Kate Simon

A car for life

By Kate Simon 30/11/2012

Finding the right motor...

The stage you’re at in your life is likely to have a major bearing on the car you choose to drive. Money Matters contributor Kate Simon suggests the right wheels for different generations...

Teenage kicks

Cost is always a big consideration when choosing a vehicle and never more so than for a teenager. More often than not, the decision on which car to buy is made by the parents as much as the teen behind the wheel. But along with the cost of the vehicle, buyers also have to consider the price of insurance, especially for such young drivers.

‘It’s not uncommon for the cost of insurance to outweigh the cost of the car,’ says consumer journalist Lewis Kingston, from car-buying website parkers. ‘Every car is allocated an insurance group, so look for the lowest — between 1 and 5. Typically, these are smaller cars and generally the cheapest to insure. Some cars, however, have a poor insurance history from having been crashed a lot by younger people. That means you could potentially get a bigger car and pay less for cover. Safety is also key, so look for good crash test ratings.’

Lewis’ top three:
Ford Fiesta: Good to drive and comparatively cheap to run.
Vauxhall Corsa: Affordable prices and easy to live with.
Seat MII: An excellent choice for a younger driver looking for a safe new car with lots of kit.

Young, free and single

You’re holding down a job, you’ve got some money in your pocket and a few years’ driving experience under your belt — for this group, image and driving enjoyment are the key motivators. As space isn’t a major concern, sporty two seaters are a popular choice. Finance deals might seem like an easy way to afford your dream car, but be sure to check the figures. ‘Consider lower level models from brands with a bit of cachet to help make your money go further,’ says Lewis.

Lewis’ top three:
Audi TT: A stylish coupé that won’t break the bank.
VW Scirocco: Good to drive and reliable.
BMW 1-Series Coupe: A sleek and economical two-door car at the more affordable end of the price range.

Family affair

The pitter patter of tiny feet often triggers
 a trip to the car showroom in search of a motor with a little more room. ‘But think about reliability, too,’ advises Lewis. ‘The last thing you want when travelling with kids is to get stuck at the side of the road in the dark. If you’re buying a used car, look out for extended manufacturer warranties, typically available on cars from main dealers, because they could help avoid unexpected bills’.

Lewis’ top three:
VW Passat Estate: Practical, well-equipped and refined.

Seat Alhambra: A well-regarded and spacious people carrier.
Ford B-Max: A compact, economical people carrier for the smaller family.

Adults only

Now, this really is all about personality. Perhaps you want to downsize to a runaround, or this is your chance to finally get your hands on a sporty little number without the kids trying to take it out for a spin! ‘You’ll get the people who want something cheap to run
and you’ll get the people who want their dream car. However, running costs and reliability are still concerns,’ says Lewis.

Lewis’ top three:
Mercedes-Benz C-Class: Stylish and prestigious but also realistically affordable to own.
BMW Z4 Roadster: An elegant convertible that’s enjoyable to drive but not prohibitive to run.
Kia Picanto: A cost-effective runaround that comes with a seven-year warranty.

Child seat check

The law requires children to wear a restraint until they are 135cm high or 12 years old, whichever they reach first. Winter weather increases the risk of accidents during times such as the school run, so the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) advises you to check if your car is compliant with ISOFIX, which enables you to lock the latches of restraints to attachment points and the footwell. Duncan Vernon from RoSPA says, ‘ISOFIX reduces the chance of misfitting the child seat, and provides a better level of protection in
the event of an accident.’

This post was written by Money Matters contributor, Kate Simon.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.