Best cars for new drivers

Congratulations – you’ve passed your driving test. Here are eight great value cars that are perfect for new drivers

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Feb 19, 2021

Now that you’ve got your driving licence, you’re going to need a set of wheels. We could ramble on about the need to buy something that’s safe, easy to drive, practical and cheap to insure, but we know that you’re itching to get behind the wheel of something stylish and fun.

With BuyaCar, you can have it all. We’ve assembled a list of cars that are perfect for new drivers, each one offering low running costs and more style than a catwalk model. Whether you’re after a nearly-new supermini or a used hatchback, each one is available from less than £250 per month on PCP finance.

Read on to discover the eight cars that have made our shortlist. We’ve focused on cars registered no earlier than 2018, with a number available with less than 100 miles on the clock for an affordable price. That means you get a barely used car, but all for far less than a new equivalent would cost you.

If you're on a tighter budget, however, fear not. We've also tracked down the best used cars for new drivers that get you more car for your money by opting for slightly older models. And don’t forget, whichever car you choose on BuyaCar, it could be delivered to your door within 14 days - perfect if you're impatient for a new car, but don't want to traipse around a load of dealers.

Best cars for new drivers

1. DS 3

Our pick DS 3 1.2 PureTech Connected Chic
Used deals from £7,995
Monthly finance from £147*

You might know the DS 3 as the Citroen DS3. The French rival to the Mini Hatch was formerly a Citroen, but became a standalone model when the two brands split. It remains one of the most stylish and interesting small cars you can buy, offering a terrific driving experience and a host of personalisation options.

Our pick is the Connected Chic, a trim level introduced in 2017. It’s based on the DS 3 Chic but offers around £2,000 worth of extra equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights, a special paint finish, dark tinted windows, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and automatic air-conditioning.

New drivers should opt for the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which is available in a choice of outputs. The 82hp version is a bit sluggish, but thanks to its low insurance group, it should be cheap to insure.


2. Fiat 500

Our pick Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge
Used deals from £5,990
Monthly finance from £125*

There are cheaper, more practical and more sensible city cars you could choose, but few, if any, deliver the all-round appeal of the Fiat 500. Despite being on sale for more than a decade, it remains popular thanks to its timeless styling, retro interior and strong image.

The entry-level 500 Pop is best avoided, as it's a bit basic but the other models are well-equipped and great fun to chuck about in the city. Fiat made a big thing about the 500,000 personalisation combinations, so there’s a good chance you’ll stand out in the gym car park.

We’re big fans of the characterful 0.9-litre TwinAir engine - which produces a bassy, throbbing engine note when worked hard - but you won’t get anywhere near the claimed fuel economy figures. So we’d suggest playing it safe with the efficient and insurance-friendly 1.2-litre petrol.


3. Audi A1

Audi A1 front

Our pick Audi A1 1.0 TFSI SE
Used deals from £11,390
Monthly finance from £207*

With the exception of the Mini Hatchback, the Audi A1 must be one of the most desirable superminis you can buy. It might be the cheapest Audi, but you get the same image-friendly badge, an upmarket interior and some seriously impressive features.

It feels more mature than the Mini, offering big car levels of comfort and sophistication. The flipside to this is that the A1 isn’t as fun to drive, but that won’t matter too much when you’re faced with the Audi badge staring back at you from the steering wheel.

We’re recommending the previous version of the A1, which went out of production in 2018. The later models featured cruise control, parking sensors, a digital radio, 6.5-inch media system and 15-inch alloy wheels as standard, making them the pick of the crop. There’s also a range of personalisation options, including larger wheels, contrasting roof colours and interior styling packs.


4. BMW 2 Series Coupe

Our pick BMW 218d SE
Used deals from £14,199
Monthly finance from £222*

You’ve got the rest of your life to drive something practical, so why not splash out on a BMW 2 Series now? It’s based on the BMW 1 Series hatchback but features a stylish and sporty coupe body with two fewer doors, but a much sleeker shape in return.

Few cars at this end of the market are as entertaining to drive as a 2 Series, plus you get the same level of build quality as you’d find in a larger, more expensive BMW. Thanks to its large boot, it’s not as impractical as it looks, although the relatively small opening can make loading large items a struggle. It’s a similar story with the rear seats, because while there’s a fair amount of room, you need to be quite flexible to get in there.

Although there’s a wide range of engines, new drivers should consider the 218i or 218d. The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol in the 218i gives the 2 Series a good turn of pace, but the 2.0-litre diesel in the 218d offers more low-engine-speed muscle and excellent fuel economy. Both models slot into insurance group 20, which is reasonable for such a stylish coupe.


5. Volkswagen Up

Our pick Volkswagen Up 1.0
Used deals from £10,699
Monthly finance from £187*

Next, we’re turning our attention to cars registered in 2020 with fewer than 100 miles on the clock. It’s like buying a new car but not paying full price - especially if you use BuyaCar and have the car delivered to your door.

The Volkswagen Up is living on borrowed time as it's now only available new with electric power, but for now, the petrol versions are available in reasonable numbers. It’s a case of grabbing one while you still can, because when it’s gone, there’s a chance it won’t be replaced. Eight years on from its launch, it remains the best city car you can get.

For 2020, the range has been simplified, with Volkswagen offering a long list of equipment across the range. Air-conditioning, a digital radio, 15-inch alloy wheels, a 5.0-inch touchscreen media system and the Volkswagen Connect app are all fitted as standard.

The three-door Up is arguably the better looking car, but your friends will thank you for choosing the five-door. Either way, the Up is a car that’s fun to drive, well built and very good at holding its value. That's good news if you're looking to take out PCP finance, as your monthly payments will be lower, because the car is expected to lose less value over the duration of the contract (your monthly payments effectively cover the difference between a car's initial cash price and what it's expected to be worth when the contract ends).


6. Hyundai i10

Our pick Hyundai i10 1.0 Play
Used deals from £9,995
Monthly finance from £178*

An all-new Hyundai i10 has arrived, so why are we recommending the outgoing version? Quite simply, because now is a really good time to purchase one. Dealers will be keen to shift stock, so there’s a great chance you could bag an even better deal.

What’s more, by the time a car has reached the end of its lifecycle, any earlier problems should have been ironed out, while manufacturers tend to load soon-to-die cars with a host of desirable goodies.

The mid-range Play is the range sweet spot, with just about all the toys you could need. Features include 15-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, a seven-inch touchscreen media system, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. What’s more, you get an excellent five-year/unlimited mileage warranty.


7. Seat Ibiza

Our pick Seat Ibiza 1.0 FR
Used deals from £12,000
Monthly finance from £203*

We’re going to stick our necks out here by saying the Seat Ibiza should be on the shortlist of every new driver. It’s based on the same platform as the Polo, so you get the qualities you’d associate with a Volkswagen but for a lower price.

It’s also better looking than the Polo, especially if you opt for sporty FR specification, which gives it the look of a hot hatchback. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights, LED rear lights, an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 95hp 1.0 TSI petrol is our choice of engine as it offers a terrific blend of performance and economy. In FR trim, it slots into insurance group 10, so new drivers should be able to get cover, though it's still fun to drive and more than nippy enough.


8. Renault Clio

Our pick Renault Clio 1.0 SCe 75 Play
Used deals Limited stock

How do you fancy owning a really new car? One that was launched so recently, the paint hasn’t had a chance to dry. Step forward the all-new Renault Clio. It might look like the old model, but Renault has improved it in just about every respect.

It’s cheaper than the Ford Fiesta, features a more upmarket cabin and packs a decent level of standard equipment. Highlights include LED headlights and cruise control. You also benefit from an excellent five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, including a 96% score for adult occupant protection - perfect if your (or your parents') confidence in your own driving is a little lacking.

The entry-level 1.0 SCe 75 engine packs a modest 72hp but could return 52.3mpg, so fuel bills should be low. It’s also the cheapest Clio to insure, slotting into insurance group 3. This is why a 1.0 SCe 75 Play is our pick for new drivers.


*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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