Used Car Advice: Something Reliable Please

Continuing our popular series – Used Car Advice – we’re going to address an issue we get from time-to-time:

Hey Cartell, I am (hopefully!) going to pass my driving test next month!! Wondering what car you think would be good for a novice driver? My budget is €7,000 – maybe could stretch this to €7,500 – and I want something that’s reliable i.e. will not leave me stuck on the M50! Thanks! Sue”

Ok, so let’s hit the issues quickly then: Sue will (hopefully!) pass her test next month and as a novice driver, with her brand new novice plates, we’re expecting she won’t want to drive a monstrosity around the place until she’s settled into the idea of driving on public roads and she feels extra confident! So, we’re gonna narrow the review to something on the small-ish side. Sue also wants reliability so we’ll try to stick with models that display good reliability based on longer-term consumer feedback. Sue’s budget is maxed-out at €7,500 so we’ll work around that.


Novice Drives

There are lots of options for the novice driver. Vehicle’s like the Ford Fiesta and Nissan Micra have always been popular with Novice drivers – check out the car parks in any third level college for proof of this! However, there are plenty of other options: a small car like the Fiat 500 is popular, because its considered by some to have a bit more character – but it wouldn’t necessarily rank at the top of the list for reliability. The VW Up is also a car full of character and practicality.


The JD Power reliability survey has become the benchmark for reliability reports in UK and Ireland owing to the high volume of results inputted. You can check their most recent reliability report for 2014 on their site. Other useful sources of information include consumer-focused car magazines which offer long-term reviews and websites such as Brands like Skoda, VW and Kia consistently rank highly on reliability reports. Kia, with their 7 year manufacturer warranty (which does extend to subsequent owners after the first owner), are a gift for those looking for peace of mind. Nobody wants to be left stranded on the M50 or anywhere else and modern cars, overall, are certainly more reliable than they were.

However, there are no guarantees of reliability, no matter how much you spend. Take the example of Nick Murray whose reliability issues with his brand new Porsche 911 were watched by more than 1 million youtube viewers – leading to the phrase “Nine-a-Lemon” instead of “Nine-Eleven”.

Still, there are things you can do to help protect yourself: check the vehicle with – we don’t just offer useful used car advice we offer a comprehensive vehicle history check which can point to issues such as number of owners, recent ownership changes, higher recorded mileage readings; you should also check service history and NCT certs for the vehicle; and you should take it for a thorough test drive – or have someone you trust test it for you.

Options for Sue

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta has been a favourite among novice drivers since the model was first launched. Now in its seventh generation the vehicle is small enough to be manageable on the road for drivers still finding their feet, yet large enough to be practical. We spotted this 2008 Fiesta on Carzone for €7,950 with 62,000 miles on the clock. The guys over at say “the Ford Fiesta has been a best seller in Ireland for decades“.


The VW Up is a new edition to the VW fleet which may suit Sue.  Car Magazine did a long term test and had this to say after holding it for 11 months:

The Up is a cracking little drive, surprisingly practical, and a high-quality product. Only a dodgy seatbelt warning bonger let that side down”

We spotted a 2012 Up! for €7,750 on Carzone so prices are starting to fall within Sue’s range. This car is considered practical, stylish and reliable, and may be an ideal vehicle for Sue. It won’t be as practical as the Fiesta above, it hasn’t got doors at the back for instance, but it may still be a winner. A stellar review for the Up can be found on the site of UK car magazine What Car? which give the model the five-star-treatment saying: “The Volkswagen Up is a funky-looking city car, which is economical, spacious and good to drive.”

Honda Civic

Honda is generally considered a reliable brand and the Civic gives plenty of practicality. We spotted this 2007 Honda Civic 1.3 litre petrol for €7,500 with 86,000 miles on the clock. You could probably find a similar example with less miles if you looked hard enough.


We’re a big fan of the VW Up and we think it deserves close consideration. The biggest advantage is that Sue could afford a nearly-new vehicle within her budget from a solid marque known for good reliability – all the criteria Sue is looking for.

Warning: All used cars require careful consideration before purchase. Get a check to find out the history of the vehicle. This blog is a general guide only and is not recommending the purchase of any particular vehicle – just giving some general advice!