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To be honest, I think it depends on your age and if you look responsible,
If its a private sale then you should be fine and you can always say you wount buy without a test drive.
If its from a dealer then they should have the insurance to cover you.
What im saying is that you shouldnt have problems unless you drive a private sale car and prang it. Ive sold cars privately and allowed test drives, didnt ask for insurance as they guys looked old enough and responsible enough. If your a 17 year old wanting to thrash the b****cks off it then I can see problems, otherwise shouble be ok.
Disclaimer: I cant be blamed for anything that goes wrong
Well, if you got problems and are unable to thrash it - ask the person selling it to thrash it with you as a passenger. The best thing is to be honest and say to the seller that because of the car it is you want to thrash it. If he doesnt want you to and wont show you it being thrashed maybe there is something wrong with it. Also, ask on this board what are the things to look out for when buying a 16v - common problems, expensive problems etc.