73 plate countdown: 12 new car buying tips

New car buying tips - The Motor Ombudsman

With the imminent arrival of the new 73 registration” plate on September 1, The Motor Ombudsman is offering consumers a series of handy tips when buying a new car

The 12 key points include the importance of doing research, budgeting for longer term affordability, and reading documentation carefully prior to purchase:

Shop around and take a test drive
Spending time doing your research online and visiting showrooms can pay off, as the choice of models and fuel types available from manufacturers, which each offer their own merits and driving experiences, has grown in recent years. Once you have a shortlist of cars that are suitable for your requirements and budget, take a test drive to get practical experience of what they will be like to use on a day-to-day basis.

Emissions influence payable road tax
A car’s CO2 emissions determine the rate of vehicle excise duty (road tax) that you will need to pay during ownership of the vehicle, and this often rises every year. Electric vehicles are exempt until April 2025, but self-charging and plug-in hybrids are not, although these will be at the lower end of the scale in terms of tax due. There are plenty of online resources and the manufacturer’s vehicle specification itself to check what band your preferred car will be subject to.

Virtual vehicle purchases are classed as “distance sales”
Buying a new car online from start to finish over the phone or the web without physically visiting retail premises at any point during the purchase of a car is classed as a “distance sale”. The legislation that governs this type of transaction is the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which offers other rights to those found in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. For example, when buying a vehicle on the internet, you have two weeks to return the car from the date of delivery if you change your mind, but it is important to bear in mind that there may be deductions for any usage during the first days of ownership.

Electric vehicles offer buyers more choice than ever
The majority of manufacturers offer fully electric vehicles as part of their model line-up. Plus with new brands coming to the UK, the choice of EVs at different price points is far more extensive than it was only a few years ago. EVs do tend to be more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents, so shop around, speak to current owners about their experiences, read reviews, and try them out for yourself before buying, especially if you are looking to adopt battery-powered motoring for the first time.

Never buy a car without doing your homework
Spend time doing your research to find the vehicle that is right for you in terms of practicality and comfort. As well as reading reviews, and the plethora of information available online, use test drives to get first-hand experience of whether equipment, such as child car seats, pushchairs, bicycles, and golf clubs, all fit within your shortlisted vehicles, alongside the expected number of passengers.

The Motor Ombudsman’s Garage Finder
There are many retailers selling cars across the country, but not all will be voluntarily committed to the high standards of service required by The Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales. The Motor Ombudsman’s online Garage Finder (TheMotorOmbudsman.org/Garage-Finder) is a quick way to find a local franchise dealer or independent retailer that is accredited to the Code. It also means that, if you have an issue during the purchase process or beyond, that you are unable to resolve in the first instance with the business, you can then call on The Motor Ombudsman’s free and impartial Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service for independent assistance.

You need to check all paperwork carefully before signing
Prior to buying any product or service, it is important to read any paperwork thoroughly to verify that all information is correct, and that you understand the terms and conditions (i.e. the small print) in full. This applies to the order form, invoices, as well as the terms of putting down an initial deposit, which will often not be refundable once paid, as this implies that you have a contract of purchase with the seller.

There are various ways to pay for a car
Aside from being able to purchase a car outright in one lump sum payment, there are several means to fund a vehicle. These can include, taking out a loan with a bank for example, or opting for a deposit and monthly payments over a number of years via a Hire purchase (HP) or Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) arrangement.

Take the time to understand the merits and disadvantages of each type of financing, as well as associated conditions, such as annual mileage limits. Also, it is important to bear in mind that finance payments will still often be due even if the car is kept off the road for prolonged periods for repairs, as a contract will exist with the finance provider.

Have a clear picture of longer term affordability
When buying a car, it is important to take into account the longer-term running costs, not simply if a vehicle is affordable in terms of the initial deposit, especially at a time of high inflation and bills. If not part of an all-inclusive subscription that is becoming more widely available, budgeting should also be based on the monthly finance repayments, the estimated charging tariffs for EVs and plug-in hybrids (at home and on-street), and the often-fluctuating price of fuel at the pumps.

Then there is of course, breakdown cover, insurance, maintenance and the cost of replacement components, such as tyres and brake discs, which wear with vehicle usage. Equally, enquire about service plans, to get an idea of the cost of routine maintenance once any initial complementary purchase offers have expired, with the same applying to the purchase of an extended vehicle warranty.

Range varies by EV make and model
The maximum range provided on a full charge can often be an influential factor in a purchase decision when choosing an EV. It can equally vary by make and model, meaning it is important to make sure that the car suits your planned usage, i.e. whether it is going to be primarily for daily commitments or the commute. Range can also fall due to a number of factors, such as during cold weather and when using in-car systems, so it is worth speaking to the seller about how it can be affected, to make sure your needs are still met. Similarly, ask about charging times and speeds depending on the rating of the home or on-street points being used.

Every question is a sensible one
During your research, and prior to signing any documentation, this is an ideal time to ask any questions to the seller about the vehicles that you are interested in, whether this is about the specification, options and accessories, financing, or running costs. If accompanied by one of the retailer’s sales representatives, a test drive may also prompt further questions about the practicality of the car in terms of its functions and performance when out on the road.

Expect a possible wait for delivery
Although global supply chain issues have subsided in recent months, and delivery times of new vehicles have reduced, there may still be a wait of a few months from the point of ordering before the car arrives at the retailer for handover. Therefore, you may have to run your existing car for longer before it is handed over to the retailer as a “part-exchange”, or when you can indeed sell it, particularly if you rely on your existing vehicle as your sole form of transport.

“A brand new car is, for many, a significant financial commitment, even more so at a time when there are ever-increasing pressures on household budgets,” said Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director of The Motor Ombudsman.

“Therefore, spending time doing research on different makes and models, buying from a reputable Motor Ombudsman-accredited retailer, budgeting effectively, and reading the small print, are all factors that are imperative for consumers to keep front of mind before signing on the dotted line.”

Almost 700,000 cars facing daily London ULEZ charge

 London-ULEZ-ultra-low-emission-zone - BMW

Drivers of nearly 700,000 cars in Greater London could be liable to pay the ULEZ charge when the zone is expanded this summer.

According to a freedom of information request made by the RAC, as of February 2023, 691,559 cars will be non-compliant because they are either petrol vehicles first registered prior to January 2006 or diesel cars registered prior to September 2015 – the key dates for meeting ULEZ standards.

As things stand, after August when the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expands, they could be liable to pay the £12.50 daily charge.

However, the number of drivers affected once the zone grows is likely to be far higher when taking into account vehicles entering from bordering counties such as Kent, Hertfordshire and Essex.

Transport for London (TfL) estimates that around 160,000 non-compliant cars a day currently drive in the area that will become part of the expanded zone later this summer.

Drivers of affected vehicles who do not pay the £12.50 daily charge will a fine of up to £160.

To help mitigate the impact on drivers and businesses the Mayor of London has launched a £110m scrappage scheme which offers those eligible up to £2,000 towards buying a compliant vehicle.

“Cleaning up London’s air should undoubtedly be a priority, but the sheer number of vehicles that don’t meet ULEZ emissions standards in Greater London suggests there will be a massive financial impact on motorists and businesses through having to fork out £12.50 every day they drive in the zone,” said RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes.

“Changing to a compliant vehicle at such short notice simply won’t be something many will be able to afford, especially during a cost-of-living crisis and at a time when second-hand car prices are so high.”

How do drivers find out if their vehicle is ULEZ-compliant?

A petrol car registered pre-2006 is unlikely to meet the minimum Euro 4 emissions standards, while diesel cars first registered prior to September 2015 will probably not meet the Euro 6 standards which means they would need to pay the ULEZ charge.

Drivers should use TfL’s vehicle checker to find out if they need to pay or not. If they think the checker is incorrect, they should contact their vehicle’s manufacturer to gain proof of its Euro emissions standard which they can then use to challenge TfL.

Euro emissions standards were introduced in the 1990s to limit the level of pollutants emitted from a vehicle’s exhaust and have become stricter over the last 20 years for both petrol and diesel vehicles.

The original ULEZ scheme was introduced in April 2019 to cover central London before being expanded to the North/South Circular boundaries in October 2021.

Driving home for Christmas? Survey reveals your travel plans

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

2022 Honda Civic e.HEV

More than three quarters of Brits will be relying on their car over the festive period, according to new research from Honda UK.

The survey of 2,000 people also revealed that the most common number of trips we’re planning on making is between four and six (35%), covering a distance of less than 50 miles (29%).

People in Northern Ireland will be most reliant on a car over the Christmas and New Year (94%), followed by folk in the East Midlands, the South West, and Yorkshire and the Humber (each 85%). Those in London are set to be the least reliant on a car, with just 28% hitting the road over the festive period.

The research suggests that people prefer to travel with company as more than two thirds (70%) are joined in the car by a partner, friend and or child/children, while just 11% of those surveyed will be travelling alone over the festive period.

Christmas and the New Year are a time for families to come together and celebrate, with presents, food and beverages. But first, you have to get it all in the car. The below table reveals the most popular things to travel with.

Travelling With: Percentage Of Surveyed Brits
Presents 64%
Food 47%
Shopping 47%
Alcohol 37%
Pets 24%

In keeping with the festive season, more than a quarter of people will be listening to a Christmas playlist (26%) while on the road. Gen Z is most likely to enjoy a festive soundtrack for their car journeys, with more than half of 18-24s (52%) listening to a Christmas playlist.

A surprising number of survey respondents (14%) admitted to arguing with family whilst travelling at Christmas time.

The top five passenger activities are as follows:

Passenger Activities Percentage Of Surveyed Brits
Listening to the radio 60%
Listening to a Christmas playlist 26%
Listening to a streaming service 24%
Arguing with the family 14%
Playing car games 9%

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Honda Civic review

Honda Civic e:HEV

We’ve been road testing the all-new Honda Civic, and it’s no surprise to us that it’s been winning awards…

The first Honda Civic was launched 50 years ago and it’s become a legendary model in the automotive world. Now it’s the turn of the 11th generation Civic, which is only available as a full hybrid, so there’s no need to plug it in.

Officially marketed as the ‘Civic e:HEV’, it’s an old school, family-friendly hatchback. Refreshing, when the market is awash with SUVs.

At 4,551mm long, 1,802mm wide and 1,408mm high, the substantial new Civic is the longest, widest and lowest hatchback in its class.

2022 Honda Civic e:HEV

The advantage of the increased wheelbase over the outgoing model is that it creates extra cabin space.

So, there’s plenty of room up front, while rear passengers have space to stretch their legs, and only very tall people will struggle for headroom.

The boot is a generous 410 litres, rising to 1,220 litres with the back seats flipped down, while the load space is long and wide.

The interior represents a real step up in terms of quality and functionality. There’s a solid feel overall, the seats are comfortable and there are plenty of soft-touch surfaces.

2022 Honda Civic e:HEV

The infotainment system isn’t the slickest, but does the job nicely. Most of all, the dashboard is not too minimalist – there are still dials and buttons for essentials such as climate control, radio volume, heated seats and drive mode selection.

At the heart of the latest Civic is Honda’s clever e:hev hybrid powertrain, which is a scaled up version of the system also used in the smaller Jazz and HR-V.

Unlike hybrid systems from most other car makers, the 2.0-litre engine acts as a generator to power the battery rather than the wheels for much of the time, so it runs in EV mode as much as possible.

However, at higher speeds or under heavy loads, it can send drive straight to the front wheels. What’s more, the e-CVT transmission isn’t a conventional gearbox either, but I’ll come to that later.

2022 Honda Civic e:HEV

The naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine (141bhp) is paired with two electric motors and a small 1.05kWh battery, giving a combined output of 181bhp.

Official figures tell much of the story, with a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds and a 111mph top speed. CO2 emissions are as low as 108g/km, while fuel economy is up to 60.1mpg.

Until the new Civic Type R hits showrooms, buyers will have to make do with just the one hybrid powertrain.

Priced from £29,595, the Civic e:HEV is offered in one of three specs – Elegance, Sport and Advance.

2022 Honda Civic e:HEV

Entry-level Elegance gets 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, a 7.0 digital instrument cluster, plus a 9.0-inch central touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. Safety and driver assistance features include lane-keep assist and traffic jam assist.

Sport models boast 18-inch gloss black alloy wheels, as well as black door mirrors and window frames. Inside, there’s faux leather upholstery and sportier pedals.

The range-topping Advance is treated to 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, full leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, a larger 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12-speaker Bose sound system.

Once inside, it’s immediately clear that you’re driving a rakish, fairly wide hatchback. If you’re used to the raised seating and commanding driving position of an SUV, it may take a while to acclimatise to the new Civic.

2022 Honda Civic e:HEV

I love a low seating position. In fact, I would have preferred a little more downward adjustment, but overall, it’s a relaxed and comfortable place to be.

There’s plenty of poke, thanks to that electrical assistance, but the biggest surprise is the e-CVT gearbox.

The boffins at Honda have done their best to eradicate the sudden rise in revs you generally get when you put your foot down in a car with a conventional CVT box.

Instead, there are ‘steps’, giving the feel of conventional transmission ratios. It’s still not perfect, but it is a huge improvement.

2022 Honda Civic e:HEV

There are three drive modes (Econ, Normal and Sport). Go for Econ on motorway journeys and 50 mpg is easily achieved, Normal is just fine for everyday driving, while Sport is fun for blasts on more challenging roads. The e-CVT works best in Normal and Sport modes.

The hybrid system is efficient and smooth, while the regenerative braking can be adjusted. At its strongest setting, it’s almost at one-pedal level, slowing the car down virtually to a halt whilst charging up the battery.

The ride is on the firm side, but not uncomfortably so, but generally it’s a great all-rounder – happy cruising motorways and stretching its legs on more engaging roads.

In fact, the new Civic offers a surprisingly agile drive. When pushed, it stays flat in more challenging corners, there’s good grip and the steering is nicely weighted, which all bodes well for the upcoming Type R.

2022 Honda Civic e:HEV

Awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash testing, the Civic is fitted with Honda Sensing (a suite of safety and driver assistance features) which includes goodies such as Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collison Mitigation Brake System, Intelligent Speed Limiter and Auto High-Beam Headlights as standard.

Rivals include the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, Kia Ceed, Ford Focus, Peugeot 308, Vauxhall Astra, Mercedes A-Class, BMW 1 Series or Audi A3 Sportback.

Verdict: The Honda Civic is a fantastic all-rounder. A family-focused hatchback that’s sleek, safe, practical, well built and economical, it’s rewarding to drive and packed with the latest tech. Add Honda’s reputation for reliability and it’s right up there with the best in its class.

Honda UK

Mercedes-AMG One sets new Nurburgring lap record

Home / Auto Video / Mercedes-AMG One sets new Nurburgring lap record

Gareth Herincx

1 day ago
Auto Video

Mercedes-AMG One

The F1-inspired Mercedes-AMG One has become the fastest production car to lap the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife.

The new hypercar clocked 6:35.183 minutes, beating the previous record (set by a Porsche 911 GT2 RS) by a remarkable eight seconds.

Despite less-than-ideal track conditions, DTM racing driver Maro Engel waited until his final attempt to set his hottest lap of the 13-mile “Green Hell”.

“That was really an unforgettable experience,” said Maro, after completing the lap. “I didn’t expect that we would be able to set such a lap time with these track conditions.

“In some crucial areas of the track, it hadn’t dried completely yet and was therefore tricky. That was a special challenge.”

The Mercedes-AMG One is powered by a hybrid setup which combines one combustion engine with four electric motors, delivering 1,049bhp in the process. It has a claimed top speed of 218.7mph, active aerodynamics (including a DRS function) and all-wheel-drive.


Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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