First of all, congratulations on passing your driving test. There’s nothing like the thrill or pleasure of buying your first car afterwards and turning the keys in the ignition (or pressing the start-up button) for the first time.  

Car manufacturers know this, too, and have produced some smashing cars for first-time buyersFord, Hyundai, Kia, Peugeot and others have all spoiled drivers who are enjoying their first taste of life without L-plates.  

Buying your first car 

When picking your new set of wheels, you’ve got to look beyond the basic price tag. The on-the-road (OTR ) price gives you an idea of how much the car costs plus some first-year expenses, such as registration costs and first year road tax. Then you’ve got to consider things such as CO2 emissions, which affects first-year road tax, too; how much you intend to drive — the more miles you can squeeze out of a gallon, the better because it will lower your running costs; and whether you have enough money to insure the vehicle.  

Of course, as new driver, you’ll need to assess how the car drives. You’ll want to feel comfortable and build up confidence on the road until you’re used to driving more regularly. You may also think about safety and security features and, if you’re going to drive with a passenger regularly — or even if you’re not — space may also be on your mind while browsing. 

Checking out the best new cars for firsttime buyers 

Itching to buy yourself a set of first-time wheels? Sounds good to us! Here are some of the most suitable new automobiles to make your first and grab yourself some extra independence while you do it. 


The Kia Picanto is a cute first car, with a 1 litre engine that delivers 66 brake horsepower (bhp) — think of this as ‘useful horsepower’ — and 69 lb ft (93 Nm) of torque to power the vehicle forward. The top speed of 100 mph and acceleration from 0 to 60 in 13.8 seconds helps insurance companies rest easy and assign it to Group 4 or slightly higher, depending on the model. That, an average mpg of 53.3 and an OTR price of £10 480 new all make this a cheap little runaround. 

The Picanto is light, easy to manoeuvre into parking spaces and feels stable on the roads, turning corners with little body roll, if any. The gearbox doesn’t put up a fight and allows smooth gear changes. The ride is relatively comfortable and the firm suspension allows the car to handle country roads better than you might think. 

Best features:

  • Cheap to insure 
  • Stable on the road 
  • Light and fun to drive 

Used prices start from £500 

2. PEUGOT 208

The Peugeot 208 in Active trim is an awesome little first car, setting you back £17 155 OTR if you choose a basic 1.2 PureTech petrol engine with 74 bhp and 5-speed manual gears. The car sits in insurance group 12 E. An acceleration of 14.9 seconds, top speed of 106 mph and safety features such as emergency braking systems and driver assistance programs all help to calm insurers’ jitters. MPG is around 46.7 to 53.6, keeping running costs reasonably low. 

The car does respectable job on the motorways and around the town, although if you cover lots of miles and can afford a diesel, you may decide to upgrade for higher fuel economy. The ride is comfortable enough to make you feel as if you’re in a larger car – the decent-sized boot space could also give you that same impression.  

Best features:

  • Low insurance 
  • Good on motorways and in towns and cities 
  • Feels like a larger car (in a good way) 

Used prices start from £2,500 


The Fiesta is a classic first-time run-around and with good reason: the ride is comfortable and the drive is smooth, with sharp steering, a gearbox that goes with the flow and generally good overall handling. It’s got something of not-a-sports-car-but-feels-like-one-ness about it when you’re at the wheel… that’s how much fun they are to drive. Fiestas don’t compromise on safety, however, and Ford’s NCAP technology pack is standard on its models. The pack features lane assist and speed limiter. 

Your basic Trend trim with entry spec 1.1 litre TI-VCT engine carries 74 horsepower and 77 lb ft (105 Nm) to pull it along. Top speed: 103 mph. 0 to 60 mph: 14.3 seconds. Little to trouble insurance companies there, then, which is good news for you. The car carries a recommend OTR price of £16 640 and offers a stable 52.3 to 53.3 mpg, making it easy to budget for running costs.  

Best features:

  • Feels like a sportscar 
  • Stable mileage per gallon 
  • Easy budgeting for running costs 


Used prices start from £345 


The SEAT Ibiza hatchback boasts an understated sophistication and is a good first car. A simple 1 litre engine delivers 79 hp (80 PS) and 69 lb ft (93 Nm), pushing it to 105 mph out on the roads and enabling acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in 15.3 seconds. With a recommended OTR price of £16 445 and an mpg of 47.1 to 52.3 mpg, this a neat little run-around. 

The car is relatively spacious for its class, drives well and generally holds well on the road. The steering is precise, light and makes tasks such as parking and driving around the city easy. SEAT have also done their homework on the suspension so that the ride is comfortable but not bouncy. You’ll feel at home in this one as a passenger or as the driver. Simple collision-prevention features reinforce driving safety. Great first car. 

Best features:

  • Comfortable ride 
  • Good handling 
  • Spacious interior 

Used prices start from £275 


The Volkswagen Up! is a five-door delight that keeps you nicely in pocket with recommended OTR price of £13 305 and 54.5 miles to the gallon. That means a 1 litre petrol engine equipped with 64 hp (65 PS) and 67 lb ft (91 Nm) torque to carry it across the finish line. The car falls in the 2E insurance group, keeping your costs nice and low, with acceleration of 15.3 seconds (0 to 60 mph) and top speed of 101 mph certainly helping there. Safety features such as tyre pressure loss and electronic stability control will also reassure the insurance companies.  

After crunching the numbers, it’s time to enjoy your run-around. It’s a handy little automobile for driving around the city, with light steering making short work of the streets as you direct the vehicle. The Up! gives a good account of itself on the motorways, too, so if you need to make a longer journey, go right ahead. Inside, there’s plenty of space front, back and boot, and you have good connectivity for entertainments. Where do you sign? 

Best features:

  • Cheap insurance 
  • Comfortable in cities and on motorways 
  • Good connectivity 

Used prices start from £1,900 


The i10 SE is considerate towards your piggy bank, falling into a 5A group insurance-wise — lower or higher, depending on the model — and available at recommended OTR price of £12 820. A 1 litre engine delivers 66 hp (67 PS) and 69 lb ft (93 Nm) of torque. Cruise control, lane assist and other safety features all relax insurance companies, as do 97 mph tops and acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in 14.6 seconds. 

Driving the i10 SE is a pleasureboth on the motorway and in its natural city habitatThe car is light, stable and responsive on the roads and the well-weighted steering does some excellent heavy lifting to provide good handling. Inside, there’s a decent amount of space and the car has good connectivity, with Bluetooth, USB and, if you upgrade, wireless charging. While all this is going on, the car gives you a handy 56.5 mpg. Lovely. 

Best features:

  • Agile but stable on the roads 
  • Cheap insurance 
  • Good mileage per gallon 

Used prices start from £1,000 


Predictable steering. Smooth and comfortable on motorways and in cities. Agile. Soaking up the bumps. The Volkswagen Polo is a jewel of a first car, both price-wise and driving-wise. Go five-door and go five-speed manual transmission with a 1 litre EVO engine and you’re talking as low as 1E for your insurance. Beautiful. 

The recommended OTR price is £17 125 and the car will offer you up to 51.4 miles before it starts on the next gallon. The 79 hp (80 PS) and 69 lb ft (93 Nm) inspire the car to a top speed of 106 mph and 0 to 62 mph in 15.4 seconds. Meanwhile, it’s all going on inside with Bluetooth and optional connectivity extras. This is a hatchback we’re talking about, too, so space is generous, especially boot space. 

Best features:

  • Spacious insider 
  • Feels safe and stable on the road 
  • Versatile 

Used prices start from £195 


The UK Government is incentivising drivers to go electric, so why not make a SEAT Mii your first little runner? The car will give you 160 to 223 miles before the next charge. The OTR price of £22 800 might feel high, but the money soon rolls back into your bank account as you bask in exemption from road tax. The insurance is also relatively low as a Group12 E vehicle, with safety features such as lane assist, cruise control and rear parking sensors contributing. 

This is a go-getter for an electric city car number, clocking in at 12.3 seconds for 0 to 62 mph, and the car hits 81 mph tops. The engine serves up 82 hp and 156 lb ft (212 Nm) torque to get it there. Meanwhile, the ride is incredibly comfortable and the car is nimble in its preferred domain, the city. You can weave it in and out of city streets effortlessly. Are Friends Electric? Most definitely. 

Best features:

  • Incredibly comfortable 
  • Exempt from road tax 
  • Good acceleration for an electricity city car 

Used prices start from £1,800 


The hatchback version in the SE trim of the Skoda Fabia is a good motoring start. A 1 litre petrol engine gives you extra mileage than its S-line colleague, with between 47.1 and 52.3 mpg. A cute torque and horsepower of 59 (60PS) and 70 lb t (93 Nm) get the vehicle moving. Meanwhile, the acceleration takes a laidback 16.4 seconds to hit 62 mph from zero and reaches 98 mph tops. Not to worry: the recommended OTR price of £12 990 and cheap 1E insurance group make up for that.  

The ride is relatively smooth and gets even more so as you pick up speed — but don’t go flaunting the speed limit, of course. The light steering is a big plus and accommodates any need for nimble manoeuvring – safety features such as collision prevention systems support you while you’re driving — yet the car isn’t so nimble that it sacrifices roadholding. All the while, you can enjoy plenty of space inside, so there’s little discomfort while you drive. Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and USB ports can help you out with the entertainment side of things while you’re on the road. 

Best features:

  • Nimble but feels safe on the road 
  • Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio 
  • Smooth ride 

Used prices start from £500 


Toyota never fail to supply a good-quality first-car. They’ve placed Aygo on the menu and it sports a 1 litre petrol engine with 72 (hp) and 69 lb ft (93 Nm) torque to move it along. Acceleration is a relaxed 13.8 seconds, 0 to 62 mph, and the top speed is 99 mph. The mpg is a useful 53.2 to 56.4. Insurance groups vary, depending on the modeland an entry level model with 5speed manual transmission carries an affordable OTR price of £12 440.  

The steering is responsive, the traction is good and the suspension takes lumps and bumps on the chin so the ride stays comfortable and the car feels safe on the road. Safety systems such as lane assist and collision-prevention systems add to the safety while you’re out and about. Inside, the Bluetooth, DAB radio and smartphone integration can help out with the in-car entertainment. It’s a cool little vehicle. You’ll love it. 

Best features:

  • Good OTR price 
  • Feels safe on the road 
  • Good connectivity 

Used prices start from £850 

Want a great car now that you’ve passed your driving test? We’ve got loads of cars to choose from for your first car at 

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Back to articles February 5, 2021

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