The first rule is that you must not rush. Your new car will be your constant friend for several years so do not rush off to buy the flavour of the month and regret it later. Then decide how much you want to spend but buy something that is a little better that what you can afford today because you should remain happy with it even after a few years.

Your next decision is to choose the type of car you want - a small hatchback or a larger saloon or even a Macho SUV. You have many choices today and can even buy a smaller compact SUV like the Maruti Suzuki Brezza or Tata Nexon that offer the space and comforts of a car but have a muscular look and big wheels capable of handling bad roads. Then you must spend time to drive it and get to know it because you must like its styling and advance features so that you will always feel proud of your car. You should take the opinions of your wife, girlfriend, kids or friends but do not get confused because you have to decide what you want to buy. Let them argue about the colour of the car but do not compromise on your decision.

The third decision is the size of your car. You will want a large and spacious car if you have a family but a smaller car is much more practical if you do not have too many passengers and it will be much easier in traffic and for parking. Some of the compact cars available today offer surprisingly generous inner space and if they have a high roof it gives a spacious feeling. The car's interiors are also very important because you are mostly inside the car. So be sure that the legroom, headroom and seat width is acceptable and that the colour scheme, fabrics and plastic fittings are to your taste.

Then you have to choose the engine. A diesel engine is a very good choice if you travel long distances but a petrol engine costs less and is a bit smoother to drive. Everyone asks about fuel consumption but it is no longer relevant because all modern cars are fuel efficient. The fuel consumption actually depends on the weight of the car and your driving cycles. If you do short start and stop trips or use your car every few days your fuel consumption will be high even if the engine is fuel efficient. Consider automatic gear systems that make driving much easier even if it costs a bit more - it is a huge boon for driving in traffic. Few buyers look to the suspension but you can easily find out about the ride and handling of any car. If you like to drive fast on mountain roads the handling is important but most buyers want a good comfortable ride.

All modern cars come with a huge array of electronic gadgets. Younger buyers not only want a good music system but like to access the internet and all the other electronic information and the GPS navigation system as well. Many cars, including some small ones now have rear view cameras or sensors to make parking much easier. Many of these gadgets can be controlled by buttons on the steering wheel so that you can enjoy them without having to take your eyes off the road.

Finally consider the resale value. It is very unfair because most modern cars are good but some brands have greater popularity. Today's prices will give you an idea of what your new car may be worth after a few years. .

The author is the region's most celebrated automobile columnist.