Car shopping can be quite a daunting experience. Unlike most markets, I find the process and pace of the roads leads all the way back to the purchase point.
Coming from South Africa, shopping for a car is quite an adventure – complete with the cat and mouse of sales people chasing you down and sweetening the deal along the way.
But fancy cars and the luxury wheels find more common place in Dubai, so it feels like the cat becomes the mouse to some extent as the buyer chases after their favorite ride.
As a woman with an active lifestyle, owner of a PR and events company and more recently the mum of a young child, not only do I spend a lot of time in my car, but expect a lot from it. While the numbers that are rolled off on many car focused websites and publications are interesting, for someone in my position I choose a car based on how well it suits my lifestyle. Horsepower, output and engine size are more of a ‘blue’ interest (for the boys), but I want to know how much can I put in, how much will my fuel cost me and of course does it suit my style and lifestyle.
Here’s my top tips for choosing your next car
It’s very easy in a city like Dubai to fall into the trap of living outside your means. Keep in mind that while the flashing lights and designer labels are always nice to have, the banks do come knocking – and loudly – when you don’t meet your expenses. With everything, not just cars, buy what suits your budget, and comfortably. Be practical and plan well (the average repayment plan is 3 – 5 years), consider your insurance and maintenance and ultimately keep in mind that cars are never investments! Dealers often do special offers and support plans too, so plan when you buy your car and look out for the sales – DSF, Ramadan, Eid etc
2. Fuel Efficiency
This is something we probably have less to complain about in the Middle East, but is always a factor. I do a lot of driving – I live out in Arabian Ranches and travel to and from clients, events, doing deliveries, exploring the surrounding Emirates and more. I love knowing that when I fill up, I’m getting a good amount of kilomteres out of the tank. The car I currently have gives me almost 900km on a full tank – which also means less time queueing at the petrol station!
3. Space / Requirement
This is a HUGE factor for me. My husband jokes that I carry my home in my car and he’s probably not far off from the truth. Working in PR and events as a small company, means that I am sometimes the driver, events manager, photographer, stylist and so much more. I always have lights, boxes, equipment or printing being carted from one place to the next. To add to that, I attend a lot of events with little time to get home for outfit changes so I often leave home in the morning for a full day – activewear, work wear, evening wear all loaded in.
Babies add a completely different dynamic to travel and vehicle choice too with all the things they need to get around. A rear facing seat takes up space in the back as well as the front as it pushes the passenger seat quite a bit forward; with strollers and the baby bag loaded into the boot too.
I’m sure everyone thinks about safety when looking at cars, but with a baby this becomes so much more important. It’s also not just the collision protection fittings that matter, but also those features that make getting around our busy and varied city safe and practical (with the cosmopolitan mix of drivers) – like front and rear sensors, park assist system, virtual cockpit that warns you to put your car into P (park) or that your phone’s battery or fuel is running too low.
5. Aesthetic / Comfort
We all want to drive a car that is not only comfortable but looks good and that is something definitely worth considering. If you spend a lot of time in your vehicle it needs to offer you the comforts that matter. Particularly if you’re spending a little bit extra on a car, why not go for the spoils! For me that’s the cup warmer that I have, the wireless charging, the lighting effects on the doors, the sunroof… the small touches that make me happier on my drives.
I’ve been a loyal Audi driver for a few years now and love the car I’m in. This year the brand launched the newer, and much improved Q5 special limited edition which takes everything that matters to me and put it into one car. The space is my favorite part, and having my coffee kept warm through endless phone calls and nursery rhyme singing is a pretty attractive feature too!