Car Edit: Upgrading after your 1st Car

So you’ve finished education after nearly 20 years of your life and you feel like treating yourself to a new or (in my case) newer car. Something with a bit more – let’s say – joie de vive.

As a self-confessed petrolhead, there are umpteen things to consider and choices to make over some of the most pernickety things imaginable; like what colour leather goes best with this paintwork? What image does this car make of me? Do I suit a white car? These are some of the agonising questions I am asking myself on a daily basis, on my journey to finding my next car. Admittedly, a first-world problem and a nice one to have.

Let’s be honest, university is a bubble. For some, stepping into the real world can be a daunting one and cause all sorts of anxiety. The last thing you need is people judging you over your car and what it says about you. Some people won’t care, and that’s great. But for me, a stylish but understated car is what I’m looking for. A car that won’t draw attention to itself in the town, at work or parked up, but one which I will have great pleasure owning, which can be shared with my friends and family.

I love sports and performance cars and I am lucky enough to have one in the garage. The enjoyment they give you is more than just the thrill of the speed, but the emotional and physical connection you have with them. The sensations that pass through your fingers from the road surface, and the way the whole car reacts to your inputs and communicates this back through your abdomen is what makes them special. However, I am not yet in position where I can run two sports cars, so I have been narrowing down my options for some time.

The first thing to do is work out a realistic budget and work backwards from there. There’s no point making yourself bankrupt just to drive the newest Audi – you’ll look a right wally there. Once I had agreed my numbers, I broke down the running costs of each car and – as it won’t be brand new – the cost to service and maintain. The key to buying a used car is doing the research and working out how much it costs to run and live with every day, all year. All cars depreciate, some more than others, and what is now a £20,000 car is still a £45,000 to run.

Here are the Top Five cars I narrowed down to:

1) MINI Cooper John Cooper S Works

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2) Audi TT MK 2 (TFSI/TDI/S)

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3) VW Golf MK 7 GTI

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4) BMW F30 3 Series

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5) BMW F32 4 Series

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The MINI is a great little car: sounds great; looks good; goes well, and is a hoot to throw about when the mood fancies you. But there are some drawbacks. It has tiny back seats for a start and self-consciously, I couldn’t bring myself to arrive at the office looking like Noddy. I’m a tall guy after all.

I have always lusted after an Audi TT and now would be the time to own one, when I do not need space in the back (rendering my excuse for the MINI useless), but a well-loved TTS in the right colour with low mileage is hard to find. I also find the models lower down the range a bit boring and slightly dated inside by the dashboard and centre console materials – they’re leather-clad in the TTS. Another non-problem but one which I am passionate about, especially since I will own this car for another five or six years.

Golf GTI’s have always been the hot hatchback you would buy with your own money, answering every question you can throw at it. I find myself with the perfect excuse, then. And I was almost committed to shortlisting this car, until I saw how much mileage I could get out of the BMW 3 and 4 Series, while still retaining value. This will come in handy in the future for trade-in against a brand-new car.

So it’s decided. My next car will be a BMW 3 or 4 Series, depending on the test drive. As for specification, it must have the M sport pack and is black, white or grey with black, cream or red leather.

Here is me at 21, this BMW was inherited to me from my dad, between my first and second car, so it became my third car!

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Thomas Brown – Car Editor.

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