Picking a new car, one of life’s great events surely? Picking a brand, a model, an engine, a colour and all the optional extra’s you want is a bit like the adult equivalent of an 8 year old with a gift voucher for Toy R Us. So you would imagine that someone like myself who writes about cars all day long and advises others what to spend their cash on would find it easy to pick a new car, right? Wrong.

What I’m about to write will, I hope, provide some solitude for the many others who struggle to choose a new car. But mainly by putting my thought processes down in writing I hope I can, rather selfishly, get some clarity over what I actually want to buy. And maybe as a by-product the way I pick a new car might help other helplessly stuck individuals get some new wheels too.

Used car sign

Price, by far is the first thing everyone who doesn’t have a postcode in Chelsea bases their car choice on. For me the budget is 4 to 5 thousand pounds. This part tends to the easiest starting point because once you have a figure in mind the options can be scaled down. My price range clearly puts me slap bang into the middle of the used car market, which is fortunate because that is exactly where I want to be. I’ve always thought used is a better buy than new and besides the only new cars in my price range don’t exactly float my motoring boat, Suzuki Alto, Nissan Pixo, Peugeot 107… no thanks. I’m not saying they are particularly bad cars but they aren’t exactly what I’m looking for. With Autotrader (at the time of writing) offering 127 thousand used cars for 5 grand and under I’m sure I could find something a bit more me.

Now that the price is sorted most people pick a brand, sometimes this is a family honoured tradition other times it’s because you’ve been seduced by an advertising campaign. I mean who wouldn’t want a Fiat 500 after you’ve seen it drive out the water on an Italian beach or a Nissan Juke after its been dragged around a city by a neon red rope? Anyway I digress, I do things differently. I tend to think about the style of car I want before picking a brand and model; it is a bit like working backwards and unfortunately for me makes things very difficult. Let me explain, I would like something sporty, preferably 4WD or RWD with a feeling of well-built solidity that must achieve a realistic 25mpg as it will be a daily driver. To complicate matters further body style doesn’t really bother me with my mind jumping from coupe, convertible, hatch and even estate. So far I haven’t really narrowed down my search.

That bunch of criteria gives me everything from a brace of Audi’s, numerous BMW’s and the odd Subaru and Honda to choose from. So, more rigorous selection needed. And for me this comes down to individuality. It is a hard criteria to define because different people have varying views on what individuality means to them but for me at least my new car has to have a certain spark about it. What this means is your archetypal “common” cars are ruled out. Goodbye Fords, Vauxhalls, Volkswagens and anything French then, also BMW’s are out at this point, they’re everywhere. And while I’m at it out goes anything Japanese, they might be made of quality materials nowadays but I can’t help thinking they are a bit lacking in feeling of solidity department.

Narrowing it down

Narrowing it down

Good, getting my thought process out is helping. Now my list is getting smaller, the next thing to narrow it down is resale value. Values are affected by many things such as brand image, service histories and even colour.  So although colour is very personal, I cannot be too garish. This rules out a fair few things, anything brown or green to start with. Alfa Romeo’s are out too, they might be bursting with personality and many will scream that they are the purist’s choice but they will forever lose money and inevitably break.

By default I feel my search has led me to Germany and as most Mercedes are automatics and the mighty VW and BMW are out. I am left with either Audi or Porsche. Of course the only Porsche’s within budget are rather aged 944’s so they’re out, but a Boxster, they are most definitely in. RWD and a 2.5 litre flat six in the middle sort out the sporty bit and the badge sorts out the individuality. Boxster’s are also renowned for being one the most easy to live with sports cars ever so 25mpg should just be possible and reliability should be good too.

Choice number 1

Choice number 1

Excellent I have one car on the short list. What about Audi? Well their Quattro obsession definitely makes certain cars in their line up viable. But if I want something a little bit more individual a standard Quattro A3 won’t cut the immensely fussy mustard that is my criteria. No I feel the S range must be called upon and again with the budget I have that leaves me with the first generation S3 or S4 to choose from. Both cars offer the performance, 225bhp and 265bhp respectively from their quite different power plants. The S3 using a 1.8 litre 20v turbo the S4 a humongous 2.6 litre twin turbo V6. Both cars offer the quality feel I’m after too and the S4 comes in a quite rare estate form for that extra street sleeper factor. However the S4’s engine might be a tad on the big side for a daily so regrettably I think it’s out. Leaving me with the S3.

Choice number 2

Choice number 2

Fantastic, getting my selfish musing written down has given me a shortlist of two! The Porsche Boxster and the Audi S3, both fit my fussy criteria and both have the makings of a future classic. Presuming somebody bothered to read to the end, I hope it was helpful for someone other than me out there. Now all I need to do is get a drive in both, anyone fancy giving me a go?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/21496790@N06/5065834411/”>milos milosevic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/5896779285/”>Thomas Hawk</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/4495072850/”>Sean MacEntee</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenjonbro/6810271263/”>kenjonbro</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecarspy/2617053115/”>The Car Spy</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>