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Tips for making the most of a test drive

Whether you’re test driving a new model before placing an order or checking out the actual vehicle you are considering purchasing, this is a great opportunity to get a feel for what you will experience if you buy and finding out how suitable the car will be for your specific needs.

If you’re buying a brand new vehicle, a pre-reg or an approved used car from a licensed retailer, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll come across any technical faults or mechanical problems with your potential purchase. This is because these cars are extensively checked and tested before being cleared for sale. Buying from a used car dealership or a private seller can come with a higher level of risk of this type of issue, but either way, a test drive is an important step before you commit to buy.

Inside space

Reading the specs and dimensions data is one thing, but seeing the internal space of your potential new car in person is a whole different matter. Whether it’s checking if your golf gear fits in the boot, seeing if there are handy places to stow your gadgets or sizing up the leg room when sitting in the back, the only way you can really see if a car meets your practical needs is to view these things in the flesh, so these are important factors to check before you get behind the wheel during your test drive.

Driving comfort

Once you do get into the driver’s seat, it’s important to check all of the adjustments available so you can get into a driving position that is comfortable in the long term. Does the steering wheel and column move in all the ways you want? Can you adjust the seat height easily, as well as the distance from the pedals and all of the other small changes you need to make it a comfortable place to be? Check the back seat behind the driver once you have the driver’s seat positioned just right – does this still leave enough space?

Controls and ease of operation

When you’re driving and want to quickly adjust one of the controls, such as the in-car temperature or the audio system, ease of use is really important for safety and convenience. Check that you’re able to do so easily without being distracted. Many cars enable some or all of the major controls to be changed using a variety of paddles and buttons on or near the steering wheel; some also allow voice control, which can be really useful.

Drive on different modes and road surfaces where possible

Whether your potential new car is going to be used mainly for motorway drives or off-road, using the roads in the immediate surroundings of where you’re buying it might not quite replicate that. It’s not going to be possible for most test drives to take in a mountain trail off road or a quick dash on the motorway, so use whatever you can in the vicinity to try different drive modes on the vehicle and try to take it through a few different types of roads when you can. This might be simply taking on a few speed bumps on a local residential street or navigating a few different types of roundabout to see what the handling feels like and judge the level of road noise you can hear.

Ideally, you should always use the car in each gear (including reverse) during your test drive too.

The practical touches that make all the difference

Whilst it is unlikely that the placement of a cup holder is going to make or break your next car buying decision, little practicalities do actually make a big difference to how a specific car works for your needs and how enjoyable it is to drive in the long term. If there will be kids in the back, does it have the right storage and features to keep them entertained, safe and happy whilst travelling? Does the car offer a handy place for your phone and other belongings you regularly take with you? Is there room for water bottles or snacks for longer journeys? How easy is the infotainment system or touchscreen to use? How are the wing mirrors and all-round visibility? Can things be easily adjusted if not to your liking?

These are just a few of the ways that can help you judge whether it’s the right car for you on your next test drive.

If you would like a test drive, contact your closest Hatfields retailer to book a COVID-safe appointment.