Buying a new car is one of the most important and exciting milestones of one’s life, especially if it’s your first car. The process brings along with itself the excitement of going out and looking at your options. Test driving different cars is certainly the most exciting part of this process. We want you to make the right choice, and bring home a car that will put a smile on your face every time you drive it! Here’s a list of 7 things to keep in mind while test driving a car.
Visibility is a very important factor, especially for the bumper to bumper traffic conditions that are a regular affair in India. Now, visibility is not only restricted to what you can see from the windshield. One thing that people tend to miss out on is the thickness of the A-pillar. If the A-pillar is too prominent, it might affect your visibility while taking turns. Another important point here is the visibility from the ORVMs. Yes, every car will have a blind spot, but what’s important is how prominent it is for you. It depends on many things like the driver’s seating position, height, etc.
Ergonomics define the comfort with which you can reach things in your car. This includes the regular touch-points like the volume knob, the AC controls, the handbrake, the powered window controls, etc. It also includes the accelerator, brake and cutch pedals and how well in reach they are for the driver. Example- Your leg/knee shouldn’t be hitting the center console while you’re engaging the clutch. This is a very small point to notice but when you drive regularly, these are the kind of things that define the quality of your ownership experience.
The seat of the car should be very comfortable for you. This is a place you will be spending hours in, so make sure that it makes you feel at home. The seating posture should be sustainable for long drives, and the ride shouldn’t be too bumpy on bad roads. A good seating posture will never give you any kind of back pains even after hours of driving.
Now this is something that is different for different buyers. However, the infotainment system should still fulfill 2 basic requirements- Accessibility and Smoothness. The controls for the screen should be within the driver’s reach, preferably through the steering itself, and the screen should be smooth to operate. Nowadays, quite a few cars have everything included in the infotainment screen, basic functions like the AC, ventilated seats and driving mode selectors are also integrated into these screens. If you’re someone who’s really comfortable with technology then it won’t be an issue for you. But, if you’re someone who isn’t, then look for a car with more physical buttons.
This is a very broad area, but we’ll try to put it in lesser words. Driving dynamics is something that depends on your requirements from your car. If you need a sporty, fun to drive car, then look for a medium-stiff suspension set-up coupled with a steering that offers good feedback. Examples- VW Polo, Skoda Octavia RS, and the new i20 N-Line. If your requirement is for a more comfort oriented ride, then go for a softer suspension set-up with a light steering. Now here, there are sedans as well as SUVs, this completely depends on what kind of vehicle you prefer.
Another important aspect of driving dynamics is braking. Test out the brakes very well on the car you’ll be purchasing, and only go ahead of you are completely satisfied with them. One thing to keep in mind here is that the test drive cars are usually driven pretty roughly, so expect the vibrations, harshness, suspension and the braking performance to be at least 25-30% better on a new car.
This is another point that people tend to ignore. Make sure that the car is comfortable for both, you and your family. Many a times children tend to face issues like motion sickness in different cars. So, have your entire family test out the car themselves, make sure that you have a green signal from each member. If you have aged parents/grandparents, make sure that seating comfort, and getting in and out of the car is easy for them. You certainly don’t want your child or your spouse (especially) complaining about the car after you buy it!
Test Drive the Variant you are planning to buy
Dealers are very smart, they will get you the best, top-end variant of the car for a test drive, irrespective of what you’re planning on purchasing. This is done so that they can push you to spend some extra bucks and go for the most expensive variant. If you are looking for a lower trim of the car, then ask for it. You should be able to get a complete feel of what you are going to buy. It should not happen that you test drive a car with a panoramic sunroof and 10-inch infotainment and when you actually buy the car, you find out that these features were something you didn’t want to miss out on.
These were the things that you should keep in mind while test driving a new car. If there’s anything that we’ve missed out on, do let us know in the comment section!