Mar 222016

New research reveals that almost twice as many motorists are confident about buying a car unseen today, compared with three years ago.

There has also been a rise of almost one third in those who describe themselves as comfortable to buy a car online.

But franchise dealers need not fear being sidelined by online motor retail specialists because the research also highlights a 50% rise in customers travelling outside their local area to buy from a national main dealer.

However, the research also appears to sound the death knell for private car sale classified advertisements, with survey respondents reporting a dramatic fall in purchases from that source

The research, conducted in February 2016 for, reveals changes in consumer attitudes and behaviour following a major survey of motorists in August 2013.

Since August 2013, when almost 5,000 motorists were first polled on their car buying habits and attitudes, the proportion of those who say they would be happy to buy a new car online, without seeing it first, has risen from 17.5% to 31.3% – an increase of 78.8% in positive responses.

At the same time, the number of people describing themselves as ‘wary’ of buying a car unseen from a reputable online source has fallen from 27.7% to 25.5%.

But the most positive change in attitudes to online car buying was found among those who had previously ruled out buying cars online at all.

In August 2013 more than half of all respondents said they wouldn’t buy cars online but that figure has now reduced to 43% – a 21.1% drop in anti-online purchase sentiment.

Growing consumer comfort is not limited to online new car sales. Motorists are now demonstrating a strong preference to buying used cars online.

The 2016 survey included questions which were not previously asked, inviting motorists to evaluate their own changes in attitude over time. This revealed that 39.2% agree with the statement ‘I’m MORE likely to buy a new car online now than I used to be’ and 21.3% agree with the statement ‘I’m MORE likely to buy a used car online now than I used to be’.

The latest survey reveals the strength of the UK motor retail market in general, with good news also for traditional dealers – and franchise groups in particular –throughout the results.

For example, in August 2013, respondents reported where they had bought their current car and the latest survey indicates that consumers have been looking further afield and increasingly buying from national main dealers since then.

The figure for those who had bought from a main dealer more than 50 miles from their home saw almost half as many again travelling further afield to buy their current car, compared with the car they owned at the point of the 2013 survey.

The biggest change in where people had purchased their current car this time was a 50% slump in those who had bought from private sellers – from 11.6% to 5.8%.

Austin Collins, Managing Director of, said: “This was not a survey of customers, so the results are not skewed in favour of our own business or even the online car retail model in general. It’s genuine evidence that consumers are increasingly comfortable with the concept of buying cars online and unseen until they take delivery.”

Mar 212016

PassatVolkswagen’s Passat is proving to be hot property as it moves faster off the forecourt than any other model in February, selling in just 19 days. Not only was the Passat saloon the fastest selling car nationally, but the estate version was the eighth fastest selling car.

Both are 2013 versions when the well-equipped R Line derivative was added to the range. The combination of frugal engines, well-built, premium interiors and plenty of room for both passengers and luggage, especially the estate, prove particularly attractive to executives and families alike.

Volkswagen’s other models have a strong showing in some of the region’s fastest sellers too, with the Golf being the second fastest seller in the East of England. The Golf also takes fifth, sixth and ninth places in Northern Ireland’s fastest sellers, plus it was fourth quickest out of dealerships in the West Midlands.

Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader Retailer & Consumer Products Director said: “Our Market Report noted that while there was a dip in market share for new VW models in January, average used car prices for Volkswagens remained relatively unchanged according to our Used Car Retail Price Index. Car buyers’ appetite for these cars hasn’t dropped off either as online classified ad views on Auto Trader showed stable results across the board for the last six months.”

February’s national best sellers also included five crossovers and 4x4s, with Toyota’s RAV4 whipping off the nation’s forecourts the second quickest. The Toyota RAV4 originally launched in the mid-90s with a car firmly aimed at smaller families and delivers a decent on-road driving experience. The latest generation first went on sale in 2013 and it’s this generation of RAV4 that is proving quick to be snapped up by buyers.

Also notable is the appearance of Volvo’s XC90 in the nation’s quickest selling cars. The 2015 model is proving in demand with car buyers as it ranks as the ninth fastest used car to shift from British showrooms, plus the Swedish company launched the all-new XC90 in early 2015 too.

Of the top 10 best-selling new cars in 2015 none make an appearance in February’s national top 10 fastest sellers, but the Ford Focus is the fastest selling car in the East of England and it’s joined by a number of other best new car sellers including the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Polo and Nissan Qashqai all showing a quick pair of heels off the East of England forecourts.

Rank Description Average Days To Sell Average Retail Price
1 2013 Volkswagen Passat Saloon Diesel Automatic 19 £11,732
2 2013 Toyota RAV4 SUV Diesel Manual 21 £16,964
3 2012 Vauxhall Insignia Hatchback Petrol Manual 21 £7,094
4 2011 Hyundai i30 Hatchback Petrol Manual 21 £5,231
5 2013 Hyundai ix35 Estate Petrol Manual 21 £11,125
6 2013 Honda CR-V SUV Petrol Automatic 22 £17,372
7 2015 Ford Kuga SUV Petrol Manual 22 £18,151
8 2013 Volkswagen Passat Estate Diesel Manual 23 £11,580
9 2015 Volvo XC90 Estate Diesel Automatic 23 £48,950
10 2013 Toyota AYGO Hatchback Petrol Semi-Automatic 23 £6,033


It’s also interesting how many times Volkswagen models rank not only in the nation’s fastest selling cars but in quite a few regional ones too. It’s clear buyers are not shying away from purchasing models from the German brand and ties in with one of the key findings in the Auto Trader Market Report that showed VW average used values have remained steady in the past six months


Feb 292016






Which Supermini is better? The stylish French C3 or the Brit built Japanese tiddler?

Why Buy?

The C3 has always been well equipped, and in more recent years it has become much more like a tiny people carrier than a small hatch. By contrast the Micra is a traditional, hardworking small car beloved of first time drivers and older motorists who want a car that won’t let them down.

Which models?

There are two distinct C3 models, the one built from 2002 to 2010 and the revised people carrier style one from 2010 onwards. Buy the most recent. Micras, also from 2002

Are they reliable?

The older C3s seem cheaply built inside and it is electrical issues that give owners the most trouble. Warranty Direct’s figures bear this out. It is a similar story with the Micra, electricals are again the problem even if the price of fixing a Nissan is fractionally cheaper.

How much do they cost?

Safer to pay around £950 for a 2003 example. £3000 a tidy 2006 example and £8000 for a 2012 Picasso model if you want a small van. Again, £1000 is the lowest price to buy at, a £3000 Micra is a 1.2 2009 3 door model. The restyled 2012 five door from 2012 from a dealer is £6000.

Sum Up

It comes down to style and the Citroen looks funkier, whilst the Micra is just odd to some. Regardless, Nissan’s reputation for reliability is strong.

Citroen C3

Average Repair Cost: £280.43

Axle and Suspension: 23.61%*

Gearbox: 13.89%*

Electrical: 25.00%*

Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average

* failure rate

Nissan Micra

Average Repair Cost: £272.82

Axle & Suspension: 29.85*

Electrical: 32.84%*

Steering: 17.91*

Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average to Good

* failure rate

Jan 302016






If you want a small 4 x 4 shaped car to get to shops, but off road ability is not essential, then there are two extremes to choose from.

Why Buy?

You will go for the Suzuki SX4 because it is great value for money and it is tough and practical rather than being stylish. It’s the sensible choice. The Freelander is the one that everyone wants because it is made by Land Rover, it looks the 4 x 4 part and if they needed to go off road it is brilliant.

Which models?

The SX4 was introduced in 2006. It is well equipped and the 1.6 petrol model is cheap to run and more than adequate for buyers who don’t do many miles. Although the Freelander has been around for some time this is a revised 2006 model. The diesel versions are the most sought after.

Are they reliable?

Suzuki has a reputation for reliability, rather than excitement, not only that they rarely break down and the Warranty Direct figures bear this out. By contrast, the Land Rover is expensive to fix and is well known for being more of a financial drain.

How much do they cost?

The Suzuki starts at £1700 for a 2006 model and it will be in mint condition. £5500 buys a 2012 example from a dealer, which is great value.

Freelander’s from 2006 start at around £2500 for a three door Td4 example. The best 5 door though will be £5500, so prices vary hugely.

Sum Up: It’s obvious, money to burn, but you want to make a statement: Freelander. Meanwhile, the realist will buy a Suzuki SX4.

Suzuki SX4 

Average Repair Cost: £192.90

Axle and Suspension: 57.69%*

Transmission: 11.54%*

Electrical: 11.54%*

Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average

* failure rate

Land Rover Freelander

Average Repair Cost: £403.14

Transmission: 22.14*

Electrical: 26.97%*

Engine: 12.47*

Warranty Direct Rating: Below Average

* failure rate

Oct 292015







Chevrolet Captiva vs Land Rover Discovery

So you want an off roader, but do you go for the prestige badge or the value 4 x 4 brand?

Why Buy?

The Captiva is the more obvious new buy, but it is still tremendous value as a secondhand buy for those who want 7 seat flexibility. The seats are also a feature of the Discovery, but many choose this by reputation for its off road ability and on road image.

Which models?

Captiva 2007 onward, however it was revised in 2011 with a new diesel engine. There was another facelift in 2013, making them more expensive. The revised Discovery 3 came out in 2004 and although there was a petrol, most models on sale are V6 diesels.

Are they reliable?

On the whole the Captiva has proved to be a dependable vehicle, however, Warranty Direct highlight the suspension as a major weak spot. Land Rover also has a problem in that area and overall they have a bit of a reputation for breaking down.

How much do they cost?

Prices for the Captiva start at £2500 for a high mileage example, it would be better to pay £7000 for a tidy vehicle. Values of the Discovery stay firm so the lowest you could pay is £5000. However, cheap ones are guaranteed trouble, so spend at least £10,000.

Sum Up: In realistic, practical and price terms you would go for the Captiva. If you want the badge then it is the Discovery.

Chevrolet Captiva

Average Repair Cost: £276.30

Axle and Suspension: 37.66%*

Electrical: 20.78%*

Engine: 14.29%*

Warranty Direct Rating: Below Average

* failure rate

Land Rover Discovery

Average Repair Cost: £368.95

Electrical: 18.82*

Axle/Suspension: 42.76%*

Engine: 13.33*

Warranty Direct Rating: Poor