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Start off Road - A fun and stylish way to learn to drive for 11-17 year olds

When you are under the age of 17 any chance to get behind the driving wheel is most likely going to be a lot of fun. Jaguar Land Rover have created an off roading school called Start off Road for anyone between 11-17 year olds to learn in a safe environment. The cool thing about Start Off Road is that you do it in style! Each driver gets a high spec Range Rover Evoque  - fitted with dual controls for safety.

Off roading is fun in the woods at  Ragley Hall - Warwickshire


My lesson was at Ragley Hall, a country estate near Warwick, on a bright Autumn morning. I was greeted friendly by the Land Rover staff and my instructor Caroline Spink. I was promptly belted up, seat adjusted at the press of a couple of button and ready to rock ‘n roll. The quality dashboard and comfortable seats of the Evoque immediately impressed me. I thought its time for dad to change his car!

We started with some basic driving manoeuvres and car awareness around cones, which highlighted the benefit of push-pulling the steering wheel, rather than my initial crossing hands! This done we ventured off on bumpy terrain and steep hills trialling out special features such as hill decent and terrain response.  The 4 wheel drive Evoque used on the lessons have 6 Speed automatics and felt relaxed and easy to drive.

Evoque is a great car to learn early driving skills in.

Caroline my off road instructor gave lots of tips on driving safety and manoeuvring on difficult ground. This included steering and braking techniques on muddy and wet ground, climbing and descending hills at the correct speeds. The Evoque creates a great first impression of its abilities to adventure across rutted field and muddy woodland tracks. The Hill Decent Control system is particularly impressive how it brakes each wheel as required to avoid slipping out of control. It seemed strange that you can keep your feet off the brakes down steep slopes.

The hour lesson sadly flew by. Too soon it was time to return the Evoque home now splattered in mud. Thankfully you don’t have to clean the cars afterwards. Caroline summed up the Evoque in my 5 word challenge as “Luxurious, comfortable, exhilarating, economical and desirable”. It is a great car and I am pleased to say returned from the woodland tracks with no dents.

Caroline my instructor gets me safely round the off road circuit

To sum up the driving experience is great fun and builds confidence in a controlled and well-instructed way. The experience makes a great treat or gift such as a birthday or Xmas present. At £80 for the hour it is more expense compared to a Young Driver lesson at £60 per hour, then again the Evoque and country estate location are quite special. To help ensure repeat visits I think the price needs to be trimmed or the lessons extended by 15-30 minutes as the time just vanished whilst having fun.

For full details of Start Off Road - Click on the image below:-



  1. Drive as slowly as possible and as fast as necessary.
  2. Know your vehicle’s dimensions – height, weight, width, length, approach and departure angle, ramp angle, and ground clearance.
  3. Avoid gear changes while negotiating difficult terrain.
  4. Always read the ground as far ahead as you can. If it is safe to do so, walk the ground before you drive.
  5. Use great care when driving on loose or wet surfaces due to the reduced level of grip.
  6. Be prepared to admit defeat. Back off and try again, or try an alternative route.
  7. Avoid excessive wheelspin at all times but especially on soft ground where the vehicle can easily lose momentum and even cause environmental damage.
  8. Use a gentle right throttle foot.
  9. Always keep both hands on the wheel, even when reversing and never hook your thumbs inside the steering wheel, as any kickback from the terrain could sprain or even break them.
  10. Always walk your water obstacle wearing wellington boots and carrying a stick for checking silt and underwater hollows. Better to get your feet wet than your vehicle stuck.

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