The Renault Clio scored four stars out of five for the the overall Euro NCAP safety rating /

As soon as your son or daughter turns 17, the dread of them learning to drive arrives. But it needn't cost a fortune

Paul Parker is hardly alone in this particular dilemma. He is a parent with a 17-year-old looking for a value-for-money car that won’t run up heavy repair bills and is also cheap to insure.

A car for the head

When I have recently helped readers choose a teenager’s first car I have been told off for not referring to the overall Euro NCAP safety rating. They may have a point. The type of cars that youngsters can afford to run are necessarily small and that means they can never score as high as family or executive vehicles. One exception was the Renault Clio which even in 2000 scored four stars out of five and was commended for front and side impact protection. A 2002 Clio 1.2 starts at £300 and returns about 45mpg.

 As well as being cheap to run, the Ford Fiesta is also quite nice to drive (Wieck)

A car for the heart

There are so many small hatches to choose but one of the most obvious and best options is the Ford Fiesta. Here is a hatch which is nice to drive, there are lots about and it is cheap to run and most importantly repair. Parts are cheap and every garage can fix them. It is important though to choose the year carefully. The 2000 model was a three-star car for safety, but that improved significantly when the revised 2002 Fiesta was tested. That was a four star car. A 2003 Fiesta 1.25 Style will be £390 and deliver 45mpg.

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