Best First Cars for Young Drivers
Choosing and buying your first car is a rite of passage for thousands of new drivers every year. It’s easy to think about the range of customisation options available, the ease with which you can pair your phone and the dream of limitless independence.
Connectivity and customisation are on the lips of every car maker, but it’s so often the cost of fuel and insurance that are the deal breakers. For many new drivers, particularly young drivers, the cost of insurance is more of a concern than the price of the car.
That means car makers are getting increasingly clever with the way they sell their cars. Schemes like Peugeot’s Just Add Fuel mean finance, insurance and servicing costs are bundled together into one single payment.
If the model on your first-car shortlist isn’t available with such a neat deal, you’ll need to balance various manufacturer and dealer discounts with cheap insurance costs.
Road tax is less of a consideration now. Unless you choose an electric or hydrogen-powered car, you’ll be paying £140 a year. The cost of petrol or diesel remains a significant cost, however, as does maintenance.
Peugeot 208 cars for young drivers
The Peugeot 208 is the latest in a long line of stylish small cars from the French brand. It may not be as fun to drive as the Ford Fiesta, but it looks sophisticated inside and out. It’s also an easy car to own – Peugeot’s ‘Just Add Fuel’ package provides all you need for the first three years on the road, including road tax, servicing and insurance. Drivers under 21 may need a telematics box installed in the car to record driving habits, but this shouldn’t be intrusive and free insurance represents a huge saving. It’s well worth it, because the 208 is a very comfortable car and comes with plenty of standard equipment. The entry-level 1.0-litre petrol model is sufficiently powerful for those using the car around town and is capable of 65.7mpg. The most frugal diesel model claims an incredible 94.2mpg. Overall the 208 is a great looking car and a very cost-effective way to get on the road.
Ford Fiesta cars for young drivers
The Ford Fiesta has been the UK’s most popular small car since 2014 and is loved by experienced drivers as well as new-timers alike.
Stylish, affordable and fun to drive, the Fiesta not only offers great performance and economy, but also boasts a generous specification with the entry-level Zetec model offering DAB radio, Bluetooth, leather and chrome interior and alloy wheels as standard.
Running costs are low for most models with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, many of which emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and return more than 65 MPG. The Ford Fiesta is also affordable to service with packages costing around £170.
Insurance ratings start at group three for the most basic model, although some models fall between 11 and 12. The top-of-the-range sporty Titanium X EcoBoost model peaks at group 16.
Mini Hatchback cars for young drivers
The MINI is one of the most expensive cars on our list, but there’s no denying its desirability and upmarket image. It’s definitely a car people want rather than need, but backs this up by being a genuinely excellent choice and – if you can afford it – a great first car. It handles brilliantly (rivalling the Fiesta in this regard) and the retro-chic design has struck a chord with fashion-conscious buyers since MINI was relaunched in 2001. The retro theme continues inside, where you’ll find the famous over-sized central speedometer that now surrounds the car’s infotainment screen. On the downside, the three-door version isn’t particularly spacious inside; the rear seats are tricky to use and the boot is very small. The entry-level MINI One model is cheap to run, though – it can manage up to 60mpg. Engineered by BMW, the MINI also excels for build quality, with a durable feel inside and out.