How to choose your second car – our recommendations and things to consider

Buying your second car is an exciting event and a very important decision that can impact your world, either for the better or the worse. If you’re like most drivers, your second car will probably be more powerful, faster, more expensive and potentially newer than your first car. That being said, there is no one-size-fits-all for second cars as different people are after different things, be it speed, luxury, comfort, economy, style and so on. Whatever you’re looking for, we’re here to help guide you in the right direction because we know better than most that there’s nothing worse than making a car purchase you regret!

Firstly, consider what you want

Your second car is exciting for many reasons, one of which is that you have a lot more freedom in picking. Whether you passed when you were 17 or 30, there’s a strong chance that your first car was some sort of underpowered, plastic-clad hatchback. Now that you have graduated from the undoubtedly scuff-and-bump-laden learner car, you are free to choose something a bit more special.

Insurance is the main problem here as limited driving experience will often equate to rather inflated insurance quotes. That being said, a few years of no claims and a couple of older, experienced drivers on your policy can go a long way in bringing the price down. If you’re after insurance that comes with award-winning service, give our friends over at Performance Direct a try!

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Saloons, coupes, SUVs, crossovers, roadsters, convertibles, hot hatches, pickup trucks, estates, electric cars – there’s a wide range of car types to choose from and each offers a slightly different experience. There is also a great number of brilliant car manufacturers out there, each with a different story and reputation. German automakers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes are known for their build quality, if you’re looking for reliability they say Honda, Toyota and Kia are pretty good cars to bet on and so on.

Used car bargains

If you prefer money in your wallet rather than out of it, you will probably want to opt for a used car. There are many used bargains out there if you’re ok with your car not having the very latest in infotainment technology, or fitted with the latest quad-camera parking aid equipment.

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Thanks to our old frenemy depreciation, we can now enjoy cars that once sold for over £30,000 for 25% of the original price. Sure, it may have a few thousand miles on it and the wheels may be scuffed up, but with a mechanic’s inspection and a wheel refurb, the car will be as good as new! The more expensive the car originally was, the more you’ll save! For example, you can find mint-condition, 10-year-old Mercedes S Class’s for under £14,000 – these cars were originally sold for over £70,000!

However, if you’re aiming to save money and make a wise, educated purchase you’re going to need to dedicate some of your time and a bit of your money as well before you buy. It could take months before the right car pops up for sale – with the right mileage, age, spec, colour, history etc. Furthermore, researching reviews, common problems and which spec you would be happy with all take time and patience. And don’t forget to exercise due diligence by looking up the car’s MOT history and getting an inspection with your local mechanic or a company like the AA or RAC.

Some recommendations for best second cars

Honda S2000 – Sporty, reliable roadster that’ll hold its value

Honda S2000 (3)

If you want a convertible two-seater with rising demand, the S2000 is the one for you. They’re well known for good reliability, being a great deal of fun to drive and also for holding their value very well. You may even find that they’re due to start appreciating in price, so you could be lucky enough to sell for a profit a few years down the line!

Ford Fiesta ST-Line – Sporty, modern, techy hatchback

Ford Fiesta ST-Line (4)

If you’re looking for style, performance, tech and value, look no further. You can find these used for under £9,000 and only a few years old, or spec one out and order it new for around £19,000. For added performance, add a remap onto one of these and turn it into a real pocket rocket!

BMW 3 Series E90/E92 – Luxury saloon/coupe that’s reasonable on insurance

BMW 3 Series E90 - E92 (5)

For around the same price as the used Fiestas just mentioned, you could own a BMW 3 Series. Although they’re around 10 years old now, they still make for incredible-looking cars, on the inside and out. Unlike newer luxury saloons, a 10-year-old 320d E90 won’t cost you as much as you think it would when it comes to insurance. 

Skoda Octavia – Good value, well-spec’d, practical saloon/estate

Skoda Octavia (6)

The nice people over at Skoda are doing a lot to improve their reputation and it really shows in their cars. The Octavia can be very well equipped in the right spec and the interior is spacious and stylish. They’re incredibly economical and a 2013 model can be bought for as little as £6,000. For the price, the Octavia goes above and beyond. For added practicality, look at the Octavia estate and for a sportier setup, look at the Octavia VRS range.

Unusual choices make for cheap insurance

Unusual choices make for cheap insurance (7)

Part of what makes up insurance prices is the statistics on how many claims occur with that particular car. This is why choosing a car that isn’t popularly driven by young drivers can often be a good thing.

If insurance prices are a problem, try getting a quote for a Volvo V40 instead of a Fiesta ST, or a Seat Toledo rather than an Audi A3. Older cars are usually cheaper to insure as well so if you have a particular model in mind, try to buy the oldest one that you can.

Making the right choice

If your second car is going to be vastly different from your first car, it’s even more important that you research it as much as you can. Watch in-depth videos of it on YouTube, learn about all the quirks and features you can! It’s no fun buying a car and only realising afterwards that it doesn’t have BlueTooth connectivity, or that there’s no way to turn off the start-stop engine function.

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Of course, the best way to learn everything you need to about a car you have your eyes on is to visit a dealership and ask the friendly, often pushy, salespeople for a test drive. Feel the fabrics and surfaces, understand the infotainment system, ask about the fuel consumption and the tax group. As long as you take your time, ask all the questions on your mind and make an informed purchase, there’s a good chance you’ll make the right choice and enjoy your second car for all the time you have it.

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