The best time to buy a new car


In South Africans, October to December are said to be the best months to buy a car as many dealers run sales during this period. If you have your sights set on a car right now, the good news is that you’re spoilt for choice.

According to Seugnette van Wyngaard, the head of 1st for Women Insurance, car buyers in South Africa are now facing a staggering array of automotive choices.

“Market research firm IBISWorld reveals that there are 793 global car and automobile manufacturing businesses as of 2023. – and, of course, many of those companies do business in South Africa. For the first time, those companies aren’t just producing cars with internal combustion engines. Instead, they’re offering electric cars, hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles too. While this is good in that motorists have lots of cars from which to choose, it can also be tricky to make the right selection,” she points out.

The members of the Women’s World Car of the Year (WWCOTY) jury concur, stressing that – when buying a car – women need to take multiple factors into account. “The choice of a car depends on your situation,” says Sandy Myhre, New Zealand’s representative on the WWCOTY jury. “With children, practicality rules – so the buyer should investigate the ability to fit a couple of car seats in the vehicle and also the possibility to stow many other odds and ends.”

Carla Ribeiro, Portugal’s representative, agrees that practicality is paramount: “Women need to look for a car that’s easy to park, with a boot they can open with their hands full, and a second row of seats where it’s easy (and safe) to assemble and disassemble a car seat.”

Practicality is often the terrain of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers, which are very popular with female motorists in South Africa. “SUVs are popular with women thanks to their all-round ability, high ground clearance, and four-wheel drive. Crossovers, meanwhile, can be a bit cheaper and lighter on fuel – although their off-road capabilities are not as pronounced,” notes Van Wyngaard.

The higher, larger body of SUVs can provide increased protection in the event of an accident, but there’s also another benefit to that high-up seating position. “Sitting higher off the ground also makes it easier to spot those craters we affectionately term potholes,” points out Charleen Clarke, WWCOTY judge for South Africa.

Electric cars are still struggling to gain a foothold in South Africa, due to ongoing power supply issues and a scarcity of affordable “wall charge” options. The lack of charging infrastructure also limits their current driving range. So, for now, a hybrid or a car with an internal combustion engine may be a more sensible buy.

In Europe, however, electric vehicles are already very much a reality. “I believe that women need to look for a reliable and precise navigation system, which shows all available electric charging stations. This is very important to me and makes life much easier,” says German juror Solveig Grewe.

Clarke also suggests that female motorists research a brand before investing in a new car. “There are many quality surveys into automotive brands. JP Power conducts some especially authoritative and respected research. This will tell you if the brand you’re buying boasts good or bad quality,” she notes.

But, when all is said and done, it’s critical to not only feel safe, but also comfortable – mentally and physically – in your car. How can you achieve this?

“My advice? Test drive the car! Drive it on your usual roads, load it up, park it in places you regularly visit. The main factor for me is your personal opinion – how does the car make you feel and, importantly, does it meet your mobility needs?” advises Sabrina Parant, WWCOTY jury member for Belgium.

So, there you have it. Maybe the most important factors to consider when buying a car aren’t that different to when considering a life partner. Does the car make you smile? Is it known for its reliability? Does it make your heart beat that little bit faster? Then maybe it’s the car for you.