We were unique, until recently, in using Citroen’s DS3 as our teaching vehicle; most driving schools considered it far too ‘top end’ and powerful to be placed in the hands of a novice. But On Fire, as the name suggests, aren’t just about teaching folk to operate a vehicle safely; our desire is to create a passion and interest in driving that goes beyond the pink licence – an interest that is carried forward into a lifetime of continued learning and enjoyment.
This can’t really be done in a slow-to-respond, low-powered car that takes half-an-hour to work out that it’s being asked to brake or accelerate. Other driving instructors are now beginning to catch on to the DS3′s advantages … especially as it is being showered with Awards left-right-and-centre
“I was after a machine that was distinctive for my new driving school – summat with a bit of style, but was rock-solid as far as reliability went, and would make my learners feel safe. After slogging around several car manufacturer’s dealers, looking at various models, with a salesman in the passenger seat, chittering in my ear like a budgie, (and not knowing what he was on about, and not listening to what I actually needed from the car), I began to realise a modern diesel would probably fit the bill.
Cue another round of research. I then happened upon the DS3 at Citroen in Glasgow. Rather than come with me for a test drive, when I’d explained my requirements, the sales guy tossed me the keys and said, ‘Come back when you’re happy with it.’ Now, that is confidence in a car! I gave the DS3 my version of a proper test drive, and had to admit that his confidence was not misplaced.
Since then, I’ve never regretted my decision; once pupils get to the intermediate/advanced part of their training, they realise how much of an advantage the extra power of the DS3 gives them. They come to love the car as an ally, primarily for its responsiveness at both very low and high speeds. It also prepares them for the variation in power in particular gears that their own car will have.
Oh, and we like lashin’ about in ‘em ourselves, but that’s a minor factor … :: clears throat ::”
John Ryan, Founder, On Fire for Driving
The On Fire cars are serviced and valeted regularly (no nasty niffs!), and are replaced and upgraded every two years. So you learn in a truly modern car, not a machine which has had its clutch and gearbox soggified [Is that a word? Ed.] by several years of abuse by previous learners.
As your training progresses, you’ll realise the car has a personality of it’s own, and start to bond with it, rather than see it as an obstacle that must be conquered. As John mentioned in the previous quote, a great deal of care was taken in choosing this car, with the novice driver in mind. For instance, once you’ve got your clutch control sorted, it’ll politely pretend it hasn’t noticed you’ve forgotten to go down to first gear at a blind junction, and pull away in second. Uphill, if you’re very subtle. Not something you should do on Test, of course, but rather clever, and a great confidence-booster. ‘Woah! TY, Car!!!’ type-thing.
A nippy wee beast, this falls into the same ‘supermini’ class as the DS3, yet has earned praise for a quiet, comfortable and unusually refined ride.