Best cars for new drivers

With built-in dashcams and safety restrictions, see the features included in the best cars for new and young drivers

BuyaCar team
Jul 22, 2021

So you're keen to get started on your life behind the wheel? Now you've passed your test there's an entire world of freedom waiting for you. The dream of road trips with mates and spontaneous drives to your favourite location is now at your fingertips.

Now you're going to need a car, and this is where reality strikes, because unfortunately they can be expensive things, especially for younger drivers. But don't let that put you off, because there are some cars on the market that are best suited to new starters, even in the eyes of insurance companies.

These aren't boring boxes on wheels either; here we have six colourful and exciting small hatchbacks that are capable of turning all those hopes and dreams into reality. With plenty of space for friends and family - perhaps not at the same time - and a whole load of technology designed to keep you safe on the road, there isn't much more you could ask for from a first car.

The best thing about these cars is their price. They're cheap to buy, with some excellent finance options too, while they're also much cheaper to insure thanks to their smaller engines. If you're ready to get started on your driving journey, these six cars are the perfect first choice for young drivers.

Best cars for young drivers

1. Ford Fiesta

Best car for young drivers sharing with their parents

Used deals from £6,200
Monthly finance from £124*

It’s all very well discussing the merits of the best cars that young drivers can buy but that’s not much good if you’re one of the many who are sharing a car with parents.

If they’ve got a Ford Fiesta, then you might find it a bit easier to prise the keys away, thanks to the MyKey option, which allows parents to restrict some functions and the car’s performance to improve safety and increase the likelihood of them getting the car back in one piece.

By programming a separate key in the car, its top speed can be limited, the volume of the stereo can be limited and all sound turned off if a seatbelt is not fastened. You can also prevent anyone from tapping an address into the sat-nav if the vehicle is moving. It might feel like a nanny is always looking over your shoulder, but it’s better than sitting at home and staring into your smartphone.


2. Peugeot 208

Best car for young drivers looking for cheap insurance

Used deals from £5,548
Monthly finance from £109*

You've found the ideal car and then you look at the cost of insurance - which can be just as expensive as your finance payments. Peugeot’s Just Add Fuel scheme rolls most of a car’s running costs - including finance payments, insurance, servicing, breakdown cover and tax - into three years of monthly payments.

For a little over £200 a month, you could be driving a brand new Peugeot 208, with alloy wheels, a dashboard-mounted touchscreen and cruise control. You have to be 18 or over to qualify, and new drivers will also need to have a black box fitted to their car, which monitors things like the speed that you take corners, the heaviness of your braking and observance of speed limits. Your insurance will generally be cancelled if you get multiple warnings for bad driving.

For even cheaper monthly payments, Just Add Fuel is also available for the smaller Peugeot 108. It’s not the very best city car that you can buy (that would be the VW Up) but it’s still a good choice if you’re mainly driving in town and comes without the hassle of arranging insurance.


3. Skoda Fabia

Best car for young drivers who need space

Used deals from £6,490
Monthly finance from £127*

It’s one of the safest cars that you can buy, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2014, but the great strength of the Skoda Fabia is that it feels much larger than it actually is.

Two tall teenagers will easily get comfortable in the back, and even three in a row is a much better option than taking the bus. The 330-litre boot is larger than average for a supermini such as the Ford Fiesta, making it practical for long-distance journeys and weekends away.

Much of the Fabia model range sits in low insurance groups, including some 90hp petrol cars that can cope with a full carload.


4. Seat Ibiza

Best car for young drivers who put safety first

Used deals from £6,490
Monthly finance from £136*

One of the safest small cars available, the Seat Ibiza was awarded a full five stars by Euro NCAP in 2017. As time goes on, the tests become stricter, so while it may not be as safe as a car that was awarded five stars more recently, it's likely to have more safety features than the Fabia which was tested in 2014.

One of the major reasons the Ibiza performed so well is because of its overall occupant safety levels. It scored a 95% for adult occupants, outranking much larger and more expensive machinery like the Kia Stinger and Skoda Karoq.

Testers at Euro NCAP also remarked on the efficiency of its autonomous emergency braking system too. This essentially measures the road around you with radar and can brake the car in an emergency. Seat's system can detect both vehicles and pedestrians, which helped it score higher in the testing.


5. Citroen C3

Best car for young drivers who need protection against prangs

Used deals from £8,295
Monthly finance from £147*

Fitted with plastic protective panels that Citroen calls Airbumps, and with an integrated camera on the windscreen that will record any unfortunate incidents, you’ll want to be in a new C3 if you have a minor car park scrape. Or if someone crashes into you and then claims that it’s your fault.

The 82hp engine will give you enough performance on any kind of British road but it is more expensive to insure than some of the cars on this page - despite the safety features. We'd opt for Flair trim, which includes Airbumps and the camera - called ConnectedCAM - as standard.

Alternatively, you can add both of these as options to the cheaper Feel trim.


6. Vauxhall Corsa

Best car for young drivers who want cheap finance

Used deals from £4,995
Monthly finance from £100*

We couldn’t really write about the Ford Fiesta (at the top of the list) without mentioning the Vauxhall Corsa as well. The rivalry between the two has been likened to Ali vs Frazier, or for younger readers, TOWIE vs MIC.

The Corsa is a very complete little car, and is frequently being offered with 0% interest finance when buying new too. There have been dozens of special editions offering different paint and wheel combinations, while some even offer racing stripes, if that’s your cup of tea.

It’s cheap to insure too - surely a hallmark of a car that’s good for young people. Incidentally, the hot-hatch version can be a lot easier to insure than other hot-hatches like the Ford Fiesta ST or Volkswagen Golf GTI.


*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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