Best used cars for new drivers

From insurance-friendly superminis to practical seven-seaters, these cars are ideal for new drivers, whatever their age

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Oct 8, 2021

Congratulations on passing your driving test! It’s time to tear up your ‘L’ plates and hit the open road alone for the first time. The question is: what are you going to drive? Well, if you haven't yet bought your own set of wheels, you might consider the options available to you on the used car market.

If you’re a young driver, it makes sense to buy a car that’s small and cheap to insure, because insurance costs can be very high during your early years behind the wheel. If you’re a more mature new driver, you might fancy something that’s easy to drive, with good visibility and space for the family, so you can quickly get comfortable with life behind the wheel.

The good news is that there are plenty of used cars available on BuyaCar that will be ideal for your first forays as a driver, with prices to suit all budgets.

If all this sounds good to you, the first step on your journey to buying your first car is to find the best car for you. We've put together this list of great value options here to help you get started, with very affordable PCP finance deals from as little as £100 per month with a small deposit. Keep reading for more details on these great used cars for new drivers.

Best used cars for new drivers

1. Nissan Micra

Our pick Nissan Micra 0.9 IG-T N-Connecta
Used deals from £9,490
Monthly finance from £0*

You may have been taught to drive in a Nissan Micra, or something very similar, so why not choose one as your first car? The current Micra is a world away from the fuddy duddy image of the older models, with smart styling, some cool features and a modern interior.

Better still, all current Micra models sold in the UK get a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, which will be reassuring as you take to the road, while cars powered by the 1.0-litre petrol engine fall into the lowest insurance group rating, making it easier to get affordable cover.

Upgrading to the N-Sport or Tekna trim levels adds the convenience of a rear-view camera and rear parking sensors to make parking simpler, and you can get hold of all that in a used Nissan Micra for just £10,020 or £0 per month on BuyaCar.


2. Skoda Fabia

Our pick Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI SE
Used deals from £8,490
Monthly finance from £0*

Car insurance can be expensive for new drivers - whatever your age. The combination of inexperience and the absence of a no-claims discount means that a four-figure premium could be on the cards in your first year.

So it pays to drive something that’s cheap to insure while you build up your no-claims bonus. Step forward the Skoda Fabia. Although it's based on the Volkswagen Polo, you’ll pay less for the Skoda, but that's not to say you're getting a sub-par product. Fabia models with the 1.0-litre non-turbocharged petrol engines sit in the lowest insurance groups, so getting cheaper cover shouldn’t be a problem with one of these.

All Fabia models are easy to drive, but we’d recommend opting for SE specification, as rear parking sensors come as standard. Upgrading to SE Drive adds front parking sensors, while a rear-view camera is available as an option on all but the entry-level S model. All of this comes in at a price well below the £10,000 mark while PCP finance costs start from less than £150 per month for decent low milage models.


3. Dacia Logan MCV

Dacia Logan MCV front three quarters view

Our pick Dacia Logan MCV 0.9 TCe Comfort
Used deals from £11,611
Monthly finance from £0*

We’re going to let you into a little secret: not only is the Dacia Logan MCV really inexpensive to buy, the running costs are kept in check by economical engines, low insurance groups and slow depreciation. It’s not the most exciting car you can buy, but the boot is large enough to swallow the kitchen sink and a week’s worth of washing up, while there’s plenty of room in the cabin for you and four mates.

We’d avoid the basic Access version, which lacks a radio and air-conditioning, but the other models are reasonably well-equipped. Crucially, there’s little in the way of distractions, leaving you free to concentrate on the driving.

The joy of Dacia is that its cars are just so cheap. Even the very latest Logan MCV models with the turbocharged 0.9 TCe engine - which offers much stronger acceleration than you'd expect considering its small size - and Comfort trim come in at around £11,000, while finance is also great value from under £200 per month.


4. Fiat 500X

Our pick Fiat 500X 1.4 Multiair Cross Plus
Used deals from £11,791
Monthly finance from £0*

The Fiat 500X is a crossover designed for people who fancy the retro charm of the 500 city car but require a little more space and practicality. It’s arguably one of the best looking cars in its class, while tonnes of personalisation options are available to help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s been on sale a while, so the engines and trim levels have changed over the years, but the Lounge trim features front and rear parking sensors. Meanwhile, 500X Cross Plus and Sport models include a rear-view camera.

Cross Plus and City Cross versions could be useful for new drivers, if only for their extra body cladding and bumper protection. Well, you can never be too careful. BuyaCar prices start from around £9,000, or £150 per month on a four-year PCP deal.


5. Honda HR-V

Our pick Honda HR-V SE
Used deals from £13,499
Monthly finance from £0*

The Honda HR-V is one of the most underrated compact SUVs you can buy. It benefits from a large 470-litre boot, which is bigger than the one you’ll find in the Nissan Qashqai, while the front seats offer plenty of room for two adults. It’s a little less spacious in the back, but the ‘magic seats’ provide plenty of flexibility, folding up to let you load tall, bulky items, or folding down to extend the boot space.

New drivers will like the high driving position and the slick, easy-to-use six-speed gearbox. We’d recommend the SE trim level, as it boasts front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, rain-sensing wipers, forward collision warning and a lane departure warning system - there's also a choice of petrol and diesel engines at similar prices.

The other factor in the HR-V’s favour is Honda’s legendary reputation for reliability, so you can look forward to a stress-free life with the car. Prices start from £12,500 for a used HR-V on BuyaCar, while some great PCP finance deals drop the starting cost to well below £200 per month.


6. Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Our pick Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5 Verve
Used deals Limited stock

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is one of a number of compact SUVs hoping to attract your attention. Its bold styling ensures that it will stand out in the supermarket car park, but that’s not the reason why we’re recommending it to new drivers.

Even the entry-level Verve trim offers the kind of kit that will take the stress away from driving, including a rear-view camera, an emergency braking system to stop you hitting the car in front, hill start assist to stop you from rolling back when pulling off on an incline and headlights that come on automatically when it gets dark.

You also get Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels and illuminated cup holders - because everyone needs an illuminated cup holder. Top-spec models even come with four-wheel-drive, which will be handy if you live halfway up a mountain, but this does make the Eclipse Cross a bit more expensive than other options on this list. Remember you'll be able to make use of Mitsubishi's five-year warranty, though.


7. Vauxhall Zafira

Our pick Vauxhall Zafira 1.6 CDTi SRi
Used deals Limited stock

Not every new driver is a teenager or recent graduate. Maybe you’ve passed your test later in life and are about to embark on the school run for the first time. If so, you'll need a practical family car with lots of space in the rear seats and boot.

Although the world is falling out of love with people carriers, they remain the most flexible and spacious vehicles for family life. Thanks to its clever seating arrangement and unashamedly family-focused approach, the seven-seat Vauxhall Zafira is an automotive unsung hero.

It’s not exciting and the cabin isn't the most stylish, but it’s easy to drive and, just as importantly, easy to load with people and their luggage. Some will have led a hard life ferrying children around year after year, but there are plenty to choose from, so there are many low-mileage, well looked after versions, too.


8. Volkswagen Touran

Our pick Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI SE Family
Used deals from £23,000
Monthly finance from £0*

The Volkswagen Touran is one of the most popular seven-seat cars in Europe. It’s rather expensive when new, but many buyers are prepared to pay a premium for an image-friendly badge, a quality interior and low running costs.

All of which means the Touran is a terrific used buy. The interior is good at standing up to years of muddy boots, Happy Meals and boiled sweets, while the high driving position provides a commanding view of the road ahead.

The Touran in SE trim features front and rear parking sensors, but it’s worth finding an SE Family model for its sat-nav and panoramic sunroof. We’d also recommend the 2.0-litre diesel for its blend of performance and efficiency, even with the full quota of seven people on board.


*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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