“It’s optional extras that car buyers need to think about carefully”

Too often new car buyers don’t think about optional extras - and that’s a big mistake, says Mike Rutherford

Opinion new cars

I honestly can’t remember the last time I drove a mainstream all-new model that was badly designed, unsafe, poor performing or unreliable. 

The hundreds I’ve driven over the last couple of years have started and stopped impressively. Each one has eagerly negotiated every bend, hill or tricky surface I’ve subjected it to. None has left me feeling unsafe.

In terms of comfort, flexibility and cost-effectiveness, all have been admirable. Pure electric cars aside, I haven’t been left stranded and, overall, I’d rate state-of-the-art petrol or diesel vehicles good to great. 

Full guide to buying a new car

Put another way, although there is such a thing as a bad car, there’s no such a thing as a bad new (ie latest generation) internal combustion-engined car in showrooms today. 

The prospective buyer now knows (thanks to NCAP and the like) how safe the vehicle he or she is considering will be. It’ll look the part – to his or her eyes, at least. And in terms of its driving prowess, it’ll sit somewhere between A and B – acceptable and brilliant. 

A combination of Auto Express tests and brief test drives via franchised dealerships is the essential icing on the cake. Whether paying a basic price of sub-£10k or £100k-plus, that new car will be right.

Car finance deals explained

So, with all this in mind, it’s the optional extras that buyers need to think about more carefully than ever. Too often they don’t. Big mistake. What we’re talking here is transforming the right car into an extra-special car. 

Initially, I decided that the £10,000 worth of options on the Audi Q7 I drove to Germany and back in atrocious conditions earlier this month couldn’t possibly be justified. 

Audi Q7 - front static

But carefully considered items such as improved wheels and tyres, adaptive air-suspension, a rear view camera, a driver’s memory function for seats etc all combined to undoubtedly improve my safety and security levels on roads battered by unusually vicious weather. 

How to value your car: complete guide

Not so long ago, I’d have baulked at a £600 price tag for Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – a foot-long, CinemaScope-like secondary sat-nav display perfectly located behind the wheel. But it’s a small price to pay for such a brilliant and safety-enhancing driver aid.     

Next time I shop for a new car I’ll be reminding myself that its interior is as important – if not more so – than its exterior, or the engine. You should do the same. If only for the sake of your safety and security.

Recommended

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp
BMW 3 Series M3 Coupe

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp

The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
22 Sep 2020
New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range
Volkswagen ID.4

New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range

The new Tiguan-sized Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV becomes VW’s second ID. model, rivalling the Tesla Model Y
23 Sep 2020
New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range
Land Rover Range Rover Velar

New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range

Land Rover has given the Range Rover Velar an update, with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain and an improved infotainment system
23 Sep 2020