Don’t you just a love a very British bit of controversy? The news this week that BSM has ended its 16-year relationship with Vauxhall to use the Corsa as its learner car of choice has certainly raised a few eyebrows, not least my own.
You can see why BSM has done its deal with Fiat; the 500 is a very stylish car and has a lot more appeal to a 17-year-old than a standard Corsa.
My dad is a driving instructor so I decided to have a chat with him about how much a difference what car you learn to drive in makes, and I was quite surprised to hear what he had to say.
He teaches people in a Peugeot 206 and it generally goes down quite well with the pupils. But does it make a big difference in them wanting to learn to drive with him? No. And does he lose or gain any business from having a 206? Probably not.
When I spoke to him he had a pupil sat next to him and she said as long as the car wasn’t old and rusty then it didn’t make a difference what it was. Interesting considering BSM hopes to attract more females to learn with them with its 500s.
Driving instructors should be known for how good they are at teaching, not what car they drive around in. My dad told me about a peer of his who bought a Mini Cooper and it didn’t really make a blind bit of difference to his business. Others claim it does, but my dad’s not so sure.
BSM probably will pick up a few pupils from its decision to opt for the Fiat 500, but I think once people get used to seeing them on the road things will quickly die down. BSM’s claim that 70 per cent of people buy the car they learn to drive in is way wide of the mark, too. Not many people who learn to drive could afford to even if they wanted to. I think seven per cent may be a more accurate figure.
And do we really want to see the undoubted style of the 500 cramped by learners scuffing the alloys up against the kerb and knocking its until now excellent residual values? I’m not so sure. I think Fiat is in serious danger of undoing all the hard work it has done in making the 500 a desirable and much loved style icon. Stick to the Corsa, BSM.