Five car shopping tips that could be the most valuable advice on car buying of all
We all know safety is important – like really important. Yet sometimes it gets forgotten, buried under concerns of price and other car-buying factors, even if it is arguably the single most important aspect about car buying.
On top of that, figuring out what makes a truly safe car can be confusing. That’s why we’ve put together a quick-and-easy five-point guide to helping you find one, and included a top-performer in the large sedan segment, the Volkswagen Passat R-Line, as case study.
1. Put your ‘NCAP’ on
NCAP refers to New Car Assessment Programme, a safety rating system for cars run by non-profit organisation Global NCAP. It has numerous localised NCAP programmes which test and rate the safety of new cars sold.
Singapore has no official car safety rating system, and while there is an ASEAN NCAP, not all the cars sold here are listed there. If you’re to purchase a European car, then it’s quite safe to take the Euro NCAP scores as they’re seen some of the most reputable and stringent tests around.
NCAP has an overall five-star rating system, but also categorises and rates cars on four different aspects of safety: General Adult Occupant Protection, while those with families should look at Child Occupant Protection, and there’s also Pedestrian Safety and lastly, Safety Assist, which refers to active safety systems.
Our case car, the Volkswagen Passat, has the maximum five-star overall rating.*
For those who want even more detail, Euro NCAP also has a detailed report in PDF for you to digest, where they specify what was tested, the results of different crash tests and even installation of different kinds of child seats. Plus you can even watch the actual video of the various crash tests being performed – and you’ll be glad to have chosen a five-star car after that too!
*As tested in 2014 with the European-spec car.
2. Make sure your view is clear
Driving is all about being prepared for what’s coming up ahead, and that only happens when you’re able to see where you’re going. A safe car supports clear driver vision, no matter what the conditions.
Onboard the Volkswagen Passat, LED headlights deliver clear, powerful illumination that’s superior to conventional halogen technology while consuming less electricity as well. They’re able to highlight objects clearly, even on Singapore’s well-lit streets, and turn unlit Malaysian roads into an enjoyable drive thanks to active cornering lights.
The safest cars don’t just let you see what’s on the road, but also make sure the driver gets what he or she needs easily. In the case of the Passat, the optional Head-Up Display gives speed and navigation cues without the driver taking their eyes off the road, and if more information is needed, the computerised Active Info Display instruments deliver that with just a glance.
3. Airbags : Gotta spot ‘em all
Airbags – we all know they’re important, but how do you judge what’s safer? Firstly, airbag count is a good sign. Obviously a car with more airbags has more coverage for its occupants in case of things going pear-shaped. The bare minimum is two, and that usually means a forward airbag each for the two front occupants, and for a normal family car, four and above is more desirable.
One should also take into account the type of airbags that are present. The Passat has six airbags, which is what you should expect from a large European sedan. It has the standard two forward airbags, but side front airbags that help immensely in case of a side impact (i.e. being T-boned).
It also packs curtain airbags (shown above) these are airbags located near the top of the windows and provide protection for all occupants’ upper bodies. The numerous airbags of different types are part of what helps the Passat achieve its excellent Euro NCAP score.
4. Look under the skin for true strength
Looks might make an important impression, but it’s underlying strength that really helps to cement a relationship – and that goes for cars as well as people!
Volkswagen’s MQB platform underpins many of its current cars, such as the VW Golf, VW Tiguan and naturally the VW Passat.
MQB is a thoroughly modern car platform, and the reasons for wanting to have this sort of tech isn’t just for the sake of having the latest and greatest. It’s what allows the Passat to pack all of its strong features – from space to refinement and advanced driver aids – but also lends the car enormous toughness proven in its crash tests.
Specially-engineered crumple zones, the extensive use of advanced, high-strength steels and more, all mean the Passat is lighter, more efficient and safer than ever before.
5. Look for a car that takes care of you
The safest modern cars aren’t just good at taking hits, they also help the drivers avoid getting into trouble in the first place. It’s a holistic, multi-pronged approach that keeps the one behind the wheel in full control, and everyone else onboard as safe as possible.
Driving the Passat is never a chore: It has a specially-designed ergoComfort seat with memory and massage functions to keep the miles less taxing, plus safety-optimised head restraints for all five of its occupants.
Uniquely amongst cars in its class, it even has Rest Assist, a system that detects and monitors driver inputs to judge fatigue, so it can even recommend you to take a nap or grab a cuppa to avoid behind-the-wheel drowsiness.
It’s even one of the few cars around that help you after an accident too, with Automatic Post Collision Braking on board as well.
This special feature is brought to you by Volkswagen Singapore