Our Buying Guide: New cars

Inheriting someone else's hand-me-down is fine enough, but there is nothing quite like buying a brand new car - particularly when it has been paid for with your own hard-earned cash. The only problem is the motoring market can be a veritable minefield. The good news is, if you're a novice when it comes to buying new cars, then you've come to the right place.

Choosing the right model
Before you go heading off to the showroom, it's worth sitting down to consider what you need in a vehicle. Buying a new car represents a significant investment that requires some careful deliberation.

As well as the specifications of the car, you should also consider its potential sell-on value (or lack thereof). Depreciation rates can differ enormously from one model to the next - so make sure you do your homework so you don't end up being lumbered with a worthless hunk of metal a few years down the line.

It's important to remember when buying a new car that your expenses don't start and end with the book price listed on the car's windshield. If you're taking out a loan to finance your outlay, you will need to ensure you factor in any interest.

Also ensure you have a good insurance premium ready to use: to nobody's great surprise, new cars carry a greater risk to companies than beaten up bangers - so you need to make sure you are well covered.

The good news is newer cars are generally better placed to pass government guidelines on emissions - this means you don't have to worry about incurring needless fines or unexpected taxes as long as you keep everything in tip-top condition.

Getting a good price
Although new cars have nowhere near the same price elasticity as their second-hand counterparts, you can still drive a good bargain if you know how to haggle. Remember that sales representatives are under pressure to meet quotas to get their bonuses; if you're looking to get a few quid shaved off the asking price, chances are you can persuade them.

Where to shop
Today, industry experts are increasingly encouraging customers to go online in search of a good deal - not to the manufacturers' websites, but to dealership sites that do the legwork for you.

www.uk-car-discount.co.uk is a good place to start - as well as a comprehensive search tool, they also post up reviews of the newest motors to help you decide which car is for you.

It's also worth checking out www.drivethedeal.com - which has been named Honest John's "Highly Approved Trader" for the past 4 years.

The downside of going online is that you can't put your haggling skills into practice on the showroom floor, but it's a great way of getting a discounted price without having to compromise on the quality of your purchase.

Our recommendation
We'll spare you a run-down of the cheapest new releases on the market; chances are if you're going for a brand-spanking model, you want something a bit flash. In that case, we recommend checking out the Fiat 500x. With a book price of around £15,000, it's a little on the pricey side, but it's a stylish car with generous utility space and a smooth ride - exactly what you need if you're in the market for a snazzy family runaround.
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