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Manufacturer test drive comparison

A test drive is often your only chance to see how a car will fit with your life. Here's how to make the most of the opportunity.

Car dealers often insist on joining you for a running sales pitch during the ride. Other dealers understand the importance of a test drive when preparing to make such a large financial investment and allow for a longer, more comprehensive experience.

Find out how different car manufacturers offer test drives and everything you should ask or do during the experience.

How do car manufacturer's test drives compare?

Conduct your own manufacturer test drive comparison with this handy table.

ManufacturerLength of test driveSpecial featuresHow to book a test drive
AudiNormal test drives are as negotiated with the dealer. Audi Driving Experience is a full-day course in various locations.There are 2 Audi Driving Experience options in Australia. Audi Dynamic and Audi Performance. These full-day courses run at set times, for a limited number of participants. Audi Dynamic costs $1,395 per person and is capped at 32 people, while Audi Performance costs $2,000 per person and is capped at 24 people.You can request normal test drives by completing an online form. You can book and pay for Audi Driving Experiences online.
BMWNormal test drives are as negotiated with the dealer. BMW Driving Experience offers day-long courses.BMW Driving Experience is an extended test drive and an all-day driving course. It is currently under review for 2024 but previously had costs of more than $1,000 per person.You can book a normal test drive or the BMW driving experience online or by phone.
FordAs negotiated with each dealership.You can request a test drive online through the Ford website, which includes a searchable map of locations.
HoldenHolden no longer manufactures any vehicles and does not directly offer test drives.You may be able to test-drive a Holden through a used-car dealership that has stock available, or through a private seller.
HondaAs negotiated with your local dealer.You can select up to 3 Honda models to test drive when you submit a request online.After you complete the online form, your closest dealer will contact you.
HyundaiAs negotiated with each dealership.Hyundai has previously run promotions for test drives but does not have any current promotions.The online form allows you to specify your preferred date and time of the test drive. A representative from Hyundai will then contact you to complete the booking.
IsuzuAs negotiated with your local dealer, depending on the Isuzu model you wish to test drive.Choose whether you wish to test drive a D-Max ute or MU-X when booking the test drive.You can book test drives with an online form.
JeepAs negotiated with the dealership.You can only select one Jeep model when booking a test drive online.You can request a test drive online.
KiaAs negotiated with the dealership.You can only select one Kia model when booking a test drive onlineAfter choosing the model you wish to test drive, a map will be displayed showing your closest dealerships that stock those models. You can complete the booking online or contact the dealership directly
MazdaAs negotiated with each dealership.You can request a test drive online.
MGAs negotiated with the dealership.You have the option of leaving comments when you book online, so you could use that to request a specific amount of time.You can request a test drive online.
Mercedes-BenzTest drive bookings made online are allocated 1 hour. You may be able to negotiate a longer test drive directly with your local dealer.After selecting your preferred Mercedes-Benz model, fuel type and transmission, you will be shown a map of all dealerships in Australia that offer that model. Select a dealer, then you can book the date and time of your test drive.
MitsubishiAs negotiated with each dealership.You can select up to 3 Mitsubishi models for a test drive.The online form allows you to indicate your preferred date and time, but a final booking will be made when a representative phones you after you submit the form.
NissanAs negotiated with the dealership.You can negotiate test drive length over the phone before the appointment.You can search for dealerships online and contact them directly to request a test drive.
PolestarTest drives are allocated in 1-hour blocks when booking online.You can nominate a second driver if you want to test it with your partner or someone else.You can request a test drive online, subject to availability.
SubaruAs discussed with your local dealership.Online test drives are offered every 30 minutes but you may be able to negotiate the length of the test.You can request test drives online.
SuzukiAs negotiated with each dealership.You can select up to 2 models to test drive.The online form will prompt you to select your preferred dealer. A representative will then contact you to make a test drive booking.
TeslaTest drives are approximately 15 minutes.If no dealerships are available in your area, you have the option of signing up for more information and details on special events.You can request a test drive online, subject to availability.
ToyotaAs negotiated with each dealership.You can request a test drive online. The dealership will accept walk-ins depending on availability.
VolkswagenAs negotiated after making initial contact via an online form.You can select up to 2 models to test drive when you book online.Complete an online form and a representative will contact you.

What to think about before you test drive a car

Read reviews and create a hit list

If you go to a car dealership without an idea of the type of car you want, it could be overwhelming. So start by narrowing it down to 1-3 models. Some questions that may help you include:

  • How do you expect to use your new car?
  • Will it be for short commutes or longer drives?
  • Is it going to be your main car or a second car?
  • Do you want a compact car or an SUV?
  • Are you interested in an EV or any other specific features?

You can also check out Finder's car reviews, based on real test drives. These reviews could help you save time by combining the findings of several automotive journalists into one easy-to-browse article. We also give each vehicle an aggregate Finder score to help you decide.

Check out your local car dealerships

After creating a list of cars to test drive, contact your local dealership or go online to find out:

  1. What cars are available that match your preferred trim and specifications
  2. When you can take a test drive

If salespeople know you're interested in seriously buying a car, they should jump at the chance to offer you a test drive.

How to book a test drive

Dealerships have different requirements when it comes to booking a test drive. Some dealerships will offer test drives for walk-ins, while other dealerships will only allow test drives that have been scheduled in advance.

Most manufacturers now have online booking forms where you can request a test drive. But usually, the request will be sent to a dealership that's close to your location and has the requested vehicle available for a test. See the table above to compare manufacturer test drive requirements and find out how each manufacturer schedules test drive bookings.

Ask for a loan for 24 hours

It's hard to what a car will be like long-term if you've only driven it for a few kilometres. Having a car sales representative as a co-driver can also be distracting.

To avoid this problem, see if you can secure a longer test drive. You may even be able to borrow a car for the weekend.

With no salesperson in the passenger seat, you can spend time feeling out all the little nuances of the vehicle without pressure or disturbance.

You'll also get the chance to see how well the car fits into your normal daily travels.

For example, does the steering lock make navigating your workplace underground car park a hassle? Does the engine have to work hard to maintain speed on motorways? Having a loan car for longer lets you discover all these foibles.

What to do on your test drive

  • Make sure you're in control

    Remember that you are the one spending the money, and you are the one who will be spending a significant proportion of your life driving the car. Try not to let the salesperson control the transaction or the test drive.

  • Test drive more than one car

    Aim to test drive several cars in one day, even models that you are not keen on purchasing. Comparing the test drive experience of one car to another will give you much better idea of the real car experience than evaluating one car on its own.

  • Try as many features as possible

    Some features may be extremely well designed while others might be difficult to locate or use. So, use the test drive to check different features. Operate the lights and wipers and, if there's one installed, try the voice control system. Note how easy it is to use the features and whether you like their layout. This way, you can make an objective decision on whether the car is to your liking.

  • Listen to the car

    Listen for any rattles, squeaks or other sounds that could be a sign that something is wrong, especially for used cars. Even on brand new cars, there could be squeaks from the interior plastics rubbing against each other. Also, listen to the general noise level in the cabin. At high speeds, is there a drone from a lack of soundproofing? Can you hear passengers talking?

  • Bring your family or someone with you

    If you will regularly have other people in the car, such as your partner or children, bring them to the test drive. Ask them about the comfort of the car and the ease of getting in and out. It can be difficult to assess backseat comfort from the driver's seat, so having other people sit there can help you find out how comfortable it is in regards to cushioning, legroom, airflow and any other features, such as infotainment systems.

  • Check the ease of getting in and out

    If you will be carrying elderly people, people with disabilities or anyone who has problems moving around, either bring them to the test drive with you or take the time to assess the car from their point of view, particularly regarding the ease of getting in and out of the car.

  • Test a baby seat or booster seat

    If you'll be installing a baby seat or booster seat, bring the seat with you. Take the time to fit the seat into the car to see how easily they can be installed and how well they fit. Assess the height of the seat once it's installed and imagine lifting a baby or toddler in and out several times. Is this a good height for you and them?

  • Check the storage

    Think about how much storage you'll need and physically check the spaces in the car. If you regularly carry large items like bulky sports equipment, bring it with you to make sure it fits. If you're buying a small car, think about your regular shopping and ensure you'll have plenty of storage room in the boot.

  • Check the brakes

    One of the most important elements of safety is the brakes. The dealer may not like this, but it's vitally important to test the brakes before committing to purchasing the vehicle. Navigate to a quiet street or the back area of a parking facility, drive at regular speed, then imagine a cyclist or child has just appeared in front of your car and quickly apply the brakes. Did the car stop swiftly and securely, making you feel safe?

  • Go on a freeway

    Drive to your nearest freeway or motorway on-ramp and enter the roadway. Notice how quickly the car can get up to the speed limit. Did the car feel like it was struggling or was the acceleration process effortless?

Remember: It's OK to walk away after a test drive. It can be a high-pressure experience, run by experienced salespeople who know how to make buyers feel a certain way. But it is important to remember that you have a right to test drive the car and to decide whether or not you buy it.

Frequently asked questions

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