Best cars for students

A thin budget doesn't mean you can't have some fun. These are the best cars for students looking after the pennies

BuyaCar team
Apr 1, 2019

Pots and pans? Check. New bag and stationary? Check. Booze money? Check. A new car?

While the student lifestyle is notorious for being a dizzying concoction of alcohol fuelled fun, a new study shows that one in five students are teetotal.

Money ordinarily spent on drink then, could, if you’re one of them, be put towards a car. Used cars start at less than £100 per month on finance, or roughly the equivalent of 3.3 good nights out. £150 per month is roughly equivalent to five nights on the lash - so if you could forgo five sessions a month you might have enough money for something properly decent. And hey, even if you aren’t one of the teetotallers, you’ve gotta spend your loan money somehow, right?

Down to the nitty gritty then. What type of car suits the student lifestyle? Obviously, all students are individuals, and different in their own respects. However, there are several traits that a car needs to have to appeal to students.

For starters, it has to be cheap to run and insure. No student wants a car averaging 20mpg around town. A student car has also got to be relatively at home on the motorway as plenty of live far away from their parents. Thirdly, it has to be relatively practical.

Take a read of our cars below, and hopefully you’ll find something that’s just at home on your parent’s driveway as it is on campus.

1. Smart ForFour

Best car for students who need help parking

Latest Smart Forfour deals from £5,000
Finance from £88 per month

As you can see by the picture, this Smart is much larger than the Smart ForTwo. Specifically, it has seating for five and five doors too.

Running costs are low and it’s available with a 1.0-litre non-turbocharged engine or a 0.9-litre turbo’d engine. Go for the 0.9-litre. It’s more powerful while being even more economical in the real world.

The boot is small (185 litres) as there’s also an engine stuck in the back. However, the rear seats fold flat, giving you a whopping 975 litres’ worth of space, as long as you don’t mind forgoing seating back there.

It’s also worth noting that the turning circle is one of the best in the business. Great for parallel parking in old streets and negotiating tight roundabouts.

2. Seat Ibiza

Best car for students who value style first

Latest Seat Ibiza deals from £5,500
Finance from £94 per month

There’s no getting round it - the Seat Ibiza is a handsome thing - especially in three-door coupe-a-like shape.

Even though it has ‘just’ three doors there is still enough room in the rear for your mates, plus a boot size that’s enough for the usual trips to Ikea and back.

£150 per month is just about enough to squeeze you into a 2015 model 1.4TSI with a sprightly 140bhp engine. Although, if you’d rather not spend the additional money on insurance, tax, and petrol, we’d also recommend the 1.2-litre engine with the SE technology package. 
Seat Ibiza buying guide 

3. Skoda Fabia Estate 

Best car for students who need a lot of space

Latest Skoda Fabia Estate deals from £7,099
Finance from £113 per month

If the Ibiza above is akin to the magical island of its namesake, the Fabia is more like Peterborough or Luton.

However, much like Peterborough or Luton, beneath the horrible exterior, lies an ultimately sensible thing. The raison d’être of this car is its massive boot - it’s 530-litres with the seats up, which swells to a ginormous 1,395-litres with the seats down.

The Fabia also has a range of punchy and economical engines. Less than £150 per month will get you into a 2016 model with fewer than 10,000 miles on it too.
Skoda Fabia buying guide

4. Ford Fiesta

Best car for students and most other people 

Latest Ford Fiesta deals from £7,290
Finance from £117 per month

The Ford Fiesta is the obvious choice for most car questions, so we’ll obviously start here first. It’s the most popular car in Britain, and that’s no accident; it’s comfortable, well equipped, good value, and it’s actually a hoot to drive. Much better than most other superminis - especially with the fizzy little 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine.

£150 per month will get you into a 2017 facelifted model too. It’s worth seeking out as these as they have a raft of improvement over older cars - like better ride and economy. Keep an eye out for the 1.0 EcoBoost engine as this is better than the older 1.1-litre. Spec wise, get whatever you can afford. Zetec is preferable, and gets you equipment like alloy wheels and a heated windscreen, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Ford Fiesta buying guide

5. Mini Hatchback

Best car for students who want something premium 

Latest Mini Hatchback deals from £6,949
Finance from £104 per month

Minis are cool. End of story, frankly. Even modern Minis have a look that oozes British charm.

Besides, they’re great fun to drive too. Quick steering and eager engines make them the drivers’ choice for premium hatchbacks.

For the money, there are a few different options, as you’d expect from a car that’s so customisable. The One trim is the most basic, but still affords you DAB radio, bluetooth, and air conditioning.

Engines are good - the 1.2 is the slowest but will still get from 0-62mph in 10 seconds. Just don’t get an auto - it really takes the fun out of the car.
Mini Hatchback buying guide


6. Fiat 500

Best car for students who want something #throwbackthursday

Latest Fiat 500 deals from £4,695
Finance from £85 per month

Like the Mini above, the Fiat 500 apes the design of a much older and classier model.

To some extent, its styling takes precedence over practicality. Inside, there’s just enough space in the front for a pair of average-sized adults to get comfortable but the back’s suitable only for children.

Go for the more lively 0.9-litre engine badged TwinAir. Fuel economy in the real world isn’t brilliant (expect between 40 and 45mpg) but its raspy engine note suits the chirpy nature of the 500.

For full Instagram points, pick a pastel colour.
Fiat 500 buying guide


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