Driving home for Christmas

No road trip home is complete without some festive tunes – and we’re not talking Christmas carols. Here are out top picks for Christmas tunes for any car journey, from classics to recent releases.

Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea

We couldn’t begin the list without this obvious classic. Perfect for getting you in the mood for your journey home and excited to see your loved ones at the other end.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby

We all love a white Christmas but not when we have to drive in it! So hopefully this is the only white Christmas you enjoy on your drive home and the roads stay clear and safe.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Michael Bublé

It might be a bit controversial to not include the original, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without some Michael Bublé.

Frosty The Snowman – Cocteau Twins

A nice fun, joyous song to liven the journey up. It’ll be hard not to sing-along, whether you have some company or are a solo singer.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

So maybe we don’t wish it literally but a great tune none the less. We’re sure you won’t be the only one screaming ‘It’s Christmas!!!’ on the roads this year.

Underneath The Tree – Kelly Clarkson

Are you dreaming of what’s under the tree this year? A more recent tune to hit the Christmas charts but is fast becoming a festive favourite.

Step Into Christmas – Elton John

This one is bound to put a smile on every Grinch this year. It may not get you out the holiday tailbacks, but it’ll lift your mood and spread that festive cheer.

Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley

Some of the best Christmas songs are the chilled-out ones but maybe skip this one if you’ve just gone through a break up!

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Jackson 5

You might feel like Santa coming to town if your boot is packed full of presents for friends and family so get the whole car signing along to this one!

Last Christmas – Wham!

Our list of top Christmas tunes wouldn’t be complete without this classic, although you might find yourself shedding a tear or two!

However you travel home this Christmas, and if you’re out driving during the holidays, make sure you stay safe on the road. Check out our tips for winter driving, preparing your car and stocking up on your winter survival kit.

The perfect gifts for car lovers – Our 2018 gift guide

Personalised chocolate cars

Perfect for the car lover with a sweet tooth. Not just for birthdays, this box of chocolate cars can be personalised with their favourite colour and age. Great as a little extra to share with the family or keep to themselves!

Personalised car keyring

This is a great gift for a new driver that likes to put their stamp on everything! It can be personalised with their name or a special message and will hopefully stop them losing their keys!

Fiat 500 gift wrap

The car theme doesn’t need to stop at the presents! Why not keep the theme going into the wrapping paper? Perfect for the Fiat 500 driver in your life that just can’t get enough of their car.

Puma x Ferrari merchandise

Have you got a big F1 fan in the family? Give them a taste of life in the fast lane with a choice of F1 Ferrari branded sportswear, from trainers to beanies.

Hand drawn car illustration

How about a hand drawn illustration of their pride and joy to take centre stage on top of the mantelpiece or even the bedside table?

Personalised car air fresheners

Do you know someone that spends most of their time in the car, away from family and friends? Make sure they take a piece of you on every road trip with these personalised car air fresheners – fun and practical!

Dash camera

A more practical gift to ensure they stay safe on the road. Dash cameras are becoming more popular these days and almost essential if you use your car for business.

Car experience day

Whether their dream is to race a Formula 1 car or crash around in a big monster truck, why not treat them to an experience of a lifetime with a choice of car driving experience days?

Kids car

An obsession with cars can start at a young age so if you’ve got a child that has been wishing for their own Range Rover Evoque or Lamborghini then these toy cars are perfect. Plus, for less than £200 they are a bargain compared to the real deal!

A new car?

Big kids need a treat too. So, if you’re thinking of treating that special someone, or yourself, to a new car then look no further than Exchange and Mart and s1cars. We’ve got thousands of used cars from trusted dealers throughout the UK just waiting for you.

Tips for driving at night

Be seen

This is an obvious one for driving in the dark, but many drivers fail to check the condition of their lights once the darker nights appear. During the summer months and lighter days, we don’t need to use our lights as much so when it comes to winter, we take for granted that they are in perfect working order. It’s often when we need them most that we realise there’s a bulb or two which need replacing. If you haven’t already, check your bulbs and if they need replacing, do so immediately. Not only can it cost you a hefty fine if you’re caught by police, but you become a hazard to other drivers and pedestrians. Bulbs are rarely expensive and whether fitted by yourself or a professional, there is no excuse for not being seen.  Over winter, dirt and dust can make your lights dirty so just keep an eye on this and wash them when needed.

Keep a torch handy

It’s always a good idea to pack a winter safety kit in your car just in case you get in to an accident or break down. Whether it’s spare blankets, a phone charger or even food, but don’t forget a handy torch. Many smart phones come with torches, so we can forget this lifesaving tool but what if your battery runs out? Our advice is to keep a small torch in your boot as a backup. It can come to the rescue when changing tyres, checking damage to your car or even lending a hand to a fellow driver in need. Just make sure you regularly check the batteries too! Another handy thing to keep in your car boot is a high-vis sign or fluorescent clothing so that you can be seen near your car or at the side of the road. 

Be aware of cyclists

It goes without saying that drivers need to take more care and be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians. Although the majority of cyclists wear protective gear that allows drivers to see them in the dark, there are the odd few that don’t abide by that rule. So, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to keep an extra eye out for cyclists, other cars and of course, pedestrians. Slow your speed down when driving in the dark, especially through residential and built up areas.  

Look out for roadworks

Obviously in the dark our vision is impaired which is a problem when it comes to things you can miss even in daylight. Road obstructions such as potholes, signs, roadworks and even diversions can be missed in the dark which can cause damage to your car or send you down the wrong road! When it comes to potholes and debris from bad weather, remember to keep a reasonable speed and factor in extra stopping distance. Coming across roadworks and diversions is inevitable but checking traffic alerts systems before you head out or keeping an ear out for announcements on the radio allow you to be prepared and plan your journey in advance.

Park safe

Drivers are often guilty of parking their cars or pulling over in unsafe places, whether it’s to nip in to a shop or picking up a passenger. But obstructions like these can cause serious issues for other drivers, especially in the dark. So, think about where you are pulling over or leaving your car. Have you left enough space? Are you too close to passing traffic or are you obstructing a pavement? Take extra care or you might come back to find your car has caused a bump in the night.

It may seem like common sense to take extra care when driving in the dark, but our need to get home quickly to the warmth of our houses can affect our driving decisions and ultimately lead to accidents.

For more driving tips or if you’re searching for a new car, visit exchangeandmart.co.uk or s1cars.com

Wicked wheels

Don’t be scared, we’ve got treats galore with our delightful deals and the only tricks are the ones we know for getting you the best price.

So, if you’re in a car nightmare and need to wake up, check out these wicked wheels for a happy ever after.

Jeep Renegade

If you’re someone who doesn’t like to conform to the rules, blurs the lines and likes to pave your own road, then set your sights on the Renegade. Perfect for those looking for plenty of space and a car that can handle anything.

Renault Captur

Free yourself from your old car and find something new and exciting that not only captures your heart but is somewhere you don’t mind being stuck in when you can’t escape the morning commute. This car offers comfort and style at an affordable price and can be a perfect family car.

Hyundai Veloster

The Veloster might sound like it would be more at home in Jurassic Park than your driveway but it’s fast, sporty and has a good growl.  Great for those looking for something a bit different and it comes in some eye-catching colours.

Kia Soul

If you’re looking for a spiritual connection with your next car, then what better car to pair up with than the Kia Soul? Similar in shape and size to the Renegade but with the added benefit of Kia’s 7 year warranty.

VW Beetle

You certainly won’t be crawling along the road in this classic. An icon both on screen and on the road, the Beetle looks great at any age. You can opt for the original style or opt for the newer, modern look. If it was us, we’d go for classic.

For even more Spooktacular deals on thousands of cars from trusted dealers , search Exchange and Mart and s1cars now.

What makes a good car, a great family car?

Families come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of needs depending on your situation. Maybe your family is growing so you need a bit more space, maybe one car just isn’t enough or maybe you just want to show off at the school gates.

Whatever your circumstances, at Exchange and Mart and s1cars we’ve got over 100,000 cars, from trusted dealers around the UK.

All about the space

Is your brood growing in numbers and you need to trade in your little runner for something with a bit more leg, and pram, room? Increasing car size doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style.  A 4×4 or SUV could be exactly what you’re looking for and there are options to suit any budget. Plus, many of them are packed with extra safety features to keep you and your little passengers safe.

Hyundai ix35 

Volkswagen Tiguan 

Range Rover 

The working car

There can be many reasons for needing a second car. It doesn’t always need to be for the family to use. Maybe your main car is the family car and you’re looking for something to get you to and from work? Something cheap, reliable and perfect for the city. Small cars are great for getting from A to B and often come in funky colours. They are also pretty economical, normally cheap to fill up and to ensure plus the monthly payments are reasonable which means you don’t need to break the bank. More often than not, due to their engine size, they can be of low or free road tax.

Skoda Citigo 

Toyota Aygo 

Fiat 500 

First-class family

There are plenty of family-sized cars out there with a more luxurious and executive feel – definitely ones to turn heads at the office and at the school gates. With these options you can get a car that is both practical and enjoyable to drive. It can be your working family car Monday to Friday but also fancy enough that it’s still a treat to drive even when you’re the only passenger. They can also be perfect cars for a weekend getaway for some ‘me time’ and good for impressing the boss!

Mercedes C-Class  

BMW 5 Series

Audi A6 

The green family

If your family car does a lot of driving, then maybe it’s time to start thinking green? With more and more electric and hybrid models being introduced to the market, going green is much easier and has more options than ever before. You don’t need to feel restricted on style and with more government funding being invested into charging points and developing our current infrastructure to cope with more electric vehicles, maybe it’s time to start thinking of the future. It will also reduce the pollution around child-friendly areas like parks and the school gates.

Nissan Leaf

Toyota Prius  

BMW i3 

With over 100,000 cars in stock from local, trusted dealers, no matter what your ideal family car is, you’ll find it at Exchange and Mart and s1cars.

What’s new from our favourite car brands?

AUDI

Audi’s range continues to expand. New in the showrooms are the latest generation A6 saloon and Avant models, which claims to take autonomous driving to the next level. If you want the ultimate sports estate, then check out the new RS4. If you’re looking for an extra dash of style, have a look at the new second generation A7 Sportback. There’s an all-new A1 Sportback model too, a revised version of the TT sportscar and an all-new second generation version of the Q3 compact SUV.

ONE TO WATCH: The new A1 Sportback is the highest quality supermini yet made.

BMW

The key news for BMW dealers in recent months has been the launch of a second generation version of the company’s mid-sized X4 SUV Coupe. There’s also a fresh lifestyle-orientated option in the form of the new 6 Series Gran Turismo model. In other news, the company has revised its i3 electric range and added a sporty i3s variant. There’s also a new M5 high performance sports saloon, a ‘Competition’ version of the M2 coupe and a roadster version of the top i8 sportscar.

ONE TO WATCH: The X4 is a far more competitive mid-sized premium-badged SUV-Coupe than its predecessor.

BMW X4 Model

FIAT

Fiat has rejuvenated its 500L small MPV – and added a Crossover-style trim level into the range. There’s also a new SUV-orientated Panda model, the Panda Cross. And special ‘Mirror’ versions of the brand’s iconic 500 citycar, plus the 500L and the 500X SUV, all featuring smarter looks and upgraded infotainment. There’s also a sporty new ‘S-Design’ trim level for the Tipo family hatch.

ONE TO WATCH: The Panda Cross is a fun option for citycar buyers.

FORD

The big news for Ford dealers is the launch of a new generation version of the brand’s Focus family hatch. The company has also thoroughly revised its KA+ five-door citycar. The brand also continues to introduce extra variants of the all-new seventh generation Fiesta supermini, including an ST hot hatch and an ‘Active’ Crossover-style variant.

ONE TO WATCH: The new Focus is arguably the most class-competitive family hatch Ford has yet brought us.

Ford Focus

MERCEDES-BENZ

Mercedes has been busy of late, following a flurry of new model activity earlier this year which brought us an all-new A-Class compact family hatch and substantially revised C-Class models. There’s also a new generation version of the executive CLS four-door coupe, which provides some of the engineering for the desirable new Mercedes-AMG GT four-door model.

In addition, the brand’s most capable SUV, the G-Class, has been launched in new generation form. And there’s a new pick-up model, the X-Class in a commercial range that also now includes an all-new version of the company’s Sprinter large van.

ONE TO WATCH: New A-Class offers a premium feel for sensible money.

SEAT

SEAT’s most important recent arrival has been the brand’s first SUV supermini-segment Crossover model, the Arona. This is based on the new generation Ibiza supermini launched last year. In other news, the company introduced a super-hot hatch model, the Leon Cupra R – now sold out, and plans in the future to launch ‘Cupra’ as a separate sub-brand for its high-performance models.

ONE TO WATCH: The Arona will further boost SEAT sales in the SUV sector.

SEAT Arona

VAUXHALL

Vauxhall has just launched hot GSi performance versions of its Corsa supermini and Insignia mid-sized models. The Corsa range has been revised too, with a focus on 1.4-litre power. There’s also an all-new compact family MPV, the Combo Life, just in the showrooms. SUVs occupy much of Vauxhall’s attention these days, following last year’s launch of new Crossland X and Grandland X models – and even an SUV-style version of its citycar, christened the Viva Rocks.

ONE TO WATCH: With its Crossland X and Grandland X SUVs, Vauxhall now has a properly credible crossover line-up.

VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen has just launched a new generation version of its Touareg luxury SUV. This follows a busy year, which has seen the brand introduce its new T-Roc mid-sized SUV, its 7-seat Tiguan Allspace and the all-new sixth generation version of the Polo supermini. There’s a hot GTI version of the up! citycar too.

ONE TO WATCH: New Polo is smarter and cleverer, plus offers the option of efficient 1.5 TSI EVO power.

Volkswagen Polo

Are you ready for an Electric Vehicle?

To help you with this decision, we’ve put together a handy guide to everything EV from the need-to-knows to the differences between an Electric and a Hybrid.

If you’d like more information, check out the full guide to Electric Vehicles.

You might think that this technology is new, but the concept of an Electric Vehicle dates back to 1837. They were so popular that 28% of all vehicles on the road in 1900 were electric. Of course, the tech has advanced significantly over the years.

Electric vs Hybrid

Hybrid cars still have a conventional engine but mix this with an electric battery to create a more powerful propulsion system. The electric battery serves as more of a complement to the petrol engine, rather than a primary means of power. Hybrid cars can also store the electrical energy they’ve created, whereas an EV needs to be charged regularly at a power point.

Electric vs Petrol/Diesel

These comparisons are much more noticeable. For one, a conventional engine has a lot more moving parts that an EV. EV also tend to have a shorted range, which is the main concern for most drivers but with constant developments to battery life and investment by the Government to install more charging points, this should hopefully be alleviated over time. The most notable consideration is the smaller amount of pollution caused by an EV compared to a petrol or diesel engine.

What are the benefits of switching to an EV?

One of the main factors when considering an EV is the benefits it has on the environment. Here are just a few:

Renewable energy – Electricity is a form of renewable energy. This means you won’t be expending limited resources, like fossil fuels, to power your car.

Eco-friendly materials – Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of EVs are manufactured using base materials which are themselves ecologically beneficial. This is true of a lot of manufacturers, but was most notably done with the creation of the Nissan Leaf.

Lower levels of pollution – Owing to the nature of electric engines, there are far fewer emissions. In fact, an EV has zero polluting elements coming from its exhaust.

Recycled batteries – You’ll be able to recycle the engine (or battery) of an electric car. This reduces the need for production – which in turn lowers the overall damage done to the environment.

There’s also a huge health benefit to more people switching to EV as this can prevent many pollution related illnesses and deaths.

Saving money

Thanks to the lower CO2 emissions and the fact there’s very little overall pollution, electric vehicles are largely exempt from tax and you may find yourself with a little discount of Vehicle Excise Duty if you drive a Hybrid.

In order to encourage more drivers to switch to Electric, the Government have set up plug-in grants via Taxpayer Credit. Check out our full guide to find out how much you could save.

Is an Electric Vehicle right for me?

If you’re not already the proud owner of an electric vehicle, your decision will depend on a number of factors. Choosing an EV isn’t the same as picking a new petrol or diesel car. You’ll need to decide whether you’re the kind of person who’ll benefit from a more environmentally friendly option.

What will you need if for? How far do you need to travel? Are there public charging points near you? Is it right for you and your family?

Deciding to buy an Electric or Hybrid car comes down to your personal circumstances, but if you need help deciding check out our full guide.

Autumn driving risks

Here are some top tips to help drivers cope with the unpredictable Autumn weather.

Coping with… Heavy Rain and Wet Conditions

Watch for leaves and large puddles on the road

Loose leaves that are flattened and wet act just like ice. With puddles, it’s difficult to judge their depth, which could lead to serious damage to your vehicle. Therefore, you should try to avoid both if possible or drive slowly over them, taking extra care.

Prepare your tyres

This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip. Wet or icy roads demand tyres that are in good condition. You need at least 3mm of tread to be legal, but newer tyres are better. Check the pressure too, regularly. Under-inflation means less grip.

Check the condition of your wiper blades

In the more autumnal misty, murky conditions you need wiper blades in tip top condition. Clean them with a soft cloth and ensure they are in full working condition. If your sight is limited in any way while using them, replace them as soon as possible.

Coping with… Dark Commutes

High beams on standby 

Give your headlights and rear lights a clean and make sure all are in working condition, including the high beams. But remember, try to only use the high beams when you really need them and not when other drivers are approaching.

Take sunglasses

With the shorter days comes a lower sun which can be awkwardly placed during your morning and evening drive. Often, it’s so low that even the sun visor can’t block it. Sunglasses will help.

Stay alert

The darker mornings and evenings may leave you feeling drowsier behind the wheel. To avoid this, make sure you get enough sleep the night before, swap drivers if possible during long trips and drink caffeine if necessary. If you find yourself growing tired, pull over to rest or stretch your legs.  

Coping with… Frost

Give yourself extra time in the mornings

It can be a pain, but it’s very dangerous to only scrape a small viewing hole in the windscreen and then rush off to work. To avoid the frost altogether, park your car in a garage or cover it overnight.

Check antifreeze levels

Antifreeze prevents the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing. You can contact a professional mechanic to check this for you, or buy an antifreeze tester for a small price.

Check the battery

As the weather turns colder, your car will need to take more energy from the battery. It’s best to inspect your battery this time of year to make sure it can survive the autumn and winter; you can always buy a car battery tester to do this.

Coping with… High Winds

Monitor your speed

The faster you drive, the more likely you are to lose control. Always monitor your speed, take your time and keep a good extra distance between yourself and other cars.

Anticipate debris

Prepare yourself for sporadic bits of debris in the road or even fallen trees. This is another reason for keeping your speed low in high winds.

Don’t travel unless necessary

Check before you leave and if the conditions on the road are hazardous or you feel uncomfortable driving in such weather, do not attempt to do so unless necessary.  

Then and Now – The UK’s most popular cars

The endless changes don’t just finish at how they look on the outside, most of their updates are spawned from the manufacturer keeping up with changes in technology, production and what’s under the bonnet to stay competitive and relevant in the car industry – which is all good news for car buyers!

So we’ve taken a look at some of the UK’s, and our, most popular models and how they have changed since they were first created.

Ford Focus

Ford Focus 2001 model

Succeeding the just as popular Ford Escort, the Focus was first introduced back in 1998 and has became a staple family car ever since. It came in various sizes from a 3-door hatchback to 5-door saloon. Features included CD/Radio, heated front windscreen and air conditioning.

Ford Focus 2018 model

In 2018, the fourth generation Focus was revealed to mark the brand’s 20th anniversary. The overall design these days has a much sportier feel. The latest model is packed with technology such as the FordPass connect, which enhances the Sat Nav system with real-time traffic updates, in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and additional remote features like starting your engine from the comfort of your own home.

BMW 3 Series

BMW 3 series 1989 model

Released as a compact executive car back in 1975, the BMW 3 Series was the successor to the 2 series and has seen 6 different generations. Available originally as a 2-door sedan, the range has expanded throughout the years to include a 2-door convertible, 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback amongst others. In addition to winning several awards over the years, it is BMW’s bestselling model.

BMW 3 series 2018 model

In its most recent incarnation, the coupe and convertible models have been split from the range and sold as the BMW 4 Series. If you’re looking for something a bit special, the M3 is the most powerful of the 3 series, developed by the brand’s in-house motorsport division. The 2018 Saloon model comes with a £27,800 OTR price and top speed of 130mph.

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf 1982 model

One of only three cars that has ever been voted European Car of the Year twice, the Volkswagen Golf is the brand’s bestselling model. A compact car produced since 1974, the first generation was designed as a replacement for the Beetle, coming away from the rounder style to a more boxy shape. They later introduced the GTI variation in 1976 aimed at those who craved extra performance. The Golf was so popular for the brand that by 1988 VW had sold 10 million of the model worldwide.

Volkswagen Golf 2018 model

Now on its 7th generation, it’s had a few facelifts as well as an electric model, the e-Golf, and a plug-in hybrid with the Golf GTE. The Golf has become popular within motorsports and particularly with younger customers looking for something sporty and high quality. Still a very popular car within the UK and around Europe, despite the emissions scandal Volkswagen faced in 2015. Can anything stop the success of the Golf?

Fiat 500

Fiat 500 1959 model

It’s hard to believe that this popular car has such a long history, back to 1957 when it was first born. It was originally known as the ‘Cinquecento’ and was created as a cheap, functional town car for the people of Italy. Designed as a two-seater and only 9 feet long, it wasn’t until 1958 that the car became hugely popular due to improvements such as an opening sunroof. The 500 has had several versions over the years including the Fiat L, or Lusso, but sadly production ended in 1975 after the launch of its replacement, the Fiat 126.

Fiat 500 Mirror 2018 edition

More than 30 years after production had ceased, Fiat decided to bring back the classic little car. Staying true to its retro styling, the new 500 was a modern interpretation with many noticeable changes such as moving the rear mounted engine to the front. One of the 500’s most appealing traits, especially with the younger market, is its different colours options and quirky interior. It’s also been updated with USB connectivity, Bluetooth, DAB and Sat Nav options. It’s easy to see why it has become one of the UK’s most loved small cars.

Luckily for you, whether you prefer the original, the latest model or something in between, you’ll find a huge range of cars at Exchange and Mart/s1cars.

Past, present and predicting the future

Over the years, the magazine became synonymous with motors and even a household name, with name drops in iconic TV shows like Only Fools and Horses to 8 out of 10 cats to Jools Holland’s Hootenany. Famous faces from the motor industry appeared in the magazine, including Jenson Button and Vicki-Butler Henderson.

During this time, car buying was changing. People needed to be able to search for, and buy, their car more conveniently. Dealerships started opening later in the evening and at the weekends and shopping online became more and more popular. In 2009, Exchange and Mart decided to focus solely on their website and ceased printing of the magazine.

Online classified sites like Exchange and Mart, allow the customer to visit an ‘online forecourt’ where instead of viewing tens of cars, they can view over 100,000. And the variation of cars doesn’t just stop at price and colour, the oldest car on the site is from 1913, almost as old as Exchange and Mart itself!

It’s undeniable that the automotive industry is one of the most fast-paced, not only in terms of technology in cars, but also in the way that people buy their car. For example, you can now live chat with a sales person or product genius 24/7, watch video reviews and even buy your car online and have it delivered straight to your door.

So what does the future hold?

When it comes to all things political a good idea seems great on paper but, as they say, the devil’s in the detail. So, while we may have just about finalised the UK’s Brexit negotiations by 2068, even with all the talk of Electric Vehicles or EVs, your car is highly likely to still involve a petrol power unit – but a plug-in hybrid version.

Looking forward 100 years we could well see high tech electric vehicles where there’s no need of a driver and everything will be connected so you can truly work, rest and play in your car. But in any large town or city, we put our money on it being the wheels of the bus going round and round.

With the idea of driving a car daily into work being priced out of the pocket of every day folk by city taxes and high parking charges, we reckon you’ll be hopping on the latest “Enviro Bus”. That’s if you’re not working from home in the first place.

But when it comes to predicting our means of transport in 150 years’ time, well, that’s anyone’s guess.