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How to pick the perfect first car for your 17-year-old


If your teenager is about to start learning to drive, chances are you’ll have to foot the bill for a first car. Tim Barnes-Clay looks at the best options.

Parents giving sons keys

As parents, we want to protect our offspring. This can be an expensive business – especially when the teenage years begin.

For instance, when your child turns 17, there’s often one goal they want to achieve – and that’s passing their driving test.

Safety first

Unfortunately this means digging deep to buy a new car.

Let’s face it: preferably, we want our kids to be driving something new, safe and reliable – not some old shed.

Here we round up some new cars that are ideal and safe first motors.

Škoda Citigo

Skoda Citigo

The Škoda Citigo is aimed at younger drivers. The Elegance 1.0 MPI Greentech is ideal for driving from home to college and has outstanding around-town manoeuvrability.

The fuel-saving technology fitted to this model mean the hatchback sips rather than swigs petrol and can return up to 68.9 miles per gallon.

Prices for the Citigo begin at £8,210 for the entry-level S-trim three-door model, with five-door cars only another £350.


Seat Mii

This Spanish version of the virtually identical Škoda Citigo is zesty yet practical. Even better, the Mii is one of the best cars for parking. You can do a three-point turn in the blink of an eye.

The three-cylinder 999c engine sounds like it has all the power of a sewing machine – but the SEAT is not dull. It takes 13.2 seconds to get from 0-62mph and this doesn’t detract from the Mii’s flexible drive.

On an average mix of town and motorway driving you can get over 60mpg. You’ll also pay nothing in road tax for the first year. From £8,195 this is a perfect first car.

Citroën DS3

Citroen DS3

It’s great to feel 17 years old again. That’s what it is like driving the Citroën DS3, no matter what age you are. The funky car delivers a comfortable ride, and quality is evident inside and out.

On the safety front, the Citroën DS3 has a five-star Euro NCAP rating and comes with six airbags and a reinforced body structure. One of the best aspects of the compact Citroën is that it redefines bespoke motoring with a choice of personalisation options.

So, the DS3 can be masculine and sporty or feminine and chic. This car will do over 60mpg and is priced from £12,615 for the petrol VTi 82bhp DSign.

Suzuki Swift SZ4

Suzuki Swift SZ4

The Swift is fun to drive and has nimble handling. The steering is light and the five-speed manual transmission is slick and effortless to use.

What’s really impressive though is that the car inspires confidence and safety on the road.

This is due to safety technologies that include an anti-lock braking system and electronic braking-force distribution. The Swift also has seven airbags.

The Suzuki is a great car to nip around in, averaging over 50mpg, and is a good choice for anyone who wants a first car. Bought new, the basic 1.2 three-door hatch costs £10,799.

Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto

Kia’s smallest car offers good enough performance, with low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, along with stylish looks. The five-door car, priced from £8,145, is available with 1.0- and 1.25-litre petrol engines.

The three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit is a great first car choice – it develops 68bhp and has a combined fuel economy of 67.3mpg.

Features include body coloured bumpers, mirrors and door handles, electric front windows, radio/CD player and an immobiliser.

A seven-year or 100,000-mile fully transferable warranty is standard on the Picanto. That kind of assurance alone could well persuade you to buy this motor for your teen.


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