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Old 12.03.2012, 08:31
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Buying a car and driving in Geneva

Greetings
I am currently planning a move from New Zealand to Geneva (hubby currently short listed for a job).

I have three questions:
1. I have never driven in snow - and have 20 years driving experience in a right hand drive car (and only six days in a LHD car) ... Is there anything I should know, and should I get some driving lessons when we arrive; comments and ideas please

2. Our children are 10 and 7, they both weight around 25kg (a bit over 50lbs), and are both around 130 cm tall. Currently, they sit in a half booster in the car. What are the minimum regulations and ideals for safety seats for children of this age/size in swizerland.

3. We currently drive a car similar to this
http://www.auto24.ch/mazda/premacy-1999/4144672
We love love love it.

It suits our needs well, most of the time it is a mid sized family station wagon. However, when we need it, we can flip the seats in the back, and it has the capacity to seat seven.

It is great for when I am doing a kids car pool, and we are hoping that family will visit us in Geneva, so having the extra seats will be convenient for that too. so, a seven seater is ideal (even with the small luggage space when seven seats are used) but is still only a mid sized car for every day use (great for parking and fuel efficiency etc ).

So, my questions:
Are Mazdas common enough to make it easy for serving and repairs?
Is there something similar (mid sized seven seater) from a different manufacturer?
Is this suitable for winter in Geneva?


thank you for your feedback...
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Old 12.03.2012, 08:48
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Re: Buying a car and driving in Geneva

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Greetings
I am currently planning a move from New Zealand to Geneva (hubby currently short listed for a job).

I have three questions:
1. I have never driven in snow - and have 20 years driving experience in a right hand drive car (and only six days in a LHD car) ... Is there anything I should know, and should I get some driving lessons when we arrive; comments and ideas please

2. Our children are 10 and 7, they both weight around 25kg (a bit over 50lbs), and are both around 130 cm tall. Currently, they sit in a half booster in the car. What are the minimum regulations and ideals for safety seats for children of this age/size in swizerland.

3. We currently drive a car similar to this
http://www.auto24.ch/mazda/premacy-1999/4144672
We love love love it.

It suits our needs well, most of the time it is a mid sized family station wagon. However, when we need it, we can flip the seats in the back, and it has the capacity to seat seven.

It is great for when I am doing a kids car pool, and we are hoping that family will visit us in Geneva, so having the extra seats will be convenient for that too. so, a seven seater is ideal (even with the small luggage space when seven seats are used) but is still only a mid sized car for every day use (great for parking and fuel efficiency etc ).

So, my questions:
Are Mazdas common enough to make it easy for serving and repairs?
Is there something similar (mid sized seven seater) from a different manufacturer?
Is this suitable for winter in Geneva?


thank you for your feedback...
Welcome to EF and soon to Switzerland.

1-Regarding the driving lessons, you can have some lessons when you arrive here, it would be useful as driving in snow is tricky and it becomes more dangerous when it's totally iced

2-For the seats, i know that it's defined by age not height (I think it is 10 y.o)

3-I understand a minivan is nice in NZ / OZ but i think you need to have a walk around Geneva before deciding on one cause it's not really that empty in terms traffic and parking space, a car like Hyndai Matrix would be your best shot in terms of size / usage
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  #3  
Old 12.03.2012, 09:38
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Re: Buying a car and driving in Geneva

A few lessons would be a good idea, if only to help build your confidence by having another expert driver to guide/advise you. I did a similar thing when I passed my driving test many years ago. Just had a couple of hours driving on motorway, practising parking, etc., as these things weren't covered in the driving test at the time. Also Geneva is pretty miserable for driving and may be quite different from what you're used to. There are tram tracks (and trams!) running down the middle of many roads for instance.

You could also do the same thing when the snow comes around again, book a lesson or two with someone to advise you about conditions. The main thing that will need to be done, whatever car you decide on, is to change your tyres from summer to winter ones around the beginning of November and then change them back again at the beginning of April. Winter tyres really make a difference compared to the summer ones.

I'd have a look around at what models are available before rushing to buy a car. There are plenty of Mazda dealers here and you might find they have something that is almost a match for what you have now. Nissan Qashqai +2 is also another model to consider and there are several others that offer the option of extra seats.
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Old 12.03.2012, 10:10
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Re: Buying a car and driving in Geneva

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Welcome to EF
3-I understand a minivan is nice in NZ / OZ but i think you need to have a walk around Geneva before deciding on one cause it's not really that empty in terms traffic and parking space, a car like Hyndai Matrix would be your best shot in terms of size / usage
thank you for your welcome ...
Our current car is 4.6 metre long, so would be call a mid-size car in NZ.
Its strong advantage is it's ability to seat seven. the sixth and seventh seats are compact (suits our petit children).

Unlike other seven seaters in the NZ market, (e.g. Honda odyssey, Hyundai sante fe) it is small for it's seating capacity. Something we would like to repeated (unless we are mad to do so in this situation)
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Old 12.03.2012, 10:25
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Re: Buying a car and driving in Geneva

Re. child booster seats:- 12 yrs or 150cm whichever is reached first.

Car seats for children - law change 1 April 2010

Mazda dealers/service should be common enough - maybe not quite as widespread as European and more common Jap. makes.

Alternatives could be Toyota Verso, or Opel Zafira (bit bigger but clever compact rear 6th and 7th seats).

NB Opel is owned by GM and may be Vauxhall or Holden on your side of the ball, and may have equivalent models.
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Old 12.03.2012, 11:36
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Re: Buying a car and driving in Geneva

If you are planning on living in Geneva, I really would recommend not having a car at all. It is quite a mess driving here, and generally takes longer to get to places with a car than walking or taking public transport. Further, you need to factor in parking costs for where you live and where you will drive to and it gets expensive. And if you are looking at a 7-seater, most will be very difficult to park in the very small parking spaces.

I would perhaps come, get and idea of where you will live and work, use mobility if you need a car, use public transport, then decide much later if you need a car or not.

And as for the snow, Geneva is not known for clearing the snow when it comes, so it is total panic, mayhem, and gridlock, not much chance of driving anywhere in Geneva when this happens. But it only happens a few days each winter usually.
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Old 13.03.2012, 00:32
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Re: Buying a car and driving in Geneva

Hi

Any car will do, unless you live well out of town on the slopes of (one of many) a nearby mountain. Downtown Geneva gets relatively little snow, a few days per year only. But you MUST get winter tyres which significantly increase grip.

7 seaters are quite common, Mazdas will be available, but they're not so common as Opel Zafira, VW Touran, or Ford S Max which are easier to find (if buying second hand). Look at autoscout.ch for an idea of what's available here and how common. Don't let others panic you, traffic here is no worse than downtown Christchurch or similar. Rush hour is slow, but drivers here are civilised and you'll get the hang quickly enough. Parking spaces are small by US standards, but not by European standards. Unless you're a nervous driver/parker you should be fine.

Don't listen to those who say you can survive in Geneva without a car. Without kids, if you're loaded and live close to school, maybe. But for "normal" people with kids, unless you intend to keep the kids from doing extra curricular activities, clubs, etc. or are a real fan of public transport, you'll need a car. In particular, public transport with impatient kids is not practical outside business hours in the Geneva suburbs. However, if you live where your husband can commute without a car, you should be able to get by with a single car.

Half booster seats should be fine for kids that age. Check the TCS (Touring club suisse) website for the rules.

Steve
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