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
Nov 19, 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 could, if you’re one of them, be put towards a car instead. Used cars start at less than £100 per month with PCP finance deals on BuyaCar, or roughly the equivalent of 3.3 nights out, depending on how hard you party. Even if you could stretch your budget £150 per month, which is roughly equivalent to five nights on the lash - you would have enough money for a properly decent car that would be the envy of your peers the university over. 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 in case you ever need to visit family - it could happen. Thirdly, it has to be relatively practical.

Check our list of great 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

Used Smart ForFour deals from £4,990
Monthly finance from £89

As you can see by the picture, this Smart is much larger than the Smart ForTwo - 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.

Smart ForFour buyers' guide

2. Seat Ibiza

Best car for students who value style first

Used Seat Ibiza deals from £4,990
Monthly finance from £85

If you can't afford a holiday to Ibiza, you could get one of these instead. 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 buyers' guide 

3. Skoda Fabia Estate

Best car for students who need a lot of space

Used Skoda Fabia Estate deals from £6,548
Monthly finance from £112

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 buyers' guide

4. Ford Fiesta

Best car for students and most other people

Used Ford Fiesta deals from £6,500
Monthly finance from £118

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 buyers' guide

5. Mini Hatchback

Best car for students who want something premium 

Used Mini Hatchback deals from £6,990
Monthly finance from £120

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 buyers' guide

6. Fiat 500

Best car for students who want something #throwbackthursday

Used Fiat 500 deals from £4,495
Monthly finance from £83

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 buyers' guide

 

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