Best cars for driving instructors

Mirror, signal, manoeuvre! Have a driving school and want the best cars for the job? Here are eight of the best cars for driving instructors

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Sep 8, 2021

There are many things to consider when buying a car as a driving instructor. Ease of driving, light steering, decent visibility and a multi-adjustable driver’s seat to suit a range of learners are just some of the basic requirements.

Beyond the car itself, you’ll also want to find a car that’s tough and cheap to run, offers excellent fuel economy and is likely to be reliable. This is before you start looking into fitting dual controls and wondering where to place your driving school stickers.

To get you moving, we’ve pulled together a list of great cars for driving instructors. It’s not an exhaustive list, because your requirements might be led by whether you’re set on providing tuition in a car with a manual or automatic gearbox, or considering making the switch to electric power.

You may also be intending to use the vehicle as your own car when there isn’t a learner behind the wheel. All of the cars featured below are affordable enough for you to consider paying cash or taking out a small bank loan. Bear in mind that most car finance schemes won't allow you to finance a car that is being used for driving lessons.

Used cars for driving instructors

1. Citroen C1

Citroen C1 front three quarters view

Used deals from £4,250

With prices starting from as little as £4,000, the Citroen C1 is one of the newest cars you can get for the money. But don’t confuse cheap with undesirable, because you’ll soon learn that the Citroen C1 is a terrific small car for driving instructors.

It’s really easy to drive, so your intrepid pupils won’t feel daunted as they get to grips with the controls. There are two economical petrol engines - a 1.0-litre and a 1.2-litre - but because you're likely to spend most of your time in the urban jungle, we’d recommend the smaller engine. It’s smoother and cheaper to run.

You might want to avoid the entry-level Touch trim, not least because it lacks a height adjustable driver’s seat, air-conditioning and a rev counter. It’s important to make your learners feel comfortable behind the wheel after all. And many of them are likely to get sweaty enough just from the tension of trying not to stall or hit anything, so being able to keep things cool is likely to prove valuable.

CITROEN C1 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa front three quarters view
2014-2019 Vauxhall Corsa deals from £4,180
2019-present Vauxhall Corsa deals from £10,299

The Vauxhall Corsa has been a popular choice for driving instructors for many years. Affordable purchase prices, low running costs, a Vauxhall dealer on practically every high street and the Corsa's ease of use are just four of the reasons for its popularity.

Buying a Corsa built between 2014 and 2019 will deliver the best cost savings, but you might want to consider the new version introduced in 2019. It looks more modern, which might be a factor when you’re hoping to attract new customers, while the petrol and diesel engines deliver excellent fuel economy.

There’s even the excellent Corsa-e, which provides up to 209 miles of electric range from a single charge. You can charge up to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes when using a 100kW charger, which is probably enough time for your lunch. So if you have a good range of local fast chargers, it could be perfectly practical; both you and your car can be quickly recharged for the afternoon shift!

2014-2019 VAUXHALL CORSA BUYERS' GUIDE
2020-PRESENT VAUXHALL CORSA BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf side view

Used deals from £7,495

One of the biggest driving schools in the country uses a fleet of Volkswagen Golfs, so it comes highly recommended. It’s slightly larger than some of the other cars on our list, so it could be ideal if you intend to use the car for your own private use and want something a bit more practical.

Then there’s the appeal of the VW badge, which will look good on your website and in advertising material. The seventh-generation Golf was on sale between 2013 and 2020, and its popularity means you won’t be short of options. There are plenty around and even older models feel solid and should put up with lots of abuse from less talented learners.

Chances are that you’ll be spending most of your time on urban roads, so the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is preferable to the otherwise excellent diesel units, as it offers decent punch, is affordable to buy and still pretty economical. Alternatively, the 1.5-litre petrol could be perfect if you intend to offer a mix of motorway and urban tuition.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Renault Clio

Renault Clio front view

Used 2020 Renault Clio deals from £11,989

All things considered, the Renault Clio is arguably the best supermini you can buy. Our main criticisms would be a lack of space for rear-seat passengers and the fact that it’s not as fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta. We doubt these things will matter to your pupils, however.

It’s more affordable than the Fiesta and is backed by an excellent five-year warranty, so you should be covered for the length of a typical bank loan. A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating provides extra reassurance, not least the 96% score for adult occupant protection.

Even the entry-level Play edition comes with essentials like air-conditioning, six airbags and a suite of driver assistance systems, so there’s no need to splash out on a more expensive model.

RENAULT CLIO BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf exterior view

Used 2018 Nissan Leaf deals from £18,295

An increasing number of drivers are switching to electric cars - no doubt including a growing proportion of new drivers - so realigning your driving school business might be high on your agenda. Teaching someone to drive in an electric vehicle could be a good way to showcase your green credentials while giving you a USP over your competition, too.

The Nissan Leaf is a good option. It’s great to drive in the city, the driving position is excellent, while the 40kWh model offers a useful 168 miles of driving range per charge. If that’s not enough, you could upgrade to the 62kWh version, which extends the range to 239 miles.

Just bear in mind that learning to drive in an electric car is essentially like being taught in a conventional car with an automatic transmission. Drivers will need to pass their test in a car with a manual gearbox if they intend to venture beyond the world of automatics and electric cars - so if you want to cater for manual and automatic lessons, this isn't the car for you.

NISSAN LEAF BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Toyota Yaris Hybrid front three quarters view

Used deals from £10,250

If your business is focused on teaching learners to drive in an automatic car and you have one eye on running costs - but can't stretch to an electric car - a hybrid could be a great option. And if you're going hybird, why not get something small, with excellent fuel economy and the reassurance of a long warranty?

A car like the Toyota Yaris Hybrid. It uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine coupled with a small electric motor and battery to deliver fuel economy of up to 68.9mpg. Toyota says that up to 50% of driving in town with the Yaris Hybrid could be purely electric, so go for one of these and you should be able to make fewer visits to the petrol station and spend less on fuel.

All new models come with a five-year warranty, although Toyota’s excellent reliability record should mean that you don’t need it. Even the entry-level version of the current model comes with a pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, smartphone integration and a reversing camera.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Ford Puma

Ford Puma side view

Used deals from £20,371

The growing popularity of small SUVs means that you might be considering one for your driving school business. This is especially true if you’re hoping to use the car for private use when it’s not in the hands of a learner - as having a larger car could prove useful.

The Ford Puma is one of the newest cars on the block. It’s based on the Ford Fiesta, and because of this, it’s the best small SUV to drive. It’s also affordable to buy, cheap to run, and great for learner drivers. With SUVs being so popular, you may even find that you can charge a premium for lessons in the Puma.

It might be relatively tall, but the Puma feels far from cumbersome behind the wheel. You and your pupils will appreciate the high driving position, excellent manual gearbox and nice steering. It’s also very practical, with more luggage capacity than you’ll find in the larger and more expensive Ford Focus.

MORE DETAILS ON THE FORD PUMA

8. Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen T-Roc front view

Used deals from £17,250

One national driving school gives its franchisees the choice of a Volkswagen Golf hatchback or T-Roc SUV. You can understand the appeal of the T-Roc. It’s based on the Golf, but the high driving position and extra space combine to make it feel like you’re getting more for your money.

There’s a wide range of engines and trim levels to choose from, but we’d stop short of recommending the performance T-Roc R or T-Roc Cabriolet versions. Instead, consider the 1.0-litre petrol engine for the best blend of performance and fuel economy.

As for the trim, there’s no need to look beyond the entry-level SE. You get dual-zone air-conditioning, smartphone connectivity, adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors. Just remember to encourage your pupils to look over their shoulder and to use the mirrors.

VOLKSWAGEN T-ROC BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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