What drives a new car purchase? - confusedbuyer

Hi all

I was looking through the latest reports of popular cars and what surprised me is how things have changed. Whilst many in July's top 10 (below) are considered good, only 1 or 2 are considered their respective class leaders.

Some such the A-class is almost universally agreed to be "poor" relative to its contemporaries, yet it is outselling them.

Is it really that finance/personal taste are actually bigger drivers of sales than objective competence or is it that most cars now are so close to each other under the skin that journalistic differences are not really perceivable to most and therefore finance/personal taste is really the only difference?

Be interested to hear your thoughts, along with what has happened to Vauxhall? They've all but disappeared from the Top10 and VW has arguably taken their place despite dieselgate, yet Ford cling on!

  • Focus
  • Golf
  • Qashqai
  • Fiesta
  • Polo
  • Sportage
  • C-class
  • Corsa
  • A-class
  • A3
What drives a new car purchase? - SLO76
90% of car buyers don't read the motoring press. They buy on image, styling and price rather than longterm reliability or driver appeal. The Focus dominates because Ford throw money at dealers to discount and they flood leasing fleets with cheap cars to boost volumes but profit margins are tiny compared to lower selling rivals per car. The Corsa is virtually being given away at the moment. I bought a 1.4 SRi with £3,000 off list and a generous trade-in recently for my sister in law.

It's funny you ask this question because I'm currently reading a 1990 copy of Autocar and the car that was the top selling model at the time was the Mk IV Escort which was a terrible thing compared to rivals like the Rover R8, Fiat Tipo and Renault 19 yet it massively outsold them. Again chucking cars away on massive discounts.

I've always found the best seller lists to be largely irrelevant. Cars don't dominate them because they're better, they do so because of, bulk fleet sales, discounting and low rate finance offers etc.

Vauxhall have been in limbo recently with the PSA takeover so marketing of newer models is a bit confused and will remain so until the new owners figure out the direction they wish to travel to bounce the firm back into profit. I suspect they'll be aiming for lower volumes but higher margins and more SUV's which are where the profit is.

Edited by SLO76 on 08/08/2017 at 23:18

What drives a new car purchase? - RT

Buyers of new cars have a multitude of reasons that they prioritize - objective competence by groups of self-appointed experts doesn't mirror the measures of objective competence from buyers spending their own money.

At various points in my long history of car buying, I've looked at "class leaders" but never bought one.

What drives a new car purchase? - expat

The road tests in magazines tell you what it is like to drive and whether the tester likes the interior. They don't tell you about the cost of spares, whether you have to dissassemble the entire front of the car to change a headlight bulb, or whether it is likely to be reliable. There is very little mention of resale value. This is where this site is extremely good. It is nice to have a car which is fun to drive but not if it is unreliable and has low resale value. Road testers enthuse about Alfas but I won't be getting one.

Buyers often purchase on image and looks. An expensive hobby.

What drives a new car purchase? - oldroverboy.

Buyers often purchase on image and looks. An expensive hobby.

I (personally) think that most new/ nearly new car sales are influenced by 2 combinations..

Discounts/fleets and then

The proliferation of PCP's or such where the sale is not really a sale, but a protracted rental of some sort.. Sooner or later all these cars will come back onto the used car market and some will make nice pickings for discerning buyers, but some, such as those who have unfashionable models (make your own lists) will be poor value..

With a friend in a garage to collect him the other day and heard the gasp of dismay when a lady with an MG GS was offered silly low money for her car as a PX against a Hyundai. And I also think that we should not have been able to hear the conversation!

Edited by oldroverboy. on 09/08/2017 at 12:35

What drives a new car purchase? - davecooper

I think magazine reviews are ok up to a point but there is a lot of bias in many of these reviews and a lot of subjectivity. Star ratings or numerical scores can be misleading as well. A car may be marked down for things like luggage space, rear passenger space, rear visibilty, resale value etc when those things may not be important to some people. Hence a car with a 3 star rating looks like a dud compared with one with 5 stars when in reality, it is every bit as good to drive. Thankfully, there are many people out there that buy with their hearts and not their brains and are willing to take a punt on something a bit different.

What drives a new car purchase? - RickyBoy

Although I do obviously read them I don't pay so much attention to magazine/newspaper reveiws verbatim, but prefer to listen to somebody who already drives the motor that I'm interested in. That's how I decided upon my current one after a visit to a pal who owned one and a one-hour test-drive.

The Octavia's before that (SLX initially then vRS) were being raved about by the press back in the mid-90s/early 2000s so perhaps there was some slight influence from those sources, but I enjoyed the SLX so much that the vRS was a natural progression. The SLX was a demonstrator – the vRS new. Got a combined 19-years out of them both so clearly not regular turnover artist!

Current purchase was new but with almost 15% hard-haggled discount...

...I'll be 67 early next year so at that point will quite possibly make my final 'prestige' purchase(?) then call it a day (i.e. have no further interest in motors as a thing of beauty) by 70 and let the train take the strain! Inspitational(?) car-upgrading is a young person's thing nowadays...

...Did London on the 'Virgin Flyer' for £10.45 return (I can get to Brum for £5.30 & Manchester for £16.00) yesterday, including 4 FREE bus rides (2 in MK, 2 in the city) and walked for 10-miles. Mind you, the bus to Victoria took over 45-mins because of heavy traffic – stressful or what :–)

Hope to keep taking advantage of all of that for as long as I can/the perks exist!

Happy motoring all...

What drives a new car purchase? - Avant

"Hence a car with a 3 star rating looks like a dud compared with one with 5 stars when in reality, it is every bit as good to drive."

Very true. Most Toyotas are given 2 or 3 stars by the motoring press, but very few people who buy them regret their purchase. My elder daughter had four 1.3 Yarises in a row and they were far better to drive than the road testers imply. She moved to a Hyundai i10, and is now on her second, as they are almost as good to drive and a lot cheaper.

i10s also seem to hold their value better than the What Car tables would have us believe. Admittedly against another new i10, the first one was worth enough to make the PCP monthly payments the same for the new one.

What drives a new car purchase? - RickyBoy

She moved to a Hyundai i10...

Absolutely love mine (1.2 petrol). Use it all the time throughout the week and occasionally at w/ends.

Bought for Mrs RB in Dec '14 to replace a 10-year old 1.2 petrol Polo – which I was expecting to die any day back then. Thing is, it hasn't, so she's kept on using that whilst I 'enjoy' the Hyundai :–)

So, the 'prestige' motor hardly gets a look in during Mon-Fri but will be going to Gatwick & back on Saturday – full of kid's suitcases! That's surely why we all need a couple of motors?

What drives a new car purchase? - Manatee

There isn't anything on that top 10 list that I feel drawn to.

I'm happy to make my own decisions on cars; I do read reviews in case they highlight problems but I don't need them to validate my choice - the fact that Whatcar gave my most recent purchase 2 stars out of 5 doesn't signify, because none of the reasons they give is really that relevant to me or what I use it for.

What drives a new car purchase? - Engineer Andy

There isn't anything on that top 10 list that I feel drawn to.

I'm happy to make my own decisions on cars; I do read reviews in case they highlight problems but I don't need them to validate my choice - the fact that Whatcar gave my most recent purchase 2 stars out of 5 doesn't signify, because none of the reasons they give is really that relevant to me or what I use it for.

I might go for a VW Golf GT or equivalent Audi A3 (both in 3dr 1.4TSi [now 1.5] 150 form) if they weather the 'Dieselgate' storm and improve on the engineering quality of their other components (that engine is fine, even if it is belt-driven [better than their previous unreliable chaim cam one]) and (to me) highly variable customer service quality. The same would apply to the SEAT Leon SC equiablent (not in the top 10, but essentially nigh on the same car for a lot less money).

I mostly disregard the car maganzines nowadays - they're all trying to out-do eachother in being 'Top Gear' in their reviews, paying little attention to the long term viability (including value for money) of the cars, comfort (especially over the longer term) and post-sales customer care/service and costs and concentrating too much on looks and handling/performance. Many cars are test driven for a short time, even the longer term tests are on brand new cars over a few weeks or months - what happens after a 2-3 years when the suspension's really firmed up and the tyres aren't brand spanking new, and not driven (as many new car tests are) on lovely roads in Spain or suchlike but on pothole-riven UK roads in the rain?

I now wait until a car has at least been out in its latest guise (without major changes) for 2 - 3 years, and then I try and read reviews of people who've bought them at that age second hand. If they're still good, then great, if not (especially ride and reliability), then its a 'no'. I've found that all too many cars, especially European ones, have come to market alongside a load of hype that in the longer term doesn't amount to much.

What drives a new car purchase? - TheGentlemanThug

Whoever coined the phrase "... amount of people can't be wrong" was clearly wrong themselves. Being popular isn't the same as being good.

What drives a new car purchase? - carl233

Not sure about new cars but one day in the future I will replace my 1997 MK2 Mondeo LX with 232k on the clock. I am under pressure from the other half to 'up my game' so may go mad and aquire a high spec Ghia version next time, or if funds permit even possibly a Ghia X car. Will also for sure go newer, 1998-2001 cars seem cheap on the used market.

What drives a new car purchase? - Avant

"Will also for sure go newer, 1998-2001 cars seem cheap on the used market."

Surely buying a 16-19-year-old Mondeo is more of a gamble than keeping the 20-year-old one you've got and know. Best to keep it until it needs an uneconomical repair, meanwhile saving up for something appreciably newer.

What drives a new car purchase? - Cluedo
The UK public buy mainly on image which is why the Germans and LR do very well. In the USA where reliability, durability and service is more important then the Japanese brands are king.
Also the reviews (even on here dare is say it) are very misleading.
You see many cars such as those from the LR family that have very good reviews such as the current Disco review but in a few months time there will be a massive list of reliability problems associated with the car. I do realise though that reliability cannot be determined in a simple test.
What drives a new car purchase? - veloceman
I guess that's why Fiesta, Focus, Astra and Corsa are usually in the top 10!!
What drives a new car purchase? - Big John

For me - what drives a new car purchase - DO I FIT comfortably!

I'm 6ft 4" and like a laid back driving position, this can turn many a family sized car into a two seater. I also struggle with over bolstered seats.

After that I look at other things:-

Refinement, compliant suspension, "adequate" performance, passenger & luggage space, price, running costs due to long commute(inc ongoing cost of tyres), reliability (I seem to be alone on this forum in finding Skoda's reliabe)

I never buy a new model of any car!

Edited by Big John on 09/08/2017 at 22:34

What drives a new car purchase? - davecooper

The Disco is a good example. Which magazines latest car guide gives the Disco Sport a score of 41% and a "Do not buy" rating for reliabilty and refinement! This shows how the same car can be at different ends of the spectrum depending on the tester and type of test.

What drives a new car purchase? - Terry W

Careful objective assessment is a small part of any new car purchase. Any rational analysis would anyway show a new car as pretty poor value when measured against the same model at a year old and 12k miles. The only real exception to this generalisation is when buying a car to keep for 7-10 years where the extra initial cost can be spread over a long period.

Main constraint is cost - but many will extend this with PCP and other fixes. Man maths really - they have simply found a way to spend more than they need or can afford.

Brand image is all - and advertising supports this. The BMW driver is never a builder or farmer. Families drive cross over vehicles - often doing sporty things in the countryside. Small cars are driven by young attractive energetic people not grandad!

Some go for performance vastly in excess of anything necessary, and often entirely beyond the ability of the average punter to control ieven on a track.

Some create largely illusory needs - 4WD for the school run where one might need to mount a kerb, I must have a car with a particular set of gizmos (heated seats, parking sensors, folding mirrors etc etc), it must have a 7sp autobox, etc. These people are happy to pay £'000s for the pleasure.

Pensioners are probably the most rational group as incomes are to some extent limited. So they will select a new car because it is reliable, ease of entry, adequate speed,power, acceleration for their actual needs etc.


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