Britons buying new cars this September are a sensible bunch, according to a new Opinium* survey, mostly diligently researching cars before picking one; however, it also found plenty of people swayed by emotional factors including hearts overruling heads, wanting cars as status symbols, and a car’s colour affecting purchasing decisions.

illustration choosing what car to buy sml

Overall, an impressive 71%, of the 2,000 UK drivers surveyed, do careful research before buying a new or second-hand car including checking its fuel efficiency, safety and general reliability record. This figure is the same for men and women and across all age groups.

The research, commissioned by, a leading supplier of GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) insurance for new and second-hand cars, reveals, however, that despite two-fifths (42%) saying that they do not care how their car looks as long as it gets them from A to B, the same proportion admit that the colour is very important and that they would not buy a car if they do not like the colour. Men and women both feel strongly about the colour (40% v 44%).

As well as being affected by the colour, the survey reveals that one in five (20%) say they would spend more on a car they loved than they could actually afford, rising to one in three under 35-year olds (36%). Older age groups are more hard-headed with one in four 35 – 54-year olds (26%) saying this and only 14% of over 55s.

Another emotional factor that comes out strongly is that being seen with a nice car is a symbol of status. Over a quarter (27%) of drivers agree that having a nice car is a symbol of status, with the North East (36%) and London (32%) coming out as the most car-status orientated regions, with the South West (20%) and the East of England (24%) polling the lowest.

“We know people love their cars. Over 80% of people told us this,” said Ben Wooltorton, Chief Operating Office of, “so it’s no surprise that when it comes to buying a new car, which is probably the second biggest purchase for most people in their lives after property, there’s a battle between a sensible, well thought-through decision and that mad rush of adrenalin when the head just gets overruled.

“We need to remember that for many a car is not just a set of wheels but an integral part of their life giving them potentially years of use, so it’s easy to see how emotions play such a prominent role in the purchase.”