I had about 30 years of driving experience in Hong Kong and it wouldn’t be any surprise that I would pick up driving in UK. Once accommodation was settled, I started by car buying exercise. As quite a lot of money has already been spent on UK immigration, I planned to avoid unnecessary spending and getting a decent used car was my primary consideration.
There are a number of options available. Let’s work out my requirements: Electric car, Plug-in Hybrid Elective Vehicle (PHEV), Diesel car or the conventional Petrol car?
I did some information collection works from Auto Trader UK. Subject to my small budget, getting a conventional petrol car seemed to be the optimal solution under the same vehicle price and age.
There are quite a lot of choices in the UK Electric Car market. Unlike what we have in Hong Kong that limited to Tesla, Hyundai or Kia, nearly every local and overseas brands available in UK have offered some electric car models and looked great. Moreover, public charging facilities are reasonably populated across major locations and electric cars should be a good choice in the long run. Just like the earlier round of fuel shortages in the UK (not fuel shortages, only not enough drivers to deliver fuel to petrol stations!), the roads near petrol stations were full blocked. Some even needed to be temporarily closed due to lack of fuel. Using an electric car can save you from these troubles.
What followed were to decide the type and brand of car to buy. If you had read my previous post on cars that I loved, you would know that I had some kind of fantasy on wagon. So my plan was to buy a Ford Focus Estate.
With several rounds of research, I observed that asking prices for those newer Focus Estates normally exceeded £20,000 which were far beyond my budget. My wife also commented that size of the wagon was too big for a family of three and she suggested to get a smaller car instead.
Anyway, things would be much easier as “direction” was obtained. To get away from any troubles and risks, I got my car from an authorised dealer that came with limited-time quarantee, albeit it was slightly more expensive.
Guess what I finally got ?
在 Auto Trader UK 上做了簡單的資料搜集，基於我的小資購買計劃，在相同金額、車齡下，我最後還是選擇了汽油車。
題外話，英國的電動車市埸有很多選擇，差一多每一個本地或外國品牌都有提供電動車的款式，外型亦頗吸引，不會像香港來來去去都是 Telsa，Hyundai 或 Kia 等，好看與否就見人見智。另外本地公共沖電配套亦算不錯，長遠來說應該是一個值得考慮的選擇。就像早一輪英國的入油荒（不是燃油荒，只是不夠貨運司機送油到油站），油站附近的道路都塞滿入油汽車，更有部份油站缺油需暫停服務，擁有電動車便可免除苦惱。
下一步就要決定那種類型、品牌的車。如果有看過我之前一篇關於 曾經深愛過的車 的 post 的話，你會知道我一直心儀「旅行車」 Wagon ，難得今次再買車，就打算找部 Ford Focus Estate。
Oh yes, you read that right. It is the successor of the so-called (by Hong Kong Auto Industry) “King of Bend & Corners” Hot Hatch family, the 2019 Peugeot 208.
Peugeot is not very common in Hong Kong and only has few models available from the distributor. On the contrary, Peugeot is extremely popular in the UK and my Peugeot 208 is really eye-catching. Love at first sight!
In my few months of stay in the UK, I noticed that local residents do not have high expectation on cars. Old cars exceeding 10 to 20 years can easily be found on the road. On the other hand, I also observed that many Hong Kong families were still fond of luxury brands like Benz or BMW, possibly for the more prestige brand images. To be honest, car is just a mean of transportation and I would rather try different brands and models!
By the way, my wife’s advice is absolutely correct (As always!). Roads in the UK are very narrow (unless you often use those cross-city motorways like M3 or M25), roadside parking spaces are also small, driving a small car is more flexible. Together with the low fuel consumption, having a small car is definitely the best choice for daily use!
In case you lived in Greater London, there is one more consideration before buying your car. In order to improve air quality in Greater London, areas in Central London had been declared an ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) since early 2019. Vehichles entering the ULEZ have to pay ULEZ charge of £12.5 per day, if they do not meet the ULEZ requirements. And effective from October 2021, the ULEZ has been extended to cover areas inside the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205). Visit TfL for more details.
Well, no worry! Most of the petrol cars manufactured after 2005 meet the ULEZ requirements. For diesel cars, you need to choose from models manufactured after 2015.
你沒有看錯，就是香港車壇冠以「彎路之王」的 Hot Hatch 家族後繼車款：2019 年標緻 208 (Peugeot 208)。
標緻在香港可算是冷門車，代理亦只提供少量款式，相反在英國則非常流行。這個 208 第一代車款亦非常之吸睛，一看便令我心動。 😍
在英國的幾個月，留意到本地人對車的要求不高，十多廿年的舊車隨處可見。反而很多香港家庭仍然會鍾情於 Benz 或 BMW 等舊車，可能覺得是身份像徵吧。但怎樣名貴亦只是一件交通工具，倒不如試試不同車種！
其實太太的想法是絕對正確的（永遠都是！）。這幾個月的路面經驗告訴我英國的主要通道路都是非常狹窄（除非你經常使用那些如 M3、M25 等跨城市的高速幹道），路上泊車位亦較細，小車會比較靈活，加上耗油量相對低，日常使用非常化算！
如果你住在大倫敦，買車時還有一事情要考慮。為了減少倫敦市的空氣污染，Central London 地區在 2019 年初正式被定義為 ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone)，車輛如未能滿足到 ULEZ 要求，進入 Central London 需繳 ULEZ 費用，每天 12.5 鎊。2021 年 10 月， ULEZ 範圍擴大至 North Circular Road (A406) 及 South Circular Road (A205) 内的地區，詳情可参考 TfL 的網頁。
不過亦毋須太擔心，一般 2005 年後的汽油車輛大都滿足 ULEZ 要求。如果是柴油車的話就可能要選擇 2015 年後較新的車。
Aa a driver from Hong Kong, driving in the UK should not pose any converns as the same road system is in place. More important, you are still driving on the “Right” side!
Nevertheless, UK is indeed much bigger than Hong Kong and the road/motorway networks are far more complicated. A trustworthy GPS Navigation System is a must. My Peugeot 208 came with its factory installed TomTom Navigation System. Major route details would also be shown on the instrument cluster which render the system easy to use. The trim level of the Peugeot 208 that I have, was also equipped with Apple Carplay support. Personally, I found the integration of the User Interface with my Apple iPhone is great which delivered an enhanced level of drive safety.
不過話雖如此，英國的確比香港大很多，道路網絡亦非常複雜，一個值得信賴的 GPS 系統還是不可或缺的。我這部 Peugeot 208 原廠已內置了 TomTom 的系統，導航資訊更會顯示在汽車儀錶上，操作亦算方便。另外還支援 Apple Carplay，介面使用上和 Apple iPhone 整合得非常好，安全性更高。
After six months of driving in the UK, I realised that there were issues that I needed to accustom to.
The first one is Speed Limit. The national road speed is 30 mph (48 km/h) for lighted street within the city. Such limit may be reduced to 20 mph in area withs more residents or near schools. Further away from the town centre, the speed limit will be 60 mph for single carriageways and depending on road condition, the speed limit would be adjusted to 50 mph as appropriate. Whereas, for dual carriageways or motoways, the speed limit is increased to 70 mph.
Despite these speed limits are roughly the same as in Hong Kong, I did feel a little bit uncomfortable driving in the UK at 50 mph on some of those not so wide single carriageways. On another family trip to Stonehenge, I drove at 70 mph for almost the entire journey on the M3 as I might be caught up by the car behind me otherwise. Frankly speaking, driving under such circumstances is not really pleasing.
第一樣是車速限制。英國市内地區的上限一般是 30 mph (48 km/h)，個别居民較多的地方或學校區會降至 20 mph。而遠離市中心，較外圍的單線行車道則為 60 mph，因應實際路面狀况，亦會相應調低。至於雙線行車道及高速公路等，車速上限則提升至 70 mph。
雖然車速上限和香港相若，但我在英國以 50 mph 在一些不算寛闊的單線行車道駕駛，都有點不太自在。另外一次和家人往 Stonehenge 遊覽，在 M3 上差不多全程都以 70 mph 行車，稍慢一點便被後車追上，壓力頗大。
The second one is on Parking. People lived in house normally parked their cars either in the front / back gardens or garage. In case there is not enough space, on-street parking in front their house are also possible without any charges. For those who lived in apartments, it depends on whether designated off-street/underground parking place is available along with the unit. Other apartments may come with no designated parking but offer Right-to-Park to residents. Parking space may also be separately charged. In fact, there are some new apartments in Kingston that charged for several hundreds pound per month, absolutely on-par with Hong Kong.
Non-residential parking is similar to Hong Kong. These are mainly roadside parking spaces plus some large parking lots near shopping malls or tourists spots. Parking charge varies across locations but personally I think it is quite reasonable.
Roadside parking usually comes with detailed information/instructions on sign-post. If it is not free, there will be ticketing machines nearby. Just followed the instruction shown, keyed in vehicle licence number, paid with cash or Contactless Card and placed the printed ticket beneath the windscreen of the car.
第二樣是泊車安排。如果住 house，一般都會泊在屋前、後或車房。沒足够空間的話，很多時候都可泊在屋前路邊車位，居民不須附費。Apartment 的話，就要視乎有沒有室內停車場的指定車位。亦有一些是沒有固定車位，但會賦與住客 Right-to-Park，自己找個空位。個别 Apartment 亦會另外收費，Kingston 這裡有些新型 apartment 每月會收取數佰鎊，絶不比香港低。
一般路邊泊位傍都有停車指示牌。如需收費，附近亦會裝設自動收費機，只需跟著指示，輸入車牌號碼，停泊時間，以現金或 Contactless Card 支付，接著把打印好的泊車票置於車內擋風玻璃便可。
Nowadays, quite a lot of the roadside parking lots or parking spaces also supported the use of mobile apps for parking fee payment. Just downloaded the required mobile app in advance, fill in the parkig lot / parking space code and it’s done. You even don’t need to get off the car to complete the parking process and it is really useful on rainy days. In case the initial requested parking time is not enough, you can also extend the duration remotely via the mobile app.
Among all the Parking Apps, I personally preferred RingGo & PayByPhone.
眾多泊車手機程式中，我自己比較喜歡 RingGo 及 PayByPhone。
Most of those large Supermarkets also provide free parking space from one to three hours, subject to the store location. If your spending exceed certain pre-defined amount, you can also redeem for a parking time extension.
另外大型 Supermarket 亦有提供限時的泊車位，視乎地區，由一小時三小時不等。購物超過預定金額亦可以延長泊位時間。
The third one is on Filling up the Gas Tank. In Hong Kong, gas filling is done by gas station attendant. Even you are an experience driver, you may not know how to properly fill up the gas tank. Here in the UK, you have to do it all by yourself. From selecting the type/grade of fuel to use of the fuel nozzle, etc.
There are many companies in the UK running gas stations. Large corporations like M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco have their own brand of gas stations in various locations. Fuel price varies significantly across different gas stations and locations. As the time of writing, normal unlead petrol ranged from 139p to 145p per litre at gas stations closed to where I lived. Finding stations with the right price will help to save a lot if you are a frequent driver. In fact, there are online gas price comparison platforms available to assist drivers in getting the lowest price. For me who only drive once or twice a week, I normally have the tank refilled once every two months and with an average fuel expense of £40.
By the way, unlike Hong Kong, gas stations are not available everywhere and you may have to drive very far to get to the station. As such, be sure to keep a reasonable amount of fuel in the tank.
英國有很多不同品牌的燃油公司，大型集團如 M&S、Sainsbury’s、Tesco 等亦有油站。視乎品牌、地點，油價差異亦會頗大。在編寫這 post 時，普通無鉛汽油在我家附近的油站每公升約 139p 至 145p。 對於經常駕駛者，適當揀選油站有助减低開支。現時網上亦有很多平台提供格價服務，精明的你一定要多加參考。而我自己日常較少駕駛，再加上細車非常慳油，差不多兩個月才入一次油，每次亦只是約 40 鎊！
Here comes the last one that I believed most of you are intereted, Penalty. In general, this is very similar to what we have in Hong Kong: fixed penalty charge and points deduction. Once you built up 12 penalty points or more within a period of 3 years, you will disqualified from driving. Traffic violation normally covers speeding, improper parking and drink-driving, etc.
I had already got two traffic violations in the passed few months. One for driving into a Bus-only Lane in Kingston town centre, and the other for exceeding the maximum stay period (Just 5 minutes!) in a Tesco carpark. For the two cases, I had received Penalty Charge Notice and Parking Charge Notice from the Council and Carpark management company respectively. Full details of the violation were included in the notice together with photos and/or links to video capturing the offence. Don’t try to assume no one will catch you red-handed. Video cameras were installed to closely monitor roads and carpar. The development of these UK system are extremely matured.
Penalty charges are very high and quite alarming: £130 for driving into Bus-only Lane and £70 for improper parking. If you settled the payment within 14 days, a discount around 50% off would be offered. Nevertheless, be sure to drive safely and following the rules!
最後一樣相信大家一定非常關心，交通違例處分。這方面是和香港大致是相同模式，基本上是罰款、扣分，三年內扣滿 12 分會被停牌。違例事項一般是超速、違泊、醉駕等等。
短短幾個月我已有兩次違例記錄，一次是在 Kingston 市中心誤入巴士專用線，而另一次則是在 Tesco 停車埸逾時 5 分鐘。前者由 Council 發出罰款通知書 (Penalty Charge Notice)，而後者的違泊罰款通知書 (Parking Charge Notice) 則是由停車場管理公司發出。通知書上有詳細記錄，更附上相片、錄像，無法抵賴。不要以為沒有遇上執法人員便心存僥倖，其實道路上及停車場已裝有即時監察系統，而英國在這方面的發展亦非常成熟。
罰款金額相當高，行錯線 130 鎊而違泊則 70 鎊，極具恐嚇性。如果 14 日内交清罰款的話，就有約半價的折扣優惠，不過還是小心駕駛吧！
There are two things that I need to do shortly. The first is to exchange my Hong Kong Driving Licence for the UK Driving Licence as I had already resided here for more than 185 days. The other is to have MOT (Ministry of Transport) Test for my little Peugeot 208, that is going to be three years old by March 2022. The test is to demonstrate that the 208’s safety, exhaust emission and roadworthiness with respect to the current standard. I will share with you in later posts.
剩下來還有兩件事要辦，因已住滿185 天，可以把我的香港駕駛執照轉換為英國駕駛執照。另外我的 Peugeot 208 明年三月將滿三歲，為了証明她是安全、廢氣排放達標及適宜在道路上行走，我需要為她安排做 MOT (Ministry of Transport) Test，到時我會再和大家分享。
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