What do your car choices say about you?

Allianz Australia has partnered with Queensland University of Technology to curate the ultimate guide to understanding why we choose the cars we do. Whether it’s a choice of the interior, the colour, manual or automatic – drivers across the board are putting a lot of thought, effort and money into their car preferences.

So why are Australians so passionate about their cars and what do their car choices say about their behaviour and personality? This is the question new research from Allianz Australia has aimed to reveal.

The quantitative and qualitative research, conducted in partnership with Allianz’s Behavioural Insights Advocate, Associate Professor Peter O’Connor, explores this relationship between personality types, demographics and the types of cars and car features that people prefer. From wanting their car to make a statement and turn heads to prioritising safety features and practicality, it is clear that one’s personality and behaviour has a direct correlation to their unique car choices.

Pure Profile surveyed 1,000 Australians aged 18-87 who own a car to reveal that a large number of specific consumer preferences in motor vehicles can be summarised by 11 major preferences related to styling, performance, safety and practicality.

If the results are analysed by gender women are more relaxed then men in almost every category – allowing singing (12 per cent difference), pets (17 per cent difference), passengers to change the music or air-con (10 per cent difference) and the windows to be down (6 per cent difference).

“Women are more relaxed about their cars compared to men because men view luxury as more important, typically spend more money on cars than women (this equates to a greater proportion of their income), and are more likely to define themselves based on their car/brand,” said Peter O’Connor, Allianz Behavioural Insights Advocate.

If you are into performance cars and have a preference for acceleration, power and high-top speed then the research says you are highly social, influential and have strong opinions. You likely don’t have kids and when it comes to the car you drive, good acceleration, power and speed are very important. You’re not cheap and are willing to pay more for higher performance and prefer convertibles; station wagons are definitely not your first choice. You appreciate a little more control over what goes on in your car and don’t let passengers change the aircon and music, but you do allow pets and singing.

“Both males and females who like sports/performance cars tended to be extraverted and enjoy receiving attention. Males with this preference also tended to be assertive, not highly intellectually curious but tend to report being fascinated by beauty/art. Interestingly, females who preferred sports/performance cars scored marginally lower in compassion compared to females who did not.  Overall males tended to like sport/performance cars more than females,” commented Peter O’Connor, Allianz Behavioural Insights Advocate when I asked if there was a difference in character traits between men and women who like sports cars.

If you have a preference for modern technology such as rear cameras then you are motivated, social and full of energy. You most likely have kids and like to keep up with the latest technology. When you are looking for a new car, getting the latest tech is one of your priorities and you’re willing to spend more to get it. You prefer large SUVs and don’t like station wagons.

A preference for recreation-friendly car features such as off-road capability means you are outgoing, young, probably don’t have kids and prefer to spend your income having fun on the weekend. You prefer a car that can go anywhere and is ideal for recreation and you’d much rather four-wheel drives, large SUVs or utes than sedans. You have no problem with people eating in the car and you don’t mind passengers taking control of the music and aircon.

Is your motto in life ‘Safe and Reliable’? Then the research suggests you are kind, responsible and getting older. You probably have a couple of kids, love life and when it comes to your car, you want something that is safe, reliable and has a good reputation. You don’t have a preference for manufacturers, but small SUVs are your preferred body-type. You don’t like pets in your car and don’t let people eat or sing but you’re happy to have the windows down. Those interested in purchasing a car for safety and practicality features tend to be the type of person who is open-minded and agreeable, and also tend to be female (63 per cent) and have children.

A preference for cars with lowest cost price, fuel economy, low maintenance cost, high retained value then you are reliable, enthusiastic and care about others according to Allianz. You can worry sometimes but you’re future-looking and financially smart. When you’re looking for a new car you want something with good value for money, fuel economy and high retained value and don’t care much about the type of car, including body type.

Wanting a family friendly cars/car features indicates you are a young parent and might not always be as responsible or organised as you’d like to be. When it comes to your car, you like to have all your bases covered for your family’s needs and prefer a larger vehicle with plenty of boot space like a large SUV or four-wheel drive. You definitely don’t mind if people eat in your car and are happy for passengers to sing and control the aircon and music.

If you drive a conventional car with an automatic transmission and 4 doors then you are responsible, prefer stability and like to plan ahead. You can overthink things sometimes but when it comes to your car, you keep things conventional and prefer an automatic with four doors. Sedans and SUVs are your preference and utilities are a definite no-go. You like to keep things tidy and in control, so no eating, singing or pets allowed.

A preference for cars that are easy to use and practical says you are level-headed, creative and dependable. You are getting older and likely have a couple of kids. You don’t care too much about the type of car you drive, aren’t willing to spend big on it and prefer something practical and easy to use. Station wagons are your first choice. You aren’t overly occupied with maintaining your car and might give it a wash and service every now and then.

The research shows a preference for classic car elements suggests you are young and more interested in doing what you want rather than worrying about being responsible or caring what others think. When it comes to your car, you want something more old school with rear wheel drive, manual transmission, 8-cylinder engine, manual transmission, exhaust with good tone, and rear wheel drive more cylinders and a nice sounding exhaust. You care about your car and are willing to spend time and money maintaining it. You’re a relaxed driver and are happy to have singing, eating and windows down but not pets.

The results for a preference for luxury features such as heated seats indicates you are social, trendsetting, educated and young. The type of car you own is important to you and you’re willing to spend a little more for luxury additions like heated seats. You prefer convertibles and large SUVs and are willing to spend time and money maintaining it.

Similarly a preference for ‘in fashion’, popular and head turning cars also suggests you are young, probably don’t have kids and have higher education. The type of car you drive is very important to you, you have a higher than average income, and you’re willing to spend it on your car. You prefer something that is well-known, fashionable and is likely to turn heads. You mostly go for sedans and convertibles. You care about your car and are willing to spend time and money maintaining it. Males tend to rate style and performance as more important overall than females; 100 per cent of respondents who said fashion and head turning were “absolutely essential” to them were male.

Allianz’s Behavioural Insights Advocate, Associate Professor Peter O’Connor, said: “Personality and our individual characteristics affect the way people behave, and consequently, the way people buy. As consumers, we tend to make purchases not only based on what we need, but also based on who we are and what we value. When purchasing a car, our research demonstrates that consumers with different personality traits choose cars in predictable ways. Our car preferences match who we are, what we value, and how we wish to be viewed by others. Buying a car is a big decision for anyone and it has been fascinating to determine how closely aligned our car choices are with our personality traits.”

I wanted to delve a little deeper into this topic so I asked Peter O’Connor why some people bond with their cars more than others and he said “We didn’t specifically measure the extent to which people bond with their cars. However, we found that people who strongly value the type of car they drive – which might relate to bonding – tended to score highly on conscientiousness and egocentrism/vanity. Regarding conscientiousness, this probably indicates that highly organized and efficient people require these properties in their motor vehicle and would feel negatively toward an unreliable car that limited their ability to be conscientious. Regarding egocentrism/vanity, our findings probably indicate that consumers with the propensity to enjoy attention, complements etc view their motor vehicle as a way to meet their needs for these things. Interestingly, creative people were also more likely to strongly value the type of car they drive.”

Nick Adams, Chief Market Manager at Allianz Australia, said: “We understand just how much Australian’s love their cars and recognise the important role they play in everyday life. Perhaps what we didn’t realise was just how much of yourself is reflected in your car choices. “Whatever your situation – whether you’re a parent with three kids, a young university student, or someone just trying to get from A to B – the research proves that our cars do in fact say a lot about our character, as well as our lifestyle.”

Do these results reflect your personality traits and car choices?

Photographs by Unsplash.