Car Choice: A little forward planning can pay dividends

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Kerry Dickinson is just 16 and is already thinking ahead to when she will be able to drive. She lives in rural Norfolk and getting around is a huge problem. Although a moped is an option, she would rather wait another year and save for a safer, more comfy and warmer car. Kerry is aware that this will be costly, but wants to be prepared and have an idea about which cars she should be considering.

A car for the head

My postbag is dominated by requests from youngsters – and their parents – who want to know how best to get motoring. Well, it isn't cheap, and it isn't easy. However there are some schemes that really can help to keep some of the costs down. There is no hiding from the fact that car insurance costs more for new drivers. That's because the statistics show that they are far more likely to have an accident, so premiums tend to be high. The Pass Plus scheme is aimed at new drivers to help them become better drivers. To join Pass Plus you need to find an Approved Driving Instructor to train you and help you pass the course. Pass Plus consists of six modules about driving in different conditions, in town, in all weathers, on rural roads, at night, on dual carriageways, and on motorways. If you pass, some insurance companies will offer savings – up to 48 per cent – and many companies also allow a year's no claims bonus. That means that an insurance group 1 Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 costing £1,200 may even become affordable, taking a £2,000 insurance quote down to just over £1,000.

A car for the heart

A new young driver programme aims to give 11- to 16-year-olds driving experience before they head out on to the road, which should reduce accidents and save lives. The SEAT Young Driver programme is sponsored by Admiral MultiCar. At a special area in the Bluewater shopping centre, in Kent, I watched as dual control SEAT Ibiza's were driven confidently around the course by youngsters without stalling, speeding, or any dramas. The Young Driver programme is open to 11- to 16-year-olds who are over 1.5m tall (4ft 11in). It costs £29 for a half-hour lesson, £55 for an hour. The sessions are taught by Approved Driving Instructors, who are all checked by the Criminal Records Bureau, and trained to tutor young adults. They will cover additional topics of particular relevance to young drivers – including dealing with peer pressure, the use of mobile phones, speeding, and the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Now an old SEAT Arosa 1.0 would be cheap to run and buy as a first car for Kerry, but my first choice would be a Toyota Yaris 1.0 (below). A decent example can be found for around £1,500.

James Ruppert's Bangernomics Bible: How To Buy And Run A Car For Less, is published by Foresight Publications (01760 441423) at £8.99

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Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at carchoice@independent.co.uk, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.

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