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Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

M-M junior is now 19 and wanting to learn to drive. He'll soon be applying for his provisional licence, has been looking at cars, insurance quotes etc. and is seeking for some sound advice on what sort of car would best suit his needs and his pocket.

His budget is around £4-5k and he's looking for something up to 5 years old. He's mentioned the usual Polo, Corsa, Fiesta options that some of his mates have plus the Suzuki Swift. In keeping with my official status as an old fuddy-duddy, I've added to the list of potential vehicles the Hyundai Getz and Kia Picanto (long warranties in mind) and also suggested he consider some Japanese offerings like the Yaris. Ideally he wants a reliable, cheap to run (if there is such a car anymore) 5 door hatchback with up to a 1.2 petrol engine but, other than the above, I'm not able to offer much more by way of advice, except that my natural (possibly out of date) inclination is to avoid French. :)

I've had a search for relevant threads here but could only find stuff several years old and would really appreciate informed current opinions as I'm certain there'll be lots to consider as we try to narrow the field down and match what's affordable (purchase cost plus insurance) to what's desirable.

Thanks in anticipation.

Any - Learner's first car - Chris M

Assuming his £4-5k budget includes insurance, how much is he looking at for the car? We're probably looking at a £2-3K, I'd guess. I can't imagine any 19 yo lad wanting to be seen dead in a Getz or Picanto, but if it's his money, let him choose.

Personally, I'd favour a cheap run around until he has passed his test and got a little experience under his belt. How will he feel scrapping his alloys along a kerb while practicing reversing?

Edited by Chris M on 20/10/2013 at 15:29

Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

I should have specified that the £4-5k budget excludes insurance but if he could find a decent car of the right age etc. for less he'd consider it a bonus I'm sure.

It isn't going to be all his money so I do have a pecuniary interest in ensuring he doesn't make an expensive mistake... ;)

Re-damaging his wheels etc; and the inevitable scrapes, I made those very points you did a couple of hours ago. There's something to be said for getting an old banger to start with but we're also considering safety etc. If he did go down that route as a short term measure, he'd want a newer car as soon as he'd passed his test so the original question of what car to consider would remain.


Any - Learner's first car - Graham567

My son bought a Peugeot 107 which is basically a Toyota Aygo.Its also available as a Citreon C1.I found that it had the cheapest insurance possible for a 1 litre car and much cheaper than a comparable Corsa.The car has been fantastic and any repairs are cheap due to its small size.

Try to buy as new as possible as they had trouble with inferior clutches on the pre 08 models.

Clutch to buy and fit is £300 so not a major problem if it does go.

Tyres are £30-£40 a corner and complete exhaust is only £100.

Road tax is £20 a year(free on newer models) and returns 45+ to the gallon round town.

Hope that helps.

Any - Learner's first car - gordonbennet

I'll second the Aygo/C1/107, terrific little motors.

some inspiration for what to do to it..:-) upgrades and soundproofing done to the family Aygo, owner is like a puppy with two tails at the results.

Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

Thanks for that - really useful information! :)

I'm well out of date when it comes to cars so that's just the sort of stuff I'm looking for.


Any - Learner's first car - Chris M

I'll third the C1/107/Aygo. They have a growing following among young drivers and will soon be seen in large numbers outside Halfords. GB's link to one of the forums will explain. The C1 forum is

Any - Learner's first car - artill

I will add to the views on the 107/C1?Aygo.

I bought one in January 2008, and after a year a friends daughter bought it from me. She learned to drive in it, and still has it. At about 32,000 miles it needed a new clutch. At about 50,000 it needed a new water pump. (Both known issues with earlier cars, but cheap to fix) At 55,000 miles now thats all that has gone wrong in nearly 6 years.

It does around 50 mpg, costs just over £100 each year for a service and MOT from a local mechanic, and most of all, for a young driver, its very cheap to insure.

The only thing i would add is, get one with air con. Not for the summer, but for de-misting in winter. It makes a huge difference

Any - Learner's first car - Bobbin Threadbare

Well since he is Mazda Man Junior may I suggest the Mazda 2?

Any - Learner's first car - retgwte

Fiat Panda every time.

Any - Learner's first car - daveyjp
C1 etc are a natural choice. Cheap to buy, cheap to fix. Just check insurance closely. Our i20 is cheaper to insure than the Aygo was, yet it is group 9 as opposed to group 2 on the Aygo.
Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

Thanks for the suggestions guys, junior will be reading all this at some point today and looking through HJ's detailed reviews.

One of the cars on his list is the Suzuki Swift, anyone got any thoughts on them the current or previous model?


Any - Learner's first car - dan86

I had the last model for four years totally reliable and fun to drive.

Any - Learner's first car - daveyjp
If you go for C1 etc a few years old check the heater fan and controls work, it appears to be a weak point.

Our switch failed, but a friend's heater motor on a 107 has just gone and I have read of others on Aygos failing at 5-7 years old.

The heater motor is a big job and dealers will charge £600-800 as its needs the dash, pedal box and and steering column dismantling.
Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

Thanks for that information very useful!

Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

Thanks for the feedback. Which model did you have and were there any negatives on that?


Any - Learner's first car - bazza

Our son started off in a Panda 1.2 which was great but he didn't like it much as he couldn't fit into it too well. After much gnashing of teeth, he wanted an old Civic which was "cool". I was ok with this idea but then he decided the 3 door Corolla was equally "cool" and we picked up an 03 1.4 T3 with air con. Had it two years now and I must say I borrow it whenever I can, it belies its age with no rattles, squeaks, everything works, lovely smooth drive. I would buy one again without hesitation and its a low insurance group too. Easy to work on and everything has a lovely quality feel to it, even in all the hidden areas. It's much better built than our 3 year old Focus to be honest and comes with a load of airbags as well if the worst happens.

Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

Thanks for that - it'll all be presented to Jnr for consideration. I'm hoping his head will rule his heart on this one. :)

Any - Learner's first car - gordonbennet

This is the Corolla he'll want, but it might be an interesting insurance quote

Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

Frighteningly 'interesting' I reckon!!!... ;)

Not to mention the VED. :(

Any - Learner's first car - bazza

2 grand or less will get you a really nice one, I honestly can't fault it. I did the pads last week for £17, 1 bolt each side and its job done. Handles almost as well as the Focus but much quieter and smoother ride. A far nicer car than you might think.

Any - Learner's first car - Skezza

VW Lupo 1.0 E, a great learners car. Parts are pretty cheap. Maintenance tasks (things like changing a headlight bulb) are easy. They have a 4.5 Euro NCAP safety rating and they have a surprisingly nice interior.

Any - Learner's first car - Ed V

My step daughter's just bought a 207, 1.2, 2002, 1.2 petrol, one lady owner, and is pleased as punch. Made it all the way up the M1 back to uni with no problems.

Boys are harder to please, as image is so important.

Any - Learner's first car - Chris79
I sat in a 107 last week for the first time. I'm 6 foot 4 and it's safe to say it's not a car for tall people. No seat or steering wheel adjustment ruled it out.

Having sat in one follows by a mii and citigo I have to say that the 107 was showing its age. Interior wise the other two appeared far better.
Any - Learner's first car - Chris M

6'4" doesn't mean much. It's the relationship between body length and leg length that's more important. I'm 6'2" and don't need the seat right back on our C1. I also have plenty of headroom. The only way is to try any car out, is to have a go. It doesn't suit you, but that doesn't mean it would be unsuitable for every 6'4".

I would hope the Up/Mii/Citigo is better, it's a newer design.

Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

Cheers. Might make good sense while he's learning even if the VED and insurance will be higher than some of the others but he'll save on purchase cost.

Thanks to everyone else for the contributions so far, it's much appreciated. :)

Edited by Mazda-Man on 24/10/2013 at 22:51

Any - Learner's first car - Mazda-Man

Junior's found the information offered here very useful so thanks to all who replied. Having checked out a few cars, he's probably discounting the Aygo and variants now as they're a bit too small in the back. He'd be hoping to keep the car for a few years and will need a bit more space. I'm glad to say he's inherited my defective badge snobbery gene though and is seriously considering offerings from Kia and Hyundai.


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