Best cars for new drivers

With built-in dashcams and safety restrictions, see the features included in the best cars for new and young drivers

BuyaCar team
Jan 6, 2022
Ford Fiesta front three quarters view

Buying a first car is a truly liberating experience. You might find it’s the first bit of space that’s all your own and the window to independence; enabling you to go on road trips with mates or to your favourite places spontaneously, without relying on mum and dad or the bus.

There’s a lot to consider in a first car, and the frustrating thing is it doesn’t always come cheap, especially with insurance costs for younger drivers so high. Fear not, however, as there are a few used cars suited to younger drivers with cheaper insurance and running costs on the market.

You’ll also be relieved to know they aren’t all boring boxes. We’ve put together six colourful and exciting small hatchbacks to make your dreams of the open road, and the freedom it brings, come true. They offer plenty of space for your first piece of privacy, great technology that will keep you safe on the road and your parents happy and good looks that won’t cramp your style.

We also understand the most important factor for a first car is the price - these six hatchbacks for new drivers are cheap to buy and come with great finance options too. Their small economical engines make them cars that are also cheap to insure, so every aspect of ownership should be easy on a young driver’s wallet.

Best cars for young drivers

1. Ford Fiesta

Best car for young drivers sharing with their parents

Used deals from £8,499
Monthly finance from £150*

It’s all very well discussing the merits of the best cars that young drivers can buy but that’s not much good if you’re one of the many who are sharing a car with parents.

If they’ve got a Ford Fiesta, then you might find it a bit easier to prise the keys away, thanks to the MyKey option, which allows parents to restrict some functions and the car’s performance to improve safety and increase the likelihood of them getting the car back in one piece.

By programming a separate key in the car, its top speed can be limited, the volume of the stereo can be limited and all sound turned off if a seatbelt is not fastened. You can also prevent anyone from tapping an address into the sat-nav if the vehicle is moving. It might feel like a nanny is always looking over your shoulder, but it’s better than sitting at home and staring into your smartphone.


2. Peugeot 208

Best car for young drivers looking for cheap insurance

Used deals from £13,345
Monthly finance from £245*

You've found the ideal car and then you look at the cost of insurance - which can be just as expensive as your finance payments. Peugeot’s Just Add Fuel scheme rolls most of a car’s running costs - including finance payments, insurance, servicing, breakdown cover and tax - into three years of monthly payments.

For less than £300 a month, you could be driving a brand new Peugeot 208, with alloy wheels, a dashboard-mounted touchscreen and cruise control. You have to be 18 or over to qualify, and new drivers may also need to have a black box fitted to their car, which monitors things like the speed that you take corners, the heaviness of your braking and observance of speed limits. Your insurance will generally be cancelled if you get multiple warnings for bad driving.

For even cheaper monthly payments, Just Add Fuel is also available for the smaller Peugeot 108. It’s not the very best city car that you can buy (we think that would be the Volkswagen Up) but it’s still a good choice if you’re mainly driving in town and comes without the hassle of arranging insurance.


3. Skoda Fabia

Best car for young drivers who need space

Used deals from £6,259
Monthly finance from £135*

It’s one of the safest cars that you can buy, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2014, but the great strength of the Skoda Fabia is that it feels much larger than it actually is.

Two tall teenagers will easily get comfortable in the back, and even three in a row is a much better option than taking the bus. The 330-litre boot is larger than average for a supermini such as the Ford Fiesta, making it practical for long-distance journeys and weekends away.

Much of the Fabia model range sits in low insurance groups, including some 90hp petrol cars that can cope with a full carload.


4. Seat Ibiza

Best car for young drivers who put safety first

Used deals from £8,995
Monthly finance from £164*

One of the safest small cars available, the Seat Ibiza was awarded a full five stars by Euro NCAP in 2017. As time goes on, the tests become stricter, so while it may not be as safe as a car that was awarded five stars more recently, it's likely to have more safety features than the Fabia which was tested in 2014.

One of the major reasons the Ibiza performed so well is because of its overall occupant safety levels. It scored a 95% for adult occupants, outranking much larger and more expensive machinery like the Kia Stinger and Skoda Karoq.

Testers at Euro NCAP also remarked on the efficiency of its autonomous emergency braking system too. This essentially measures the road around you with radar and can brake the car in an emergency. Seat's system can detect both vehicles and pedestrians, which helped it score higher in the testing.


5. Citroen C3

Best car for young drivers who need protection against prangs

Used deals from £8,173
Monthly finance from £139*

Fitted with plastic protective panels that Citroen calls Airbumps, and with an integrated camera on the windscreen that will record any unfortunate incidents, you’ll want to be in a new C3 if you have a minor car park scrape. Or if someone crashes into you and then claims that it’s your fault.

The 82hp engine will give you enough performance on any kind of British road but it is more expensive to insure than some of the cars on this page - despite the safety features. We'd opt for Flair trim, which includes Airbumps and the camera - called ConnectedCAM - as standard.

Alternatively, you can add both of these as options to the cheaper Feel trim.


6. Vauxhall Corsa

Best car for young drivers who want cheap finance

Used deals Limited stock

We couldn’t really write about the Ford Fiesta (at the top of the list) without mentioning the Vauxhall Corsa as well. The rivalry between the two has been likened to Ali vs Frazier, or for younger readers, TOWIE vs MIC.

The Corsa is a very complete little car, and is frequently being offered with 0% interest finance when buying new too. There have been dozens of special editions offering different paint and wheel combinations, while some even offer racing stripes, if that’s your cup of tea.

It’s cheap to insure too - surely a hallmark of a car that’s good for young people. Incidentally, the hot-hatch version can be a lot easier to insure than other hot-hatches like the Ford Fiesta ST or Volkswagen Golf GTI. Go for the latest version and, like the Peugeot, you could get behind the wheel of an electric version to help reduce your fuel bills while being kinder to the planet.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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