Cars for passing your driving test

There may be no shortcuts possible in your driving test but there are definitely cars that make it easier to pass. Here are our favourites

James Wilson
Apr 20, 2022

Choosing the right car can make a big difference in any attempt to pass your driving test. It can quite literally make or break the practical test. Choose a car that is hard to drive, difficult to see out of, a pain to park or simply one you can't get comfortable in, and you are asking for trouble.

There are also some minimum requirements set out by the government as to which cars can be used to take your test. Keep reading for a roundup of these requirements, what makes a good car for passing a test and also eight of the very best options available.

The first question is - can any car be used for a driving test? The simple answer is no. The longer answer is that most cars can, though it is recommended that you contact the DVSA first if you plan to take your test in a convertible or van, to make sure it is okay to use. Generally speaking, a car that can be used for a driving test must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be taxed - road tax is sometimes referred to as 'VED' or 'road fund licence'
  2. Be insured for use in a driving test - double-check with your insurer to be sure
  3. Be smoke-free - you cannot smoke in the car during or just before the test
  4. Be able to reach 62mph and have a speedometer that reads in miles per hour
  5. Have a valid MoT to prove it's roadworthy
  6. Have no warning lights on the dashboard
  7. Have no tyre damage and more than the legal minimum amount of tread. You also cannot take a test with a space-saver spare tyre fitted
  8. Have four wheels and weigh less than 3,500kg (only the very largest SUVs or vans would get anywhere near this limit)
  9. Have an extra rear-view mirror to be used by the examiner
  10. Have ‘L-plates’ on the front and rear of the car
  11. Have a passenger seat belt and head restraint for the examiner

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in several new requirements being added to the list above, including:

  1. Rubbish or unnecessary items must be removed from the dashboard, footwell, door pockets, cup holders and seats
  2. The dashboard and car controls must be wiped down prior to the test
  3. Two windows must be open during the test

Now, there are also some cars that meet the above requirements but cannot be used, as the government states that they do not give the examiner enough all-round viability to conduct the test. These models include the Mini Convertible, Ford KA convertible, Toyota IQ and Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet.

There is also a small number of cars that are only allowed to be used if certain known faults have been fixed - for safety reasons. These are normally limited to certain ages of car where a manufacturing fault has been identified after the car has left the factory.

Car makers often repair these free of charge, so they are usually relatively hassle-free to sort. For the latest list of cars which must have had safety work carried out, we suggest checking the government's website.

Now, the less fun parts are covered, what about cars that should increase your chances of passing with flying colours? There are some clever features out there that can make driving much easier. Things such as electronic handbrakes and hill-start assist should make accidentally rolling backwards a thing of the past. The good news is that features like these are allowed on cars used in the driving test, so choose wisely and your car will give you a helping hand in the test.

Below are eight handpicked cars that should appeal to those looking to pass their test. Their benefits range from including useful equipment to low insurance groups but all are very easy to drive. One last point to remember; if you take your driving test in a car with an automatic gearbox you will only be able to drive automatic cars, but if you choose a car with a manual gearbox, you can drive both automatics and manuals.

This means that choosing a manual car now will give you more flexibility in future - in terms of which cars you can buy to being able to use manual courtesy cars or even being able to hire the cheapest cars when on holiday (as automatic models normally cost more to rent).

Finally, it's worth bearing in mind that you don’t need a separate licence to drive an electric car; the test is the same. However, if you do take your test in an electric car, you will only be able to drive automatic models in future - as all electric cars are automatics.

Cars for passing your test

1. Renault Captur

Our pick Renault Captur 1.0 TCe 90 Iconic
Used deals from £17,300
Monthly finance from £0*

Renault uses the impressive Clio hatchback as the foundation to build its Captur crossover. This is great news, especially in the case of the latest Captur as the build quality is great, the suspension is comfortable - but not so soft that the car wallows around corners, making you feel as though it could topple over - and the level of standard equipment is good across the range.

More importantly for drivers looking to pass their test, the Captur is a doddle to drive in and out of town. Equipment such as hill-start assist and rear parking sensors (which are standard across the range) go a long way to helping with driving, but things such as the light steering, relatively small dimensions and a slightly raised ride height (compared to the Clio) help a lot. The high driving position can give you a good view of the road ahead, though if you want something that feels sporty, it's best going for a lower car.

RENAULT CAPTUR BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Honda e

Our pick Honda e Advance
Used deals Limited stock

If cars were solely judged on how well they can combine modern technology with retro styling, the Honda e would beat its competition hands down. Modern technology is taken care of thanks to the Honda being electric and due to its super-widescreen driver information and media system. This consists of not one, not two, not three, not four but five displays.

Initially, this might seem like a distraction waiting to happen, especially for drivers looking to pass their test. In actual fact, there are some good reasons why so much screen space might help a relatively inexperienced driver. For example, two of the screens are solely used to show a video feed from small cameras that have replaced wing mirrors.

This setup should reduce the likelihood of you clipping other car mirrors (as the cameras used stick out less than conventional mirrors) and provide better visibility in gloomy conditions compared to standard mirrors. Also, you cannot stall an electric car, so the Honda e removes that driving test stress. Just remember that taking your test in the e would limit you to only driving automatic cars in future.

READ MORE ABOUT THE HONDA E

3. Smart ForFour

Our pick Smart ForFour 1.0 Passion
Used deals from £7,000
Monthly finance from £0*

The Smart ForFour is a great car for passing a driving test because it has a fantastically tiny turning circle. This is especially useful for those taking their test in a busy city or town, as it means you can more easily make sharper turns - such as those required to manoeuvre around mini-roundabouts - than in most cars. On top of this, the ForFour is quite a narrow car, which should help when undertaking parking manoeuvres.

When choosing a Smart ForFour, the biggest question to answer is whether you would like an electric or petrol model. Unless you expect to only drive in towns, we’d recommend a petrol version as the official range of the battery-powered ForFour is only around 80 miles per charge - meaning that longer journeys would require plenty of stops to charge the battery.

Going for a petrol model is no hardship, as these have peppy little engines which should prove to be quite fuel-efficient. For low insurance groups, look for 1.0-litre Passion models, as these can sit in the second-lowest insurance group, which should result in low premiums.

SMART FORFOUR BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Skoda Citigo

Our pick Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPI Colour Edition
Used deals from £6,000
Monthly finance from £0*

In the world of small cars, the Skoda Citigo is often considered the benchmark. It is the equivalent of a Sharpie permanent marker, iPhone or Greggs sausage roll. The reasons for this are that the little Skoda manages to be small yet practical, economical yet nippy and affordable yet well built. Models with the entry-level 60hp engine are the slowest and work best if you plan on doing predominantly town driving, while 75hp versions make more sense if you plan to drive on faster roads regularly, as they offer much more punch.

Another benefit is that if you can’t find a Citigo you like there are two other very similar options; the Seat Mii and Volkswagen Up. These two alternatives are basically the same car albeit with different badges on the front - as Seat, Skoda and VW are all part of the same parent company. Expect the Skoda and Seat to offer the best value, with the VW providing a more upmarket feel but also being more expensive.

Most Citigo models come with a small petrol engine and a manual gearbox. When driving, the visibility out of the Citigo is excellent and thanks to the small Skoda being quite boxy, it is very easy to judge where the corners of the car are. This helps for judging where curbs are - important in making sure that you don't clip the pavement, which could be an instant fail.

SKODA CITIGO BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Peugeot 208

Our pick Peugeot 208 1.2 PureTech 100 Allure
Used deals from £15,990
Monthly finance from £0*

If you don’t fancy the popular Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa, there is always the Peugeot 208. In 2019 Peugeot launched a new version of the 208 and in the process made its little hatchback more of an upmarket offering than the model it replaced. Prices have increased to reflect this which might be an issue if you're on a tight budget, but the previous-generation 208 can be fantastic value, so is worth a look if your budget won’t stretch to a new model.

Part of the bid to move the latest 208 upmarket was the inclusion of an electric handbrake - which in the recent past has been more common on more expensive, larger cars. Handily, electronic handbrakes like the one used in the 208 automatically release - although you will have to lift a little switch to engage it when you come to a stop - so rolling backwards should be impossible. All latest generation 208s, apart from entry-level Active models, come with an electronic handbrake.

READ MORE ABOUT THE PEUGEOT 208

6. Volkswagen Polo

Our pick Volkswagen Polo 1.0 MPI SE Tech Edition
Used deals from £10,500
Monthly finance from £237*

One of the less pleasurable parts of getting your driving licence is car insurance, which can only be made worse by driving a car that is expensive to insure. Often, expensive cars are more costly to insure which would make you think that the VW Polo - a more costly small car - would be one such vehicle. Handily, some Polo models qualify for the lowest insurance group possible, which should help to keep costs down.

Compared to rival cars like the Ford Fiesta, the Volkswagen Polo is a more upmarket, refined car. This means it is a comfortable car to spend lots of time in - whether at town or motorway speeds - plus it has a practical cabin. The boot is rated to fit a maximum of 351 litres of luggage, which is large for this size of car. This gives it a significant advantage over the Ford Fiesta, so any new drivers with lots of sports gear or other bulky kit to move about should find the Polo a great fit.

VOLKSWAGEN POLO BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Toyota Yaris

Our pick Toyota Yaris Hybrid 1.5 Design
Used deals from £12,021
Monthly finance from £0*

Toyota has long been forging its own path when it comes to cars that are great for passing a driving test in. This is because well ahead of the competition, Toyota started making a hybrid version of its Yaris supermini. It is a self-charging hybrid which means you cannot plug it in to charge and the high-voltage electronics act to assist the engine rather than providing mile after mile of battery-powered range. Overall, the Yaris hybrid is very economical for a petrol car, but you don't need to worry about charging it.

Hybrid Yaris models all come with an automatic gearbox, which is quite rare in a car of this size. Toyota launched a new version of the Yaris in 2020, which is only available as a traditional hybrid. Both generations deliver when it comes to low-emission motoring, with the biggest differentiator being the styling - and the price tag, so simply pick the one that best suits your budget and taste. Older models are more subtle in the looks department while the newer version is much more sporty-looking.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Citroen C3

Our pick ​​Citroen C3 1.2 PureTech 82 Feel
Used deals from £8,270
Monthly finance from £184*

If you would like a funkily styled comfort-oriented car then the Citroen C3 is definitely worth considering. One of its most stand-out design features are the ‘Air Bumps’ on the lower parts of the doors. These are supposed to help limit accidental damage - like the dents often caused in car parks or by opening a door onto a bollard. While they are a handy feature, especially when careless friends are getting in and out of your car, they only cover part of the danger zone - and relying on them in your test is likely to result in a fail.

As Citroen offers a great range of colour combinations from the factory, it is relatively easy to find a car that stands out rather than one that fades into the background. ‘Power Orange’ and ‘Almond Green’ are two particularly vibrant hues. This Citroen’s interior is also worth mentioning as it combines some interesting shapes and materials to create an environment that looks as though it would fit in an IKEA catalogue.

CITROEN C3 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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