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I have a confession to make. It’s been a few years since I owned a car. Obviously, I love cars, but in the past couple of years, I’ve lived in a major city or a well-connected suburb of one. Getting around using public transport wasn’t really much of an issue. And there was usually a car or two available in our long-term fleet for me to borrow if I needed one, and if not, ride-sharing apps came to the rescue. Why buy a car when I can whip out my phone and summon a car to take me where I want to go instantly, right? There’s no need to deal with the routine maintenance, parking and associated costs of owning a vehicle. Ride-share apps are abundant and even with their inflated pricing, I still come out ahead considering the fact that a driver and fuel are included. I was quite happy not worrying about renewing insurance policies and paying road tax.

Very happy, indeed, until the current situation has turned this ideology on its head. We’re currently battling with a virus that lives on surfaces for extended periods of time and which is transmitted through contact. It’s not worth risking my health to participate in ride sharing anymore. Until a vaccine is developed and deployed to such an extent that this virus is no longer a threat, getting around is going to become an issue.

Now, the only real solution to that is to invest in some personal mobility. This, I feel, is what’s going through the mind of the majority of the populace. Car sales, which were in a slump already, came to a grinding halt as soon as the lockdown hit, but they’re already bouncing back to pre-lockdown levels. It’s never been easier to buy a car than now, too. In most cases, you don’t even have to step out of your house to do that. With the logistics of buying a car taken care of thanks to online sales, the only other roadblock to buying a car is the finances. And with lucrative schemes from banks and manufacturers, this is also eliminated, paving the way towards personal mobility for many.

It’s been a few years since I owned a car

The only other question is whether to wait for something new to come to market. While many people seem to think that this surge could mean new products, I highly doubt that cash-strapped OEMs will be quick to invest in a new product, instead choosing to extend the life of an existing product with mild updates. which brings me nicely to my next point. If I were in the market for a car right now, which I just so happen to be, it makes far more sense to look at the used market than buying new. For starters, the cost of entry is much, much lower. And if you’re patient, you could end up snatching a great deal. Admittedly, my travel radius has also reduced quite significantly now, so it’s not a pressing need to get a car.

But buy a car, I must. You see, in the normal review process of a new car, I go through a mental checklist of what a potential owner might look for in a certain vehicle. And while this list changes based on the price point and type of vehicle, there are some things that all owners look for in their cars. Reviewing cars for potential buyers doesn’t make sense when I don’t have a compass on what makes a good ownership experience. So, that, dear reader, is why I’m buying a car — to better serve U.

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[The article originally appeared in the July 2020 issue of Motoring World]