Are new drivers facing tougher tests and higher costs than previous generations? In recent years manoeuvres such as ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘three-point turn’ have been removed. In their place, we’ve seen the introduction of ‘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.

On top of this, the cost of driving is continually climbing. That got us thinking. It’s been ten years since the Top Gear trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May competed in the ’17-Year-old Challenge’.

With £2,500, presenters were given the task of finding a car to buy and insure with that money. The other minor stipulation was that the car had to be fit for a 17-year old and everything they’d need from it.

Obviously, inflation has affected the pound over the last decade. Prices in 2019 are 33.03 per cent higher than they were in 2009 therefore if the Top Gear boys had £2500, to keep things fair, we’d have £3,325.67, embarking on the same mission, ten years later.

According to MoneySuperMarket, it costs on average £1,036 to insure a 17-year-old. We’re pre-emptively taking that out of our overall budget. Here are our top three cars for a 17-year-old with £2289.67.

Audi A4 Estate – £1,995.00

For roughly £2,000, you could buy a used Aud 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.

Older models of the A4 had been criticised for their poor handling and transmission. 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.

There’s plenty of space in this car, with a luggage capacity of 442 litres when the seats are up. 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.

Considering that the car was made in 2007, it has plenty of technology to spruce it up. 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.

Skoda Fabia – £1,995.00

Admittedly, Skoda was the butt of the joke in the car industry, with jokes around their reliability — so much so, they often mimicked themselves.


After a buyout with Volkswagen and lots of investment, Skoda became one of the most popular car brands on the market. 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.

For a similar price as the A4, a 2011 Fabia gives returns of 55 mpg — helping to 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.

Regular servicing from your Skoda dealer is enough to keep the cars in tip-top shape for a long time!

BMW 3 Series – £1,995.00

German car manufacturing has become a synonym of high-quality engineering, and this is certainly true for BMW 3 Series 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.

Granted, this car is the smallest of the others discussed, but it doesn’t sacrifice boot space. Likewise, unlike its German counterpart, the A4, the 3 Series comes complete with rear parking sensors to help you tackle those rather tight spaces without worrying about unforeseen bumps. 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.

However, BMW gives the lowest mpg return, with around 28 in urban areas.

Ten years ago, it was a Volkswagen Golf MK III, a Hyundai Scoupe, and a Volvo 940 Turbo Estate which were listed by Top Gear. Things certainly change with time.