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What are the best and cheapest first cars for new drivers?

Every driver remembers the first car they owned, and choosing the right car and insurance group as a new driver is a big decision. Read on and learn about the best first cars, whether you’re in the market for a brand new model or are on a second-hand budget.

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It’s not just the purchase cost you have to consider when buying your first car — you also need to factor in insurance, running costs, road tax, and any repair costs.

Insurance is one of the biggest cost considerations for new drivers — first time car insurance typically costs more until you’ve gained some experience, as you’re considered a high risk driver in your first year on the road.

Thankfully, you do have some control over your insurance costs, and you can keep them as low as possible by choosing a car that’s cheap to insure. Cars are grouped in categories from 1-50 based on how expensive they are to insure (with 1 being the cheapest). You can learn more about car insurance groups here.

Good first cars in low insurance groups tend to be cars with small engines, as well as good safety and security features. The good news for new drivers looking for a cheap first car is that cars in lower insurance groups are typically more affordable to buy.

The best new first cars

One of the most important things when deciding on the best first car is your budget — both for purchasing the car and insuring it. If you can afford to buy a new car, there are some great options in low insurance groups. Here are some of our top picks:

Dacia Sandero Access
If you’re looking for a cheap first car and want a new model, you can’t do any better than Dacia’s entry-level Sandero — it’s officially Britain’s cheapest new car, starting at £5,995. As it’s in insurance group 2, it’s one of the most affordable to insure too.

Hyundai i10
This city car has a starting price of £8,595 and is in insurance group 1, meaning it’s a good choice for first time car insurance. The compact i10 is easy to park, making it one of the best first cars for new drivers in cities and built-up areas.

Volkswagen Up
VW’s small city car costs from £8,765 and is in insurance group 1. It’s a good first car for new drivers, as the Volkswagen badge should ensure it holds its resale value well.

Cheap first cars - Volkswagen up

For more inspiration on buying a new (or nearly new) car in a low insurance group, read our guide on the the cheapest cars to insure.

Best used cars for new drivers

New drivers looking for a cheap first car often find the best bargains on used models. If you’re looking for a used vehicle, you can still get a bargain by choosing a model in a low insurance group to keep the cost of your first time car insurance as low as possible.

Best first cars under £5,000

With a budget of £5,000, you can get a good first car that’s just a few years old and in a cheap insurance group. Here are some examples:

Citroen C3
£5,000 will get you a Citroen C3 that’s less than five years old. We found models available with less than 20,000 miles on the clock, and insurance should be affordable as it’s in group 2.

Ford Ka
The Ford Ka (from 2009 onwards) has several variations available for less than £5,000, with most in insurance group 2 or 3.

Toyota Aygo
The 1.0-litre Toyota Aygo is a compact city car in insurance group 2. With a budget of £5,000 you should be able to find a model that’s less than 5 years old.

Best first cars - Toyota Aygo

Best first cars under £3,000

With a smaller budget, you can get a good first car with a few more miles on the clock. Some of the best first cars for under £3,000 include:

VW Fox
The stylish Fox from 2006 is in insurance group 1. We found models with reasonably good mileage for around £2,300.

Fiat Panda
The 1.1-litre Panda is in the lowest insurance group — it’s affordable to buy too, from around £2,000 for a used model.

Citroen C1
Also in insurance group 1, the Citroen C1 is another cheap first car. For just under £3,000, you can easily find a 2007 registration C1 in good condition.

Cheapest car insurance - citroen-c1

Best first cars under £1,000

It’s possible to get a good first car for under £1,000 if you do your research — but bear in mind these are likely to be older models so could be subject to more repair bills. If you’re looking for a cheap first car and choose an older vehicle, make sure you have adequate breakdown cover.

Skoda Fabia
Skoda’s 1.2-litre Fabia models from 2000 onwards are in insurance group 2, and are available from around £850.

Vauxhall Corsa
The Corsa has always been a popular first car because it often comes with cheap first time car insurance — the 1.0-litre Breeze model (from 2003) is in insurance group 2 and can be found for around £900.

Volkswagen Polo
The 1.2-litre VW Polo from 2002 onwards is in insurance group 3. It’s available from around £850, making it a great option for those looking for a cheap first car with a little more engine power.

No matter which car you choose, see if you could save by comparing first time car insurance quotes with uSwitch:

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