When shopping around for cover, you should begin by establishing what type of cover you actually need. This way you won’t be left flustered by the many options available.
The must-haves tends to be car insurance, if you own a vehicle, buildings insurance, contents insurance, travel insurance and pet insurance, if you own a cat or dog for example.
Many people may think to bypass the last option; pets can however be very expensive if anything goes wrong. For example a blood test for a cat costs up to £78 and an x-ray for a dog is almost £222.
These certainly aren’t light sums and why risk them when you could instead pay less than £10 per month on pet insurance.
Travel insurance goes without saying. If you intend to go abroad or even on a shorter trip, travel insurance is a must. It will cover the likes of missed or cancelled flights, airlines going bust, lost baggage and medical bills.
Contents insurance will keep all your precious belongings covered, whilst buildings insurance will in fact cover the house they live in.
Car insurance is probably one of the most important options for those that own a vehicle, however with so many types available it can be difficult to choose the right one.
For example if you are a student, you will need to invest in a completely different type of cover to that of a mature driver.
Student car insurance can in fact stretch a student’s budget to the breaking point. This is why it is important to invest in a policy that offers you the best value for your money.
Statistics have proven that younger drivers tend to be involved in more road incidents; this may be due to a lack of experience of a modified car. This in turn makes student car insurance one of the most expensive policies available.
Shop around in order to find the best deal prior to investing in the first cover you find. Some companies even offer the likes of student discount and a student bonus accelerator package. Such a deal will allow you to build your no claims discount much faster, which will in turn help you to keep the high cost of premiums down!
OK, so I have had the Z4 for some weeks now, so how are we getting along together?
Firstly I must agree with Jeremy Clarkson that it is far from being the most comfortable car in the world. Fortunately (in some ways) I am somewhat smaller in stature then Jeremy, which means that I fit into the car quite well, but I can imagine that it would be to say the least a little cramped for the man himself. What makes it uncomfortable for me are the bumps.
The Z4 has astounding levels of grip. When I go round the tightest bend as fast as I dare the car remains almost perfectly flat; there is no perceivable body roll. It really is a thrilling drive. But there is a price to pay for such a stiff set-up. When you go over even the smallest pothole, it feels as if there is no suspension at all. Every tiny imperfection of the road you feel in your rear and your bones. On a smooth surface the car is a perfect joy to drive, but when the road gets rough you need to be tough. This is not helped at all by the fact that my version is the sport, with larger alloys and a lowered suspension.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the car. It is the best car I have ever owned. Once you get used to its massive bonnet and the feeling that you are driving a car from the rear seats, you begin to realise that you are driving the car from your hips. The turning circle is amazing and the steering is as precise as it gets. It does everything that you would expect it to do, and to my eyes it looks stunning.
Now that I have driven it for some time, would I change my mind and buy the Porsche? In all honesty I can’t answer that one yet, but probably not.
If you have a garage, do you actually use it for its intended purpose? In the UK approximately 10 million car owning families have the use of a garage, but only a small fraction ever put their car inside it; just 2 million of us can be bothered to park our cars inside.
It didn’t always used to be like that. A few decades ago many people religiously put their car away every night and even just ten years ago 33% more people used their garage for their car. Around half of garage owners park their cars in their drive, and 25% of cars are simply parked outside on the street.
There are several reasons for this. Many of us use our garage as a store room and many of us have cars which are either too long or too wide to be accommodated in the garage, particularly if the garage was built some years ago.
Another reason is that cars are much more reliable starters nowadays. It used to be the case that if a car left outside overnight got really cold then the chances were that it would be difficult to start the following morning. Cars don’t go rusty so easy either. However a spokesman for the RAC pointed out that home starts are still one of the major reasons for callouts.
Of course many families have second cars and only single garages so they have little choice to leave a car outside. Even people with double garages are joining the trend of converting one of them into an extension of their home as additional living space or an extra bedroom.
After much soul searching (see my previous posts) the final winner was the BMW Z4. Perhaps it is supposed to be something of a hairdresser’s car (and there is irony in that too – there had been one previous lady owner and all though I do not know for certain it is quite likely she is a hairdresser) but it is still sufficiently macho enough for me.
Eventually I opted for the entry engine model which is the 2000i but there are a few interesting additions. The alloys are 18inch M alloys and the steering wheel and leather seats are also M. Driving it is quite an experience until you get used to it.
The 2000i is not particularly speedy; though good enough for most purposes, but you do need to put some thought into steering the beast. The big bonnet stretches out in front of you and responds to the slightest twitch of the steering wheel. You are sitting so far back that it can feel like driving from the rear seats of a saloon car; effectively you are driving from the hip, which is great. The turning circle is wonderful and the car characteristically corners (if you will excuse the cliché) as if it is on tracks.
Something else to get used to are the run-flat tyres which do little to cushion the bumps and holes on our great British roads so altogether the ride is quite harsh.
Do I regret my decision? Not a bit of it. This is a car to have fun in and I intend to make the most of it.
Overview: Stunning looks, feel-good factor, a pleasure to drive, stylish and refined; the Mercedes-Benz SLK is a great little sports car which beats most of the others in its class if for nothing else other than its folding metal roof. Yes, we know that the new BMW Z4 has a metal sliding roof too, but the SLK has had one for some time so as a used car it is better. Perhaps these cars have held their price better and you might have to pay a little more, but we believe that it is worth it.
Engines: The smallest engine is the 200K 2 litre supercharged petrol unit. This delivers 160 bhp and has a top speed of 143 mph and a 0 to 62 mph acceleration time of 7.7 seconds. There is a faster 2.8 litre engine that accelerated from 0 to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph and an even faster 3.5 litre engine which does the 0 to 62 mph sprint in just 5.4 seconds. There is a choice of 5 speed manual or automatic gearboxes.
Driving: Driving the SLK is pure pleasure, whether you are out for a relaxing cruise in the country, putting on the motorway miles, or putting the car through its paces. It is very nearly as nice to drive as the Porsche Boxster, but not quite, though you will have all the grip and cornering stability that you are likely to need.
Convenience: From hard top coupe to open top roadster in just 20 seconds and even in the winter it is warm with the roof down thanks to the sophisticated heating system than even blows warm air round your neck. The boot is just about big enough for a small case, about the same as the BMW Z4.
Economy: This is not the most economical car in its class and nowhere near as economical as the Z4. An average of 30 mpg is as much as you are likely to achieve with the smaller engines and a fair bit less with the 3.5 litre.
Well, as I said I would I test drove a Z4 at our local BMW franchise and unsurprisingly immediately fell in love with it. There are a few reasons that it just has the edge on the Porsche Boxster, from my point of view at least. I think it is a tad less pretentious than the Boxster which when all said and done is the poor man’s 911. It is not as ostentatious and is all together more modest. Of course when pushed to the extreme the Z4 does not handle as well as the Boxster, but I am getting a little too old to drive cars on the ragged edge any more.
OK, so my mind was just about made up when I spotted a rather nice looking Mercedes SLK. I had always considered these to be out of my price range, but for curiosity looked a little further and I was surprised to find that if I was willing to compromise just a little on the age of the car it was perfectly possible to buy one and keep within (or just out of to be truthful) my budget.
What a great little car the SLK is and the standard of equipment is amazing. The performance is all that I could wish and I just love the metal folding roof and the fact that the sophisticated heated airflow system means that you can drive comfortably with the roof down even in cold weather.
I imagine that servicing charges are somewhat higher than those on the Z4 and the petrol consumption is considerably higher, but then I don’t cover huge annual mileages any more. So, what is it to be, Z4 or SLK?
Saab has long been associated with understated class. Its beautiful gently sweeping shapes and premium quality have made it the gentleman’s car of choice for years. This is perhaps reflected in its low rated group 24 car insurance. Saab hit hard times in recent years and threatened to go out of business. This would have represented the sorry loss of quality brand. Fortunately Dutch firm Spyker rescued GM and subsequently released the new Saab 95 Saloon. A car that promises to be the best Saab released for a generation.
The first thing to strike you about the new Saab 95 is its sheer bulk. It’s bigger than the Volvo S80, Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, putting it firmly in the executive cruiser market. The 2 Litre Turbo, 220hp, V6 rides as smoothly as you would expect a Saab at all speed ranges, making it a pleasure to drive on long motorway journeys. The Saab is a typically wedge shaped Scandinavian Sedan with no brash overstylings. A high boot tapering down to a low bonnet with high panel sides give it a natural sophistication.
The Saab’s interior is spare but super high quality. The clean, airy design compliments the cars image as a whole. Nice little technological features like a push button start and plenty of optional extras mean the Saab is not short on gizmos. A high specification stereo comes as standard with options to upgrade. The Saab has a broad range of optional specifications which serves to keep the cars price relatively low compared to other Sedan’s or executive cruisers.
The Saab 95 is a typical Saab and its virtues are mainly in the areas of style, elegance and price. For the executive motorist keen to own a luxury saloon at a lower cost than an Audi or BMW this could be the car. Car insurance groupings put the Saab in at around groups 24 for the lower range model, to 38 for the top of the range models. Group 24 car insurance seems very reasonable.
After spending most of my life condemning BMW drivers as overly aggressive thugs, I have finally decided to become one myself. That is a BMW driver, not an overly aggressive thug. My problem though is which BMW?
The most sensible choice would be the 3 Series Coupe. I like the coupe style (I drive a rather ageing Cougar V6 now) and there is nothing wrong with the 3 Series performance, but when it comes to beauty there is nothing like the Z4 which must be one of the most beautiful cars that BMW have produced.
I had been toying with the idea of getting a Porsche Boxster but I have drifted away from that and anyway, the Z4 is supposed to be the BMW equivalent of the Porsche. A particular appeal of BMW is the availability of BMW approved used cars which are advertised to come with a full one year warranty, and although they cost a little more than equivalent non-approved equivalents, the extra peace of mind would seem to be worth the price.
This weekend I will take a trip to my local BMW dealer and hopefully make my decision. I will let you know how I get on.
The best selling cars from the beginning of the year until September 2011 are listed below along with actual number sold. If you need to discover more about them and find a bargain, then visit motors.co.uk
1 Ford Fiesta: (58,388)
This little Ford continues to dominate car sales. It is very economical as well as being fun to drive and is packed with equipment similar to that found on bigger Fords. The current model which was launched in 2008 is exceptional value and with the ECOnetic there is no need to pay road tax.
2 Ford Focus (50,060)
This latest Ford Focus, which was released in 2011 is the best Focus yet. Since the original Focus that was introduced in 1998 around 1.5 million of them have been sold.
3 Vauxhall Corsa: (43,719)
Although the Vauxhall Corsa in its current form has been around since 2006 it continues to attract buyers. It is practical, economic and in some formats quite nippy.
4 Volkswagen Golf: (37,390)
The Volkswagen Golf just goes on and on and continues to attract new buyers. The current model was launched in 2009 and is an excellent all-rounder.
5 Vauxhall Astra: (36,697,)
The Vauxhall Astra is a car that appeals to a broad range of buyers and recently sales have been helped by the launch of the new GTC Coupe which is currently the sportiest model.
6 Vauxhall Insignia: (29,987)
This is the most popular mid-range cars in the top ten sellers so far this year. It has great looks and performs very well making it an ideal family car.
8 Volkswagen Polo: (26,581)
At the end of the day, the Pola is a smaller Golf, so its popularity hardly surprises. For a top-of-the-range small car it is hard to beat.
7 BMW 3 Series: (25,559)
Currently in its fifth generation, the BMW 3 Series continues to draw the crowds. It has stunning performance for its class and is reasonably economic too.
9 Nissan Qashqai: (23,383)
This is the only cross opver SUV in our list and it is hardly surprising. With the latest model you get a huge amount of car for your money and is a favourite for the daily school run.
10 Volkswagen Passat: (20,434)
The sales of the Volkswagen Passat are traditionally high due to it being a favourite fleet car. All the cars listed here can be found at, along with more detailed information and specifications.
A quick Internet search will provide you with all sorts of answers to the question ‘what is the best selling car of all time?’ What may come as a surprise to many is that the answer to this is in fact the Japanese Toyota Corolla. This reasonably priced, compact car with its low running costs has made it the worlds highest selling car with a record thirty-two million of them being manufactured since 1966.
In forty years, the Corolla has spawned nine generations and was officially crowned the best selling car of all time in 1997. The Corolla has been manufactured in as many as fifteen countries and figures suggest that a Corolla is sold on average every forty seconds. An unbelievable feat for the Japanese motoring industry and for Toyota is was one that helped secured their worth as the top motor vehicle manufacturing company in the world.
The Corolla has been reinvented many times and different models have been available in different countries. Some models have simply used the Corolla chassis such as the upmarket Sprinter in Japan; some simply used the Corolla name such as the Tercel. There has even been a 2011 Corolla, available in three slightly larger models than the originals, all with an impressive array of features and specifications with plenty of optional accessories.
Early models were usually rear-wheel drive but were moved on to front-wheel drive in later years. There have also been four-wheel drives, all proving to be as popular as the last.
This is a cost-effective, quality and stylish car that is set to sit on the top spot for quite some time yet. With estimated sales now nearing thirty-five million do not expect it to be knocked off in the near future!