You’re in the market for a new car and you’re spoilt for choice. You don’t know quite where to start or what to be looking out for. Managing director at Nissan Group of Africa, Mike Whitfield, pulls over to share tips on what to consider.
A new car is at the top of the list of big ticket purchases. It’s generally the next most expensive item after buying a property. Yet, we often don’t afford (pun intended) it the homework it deserves. Since I’m often asked for tips on buying a new car, I’d like to share some of them here.
- Decide on a price range
It goes without saying that everyone is focused on affordability, especially in today’s economy. This, of course, means different things to different people. It could be the first-time buyer looking for efficiency and economy. The person who is upgrading to a newer version of the same vehicle or something completely different in the mid-range. Or someone indulging in a high-end executive saloon or sports car.
- Calculate your budget
You’ll be looking at an initial down payment. The more you can pay, the less your monthly repayment costs will be. This will also determine the length of the finance contract. You might want to consider leasing or residual options. The latter keeps the monthly instalment cost down, but there’s a large balloon payment at the end. And then there’s the cost of insurance, which will depend on your age, your accident-claim history and the value of the car.
- Find out what’s available
There’s lots of information around to help guide your choice. Don’t just ask your family or friends. Dip into car magazines. Pick up brand brochures in your price range. Chat to experts at dealerships. And check out some auto surveys to get an idea of what other customers think.
- Choose a car for your needs
There’s something for everyone. Singles, families, offroaders, business-builders, thrill-seekers, green campaigners, adventure-lovers. Wrapped up in an equally long list of offerings from sedan to crossover to sports cars. A hybrid to hydrogen to electric green cars. From light commercial to sports utility to multi-purpose vehicles.
Here’s a few from our stable. For those just starting out, you’re probably looking for something small but with a bit of attitude. The Nissan Micra’s a nice little run-around with lots of street cred. Great for nimble and nippy city driving. If you want to be part of South Africa’s in-crowd, then the crossover definitely makes the cut.
I’m proud to say we pioneered the genre back in 2008 with the Qashqai. Combining the best features of a passenger car and SUV. Their versatility has resulted in the rise of the crossover the world over. Another pioneering introduction is the battery-charged Nissan LEAF electric vehicle, an everyman’s chance to fight global warming. As more motorists join SA’s green movement, it’s strengthening the call for zero emissions driving.
- Consider a car that suits your personality
Like the clothes we wear, the car we drive often reflects who we are. From lively to laid-back, confident to cautious, creative to conventional. Some defining features are colour, design and technology tastes. So you can dress up or down. My advice is to choose a car you feel comfortable in and that expresses who you are.
- Weigh up the running costs
A bit like starting a family, buying a car is a long-term commitment. The purchase is just the first step. After that there will be visits to the dealership for regular services, possible repairs after the warranty or motor plan expires or, worst-case scenario, an accident.
So, what you also have to keep in mind is the availability and affordability of parts. With Rand volatility, the price and delivery-time of imported parts can vary. South Africa-based brands often have a larger inventory of parts that may also be much cheaper if sourced locally.
- Scrutinise the aftersales value-add
While you’re shopping around for your new car purchase, make sure you check out the aftersales service. With so much competition, car brands are enhancing their warranty and motor plan offering. Our company’s goes beyond that with many extras, especially for emergency situations.
Whatever you buy, make sure you know you’ll have fun driving it. After all it’s going to be your partner for a while. If you felt that instant connection on your test-drive, I’d say you’re well suited. On that note, I wish you happy hunting and – once you’ve settled on your mate – many hours of enjoyable and safe driving.