Test driving a carThe test drive is crucial in helping you decide whether to buy a new car, but it’s an expected part of the buying process so shouldn’t be nerve-wracking. Find out how to take the perfect test drive.

Test driving a new car

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to test drive the actual new car you’re buying because dealers will usually have to order it, but you should be able to drive a similar version.

The beauty of test driving a new car is you can concentrate on the things that make car ownership enjoyable, like its comfort, visibility and positions of the controls. New cars should be free from mechanical faults, so there’s no need to bring a mechanically-minded friend.

At the dealer

• Ask the dealer to arrange a drive in a car that’s as close as possible to the one you’re looking to buy; sometimes you may need to drive several cars to sample the bodystyle, engine and gearbox you want separately
• A test drive needn’t be five minutes round the block – ask to borrow a car for an evening or a weekend so you can get familiar with it, without the pressure of a salesman in the passenger seat

On the road

• Make sure you can get comfortable behind the wheel by adjusting the seats and steering wheel
• Try the car on a variety of roads to see how it performs, looking for how quiet, comfortable or well it grips the road
• Make sure you’re happy with the visibility and make sure you feel confident to drive it around town and park – particularly when testing larger cars
• Check if there’s enough interior space, and that the boot is large enough – if you’re unsure, load up the car to see how it copes
• Use all the major controls to see how easy they are to operate
• If more than one driver will use the car, make sure they all test it to make sure they’re all happy