How to save money when buying a new car

How to save money on a new car

Buying a new car can be a tricky business. Your mission is to get as much car for as little money as possible, while getting as much out of the seller as you can. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can save money, meaning you can buy a new car for less.

Our guide should arm you with all the tricks of the trade – and help you save money on your next car.

What you buy

How to save money on a new car

Downsize what you’re buying

The best way to save money on a new car is to be sure that the car you want is also the car you need. Is a Mercedes E-Class really necessary, or could you get just as much out of the smaller but still-cool C-Class? Is a Golf really a must-have motor, or could you live with a Polo and save a mint? 

Smaller cars don’t just come with a more modest price tag. They tend to be lighter, with smaller engines, increased fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. So you’ll spend fewer pounds at the pumps. And if that doesn’t convince you, just think how much easier it’ll be to park if you live in town, or manoeuvre around those country lanes if you don’t.

You won’t necessarily have to forgo your luxuries either. That Polo can come with pretty well all the toys that the big E-Class does. Just tick the right boxes on the order form. Think long and hard about exactly why you’re getting that bigger pricier model.

How to save money on a new car

Buy an outgoing model

Look closely at the cars you’re considering. Different cars at different phases in the life cycles will have different deals on them. Could you save money by buying a car that’s near the end of its life on sale? Absolutely, because sales reps will offer the best deals on a model that is set to be replaced, or even just updated, so keep an eye on what cars are due out and when.

Consider a pre-registered car

Another way that dealers manage to hit sales targets is to buy unsold stock themselves, and register the cars in the dealer’s name. An interested buyer would then effectively become the second owner, which could impact slightly on the future resale price. You’ll also lose a small portion of your warranty, as the clock starts ticking on that manufacturer guarantee the moment the car is registered.

However, if you’re prepared to stomach these minor inconveniences, you could save thousands on the list price of what is technically a used car, but effectively still brand-new, with just a few miles on the clock.

Car showroom

Don’t be too picky

If you’re hoping to bag a bargain, it’s worth relaxing any wish-list you have about your dream car’s final specification. A pre-registered car, for example, is one you’ll be buying off the shelf, and will therefore already be specced-up by the dealer. Yet many franchises will have car parks full of unregistered stock, which they’ll be keen to shift to make more room. 

So while you might have wanted gold metallic paint and a sunroof, is it enough of a deal-breaker to turn down a blue version without the skylight, in order to save some serious money? Buying existing stock means you’ll get it sooner, too…

Car showroom

Haggle over extras

That said, you can use the absence of equipment as a great haggling point. If it doesn’t have adaptive cruise control, could it be a deal-breaker? As far as that salesman is concerned, it should be. Get them to lop money off at the last hurdle, to get that sale over the line.

Similarly, you can barter for service and care packages, as well as dealer-fitment extras. A set of floor mats, a boot liner or a European car kit are actually incredibly useful, and their cost can otherwise really add up.

So, ask the dealer to throw a few of these accessories in with the car. It’s an easy concession for the sales rep to make, if they want to seal the deal. And it has the added bonus of leaving you feeling slightly smug about your negotiation skills.

How to buy

New cars

Buy at the end of the month

All dealers have sales targets. They’re usually incentivised to sell a certain number of cars each month, and those deadlines tend to come at month-end. So if you’re prepared to time your new car shopping until a day or two before, staff will be much more open to negotiating a discount to get that vital last-minute sale.

Shop around

Don’t assume that all franchised dealers will price their new models exactly the same. Sometimes it’s worth travelling beyond your doorstep for a better deal. For instance, larger, out of town forecourts are likely to have a larger pool of stock floating around, which makes it easier to save money with a bargain.

Use online car brokers

If you really can’t stand the thought of haggling, let someone else do it for you. Online car brokers are meant to be experts in negotiating on your behalf. In reality, it’s the promise of attracting lots of new customers to dealers that enables the broker to get rock-bottom rates on your behalf.

Ferrari 488 Spider

Finance, PCP or HP: research the best deals

Finance, PCP, hire purchase – the range of finance options can seem a bit daunting. If you’re not buying your car the good old-fashioned way (outright), it’s a realm of unknowns and potential savings. Pay attention to interest rates. Look at deposit contributions. Is a certain marque offering a good deal on scrappage? 

Play your cards close to your chest, and keep your budget to yourself. Give the salesman a ballpark and make them work for a rock-bottom price. 

Car showroom

Franchised dealers are likely to offer the lowest PCP rates – many even offer zero percent deals -– as the credit is usually supplied by the finance arm of the car manufacturer. Independent dealers outsource their credit contracts to banks and supermarkets, whose rates tend to be higher. In both cases, the bigger your deposit, and the better your credit rating, the more competitive the rate will be.

Don’t forget to compare the PCP cost with a simple bank loan, too. While the rates may be higher, the car is yours from the outset, with no restrictions on mileage or wear and tear to worry about.

Car showroom

Haggle on your trade-in

Sentiment is a great weapon in a car buyer’s arsenal if they’re trading in. “I can’t let it go for that”. “It’s worth more to me”. Both brilliant expressions that could get the dealer to give you more for yours, or make you pay less for theirs. Research your car’s value, and then push for more.

You could also consider selling your car privately first, as that’s likely to get you the best price, then using that extra cash on the deposit for your new car.

The worst cars of the decade

Ford EcosportThere’s no such thing as a bad new car, but not all vehicles are created equal. So while the days of unsafe, unreliable and rust-before-your-eyes cars are, for the most part, behind us, there are still some munters on the road. Here are 15 cars from the past decade that shouldn’t have made it to these shores.

Ford EcosportFord Ecosport

Deciding to launch the Ecosport with a tailgate-mounted spare wheel was a touch of genius, because it drew attention away from the hideous, ill-judged and slightly terrifying styling. In fairness, the spare wheel was arguably the most interesting part of the car, so the decision to remove it felt like a double-edged sword. In a world of top-hinged tailgates, the side-hinged rear door felt like a blast from the past. If you love exposed spare wheels, buy a Suzuki Jimny. If you want a small Ford, buy a Fiesta or wait for the new Puma.

Mitsubishi MirageMitsubishi Mirage

Take a look at the driver’s face and ask yourself: is that the look of a lady who is enjoying the drive? Even in isolation, it’s hard to recommend the Mitsubishi Mirage, but when viewed in the context of other small cars, it’s hard to make a case for the bucket of misery. Imagine looking at the Volkswagen Up, Skoda Citigo, Seat Mii, Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10 then opting to buy the Mirage.

Chevrolet SparkChevrolet Spark

“The Chevrolet Spark isn’t a car without merit,” said Autocar. If your child’s school report started with something similar, you’d know you were in for a pretty dire end-of-term assessment. Entry-level versions were as cheerful as an undertaker’s waiting room, while the wind, road and engine noise combined to make a racket that was as appealing as telephone hold music.

Chrysler YpsilonLancia Ypsilon

Such was Lancia’s monumental fall from grace in the UK, that when Fiat bought Chrysler, it thought the cosmetically challenged Ypsilon would sell better over here with a Chrysler badge. It didn’t. Fiat pulled the plug on Chrysler in the UK, signalling the end for the Ypsilon, although it still soldiers on in Italy, with FCA choosing to gloss over the horrendous Euro NCAP safety rating.

Fiat 500LFiat 500L

In an attempt to leverage some kudos from the hugely popular 500 supermini, Fiat created the 500L. The idea had merit: rather than risk losing loyal 500 customers to rival brands, simply create a bigger version for them to jump straight into. There was only one problem: the 500L is to the 500 what Margaret Beckett is to the Duchess of Cambridge. Fiat 500 customers retreated to the sanctuary of Audi, leaving the 500L to become the car you dread signing for at the holiday rental desk.

Fiat 500L MPWFiat 500L MPW

Not content with sullying the 500 badge with the 500L, Fiat proceeded to create the 500L MPW, which allowed up to seven people to die of embarrassment on the roads of Britain. To think, Fiat could have leveraged the Panda brand to create the Giant Panda and the Giant Panda XL. The missed opportunity of the decade?

Mini CoupeMini Coupe

Search for the Mini Coupe on Google and you’re asked: “Did you mean Mini Cooper?” Well, quite.

Vauxhall MokkaVauxhall Mokka

Launched in 2013, the Vauxhall Mokka was sold alongside the almost identical Chevrolet Trax. But while the Chevy had the good grace to disappear, the Mokka continued to haunt our everyday lives, with Vauxhall having the audacity to add an ‘X’ to its name following a facelift. It sells in big numbers, which is one of the greatest mysteries of the past decade. God bless PCP deals, rental cars and the Motability scheme.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMGMercedes-AMG GLA 45

In fairness to the this particular Mercedes, we could have selected any number of premium compact SUVs, but the GLA stands out like a guilt-ridden criminal in a police line-up. Sure, styling is subjective, but the GLA’s A-Class-on-stilts styling leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s difficult to understand why you’d choose this over the standard hatchback. The GLA 45 AMG might be blisteringly quick, but at £45k, you’d expect it to be.

Jeep WranglerJeep Wrangler

We’ve seen a fair number of disappointing (read: terrifying) Euro NCAP results over recent years. But while the ageing Fiat Panda and Punto can – to a certain extent – be forgiven for their poor performance, the brand new Jeep Wrangler’s one-star rating is more damning. “It is high time we saw a product from the Fiat-Chrysler group offering safety to rival its competitors,” said Euro NCAP. Ouch.

Range Rover Evoque ConvertibleRange Rover Evoque Convertible

We readily admit that the Range Rover Evoque Convertible is here for irrational reasons. In the same way you might dislike BMW X5s with ‘X5’ number plates, or headlight eyelashes, or Lexus-style rear lights, there’s just something wrong about the topless Evoque. On the plus side, it’s not the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.

Mercedes-Benz X-ClassMercedes-Benz X-Class

If the internet is to be believed – and who wouldn’t believe the internet? – the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is facing the axe. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the pick-up, but we expect more from Stuttgart. Slapping a Mercedes badge on a Nissan, adding some luxury chintz and charging an exuberant fee wasn’t going to fool today’s well-educated buyers. Fiat tried something similar with the L200-based Fullback. It failed. There’s a theme developing here.

Ford EdgeFord Edge

The Ford Edge has “all the appeal of a Florida holiday rental car”. Not our words, but the words of the excellent and engaging Mark Nichol on the Honest John YouTube channel. Like and subscribe, etc, etc. It’s worth watching, because Mark makes some very good – and often amusing – points. Quite simply, if you want a big Ford, buy an S-Max.

Aston Martin CygnetAston Martin Cygnet

Our very own master of words, Tim Pitt, said the Cygnet is a “good car, but not a very good Aston Martin”. In fairness to Aston Martin, the Cygnet is more than just a Toyota iQ with a few posh badges. But it wasn’t worth the £30,000 price tag, which was close to three times the cost of the clever iQ. One of the more bizarre cars of the decade.

Nissan PulsarNissan Pulsar

Speaking of bizarre. In 2006, Nissan turned its back on the family hatchback market, deciding to venture into the unknown with the Qashqai crossover. The gamble paid off, with the Qashqai becoming the nation’s favourite crossover and the inspiration for countless imitations. And yet, Nissan couldn’t resist retracing its old steps by launching the forgettable Pulsar in 2014. Fans of cars with a huge amount of rear legroom rejoiced, while the rest of us simply uttered “meh”.

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The slowest depreciating electric cars

Jaguar I-PaceDepreciation is the difference between the price you pay for a new car and the amount you receive when you come to sell it.

Most cars lose between 50 and 60 percent of their value in the first three years, with the biggest hit taking place in the first 12 months.

Here, we reveal the slowest depreciating electric cars, with data supplied by CAP. The results are presented in reverse order, with the slowest depreciators at the end of the gallery.

14. Renault ZoeRenault Zoe

In nearly a decade, the Renault Zoe has shifted from concept to close to 150,000 registrations, establishing an 18.2 percent share of the EV market in Europe. Used prices start from £7,000, so it’s not particularly good at holding its value. CAP says the Zoe will lose just under £16,000 in three years, giving it a retained value of 47.5 percent. It’s the only car on the list to finish below 50 percent.

13. Nissan e-NV200Nissan e-NV200

We’re braced for a new wave of electric cars to roll in on the tide, but the Nissan e-NV200 is one of the more established members of the EV fraternity. Launched in 2014, the e-NV200 is an all-electric version of the NV200 van, with the early versions offering a range of up to 110 miles. A 2014 model year e-NV200 should retain 52.6 percent of its value after three years.

12. Kia Soul EVKia Soul EV

The first Kia Soul EV was never more than a niche player in the UK, with the boxy SUV let down by a high price tag and a limited range. The all-new model should come with a similar price, but with a more realistic 280-mile electric range. In the meantime, the old Soul EV should retain 52.8 percent of its value after three years, losing around £14,500 in the process.

11. Nissan e-NV200Nissan e-NV200

It’s the Nissan e-NV200 again, this time in post-2015 guise. It’s available in five- or seven-seat guise, with post-grant prices starting from a little under £30,000. You can expect a range of between 124 and 187 miles, which is 60 percent further than the previous-generation battery. It will retain 56.2 percent of its value after three years, helped in no small part by the fact that you’re not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to all-electric seven-seaters.

10. Smart EQ Fortwo CabrioSmart EQ Fortwo Cabrio

The electric Smart Fortwo Cabrio appears twice, with the recently rebranded EQ version up first. Right now, this is your only choice if you’re after an electric convertible, although you’ll have to make do with two seats and a limited 70-mile range. CAP says the Smart drop-top will lose £11,730 in the first three years, giving it a retained value of 56.7 percent.

9. Smart EQ ForfourSmart EQ Forfour

In pure monetary terms, the four Smart cars on this list lose the least amount of cash. Take the Smart EQ Forfour, which costs upwards of £18,190 after the plug-in car grant, but will lose just £9,420 after three years. So while two electric cars at opposite ends of the price spectrum might have similar rates of depreciation, the financial hit will be more severe on the expensive EV.

8. Smart Fortwo CabrioSmart Fortwo Cabrio

It’s the Smart Fortwo Cabrio again, this time in pre-EQ branding guise. Strangely, CAP reckons the older version is better at holding its value, retaining 58.4 percent of its purchase price after three years. Right now, the Smart EQ Fortwo Cabrio is available on a three-year personal lease for £279 a month after an advance rental of £1,585.

7. Smart EQ FortwoSmart EQ Fortwo

The EQ Fortwo is the smallest electric Smart, but the one with the largest retained value after three years. With a tight turning circle and tiny dimensions, it’s perfect for the city centre, where the 70-mile range should be enough for the majority of buyers. Buy one today and it should retain 59.7 percent of its initial value in 2022, but with EV tech moving on at such a rate, it might find itself outmoded by the likes of the Honda e, Mini Electric and Peugeot e-208.

6. Tesla Model STesla Model S

Although the Tesla Model S arrived in 2012, the CAP depreciation data relates to the facelifted model, introduced in 2016. Prices start from £77,200, with performance variants available from £91,800, and used examples remain in strong demand. On average, a Model S will lose £39,200 of its value in the first three years, giving it a retained value of 60.8 percent.

5. Hyundai Ioniq EVHyundai Ioniq EV

The Hyundai Ioniq is a relative newcomer to the electric car party, but its residual values are worth making a song and dance about. CAP says the Ioniq EV will retain 61.7 percent of its value, losing £11,740 in the first three years. It helps that it will still have the remainder of its five-year warranty, giving peace of mind to the new owner.

4. Nissan LeafNissan Leaf

To date, more than 400,000 Nissan Leaf electric cars have been sold globally, making it the world’s most popular electric car. Recently, Nissan unveiled a new range-topping Leaf e+ Tekna, which delivers 217hp of performance and 239 miles of electric range. Buy a new Nissan Leaf today and it could be worth 64.5 percent of its original purchase price in 2022. That said, you need to factor in variables such as mileage, condition, market trends and spec.

3. Tesla Model XTesla Model X

With an entry price of £82,200 for the standard version, rising to £96,400 for the performance variant, the Tesla Model X is the most expensive electric car to feature in the CAP data. It should retain 64.6 percent of its value after three years, although new electric SUVs from the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi could put a dent in its residual values. It will be interesting to see how the new Model 3 performs on the used car market.

2. Volkswagen e-GolfVolkswagen e-Golf

Such is the rate of progress in the EV segment, the Volkswagen e-Golf is beginning to look a little dated. At around £30,000 after the plug-in car grant, it’s relatively expensive, while the 144-mile range simply isn’t enough for a car of this ilk. But it’s biggest problem is the imminent arrival of the ID.3, a car designed from the ground up to be an electric vehicle. That said, the e-Golf will retain 66.3 percent of its value after three years.

1. Jaguar I-PaceJaguar I-Pace

The current World Car of the Year is also top dog when it comes to depreciation. CAP reckons the Jaguar I-Pace will retain an impressive 74.6 percent of its value after three years, as motorists clamour to get their hands on one of the most sought-after cars on the market. Next year, the I-Pace SUV will be joined by an all-electric XJ saloon.

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The cheapest new cars on sale in 2019

The cheapest new cars on sale

So, you want to buy a new car but you don’t want to spend your entire life savings – or the total household budget – on a costly motor?

We’ve identified the 20 cheapest new cars on sale in Britain today, including an SUV for £10,000 and an estate car for £8,500.

All prices are correct at the time of writing (July 2019), and the images are for illustrative purposes only.

Suzuki Ignis – from £11,849

The cheapest new cars on sale

Spoiler alert: the majority of Britain’s cheapest cars are devoid of charm, lacking in style and are as cheery as a Belarusian bus station. But the Suzuki Ignis bucks the trend, with a design that’s quite unlike anything else on the road.

In SZ3 trim, the Ignis features digital radio, Bluetooth and air conditioning, but you’ll need to upgrade to the £13,349 SZ-T for alloy wheels, a rear parking camera and the wheelarch extensions.

Vauxhall Corsa – from £11,735

The cheapest new cars on sale

You might be surprised to discover that there’s not a single Ford in our cheapest car gallery, because the (soon to be discontinued) Ka+ costs upwards of £12,300, while the lowest-priced Fiesta costs £15,670.

Which leaves rival Vauxhall to own the budget space, with the Corsa available from £11,735. In Active trim, you get a heated windscreen, cruise control and Bluetooth.

Smart Fortwo – from £11,415

The cheapest new cars on sale

If you can live without rear seats – and you don’t intend to spend much time out of the city – the Smart Fortwo makes sense.

A strong image, an upmarket cabin, low running costs and a tiny turning circle are some of the Fortwo’s highlights, while a 260-litre will be enough for most city centre errands.

Vauxhall Viva – from £10,485

The cheapest new cars on sale

The Vauxhall Viva is the last remaining raffle prize sat atop the trestle table at the school summer concert. According to Auto Express, it’s a ‘decent little city car’, but that’s like describing a Tesco value cheese sandwich as a ‘decent little lunch’.

If you want one, be quick, because the Viva is facing the axe.

Citroen C1 – from £10,140

The cheapest new cars on sale

You could buy a new Citroen C1 for a little over £10,000, but we wouldn’t recommend it. The black bumpers, 14-inch steel wheels and a heater in lieu of air conditioning all hark back to the 80s or 90s.

And if you want to relive the 80s or 90s dream in a Citroen, may we suggest buying a ZX or Xsara? Both are cheap as chips and unlikely to depreciate.

Fiat Panda – from £10,080

The cheapest new cars on sale

We love the Fiat Panda. It’s the car we’d like to hire when in Rome. And it puts us in mind of Giugiaro’s classic. But this isn’t Rome and a lot of acqua has passed under the ponte since the Italian maestro penned the original.

The zero-star Euro NCAP rating makes it hard to recommend the Panda, especially in light of more contemporary, not to mention cheaper, rivals.

Volkswagen Up – from £10,080

The cheapest new cars on sale

The Volkswagen Up is a good case in point. Even in the basic Take Up spec, with three doors rather than five, the Up is a spacious, well packaged and fun-to-drive city car that’s as good outside the city as in it.

Furthermore, because it has a Volkswagen badge, it holds its value better than its Skoda- and Seat-badged siblings.

Mitsubishi Mirage – from £9,999

The cheapest new cars on sale

Goodness, is that the time? We need to crack on… 

Dacia Duster – from £9,995

The cheapest new cars on sale

Perhaps predictably, Dacia dominates the second half of this feature – the Renault-owned company has cornered the market formerly occupied by the likes of Kia and Hyundai.

In Access trim, the Duster is lacking in glamour, but even the Essential trim costs less than the price of an entry-level Corsa. The cheapest four-wheel-drive variant costs a bargain £13,710.

Kia Picanto – from £9,895

The cheapest new cars on sale

Kia secured a foothold in the UK thanks to a range of budget-led hatchbacks and SUVs, but the Korean company has its eyes on the premium establishment.

The Rio costs upwards of £12,495, while the cheapest Picanto city car sneaks below the £10k mark. You get a seven-year warranty, but don’t expect it to look as snazzy as the car in the photo. 

Toyota Aygo – from £9,825

The cheapest new cars on sale

The Toyota Aygo is based on the same platform as the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, but it has a snazzier face. At the time of writing, the entry-level Aygo X is available with a £300 saving, taking the list price down to £9,495.

Alternatively, a £2,000 scrappage discount is available on all except the X trim level.

Peugeot 108 – from £9,695

The cheapest new cars on sale

Peugeot doesn’t want to sell you a basic 108, which is why its website shows £11,935 as the lowest price. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find the basic Access trim, complete with 14-inch steel wheels and a £9,695 price tag.

There’s no air conditioning, but you do get a… multi-speed heater fan. 

MG3 – from £9,495

The cheapest new cars on sale

We like the MG3, even if the nod to the brand’s heritage feels a bit disingenuous. Even at £9,495, the entry-level Explore trim is best avoided, so we’d upgrade to the £11,395 Excite or £12,795 Exclusive.

Both models undercut the cheapest Ford Fiesta and you get a seven-year warranty as part of the deal.

Hyundai i10 – from £9,200

The cheapest new cars on sale

Hyundai was one of the companies to gain the most out of the original ‘scrappage’ scheme of 2009, with many motorists ‘trading up’ to an i10. Today’s i10 isn’t the bargain city car it once was and the entry-level S model is a little short of toys.

The Premium is the range sweet-spot, with a generous level of standard equipment and prices ranging from £12,000 to £13,000.

Dacia Sandero Stepway – from £9,195

The cheapest new cars on sale

We’re cheating a little bit here because although Dacia positions the Sandero Stepway as a separate model, in reality, it’s a Sandero with quasi-SUV styling and a raised ride height.

Having said that, it does look more premium than the Sandero, and the £11,195 Comfort trim is well equipped.

Suzuki Celerio – from £8,999

The cheapest new cars on sale

The list price for the entry-level Suzuki Celerio SZ2 is £8,999, but at the time of writing it’s available with a £1,000 discount. However, we’d recommend opting for the SZ3, which is on sale for £8,999 after a £1,500 discount.

It’s not the last word in excitement, but Suzuki has a solid reputation for reliability and good dealers. Note: the Suzuki Baleno is available with a £3,250 discount, taking the price down to £9,999.

Skoda Citigo – from £8,890

The cheapest new cars on sale

The entry-level Skoda Citigo S costs £8,890, but aside from a parking ticket holder on the windscreen, there’s little in the way of pizazz.

We’d recommend upgrading to the SE for alloy wheels, air conditioning and a 60:40 folding rear seat. Not bad for an additional £250.

Dacia Logan MCV – from £8,495

The cheapest new cars on sale

Britain’s cheapest estate car has a 573-litre boot and an £8,495 price tag. You’ll have to decide if you can live with the basic Access trim level for the entire duration of a three-year PCP deal, but even the Comfort trim isn’t going to break the bank at £10,495.

The Dacia Logan MCV is also available in Stepway guise, with prices starting from £12,695.

Dacia Sandero – from £6,995

The cheapest new cars on sale

The Sandero arrived in the UK with a headline-grabbing £5,995 price tag, helping the Dacia to corner the budget end of the market. Today, you’ll pay £6,995 for the basic Access model, making it the cheapest new car on sale in the UK. Or is it?

The UK’s cheapest new car: Renault Twizy – from £6,690

The cheapest new cars on sale

Technically, the Renault Twizy is a quadricycle, but it has the same number of seats as the Smart Fortwo, so we’re happy to include it here. It’s electric, which makes it as current as a Sam Fender song, and prices start at £6,690.

Note: you need to consider the cost of battery hire, which starts at £45 a month.

Should I buy a petrol, diesel or hybrid car?

petrol diesel or hybrid

In the past, deciding the fuel type of your new car was far simpler. Diesels were workhorses that sounded like black cabs, hybrids were the choice of the open-minded or open toe-sandaled, and petrol was for pure performance.

But those lines have become increasingly blurred. Most buyers can now opt for their preferred fuel, without compromising much on the car, or its performance out on the road. That said, you’re almost certainly better-suited to one fuel type over another, depending on your own driving habits, your budget and how eco-conscious you are, as our guide below explains in more detail.

Painting an honest picture of your own motoring mannerisms from the outset will really help narrow down your choices. Even in the hybrid category, there’s an engine set up to suit almost every occasion; with the battery pack taking on more or less of the responsibility for reducing fuel consumption and emissions. And while none have the range restrictions of a pure electric car, these inevitably suit some drivers better than others.

Suzuki Ignis SHVS badge

The Suzuki Ignis SHVS, for example, simply recovers, stores and recycles brake energy in the battery, and uses this to boost power and engine efficiency. All that technology enhances performance without increasing fuel consumption or emissions. Hybrids like the Toyota Prius use a similar system, but can also run in electric-only mode for a mile or two.

An increasingly popular line up of plug-in hybrid vehicles (commonly called PHEVs) such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, however, can be charged from a socket and will cover around 30 miles before the internal combustion engine kicks in. Finally, the recently deleted BMW i3 is essentially a full electric vehicle but uses a small motorcycle engine as an emergency back-up to get you home if the batteries die. This type of car is known as a range extender.

Which new car fuel should I buy?

With so many options, which fuel type should you choose? To help you make your mind up, here are a few key points worth bearing in mind before you buy.

Cost

the cost of fuel

Unless you’ve got a limitless budget, the cost of your car is going to be high up on your list of priorities. And that can vary enormously within one model range, depending on the type of fuel used to power it.

As a general rule of thumb, the more advanced or economical the car’s powertrain becomes, the more expensive the vehicle will be to buy. So a diesel-powered vehicle will cost more to buy than its petrol-engine equivalent, and the advanced technology behind a hybrid is likely to cost you more still. But the expense doesn’t end there, of course.

Fuel economy

While you’re weighing up list prices on the dealer forecourts, you also need to seriously consider how many miles you’re really going to travel each month. Fuel consumption can obviously vary enormously: with a diesel typically around 30 percent more economical to run than a petrol-engine vehicle, while a hybrid can be even more thrifty – with claims of up to 200mpg under official laboratory tests. But owners often find that these figures are radically different out on the road.

Volkswagen Golf GTE Advance

The fuel itself differs in price, too – with petrol currently costing almost 10p per litre less than diesel at the pumps. So you need to gauge your likely usage first. Better still, come up with an annual cost comparison, as we’ve done below with three derivatives of the Volkswagen Golf:

 VW Golf petrol: 1.4 TSI (5dr) DSG SE NavVW Golf diesel: 2.0 TDI (5dr) DSG SE NavVW Golf GTE hybrid: 1.4 TSI (5dr) DSG Advance
List price£22,865£25,515£32,600
Average fuel cost*120.6 per litre130.0 per litre120.6 per litre
Combined mpg54.3mpg64.2mpg156.9mpg
Annual fuel cost (10,000 miles)£1,009.68£920.55£349.43

* Based on average fuel prices (March 2019)

This illustrates that the diesel-powered Golf will only save you around £90 a year in fuel, assuming like-for-like driving styles over 10,000. Given that the car itself cost £2,650 more to buy, it’s going to take nearly 30 years, clocking up average mileage, to claw back that initial outlay.

By contrast, the Hybrid costs nearly £10,000 more than the petrol to buy, but it (theoretically) uses around one-third of the fuel. With around a £660 annual saving at the pumps, that it will take you just over 15 years to break even – less than half the time. That said, if you plug the car in to charge every day, use it for short commuting hops and only the occasional long journey, then you could easily exceed the claimed economy and you’ll recoup the extra outlay much sooner.

Of course, buyers aren’t only interested in saving money, when they opt for alternative fuelled cars, but these sums are worth calculating ahead of any new car purchase.

Driving habits

diesel filler cap

The type of miles you’re likely to be clocking up counts too. Are you going to be pottering around town, or steaming up and down the motorway all week? That’s relevant because some fuel types – namely diesel – are better-suited to driving long distances. That’s partly why they’re usually the fuel of choice of sales reps. Although the price per litre of fuel, and your initial outlay for the car itself, will be higher than a petrol-engine equivalent, if you’re putting enough miles on the clock, you should still be better off over a lease term.

A diesel will almost certainly deliver better fuel mileage and lower CO2 than a hybrid in such intensive driving circumstances – meaning diesel remains the eco-friendly choice for high-mileage motorists.

By contrast, if you only ever cover short distances each day, then you could find you have enough battery life between charges in a plug-in hybrid, and therefore rarely need to fill up all. More generally, petrol-fuelled cars are better in stop-start situations and are the best choice if you mainly drive in the city.

Longevity

plug-in hybrid charging

Technology is developing fast in the motor industry, in a bid to create safer and increasingly eco-friendly cars. But is this technology built to last? That’s of particular concern to buyers looking at electric-only or hybrid vehicles, which place huge reliance on the car’s battery power. How long will the cell last? And how much will it cost to replace?

Some manufacturers, such as Renault and Nissan, have introduced battery leasing schemes, to help alleviate those concerns. So if the cell fails, owners can automatically swap it for a new one. Other brands cover the hybrid and battery components under a separate warranty (typically five to eight years). Even so, buyers understandably feel like they’re stepping into unknown territory.

As for traditional fuel types, diesels have always been regarded as being more durable. But in fact, all modern engines should be capable of clocking up at least 200,000 miles, if serviced regularly. And in reality, it’s corrosion and the failure of high-cost parts that usually ends an old vehicle’s life.

Tax

CO2 emissions

Road tax has been dictated almost entirely by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 2001. For all cars registered since then, the more your car pollutes the environment, the higher the tax you pay; with electric cars and hybrids enjoying a zero-rate. So for motorists on a budget, it’s made sense to bear that extra duty in mind, if they’re opting for a fuel type that’s heavily taxed.

But the current Vehicle Excise Duty rules have reduced the impact of emissions on road tax. These state that cars registered from April 2017 will only be taxed based on their CO2 emissions for their first 12 months – which is always included in the dealer’s ‘on the road’ list price anyway. Thereafter, owners will pay a flat rate of £140 per year. Only zero emissions, electric-only cars will remain tax-free. While alternative fuel vehicles – namely, hybrids – incur a slightly cheaper fee, at £130.

The environment

The most recent, advanced technology is almost certainly going to be the eco-friendliest. But the Government’s ever-changing stance on what’s bad for the environment, and the levies that accompany that, make the decision over what to buy increasingly difficult for motorists. Also, even plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles aren’t totally in the clear, as the electricity used to charge their batteries usually comes from polluting power stations.

JATO CO2 emissions

Petrol power has for a long time been considered the bad boy of the fuel pumps; slammed for its high levels of carbon emissions. So businesses were once actually incentivised to stock their fleets with diesels. However, diesel cars have been stripped of their eco-credentials recently, and governments and local authorities are considering ways to cut the use of diesels in urban areas.

Carmakers are at pains, however, to stress that the latest Euro 6 diesels are virtually as clean as petrol cars in all measurable tailpipe emissions. Older diesels pollute more, but new diesels do not – so you can buy a brand new diesel safe in the knowledge its exhaust emissions are ultra-clean.

Admittedly, changing current public perceptions to stress that showroom-fresh new diesels are not ‘bad’ may take some time in the current climate…

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Summer 2018 special offers: the hottest new car deals

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Thanks to Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) deals, it’s never been easier – or cheaper – to get your hands on a new car. If you fancy driving away in a new car this summer, here are some of the offers being offered by manufacturers, including test drive incentives, deposit contributions and straightforward discounts.

SEAT Ibiza: £1,500 deposit contribution plus an extra £500

The summer’s hottest new car deals

The SEAT Ibiza is relatively new to the market, so it’s surprising to see such a generous discount on the ‘Spanish Polo’. Take a test drive between now and the end of September and you’ll receive a £500 discount should you make a purchase. This is in addition to a £1,500 deposit contribution and one year’s free insurance. Monthly payments start from £199.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio: £3,500 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

If you fancy a SUV, but don’t fancy following the crowd, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio might be the car for you. Right now, if you order a 2.2-litre turbodiesel Q4 Speciale on a PCP plan, Alfa Romeo will add £3,500 to your deposit of £6,995. The monthly payment is £426 spread over four years, but the package includes a five-year warranty, free servicing for three years and breakdown cover for five years.

Audi A7 Sportback S Line: £5,700 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Another relatively new car, but Audi isn’t shy about coming forward with a hefty deposit contribution. Order an A7 Sportback S Line on a PCP deal and Audi will contribute £5,700 towards your deposit. In common with many of the offers, finance is subject to status and available to motorists aged 18 and over.

Fiat Panda Pop: £2,015 customer saving

The summer’s hottest new car deals

In its basic Pop form, the Fiat Panda features body-coloured bumpers, four airbags, Uconnect, Bluetooth, USB and central locking. At £9,510, it’s rather expensive for a long in the tooth city car, but a £2,015 discount equates to a more reasonable £7,495.

Suzuki Baleno: save up to £2,500

The summer’s hottest new car deals

The Suzuki Baleno is a great value and practical hatchback, which is also surprisingly good to drive when powered by the 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine. Right now, Suzuki is offering a £2,500 discount on SZ-T and SZ5 models, or £2,000 off the price of the entry-level SZ3. This means the range starts from £10,999.

Skoda Fabia: £2,000 deposit contribution and 3.9% APR

The summer’s hottest new car deals

There’s an updated Skoda Fabia on the way in September, so dealers will be keen to shift stock of the outgoing model. Even before you start haggling, Skoda will contribute £2,000 towards the finance deposit, leaving you to pay £1,497.17, followed by 47 monthly payments of £179.

Fiat Tipo S-Design: £2,330 customer saving

The summer’s hottest new car deals

The Fiat Tipo S-Design features 18-inch diamond alloys, bi-xenon headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear-view camera, automatic climate control and Uconnect 7-inch touchscreen. Not bad in a car costing £18,150. Even better when Fiat removes £2,330 from the price.

Audi A6: £6,150 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Audi is being extremely generous with its deposit contributions. For example, you can claim £6,150 on an A6 saloon or Avant, or as much as £7,500 off the price of an A6 Allroad. Opt for the recently released A8 and the deposit contribution is a massive £8,875.

Mazda CX-3: £1,750 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

The Mazda CX-3 is a stylish crossover that’s also great to drive. Order a CX-3 SE Nav on a PCP deal and Mazda will contribute £1,750, leaving you to find £3,001.50 and 42 payments of £199. Alternatively, if you’re after a 0% APR deal, Mazda will remove the deposit contribution, leaving you to pay £2,909 up front and £289 a month over two years.

Renault Captur: an extra £1,000 trade in

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Order a Captur between now and the end of the month and Renault will offer an extra £1,000 discount when you trade in your old car. On a four-year PCP deal, there’s no interest to pay, a low £199 deposit and monthly payments of £199.

Suzuki Ignis: save up to £2,000

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Until the new Jimny arrives in 2019, the Ignis remains the cutest and most desirable new Suzuki you can buy. It features more retro touches than you could shake a pogo stick at and more charm than Nigel Havers. Right now, Suzuki is offering a £2,000 discount on SZ-T and SZ5 models, or £1,500 off the SZ3.

Hyundai i10: £795 customer saving

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Buy a Hyundai i10 SE or Go SE on a PCP deal and you’ll receive a £795 deposit contribution. Alternatively, order the entry-level i10 S and the contribution drops to £700. The range starts from a little over £9,000.

Honda CR-V: £1,000 test-drive incentive and £1,000 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

If you were thinking of buying a Honda CR-V I-VTEC SE Plus Navi before taking a test drive, stop what you’re doing. That’s because Honda will knock £1,000 off the price if you take a test-drive, along with a £1,000 deposit contribution. You can also add a five-year servicing package for £599.

Toyota Verso Icon: £2,590 customer saving

The summer’s hottest new car deals

The trusty MPV is facing a fight for survival, but the Toyota Verso proves that there’s life in the old people carrier yet. Toyota is offering a £2,590 customer saving on the Verso Icon, which takes the price down to £18,030. The Icon features Toyota’s excellent Safety Sense package, a seven-inch touchscreen, dual-zone air conditioning and a reversing camera.

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace: £2,500 deposit contribution and £500 test-drive incentive

The summer’s hottest new car deals

The Allspace is a more practical version of the Tiguan with the option of a third row of seats. Volkswagen will contribute £2,500 towards the cost of a four-year PCP deal, leaving you to find £6,106.76 and £265 a month. You can also save an additional £500 when you test-drive any Volkswagen SUV.

SEAT Leon: £2,250 deposit contribution and £500 test-drive incentive

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Remember that summer scorcher on the SEAT Ibiza? The discount on the Leon is even hotter. Not only will SEAT give you £2,250 towards the cost of your deposit, there’s an extra £500 discount when you take a test drive. Scorchio.

Nissan X-Trail: £4,250 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

You’ll need to find £4,589.14 for the deposit on a Nissan X-Trail N-Connecta dCi 130, but Nissan will add £4,250 to the mix. All of which means you’ll pay £356.14 a month for three years, with an optional final payment of £11,424.52. At least it’s not yet another Nissan Qashqai.

Jeep Cherokee: £8,050 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

With a deposit contribution this generous, Jeep might need to dress up as Father Christmas. Order a Cherokee Limited 2.2 on a 36-month PCP deal and Jeep will contribute £8,050 to the deal. There is a one catch: you’ll need to find £7,899 up front.

Honda Jazz: £1,000 test-drive incentive and £750 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

These test drive incentives sound like a good deal. In exchange for 60 minutes behind the wheel – and listening to a salesperson waffle on while you drive – manufacturers will shave a few quid off the price of a new car. In the case of the Honda Jazz, it’s a £1,000 discount, along with a £750 deposit contribution.

MG GS Excite: £1,000 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Order an MG GS Excite between now and the end of September and you’ll receive £1,000 towards the cost of the deposit. This leaves you to find £1,305 up front and 47 monthly payments of £249. The total amount payable is £19,966.74 and you’re restricted to a paltry 6,000 miles per annum.

Suzuki Celerio: save £500

The summer’s hottest new car deals

The Suzuki Celerio is already one of Britain’s cheapest new cars, but that hasn’t stopped Suzuki taking £500 off the list price. It means that you can drive away in an entry-level SZ2 for £7,499, an SZ3 for £9,649, or an SZ4 for £10,949.

Lexus: £2,000 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Lexus is offering a £2,000 deposit contribution across most of the range, with the exception of the LC and LS models. Cars must be registered and financed by 30 September on a 42-month Lexus Connect PCP plan.

Subaru XV: £1,000 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

The new Subaru XV is a far better prospect than the old model, so there’s never been a better time to buy this off-roader. Subaru is offering a £1,000 deposit contribution across the range, with monthly payments starting from £325.

Volvo: servicing offer

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Along with a range of standard PCP deals, Volvo is offering two servicing packs across the range. A three-year servicing deal costs £399, while five years will set you back £599. Vehicles must be ordered by the end of September.

Peugeot: two services for £99

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Meanwhile, Peugeot is offering two scheduled services for just £99. Peugeot’s excellent ‘Just add Fuel’ offer is also available.

Nissan GT-R: £5,000 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

This one might be a tad niche, but it’s good to know that you can claim a £5,000 deposit contribution on a Nissan GT-R. You’ll need to find £17,758.49 up front and 36 monthly payments of £699. A bold choice.

Jeep Grand Cherokee: £7,250 deposit contribution

The summer’s hottest new car deals

Finally, this offer is similar to that of the Jeep Cherokee, albeit with a less grand deposit contribution. Jeep will contribute £7,250 to the cost of a Grand Cherokee, leaving you to find £9,074 and £399 per month. All offers available at the time of writing and are subject to status.

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Why are car V5 registration documents being sold online?

Why are car V5 registration documents being sold online?

Why are car V5 registration documents being sold online?

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) holds a register of all vehicles on UK roads. Each car has an individual logbook (also known as the V5 or V5C) which contains an extract of the information the DVLA has about that vehicle – such as its original registration date, colour and the address of the current registered keeper.

Although the V5C is not proof of ownership per se, you should insist on seeing one when buying a secondhand car. The seller will then notify the DVLA that they’ve sold the car so the registered keeper can be changed to you – updating the DVLA’s records.

When you scrap a car, you must inform the DVLA by filling in the V5C/3 part of the V5C. Alternatively, you can notify the DVLA online – but you must destroy the V5C when you do so.

Unfortunately, it seems to be becoming increasingly popular for drivers to sell the V5C rather than destroying it when they scrap a car. This process isn’t illegal in itself – although there are no ethical reasons why anyone would want to buy a V5C, despite a search of online auction websites revealing there’s clearly a market for them.

“The registration certificate (V5C) is not intended to have any intrinsic value,” a DVLA spokesperson told Motoring Research. “It is an extract of the information that is held by DVLA.”

Fake identity

Fake identity

The main reason people want to buy a V5C is so that they can use the identity of the scrapped car on another vehicle. This might be because the new car has been written off and can’t legally be returned to the road, or because it’s a classic car and the identity from an older vehicle will give it tax or MOT exempt status.

It could also be used for something more sinister, such as to help hide the identity of a stolen car. By changing the number plates on a stolen vehicle to match the details of a V5C bought online, an unsuspecting buyer could easily be fooled into buying a car they believe is legitimate.

The DVLA added: “When a vehicle is sold it is the responsibility of the registered keeper at the time to inform the DVLA, by completing the details of the new keeper in section six of the V5C and returning it to the address on the V5C. This allows the register to be updated with the revised information and a new document issued.

“It is an offence if the registered keeper fails to notify DVLA of these changes mentioned above.”

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New diesel car tax rules: everything you need to know

New diesel car tax rules come into force: everything you need to know

New diesel car tax rules: everything you need to know

New vehicle excise duty (VED, or car tax) rules have now come into force that could cost you as much as £500 – yet a survey has revealed that nearly nine out of 10 drivers still don’t know about the changes.

The revised system, introduced at the beginning of April, is based on new ‘real driving emissions’ tests. This means if you buy any new Euro 6 diesel that emits more than 120mg/km of NOx (nitrogen oxides), you’ll be forced to pay more for road tax in the first year.

Currently, all diesel cars on the market exceed this figure, meaning they’ll all move up a band under the new VED rules. This means a Nissan Qashqai 1.5-litre dCi 110, for example, which emits 99g/km CO2, will now cost £145 to tax for the first year – up from £125 currently.

At the other end of the scale, a Mitsubishi Shogun will cost a hefty £2,070 to tax for the first year – an increase of £370.

Under new regulations introduced in 2017, all new petrol and diesel cars costing less than £40,000 are charged a first year tax rate based on CO2 emissions. This is followed by a flat rate of £140 every year, plus an extra £310 supplement for five years for cars costing more than £40,000.

First year VED rates 2018-2019
CO2 emissions (g/km)Petrol carsDiesel cars
0£0£0
1-50£10£25
51-75£25£105
76-90£105£125
91-100£125£140
101-110£145£165
111-130£165£205
131-150£205£515
151-170£515£830
171-190£830£1,240
191-225£1,240£1,760
226-255£1,760£2,070
More than 255£2,070£2,070

Although the premium is small for cleaner diesels, high-emitting diesels could face an increase of more than £500 in their first year.

In reality, most diesel car buyers won’t notice a huge difference, as the first year’s road tax is lumped into the on-the-road price of a new car. However, it’s another in a series of anti-diesel messages which nearly half of drivers say are confusing, according to the survey by Confused.com.

“Drivers are clearly confused about the messaging around diesel vehicles,” said the website’s motoring editor, Amanda Stretton. “It’s no wonder motorists are not up to speed with the latest laws.

“As we head towards 2040, when the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles will be banned, we expect drivers will see numerous incentives and penalties being introduced. Whether such measures will encourage take up of more environmentally friendly car-types remains to be seen.”

The number of new diesel cars being registered continues to plummet, as Confused.com’s research reveals that 60 percent of drivers say they wouldn’t consider a diesel for their new car.

Speaking earlier this month, the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT) chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Although the new car market has dipped, it remains at a good level despite the drop in demand for diesel. Consumers should be reassured, however, that the latest cars are the cleanest in history and can help address air quality issues, which is why they are econxempt from any restrictions.”

2018 car tax changes: Q&A

New diesel car tax rules: everything you need to know

Is tax for petrol cars going up?

Yes – but only by a small amount. Petrol cars emitting 99g/km CO2 will now be charged £105 in VED compared to £100. A car producing more than 255g/km CO2 will now be taxed £2,070 in the first year compared to £2,000.

Can I negotiate money off a new car to drop it below the £40,000 threshold?

No. The VED is based on a car’s list price including options as well as fuel, number plates and a delivery charge.

Are electric cars cheap to tax?

Yes and no. Zero-emission cars with a list price below £40,000 are free to tax, while hybrids are taxed on emissions, like petrol and diesel cars (albeit slightly cheaper). Even electric or hybrid cars with a list price of more than £40,000 attract the £310 premium for years two to six on top of the standard VED rate.

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Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40: how to buy 2018’s must-have SUV

Volvo XC40The XC40 is a good car. That’s a given. A very worthy magazine has already handed the new Volvo its Car of the Year trophy and, more to the point, MR’s very own Andrew Brady awarded it five stars. Cards on the table, if we were shopping for a compact SUV with a premium twist, this is what we’d go for. So, let’s assume that you want one. Here’s all the essential buying info you need.

We’ve also put together a brief video with the XC40 and its big brother, the XC60. Click below to see how they compare for performance, fuel economy, size and price.

Video: Volvo XC40 and XC60 compared

 

Which engine should I go for?

Volvo XC40

The XC40 comes with a choice of five engines: 150hp D3 and 190hp D4 diesels, plus 156hp T3, 190hp T4 and 247hp T5 petrols.

Despite the hysterical headlines, diesel still makes plenty of sense for SUVs – particularly for higher-mileage drivers. Volvo expects 60% of buyers to choose the D3 diesel and it’s also our pick of the range – chiefly thanks to 58.9mpg fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 127g/km (£160 first-year car tax) in 2WD guise. For reference, the 4WD-only D4 manages 56.5mpg and 131g/km (£200 first-year car tax). 

If you prefer petrol, the forthcoming three-cylinder T3 may be worth a look, although claimed economy of 42.8mpg is scarcely better than the T4 (40.9mpg) or T5 (39.8mpg). We’d wait for the hybrid petrol/electric version, due in 2019. A fully-electric XC40 EV is in development, too.

For early adopters buying an XC40 First Edition – the initial batch of cars for the UK – choice is limited to the range-topping D4 or T5.

Do I need four-wheel drive?

Volvo XC40

The short answer here is ‘probably not’. Unless you live in Snowdonia or the Scottish Highlands, 4WD is rarely necessary in the UK. But your choice of front- or four-wheel drive is largely governed by which engine you go for.

Indeed, the D3 diesel is the only engine offered with both. The D3 FWD returns 58.9mpg, while the D3 4WD manages just 52.3mpg (both figures based on a manual gearbox) – so there’s a significant penalty for that enhanced all-weather traction. The entry-level T3 petrol is FWD-only, while the D4, T4 and T5 are only available with 4WD.

Likewise, the D3 is the only XC40 that can be ordered with a manual or automatic gearbox. The T3 is manual-only, and the D4, T4 and T5 are auto-only. Choosing an auto ‘box for the D3 has a 2-3mpg impact on fuel economy. However, automatic versions are nicer to drive, so we’d take the hit and go for the self-shifter.

Talk to me about trim levels

Volvo XC40

There are six trim levels offered: Momentum, Momentum Pro, R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription and (you guessed it) Inscription Pro.

Standard equipment on the Momentum is generous, including a nine-inch touchscreen, sat-nav with full European mapping and lifetime updates, climate control air-con, 18-inch alloys, cruise control, rear parking sensors and automatic emergency braking. Upgrading to Pro adds active bending headlights, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, heated front seats and a heated windscreen.

R-Design offers a more ‘dynamic’ look and – sports suspension aside – the changes are essentially cosmetic. There’s a black roof, plenty of gloss-black detailing and dual exhaust pipes. Going for the Pro version adds the same equipment as for Momentum, but with 20-inch alloy wheels.

The fully-loaded Inscription comes with metallic paint, leather upholstery, front parking sensors, front and rear skidplates, a powered tailgate and ‘Drift Wood’ interior trim. If that’s still not sufficient, going Pro adds the same again, plus 19-inch alloys and an electric front passenger seat.

We reckon Momentum Pro is the sweet-spot of the range (the heated seats and screen are invaluable in winter), although we’d understand if you were swayed by the sportier style of R-Design. Avoid the 20-inch alloys, though: they do ride comfort no favours.

Which optional extras are worth having?

Volvo XC40

Many XC40 extras are grouped together into option packs, which offer better value for money than specifying items separately.

The one we’d consider essential is the Intellisafe Pro pack (£1,400), which adds adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist self-steering to keep you in lane, blind-spot warnings in the door mirrors and Cross-Traffic Alert. The latter can detect cars approaching at a perpendicular angle (e.g. in a car park) and hit the brakes. The XC40 is already a safe car, but this suite of features makes it even safer.

If you haven’t upgraded to Pro spec, the Winter pack (£500) adds heated front seats, a heated windscreen and headlight washers, while the Convenience pack (£350) includes family-friendly features such as a flexible boot floor and power-folding rear seats.

The other options worth having are smartphone integration for Apple Carplay and Android Auto (£300) and power child locks (£85). If funds allowed, we’d also stretch to the excellent 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system (£550) and one of Volvo’s very stylish roof boxes (from £530). Oh – and Lava Orange carpets, please (£175). Just us?

How much does a new XC40 cost?

Volvo XC40

The XC40 is on sale now, with deliveries expected in March 2018 for First Edition cars and May 2018 for the rest of the range.

You’ll pay from £27,905 for a T3 FWD manual in Momentum spec and £28,965 for the equivalent D3 diesel. Our pick of the bunch, a D3 FWD auto Momentum Pro, is £32,105.

At the opposite end of the scale, the D4 and T5 First Editions are £39,305 and £40,055 respectively. Expect these models to be highly sought-after when they hit the second-hand market.

What about finance payment options?

Volvo XC40

Strong demand means that, unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect a big discount on a new XC40. On the plus side, the Volvo outperforms its German rivals for predicted resale values, which should equate to competitive finance and leasing deals – at least once the mainstream models arrive.

At present, Volvo has only published offers for the pricey First Editions. A D4, for example is available to lease for £389 a month over two years with an initial payment of £2,334. If you want the option to buy, £4,857 upfront gets you the same car for £379 a month over two years with an optional final payment of £17,100.

If you live within the M25, you could also consider the new Care by Volvo package. This bundles up use of the car, insurance, maintenance, breakdown cover, a concierge service and access to another Volvo for 14 days a year – everything apart from fuel, essentially. It’s not cheap, at £779 a month for a D4 or T5 First Edition, but promises to be hassle-free. Volvo plans to roll the scheme out nationwide eventually.

Any rival cars that I should also consider?

Volvo XC40 rivals

The world has gone mad for small SUVs, so Volvo’s first entrant into this sector faces plenty of rivals.

The Range Rover Evoque is the best-seller, but feeling its age now (a new Evoque arrives in 2019). There are question marks over Land Rover reliability, too. Audi’s Q3 is also looking old, especially alongside the recently updated BMW X1 and Volkswagen Tiguan. The BMW wins for driver appeal, while the Volkswagen majors on value for money – partly due to its not-quite-premium badge. 

However, as we mentioned at the very beginning, the well-rounded, practical and safe Volvo XC40 is our top choice here.

Counterpoint: should I buy a Volvo XC60 instead?

Volvo XC40 and XC60

By Andrew Brady

Volvo’s carried out a masterstroke. No other manufacturer – and I’m including the premium German brands here – has a range as consistently impressive and up-to-date as Volvo’s current SUV line-up.

The second-generation XC90 arrived in 2015 as a Range Rover rival and preview of things to come with Volvo. The Audi Q5-rivalling XC60 followed in 2017, while the new, smaller XC40 goes on sale this year.

Although deciding which Volvo SUV suits you might seem fairly simple (how much money do you want to spend and would you like a small, medium or large SUV?), there is a degree of overlap. As Tim’s mentioned above, the XC40 First Edition costs from £39,305 – that’s well into XC60 territory, which starts at £36,405. And, as you’ll see in the picture above – the size difference isn’t as big as you’d think.

So how do the XC40 and XC60 compare? From a purely subjective point of view, the XC40 certainly feels the newer car, even though it’s only a year fresher than the XC60. You get the impression that its design team was let off the reigns a little with the XC40: it’s a funky crossover, an Audi Q2 competitor intended to reach a market that hasn’t traditionally bought Volvos.

Both cars have brilliant interiors, although the XC60 feels more grown-up. The seats are more supportive for longer journeys, and there’s more room in the rear if you carry back-seat passengers.

To drive, we’ve not exactly carried out a fair comparison: pitching a T5 petrol XC40 against a D5 diesel. Again, the XC60 feels more mature – better on the motorway and more relaxing, while the XC40 is better suited to urban driving (although not, by any means, out of its depth on the motorway).

Which one would we go for? It depends what you’re looking for. Both are really good cars, and the XC60 is obviously going to be the better option for those with a family to transport or with regular long journeys to cover. For us, though, the clever design of the XC40 makes it marginally more desirable.

 Volvo XC40Volvo XC60
Width1,863mm1,891mm
Height1,658mm1,713mm
Length4,425mm4,644mm
Boot432 litres495 litres

 

In pictures: Volvo XC40 T5 First Edition

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Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Used SUVs for less than £200 a monthAuto Trader has launched a new online tool, allowing car buyers to search for their next car based on their ideal monthly budget. Given the popularity of PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) plans, this should benefit the majority of people who visit the classifieds website. With this in mind, we’ve been on the hunt for SUVs and crossovers for less than £200 a month.

To focus the results, we narrowed the search to cars up to five years old with no more than 100,000 miles on the clock. We also used a range of deposit options, from zero to £2,500.

£0 deposit: Nissan Juke

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Once upon a time, an SUV meant tank-like styling and driving dynamics, four-wheel drive, and running costs to rival the national debt. Today, the lines between SUVs, crossovers and hatchbacks have become rather blurred, but to keep things simple we’ve used Auto Trader’s own filters to find a selection of SUVs for £200 a month. Like this Nissan Juke, which could be yours for £173.33 a month, with no deposit and an optional final payment of £3,474.58.

£0 deposit: Kia Sportage

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

This one-owner Kia Sportage has covered 49,100 miles and is on sale for £9,779. Alternatively, you can drive away with no deposit and £199.74 a month over three years. The optional final payment is £4,471.50, with a fixed rate of interest of 3.97%.

£500 deposit: Hyundai ix35

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Increasing the size of the deposit from zero to £500 should, in theory, either lower your monthly payments or allow you to purchase a newer vehicle. This 2014 Hyundai ix35 has covered just 13,061 and is up for £9,950. With a £500 deposit, that works out at £199.97 a month, with an optional final payment of £4,649. You’ll pay nearly £2,400 in interest, mind.

£500 deposit: Dacia Duster

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

The Dacia Duster is a refreshingly honest SUV, and this 2014 example even benefits from four-wheel drive. The 1.5-litre dCi engine delivers a reasonable amount of poke and low running costs, while the black lower bumpers and steel wheels mean you won’t cringe when you hit the odd rock or tree stump. Yours for £199.77 a month, with an optional final payment of £2,655.

£1,000 deposit: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Remember, these examples are for illustrative purposes only, and you can spend a few minutes fine-tuning your search criteria. If you fancy a shorter term and a larger deposit, simply adjust the settings. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a popular new car, so used examples are likely to be in-demand. Up the deposit to £1,000 and you can drive away in the plug-in hybrid SUV for £199.93 a month, with an optional final payment of £6,335.

£1,000 deposit: Volkswagen Tiguan

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Such is the popularity of the Volkswagen Tiguan, we doubt this 2013 example will be available for long. The S trim is hardly lavish, but this one-owner example does benefit from 4Motion four-wheel drive and that all-important VW badge. Pay £1,000 and it’s yours for £199.55 a month, with an optional final payment of £4,331.50.

£1,500 deposit: Jeep Renegade

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Increasing the deposit to £1,500 opens up a new world of opportunities, including some much newer vehicles. The Jeep badge gives the Renegade justification for the ‘SUV’ tag, even if this 2016 example is front-wheel drive. You’ll pay £199.98 a month, with an optional final payment of £6,075.

£1,500 deposit: BMW X1

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

Given the choice between spending £200 a month on a brand new supermini or a used BMW crossover, many will be lured by the premium badge of the X1. This front-wheel drive example dates from 2013 and has 47,688 miles on the clock. The monthly repayments are £184.05 after a £1,500 deposit. You’ll need to find £4,680 if you decide to keep it in 2021.

£2,000 deposit: Peugeot 2008

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

We’ve upped the deposit again, this time to £2,000, which is enough to secure this 2016 Peugeot 2008 with 9,100 miles on the clock. The spec includes cruise control, dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors, while the monthly payments are £199.98. Optional final payment: £5,310.

£2,000 deposit: Vauxhall Mokka X

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

With just 7,702 miles on the clock, this 2017 Vauxhall Mokka X is practically new and benefits from a 7-inch touchscreen, front and rear parking sensors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control and dual-zone climate control. You’ll pay £199.95 a month, with an optional final payment of £6,231.39.

£2,500 deposit: Nissan Qashqai

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

With 4,092 miles on the clock, this Nissan Qashqai is practically brand new, even though it was registered in 2015. It begs the question: what has it been doing for the best part of three years? Predictably, it looks blemish-free, and it could be yours for bang on £200 a month. The optional final payment is £7,022.75.

£2,500 deposit: Audi Q3

Used SUVs for less than £200 a month

We conclude with this 2014 Audi Q3 SE Quattro with 19,000 miles on the clock. Spend £2,500 on a deposit and you’ll pay £199.63 a month, with an optional final payment of £8,142.73. Contact the local dealers to discover more about the cars mentioned here, and be sure to take a test drive before signing up for a PCP deal.

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