How to test drive new cars: What to look for

Taking a new car for a test drive is the fun part of buying a car! You’ve done all the research and picked the car you want. Now it’s time to get behind the wheel and put your foot on the pedal.

The test drive is a fundamental step when you are buying a car – don’t skip it! It’s your chance to put the car to the test and make sure it is comfortable, enjoyable to drive and the right choice for you.

Here is what to expect and what to look for when you test drive new cars.​

Test drive checklist: New cars

It is vital to drive the car on the kind of roads you will be driving regularly. If you do a lot of city driving or motorway driving, make sure you test drive the car in these conditions.

Feel and drive

  • Make sure the car is smooth and comfortable to drive
  • Test drive the car on a range of different roads, from city tarmac to rural routes
  • Drive the car up hills and take different corners to check the handling
  • You should also try higher speeds as the feel of cars can change dramatically on motorways
  • Try overtaking to test the acceleration, as well as any blind spots
  • Check that the engine is quiet enough at high speeds

Braking and reversing

  • Braking should feel smooth and in control
  • You may also want to try braking hard to see how the car will behave in an emergency
  • Check the gear changes are smooth
  • Don’t forget to try reversing and parking to check the visibility and blind spots
  • For city cars, check the turning circle and manoeuvrability in tight spaces

Gadgets and controls

  • Adjust the steering, seating and mirrors as you need to be comfortable
  • Make sure you can reach all the controls and that they make sense
  • Check you can get in and out of the car easily, that the doors open wide enough and the seats fold down if needed
  • Look at the boot space for the bags and luggage you usually carry
  • If the car is a convertible, get the roof down and see how long this process takes. And test how much space you lose in the boot when the roof is down
  • Find out if the model you are testing have all the gadgets you need and what features and add-ons are available

Ask your dealer questions

The dealer who takes you on the test drive is trained and will understand the car. They will be happy to answer your questions and give demonstrations on using features and programming the satnav.

Remember you can’t ask too many questions – the dealer wants to make sure you are happy with your new car.

How to book a test drive

It is important to book your test drive in advance with the dealer. You can book a test drive in a new car online or by phone with your local Jardine dealer.