Why driving schools are investing in crossovers

Published: 16 December 2020

► AA signs up to Seat Arona
► Crossovers offer benefits, say driving schools
► Ageing first time buyers hint at change

Your age largely determines what car you learned to drive in. Those born in the Seventies might have taken their first legal drive in a Morris Marina, while those born in the Nineties will have likely learned in a Ford Fiesta.

Comfortingly, several generations of car drivers will have learned to drive in basic Minis. But this could be set to change.

Driving schools are increasingly adding crossovers to the range of cars on offer. The schools say that these mini-SUVs add a degree of flexibility to their cars, and they’re ‘more representative’ of cars people will be driving. There’s no denying that pitching lessons in a posh-ish crossover appeals more than a 10-year old i10.

According to the latest set of figures, the average age of a new driver is around 26, and the youngest group of drivers (17-20 year olds) has taken a severe dip. In other words, some people are leaving it nearly a decade to learn how to drive. So it’s only natural that fresh drivers might have needs beyond a supermini.

AA driving school Seat Arona

The AA Driving School has recently signed an agreement with Seat to use, among other cars, the Ibiza FR 1.0 TSI and Arona SE Technology 1.0 TSI.

A Seat spokesperson told CAR: ‘Seat SUVs continue to increase in popularity, so there’s an overall trend in customers purchasing this type of vehicle.

‘Crossovers provide the perfect blend of small car dimensions with the feeling of a big car inside, and this is ideal for those who are learning to drive at a later stage of life.’

Another reason for driving schools offering the most in vogue form of transport is a simple economic one. The more drivers they attract, the more money they earn.

Sarah Rees, AA Driving School managing director, said: ‘The new models (crossovers) are stylish and easy to drive and we think that they will be a popular choice with pupils.’

Volkswagen is the sole provider to Bill Plant driving school – with two cars on offer to franchisees – a Volkswagen Golf or a Volkswagen T-Roc.

Bill Plant Volkswagen T-Roc

Head of instructor support at Bill Plant Driving School, Tom Hixon, thinks the lofty driving positions associated with a crossover explains the trend.

He commented: ‘It’s more commanding on the road than a smaller vehicle would be, as well as offering the learner a higher driving position and much greater view of the road.

‘Driving in a small vehicle allows learner drivers more physical space on the road to manoeuvre, but those who go on to pass their test will typically have confidence issues down the line if and when they choose to drive a larger vehicle. Learning in a crossover vehicle removes this fear in the future should they decide to transition; if you start with a larger vehicle, you’ll feel confident in pretty much anything.’

Further reading

By Murray Scullion

Petrolhead, journalist and traveller. Loves fast old cars and new tech. Deputy editor of sister site, Parkers.co.uk.