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Best first cars for new drivers

Buying your first car can be challenging, especially with everyone having some piece of advice for you. While the thumb rule is to find a safe, practical and affordable car, it doesn't mean you can't have fun. Your first car isn't just for riding to work; it is your companion for journeying through life. With numerous car models to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice. Lucky for you, here is a list of the seven best first cars to help you make a decision:

• Opel Corsa

• Kia Picanto

• Volkswagen Polo

• Skoda Fabia

• Ford Fiesta

• Nissan Micra

• Volkswagen Up

Opel Corsa

Opel Corsa is one of the best first cars if you are looking for a hatchback. While it is a small car, it is well-equipped and has affordable running costs suitable for first-time buyers. The Corsa has great looks and is easy to drive around the city. Backseat passengers have enough legroom and headroom, and it also has a boot space of 285 litres. Aside from spaciousness, the interior is colourful and fun with stylish upholstery, colour coded trims and lots of equipment. For instance, you will find an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink and Android Auto.

The hatchback comes in varieties to suit everyone. You can choose from five and three-door versions. If you want a sporty look, the three-door Opel Corsa is perfect, while the five-door version provides a practical car if you love road trips with friends. The Opel Corsa has good handling and is fun to drive. The 1.0-litre engine models provide 113 hp with petrol engines and can go long distances. The 1.4-litre petrol usually provides the best balance of economy and performance.

Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto is a sporty and youthful vehicle perfect for first-time buyers. It is an ideal city car with a healthy choice of equipment for entertainment. The third generation of Picanto is a reliable small car with various engine options. It is also economical to run and attractive for city life with its polished but practical design.

Kia Picanto incorporates the brand's signature tiger-nose style and angled headlamps, which appeals to a wide audience. The sporty hatchback takes inspiration from SUVs, but it has chunkier bumpers, raised suspension and dashes of bright colour tones for the interior and exterior.

The Picanto engine range isn't for off-roaders, but it's perfect for urban use. With a 66 hp and 1.0-litre engine, you can easily keep up with traffic. You can get the turbocharged 1.0-litre T-GDi engine for greater flexibility and long journeys since the 1.25 litre was discontinued. The turbocharged 1.0-litre engine has 99 hp. The compact size and accurate steering make the Picanto perfect for accurate roads, and you can manoeuvre challenging corners with its impressive grip.

Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo impresses many first car buyers with its spaciousness, attractiveness and sophisticated equipment. If you want a car with a premium image and the best entertainment systems, Volkswagen Polo should be on top of your list. You may pay a few more pounds for it, but it gives you value for money. It has a high-quality interior and is nice to drive. The car provides additional comfort, making it appealing to young people. Volkswagen Polo comes with an 8-inch touchscreen on the dashboard, sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity.

The supermini is well-built and perfect for darting around the city. While most small cars feel unstable on the road, Volkswagen Polo provides a sturdy feel. The engine provides decent performance and ensures you spend less running the car. The entry-level 64 hp can feel underpowered, but you can choose the 1.0-litre engine with 94 hp that provides a usable performance for long journeys. If you take long trips on bumpy roads, the 1.0-litre Polo is ideal. If you want a car with punchy performance, the Polo GTI model provides a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 200 hp.

Skoda Fabia

The Skoda Fabia estate version is perfect if you need additional space in your car. It comes with a spacious boot that can hold many kits and enough space for your friends to tag along for the ride. Besides the significant increase in size, Skoda Fabia also has modern infotainment and safety features.

Skoda is synonymous with practicality, making Fabia an obvious choice for first-time buyers. The model boasts a 380-litre boot in the four trim levels available. Notable features of the car are the heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and infotainment systems.

First-time buyers can choose from a 1.0-litre petrol engine with a 50 mpg economy. The three-cylinder engines have various power outputs depending on the Fabia variant, and you can get up to 94 bhp. The 1.5-litre engine provides 148 bhp. While it is light and pleasant to drive around town, it isn't ideal for motorways. Some safety features include an electronic stability programme, blind spot detection in the latest models and multiple airbags.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta

Britain's best-selling car Ford Fiesta is also perfect for first-time buyers. It provides a responsive and solid feel on the road, inspiring confidence in young drivers. The reasonable running and insurance costs also make it perfect. Ford Fiesta is both nippy and comfortable, and it is well-built for the city and off-road. The latest generation of the Fiesta is upmarket with exciting technology and luxurious options.

From trendy pieces of aluminium-looking trims to good quality finishes, Ford Fiesta has a modern and plush look. The excellent driving position is ideal for first-time buyers since all the controls are within reach and easy to use. You can also use the voice control systems, and the heated windscreen is perfect for frosty mornings. When buying the Fiesta, you can choose from economical diesel to turbocharged petrol engines. The diesel engines provide cheap running costs and low insurance and road tax since they provide up to 88 mpg while the petrol engines provide 65 mpg.

Nissan Micra

Are you looking for a safe and stylish supermini? Nissan Micra is the best first car that is great to drive and inexpensive to run. The hatchback provides a stylish vehicle for long, relaxed drives or running errands around the city. The efficient engines, latest digital systems and low insurance groupings make it perfect for young drivers. The 2019 update saw an improvement of the touchscreen infotainment system and the introduction of 1.0-litre turbocharged engines.

The interior of the Nissan Micra provides adequate space for the driver and is packed with stylish features. The dashboard panel is available in blue, orange and invigorating red shades. You can choose a Nissan Micra with an audio pack complete with speakers on the driver's headrest. Most versions come with an air conditioner, seven-inch touch screen, Android Auto and Apple Car.

The turbocharged 1.0-litre Micra is affordable since the car falls under the lowest insurance grouping and covers 60 mpg. The 1.5-litre diesel engine averages 88.3 mpg, making it more economical.

Volkswagen Up

Volkswagen Up gives you remarkable fuel economy, economical running costs and low insurance group ratings. It beats other city cars in style and comfort. The Volkswagen Group introduced condensed engine ranges, and you can only find the 1.0-litre petrol engine with 64 bhp. The UP model can achieve up to 50 mpg with the petrol engine. While the 64bhp minimises the insurance costs, it requires 15 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph. Fortunately, you can find UP versions with 74bhp and 89bhp.

Volkswagen UP doesn't skimp on safety, and the latest models have Electronic Stability Control, a multi-function camera and multiple airbags. You also enjoy other components like air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio. While it is a city car, you can use it for the occasional motorway trip.

Factors to consider when choosing the best first cars

Insurance groupings

The downside to driving is the expensive insurance costs, and lack of experience doesn't help your case. When buying your first car, it should be easy to drive to boost your confidence. If you can stay out of trouble for one year, you accrue a no-claims discount, which reduces your premium. It also helps to buy a car with low insurance grouping like the Volkswagen Up to limit your running costs.

Safety features

When it's your first car, and you have minimal driving experience, you shouldn't hold back on safety features, even if it means paying more. For instance, the front and rear defoggers ensure your car windows are clear. You can see your surroundings and potential hazards.

Dual front airbags are a must-have safety feature. They are lifesavers in case of a crash. You should also check for anti-lock braking systems that prevent car brakes from seizing. A car with an Electronic Stability Control is great for first-time car owners since it can automatically engage the brakes when the car veers.

New or used car

When buying your first car, you need to weigh the options between new and used cars. For instance, new cars give you a full manufacturer's warranty but are expensive and attract higher taxes. Used cars don't give full manufacturer's insurance, but you can bargain the prices down and pay upfront.


Buying your first vehicle is exciting and scary. You have multiple decisions to make and factors to consider. However, you can simplify your choice by creating a budget for the purchase and the running costs you can afford.


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