Consumers are researching their new motor online instead of taking it for a test drive, research has revealed. Of the 80,000 people surveyed by Maritz Research, 11.4 per cent who bought a 2012 model chose not to take the car they were interested in buying out for a spin.
Instead, 80 per cent of consumers are now using internet websites - Recombu Cars being one of them, of course - to find out the pros and cons of a vehicle, leading to a sale of a car that the buyer may not have even bothered switching on.
Possible reasons for dropping a test drive include a dislike for having a pushy car salesman sat next to you, a lack of time to really get a feel for the vehicle and the fear of damaging a vehicle as you leave the garage.
Extended-length test drives are available and are much more useful for working out if a car is the right one for you, but demonstrators are relatively thin on the ground so it's likely the car you want to test isn't available.
Drivers aren't completely bypassing the notion of a test drive, though. 9.5 per cent of 2012 car buyers used the internet to book a test drive, up from 7.4 per cent in 2010.
While we can understand wanting to avoid pushy sales tactics, car reviews are subjective beasts. What we love about a car might be hated by another publication, and so it's always worth taking a car for a spin, especially when it's the second most expensive item the average consumer will buy after a home.
Reiterating this point, vice president of strategic consulting for Maritz Research, Chris Travell, said: "I just find it quite fascinating and a little baffling. As cliché as perhaps it sounds, there's that new-car smell that needs to be experienced firsthand and cannot be experienced over the Internet."
If you do decide to take a car for a test drive, try to avoid looking too interested and, where possible, take the car out alone so you can relax and get a feel for it without somebody looking over your shoulder.
And, just like you wouldn't take everything a car salesman says as gospel, try not to believe everything you read on the internet.
Image: Auto Motto