Family car test drive secrets: The questions you need to ask

Thinking about buying a new car for the family? Here’s what you need to know before settling on a purchase

For the majority of consumers, a car will be their second most expensive purchase after buying a house, so getting it right is crucial – particularly if it’s going to be used by the entire family. Fortunately, most dealerships offer customers the chance to get behind the wheel and test drive a vehicle before buying. Here’s a guide to some of the questions worth asking yourself before, during and after a test drive.

How long should I drive the car for?

This can depend on the flexibility of your local dealership, so it’s always worth phoning ahead to find out what your options are. Most manufacturers will have search functions on their websites, allowing you to find the model you want and either request a test drive immediately or quickly source the address and phone number of nearby dealerships. For example, if you’re looking to try out a new Vauxhall Astra, all you need to do is head to the Vauxhall website, punch in your postcode, and it will pinpoint all the nearby dealership locations.

The more time you can spend with the car, the better feel you’ll get for how it drives. It may even be worth asking if you can bring the car home with you overnight to see if it fits on the driveway.

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What should I check before the test drive?

You will be eager to get on the road, but don’t rush into the test drive until you’re familiar with the vehicle. Make sure that the seats are set and comfortable, the mirrors are adjusted so visibility is sufficient and all the controls are clear and easy to use. It’s important to know that you’ll find the car comfortable and easy to drive. If there’s anything you’re uncertain about, ask a salesperson at the dealership to explain how things work.

Does the car suit my lifestyle?

It’s important to understand exactly what you want from a new car, and that means using the test drive to replicate your normal driving activity. Is the car being used for a school run? Can your pets fit in the back? Is there enough space to put in golf clubs, bikes or any equipment for outdoor hobbies? A test drive is the perfect opportunity to answer these questions.

• Tips for finding the perfect interior

Can the kids fit in the back?

A car isn’t just for the driver: the front and rear passengers need to be comfortable inside, too. Take your family with you if you can, and check there’s enough room to fit in any child seats. Make sure everybody’s comfortable in the back and that there’s enough legroom – the last thing you’ll want is to feel a jab in the back of your seat from an errant knee while you’re trying to concentrate on the road.Is it fuel efficient?

A car that guzzles fuel is bad news for the environment and can burn a hole in your pocket, too. If you’re keen to preserve that holiday fund and minimise your carbon footprint, then it’s worth investigating fuel efficiency. A vehicle such as the new Vauxhall Astra, for instance, cuts CO2 emissions by up to 19 per cent* (CO2 from 90g/km) compared to the previous model, making it the most efficient version of the hatchback there’s ever been.

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There are plenty of points worth addressing before you make the decision to buy, but keep the above in mind and you’ll be on the way to a car that suits everyone in the family.

Discover more about the new Vauxhall Astra at

*CO2 emissions figures are determined according to the WLTP test cycle. However, a Government formula is then applied to translate these figures back to what they would have been under the outgoing NEDC test cycle, which WLTP replaces. The correct tax treatment is then applied. Figures are intended for comparability purposes only. The fuel consumption you achieve under real life driving conditions and CO2 produced will depend upon a number of factors, including the accessories fitted after registration, variations in driving styles, weather conditions and vehicle load. Only compare fuel consumption and CO2 with other vehicles tested using the same technical procedures. For more information on official fuel consumption and CO2 emission values and cycle-specific fuel consumption and CO2 figures, please visit

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