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Top 10: great cars for young drivers
So, you've got your licence. If you're really lucky you might even have a few quid in the bank to buy a car.If only it were that simple though. As we all know the biggest obstacle for young drivers is often insurance. Forget dreams of a flash sports car. Indeed, forget that much longed for hot hatch - to keep insurance even vaguely affordable you're going to need to serve time in something rather more modest in performance terms, let alone value. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to drive something boring though...If you search for cars by insurance group rather than engine size you can throw up some interesting choices too. And the latest crop of warm hatches have the funky looks without the crippling insurance costs. If you're a young driver in search of an interesting car here are 10 we think you might like...Note: Insurance costs an average of the top five quotes given for a 21-year-old male student living in West Yorkshire with three years' no claims, the car parked overnight on a driveway and for third party fire and theft cover only.
Chevrolet Matiz: average insurance quote - £564
Image © Chevrolet
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Swallow your pride young hotshoe, because if you're looking for an affordable way to rack up those all important no-claims bonuses you need to find something utterly inoffensive in insurance terms. And that means something slow and unlikely to feature in the latest episode of Police, Camera, Action!The one saving grace of the Matiz is that the badge on the key fob has changed from zero-cool Daewoo to they-might-think-I-drive-a-Corvette Chevrolet, although that illusion will only last as far as the car park. Still, the Matiz is a plucky, five-door hatch that makes up for its lack of image with usefulness and bargain running costs.
Land Rover Defender 90: average insurance quote - £585
Image © Land Rover
The default choice for young drivers has always been the good old supermini. But country folk have an alternative - the good old fashioned Land Rover Defender. And with insurance from group five upwards it costs less to get cover than you might think.It's a pretty solid choice too, in more ways than one. Insurers - and worried parents - know Land Rovers are very slow, limiting the ability of youthful enthusiasm to get the better of young owners. And, should the worst happen, they're also very strong. OK, this is pretty basic, old school motoring but it's a bit more interesting than a Fiesta.
Citroen C3 Pluriel: average insurance quote - £623
Image © Citroen
Cabrios are, of course, lots of fun. Better still if you can take three of your mates along with you for the ride. But, typically, they cost lots to insure. Not the C3 Pluriel though - it's one of the cheapest soft-tops to get cover for thanks to its lowly group four rating. With its bizarre roll-back/removable roof set up and even the ability to convert into a pick-up it could serve as some kind of surf truck, only the dowdy looks and frankly disappointing driving experience spoiling the picture. Still, if you're after affordable al fresco motoring beggars can't afford to be choosers and the Pluriel is certainly a brave choice.
Austin Mini Ritz: average insurance quote - £449
Image © BMW
No story about first cars would be complete without a Mini. And a proper Mini at that. Generations of British drivers have learnt their art at the wheel of the Mini and though most are now old enough to count as classics they still offer an affordable route to driving fun.OK, you'll need to be handy with the spanners and - likely - a welding torch to keep one on the road and accept that crashing it would be a really, really bad idea given the amount of protection on offer. But, hey, there's an incentive to keep it on the black stuff if nothing else.
Ford Ka Studio: average insurance quote - £1264
Image © Ford
The original Ka is a superb choice for a young driver, thanks to its plentiful supply, cheap running costs and affordable insurance. It's also great to drive, while the big plastic bumpers let you get away with the odd parking scrape too, when the inevitable happens. The new car has much of the same appeal, even if it's not quite as sharp to drive. Still, Ford is a master when it comes to small cars and the new Ka has a great image and benefits by being the new kid on the block. Group one insurance on 1.2 Studio models is a huge benefit to younger drivers too.
Smart ForTwo Convertible: average insurance quote - £1,379
Image © Smart
The Smart's small engine is attractive from an insurance point of view and though its two-seater format is a somewhat unsociable indulgence it's the only rear-engined, two-seater cabriolet you're likely to be able to get cover for this side of your mid-life crisis. The fact it's small and easy to drive is a bonus too. True, it's not cheap and whether or not it's deemed cool is something only a common-room straw poll will decide. First generation ForTwo Cabrios have smaller 698cc engines (stick to the 50hp Pulse version), the current version using a 999cc engine available with 61hp and insurance from group four upwards.
Fiat Panda 4x4: average insurance quote - £415
Image © Fiat
OK, a slightly leftfield choice but if you live out in the sticks and can't stomach the running costs of a big 4x4 the farmers' favourite is worth a look. You'll have to hunt to find one worth even spending the modest sum they go for and accept there's about as much crash protection as a crisp packet. But snow, muddy fields and tracks - assuming it starts - the Panda 4x4 can deal with them all and costs peanuts to insure. There's a certain coolness about its utilitarian toughness too, although its charms and abilities are probably wasted on city folk. For a 'field car' to learn to drive off the public road there's nothing better though.
Toyota Aygo: average insurance quote - £543
Image © Toyota
Bigger Toyotas have a slight grey slip-on/Radio 2 image but the Japanese firm has really gone on the attack with its small city cars and both the Aygo and the iQ show a more dynamic, youthful side. The iQ is interesting and innovative but the Aygo is more affordable, available in greater numbers and even offers a five-door option. The closely related Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107 offer the same deal, many variants boasting group 1 insurance to add to cheap running costs and rugged simplicity among their many appealing attributes. The fizzy, characterful three-cylinder engine is fun to stir along too, even if none are what you'd call fast.
VW Fox 1.2: average insurance quote - £621
Image © VW
Pricey when new and somewhat staid compared with its more funky and youthful rivals, the Fox does benefit from the implied quality of that VW badge on the grille. It's also usefully bigger inside than many of its city car rivals and blessed with that stolid German minimalism found in Golfs and Polos of old. 1.2 models are blessed with group one insurance too, the combination of this and VW's reputation for reliability making it a sure-fire bet for any young driver. It's not cheap to buy though, many rivals offering more for the money and nor should you expect the driving experience to set your world on fire.
Suzuki Swift Attitude: average insurance quote - £1379
Image © Suzuki
Combining the chunky looks, great chassis and coolness of the Swift Sport and pairing them with the more reasonable running costs of the basic 1.3 model is a masterstroke by Suzuki, the resulting Swift Attitude being the perfect car for young drivers. It could have been all style and no content. But then handling is well above average and the chunky 17-inch wheels, lairy colours and Sport-influenced bodykit are all likely to go down a storm with the yoof. Throw in decent economy, low emissions, limited edition cred and a very competitive asking price and you've got the perfect package.
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