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As a young driver it can seem difficult at first to find an affordable vehicle that suits your needs and budget. However, a new car needn’t break the bank. And here’s where small cars step in. They offer low cost motoring in compact packages that can be very practical and a lot of fun to drive. 

BENEFITS OF A SMALL CAR 

When it comes to the best vehicles for young drivers, small cars are always at the top of the list. And that’s because the popular car type has a lot of benefits that generally suit the needs of new and young drivers alike. Typically, this type of vehicle: 

  • Enjoys an affordable starting price 
  • Offers high miles per gallon (MPG) 
  • Has low running costs 
  • Provides a cheap insurance bracket 
  • Has low service costs 
  • Builds driver confidence 
  • Is easy to manoeuvre and drive 
  • Is really easy to park 

TOP 10 BEST CHEAP SMALL CARS FOR YOUNG DRIVERS  

Well-suited to the needs of young drivers, the small cars on this list all enjoy affordable new starting prices, ranging from roughly £10k to £20k. Whilst that is a large bracket, so to is the small car class, covering compact city cars, superminis, and 3 and 5-door hatchbacks. For even cheaper prices, you’ll find lots of used options for the cars we’ve chosen with very affordable deals under £1k and upwards. Please, read on to discover our top 10 best cheap small cars for young drivers. 

1. FORD FIESTA

For young drivers, the Ford Fiesta ticks all of the right boxes: it’s cheap to run, it has an excellent safety record, it looks stylish, and it’s a lot of fun to drive with arguably the best handling in the small car class. 

As one of the UK’s best-selling vehicles, there is no shortage of used models available on the market, allowing you to choose a deal that best suits your budget.

If you opt for a brand new model, then you also get some excellent standard equipment too, including an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a lane-keeping assist system, and automatic headlamps. Higher trim levels add heated leather seats, cruise control, and a rear parking camera for extra ease and luxury. 

Quite simply, the Ford Fiesta is an all-round great car, with one of the best driving experiences in the segment, which is why it tops our list. 

Best features:

  • Cheap to run 
  • Safe and reliable 
  • Best in class handling 

Used prices start from £350 

2. VOLKSWAGEN POLO

Another car that is one of the UK’s best-selling vehicles, the Polo has been on sale since 1975, which also makes it one of Volkswagen’s longest running models. And it’s certainly not running out of steam any time soon, as the latest variants are even more impressive.

The Polo is good to drive, it’s reliable, and it has low running costs. It also boasts strong German build quality and a comfortable cabin.

As standard, new models come with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, hill-hold assist, a driver attention alert, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and automatic headlamps.

Higher spec trim levels also add front and rear parking sensors to make it even easier to park in those small spaces that only small cars can manage.

If you’re looking for a premium supermini, we definitely recommend checking out the VW Polo. 

Best features:

  • Good to drive 
  • Low running costs 
  • Premium supermini

Used prices start from £350 

3. HYUNDAI i10

If you’re looking for a vehicle smaller than a supermini and with very low running costs, then no doubt you’ll be interested in a compact city car. And in this department, the Hyundai i10 is our top pick.

It has a very affordable starting price, plus lots of excellent used deals (with an average price of just £6.9k). Since its release, each generation of the i10 has improved on the last building on strong foundations, with the latest variants offering stylish, sporty looks, a spacious cabin, and lots of standard equipment and useful safety features, including AEB

The car is easy to drive and very cheap to run with economical engines and a low cost insurance bracket. Whether you buy new or used, the i10 is great value for money. 

Best features:

  • Easy to drive 
  • Well-equipped as standard 
  • Great value for money 

Used prices start from £1,000 

4. SEAT IBIZA

Since its reveal way back in 1984, the Seat Ibiza supermini has always been a car with style and flair. Today, it still holds true to those values, with current models enjoying sporty lines and a sharper look.

The car also offers excellent levels of practicality, with a leading 355-litre boot, and a fantastic driving experience that’s both fun and comfortable. In addition, the Ibiza comes packed with some excellent equipment that younger drivers will find appealing, from 15-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint, AEB, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

It’s a very safe car and it has a good reliability rating too. New prices start from around £16k, whilst on the used market average prices are approximately £7.8k. Although, you can easily find fantastic deals with the Seat Ibiza for under £5k, which makes it a popular choice for new drivers. 

Best features:

BEST FEATURES: 

  • Sporty and stylish looks 
  • Fun to drive
  • Practical and comfortable 

Used prices start from £450 

5. SKODA FABIA

The Skoda Fabia is an easy to use and dependable supermini that prides itself on its high levels of practicality. It’s also available as an estate to further increase those levels (though we’ll focus on the supermini here).

Sitting around the £13k mark for a new model and averaging at £8k on the used car market, the Fabia proves great value for money. It’s stacked with lots of excellent equipment and safety gear as standard, and it is cheap to insure and cheap to run (aided by useful stop/start technology).

It’s also easy to drive, with a comfortable and refined cabin. For building driver confidence, the Skoda Fabia is great for new drivers and, for young drivers, it offers an all-round package. 

Best features:

  • Great value for money 
  • Lots equipment and safety kit 
  • Easy to drive and practical 

Used prices start from £300 

6. VAUXHALL CORSA

Initially called the Nova all throughout the 80s, the name change to Corsa came in 1993 where the car took on the more streamlined and modern look that we’re more familiar with today. Now, the latest Corsa has undergone another big change with Vauxhall becoming part of the PSA Group, which includes Peugeot and Citroen.

The Corsa now shares a platform with the Peugeot 208, adding a more stylish exterior and a lighter body for a better driving experience. The subcompact car is good to drive and, like older models, it still offers good value for money, with low running costs and cheap insurance. 

There’s also an all-electric model too, for even lower running costs whilst driving around the city.

Buying new or used, the Corsa is a car that’s easy (and hassle free) to drive, which no doubt adds to its status as one of Britain’s most popular cars. 

For young drivers, it is a great budget car with average used prices around £7k and lots of cheaper deals available for less. 

Best features:

  • Easy to drive 
  • Low running costs 
  • Good value for money

Used prices start from £200 

7. VOLKSWAGEN UP!

Introduced in 2012, the Volkswagen Up is a compact city car that offers very low running costs with current models achieving at least 60mpg or better. There’s an electric version, e-Up, for even cheaper bills as well. It’s one of the reasons the economical car is popular with young drivers, but it’s not the only reason.

The Up also has an affordable starting price from approximately £11k and it comes with a wealth of personalisation options to make the car feel truly yours. On the used car market, prices average around £7.4k with some excellent deals available too.

It has the reputation of being well-built and it is good fun to drive. And if the VW Up sounds enticing, then we’d recommend also checking out the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo as the three cars share a platform and very similar characteristics – it allows you to potentially find a better deal or a model more in tune with your needs.  

Best features:

  • Low running costs 
  • Fun to drive
  • Well built 

 Used prices start from £1,900 

8. RENAULT CLIO

France’s best-selling car is a very popular one on British roads too, which should come as no surprise because the affordable supermini is a class leader when it comes to space.

It has a roomy cabin and one of the largest boots in the segment. Whilst it might not provide as thrilling a driving experience as other superminis on this list, it is easy to drive and very well-rounded, offering a complete package.

It comes with lots of equipment as standard, it has a fantastic safety rating, and it has a stylish exterior and a high-quality interior. 

New models start from roughly £15k, but you can also find a great range of pre-owned models from under £2k, right up to the average used price of £7.6k.  

Best features:

  • Very Well-rounded 
  • Stylish exterior & interior 
  • Fantastic safety rating 

 Used prices start from £200 

9. KIA PICANTO

Since its release in 2003, the Picanto city car has been a favourite of the South Korean brand, proving very popular with young and new drivers alike. The vehicle is good value for money, with a very cheap starting price just under £10k and an average used sale price of £6.8k.

New models also come with a superb 7 year warranty, which complements the fact the Picanto has a great reliability rating. The attractive car has a sportier look compared to others in its segment too, and inside the cabin is decked with good quality materials, especially at these prices.

Most importantly, the Kia Picanto is surprisingly good fun to drive with go-kart like steering. And as you’d expect from this sector, it offers cheap insurance and low running costs as well. 

Best features:

  • 7 year warranty 
  • Fun to drive 
  • Great reliability 

 Used prices start from £750 

10. SUZUKI SWIFT

The Swift is Suzuki’s best-selling supermini, with affordable starting prices from £13k and even cheaper used average prices of just £7,303. It’s also an entertaining compact car that is fun to drive and cheap to run – two points which are often important to young drivers.

To lower the running costs further, the new Swift also comes available with mild, self-charging hybrid technology as well. You can even get an all-wheel drive model for extra grip and security during adverse weather. 

The car offers good practicality and a comfortable cabin, along with a decent selection of trim levels. It is something of a no-nonsense kind of car, but it ticks the right boxes being fun, affordable, and compact. Furthermore, you can always find some really cheap deals on the used car market with lots of models from as little as £1k. 

Best features:

  • Fun to drive 
  • Cheap to run 
  • Affordable 

 Used prices start from £450 

Are you a young driver looking for a cheap small car? We’ve got loads for you to choose from at Motors.co.uk.

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Back to articles January 31, 2021

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