Time for something new? – March 2019

AUDI

Audi’s range continues to expand. The latest generation A6 saloon and Avant models claim to take autonomous driving to the next level. Executives looking for an extra dash of style meanwhile, are being targeted by the new second generation A7 Sportback that’s a smarter, more unique option. There’s an all-new A1 Sportback model too, a revised version of the TT sportscar and a new second-generation version of the Q3 compact SUV.

ONE TO WATCH: The new Q3 is now smarter and more efficient, these being attributes it’ll need if it’s to make headway in this increasingly crowded segment.

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 for Executive segment buyers 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.

SEAT

SEAT’s most important recent arrival in the brand’s mid-sized 7-seat SUV segment is the Tarraco. You get sharp styling, plenty of interior space and, the Iberian maker hopes, a dash of Spanish flair. In other news, the company has introduced a super-hot hatch model, the Leon Cupra R – now sold out. SEAT also has plans in the future to launch ‘Cupra’ as a separate sub-brand for its high-performance models the first being the Cupra Ateca.

ONE TO WATCH: SEAT’s Tarraco aims to shake up the mid-sized 7-seat SUV market.

SKODA

The big news is the introduction of a heavily revised version of the company’s Fabia supermini, but Skoda now finds SUVs more profitable. Earlier this year, they launched the Qashqai-class mid-sized Karoq to sell just beneath the 7-seat Kodiaq and the launch of the Skoda Kamiq combines the agility and handling of a compact car with the traditional advantages of an SUV.

The rest of Skoda’s line-up has been significantly revised in recent times. The Citigo citycar has undergone a minor update, plus the Rapid models have also been given a facelift and gained a new 1.0 TSI engine. That unit also features in the lightly revised version of the company’s Octavia family hatch, which features a potent vRS 245 flagship variant. The launch of the Skoda Kamiq combines the agility and handling of a compact car with the traditional advantages of an SUV.

ONE TO WATCH: Skoda has a strong contender in the hatchback segments, in the shape of its new Scala hatch.

SMART

The fortwo and forfour citycar models are both now available in full-battery-powered ‘EQ’ form. Power comes from a 60kW (81bhp) electric motor mated to a one-speed auto transmission. In other smart news, the standard fortwo and forfour ranges have a new, more affordable ‘pure’ entry trim level.

ONE TO WATCH: smart fortwo EQ is a good bet for city driving in eco style.

If brand-new isn’t your thing and you’re looking for a great deal on a used or delivery mileage car, then check out our thousands of great deals, from local trusted dealers throughout the UK.

We’ve also got a huge range of new car reviews and used car guides to help with your car research.

Keeping your body(work) beautiful

The first thing to remember is that not all bodyshops are the same. Anyone can patch your car up with a hammer and a touch of filler, but in the long run there’s little doubt that going this route will cost you more than you save.

Today’s cars tend to need more sophisticated equipment to get them back to pristine condition, particularly if the accident damage has been substantial. So, it’s important to find the right bodyshop, which might be a specialist repair centre for your make and model. When it comes to getting a quote for your repair work, ask the workshop what kind of tooling they have and check that their staff are properly trained to deal with your car. Maybe they are associated with trade or motoring organisations?

Secondly, make sure that you get a number of quotes before deciding. Find out if they work regularly for any of the well-known franchised dealerships.

Finally, it’s worth checking out any extra customer service provided. If you don’t have it covered in your insurance policy already, is there any possibility of a loan car while your vehicle is off the road? Will the workshop offer a free collection and delivery service? A little time on the phone could save you a lot of money, plus it could be the deciding factor between two workshops!

Of course, accidents aren’t the only reason for a visit to the bodyshop. Older cars in particular will suffer the effects of weather and show up wear and tear more easily. Without preventive maintenance, your bodywork may well end up in a sorry state. The key to keeping your older vehicle running well for years to come is to keep it well maintained. Look after your car and it’ll look after you. Remember it’s not all about your car looking good, it’s about keeping it safe and roadworthy too.

If possible, keep your car in a garage or under cover. This is important not only during bad weather, but in good weather too as cars with older paint work can fade quicker during prolonged exposure to sunlight. Ask your bodywork centre for any paint treatments that will help keep your car shinier for longer if you don’t have the luxury of a garage to keep it safe in.

Follow these simple steps for keeping your bodywork looking better for longer:

  • Wash beneath the bodywork and around the wheel arches to remove salt.
  • Clean and polish the paintwork with a good quality polish and, for extra protection, add a coat of gloss protectant. Resist the temptation to cut back the paint, however bad it looks modern paints do not need aggressive treatment.
  • Treat all exterior plastics and rubber with a suitable dressing – you may find that some plastic surfaces have faded.
  • Wash regularly with a genuine car shampoo to keep the car in top shape. Don’t use household dish washing liquid, as this is designed to cut through grease and is too aggressive for car paintwork.

When to get the best car deal

It can also depend on what kind of car you’re looking for, whether it’s a brand-new, just-out-the-wrapper model or if it’s more about the price than if it’s the latest edition.

So, here are our tips for getting the best deal at the best time of year.

New registrations

You’re no doubt aware of new registration releases that happen in March and September every year. If not, it basically means that new registration plates are released on 1st March and 1st September so plates for 2019 March will be 19 plates and September will be 69 plates. Although new models are released from manufacturers all year round, if you’re looking for a car with the latest plate then these are the months for you. Start your research a few months before though, as you can sometimes pre-order and collect as soon as it’s released.

Making way for new releases

With dealers having to make way for brand-new releases and new editions, this means that the ‘older’ versions often see a price drop. So, if you’ve got your eye on a car but know there is a newer edition on the horizon, if can often be fruitful to hold back and see what great offers become available when the new model is released. This way you can get a bargain on a nearly new car and no one will ever know the difference, although your bank balance might!

Tis the season

Car dealers are just the same as any other retailer, with seasonal offers happening all through the year. You’ll often find that just like your favourite clothes shop is having a summer sale, your local car dealer is prepping for the same. More dealers are jumping on the marketing band wagon and having their own ‘Black Friday’ deals, Christmas giveaways and January sales. Car dealers have targets to make just like any other business, so take advantage of these promotional offers.

Time to upgrade?

Is your finance agreement coming to an end? Many drivers these days are taking advantage of the great finance offers available and often opt for PCP deals which means you finance the car over a few years and often have a balloon payment, or guaranteed future value, at the end. If your agreement is coming to an end, you’ll probably expect a call from your car dealer soon with great offers on a newer car. There’s no pressure, but once you get that new car itch it’s hard to get rid of.

If you’re looking for a car then really the best time to buy is when you’re ready. There will always be great deals out there but, with buying a car being a huge financial decision, it’s important that you take time to do your research. At Exchange and Mart and s1cars, we have thousands of car reviews (new and used), buying tips, advice and thousands of great deals from dealers throughout the UK.

Tips for buying your first car

Stay calm and plan

Choosing your first car can be a daunting task, especially with the amount of choice out there. How many doors? What litre engine? What size? What colour? Our tip is to take a step back and focus on the things you need from your first car. We can guarantee that the biggest deciding factor is budget so start by working out what you can afford. Remember to take into account ALL of your other outgoings. By narrowing down your budget, you’ll find that this starts to narrow down your choices.

Think of what you need the car for. Is it just social use, out and about at the weekends? Or is it for work, will you be driving long distances? This could determine what size of engine you need, how much you can afford to pay in road tax or even if you prefer petrol, diesel or electric?

Remember, it’s often wise, for your first car, to stick to one that is practical – there will be plenty of time later for that turbo roadster you’ve had your eye on!

Understand finance

While most of us had to settle for an old banger for our first car, with today’s finance deals, buying a car on finance is becoming more accessible for young people. But although it seems simple, it’s important to understand the various levels of finance before you sign on the dotted line. Deals vary from leasing (PCP and PCH), personal loans to credit cards, so our advice is to do as much research as possible. Look at the length of the finance term, how much you can afford to pay per month, what the risks are if you fail to pay and if there are any restrictions? For car finance explained in full, click here.

Where to buy?

When it comes to finding the right place to buy to your first car, there are various options. If you’re opting for a brand-new car then a franchised dealer is the best place to buy that straight-from-the-factory model. If you’re looking for a used car, or delivery mileage, then visit your local dealer. Fancy checking out all the dealers in your area? Then Exchange and Mart and s1cars are the place to find your first car. We have thousands of used cars from local, trusted dealers throughout the UK, with prices to suit your budget. Plus, we’re open 24/7.

Don’t forget about insurance

This is a biggie and can often be neglected. If you’re a young driver you may find it can be expensive initially, but there are things you can do to help lower the price. Try piggy-backing onto a parent’s policy as a named driver, although this comes with its own risks like driving up the existing policy or affecting your parent’s no claims bonus. Other insurers offer discount for safer drivers by fitting trackers to your car, monitoring speed and driving techniques. Although you may need to pay the higher price for a few years, it’s worth it to be confident that you have the right cover and protection should you need it.

Quick tips

  • Learn to haggle – you might bag an even bigger bargain.
  • Always take the car for a test drive.
  • Think carefully about colour.
  • Avoid costly add-ons.
  • Do your research.

Top cars of 2018 – And the winners are….

Here are just a select few of the winners.

City car of the Year – Kia Picanto

With its blend of affordability and impressive build quality, the Kia Picanto is one of the most popular small cars around. Not only is it stylish in looks, comfortable on the inside and is also one of the safest small cars around. Combine that with Kia’s 7-year warranty and low ownership costs, if you’re looking for a small car then the Kia Picanto is your perfect fit.

Supermini of the Year – Ford Fiesta

One of the most popular cars in the UK, if not the world, the Ford Fiesta has always been an affordable choice but also a great car to drive. In its seventh generation, it has been designed to make a statement on the supermini segment. As before, it is available in 3 and 5 door options but is also available in an ‘Active’ crossover body style aimed at customers wanting luxury and sportiness.

Medium SUV of the Year (C-Segment) – SEAT Ateca

Named after the traditional Spanish town, the Ateca competes with the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan but as the brand says, it offers a sportier feel and affordable price tag. This is SEAT’s first foray in to the SUV market and seems to be well worth the wait, with standard equipment including air conditioning, touchscreen media system, leather steering wheel and 16-inch alloy wheels. If you’re a fan of the Nissan Qashqai then it’s definitely worth a look.

Luxury large SUV of the Year – Land Rover Discovery

There’s nothing quite like a Land Rover Discovery and this fifth-generation version continues to offer the toughest, most practical and most capable choice in the large SUV sector. It’s, larger inside, cheaper to run and more media-savvy than its predecessor. Yet it remains a practical choice for up to seven adults and is an easy class-leader off the beaten track. In the large family SUV segment, there’s nothing quite like it.

Full electric car of the Year – Jaguar i-PACE

With the launch of the i-PACE, Jaguar became the first premium brand to make a long range, practical, battery-powered electric vehicle but with an asking price of £60,000 – is it worth it? With a 300-mile driving range, competing with the likes of Tesla, almost zero emissions, comfortable on the race track and with all the luxury from the premium brand you’ll find it hard not to want one.

Car of the Year – Ford Focus

Also, winner of the ‘Family Hatch of the Year’, the MK4 version of this popular model offers slicker, more stylish lines, higher quality interior and extra technology like radar-operated cruise control, lane-keep assist, emergency auto-braking and wi-fi network. It’s good to know that despite its fancy facelift and gadgets, the Focus is still as rewarding to drive as it has always been.

 

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.