Appearance, Power or Fuel Efficiency? Things to Consider Before Buying a Car

By webadmin on 10:51 am Jul 05, 2012
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Aswin Prasetyo

When people look for a new car to buy, most of the times they tend to get mesmerized by a model displayed at exhibitions or on newspaper ads at the first sight. The questions “Is it fast?” and “Is it fuel efficient?” suddenly pop. The curiosities dance back and forth between your heart and brain. Then “How much is it?” comes after. For many, price is the main determinant to buy a car.

Your budget is the borderline before deciding to buy or not to buy a particular car, but which aspect – between appearance, power and fuel efficiency – is the most valuable is another matter.

“Looks” is the appearance of a car that your eyes get interested on. The definition I take on “looks” is the appearance of a car your eyes get interested on. It could be the shape of its body, the rear lights, the front grills, steering wheel, the rev counter or the fuel filler cap. It is the eye candies that you cannot get on another car. Some sort of things that your eyes stick with when it passes by.

A perfect example is Lamborghini Aventador’s hexagonal one – the kind of car that I constantly praise.   

A cool appearance does not always have to come from an expensive two-door super car. I like the the new Kia Sportage in white color with its LED daytime-running lights switched on. I also like the Ford Fiesta, the newest one in blue color.
A car’s appearance has a tight relationship with comfort and space. There will neither be the same spacious feeling nor comfort on a Fiat 500 than you would have in a Range Rover. Although both are mesmerizingly beautiful and both can attract people’s attention, they are made for different tasks to do. The 500 is a fun, easy-to-park box, while the Range Rover is a car with dignity and comfort. 
How often do you max your engine all out? How long does your right foot stay on throttle before it taps the brake to slow down again? High power may awe you in some way, but at the very basic, comprehend the kind of traffic and road surface condition that you will mostly end up with. Otherwise the high BHP numbers you were proud of will be useless.
A lot of traffic jams means you do not need a Veyron-figured power. On a different occasion, you might be catching on a flight and the toll road ahead is dead-empty. Now you need that 1,000 horsepower. Confused? Don’t be. Choose a car with adequate power.
How should you know whether the power is adequate or not? First, it comes down to your driving skills. Sure, if you were Michael Schumacher, you may not suit with the 68 BHP Suzuki Karimun Estilo. And if you just acquired your driving license, do not even think to max the throttle of a 570 BHP Lamborghini Gallardo. The higher the power is, the more skill is needed to tame the car.
Second, the car’s purpose and its curb weight. Big MPVs and SUVs are meant to carry a lot of passengers and stuffs inside. Therefore, we must acknowledge the car should have decent power to do such job. I have once driven the old Honda Stream with full of people just to notice how higher the engine was revving just to cruise at 100 km/h compared to times when I drove it alone.
Last but not least, the driving aids. I thank car manufacturers who have put safety precautions in their car products such as ABS, EBD, BA, airbags, stronger shells, traction control, radar distance, and night vision, among others: all of which people praise for whenever they survive an accident. Surely, you do not want to drive a 500 BHP car without safety features on public roads, and neither do I. We are obviously looking for a security that is planted inside the car. Even though that means extra spending of money, believe me it is worth your life.

Fuel Efficiency
These days, when petrol and diesel are not cheap, people look for more efficient cars. Look at car advertisements on foreign car magazines, your eyes easily catch the bold word on it: “The 36 MPG Honda Accord” or “The 51 MPG Polo Bluemotion.”

In Indonesia, I often see eco-test drive by car manufacturers to measure how many kilometers the car can take in a liter of fuel. Note that it is done in a certain terms and conditions such as no air con, cautiously driving and hitting the pedals, and slipstreaming behind trucks and busses on highway in order to reach the lowest possible use of fuel.
Those are non-sense. The figure “21 km in a liter” is astonishing, but will I sacrifice myself sweating like a pig when I get to my destination? No. One of the perks of driving a car is that you can let yourself cool with the air con instead of battling with the heat and pollution.
I never really believe car brochures or ads in newspaper about the fuel efficiency. Some people who buy the idea may only find themselves in displease. I have once read in newspaper readers’ columns that someone is going to sue Nissan for his Nissan March could only manage 1:8 rather than the advertised 1:21. And boy, did I laugh so hard.
To avoid being deceived by car ads, one of the many things you can do is to appreciate car reviewers. A good car review usually offers you unbiased comparative test.
How can the big BMW salon outshine the Smart ForTwo? It is because the BMW is easier to get the proper power and torque needed to move than the Smart. It revs lower while cruising at 100 km/h on highway and at stop-go traffic it can rely on the first-gear torque solely instead of revving the engine on every movement like the Smart does. Lower revs means low usage of fuel, and the BMW is a proper winner.
How about the hybrid or electric cars? Too bad Indonesian government still imposes unbelievably high tax prices for cars with technology that helps to save fuel. If only a Toyota Prius 1.5 VVT-i Hybrid here were priced equally as Honda Jazz with conventional 1.5 i-VTEC engine, you know which one you will see more often on the road.

The perfect combination between those three aspects are rarely seen. The good looking one sometimes mismatches with the fuel efficiency because it may be thirsty on petrol. There are cases when a car with good fuel efficiency is, unfortunately, horrible to look at. And a car with decent amount of power sometimes is not really a looker.
Looks, power and fuel efficiency are equivalently important in each considerations. When making decisions, grade each aspect by giving them score one to ten, then sum them up to get the most satisfying result. Also try to collect reviews about the cars and do test drives on your own.