The best cars for learner and new drivers

Learning to drive takes time and effort, but choosing a new car can be much of a headache. Insurance is the biggest hurdle for new drivers, but low running costs and easy controls are also important factors for those new to the road.

We’ve picked our 10 favourite cars for those new to the road, and – with a range of PCP finance options – many could be more affordable than you might think. Use our handy PCP calculator to get an idea how much your new car could cost, then use our new car deals page to find the best offers. For more options, check out our list of the best cars for less than £100 per month.

VW Up – insurance group 1

Volkswagen’s Up is one of the best city cars around, with a desirable badge and quality interior. It’s a great looking car and a recent facelift gave it snazzier lights, as well as an upgraded cabin – you’ll find a built-in dock for smartphones with support for apps. The Up is also very practical considering its size and there’s more than enough room for a few friends or a university term’s worth of washing.

Only entry-level ‘Take Up‘  and ‘Move Up‘ models benefit from group one insurance, but posher versions are also in low insurance groups, as long as you stick to the basic 59hp engine. Volkswagen has priced the Up from £9,000 but, if you’re not fussed over the badge, the very similar SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo are a little cheaper and have the same low insurance groups, while offering much of the same experience.

Check out our Volkswagen Up deals page to find out how much carwow can help you save.

Hyundai i10 – insurance group 1

The Hyundai i10 is another of our favourite city cars and, despite its small size, offers an ownership experience that will suit new drivers of all ages. Although it looks smart on the outside, much of the i10’s charm comes from its excellent ride quality and grown-up interior – there’s an impressive 252-litre boot and enough room for four adults. Hyundai is also very generous with equipment – top-spec models even get heated seats.

All i10s fitted with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine are in the lowest insurance group, and the engine suits the car well – only feeling strained on the fastest of overtakes. Plus, there’s the benefit of Hyundai’s excellent five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. With prices varying between £9,000 and £11,000 for 1.0-litre models, it won’t break the bank to buy, either.

Our Hyundai i10 deals page can help you grab the latest offers on your new car.

Vauxhall Corsa – insurance group 2

The Vauxhall Corsa remains one of the best selling cars in the UK. It’s a popular option with new drivers and its easy controls mean many driving schools use them. The latest model has a high quality cabin with a large touchscreen and easy-to-use controls, and even three-door models have a good amount of space despite their stylish looks.

In order to get the cheapest insurance for your new Vauxhall, you’ll need to stick to the new ‘Sting‘ trim. It features white alloy wheels, body stripes and a 74hp 1.4-litre engine, so it’s actually a bit of a bargain, especially considering that it’s possible to pick one up for less than £10,000. If you want something a little less sporty, there are plenty of other versions in insurance group three, as long as you stick with the slower engines.

Head over to our Vauxhall Corsa deals page to find out the latest offers.

Dacia Sandero – insurance group 2

The Dacia Sandero is the cheapest new car available in the UK and offers a huge amount of space for the money. You should be able to get a whole week’s shopping and more besides in the boot, and three will fit across the back seat without too much complaint – all this for less than £6,000.

Basic trim levels live up to their billing – you don’t even get a radio as standard, but more expensive versions are still noticeably cheaper than rivals, and still very cheap to insure and run. The proven 1.2-litre petrol engine is the one to go for with enough efficiency and power for new drivers, unless you intend to cover very high miles.

Check out our Dacia Sandero deals page to find out how much carwow can help you save.

Skoda Fabia – insurance group 2

If you’re after a classy and spacious first car, it’s hard to look past the Skoda Fabia. The latest generation generation is the most convincing yet with plenty of interior space and a well-built cabin. Think of it as a cut-price Volkswagen Polo and you won’t be too far wrong.

Only the three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine in basic ‘S‘ trim benefits from group two insurance, but higher specification models with the same engine are only one group higher, so make sure you check out insurance quotes before you commit to the cheapest version. It’s priced from £10,750, but offers a lot of car for the money and should hold its value well in years to come.

Our Skoda Fabia deals page can help you grab the latest offers on your new car.

Kia Rio – insurance group 2

Those after a stylish first car would do well to check out the Kia Rio. With sleek looks and plenty of standard equipment, it offers impressively low running costs thanks to the incredibly efficient 1.1-litre diesel engine. It’s surprisingly refined and can return nearly 90mpg, making the Kia an excellent long-distance companion.

It’s this engine that also offers group two insurance in lower trim levels, including the popular SE spec with cruise control and leather dashboard trim. The only fly in the ointment is the Rio’s comparatively high price – SE cars with the diesel engine cost £14,445, although it’s worth remembering you also get Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty.

Head over to our Kia Rio deals page to find out the latest offers.

Renault Twingo – insurance group 2

The Renault Twingo isn’t the most conventional city car around – it’s both rear-wheel drive and rear engined – opposite to most small cars out there. This makes it incredibly manoeuvrable and gives it a fairly large interior for its size – although boot space is limited. There are lots of smartphone connectivity options so you needn’t worry about speccing an infotainment system.

Entry-level Expression models with the 1.0-litre engine are the only versions that qualify for group two insurance but, if you want more kit, other trim levels are just one group above. The Twingo is priced from around £9,500 and offers a reasonably unique option for buyers, while those after something even more unusual can opt for the very similar Smart ForFour.

Check out our Renault Twingo deals page to find out how much carwow can help you save.

Kia Picanto – insurance group 2

The Kia Picanto is the Hyundai i10’s sister car – the two share a lot of DNA with the Picanto only missing out on a little of the Hyundai’s interior space. From a style point of view, the Kia is your only option if you prefer a car with three doors. The Kia’s warranty is two years longer than its Korean relative making it the best currently offered on any car, important if you’re intending to hang onto your pride and joy for a long time.

There are two Picanto models with group two insurance – the 1 Air and SE. Both come with plenty of equipment and the 1.0-litre 65hp engine but, if you’d prefer an automatic, you can choose the SE with a larger 1.25-litre engine and still get cheaper insurance. The auto ‘box is a little antiquated but – along with the Hyundai – is the only ‘traditional’ unit in this class where rivals use jerky automated manuals, making it the best option if you’ve passed with an automatic-only license.

Our Kia Picanto deals page can help you grab the latest offers on your new car.

Toyota Yaris – insurance group 2

The Toyota Yaris lives up to its maker’s reputation for producing dependable and efficient cars. The current version is slickly styled and offers more than enough space for five people, whether they’re mates or a young family. If you’re keen on a model with group two insurance, you’ll need to choose the popular Icon trim with the 69hp 1.0-litre engine – other versions incur higher insurance groups, including the hybrid.

The Icon has more than enough equipment to keep everyone happy, including Bluetooth, tinted windows, cruise control and a reversing camera. It’s not cheap, with prices for the three-door version from just less than £13,000 and nearly every rival is nicer to drive but few can match its reputation for dependability.

Head over to our Toyota Yaris deals page to find out the latest offers

Smart ForFour – insurance group 2

The Smart ForFour was developed alongside the Renault Twingo and shares its unusual rear-wheel drive/rear-engined layout. That means you get a surprisingly spacious cabin and nimble handling, but lose a little boot space. Smart offers a large range of personalisation options and it’s arguably one of the most premium city cars out there – considering Smart is owned by Mercedes.

Almost all ForFours with the 1.0-litre engine qualify for group two insurance, including a couple of automatic versions – the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox is much better than previous Smart attempts. The car is a little expensive, however, with even the cheapest versions costing more than £11,500, and that’s before you personalise it, so make sure you save some money for insurance.

Check out our Smart ForFour deals page to find out how much carwow can help you save.

Save money on your first car

Our new car deals page will show you the latest discounts on any of the vehicles featured on our list, and our PCP calculator will help you get a better idea how much these cars could cost. If you’re still struggling to decide what your first car will be, our car chooser tool or our regularly updated deals page are here to help.

Volkswagen Up

A stylish and well-built city car
8.7
£8,995 - £12,880
RRP
Read review Compare offers

Hyundai i10

Practical supermini has five-year warranty and big boot
8.5
£8,995 - £13,045
RRP
Read review Compare offers

Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall’s supermini gets tantalisingly close to the class best
7.7
£10,155 - £19,495
RRP
Read review Compare offers
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