Where to start: Car recommendations for new and learner drivers

Published on 10 May 2022

Everyone remembers the excitement of getting on the road for the first time as a new or learner driver. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of freedom or the sense of adventure that awaits. Actually purchasing your new car can be a little trickier, though; there’s so much information out there, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed or confused.

We’ve all been there, so we put together five key questions that will help you narrow down your choices – and make sure you get the best start to your driving life.

  1. New or Second-hand?

For most people, the first car they buy is usually used, and perhaps even a number of years old. Second-hand cars tend to be more affordable, as cars depreciate more in their first couple of years on the road. A used car also means you don’t have to worry too much about getting the odd scratch on the paintwork – most cars will pick up a couple of bangs and bruises over time.

If you have a higher budget, there are benefits to buying a new car too, which can include a warranty, service pack, or low interest rates on loans. It pays to visit your local dealership and check out national consumer advice guides to make sure you buy the right car for you and your circumstances.

  1. Manual or Automatic?

For a long time, most of the cars in Ireland had manual transmission, i.e., a gear stick you had to manually move to guide the car up and down its gears. In recent years, automatic transmission – where the car moves itself through the gears – has become much more popular. There are several reasons for this: automatic cars are more comfortable to drive in traffic, and many consider them easier for learner drivers to use as they avoid the common challenges of starting on a hill or cutting out at traffic lights.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that automatic cars are usually more expensive to purchase, and older models can be less efficient to drive too. Crucially for novice drivers, a successful driving test in an automatic car means you can drive only cars with automatic transmission, while a successful driving test in a manual car means you can drive both. Speak to your driving instructor to learn more about both options.

  1. Diesel, Petrol, Electric or Hybrid?

How we fuel our cars is a big topic of conversation these days, for environmental and financial reasons. Much can depend on your personal preferences, your annual mileage and your purchasing and fuelling budget. While we’ve come a long way in terms of charging stations in Ireland, where you live might have a bearing on your choices too.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) reported that new electric car registrations reached their highest month on record in January 2022, which means that there should be more electric vehicles (EVs) filtering down to the used car market over the next couple of years. In the meantime, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a lot of good information that can help you narrow down your choices and figure out what the best option is for you.

  1. Mini or Minivan?

It’s important that you take the time to choose the right sized vehicle for you. A lot of learner or newly-qualified drivers prefer to start small, so they’re not feeling under too much pressure when navigating narrow streets or squeezing into tiny parking spaces.

However, depending on your commute, family size or personal preference, you might decide to move up through the models – talking to a salesperson in a car dealership will help you figure out the right car for you. If you regularly use a wheelchair, a pram, a bicycle or a set of golf clubs, it might be a good idea to bring it with you to the car showroom to see if it fits in the car’s boot. If it doesn’t, you know it’s probably not the car for you…

  1. Third Party Only, Third Party Fire & Theft or Fully Comprehensive?

All drivers, whether they’re learners, newly qualified or experienced must have motor insurance. Most people will choose between Comprehensive, Third Party Fire & Theft or Third Party Only insurance, but it’s not always clear which is the best option for you. Both policies offer protection and peace of mind, but one might suit you more than the other, depending on your circumstances, your budget and your car. For a breakdown of the differences between these two policies, check out our Compare Car Insurance page.


Car Insurance with Liberty


The most important thing is to get car insurance you can trust. Accidents can happen to anyone, and when things go wrong, you’ll want someone in your corner. At Liberty Insurance, our policyholders get a dedicated Claims Buddy. That means you deal with one person from the moment something goes wrong to the moment we put it right. Plus, 96%* of claims are settled without a quibble – that’s the peace of mind you deserve.


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