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P plate legal cars in Australia

What cars are you allowed to drive on a provisional license?

The P plate car restrictions in Australia can be rather complicated, as the list of P plate legal cars not only varies from state to state, but is subject to change as the automotive landscape evolves.

While there are many P plate approved cars for new drivers, those with a taste for performance cars may be disappointed to learn that their favourite car is out of reach until they are awarded their full license. 

For the Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania and Western Australia, there are no vehicle restrictions for new drivers, however, the rest of the states each adopt a unique set of rules governing provisional license holders.

In this article, we will explain what types of cars can be driven by P platers in their respective states, and detail where you can find an up-to-date list of P plater approved cars.

Typically, high-performance turbocharged, supercharged and V8-powered vehicles are off the table, but not always. Depending on the state you’re in, some turbocharged cars may appear on the P plate legal car list as they meet a power-to-weight requirement

It’s worth noting that some P platers may be able to get an exemption for a high-powered model if they can prove that they are in a special circumstance, like requiring the vehicle for work purposes.

According to road safety authorities, high-performance vehicles are restricted for P platers, as it is in this time that drivers are most likely to be involved in an accident, and a powerful vehicle may be harder for an inexperienced driver to control.

However, as vehicle safety features continue to advance, some call for state governments to adjust the rules accordingly. 

In 2012, Victoria’s road regulation body VicRoads announced that it would allow provisional license holders to drive any vehicle with a power-to-weight ratio up to 130kW/1000kg.

This rule was put in place due to the rise of small-capacity turbocharged engines. For instance, since the rules were updated, P plater drivers can now operate models like the turbocharged Volkswagen Golf 110TSI, which uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine that makes 110kW of power.

P plater drivers can now operate models like the turbocharged Volkswagen Golf 110TSI. P plater drivers can now operate models like the turbocharged Volkswagen Golf 110TSI.

Interestingly, the Subaru WRX is P plate prohibited in Victoria in all but the entry-level automatic-transmission variant.

While the $43,990 before on-road costs pricetag for a new Subaru WRX might be a big ask for a new driver, its 197kW/350Nm 2.0-litre boxer engine offers a lot of performance, even with the self-shifting transmission.

Despite the performance, the entry level WRX auto can be driven by P platers in Victoria. Despite the performance, the entry level WRX auto can be driven by P platers in Victoria.

Other sporty models like the Hyundai i30 N Performance are slightly too powerful for states with the 130kW/tonne power-to-weight requirement.  

With a 202kW engine and 1509kg kerb weight, the 202kW Hyundai i30 N has a power-to-weight ratio of 133kW/tonne, so it only just misses out.

With a power-to-weight ratio of 133kW/tonne, the i30 N cannot be operated by a P plate driver. With a power-to-weight ratio of 133kW/tonne, the i30 N cannot be operated by a P plate driver.

Read on to see a state-by-state breakdown of P plate vehicle restrictions, and where you can find a list of P Plate approved cars.

P plate legal cars NSW

The rules for P1/P2 license holders in New South Wales dictate that the following high-performance vehicles are banned:

  • Power-to-weight ratios of greater than 130kW per tonne or
  • Modified engines that need to be approved by an engineer or
  • Other vehicles classified as high performance.

You can find a detailed list of P Plate approved vehicles in NSW here.

P plate legal cars Vic

Victoria largely mirrors the legal probationary car rules as NSW, defining a prohibited high-performance vehicle by the following:

  • A power-to-mass ratio of greater than 130kW per tonne or 
  • An engine that has been modified to increase performance (other than a modification made by the manufacturer during the vehicle’s manufacture) or 
  • Been declared as probationary prohibited in the Victorian Government Gazette. 

VicRoads offers a P plate legal cars list, as well as information regarding exemption eligibility here.

P plate legal cars SA

In 2014, South Australia adopted a power-to-weight requirement, allowing vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2010, to be driven by provisional license holders, regardless of engine type unless:

  • The vehicle has a power-to-weight ratio greater than 130kW per tonne or 
  • A vehicle that has been modified to alter engine performance

For vehicles manufactured before 1 January 2010, South Australia prohibits P platers from driving the vehicle if it has:

  • Greater than or equal to eight cylinders or
  • A turbocharged or supercharged engine (except diesel-powered vehicles with less than eight cylinders) or
  • A vehicle that has been modified to increase engine performance (other than vehicles that have been so modified by the manufacturer in the course of manufacture of the vehicle) or
  • Been nominated as a high-powered vehicle as listed in the South Australian Government Gazette.

In South Australia, the high powered vehicle rules do not apply to provisional license holders over the age of 25.

See the following link to find more information about P Plate legal vehicles in SA.

P plate legal cars QLD

High-powered vehicle restrictions apply to Queensland P1/P2 license holders under the age of 25.

Vehicles built after January 1, 2010, are specified as high-powered if:

  • It has a power-to-weight ratio of more than 130kW/tonne or
  • An engine modification that is not approved under section 13 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 2010.

Meanwhile, cars manufactured before January 1, 2010, are prohibited to P platers if:

  • It has an engine with eight or more cylinders or
  • A turbocharged or supercharged engine that is not diesel powered or
  • An engine with a power output of more than 210kW or
  • A rotary engine with an engine capacity of more than 1146cc or
  • An engine modification that is not approved under section 13 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 2010.

The Queensland government offers a list of vehicles that can be driven on P1 and P2 licenses, as well as comprehensive details on applying for an exemption. Said details can be found here.

While there are no such vehicle restrictions for new drivers in NT, ACT, Tasmania and WA, you can find information about provisional licensing at the following links. 

Northern Territory licensing: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

ACT licensing: Access Canberra

Tasmania licensingTransport Services

Western Australia licensing: Department of Transport

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