First Car Finder has moved from the RPS Driven School of Motoring Facebook page to the website. This is the feature where our instructor Nick Smith uses the experience he gained in the motor trade to pick out one car from the multitude available online, which he would buy if he were looking for his first car today.

The Rules

The rules vary from month to month. This time, in response to a specific request from a learner driver, the rules are:

Price: £6,000 – £8,000
Payment Method: Cash
Distance: Within 30 miles

Other than those restrictions anything is possible. So what has Nick come up with?

The Renault Zoe

This month’s choice is a 2013/13 plate Renault Zoe 22kWh Dynamique Zen Auto. The Renault Zoe is one of the earlier electric cars available but they can be a little bit of a minefield. Early Zoes came on a battery lease, where you own the car but pay monthly for the battery based on the miles you will do.

This car is a battery-owned model, so one of the previous owners bought the battery from Renault.

It’s done 42,383 miles in its 10 years on the road, well below average and has had five services in its time, four at Renault dealers and one at the supplying dealer. It will come with 12 months MOT and 6 months warranty.

Charging the Renault Zoe

Charging is the issue that most people list regarding electric vehicles. This car has the optional fast charging upgrade, which allows it to charge up to 43kW where chargers are available. There are no public chargers in Sheffield which can manage that on a Type 2 cable, and the Zoe can’t take CCS Combo cables, so public charging in the city will be at a maximum of 22kW.

That’s the useable size of the battery too, 22kW, which means that you can expect a range of about 130 miles in the summer and just under 100 during the winter or on a motorway run. It’s a city runabout more than a high mileage cruiser but if you have the ability to charge at home, it’s a cost-effective way to freedom.

The car is at an independent dealer, which is highly rated by AutoTrader, in Leeds for £6,750. It is finished in white and from the pictures is in good condition for its age. The dealership seems to specialise in Leaf and Zoes too, so there shouldn’t be any surprises hiding under the bodywork.

You can find out more about the car here.

The Oddball Choice

If electric isn’t your thing, you could also take a look at this 2010 Nissan Cube. First things first, it’s an import so it’s going to be a little harder to insure but on the flip side, statistically it’s a lower risk for a new driver. There aren’t many new full licence holders that buy funky boxy Japanese imports, so there is less data on new drivers crashing them. So when you do find an insurer that will take it, it will probably be cheaper.

The car is a fresh import and comes with a five-year warranty from a prestige car dealer in Derby. The dealer has handled all the import paperwork and will ensure that the speedo and the stereo all work properly for the UK.

It’s got the same 1.5l 4-cylinder petrol and CVT automatic gearbox as UK market Nissan Micras and Notes, so parts availability won’t be a massive issue and as first cars go, there is little out there which is going to be cooler. You will stand out.

You can find out more about this 16,000-mile, £7,895 slice of Japanese quirky-mobile, here.


Nick Smith is an Approved Driving Instructor working in south Sheffield. Along with automatic driving lessons, Nick is a driving test nerves specialist and offers theory support to learners. A former truck driver, Nick also presents Driver CPC periodic training courses to professional drivers.

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