set a budget in your mind. Look at similar used cars to get an idea of what they’re selling for.

Know what you’re buying

When the dream car turns up, it’s time for you to think with your head not your heart. Always conduct a vehicle history check to see if it has something to hide; is it an insurance write-off, stolen or has it got a dodgy mileage. Also consider having an expert look over the mechanics and pay attention to the bodywork for signs of rust or a quick touch up with the spray paint.

Open Low

Buyers should go in with an offer that’s lower than the going rate for similar cars on the market, then let the seller negotiate up towards a price that suits both. If buying a new car from a dealer, it’s worth remembering that many car industry sales targets are set on a monthly basis. That means it’s easier to get a bigger discount towards the end of the month, whether it’s a reduced price or optional extras.

Keep an ear out for inconsistent stories about the car’s history and don’t be afraid to walk away.

Equally, never pay more for a car than you can’t afford. There are plenty of deals out there, so never settle for a bad deal. A car is an investment so don’t make any rash decisions.

Haggling ‘Dos and don’ts’

Expert haggling tips: what NOT to say

  • I really like this car.
  • Have you sold many cars today?
  • What sort of discounts are people getting on cars at the moment?
  • Please can I have a discount?
  • Are you sure you can’t meet my budget?
  • Is that all that my old car is worth?
  • What will it cost if I pay in cash?

 

Expert haggling tips: what you SHOULD say

  • I’m interested in buying this car from you, but to do so I need more than you are offering in part exchange on my old car.
  • I’m ready to do a deal today at the right price or I’m a cash buyer.
  • Has this car ever been in an accident?
  • How much discount will you give me?
  • Can you meet my budget – if not, I can buy elsewhere…
  • If your manager is the one making the decision, can I talk to them?
  • I’ve seen a better deal at… (a nearby competitor). Make sure you really have or you’ll look silly.
  • If we can agree on £xxxx (price) then you have a deal.

Don’t get caught out with outstanding finance

Anyone who buys a vehicle that still has outstanding finance against it – including a hire purchase, PCP or lease agreement – could find themselves out of pocket and without a car. Whilst the new vendor is the ‘registered keeper’, the finance company is the ‘legal owner’ and has the right to reclaim the vehicle at any time.

With disposable income under strain for many households, it’s not surprising that buyers are turning to loans to finance their car purchase. Some struggle to continue with the monthly payments they’ve committed to and sell on the car, but rather than paying off the outstanding debt they keep the money to pay for other necessities.

In more cases than not, this is simply an innocent act, but by default, it is also a fraudulent one. A car that has a finance agreement against it remains, legally, the property of the finance company until the loan is paid off and if payments are not kept up or the outstanding amount is not paid off at the time of the sale, the finance company has the right to take it back, at any time.

With one quarter of the 36 million cars on UK roads potentially on outstanding finance, used car buyers really are at risk of falling foul of this type of fraud, no matter how innocently the crime was committed.

We’re advising used car buyers to conduct a vehicle history check that includes an outstanding finance check, before parting with any money.

If their potential dream machine does have finance owed against it, and the buyer still wishes to go ahead with the purchase, the best option to pay off the finance company and the seller, is to raise two bank drafts. A bank draft is a cheque which can be bought from a bank in order to pay someone who is not willing to accept a personal cheque and is a safer transaction when dealing with large payments. One should be in the name of the finance accompany for the outstanding amount and the other should be for the seller for the remaining value of the car.

Don’t be fooled either, even if the seller offers a receipt as proof of purchase the finance house will still be able to reclaim the vehicle if it’s found to be on outstanding finance. If someone unwittingly buys a car on outstanding finance, they should talk to the finance house immediately to negotiate a deal. However, the best thing for buyers to do is to stay vigilant and avoid falling into the innocent fraudster trap.