My first car was a bright yellow Datsun, my father's was a 3-wheeler, and my grandfather rode horses. These days young motorists have much better choices. So, which modern marvels suit inexperienced drivers?
Try the Nissan Micra (1993-2002). Engines range from 1.0 to 1.4-litres and achieve 42-48mpg. It is eternally reliable, easy to drive, and cheap to run. The handling is reasonably composed although pushing hard into corners will terrify your passengers. The ride can also feel unsettled but these minor flaws are acceptable for the price.
A superior choice is the Ford Focus (1998-2004). Engines range from 1.4 to 2.0-litres and achieve 26-57mpg. The handling is excellent, overall reliability good, and Euro NCAP awarded it four safety stars. No surprise the Focus was Britain's best seller.
A decent Micra costs £1500 and a reasonable Focus around £3,000. Buy something with sensible mileage and a decent service history. Alternatively, ignore my advice and treat yourself to a Mercedes S65 AMGL - a snip at £149,055.