It may seem obvious, but the first thing to consider when you're buying a new car is how you'll use it day-to-day. And that means sparing a few minutes to do a little homework.
So, first question: who will use the car? It's all well and good hoping to make do with a small car in order to cut costs, but if you're married with three kids and have a couple of dogs, that wont be very practical come holiday time.
On the flip side, you may fancy the image cast by an SUV, but if you do little more than drive to the supermarket each week, you may soon be wondering if an SUV's size and costs makes sense.
You'll have to consider your children, too. If the little 'uns need child seats, you may well want to insist on ISOFIX points as well as side and curtain airbags.
It's also worth checking out the crash-test safety ratings on the Euro NCAP site (www.euroncap.com). They will show you how well a car protects adults and children in an accident. Make sure, too, that all the seats can be fitted safely before you buy take them along to dealerships to test your chosen design.