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Old 30th November 2020, 10:20   #1
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Default Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

We're seeing lots of young new members who are new to the world of driving. Plus, during this pandemic, many people who otherwise wouldn't have considered driving are getting behind the wheel. Hence, we thought it's an opportune time to push the case for cheap & humble cars as your first ride - related thread on beater cars (Pre-worshipped car of the week : The cheap beater car).

Why your first car (or bike) should be a humble one!

• Cheap to buy - You can shell out around Rs. 1 - 2 lakh to get yourself a very useable car. Not only will this save you big bucks at the start, the already-depreciated car will also hold its resale value when the time comes to move to bigger & more powerful options (a 2 lakh car will probably depreciate to Rs. 1.5 - 1.75 lakhs after you are done with it). Don't worry about how a basic car will feel either. Your first car will always be special, no matter how cheap & basic it is (also because you don't know what you are missing out on ).
Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car-lenogreetsnano.jpg

• Cheap to repair - Any noob driver is going to damage his / her car. All of us BHPians did, and you will too. Why spend a lot of money while you are still honing your skills?
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• Dents & scrapes won't break your heart - If you scratch your shiny new compact SUV, be ready for a sleepless night or two. But the same on a humble car? Smile & move on. For all you know, your cheap 1st car already came with a couple of battle scars.
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• Less power is good, when you are starting off, that is . Most of the forum veterans began with 30 - 40 BHP cars. IMHO, it's outright dangerous for a newbie driver to start off with a powerful car. Start humble, think small, and work your way up. Lesser power = easier to control.
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• 99% of cheap cars will be MTs & that's a good thing. Yes, we are aware that ATs are fast gaining in popularity and now available at any price point. Still, 98% of the cars already on the road in India are MTs and there will definitely come a time (borrowing, moving, rental, emergency) where you will feel handicapped if you don't know how to do 3-pedal driving.
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• Smaller cars are easier to navigate in crowded cities - You will appreciate the small size & compact footprint when you are new to the world of driving. Heck, even for experienced drivers, small cars are a boon in the city. Ask GTO & he'll tell you how much he loves the S-Presso in the city.
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• Humble cars have accessible limits in terms of power & handling. As you put on the km, you will start discovering what a car is capable of doing. And more importantly, what it is NOT capable of. These experiences will greatly improve your driving skills.
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• Learn to handle breakdowns & flat tyres - Inevitably, your humble car will have some (hopefully minor) problems, punctures etc. Go talk to the mechanic when this happens and observe what he does. This will be your schooling on car maintenance 101. Basic skills like changing a tyre, quick diagnosis on what could be wrong or swapping a blown fuse are important to even average-Rajesh car owners.
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• Parking is a pain point with all new drivers - Your humble car will teach you how to park properly, without cameras & parking sensors. It's far easier to park a small car than a big one. Being able to park perfectly in a tight spot is a joy in itself!
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• Basic cars have less features & a more mechanical feel which you will learn to appreciate. These cars aren't cocoons which isolate you from the world outside. Instead, you will hear & feel everything. GTO feels 3-cylinder vibrations, suspension clunks, outside sounds, "feeling" the road etc all communicate important matters to the newbie driver.
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• It's easier to move up than down! Start with a basic car, then work your way up. Not only will you be better prepared, but you will also then appreciate the comfort & ability of a superior car.
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Last edited by Aditya : 30th November 2020 at 13:21.
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Old 30th November 2020, 10:29   #2
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

When my 18-year old kids want to start driving, I will give them an old Jeep. Slow, mechanical & dent-friendly. Once you master an old Jeep, you can pretty much drive anything on the road:
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Old 30th November 2020, 10:35   #3
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Great thread! I myself am a new driver and now understand why my dad will not give me his Amaze.
I'm learning on a 15 year old Santro, and have learnt how to do basic maintenance on it as well.
I agree on the dents and scratches part (touchwood I haven't had to deal with it).
Hope to explore this car to its full potential, not speeding or any of those antics, but the way it pulls in different gears, how it handles bad roads etc before its sold.

Last edited by Sreesh1009 : 30th November 2020 at 10:41.
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Old 30th November 2020, 10:37   #4
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

Agree completely. Though I learnt to drive on the Astra, it was not until I got the Honda Brio I learned to drive daily. It was quite a stress free experience with great visibility and easy to manage dimensions.
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Old 30th November 2020, 10:44   #5
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

I guess I won't completely agree with all the points, particularly about the small car and small power.

Why so? I learned driving on an Armada Grand and a Safari 2.2. And I must say that, it is what made me do it better than everyone else who did on the humble Alto, Wagon R etc. Things are slightly tougher with them, and with more power on tap, the risk is also higher. But:
  • Learn reverse parking on a Safari, you will never touch anything, while you will reverse with the precision of inches
  • Learn left side estimation on a Jeep/Armada, and you won't ever hit anything on left

Learning on bigger vehicles, or quickly getting behind the wheel of one, makes it easier for you to live with smaller ones. But, I have seen multiple people, who have happily learned on a Wagon R, bought a Creta - and bang!

So, whoever I have taught in recent times, I have made them buy their car, and directly taught them driving on the same. Foot practice, car size estimation etc only matters, once a person gets it, they are fine to hit the less crowded roads - and yes, my teaching result, till date, has been 100%. Neither I hit anything while learning or even in first year of it, nor did anyone I have taught. They are well versed with their car right from the day 1 of when they drove to some place, all alone.
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Old 30th November 2020, 10:48   #6
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

Once my colleague was learning the ropes of driving. He was all set to buy a new car. I cautioned him the perils(scratches, dents etc) of buying a new car since he was just about learning to drive. He paid heed to my advice and bought an old Maruti 800 and got a hang of it in 6 months and then bought his originally intended Wagon R. He was quite thankful to me for the advice.

I've also seen a lady colleague who scraped her spanking new red Polo onto the pillar in the basement parking and dented the door and quarter panel badly. She was into the first week of ownership and the incident killed all her excitement of a new car. After the repair too, she was constantly worried of a possible damage again and never enjoyed her driving thereafter.

So it's always a great idea to do all the customary denting, scratching, kinking etc in an old car before one graduates onto a new car. Back in the late 90's, I still remember how my late dad insisted me to learn the ropes at a driving school. Even after obtaining the license, I was send for one more month of driving sessions before he allowed to lay my hands on our Maruti 800. If I'm a safe and good driver today(which I believe I'm), I feel it had to do with his insistence to learn it the pro way when the trend was to learn it with your car at home. Needless to say, my dad worshipped his car before the word was even coined to use it in automotive parlance. I suspect today, it was the main reason why he made me to go through the ranks. Another 4 years, my elder son would turn 18 with God's grace and I plan to follow the same protocol for the very same reason.

Last edited by Bibendum90949 : 30th November 2020 at 11:16.
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Old 30th November 2020, 10:54   #7
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

This is what I have been thinking for quite sometime now and finally there’s a thread on it. Thanks Blackwasp.

I first started driving in a Miami Gold Zen LXi CNG around 2008 in my colony, under the knowledge of my driver only.

The first car dad bought me was a Zen Estilo F10D. Not exactly ‘Zen’ but I loved it. It had a high seating position with very compact dimensions. You didn’t even have to guess where the bonnet would be or if your bumper might develop a nick while negotiating through tight parking spaces.

At that time Delhi Flyover construction and Metro expansion were at their peak partly due to the 2010 Games, which meant hours long traffic jams. But I could really cut through dense traffic despite having hardly any experience beyond the confines of my colony.

The rolling curtain you see was installed during those days only for a little privacy concerns with my love interest! And I hardly ever took them down even for REVERSING. That’s how confidence inspiring the Estilo was!

I’m glad I opted for an Estilo and not a preowned Lancer or a City VTEC and I’m a little proud that my record has been dent less only because of this little car.

AVIANSH.
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Old 30th November 2020, 10:56   #8
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

Great thread, it is very useful for millennials, my younger cousins want to learn driving on their Skodas, VWs despite having swifts and i20s at their home. Will send this thread link to them right now!


Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
When my 18-year old kids want to start driving, I will give them an old Jeep. Slow, mechanical & dent-friendly. Once you master an old Jeep, you can pretty much drive anything on the road:
My Dad pretty much did the same thing, just replace old Jeep with an old Sierra I'm a 90s kid, although we had a Skoda octavia at home back then, my Dad asked me to learn to drive a Sierra, he told if you can drive Sierra in traffic, you can drive pretty much anything. As some of our forum members already know, we have 3 Sierras, and I learnt driving on them even before my Dad gave me a green signal to drive, I used to request my drivers, bribe them with Samosas and other snacks to get behind the wheel.

Although I don't encourage under aged driving, but if you learn driving around the age of 16-17 (U.S legal age for restricted licence), you will have better understanding of the steering, ABC controls , the car and also you will develop that inbuilt intuition while driving. I first learnt driving a gokart when I was almost 7 or 8 years old, I posted regarding the same here. (How to prepare kids for go-karting / Formula racing?) This helped me a lot when I actually drove a real car for the first time (throttle input, brake input and steering input). Later on, I just had to learn clutch and gears.

By the time I was 18 and got my driving licence, I became almost perfect, even started driving more maturely, I used to take the car out on my own and comeback home safely. All thanks to my Sierras. After learning to drive a Sierra, all the cars which I drove in the U.S or in India seemed very easy for me.


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Old 30th November 2020, 11:07   #9
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
When my 18-year old kids want to start driving, I will give them an old Jeep. Slow, mechanical & dent-friendly. Once you master an old Jeep, you can pretty much drive anything on the road:
Attachment 2087291
By default, most kids growing up in the 80s like me learnt on either Fiats, Ambassadors or rarely, Jeeps, which were pretty much the only available options at that time, from what I can recall (before Maruti became a mass market vehicle and was only in the hands of the elite). Those cars by their inherent nature ensured that fundamental driving skills were developed well and that later, more modern cars became an absolute doddle to drive. No power steering, no AC, hard ABC pedals, steering mounted gear shifts, and very low power figures, and frequent overheating of the vehicle unless radiator water was filled up before every drive Not to mention push starting the car every winter morning, when ambient temperatures were low!

Today's pampered cars with plethora of comforts and conveniences will never provide that raw, hard edged driving experience, which has both its advantages as well as disadvantages.

I personally learnt on a 1960's Fiat in the family (my grandfather's car), and then graduated to a Maruti 800 much later when I began earning my own salary. Agree with the opening post that newbies should start on basic cars and then graduate to more complex and powerful machines through a process of gradual progression - it is a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience that way.

Last edited by arindambasu13 : 30th November 2020 at 11:09.
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Old 30th November 2020, 11:18   #10
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

I used an 18 year old Daewoo Matiz for 6 months when I first got my driving license.
Then I moved on to my current ride that is a used Hyundai Eon (that too the top end Sportz trim). This itself was a major upgrade for me in terms of comfort and convenience because the Matiz was a non AC base trim with no power steering and no radio. It was just an iron shell with basic interiors and mechanical bits under the hood. It was a completely raw feel which I was fortunate enough to get during the initial days of my driving.

But I must say that it is also easy to learn driving on bigger cars. I learnt driving on my dad's 2008 Honda City under his strict vigilance and I found it more easier to get the hang of driving than my aunt's Maruti 800 which I used for my practise sessions initially.
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Old 30th November 2020, 11:27   #11
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Here are 3 things I have implemented successfully in teaching people to drive in India, after I failed to teach my dad to drive 10 years back in our erstwhile Swift; and 2 of these have to do with the effect of our rowdy public on learners, since you don't do so in a vacuum:
1) Start with an automatic transmission equipped car - ignore the pains of moving off from stop by modulating the clutch and avoid the worse harassment that our public metes out to learners, when you happen to stall it. Learn to maneuver in traffic with an automatic and then learn to drive with a stick.
2) Start with a big car - In small cars, you don't have the situational awareness that you get in a bigger one. Try a cheap used Bolero or a Safari perhaps. They have rearview mirrors the size of elephant ears, you're seated high up and the net result is that you know who's where exactly and where you're headed. Besides, I get harassed in my beater A Star even though I'm not a learner; people see you in a small car and they honk and shove you off the road all the time - which is traumatizing for learners.
3) Beyond a point, learn to drive your car by yourself to avoid bullying by backseat drivers - A cousin of mine gave up learning to drive after her dad yelled at her once. My dad gave up for the same reason; i'm the guilty one. And yet, the real fault lies in our practise of sitting next to the learner all the time. You've got to

Last of all, think about it - how many people do you know of who've learned to drive in a driving school's car but gave up driving in real world conditions due to the harassment they face? My dad, two of my cousins, my elder sister....I know of a long list of people who've been traumatized and gave up.

But my wife today does highway trips after I got her our A Star automatic in end 2018. She learned with a driving school but then she practised by driving on the roads by herself with the A Star. She has already driven my MT equipped TUV 300 in a closed driving range. I only need to invest a bit more effort before she can drive the TUV in real world conditions.

Last edited by locusjag : 30th November 2020 at 11:28.
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Old 30th November 2020, 11:29   #12
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

One more point. To avoid buying the wrong car.

You'll recognize your driving taste only after sometime you start driving. If you purchase a brand-new car you are struck with it for at least 3-5 years. By driving a cheap used car for a year or two you'll know exactly what you want to spend your money on. Whether a compact SUV or Sedan or Small hatchback is right for you.
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Old 30th November 2020, 11:57   #13
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My son learnt driving with a driving institute on a manual car and got his license. However, he was still getting hassled on the road managing ABC in a manual car. As we replaced our manual Figo with a automatic Tiago, my son is now fine tuning his driving sense on the Tiago and has now started taking it out on his own after 10+ outings with me.
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Old 30th November 2020, 12:05   #14
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

I would totally second this thread.
I began to learn driving on a used Zen Estilo and it was probably the best car to start with.
Small, easy to park, easy on the maintenance, but most importantly less on power. It really does help you understand the power bands and where you can derive the maximum pleasure.

I feel the point on the first car giving you a mechanical feel must be emphasized. I am glad I learned driving on a Maruti rather than a Hyundai. To this day, I can not reverse a Hyundai car as perfectly or at least with as much confidence as the other brands. Now imagine the plight of a learner when they find out much later that the lack of steering feedback is not common.
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Old 30th November 2020, 12:07   #15
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Default Re: Why young & 1st-time drivers should start with a humble / cheap car

Quote:
Originally Posted by locusjag View Post
Last of all, think about it - how many people do you know of who've learned to drive in a driving school's car but gave up driving in real world conditions due to the harassment they face? My dad, two of my cousins, my elder sister....I know of a long list of people who've been traumatized and gave up.

But my wife today does highway trips after I got her our A Star automatic in end 2018. She learned with a driving school but then she practised by driving on the roads by herself with the A Star.
Haha, I have a similar story with a different ending. My wife learned in a driving school (I tried to escape teaching her) and then made me take her out driving (= I failed). I do yell at her out of sheer anxiety, but if I yell too much? She will yell right back! She is now quite proficient in the city and is slowly gaining practice. Soon, we will attempt the highway life.

We would have loved to keep our old Swift around just for her to practice on, but unfortunately we have only one parking space. She did struggle a lot with the clutch/first-gear in the Swift. Once she hits 2nd gear, it's a go. Compared to all that, she prefers the Tucson because she doesn't have to deal with the clutch.

My story is more like Bibendum: learned from my dad on an old Premier Padmini. Second set of driving lessons were in the US to get my driver's licence, on a old beat-up manual transmission car. Now I have the confidence to drive any vehicle anywhere.

In summary, I agree with the premise of this thread: old cars are good to learn on.
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