Cheap cars to insure for new drivers

Being a new driver doesn’t have to mean mammoth insurance bills or settling for a rubbish car. Check out these low-cost, high-appeal cars

James Wilson
Apr 29, 2020

It doesn’t matter what age you pass your test, once you can legally fly solo on the road, car insurance becomes a big deal. Back when you were but a mere learner insurers looked more favourably on you, as there was always a responsible and experienced driver keeping an eye on things in the car.

Now you have a full-fat licence though, insurance companies are more wary, with some of them charging gargantuan premiums to put you off choosing them. Don't for a second think you have to pay huge amounts simply to get cover, however. Do your homework and you can get a great car with a surprisingly low insurance premium.

Fortunately, there are a number of cars out there which promise low insurance premiums even for the newest of new drivers. Let’s be honest though, you don’t just want any ol’ cheap-to-insure set of wheels, you want something that looks good, that is comfortable and offers space for your friends. Something that the neighbours might just cast an envious glance at from time to time.

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Well, get ready to blow Jane from number 3’s mind, as we've picked out 10 cars which are not only cheap to insure for new drivers but also well equipped, good to drive and desirable. At the same time, each model can be scooped up for less than £200 per month on BuyaCar (some for considerably less) and thanks to efficient engines, they can be run on a shoestring budget, too.

We've sourced quotes for a 25-year old who has had their licence for a year. A breakdown of all the information used to generate the insurance quotes found below can be seen at the bottom of this article. Black box insurance - where the insurer keeps tabs on where, when and how you drive - can sometimes be cheaper, so we've got prices for both standard and black box policies, so you can decide which works best for you.

Cheap cars to insure for new drivers

1. Ford Fiesta

Our pick Ford Fiesta 1.0T EcoBoost Titanium
Used deals from £8,500
Monthly finance from £157
Standard insurance policy £697 (£450 excess)
Black box insurance policy £626 (£450 excess)

If this list could only have one car on it, it would be the Ford Fiesta. The Fiesta is quite simply the best all-rounder ever. It looks good, it's strong value, fun to drive, practical enough and cheap to run. Plus the insurance isn't too bad for new drivers. It's no surprise the Ford Fiesta has been the UK's best-selling car for years.

The Fiesta is stylish (both inside and out), well equipped, well built, surprisingly enjoyable to drive for a hatchback (especially with one of Ford’s 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines) and importantly for this list, cheap to insure - whether you're happy to go for a black box policy or not.

While trims such as ST-Line feature sportier styling, these racier looks can sometimes result in higher premiums. For that reason, Titanium models are one of the better options for new drivers. And they include loads of standard equipment, so it's a win-win.

FORD FIESTA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Volkswagen Up

Our pick Volkswagen High Up 1.0
Used deals from £5,500
Monthly finance from £111
Standard insurance policy £622 (£450 excess)
Black box insurance policy £743 (£450 excess)

Every once in a while a car manufacturer nails a particular type of car. Volkswagen did just that with the Up city car - so much so that even after being on sale for eight years the Up is still one of the best small cars money can buy. As the car's looks haven't changed much over the eight years, no one will notice that yours isn't new if you go for a slightly older, cheaper model.

Volkswagen somehow took all the typical ingredients of a city car (small proportions, frugal engine and low prices) and managed to make a car that could not only excel around town but also beyond it - including country roads and motorways - which is pretty rare for a car so small. Another bonus with the Up is that it's actually cheaper to insure without a black box, so if you don't want big brother watching over you, it's a safe bet.

VW let its hair down with model names for the Up (entry-level models are humorously badged as 'Take Up') but it is High Up variants that we recommend you aim for. These range-toppers come with niceties such as heated seats and alloy wheels.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Fiat 500

Our pick Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge
Used deals from £4,295
Monthly finance from £87
Standard insurance policy £790 (£450 excess)
Black box insurance policy £629 (£450 excess)

This version of the Fiat 500 may have been around for well over a decade - a long time in car terms - but its retro style means it still looks every bit as sharp as it always has done. The difference is that purchase costs are lower than they've ever been. That makes the 500 a great city car - especially when you take finance costs into account.

Fiat managed to hit a sweet spot between affordability and fun with the 500 - there are even models with a folding fabric roof for wind-in-the-hair motoring. Lounge specification is one of the most popular options (and the version we recommend looking for) and when paired with Fiat’s 1.2-litre petrol engine makes an ideal cheap insurance combination.

If there is one chink in the 500’s armour it is its crash test rating, which is a rather unimpressive three stars. That said, when the 500 was first launched in 2007 it scored a full five stars - as the crash tests got tougher, the 500's score dropped. It's still not too bad for a car of this size, though.

FIAT 500 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Citroen C3

Our pick Citroen C3 1.2 PureTech Feel
Used deals from £6,690
Monthly finance from £117
Standard insurance policy £662 (£450 excess)
Black box insurance policy £597 (£450 excess)

Fancy driving something a little left field? Then the Citroen C3 is well worth a look. Both inside and out the little French supermini breaks away from the norm - case in point being the 'air bumps' Citroen has stuck on the lower sections of each door. These squidgy pads on the lower half of the door should protect you from parking scrapes or the odd runaway shopping trolley.

Aside from standing out in terms of its looks, the C3 excels in comfort. This means anyone who finds cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio not smooth enough on rough British roads could well find solace in the C3. That is assuming they are happy to live with Citroen’s very minimalistic dashboard design which replaces most buttons normally found in an interior with a single central touchscreen display. This forces you to prod the screen to change many settings, which takes a bit of getting used to.

Despite its comfort-focused attitude, Citroen’s 1.2-litre petrol motor is a great little engine, so should you enjoy racing along country roads, the engine might surprise you with how punchy and smooth it is.

CITROEN C3 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Smart ForTwo

Our pick Smart ForTwo coupe 1.0 Prime Premium
Used deals from £6,950
Monthly finance from £128
Standard insurance policy £638 (£450 excess)
Black box insurance policy £577 (£450 excess)

Nothing says city car chic like a Smart ForTwo. While normal cars have to park parallel to the kerb, the dinky proportions of the Smart ForTwo mean it can be parked at 90 degrees to the pavement. As you can imagine, parking like this was all the rage when Smart first launched its two-seater city car.

Most versions of the ForTwo are well equipped and well appointed - perfect if you want a small car but don't want it to feel cheap and nasty. While a ForTwo isn’t terribly fun to drive, it is perfectly suited to darting around city streets and nipping through tight gaps.

Buying used means there is little point in settling for an entry-level model, as it's basic and you won't save that much. Instead, Prime Premium models are the one to aim for. While the 1.0-litre engine may be the least powerful of those available, the lower power is useful for keeping insurance premiums in check.

SMART FORTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Seat Ibiza

Our pick Seat Ibiza 1.0 MPI SE Technology
Used deals from £6,495
Monthly finance from £119
Standard insurance policy £703 (£450 excess)
Black box insurance policy £635 (£450 excess)

The Seat Ibiza is a sister car of the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia - although each model is subtly different in what it offers buyers. If the Polo is the upmarket, mature one and the Fabia the sensible, affordable one, then the Seat Ibiza is the more stylish, fun-to-drive one.

While FR spec brings sportier styling which is appealing to many younger drivers, SE Technology comes just as well equipped but with lower insurance premiums (in a similar manner to the Ford Fiesta ST-Line and Titanium versions talked about above).

As the Ibiza shares parts with other VW/Audi family cars, the mechanical bits are tried and tested and it shouldn't cost much to run. This 80hp 1.0-litre petrol engine isn’t the last word in performance, but it does boast strong fuel economy and is looked at favourably by insurers.

SEAT IBIZA BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Renault Clio

Our pick Renault Clio 0.9 TCE 90 Iconic
Used deals from £8,499
Monthly finance from £123
Standard insurance policy £709 (£80 excess)
Black box insurance policy £679 (£450 excess)

Renault recently launched an all-new Clio and that is a great car for new drivers who can afford it. For those on a tighter budget, the outgoing model is still a great option, however. It is good looking, far more affordable and surprisingly well equipped.

While the Clio isn’t a match for the Ford Fiesta when it comes to driving enjoyment, it isn’t dull by any means. Besides, for some, having standard equipment such as cruise control and Bluetooth will be more important, and the Clio has lots of that.

Renault updated the Clio in 2016 which gave the small French car an extra lease of life. While none of the changes were huge, they added up to make a better car, so if you can it's worth tracking down a post-2016 model. Iconic spec means a built-in media system is on the cards (amongst other things), but without the higher prices of range-topping models.

2013 RENAULT CLIO BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Nissan Micra

Our pick Nissan Micra 1.0 IG-T 100 N-Sport
Used deals from £11,989
Monthly finance from £179
Standard insurance policy £615 (£450 excess)
Black box insurance policy £673 (£445 excess)

Think of the Micra N-Sport as Nissan’s answer to those wanting a small car that looks sporty and has a slight bit more power than normal but should still cost next to nothing to run. In many ways it is very similar to the Ford Fiesta ST-Line and Seat Ibiza FR talked about before.

The key difference here, though, is that the Micra N-Sport is still cheap to insure whereas its rivals’ premiums shoot up with the sportier trim. Not only did Nissan deploy sharper styling (thanks to 17-inch black alloy wheels, a chrome exhaust tip, and seats with suede-like Alcantara inserts), it also stiffened up the standard Micra’s suspension setup, which made N-Sport variants better to drive.

All N-Sport models use a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which puts it up there with the most powerful on this list, so this a reasonably nippy car with a low insurance premium.

NISSAN MICRA BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Volkswagen Polo

Our pick Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95 SE
Used deals from £10,892
Monthly finance from £168
Standard insurance policy £649 (£230 excess)
Black box insurance policy £613 (£450 excess)

In the past, should you see a young driver behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo you knew they are doing well. Or their parents were, at least. That's not the case anymore, as the Polo's desirability makes it surprisingly affordable with low monthly payments on PCP finance. As to why you should pick a Polo, it nails the brief of a refined and comfortable small hatchback.

The latest Polo arrived back in 2018 and brought a marked increase in size over older models - so much so the current Polo matches the size of previous versions of the VW Golf of yesteryear for dimensions.

When it comes to specifications, SE ticks all the boxes and when combined with a 95hp engine there is more than enough punch to keep up with everyday traffic. There is a Beats model made to specifically target younger drivers with its high-end sound system, which is also a great option if you can find one with the 95hp engine.

VOLKSWAGEN POLO BUYERS' GUIDE

10. DS 3

Our pick DS 3 PureTech 1.2 82 Connected Chic
Used deals from £7,100
Monthly finance from £117
Standard insurance policy £800 (£450 excess)
Black box insurance policy £706 (£450 excess)

Rounding off this list is one of the more pricer options (at least when it comes to insurance), and that is the DS 3. DS is Citroen's upmarket brand and borrows many of its engines and other parts from Citroen but then dresses them up in a more slick interior and exterior design.

Really the DS 3 is a rival for cars such as the Mini Hatchback and Fiat 500, as they go for a similarly upmarket small car vibe. To drive the DS 3 can hold its own against many rivals and the 1.2-litre engine (which is shared with cars such as the Peugeot 208) is very smooth and refined.

If there is one thing to be aware of, it is that the interior is a bit dated compared to that of some on this list (think Ibiza, Polo and even C3) but then again, for some the exterior more than makes up for this. All things considered, the DS 3 should be affordable to run, easy to live with and not nearly as common as rivals such as the Ford Fiesta.

DS 3 BUYERS' GUIDE

Each of the example quotes above was generated assuming the main driver is a 25-year-old male administrator living in Marlow, Buckinghamshire in his parents’ house. He has held a full UK driving licence for one year and has one years’ no claims bonus. His father, who had held his licence for over 25 years is a named driver on the policy. During the day his car was parked in a work car park and at night on the driveway at home. He has no motoring convictions, no children under 16 and no medical conditions. His policy is comprehensive and is set to start three weeks after the date of quote. He pays annually and is expecting to travel 7,000 miles per annum for commuting and social purposes.

 

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