Top Gear’s 17-Year-Old challenge ten years on
Reports have suggested that people who are seeking to pass their driving test are now facing tougher tests and bigger costs than drivers in years gone by.
In recent years, “reverse around a corner” and “three-point turn” have come off the driving tests. In their place, tasks such as “driving with a satellite navigation system” and ultimately, longer driving tests. In the past, in order to complete the likes of a three-point turn, examiners would have to take drivers into quiet, residential areas – often avoiding rather stressful built-up areas and traffic.
Additionally, learning to drive is increasing in cost, too. That got us thinking. 2019 marked ten years since the Top Gear trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May competed in the 17-Year-Old Challenge.
With a budget of £2,500, the show’s main men were challenged with finding a car to buy and insure. The other minor stipulation was that the car had to be fit for a 17-year-old and everything they’d need from it. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that inflation has affected the pound over the last ten years. Prices in 2019 are 33.03 per cent higher than they were in 2009 therefore if the Top Gear boys had £2,500, to keep things fair, we’d have £3,325.67, embarking on the same mission, ten years later.
In 2019, the average cost to insure a newly passed 17-year-old stood at £1,036 according to MoneySuperMarket. We’re pre-emptively taking that out of our overall budget. Here are three cars that we could afford before we can save up to get our dream car from our local Audi dealership.
Audi A4 Estate
For approximately £2,000, you can purchase a second-hand Audi A4 Estate 2.0L TDI. Okay, we won’t beat around the bush and suggest this vehicle is low mileage – it’s not. However, although 130k miles on the clock of a low-quality car will set the alarm bells ringing in even the most relaxed of individuals, with a car such as the A4, which the RAC described as “strong in every department”, you can drive with confidence. Regular Audi servicing is enough to keep the cars in tip-top shape for a long time.
Unfortunately, older A4 models were known to have had transmission and handling problems. But by the time we reached the 2005-08 generation, these problems had been ironed out. The S-Line model, which we have priced here, delivers 167bhp for a 2.0L engine, meaning you won’t be left drastically searching for that deliverance of power when you require it.
With a luggage capacity of 442 litres when the seats are up, it’s a very spacious vehicle. That said, unfortunately, there aren’t parking sensors, meaning if you aren’t the most confident of parallel parkers, this wagon might not be the best suited.
This model surprisingly has a lot of tech gadgets considering this car is from 2007. Cruise control and electric seats are certainly enough to make those long road trips that little bit more comfortable. We all know 17-year-olds have a great affinity with music and thanks to the cash you’ve left over, you could easily replace the standard Audi radio with a Pioneer Bluetooth system and subwoofer.
BMW 3 Series
BMW is known for its sleek design and quality and this is certainly present in the BMW 3 Series model which was produced between 2005 and 2011. This is, in many ways, a car of utter beauty. Superbly, designers took head of previous customer feedback and assigned it to the development of this 3 Series with an emphasised focus on interior space and standard equipment taking precedence. Although not the biggest of cars, there is certainly enough boot space.
If you’re looking for an array of tech gadgets, you’ll be pleased with this car’s parking sensors. Steering wheel controls act as a great assistance to drivers, especially those who’ve just passed their test, meaning they can keep their eyes on the wheel at all time.
Unfortunately, in the three models discussed here, the BMW has the lowest mpg return of them all – around 28 in urban conditions.
Previously, Skoda’s were seen as a joke vehicle because of its lack of reliability — so much so, they often mimicked themselves. After massive investment and takeover by Volkswagen, Skoda’s reputation skyrocketed. The Fabia shines bright like the Polo or the A3, while the Octavia exists as a fierce rival for any executive saloon in the modern motoring world. You only have to take a venture outside and look at how many taxi drivers are now depending on the Skoda to recognise how much of a reliable brand this really is.
A 2011 Fabia is available for a similar price as the Audi A4 with 55mpg. This can help keep costs low in the long run. Although it’s only a 1.6L diesel, the 103 bhp engine is enough to outweigh many alternative small cars. On the inside, you’ll be quick to spot the modernity present, with ergonomic aesthetics and a multimedia system complete with satellite navigation system, ensuring a road map isn’t a necessity.
In 2009, the Volkswagen Golf MK III, Volvo 940 Turbo Estate, and Hyundai Scoupe were the three models awarded these spots. Oh, how things have changed…
The editorial unit