10 of the best cars for first-time buyers

Ready to buy your first car? Whether you’re a young driver, have just passed your test, or you’ve now got the budget to get yourself on the road, trying to decide which car is right for your needs can be tricky.

So, to help you get you started, we’ve compiled a rundown of some of the best first cars available in the UK, as rated by industry experts:

Ford Fiesta

1. Ford Fiesta

Price: From £10,245
Lowest insurance group: 
Three
Average miles per gallon: From 54.3

What makes it a good first car? The Fiesta has been the UK’s best-selling car for many years now, and there’s good reason for that. It’s economical, reliable and safe. Choosing a lower-powered version may also be less expensive to insure. The Fiesta Studio, for example, is a three-door, 1.25 litre petrol model with central locking and electric windows. It may be the most basic model in the range, but it still comes with extras, such as the ability to plug your smartphone into its music system. 

Volkswagen Polo

2. Volkswagen Polo

Price: From £11,300
Lowest insurance group: Six
Average miles per gallon: From 60.1

What makes it a good first car? The one-litre, five-speed Polo S model is cheaper to run, and it’s thought to hold its resale value much better than many of its rivals - great news when you’re ready to sell it on. While it’s a little pricier than many of the other cars in this list, and is in a higher insurance group, the build quality on a VW is highly regarded. It’s also, arguably, a little more stylish than many cars in its price range and comes with some nice extra features, like an audio system with Bluetooth.

Vauxhall Corsa

3. Vauxhall Corsa

Price: From £9,495
Lowest insurance group: Two
Average miles per gallon: From 55

What makes it a good first car? The Vauxhall Corsa Sting has some great features for the price, such as alloy wheels, tyre pressure sensors, Bluetooth - and it offers sound value for money. It has a one-litre engine, which means you won’t be troubling Lewis Hamilton any time soon, but it's fuel efficient and in a low insurance group, and therefore typically less expensive to insure, so running costs are relatively affordable. The Corsa may not hold its value as well as the VW Polo, but Vauxhall often has some good deals on the forecourt

Kia Picanto

4. Kia Picanto

Price: From £8,345
Lowest insurance group: Two
Average miles per gallon: 67

What makes it a good first car? The one-litre Kia is one of the cheapest new cars on the market. It comes with some nice extras, like tinted glass windows, power steering, and a good sound system. It’s very fuel efficient, and typically less expensive to insure as it's in a low insurance group, and, for a little extra peace of mind, the Picanto comes with a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty. The one-litre version is also exempt from road tax, so your running costs should be very reasonable too.

Skoda Citigo

5. Skoda Citigo

Price: From £8,275
Lowest insurance group: One
Average miles per gallon: From 69

What makes it a good first car? Another one-litre car that won’t break the bank, the basic model of the Citigo isn’t packed with features, but if cheap and cheerful is what you’re after, then you might just have found it here. You can pay an extra £400 for the ‘comfort pack’, which includes remote central locking, adjustable seats and electric windows. The Citigo has won a number of awards in its category, including best first car in the 2015 Car Buyer Awards. Look out for special offers too.

Peugeot 108

6. Peugeot 108

Price: From £8,345
Lowest insurance group: 
Six
Average miles per gallon: From 69

What makes it a good first car? The one-litre, three-door Access model isn’t big on interior space, but fuel economy is high and the price tag is low. It has a pretty generous spec, with features including electric front windows, remote central locking, power steering, and a music system with USB. The 108 is designed with city living in mind, and it has a tight turning circle, which should help with those narrow parking spaces.

It comes with a three-year warranty and is also available under Peugeot’s Just Add Fuel lease scheme, where one monthly fee will lease the car and also covers servicing, tax, roadside assistance and insurance.

Hyundai i10

7. Hyundai i10

Price: From £7,995
Lowest insurance group: One
Average miles per gallon: From 61

What makes it a good first car? The S model is actually pretty spacious, and what it lacks in extra features, it makes up for in affordability. It does come with anti-lock brakes, power steering and electric front windows, but you’ll probably be more interested in that low, low price. It’s another one that’s in a low insurance group and typically less expensive to insure, and it also costs just £20 to tax. If you’re after a comfortable, if unassuming, first car, the i10 S should be on your radar. 0% APR is often available too.

Renault Twingo

8. Renault Twingo

Price: From £9,495
Lowest insurance group: Two
Average miles per gallon: From 60

What makes it a good first car? The Renault Twingo is a quirky, stylish-looking car that’s surprisingly spacious inside. The basic Expression model comes in under £10,000, is highly fuel-efficient, and, again, is usually less expensive to insure due to being in a low insurance group. Feature-wise, it comes with remote central locking, electric front windows, and a DAB radio with USB. The warranty package is pretty generous, too - the first two years you’re covered for unlimited mileage, followed by a further two years up to 100,000 miles.

Toyota Aygo

9. Toyota Aygo

Price: From £7,995
Lowest insurance group: Two
Average miles per gallon: From 69

What makes it a good first car? The three door, one litre Aygo X model is definitely one of the bolder looking cars in this list, but there’s more to it than just its appearance. At less than £8,000, it’s certainly worthy of consideration as a first car. Again, there’s not too much room in the back, and it’s not a high-performance car by any means, but it’s solidly built and running costs are low, and once again is typically less expensive to insure with it being in a low insurance group. Definitely one for those who want to stand out from the crowd.

Dacia Sandero

10. Dacia Sandero

Price: From £5,995
Lowest insurance group: Two
Average miles per gallon: From 49

What makes it a good first car? The Dacia Sandero is currently Britain’s cheapest new car. For this remarkable price, you don’t get a car that’s packed with features, but it does have five doors and three seats in the back, so it’s great for carrying passengers. Fuel efficiency is decent, it's in a low insurance group so is usually less expensive to insure, and it comes with a three-year, or 60,000-mile, warranty.

What are car insurance groups?

  • There are a number of factors which will affect how much it costs to insure your car, including which insurance group it falls in to.
  • Insurers categorise every car into one of 50 insurance groups according to its make, model, engine capacity and top speed.
  • For example, high-performance sports cars fall into a higher category and often cost more to insure than a low-powered hatchbacks, which fall into a lower insurance group and are usually cheaper to insure.


*Note: All information and prices correct as of February 2016. None of the cars featured are endorsed by Swinton Insurance.

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