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Kimberley Dodge profile

Kimberley Dodge

May 21, 2018

Young driver stories 6 min read

You think that the hard part is over: you’ve taken all your driving lessons, passed your test (maybe after a few goes but never mind), and finally received your full driving licence. All that’s left is to buy yourself a car, tax it, insure it, pay for petrol… easy right? Yet, even though I’m a girl who likes to shop (admittedly I prefer browsing shoes than Vauxhalls), I came to realise how difficult it was to find a car. As a first-time buyer, and a new driver, there’s a long checklist of things you need to watch out for, and all for a low price. However, multiple mangled motors, jittering jalopies and a few weeks later, I finally fell in love with a little, black Fiat Grande Punto. So, let’s get into my love affair with my new, wee run-around.

car

Oooh Shiny…

Obviously, having little to no knowledge about all the ins and outs of cars, the first thing that drew me in was the initial appearance. Originally, I had my heart set on a colourful car: blue, red, yellow… anything to set me apart from the mundane black and silver drones that streak our motorways. But, I have learnt not to judge a book by its cover, and I can honestly say that colour aside, you just get a good vibe about a car. Not that my Fiat Punto isn’t a nice set of wheels, but in the end, the moment you sit behind the wheel, you just know.

via GIPHY

Having come away from a million and one cars that were easy on the eyes, but didn’t fit the criteria, I was over the moon to discover that this cheeky motor was not too old (2006 registration), full MOT history, full service history, the right size engine AND all for a price that I could live with. I felt like I’d won the lottery! My Dad did too – he was sick of traipsing around garages with me bouncing around, pointing out all the impractically yellow ‘clown cars’. We snapped it up as cars this good don’t stick around long.

Bells and Whistles

Although I highly recommend this Fiat model for first-time drivers, as it is perfectly practical for A to B journeys, or when you’re playing the sober taxi driver on a night out, the interior tech is pretty basic. Thankfully, the air-conditioning, de-mister and heating are all fully functioning, which is more than can be said for many second-hand cars!

But, what more can you expect from a twelve-year-old car? Of course, there’s no Bluetooth sound system or hands-free mobile option, but there is an AUX Cord and a radio, which is all you need for a cracking road trip with your friends. You can even control your top tunes using the buttons on the steering wheel – great for dealing with those pesky passenger DJs!

via GIPHY

Another sophisticated feature is that the front windows are electrically operated: no windy-windows in my car! Or, as my cousin likes to call them, keep-fit windows, as you’re in desperate need of the fresh air after wheezing for about five minutes trying to wind down your window. Maybe, I’m actually missing out on a clever way to burn off all the calories from the road trip snacks.

My only bugbear is the boot. What bright spark decided that the only way you should be able to open your boot is from a release button on the dashboard? As I’m escaping from my friend’s house, adorned with millions of overnight bags, the last thing I can be bothered to do is open my car, squish myself into the front seat, press the button, wiggle back out, walk all the way around my car, just to dump my stuff in the boot. Things would be so much easier, and so much less taxing on my cardiovascular, if I could just open my boot using the car key.

Stuck on the Stall

While the purchase was all smooth sailing, driving the car for the first time wasn’t a walk in the park. Having driven only diesel engines up to this point, taking a petrol motor for a spin was quite a different experience. I struggled (and still do!) to get my clutch control correct, stalling the car a grand total of sixteen times on my first solo drive. And that was all in under half an hour! I feel as though I’ve had to re-learn how to drive MY car, as getting used to handling an older car takes a little time, especially if you’ve been blessed with learning in nice, modern motors. Alas, me and my clutch are better friends now, even if it does still stall on me every now and then.

via GIPHY

My Seal of Approval

Overall, I would highly recommend a Fiat Grande Punto to anyone on the hunt for a reasonably priced motor that’s still a reasonable driving force and a smooth drive. For first time buyers, if you’re looking to buy a car outright, second hand hatchbacks, with a low engine size, like this one are ideal, as it has the right balance between power and practicality that keeps your insurance costs to a minimum (when I say minimum, I mean the lower end of extortionately expensive). Although it’s not got a high-tech interior, who needs a Tesla Navigation System when you can have the Greatest Showman Soundtrack on full-blast with the fancy, electric windows down?

Can I just call you ‘MINE’?

One thing I have been struggling with since I started nipping about in my wee Fiat, is what to name my car. All my friends and relatives keep harping on about giving my proud child a name, but nothing seems to fit. To me, it’s just my little Fiat.

Kimberley Dodge profile

By Kimberley Dodge

'For me, driving means freedom. I passed my test a year ago and so I’ve been enjoying getting where I want, when I want. I’m now 18, so having my own car has given me a lot more independence: I no longer have to rely on the taxi of mum and dad!'  See more posts by Kimberley

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