Costs are on the rise (e.g. driving lessons and insurance for cars) and tests are becoming all the more challenging for new generations of motorists in the UK.
Manoeuvres that you will most likely remember from driving tests of tears gone by, such as ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘three-point turn’ have been removed. In their place, we’ve seen the introduction of ‘driving with a satellite navigation system’ and ultimately, longer driving tests. In the past, in order to complete the likes of a three-point turn, examiners would have to take drivers into quiet, residential areas — often avoiding rather stressful built-up areas and traffic.
The soaring costs of driving tests are also a concern. That got us thinking. It’s been ten years since the Top Gear trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May competed in the ’17-Year-old Challenge’.
This challenge consisted of using £2,500 to buy and insure a new car. The other minor stipulation was that the car had to be fit for a 17-year old and everything they’d need from it.
To recreate the challenge, we mut first recognise that inflation has affected the sterling over the last decade. Prices in 2020 are 33.03 per cent higher than they were in 2009 therefore if the Top Gear boys had £2,500, to keep things fair, we’d have £3,325.67, embarking on the same mission, ten years later.
Of course, the price of insurance mut be factored in. The average price of insurance for a 17-year-old in 2019, according to Money Super Market, is £1,036 for a fully comprehensive policy. We’re pre-emptively taking that out of our overall budget.
So, on a budget of £2289.67, let’s consider the top cars that would meet a 17-year-old’s needs.
Audi A4 Estate – £1,995.00
With only 2,000 you could get a used Audi A4 Estate 2.0L TDI from an Audi dealership. Okay, we won’t beat around the bush and suggest this vehicle is low mileage — it’s not. However, although 130k miles on the clock of a low quality car will set the alarm bells ringing in even the most relaxed of individuals, with a car such as the A4, which the RAC described as ‘strong in every department’, you can drive with confidence. Regular Audi servicing is enough to keep the cars in tip-top shape for a long time!
The A4 has had issues with transmission in the past. But by the time we reached the 2005-08 generation, these problems had been ironed out. The S-Line model, which we have priced here, delivers 167bhp for a 2.0L engine, meaning you won’t be left drastically searching for that deliverance of power when you require it.
Forget cramped seats and lack of storage. Space is in abundance in this five door, with a luggage capacity of 442 litres when the seats are up. That said, unfortunately there aren’t parking sensors, meaning if you aren’t the most confident of parallel parkers, this wagon might not be the best suited.
Innovative for its time, this model incorporates a surprising amount of tech. Cruise control and electric seats are certainly enough to make those long road trips that little bit more comfortable. We all know 17-year-olds have a great affinity with music and thanks to the cash you’ve left over, you could easily replace the standard Audi radio with a Pioneer Bluetooth system and subwoofer.
Skoda Fabia – £1,995.00
Once, Skoda was considered little more than a ‘joke’ in the motoring world, but tmes have certainly changed. Following major investment and a buyout from the Volkswagen Group, Skoda quickly became one of the most sought-after cars on the market. The Fabia shines bright like the Polo or the A3, while the Octavia exists as a fierce rival for any executive saloon in the modern motoring world.
The brand now emanates reliability, and it has become a favourite of taxi drivers. Pick up a 2011 Fabia for the same price as the A4 and be comforted by the fact you’ll be getting returns of 55 mpg— helping to keep costs low in the long run. Although it’s only a 1.6L diesel, the 103 bhp engine is enough to outweigh many alternative small cars.
The inside of this vehicle is as impressive as the exterior. You’ll be quick to spot the modernity present, with ergonomic aesthetics and a multimedia system complete with satellite navigation system, ensuring a road map isn’t a necessity.
BMW 3 Series – £1,995.00
The BMW 3 Series model manufactured between 2005 and 2011 offer class and sophistication. This is, in many ways, a car of utter beauty. Superbly, designers took heed of previous customer feedback and assigned it to the development of this 3 Series with an emphasised focus on interior space and standard equipment taking precedence.
Although mid-range in terms of size when considering the other two vehicles which have made our shortlist, don’t be concerned about transporting cargo as it certainly offers suffice boot space. Likewise, unlike its German counterpart, the A4, the 3 Series comes complete with rear parking sensors to help you tackle those rather tight spaces without worrying about unforeseen bumps.
Many new drivers will benefit greatly from steering wheel controls. Especially those who’ve just passed their test, as they can keep their eyes on the wheel at all time. Unfortunately, and we know this mightn’t come as this biggest shock, the BMW does deliver the lowest mpg return, with around 28 in urban conditions. Top Gear’s 2009 choices were a Volkswagen Golf MK III, a Hyundai Scoupe, and a Volvo 940 Turbo Estate which stood on the top step. Who would’ve thought things would have changed this much…?