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One Direction's Niall learns to drive in 25 hours

A member of the band One Direction has opted for a 25-hour driving course in a bid to get his licence in quick time. But are such courses a good idea?

One Direction star Niall Horan, 19, has just passed his driving test after an intensive 25-hour course and has celebrated by splashing out on a £70,000 Range Rover.

His bandmate Harry Styles already has a similar model, and reportedly pays £15,000 a year to insure it.

But are intensive courses a good idea, and if you don't have One Direction's bank balance, what are the cheapest cars to insure?

Should intensive courses be banned?

Last year the Association of British Insurers (ABI) urged the government to make changes to the way that driving is taught.

The organisation called for a ban on intensive driving courses as the sole means of learning to drive, and a minimum one-year learning period for young drivers between the ages of 17 and 24.

The ABI said this would mean that drivers would have more time to assimilate what they are learning, to drive in more varied conditions, such as at night and in bad weather, and would ultimately result in reduced fatalities and serious injuries among young motorists.

This would also have the added benefit of bringing down the cost of car insurance for this age group.

‘Tailored courses’

But driving instructor Noel Gaughan, who runs Intensive Courses, the school that taught Horan, disagrees.

"My courses are intensive in that I'm working with people who want to pass as soon as possible," he says.

"But they're also tailored to the individual. Niall had had some lessons with another instructor in the past, so a 25-hour course was right for him.

"But for others it might take 40 or even 60 hours to get them driving well and confidently.

"I start my intensive courses with a five-hour assessment day which helps give me and the student and idea of when it would be suitable to schedule their practical test."

Celebs ‘easy to teach’

Gaughan has taught an impressive list of celebrities to drive, including supermodel Lara Stone, actress, Bond girl Gemma Arterton, singer Mika, and band members of Babyshambles and The Stereophonics.

"I find many celebrities tend to be easy to teach," says Gaughan.

"They have a determined, winning mentality and will stay focused till the job is done.

"For example, Niall was fantastic and despite his busy career he didn't get distracted during lessons and worked very hard."

Noel says he thinks intensive courses are a good idea.

"They keep up the momentum of learning – when people just have one lesson a week they don't make so much progress and get bored.

"And most of my pupils go on to take Pass Plus with me so they gain experience of night-time and motorway driving."

Cheapest cars to insure

Once they've passed their test, young drivers have another hurdle to clear as for those without pop star budgets, finding a car that they can afford to insure can be a challenge.

But research from reveals that the cheapest cars to insure, based on car insurance quotes in 2012*.

Cheapest cars to insurance for females aged 17 to 25

  • Citroen C3Airdream - £469
  • Seat Ibiza Chill - £546
  • Fiat Punto EvoGP (77) - £551
  • Kia Picanto Strike £552
  • Seat Ibiza Sport - £571
  • Cheapest cars to insurance for males aged 17 to 25
  • Seat Ibiza Chill - £744
  • Mazda 2Sport - £747
  • Seat Ibiza Sportrider - £774
  • Seat Ibiza Sport - £795
  • Seat Ibiza Sport TDI - £816

Broadly speaking, cars with a small engine and a low insurance group are cheaper to insure. However, it's important to bear in mind that car insurance quotes can vary considerably so do shop around to find the best deal for you.

As well as insurance costs, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) also urges taking other considerations into account when buying your first car, such as safety ratings from the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP).

The maximum is five stars, but the IAM suggests buying a car with a rating of four or above, and not settling for less than three.

*Median average of 17 to 25-year-old male and female motor quote customers, January to December 2012 inclusive, for car models with more than  100 customers quoting.


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Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy is a motoring and lifestyle journalist and author of The Girls' Car Handbook and The Girls' Guide to Losing your L Plates published by Simon and Schuster. She's also a regular on BBC Breakfast news, and local and national radio, commenting on motoring matters. Her pet motoring hates are potholes and high fuel prices.

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