I’ve mentioned previously that we’re in the process of buying a new car, and I’ve been struggling to narrow down my shortlist. I didn’t think my list of requirements was all that demanding – fuel efficient, Euro NCAP 5 star rating and some fun geeky gadgets. Taking a quick look at what was available it became clear that my budget was best suited to the Supermini class (the Vauxhall Corsa size), and so that was what we focused on when visiting the dealerships and finding out what was available. The kids are now old enough that we don’t need to carry a huge amount of equipment around with us, and so a smaller car will be more practical (and should help with the fuel efficiency as well).
We had great fun touring round the local car dealerships – I have always enjoyed shopping for a new car. The kids loved racing around the showrooms, getting in and out of all the cars, and actually the whole process was a lot less stressful that I had thought it would be. I had grand plans of test driving pretty much every car in this class before making my final decision, but it didn’t quite pan out that way…
Here’s what we test drove:
Honda Jazz: This was the first on our list because my Mum keeps telling me that Honest John in the Telegraph keeps recommending it! It was a lovely car to drive – it felt roomy and responsive. The model we drove was equipped with the optional glass roof, and the kids loved this feature – they really liked being able to see the sky from the back seat. The Jazz ticked my fuel efficiency and Euro NCAP requirements, but was sadly lacking in “toys” – there were very few gadgets as standard, and even things like sat nav and reversing sensors would have to be added as extras.
Renault Clio: I wanted test the Clio as I thought it would have a certain level of “familiarity”, as I’m used to the Scenic. In reality the car felt small – when driving I could feel my elbows hitting the door often, and it didn’t feel comfortable. The gadgets were certainly there in the higher trim level models, and again the fuel efficiency and Euro NCAP ratings were there, but the drive wasn’t anywhere near as nice as the Jazz.
Ford Fiesta: Many years ago I owned a Ford Puma, and absolutely loved it, and as it was based on the Fiesta (of the time) floor plan I decided it was worth test driving the modern Fiesta. We test drove two different models – the Zetec and the Titanium. I was surprised that there was quite a difference in road noise between the two models – the higher specced Titanium was quite noisy at high speeds, and the salesman explained that was due to the lower profile tyres – the one we drove had the optional 17″ alloys, compared to the 15″ on the Zetec. The Fiesta ticked all the boxes for me – fuel efficiency, Euro NCAP and plenty of toys and gadgets, but there was nothing to get really excited about. I decided I would be perfectly happy to own one, but I wanted to keep test driving other cars to see if there was anything else better out there.
Nissan Note: I had never heard of the Nissan Note before walking in to the Nissan showroom, but the features list on paper was very impressive, and the car looked good in the showroom, so we arranged a test drive. The geekdaddy drove first, and his initial reaction was that there was more road noise than he was expecting, but it was certainly nothing like the Fiesta, and in fact the salesman explained that the Note has a three-cylinder engine which might explain the difference in engine noise. After the geekdaddy had tried the car we switched over, and I drove. And I just couldn’t stop smiling. The Note was fun to drive, responsive, and had all the toys and gadgets I was looking for. It felt modern,and I loved it. I got out of the car at the end and announced that I wanted to buy one. And that’s where our test driving experience ended.
The Note met my criteria for fuel efficiency, and definitely had the gadgets I wanted – including some of the features I’d fallen in love with on the Volvo V40 such as blind spot indicators and lane drift warning. I loved the eco features, like the gauge that shows how efficiently you’re driving, and the way the colour of the dashboard changes to show how efficiently you’re driving as well. The only downside of the Note is the Euro NCAP rating – it’s a 4 rather than a 5 that I wanted. But a good friend of mine pointed out that a 4 is no worse than a 5 in terms of occupant safety – the difference is in pedestrian safety. So I decided I wouldn’t be putting my family at any more risk by choosing a 4 star car over a 5 star.
So that’s how I ended up ordering a Nissan Note. And the icing on the cake was that I discovered there was an option to add the glass roof like the Honda Jazz had, and given how much the kids loved that in the Jazz I decided to add that to my Note. So I’m now just waiting for my new car to arrive at the dealership, which should be today *squee*, and from there it needs to be registered and prepared for delivery. Hopefully I will have it at the end of this week or early next week, and I can’t wait!