You never forget your first, for good or bad. But whether you smile or cringe at the memory is something you can determine. Here’s how…
SINGAPORE — “By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy,” said Socrates. “If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”
The same thing might well be said about buying a car — although thankfully, that isn’t a lifetime commitment, which means your wheels are more akin to girlfriend than spouse.
Or boyfriend, whichever you like.
Either way, that doesn’t give you the licence to go and park your rump into the first set of wheels to catch your fancy. Not if you don’t want die a little bit inside each time your monthly car payment comes around, anyway.
Instead, you should treat your choice of car like you would your choice of Significant Other, and take the same long-term approach.
The DriveHappy experience means years of enjoyable and heartache-free car ownership, after all, so many parallels apply. Namely, your first car…
Should be reliable
Inevitably every driver experiences a day where they have to ride the tow truck home, but overall reliability is still something that you should place extremely high on your list of wants.
Nothing sours a relationship faster than the feeling that you just can’t trust the other party, and so it’s important to choose a car from a maker that focuses heavily on QDR: Quality, Durability, Reliability. With some carmakers, that’s a mantra.
Should be low-maintenance
That girl who demands only the best because she’s totally worth it? Avoid like the plague. You’ll save yourself a tonne of aggravation (and lots of cash, besides).
You don’t have to lavish money on a car, either. That means choosing one with low maintenance needs in the first place (low parts prices help, too), though here’s one easy hack to consider: think about buying a servicing package from your car’s authorised distributor. That usually entitles you to upfront discounts, and keeps you from having to guess about how much to budget for servicing.
The auto equivalent of a low-maintenance girlfriend is also one that has a modest appetite for fuel.
Choosing a car like that is like making sure you don’t end up with a girl who only wants to eat at Michelin-starred restaurants. Ironically, a car that demands less expenditure at the workshop leaves you more cash for fine dining. Life’s funny that way.
Should be even-tempered
Some people are volatile and blow up with little warning. We’ve all been with someone like that — probably because you didn’t know they were like that when you first started going out.
In a similar vein, a car should have a calm and easy demeanour. That affects your day-to-day interactions with it, and means choosing one with smooth acceleration, easy controls, good visibility and so on. No nasty surprises, in other words.
Should have substance to go with style
Choosing a car for only its looks is a bit like choosing a Significant Other only for his or her looks. Of course at heart, choosing a partner (or car) is a highly emotional and subjective process, but it’s usually better to go with someone who enjoys their food heartily rather than posing with it wholeheartedly.
Sure it’s fun, and your friends will be wowed for a while, but eventually two things happen: you grow habituated to good looks (and become bored with them), and then you start to notice underlying flaws that were previously invisible to you.
Don’t be swayed by styling alone, or by fancy features that seem nice to have but are rarely used. Try to focus instead on fundamentally important qualities, like comfort, spaciousness, user-friendliness and so on.
An easy example: a coupe has a low, sweeping roofline for sporty looks, but not much headroom in the back as a result.
It’s not to say that cars (or people) can’t have a combination of both, though. The Toyota RAV4 (above) looks like it stepped out of Tron (presumably with Olivia Wilde in it) yet retains the same qualities that’ve made it a firm favourite among mid-sized SUVs.
Should be compatible
Do you like mountain biking and wrestling alligators? Then don’t go after a partner whose idea of fun is a day at the library.
Likewise, if you have a specific set of needs, you’re much better off matching them with a compatible car. If you require often go on outings with extended family and want something with easy handling, a seven-seater like the Toyota Sienta would serve as a better first car than most.
READ MORE > What we think of the Toyota Sienta
They say opposites attract. Who are “they”, anyway, and have they ever had to pay six figures for a car?
One final tip as you choose your first car: engage a trustworthy matchmaker. At the very best car dealerships, the sales staff are trained not to extract you from your money, but to find the best possible solution to your motoring needs.
That will only ensure that you keep coming back for more, and that your relationship with your first car is memorable for all the right reasons. You should DriveHappy for years, after all, not just during a honeymoon period.