What Car Should I Buy? - A Guide (2020)

Buying a car can be a lengthy process with days spent on researching, evaluating options and visiting dealerships and private sellers for test drives. This guide will condense essential information and outline what to watch out for and help you pick the right car for you based on factors, such as lifestyle and personal requirements. 

Cars based on lifestyle

First thing’s first – what do you need in a car? Perhaps you enjoy powerful engines of sports cars’, or maybe you’re looking into modest hatchbacks? Read on to find out more about vehicles based on lifestyle.

New Driver

If you’ve recently started driving, it’s best to pick small and economical city cars, such as Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa. Insurance costs are lower on these types of vehicles. Typically, there’s less engine power which makes them cheaper to insure. Additionally, this type of car is easier to control and park.


Spacious SUVs and hatchbacks are best suited for families that require more space and extensive safety features. Watch out for things like ISOFIX child seats, autonomous emergency braking, front and side airbags, brake assist and others. Also, check Euro NCAP safety rating to see how secure the car is. Check out cars well-known for space, such as Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage


Is the environment your priority when choosing a car? Then consider all-electric and hybrid models. Look out for low-emission cars that don’t require long charging times (which is what makes them efficient). If you’re concerned about the range of electric vehicles, a hybrid is always an option. It is eco-friendlier than petrol and diesel vehicles. Here are some of the best electric cars – Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq.

Bargain Hunter

If you’re after affordable cars under £150 a month, it’s best to look into used vehicles. Check out cars like Citroen C1, Suzuki Alto and SEAT Mii for low-cost options. There are other options you can look into, such as nearly new and dealer ex-demonstrator cars that are low mileage and inexpensive. Dealerships also often have June and December sales where you can grab an excellent deal. 

Thrill Seeker

Are you the type of person who thinks that driving is all about the excitement and fun? Enter powerful sports cars that are a pleasure to drive and have peppy engines. Style and shape also play a large role when buying such a vehicle. Consider whether you’d like a convertible or a coupe as these are the most shapes in the sports car segment. Cars like BMW i8, Porsche 911 Convertible and Jaguar F-Type all fit style and speed criteria. 

Car features

When looking for a new car, at a minimum, you should create a list of features that are must-have for the potential vehicle. Buying a car that’s already well-equipped and at a right trim level is more cost-effective than purchasing everything separately.

If you need additional ideas about what to look out for, here are the most desirable car features in the UK according to Motoring Research:

  • Air conditioning

    It was the top most-wanted feature in cars and for a good reason. In summer, when the heat is circulating the cabin, an air conditioner is there to save the day. During wintertime, you can heat the inside of the car so you can drive more safely.

  • Parking sensors

    Parking sensors help you avoid blind spots and collision by creating a beeping sound when the car is reversing and close to another object. Parking is a breeze with this tech, and sometimes it’s possible to get the one with cameras that are built in the display for increased visibility. 

  • Electric windows

    The time when you had to manually roll down the windows is over, so no wonder it’s one of the most-wanted features. Electric windows are convenient, quick, and in 2020, it’s a necessity. 

  • Sat-navigation

    Having sat-nav can save you a lot of stress and time too, especially when travelling in new and unknown locations. Nowadays, there are plenty of cars with in-built sat-navigation, even in the used car market. 

  • Sizeable boot

    An increasing number of British motorists reported that having a larger boot is a priority when looking for a car. It has also marked increased popularity of SUVs as they typically have more space than hatchbacks and the like. 

Additional extras to watch out for

Heated windscreen

Driving with a foggy windscreen that impedes visibility is illegal. Heated windscreen function takes care of the hassle of having to clear up the windscreen with other, less convenient methods. 


With Bluetooth, you can play your favourite songs and take calls remotely without having to touch your phone. No wonder it’s the second most-wanted feature. You can also buy affordable tech that is easily attachable. 

Autonomous Emergency Braking

AEB for short, it breaks the car autonomously when it senses an incoming collision via sensors. It is an important safety feature that can save lives and is regarded as the second most vital safety invention since seatbelts.

How much can you spend on a car? 

Ask yourself whether you’d rather pay monthly through finance or cash. Then, calculate approximate running costs for your potential cars. Don’t forget to also consider monthly income. Additionally, would you like to own a car at the end of the deal or switch it up every few years? Having answers to these essential questions will save you a lot of headaches, whether buying privately or through a dealership.

If paying with finance

One distinct advantage car finance has over cash is that you can manage the cash flow better and pay in increments rather than outright. If you have money saved up, it can instead be used for other car expenses, such as unexpected repairs and insurance. By paying monthly, you can also get a better spec and newer car that costs more. And finally, covering part of the deposit for a new vehicle is easy as you have an option to part-exchange current car. 

If paying with cash

Cash is excellent if you don’t want to pay any interest and other fees associated with monthly car finance. You will own the car right away when paying with cash and can sell it right away. If you’re set on purchasing a vehicle, then consider paying £100 through a credit card. This way, you’re protected by the Consumer Credit Act which distributes responsibility between credit provider and dealership if there are any problems with the car. 

At Stoneacre, we have a two-out-of-three acceptance rate for car finance. We provide finance for various circumstances, check out the different type of options available to you.

Fuel economy

It’s important to consider fuel economy and fuel types, in general, that suit your driving style and behaviour. Fuel efficiency is calculated through miles per gallon (MPG). Which? research has found that diesel cars have the best MPG when comparing it with petrol and petrol-hybrid cars. 

Road tax

Based on the type of car you choose; road tax will also vary. Electric automobiles under £40,000 will pay none, while diesel, petrol and hybrids tax is based on CO2 emissions for cars registered after 2017. Those registered before 2017 and produce less than 100g/km are exempt from tax all-together. So if you’ve purchased the car after 2017, but the first owner was registered before, it means that you’ll continue paying the same reduced rate. 

Fuel types

  • Diesel

    Out of all fuel types, diesel is the most expensive. However, if you cover many motorway miles, it might be the best choice in terms of efficiency and cost. If you’re only driving about town and making short trips though, consider switching to petrol or electric fuel cars. 

  • Petrol

    It is cheaper than diesel, so if you’re trying to cut fuel costs down petrol may be the way to go for you financially. However, petrol omits more CO2, so if you care about the environment, it isn’t the best choice. Additionally, its MPG is lower than diesel, so it’s less fuel-efficient. 

  • Electric

    Even though electric cars are eco-friendlier and cheaper to run than the two types above, they also need to be held accountable for fuel-efficiency.

    The figures are much more complicated than diesel and petrol and are calculated by kWh/distance or range. When checking for economy costs, look out for the lower number. This means it doesn’t need to use as much electricity and is, therefore, considered more efficient. Typically, smaller cars have better efficiency than larger ones like Tesla. 


Picking the colour of the car seems like an insignificant decision to make, but in fact, it can affect your vehicle’s resale value.

You can’t go wrong by picking classic colours, such as black, blue, white and grey. If possible, it’s best to choose these popular colours as they’re always in-demand and will increase the value in the second-hand market.

Meanwhile, brighter colours like yellow, purple, green and the like aren’t as sought after. So if you’d eventually want to sell your car, keep this in mind.

However, there is an exception to the rule. Sports cars and smaller, quirky hatchbacks can pull off brighter colours due to their shape. 

Boot space

For many, car space capacity shapes the decision of whether to buy it or not. If boot size is a vital aspect in your car shopping journey too, here are a few things to look out for: 

What’s the shape of the car boot? With square-shaped boot, you can fit more, so if you’re regularly carrying large loads, make sure it’s this versatile shape.

Check that it’s easy to add things in the loading area and there aren’t any weird lines or bumps. Lifting heavy loads instead of sliding them across in the boot can quickly become a major inconvenience. 

Typically, larger cars have larger boots too, with the opposite applying to small vehicles. 


In Britain, most of the cars on the road are manual, but automatic popularity is rising along with electric and hybrid vehicles, which don’t have a manual option. Google Trends has shown, that far more people search for automatic cars than manual during the year. Let’s dive right into the differences between each and which one is right for you. 

Automatic Transmission

An automatic transmission is more straightforward as there are only two pedals instead of three – acceleration and brake pad. It’s also excellent for people that have problems with mobility since with automatic you don’t need to constantly hold a clutch pedal.

There are four straightforward options on the gearbox – P (Parking), R (Reverse), N (Neutral) and D (Drive).

The downside is that manual gearboxes cost more to repair, replace and may face higher insurance premiums. Additionally, if you have an automatic driver’s license, you’re only restricted to driving automatic cars without the possibility to cruise around in a manual. 


It is a hybrid between automatic and manual transmissions. Semi-automatic has the same gearbox functions as automatic ones, except for the added letter M (Manual). With dual-clutch transmission, you can change the gears just like in a manual car. It controls both the even and the odd number of gears.

A semi-automatic car is still classed as an automatic because there’s no clutch pedal. So if you have an automatic car license, then driving a semi-automatic car is permitted. 


Cars with manual transmission are most widely sold in the UK and preferred when learning how to drive. Once you obtain a manual license, the world is your oyster as you can choose whether to drive automatic and semi-automatic cars too.

Typically, it has six gears and an option to reverse, which gives a better vehicle control when compared to automatic counterparts. The thing is – you’ll need to put in the work since it requires more skill to drive a manual car.

Manual cars also tend to be cheaper and have a wider range, so if you’re looking for a vehicle on a budget, it’s best to stick with this option.

A word about mileage 

When looking for a car, you must check for mileage. It isn’t a concern with new cars, but used vehicles require a closer look. When checking mileage, pay attention to the car’s age, that way you can calculate mileage over time.

One thing to be aware of in the used car marketplace, especially when buying privately, is clocking. It is a practice where car odometer is tampered with to make it look like there are fewer miles. When you’re checking a car, look at the overall condition and evaluate it against the miles advertised. If you see excessive wear and tear for low mileage, be extremely cautious. 

Also, don't be shy and ask about mileage, as it affects the car’s overall health. There is a big difference between motorway and city driving. As a rule of thumb, it's better if a car has earned its miles through motorway rather than city conditions.

Motorway driving is more monotonous and therefore, includes less wear and tear on brakes and other key components. Driving in a city or town includes more manoeuvres and shorter journeys which are especially tough on diesel cars. 

Hopefully, this guide has been useful and will help in the journey of finding the right car for your needs. Taking all the things into consideration, such as car features, finance, fuel, road tax, colours, transmission type, your lifestyle and mileage, you’ll get a bigger picture of the vehicle that’s the most suitable. Good luck in your search!