If you aren£€™t interested in cars it£€™s easy to make mistakes when you buy one because the bald figures about a car just don£€™t tell you enough.
I always tell people to take a test drive. Even as little as five or ten miles tells you a lot.
A friend recently bought a used BMW. He£€™d had the model before and liked the look of the M Sport style but didn£€™t realise how hard the suspension is of such versions.
A test drive will tell you if the ride comfort is to your liking and also how the car goes.
Take Vauxhall£€™s much improved fourth generation Corsa supermini hatchback when fitted with the 1.4 litre turbocharged engine. Compared to the city car three-cylinder model it£€™s a brisk little car with 99bhp available. Acceleration to 62mph takes 11 seconds and top speed is a more than adequate 115mph.
Fuel consumption can be good too with 55.4mpg on the official combined cycle to aim for, but beware foot to the floor motoring in a turbo is like opening a tap…
Delve deeper into the figures and you find maximum power arrives at 3,500rpm and maximum push (torque) of 147 lbs ft from just 1,850rpm. These figures define the character of the car£€™s engine and mean it pulls strongly from low revs. Lots of people like that and there£€™s nothing wrong with it.
But keener drivers, who want to be more involved with their cars, and work with them if you like, will be frustrated that the power drops away once over 4,000rpm and as with a diesel you might as well change gear when you reach 4,500rpm. Sporty then, this car clearly isn£€™t, but in the real world it is how a lot of people drive and is good for fuel economy.
The downside is it could mean that as you are overtaking and expecting to get more power as the revs rise you will actually have to change to a higher gear which seems counter intuitive. These traits would be evident on a test drive that gets you out of town on to a main road.
Having to change gear slows acceleration because you ease off the power and is the reason racing cars and some sports cars have these very fast paddle change systems where even a novice can make a perfect change.
Where the Corsa excels is for relaxed and fuel efficient long distance cruising. Carbon dioxide emissions of 119g/km mean no first year road tax under current legislation and then £30 per year. The SE model as tested is available in three and five door versions for £13,550 and £14,400 respectively.
The Corsa is available with different chassis suspension settings so if you want faster, more precise cornering make sure you go for the sport chassis rather than the comfort one. The Sport option means bigger wheels with the downside of more tyre noise and more expensive tyres when replacement time comes.
Electric speed sensitive power steering makes manoeuvring easy but despite changes for UK driving conditions feels light and would be improved for the keener driver by the sport option.
Driver assistance systems include hill start assist and parking assist. You work the clutch and accelerator and the car self steers into a parking space. There£€™s a new instrument panel and a clever communications system which will be familiar to Adam drivers.
Called IntelliLink it operates via a seven inch colour touch screen to control apps for navigation), voice command, global radio channels, Bluetooth and Siri eyes free.
Options include heated front seats, steering wheel and windscreen, and a panoramic roof.
Verdict A petrol that pulls like a diesel but more refined