Sports Car Buying Guide Part 2

myPPSR Team|10/08/2017

The sports car category ranges from makes and models that merely have sports styling to those with full-on performance-focused vehicles. Here are some features.

Safety Features

Some sports cars feel the need to be driven fast, however as speeds increase, the severity of any crash rises exponentially. Consequently, it makes good sense to take all possible precautions to protect yourself and your passengers, as well as practice good judgment and restraint. Just in case that temptation overrules better judgement, it is important to have good brakes, ones that match the performance of the vehicle. 0-100 is 2.8 sec may excite you, however 100-0 in 10 sec may not! Antilock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) are now standard features on most new cars. Collision avoidance systems, autonomous emergency braking, whilst not available in most vehicles will emerge as a standard feature on all new cars. For most, this responsibility is that of the driver’s. Consider advanced safety features that can help increase situational awareness and even avoid accidents. Outward visibility in most sports cars is compromised, making features like blind-spot monitoring and a rearview camera an asset in helping any driver avoid risks of collision. Also choose a car that does have better ANCAP ratings.

All new cars also have standard left and right front airbags, and lap-and-shoulder belts. Chest-level side airbags are common for front-seat passengers. Head-protecting side airbags, usually in the form of a side curtain that covers front and rear side windows, are common and recommended. Many cars offer knee airbags for one or both front passengers, protecting legs against injury from sharp pieces that may break away from under the dashboard.

If you are considering your sports car to transport children in a child seat, the rear seat of a sporty coupe or convertible, and even sport sedans have their challenges due to the seat shape and size. Check details from the manufacture on its suitability for that purpose. Often then is no provision for child restraint anchor points.

Size of the car is another safety consideration. All other things being equal, a larger, heavier car is safer for its occupants than a smaller, lighter car. Spatial separation is another key factor in making larger cars safer for its occupants. It is important to check the ANCAP rating for insights on how models perform based on crash tests as well as undertake further research into how they performance in road or track tests undertaken by various car review journals and web sites.

Advanced Safety Technologies

The latest automotive safety advances include vehicle telematics systems that alert emergency personnel if an air bag deploys, lane-departure warning systems that sound an alert if you change lanes without signaling, rearview cameras, even 360 degree camera view, to prevent back-over accidents, and blind-spot warning systems that indicate when hard-to-see vehicles are driving to the side and rear of you. Automatic-braking systems are emerging on a number of new cars. These collision-avoidance systems apply the brakes if you're approaching the car ahead too quickly, or pedestrians crossing a road, and ignore an audible warning that sounds to alert you to the situation. Another advanced technology is lane-keeping assist, which centres your car in the lane if you start to drift. These include systems that have an audio alert.

Entertainment and Convenience

The latest mobile electronics enable cars to deliver the fidelity of home theatre, along with Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and navigation guidance. Factory-supplied systems usually offer voice-activated controls for audio, phone, and navigation with various levels of sophistication. You'll frequently find redundant audio controls, amongst a range of other controls, on the steering wheel.

Audio System

The standard car-audio package is a stereo radio tuner, often digital in new cars, and in-dash CD/DVD player with speakers left and right and fore and aft. The inclusion of an auxiliary input jack and USB ports are some manufactures are including as standard features. An upgraded system typically has a more-powerful amplifier (often driving a sub-woofer to vibrate the windows off), along with more and better-quality speakers to enhance clarity and sound separation.

Whilst Bluetooth connectivity is used by the majority of new audio system, the USB port not only provides connectivity for your smartphone but enables charging at the same time.

Navigation Systems and Connectivity

In-car navigation systems are a great feature particularly if you drive in unfamiliar suburbs or seeking an alternative path to your destination. The emergence of the smartphone, its increased screen real estate, often means that an inbuilt nav system is overlooked or simply package into the car as a standard feature. In built nav systems are often bundled with other features, such as a reverse camera or a high-end audio system, and other applications that can provide greater connectivity with other devices. Built-in systems have large, clear screens mounted in the centre of the dashboard and have generally intuitive touch controls.

As we have seen with our smartphones, most inbuilt systems respond to voice commands, giving you the added safety of keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Many systems can provide real-time traffic reports, which can alert you to congested traffic, accidents, or road construction.

Bluetooth connectivity is now ubiquitous, enabling devices such as smartphones to wirelessly communicate with the car's audio system. This allows convenient hands-free phone operation, as well as playback of music stored on the phone. Many systems can stream Internet-sourced audio to the car using apps, such as Pandora. Apple Car Play and Android Auto have competed to find their way in an increasing number within new cars, allowing smartphone apps to provide a wide range of enhanced features in-car, such as Google Maps, Messages, Podcasts, Skype.

New vs. Used

When you’re in the market for a car, the first consideration is whether to buy new or used. Buying a brand-new vehicle certainly has its benefits. New cars have the very latest safety gear and engineering improvements, not to mention factory warranty. With a new car, you know what you're getting; you don't have to worry about incomplete service record, drive-it-like-it-was-stolen or concealed collision damage. Further, you can have your choice of colour, trim and range of options. Also consider that financing rates are typically lower than for a used vehicle.

The key drawback to buying a new car is not its acceleration however its rapid depreciation. A new car typically will shed half its value in its first two or three years on the road. If you finance the new car with a low down payment, you can easily find yourself "upside down" on the loan, where you owe more than the car is worth.

Used cars can be a welcome alternative. The used-car market is about three times the size of the new-car market, so there are plenty of cars from which to choose. One of the best strategies is to find a car you like that's only two to three years old. Such a car has already taken its biggest depreciation hit, will have reasonable features comparable to new cars and should have the majority of its useful life ahead of it. Modern cars, if soundly maintained, can stay on the road 300,000 kms or longer. Rust isn't nearly as big a problem as it was decades ago, and the use of electronics have eliminated the need for frequent tune-ups. If you're looking at a used soft-top, you'll want to inspect the top carefully for rips, holes, and other damage. For retractable hardtops, check the operation of the top carefully, as the mechanisms are extraordinarily complex.

When Buying a Used Sports Car...

When buying a used sports car, one must be extra vigilant, as these cars are often the subject of abuse that can lead to costly repairs down the road. Check carefully for signs of extreme wear, such as excessive wear to the clutch, brakes and tyres (brand-new tyres on one end of the car only may be an attempt to cover up abuse) or signs of collision damage repair. Many signs of mistreatment will not be readily apparent, so having the car inspected by a qualified mechanic is a smart investment of time and money.

Modifications such as power-enhancing computer chips, bolt-on superchargers or turbochargers, lowered suspension components, or different rims and tyres, all can enhance a car's performance if they are installed properly, but they can also cause big problems, particularly with compliance testing. Even if you plan to customize the car, it's always best to buy an unmodified example. (Leave the modified cars to the experienced mechanics.)

The key to selecting a good used car is to focus on reliability, even when a prospective automobile is still covered by its original factory warranty.

At the same time, every used car is unique. A careful pre-purchase inspection remains a vital part of the process. If you do research and take care in the car selection, a used car can save you significant money in the long run.

Whether buying new or used, it is important to do a little homework to choose a good model, and to follow that up with effective negotiation. Do a PPSR check.