Best first cars for new drivers of 2023
Choosing your first car is a tough one — it has to be cheap enough to buy and run, robust enough to cope with young driver mistakes, and yet still have a modicum of style so that your friends won’t mock you. Insurance is expensive for new drivers, so a low insurance group is a must for any good first car, too.
So, which are the best first-time cars to buy?
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Insurers will want you to buy the smallest engine you can, so it’s probably best to stick to a 1.0-litre unit. Thankfully, the latest 1.0-litre engines from the likes of Ford, Volkswagen, and Renault are much better all-round performers than they used to be, so venturing out onto the motorway isn’t an exercise in endurance.
The Kia Picanto and basic versions of the Volkswagen Polo are in Group 1 for insurance, so it’ll be tough to get a better quote than you will with one of them. The Ford Fiesta, Skoda Fabia, Kia Rio, and SEAT Ibiza all start in Group 2, while the Renault Clio, Hyundai i10, and Dacia Sandero all start in Group 3.
Check out our explainer guide on car insurance groups to find out more.
Well, saving up is the best way — there’s nothing like going into a car dealer with a pocket full of cash, and you’ll definitely wangle a good deal if you do. Many will buy with parental help, of course, so be nice to mum and dad.
Maybe. Finance is a big commitment, and while the monthly repayments on PCP plans look temptingly low, don’t forget there’s always the final payment to make in three years’ time, or you’ll have to be ready to roll the car over into a new deal. Make sure you read all the fine print, and don’t assume that the car company’s finance deal is the best — shop around with high street banks and credit unions to get the best deal. Above all, make sure you can afford the repayments in the longer term.
You can read more about buying a car on finance in our guide on PCP car financing.
The two key words here are reliability and economy. With fuel prices the way they are, you don’t want something that’s getting any less than 45mpg on average (and preferably better than that). Reliability is key too, as even if problems can be sorted under warranty, if you’re in a first car you’re also probably in a first job, and missing days to get your car fixed is a no-no.
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