Batman has his Batmobile. Dr Who has his Tardis. The X-Men have their Blackbird. James Bond has his Aston Martin. Iron Man has his suit. Now I have my DADventurer mobile.
We’ve recently taken the plunge and got a new family car. It was always the plan to become a two-car household as the missus went back to work in May 2015, but a growing sprog, lack of space and incessant nagging from the wife meant that we brought our timeline forward. To be fair, she had a pretty valid point(s) – but don’t tell her I said that.
We have a 3-door Vauxhall Corsa which is a decent runner, but not particularly family friendly. As there are no back doors, it means that the car seat and baby need to be carefully passed through the front door which is a massive ballache as Baby L gets heavier – a bit like a real life version of Tetris. In addition, it only has a 1 litre engine which means you could probably walk up hill faster than the car travels. There’s also the issue of space – our iCandy Cherry basically takes up the entire of the boot giving you little room for all of the other baby essentials required. So, a change was required.
We’re still keeping the Corsa for the missus when she returns to work after Maternity Leave, but we needed something else to accommodate the growing family. Our requirements were pretty simple (1) 5-doors, (2) more space, particularly the boot, (3) air conditioning and (4) as cheap as possible. It would have been great to have splashed out on something like a BMW or Land Rover, but money is a little tight at the moment and we needed to bare that in mind. This led us to check out lease deals rather than buying – mainly because we couldn’t afford to buy a car outright and we didn’t really fancy getting a second hand car.
I’m not quite sure how she does it, but the missus is awesome at finding the best deals on anything. She somehow always manages to get money off which is great when you’re currently living pretty much on savings like we are at the moment. The missus found a deal online for a Nissan Juke on a two-year lease deal for around £150 per month with a £800 deposit. That ticked all of our boxes and we got it ordered just before Christmas.
So far, the Juke has been great. It’s only slightly bigger than the Corsa which makes it manageable for us both as we’ve never really driven big vehicles, but there is a much better use of space. There’s quite a few handy little compartments inside, whilst the boot is a fantastic size – it has a deep boot and then a ledge / shelf that sits on top, meaning that you can store things underneath and on top. This is awesome when you have a pushchair as this can sit on the top whilst shopping and other stuff can go underneath. It is now so much easier to get the car seat in the back of the car as you just insert it into the back door (giggity giggity!), which for most people is the norm but for us it is a luxury.
It is a bit of a weird looking vehicle with the lights and curves. For me though, the appearance never really bothered me as it was more about functionality and it doing what we needed it to do. We’ve found that when the car seat is in the back of the car, the front passenger seat needs to be pushed quite forward which limits leg room, but it is manageable. Ultimately it is a massive upgrade on what we had which is the main thing – that’s even after our next door neighbour described the car as a “woman’s 4×4”.
So what did I learn from our family car buying experience – well, apart from let the missus do all of the hard work?
- List your requirements and categorise them into ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’. As with a lot of things, you’ll end up spending more money by adding things like metallic paint, an in-built sat nav, alloy wheels etc. If you must have these things, then go ahead and do it, but in a lot of situations they are just nice to haves. If money is a big factor, then you may need to forego certain luxuries to make things more manageable financially. You’ll be surprised at how many must haves actually become nice to haves.
- Going to a car dealer is essential to see the car, but things can be more competitively priced online, so shop around. More competition and lower overheads mean that you could find a better deal online that the more traditional face to face purchase. When we went to Nissan directly, they quoted us £210 per month for a four-year lease, but getting it online brought it down to £150 on a two-year lease. As with everything, shop around. As a side point, going to a car dealer is also such a boring process as they never listen and just try to flog you the highest priced stuff.
- Make sure you try your pram / pushchair in the boot and car seat in the car. If the boot doesn’t shut properly or the car seat doesn’t fit through the door, then the car probably isn’t for you. We failed to try the car seat and had a little bit of a surprise at how pushed forward the front passenger seat needs to be – we’ll definitely learnt our lesson for next time. People won’t mind you trying the car out with your kit – remember, you’re going to be using the car daily so make sure it is 100% fit for purpose.
- Have one eye on the future as your requirements may change. It is a pretty undesirable situation to get a new car, only to find that you then need to get rid and get a new one because it’s no longer fit for purpose. As your kid(s) and family grow, you’ll need more space and the kit will change. Are you soon going from a Group 0 car seat to Group 1 – if so, will it fit? Do you have plans for another kid or getting a dog? Are you training for World’s Strongest Man so need extra leg room?
- Buying a car outright isn’t the only option. Obviously you can buy a car with cash or on credit, but leasing has become very popular over recent years. Personally, we’ve managed to get a brand new car for less than the cost of depreciation if we bought a brand new car. This also means we can return the car in two years time, then lease another new one (as our requirements may have changed), so we don’t have to deal with the MOT etc. Just because everyone used to buy a car, it doesn’t mean it is still the best option these days.
When did you make the plunge and get a family car? How did you make your decision? Is there anything you learnt that you’d do differently next time when getting your new wheels?