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What to do on a test drive

Taking a prospective new car for a test drive is an important experience that can tell you exactly whether a car is for you – or whether it's one to avoid. Steering, style, size, shape and space are all key to making a vehicle work for you, no matter what your needs are.

Initially, you'll be examining the exterior look and feel of the car to make sure it's the right fit for you. You'll want a vehicle design that appeals to your senses as well as being a good match for your personality. Make sure the profile fits how you'll use the car too – a low profile car will drive perfectly along city streets but might find country roads more of a challenge.

Before you set off, sit inside the car and check for comfort and softness. Long journeys are going to be difficult to bear if you're sitting on stiff seats, and make sure to check with showroom staff to see if any trim packages are available to make the cabin of your new car even more luxurious.

If you're not going to be the only one driving the car, make sure the second and third drivers test out the vehicle with you – it's important to ensure everyone who's going to be driving the car has their needs met. You should check for how easily the seat and steering wheel height can be adjusted so everyone has the comfort and accessibility they require.

Don't be afraid to test your chosen vehicle to its limits when you're on your test drive – it's vital to make sure you're happy with the car's level of power and performance, and that it suits the way you're going to use it. Test the transmission to ensure it's easy to change gear and monitor braking and acceleration.

Drive the car on longer stretches where you can accelerate, around curves and bends, and try out parking to check its practicality.

Many cars on the market also come with new technology that makes parking and urban manoeuvrability much easier – new Active Parking Assist even steers the car into a space for you. It's a good idea to make sure you can use this technology with ease, and to see whether it's actually going to benefit you in the long run.

The most important thing when testing a car is to ensure you like it – after all, a new vehicle is an investment whatever the price tag, so you'll want to be absolutely certain it'll deliver a better driving experience every time.