Best cars for one person

A majority of cars carry just one person most of the time, so why bother with a huge lump of metal? Here are the best cars for solo drivers

Lawrence Allan
Jan 25, 2022

Statistics suggest that, at any one time, around 60% of cars on UK roads are carrying just one person. Yet cars are getting ever larger, taking up more space on the road and, therefore, making both traffic and parking problems worse.

There are many reasons why you might usually go it alone on the road. Maybe your commute to work is in a different direction to your partner’s, or your family uses multiple cars already. Or maybe you’re single, don't have children and simply have no need for enormous rear seats or a massive boot.

The benefits of not needing a substantial amount space are significant. Smaller cars are almost always lighter, meaning they’re more fuel efficient and cheaper to run, while they’ll also typically handle corners better and need less power to get around. If you live in a built-up area, they’re also perfect for zipping about town and parking in tight spaces.

However, cars for solo drivers don’t need to be cheap city cars or superminis. Being able to sacrifice practicality opens the doors to a number of stylish coupes or entertaining sports cars that can put a smile on your face. And if you like the wind in your hair, convertibles - which normally sacrifice interior space and boot room for a folding roof - are a great option.

When choosing our top eight cars for solo drivers we’ve looked at a mix of bodystyles and prices, including everything from the smallest city car to the most engaging and stylish sports cars. Read on to find out more about the best cars for one person.

Best cars for one person

1. Hyundai i10

Hyundai i10 front three quarters view

Used deals Limited stock

If you’re simply after a low-cost, cheap-to-run small car that doesn’t feel basic, then your options don’t get much better than the Hyundai i10.

While it isn't that thrilling to drive or that stylish, the i10 offers a broad range of abilities. The interior comes nicely equipped and is well put together, there’s more room inside than you might expect, and fuel, tax and insurance costs are about as low as any car on sale. Hyundai also offers a five-year warranty from new, so even three-year-old models still have two years' of manufacturer warranty cover remaining.

The i10 also feels pretty grown up to drive; the handling is tight and controlled, the ride is decently comfortable and wind and road noise aren’t intrusive at high speed. If you do find yourself venturing out on the motorway the more powerful 1.2-litre engine is a better bet, but even the 1.0-litre engine feels pretty willing and is all you’ll ever need around town.

SE models come with enough basic equipment such as air-conditioning, a height adjustable driver’s seat and front and rear electric windows, but if you can stretch to a Premium model you’ll get niceties such as alloy wheels, Bluetooth and posher interior trim.

HYUNDAI I10 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Volkswagen Up GTI

Used deals from £12,000
Monthly finance from £0*

The VW Up GTI is the very definition of a ‘pocket rocket’. It’s just as compact, agile and easy to drive as the regular Up city car, but offers a racier look, better handling and more performance. While a turbocharged 1.0-litre engine putting out 115hp might not sound like much, the Up GTI is pretty speedy, as it's so small and light, while still managing to be fuel efficient.

The Up GTI also gets uprated suspension and bigger wheels for more grip and a sportier drive, but it’s still pretty comfortable and refined at speed. Equipment levels are decent, too. In fact, the only problem with the Up! GTI is that it’s so popular, used values have held up and there’s more demand than supply. This means that cash buyers won't find a bargain, but you could still benefit from low monthly payments with PCP finance, as the car is likely to still be valuable at the end of the finance contract.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mini Hatchback 3dr

Used deals from £7,380
Monthly finance from £280*

If you want a small car that looks stylish and classy inside and out, then the three-door Mini is a great choice. It’s normally criticised for not being very practical, but since it’s plenty roomy enough for a single driver - plus a reasonable amount of luggage, if you drop the rear seats - you’ll get to enjoy its other excellent qualities.

For starters, small car interiors don’t really get posher than this. With classy feeling materials and an attractive design, it’s a step above cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, while the Mini Hatchback can also be had with plenty of big-car equipment. Engineered by BMW, a company with a reputation for making sporty cars, it also handles corners brilliantly, with sharp steering and loads of grip.

Engine choices range from the cheap-to-run One model to the very quick Cooper S and John Cooper Works models. All are a good choice, but we reckon the middling Cooper offers the best balance of affordability, running costs and performance. Just make sure whichever car you choose is well specified, as many upmarket features were optional when new.

MINI HATCHBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mazda MX-5

Used deals from £9,867
Monthly finance from £0*

The Mazda MX-5 is an iconic small sports car, having been on sale in a number of incarnations for several decades. It’s rare in being a good deal smaller and lighter than the car it replaces, so while that means it’s hardly the most practical car around, it’s as much fun to drive as sports cars costing more than twice the price.

With entertaining rear-wheel-drive handling, a precise manual gearbox and willing engines, you can enjoy the Mazda MX-5 on any road and at any speed. The cabin is solid, attractive and well-equipped, too, but be aware that the tight cabin is not ideal for really tall or large drivers, and the boot is very small.

The 131hp 1.5-litre entry-level engine might not sound very powerful, but it's satisfying to work hard and feels just right in the lightweight MX-5. However, the uprated 184hp version of the 2.0-litre engine, first offered in 2018, makes the car feel more muscular at higher speeds, so it's a better choice if you want a car that feels fast most of the time.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE
MAZDA MX-5 RF BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Jaguar F-Type

Used deals from £29,991
Monthly finance from £547*

If running costs aren’t as important to you as desirability and driver appeal, then the Jaguar F-Type is a strong used purchase. Not only does it look fantastic on the outside, it also has a classy and well-equipped interior, although even by coupe standards its boot is on the small side.

Still, it offers excitement and character in spades thanks to its dramatic-sounding V6 and V8 petrol engines. They may burn through lots of fuel, but they give the F-Type a serious turn of speed and make for a really engaging driving experience alongside the car's sharp handling and great steering. The F-Type is no stiff-riding racer, however; its well-judged ride and strong refinement means it’s as capable cruising around the M25 as it is on a twisty road.

A more economical and cheaper four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine was added to the F-Type range in 2017, but it’s not as in-keeping with the car’s character as the supercharged V6 models. The V8 and R models are even faster and make an incredible noise, but they’re very thirsty for fuel and can overwhelm their rear tyres when driven hard - although a four-wheel-drive version is also available with greater traction.

JAGUAR F-TYPE BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Ford Puma

Used deals from £17,539
Monthly finance from £292*

The latest Ford Puma is the first car to show that small crossovers don’t have to be dull to drive. Based on the Ford Fiesta underneath, the Puma offers excellent handling blended with a surprisingly comfortable ride, plus gutsy engines. It’s also smartly designed with a number of clever features.

Inside, while there are roomier and posher alternatives, the Puma is well-made and quite driver-focused. The boot is a good size, too, and it has a unique feature called a ‘Megabox’ - a deep compartment under the boot floor with a removable plughole, which is perfect for washing muddy boots.

A high-performance ST version (pictured above) is available, but the Puma is still fun to drive in standard form. Even the entry-level 125hp 1.0-litre petrol engine offers a good turn of pace, but the 155hp version is pretty brisk without sacrificing much in fuel economy, making it an appealing option.

READ MORE ABOUT THE FORD PUMA

7. Audi TT

Audi TTS Coupe front three quarters view

Used deals from £8,800
Monthly finance from £0*

The Audi TT has been around for a good few years, but there aren’t many cars around that offer such style and quality for the money. The TT is one of Audi’s prettiest cars ever, with an elegant yet not too showy exterior look. Inside, too, it manages to be attractive and cool, but still extremely well made and easy to use.

There’s no central media system, but sole drivers will love how everything - including the sat-nav maps - can be shown on a large, high definition digital instrument display behind the steering wheel. While there are back seats, they are only of use for small children, although the boot is a reasonable size and you can drop the rear seats, which makes for a pretty large storage space for a car of this size, with the added practicality of a hatchback for loading large items easily.

The TT is available in two- and four-wheel-drive form, but the TT can’t quite offer the ultimate sportiness and fun drive of something like a Porsche Cayman. However, it’s an excellent all-rounder, with a firm yet controlled ride, decent refinement and an engaging driving experience. Powerful engines also feature, while if you’re planning to do lots of miles there’s even a frugal diesel version. We reckon that the 197hp and 245hp 2.0-litre petrol models are the best all-round choices, however.

AUDI TT COUPE BUYERS' GUIDE
AUDI TT ROADSTER BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Smart ForTwo EQ

Used deals from £17,491
Monthly finance from £0*

If you’re a single city-dweller with the ability to charge an electric car easily, then the Smart ForTwo Electric (or EQ as it’s now called) is an excellent choice. At 2.7m long it’s one of the smallest cars on the road, and its dinky size means it’s an absolute doddle to park and thread about town.

Despite being so small, there’s a surprising amount of space for even a tall driver inside. The interior looks and feels less basic than you might expect, too, although the touchscreen media system is a bit fiddly to use and the boot is pretty tiny. Equipment levels are strong on all models, however.

To drive, the electric Smart offers nippy about-town performance, reasonable comfort and, thanks to a tight turning circle and light weight, great agility. It does have its downsides, however - its range on a charge is only about 80 miles, while it can only charge up to a rate of 22kW, which means it takes a little longer to charge than you might expect. It’s a bit out of its depth out of town, too, making it most suitable for those who want an urban car.

SMART FORTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

*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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