First cars

Whether you’re looking for a first car to learn to drive in, or that first car after your test, our experts can point you in the right direction to the best first cars on sale in the UK today.

First cars should be cheap to run and easy to drive, but that doesn’t mean boring. This list of best first cars will help you find an ideal first car if you’ve just passed your driving test.

1
Volkswagen

The VW Polo is the ideal first car. Fitted with a 1.0-litre, 65hp engine it falls into insurance group 1, which is the cheapest there is. It has neat, understated looks on the outside and the inside gets a well-built interior with plenty of easy-to-use tech. Extra Brownie points... its boot is larger than what you'd find in a Ford Fiesta and can easily fit everything you'd need when it’s time to leave the nest.

2
Volkswagen
Up

The VW Up may be the cheapest car in its brand's range, but it still has all the styling and build quality you'd expect from a Volkswagen. If you're looking for your first car, you'll be happy to know that all but the range-topping Up Beats trim falls into the cheap-as-chips insurance group 1. Plus, inside, the materials are very pleasant, without any of that 'low-budget' feel common in alternatives.

3
Skoda

The Skoda Citigo is a cheap car to buy, but its solid build quality would make you think otherwise. Its price tag is even lower than alternatives like the VW Up and the SEAT Mii, despite all three sharing the same underpinnings. Going for the entry-level car puts the Citigo into the inexpensive insurance group 2. Lastly, the Citigo is very easy to drive and has roomy front seats.

4
Hyundai
i10

The Hyundai i10 feels as much like a TARDIS as a car – despite its small size, its interior is surprisingly roomy. Unlike the VW Up, the i10 actually has a full rear bench, able to carry three of your mates, rather than two. You'll want to stick with the S or SE if you're a first-time buyer, as those models, when powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine, fall into insurance group 2.

5
Nissan

The Nissan Micra is one of the funkiest and most eye-catching first cars out there. It stands out from such alternatives as the Vauxhall Corsa, thanks to its unique exterior and colourful interior. As vivacious as it may look, driving the Micra is actually quite calming and comfortable. Get a model with a 1.0-litre petrol engine and it will not only fall into insurance group 1, but also give a claimed 53mpg, helping the pocketbooks of first-time drivers take as little hurt as possible.

6
Skoda

If you fancy the practicality of a VW Polo but don't want to spend quite as much money, then the Skoda Fabia is your best bet. It's cheaper than the VW and – if you get a 60hp model – falls into the least expensive insurance group, but it also feels very well built. The cabin can stand up to the worst abuse your mates can fling at it and has a rear bench that can sit three of them side-by-side comfortably. Driving the Fabia is easy, especially in towns, where its light steering and boxy, easy-to-see-out-of body make tight manoeuvres a doddle.

7
Fiat
500

The Fiat 500 is one of the most stylish first cars you can buy, with its iconic looks and a huge range of customisable options. But it's not all show and no go – it has a range of economical engines that help to keep running costs low.

8
Vauxhall

Funky looks and a two-tone colour scheme mean you can't miss the Vauxhall Adam. It's very eye-catching on the inside and, like the Fiat 500, has loads of customisable options. First-time buyers will appreciate the 1.2-litre petrol engine, as models with that are the cheapest 500s to insure.

9
Toyota

The Toyota Yaris is a reliable all-rounder and one of the most dependable first cars you can buy. The cabin is spacious and you also get Toyota's famous reliability, which means the Yaris should last you a long time. If it doesn't, you still have peace of mind thanks to its five-year warranty. Many of the car's less expensive trims also fall into insurance group 2.

10
Ford

The Ford Fiesta is the ideal first car if you love driving. It's great fun on the road and comes with the tech young drivers love. It's not the cheapest of its kind to insure, though, and some desirable safety kit costs a bit extra.

A car for a learner driver should be above all stress-free and easy to drive, but should also be cheap and safe. If you’re 17 years old, picking from one of the 500+ models on sale can be overwhelming so below you’ll find the five best cars for learner drivers as picked by our car experts.

1
SEAT
Mii

The Seat Mii is great value, great fun to drive and cheap to run – it’s a top learner car. It shares a lot with the VW Up and Skoda Citigo but has a slightly different design so you’ll be sure to stand out. Large windows and the small size of it help immensely when manoeuvring and the light gearbox wont stress you at all. You can also very easily hook up a smartphone phone to the stereo and use that as infotainment.

2
Suzuki

The Suzuki Ignis is a funky-looking small car with a roomy cabin and light controls that make it a doddle to drive. Its narrow body makes it perfect for practising parallel parking, but there’s still enough space in the back for two tall teenagers to get comfy. Its very easy to see out of, too.

3
Hyundai
i10

The Hyundai i10 is does a surprisingly good job ironing out bumps and potholes around town for such a small car, so there won’t be any distractions when you’re getting to grips with your mirror, signal manoeuvre practice. All models come with front and back doors as standard, and you can get it with a smartphone-compatible seven-inch touchscreen, too.

4
Toyota

The eye-catching Toyota Aygo is a compact car that’s just about big enough to carry four. It’s easy to drive and its cabin is sensibly laid out – so you won’t have to go searching for awkward buttons when you’re driving along. It’s far from the fastest car around, but it comes with a frugal petrol engine that’s pretty perky around town and very cheap to run.

5
Dacia

Now, a Dacia Sandero is hardly the most desirable car for a 17-year old but glance over the looks and what you get is a lot of value for your money. The gearshift in the Sandero is light and easy so you won’t be too annoyed in a traffic jam and if you go for the most basic one, you get unpainted bumpers and steel wheels meaning you won't have to stress about small scrapes or scuffed wheels.

The cost of simply buying a car isn’t the only concern for young motorists - another is insurance, which is continuing to rise year-on-year. However, we’ve grouped together the best cars in the lowest insurance groups for you. Naturally, they also cost peanuts to run.

1
Hyundai
i10

The Hyundai i10 is the company’s smallest and cheapest car to buy, and if you opt for one of the lesser trim levels, it sits in just group 2 (out of 50) for insurance costs. It’s also a superb little car, being spacious enough for four adults to sit comfortably inside and offering good handling, a comfortable ride and frugal engines.

2
Skoda

The Skoda Citigo is one of the best city cars around. It has strong-but-fuel-efficient engines, great handling, is comfortable and good space inside. The good news is, that if you stick it its lesser engine and trim levels, it’s also brilliantly cheap to buy and insurance, too, sitting way down in group 2.

3
Citroen

The Citroen C4 Cactus shows you can defy convention and still build a brilliant family car. Its quirky styling makes it look like a pseudo SUV and the spacious interior is even quirkier than the outside. It even drives differentially to other cars, its squidgy, comfortable suspension makes for a refreshing change to the increasingly sporty set up of other small cars. With that in mind, you’ll not be surprised to hear the C4 Cactus won the Comfort Award at carwow’s 2018 Car of the Year Awards.

4
Volkswagen
Up

The Volkswagen Up and Skoda Citigo very similar, but we’ve included the VW because, if you budget stretches a smidge further, it offers a more upmarket cabin for not a lot more cash. Of course, it has the same furgal engines, comfy ride and spacious cabin that the Citigo does too. Best of all, the cheapest models are in the group 2 for insurance costs.

5
Nissan

The Nissan Micra makes the list because it’s a small car, with city car insurance costs. The entry level model sits in the lowest group 1 insurance category, yet offers more grown up driving experience than most city cars, while naturally providing more space for passengers and luggage. It’s a no brainer if you need the extra room onboard.

FAQs

There are a number of factors that combine to make a good first car. Firstly a good first car should be easy to drive, so the new driver feels confident and comfortable behind the wheel. You should have a good view out, with controls that come close to hand so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. Cars with automatic gearboxes are the easiest to drive but if you learn to drive and pass your test in an automatic car then you can only ever drive an automatic car. You won’t be able to legally drive a car with a manual gearbox, which may restrict your choices years after you pass your test. So a good first car with a manual gearbox could be the way to go – and here, again, the gearshift should fall easy to hand and have clear movement so you don’t get lost between gears as you change. If you are a 17 year old learning to drive then a good first car will be a car with a small engine. This will be cheaper to insure than more powerful cars and will be cheaper to fuel. If you are a parent buying a first car for a teenager you will want to be sure the car is safe as it can be. Look for the car’s Euro NCAP crash test result. Cars with a five-star score are the safest cars on sale.