Thinking of buying a car?

This blog is something of a departure for me. It is my first non-F1 article so slightly out of my comfort zone but at least its still about cars! Nonetheless, I shall do my best to sneak in a quick mention of Ferrari before the end…after all there are folk out there who buy Ferraris although I have yet to spot one on the school run!

The venue for the launch was the gorgeous Athenaeum hotel on Piccadilly

Back in July, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of Mumsnet Cars. My best of intentions to blog about this exciting event much earlier were all scuppered by the advent of the Summer Holidays so apologies for the delay in bringing this to you. It was a really fun evening in a lovely venue and great to finally meet some of the faces behind the Mumsnet names. Anyway I’m sure we were all too busy trying to survive the summer holidays to think about buying a car so perhaps it was worth saving the blog until now.
As a few of you may be aware, Mumsnet recently joined forces with What Car? (which in my opinion is the ‘go to’ car magazine if you’re looking to change your car) to set up Mumsnet Cars, a section on the Mumsnet website solely dedicated to cars.

We’ve all been there. There’s comes a point in your life when its time to blink back the tears and say goodbye to your beloved sports car (unless you are the Beckhams and can keep a fleet of sports cars just for fun…boo hiss). You realise there is simply no way on earth that the ‘bump’ or newly arrived baby and his/her associated paraphernalia(pushchair, endless changes of clothes, nappies, muslins, portable high-chair, steriliser, industrial size picnic box crammed full of snacks etc) can be squished into your sleek convertible with its minuscule boot.
Then child no.2 comes along and you look at your hatchback/small family car in a new light. What once seemed to be spacious with a cavernous boot looks suddenly tiny and inadequate. Along with all the baby stuff that child no.2 needs carting around, child no.1 has now graduated to the next phase of wanting (or needing in their world) his scooter, bike, favourite toys/DVDs all to be taken away on holiday. Even trying to pack light ourselves as parents (for many years, the husband’s packing has taken minimalism to a new art form), there is a limit to how much stuff can fit in one car. So once again, its time to bid farewell, this time to the small family car, and progress to a bigger model, a minibus, a 4×4, an estate…basically whatever takes your fancy, isn’t likely to bankrupt you and the parking of which doesn’t reduce you to a gibbering wreck.

Need a new motor?

Now admittedly this stage is far less painful than saying goodbye to the convertible but nonetheless it is still a massive hassle. Trying to buy a new (or second-hand) car is a total minefield. In some ways there is too much information out there – scores of car magazines to wade through, endless online reviews and countless forums you can peruse – to be honest you hardly know where to start. Of course what a lot of people do (ourselves included and many of our friends) is just wander into a car showroom where within a nanosecond, a booted and suited youth (old enough probably to be my son…sob) is swarming around giving you the Hard Sell. When you factor in the likely presence of small children screaming blue murder or scattering raisins all over the pristine interior of The Most Expensive Car in the Showroom, it can be a fraught experience. To be honest, I have probably done more research in my time into choosing a restaurant for a random night out than I have done in choosing a car that will require us to part with a 5 figure sum of our hard-earned cash.
Car adverts all seem to blur into one or are just ridiculously over the top. Not too surprisingly, only 7% of Mumsnetters surveyed rated TV car adverts as influential in their decision-making process. The first car advert that has come to my mind is the ‘Nicole…Papa’ adverts for Renault Clio. Very simple, pretty daft but everyone remembers it or maybe that just shows my age. Swiftly moving on…!

Would you trust this man’s advice when choosing a car?

Interestingly, celebrity endorsements aren’t as well received as you might think. Do we really believe Kylie is driving a Lexus because she is passionate about the cars or because she is being paid huge sums of money. I asked the husband which celebrity’s opinion about a car would he rate the most and he answered Jeremy Clarkson! Still this is a man who has Top Gear on series link and is often found surreptitiously watching ancient Top Gear episodes on Dave. Why should I be surprised? When I pushed him for another name or two, he volunteered James May or ‘anyone from Fifth Gear’. Well actually James May came top of the Mumsnet poll of which celebrity’s opinion would you trust most (tying somewhat bizarrely with Stephen Fry on 8% each) so he must be onto something.
A big finding however in the survey was that 70% of people said they would buy or consider buying a car that had been recommended on Mumsnet. Heck, given I have bought pushchairs, no end of baby equipment, numerous clothes, shoes and bags purchases as featured on Style & Beauty (a lethal place to lurk on) and even found holidays through Mumsnet, it has pretty much become my first port of call before buying almost anything these days. So it is utterly brilliant that help is now at hand on Mumsnet Cars to assist us all in wading through the car-buying minefield!

So what you can find on Mumsnet Cars?
§  Car reviews – as submitted by Mumsnet users, along with expert insights from What Car?
§  A forum to chat about all manner of cars and related issues.
§  A special tool whereby you can obtain a free used car valuation.
§  A ‘news’ page with special features on newly released car models and the top ten cars in a particular category such as MPVs and estate cars.
§  An ‘advice’ page with articles on topics such as car insurance, baby car seats and calculating running costs.
As you would expect with Mumsnet, it is a very clear and exceptionally user-friendly site. It aims to be a one-stop shop for busy parents looking to find family-orientated reviews of their possible next car(s), along with valuations and other useful advice/considerations that you may wish to factor in before making the big decision.
I couldn’t resist taking a peak at what Mumsnet Cars had to say about our family car, a Volkswagen Tiguan.

The VW Tiguan

On the plus side, “the car is fun to drive, with strong grip, quick responses and sharp body control in corners.” Totally agree and this was a huge factor in deciding to buy it over a far more ‘sensible’ option with a bigger boot.
On the minus side “the Tiguan only has an average record for reliability”. Yup, the reliability side of things hasn’t been great which is surprising.
The description of the boot being a ‘decent size’ is exceptionally generous. There has been more than one conversation in recent months that we need a new car purely just to get a bigger boot. Oh and also a car which you don’t risk crashing every time you want to change the radio channel. Note to Volkswagen, the touch-screen radio controls may seem very cutting edge but are no use to man nor beast when you can’t see anything on there under a layer of thick dust (ok, maybe that’s just my car) or in daylight hours. Even our previous small family car (also of German origin) had stereo controls on the steering wheel and it didn’t go wrong as much. I could well be mounting a case for a new car…
For the truly aspirational and those as rich as Croesus, there are even reviews available for Supercars such as:
Aston Martin DBS (price from £175,891)

The Aston Martin DBS – preferably with Daniel Craig

Ferrari 458 Spider (price from £198,906) – described in the Telegraph as ‘an awesome piece of engineering and art’ and for that money, I should flipping well hope so.

The Ferrari 458 – when I win the Euromillions this car shall be mine…

I note there is not (as yet) a Mumsnetter review for the Bugatti Veyron (currently the 5 year old’s favourite car). If they need anyone to do a test-drive, my driving services are available!
For those of you thinking of buying a car, happy hunting and hope you find the right car for you and your family!


10 Comments Add yours

  1. I think people rely on Mumsnet and other car review sites because these sites give the consumers what they need to hear – unbiased information. Review sites don’t worry whether the car will sell or not. It is mainly concerned with what people have experienced when they were driving a particular car. People are much more inclined to know how much they’ll pay for a car and what they’ll get from it. Car review sites are very beneficial to these things, making them useful consumer tools. So, if you’re going to buy a car, better read some reviews first to at least have an overview of the car you’re buying.

  2. Yep, car reviews are essential tools when you’re buying a car. But reviews are close to nothing if the car doesn’t sit right with you ultimately. Reviews tackle cars in more of an objective manner; this means that you’ll likely see what the car has, rather than the experience you’ll have with it. And in light of that matter, it’s important to test your prospective car first before buying it.

  3. Leisa Dreps says:

    What a well-described scenario, Liz. 🙂 The most important factor when buying a car is its purpose. We all know that cars are designed differently. Hence, you should find the one that will fit your lifestyle. And we are blessed enough to have platforms such as Mumsnet that can provide accessible car information.

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  9. adson stone says:

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  10. right211 says:

    Thanks for sharing the difficulties in buying a used car. The instructions you provided to check before buying a used car was awesome. Lot of Used Car Valuation websites are available to evaluate the car specifications. Only they requires make and model of a used car for making evaluation.

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