Ten Years Later from Top Gear’s 17-Year-Old Challenge

Learning to drive is becoming more difficult with more rigorous resting and larger price tags than previous years.

Recently, 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.

As well as this, the price of driving is continually increasing. 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’. 

Kitted with £2,500, the presenters were tasked with buying a car and insuring it. The other minor stipulation was that the car had to be fit for a 17-year old and everything they’d need from it. 

Firstly, we’re fairly confident you’ll all be able to recognise that inflation has played somewhat of an effect on the sterling 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 £2,500, to keep things fair, we’d have £3,325.67, embarking on the same mission, ten years later. 

Back in 2019, the average price to insure a 17-year-old in 2019, according to Money Super Market, is £1,036 for a fully comprehensive policy. We’re pre-emptively taking that out of our overall budget.

Here, SEAT servicers Vindis, check out top three cars to cater for the lifestyle of a 17-year-old in 2019, on a budget of £2289.67. 


Audi A4 Estate
Price: £1,995.00

A preowned Audi A4 Estate 2.0L TDI goes for around £2,000. 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. 

Previous models of the A4 has struggled with handling and transmission 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. 

Space is in abundance in this five door, 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. 

For a vehicle from 2007, the Audi is awash with technology. 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
Price: £1,995.00

Previously, Skoda was the butt of the joke in the automotive world, failing to deliver in various areas but, mainly, reliability — so much so, they often mimicked themselves. 

After a buyout from VW, Skoda quickly became one of the most sought-after cars 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. 

A 2011 Fabia is in the same price range as the A4, giving 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 interior of the Skoda, 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 dealership will keep it in great condition.

BMW 3 Series
Price: £1,995.00

The high quality and class that we’ve come to expect from BMW certainly exists in the BMW 3 Series model manufactured between 2005 and 2011.

A car of great beauty. Superbly, designers took heed 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 the BMW 3 Series is mid-range in regard to size in comparison to the previous two vehicles, don’t be concerned about transporting cargo as it certainly offers suffice boot space. 

In the same way, 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. 

With steering assistance, a great addition especially those who’ve just passed their test, meaning they can keep their eyes on the wheel at all time. 

However, and we know this mightn’t come as this biggest shock, the BMW does deliver the lowest mpg return, with around 28 in urban conditions. 

Back in 2009, the Top Gear presenters picked a Volkswagen Golf MK III, a Hyundai Scoupe, and a Volvo 940 Turbo Estate. It’s safe to say things have changed… 

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