Best cars for students

A small budget doesn't mean you can't have some fun. Here are the best cars for students looking after the pennies

BuyaCar team
Sep 30, 2021

Student life is full of new experiences and the excitement that comes with all that new-found independence, but if you're feeling a little bit trapped having to rely on public transport or your fellow students to get around, it might be a good time you get yourself a car.

Buying a car doesn't have to involve saving up a huge amount of money and throwing it all at the first thing you can afford. These days, the availability of a variety of car finance options means you have an opportunity to get behind the wheel of something far more desirable.

To help you get started on your car buying journey, we've picked out a handful of great value used cars that are all every affordable with a PCP car finance deal. Used cars start from less than £80 per month on BuyaCar, so for the sake of a couple nights out each month you could well find yourself on the road in no time.

If you can afford to stretch you budget, there are some pretty exciting cars on offer from around £150 per month, and you can be sure that each of them will prove to be cheap to insure and cheap to run, so you won't need to worry about using up your loan.

Best cars for students

1. Smart ForFour

Best car for students who need help parking

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As you can see by the picture, this Smart is much larger than the Smart ForTwo - it has seating for five and five doors too.

Running costs are low and it’s available with a 1.0-litre non-turbocharged engine or a 0.9-litre turbocharged engine. Go for the 0.9-litre. It’s more powerful while being even more economical in the real world.

The boot is small (185 litres) as there’s also an engine stuck in the back. However, the rear seats fold flat, giving you a substantial 975 litres’ worth of space, as long as you don’t mind forgoing seating back there.

It’s also worth noting that the turning circle is one of the best in the business. Great for parallel parking in old streets and negotiating tight roundabouts.


2. Seat Ibiza

Best car for students who value style first

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If you can't afford a holiday to Ibiza, you could get one of these instead. There’s no getting round it - the Seat Ibiza is a handsome thing - especially in three-door coupe-a-like shape.

Even though it has ‘just’ three doors there is still enough room in the rear for your mates, plus a boot size that’s enough for the usual trips to Ikea and back.

£150 per month is just about enough to squeeze you into a 2015 model with a 1.4-litre 'TSI' petrol engine. Although, if you’d rather not spend the additional money on insurance, tax, and petrol, we’d also recommend the 1.2-litre engine with the SE technology package. 


3. Skoda Fabia Estate

Best car for students who need a lot of space

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If the Ibiza above is akin to the magical island of its namesake, the Fabia is more like Peterborough or Luton.

However, much like Peterborough or Luton, beneath the horrible exterior, lies an ultimately sensible thing. The raison d’être of this car is its massive boot - it’s 530-litres with the seats up, which swells to a ginormous 1,395-litres with the seats down.

The Fabia also has a range of punchy and economical engines. Less than £150 per month will get you into a 2016 model with fewer than 40,000 miles on it too.


4. Ford Fiesta

Best car for students and most other people

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The Ford Fiesta is the obvious choice for most car questions, so we’ll obviously start here first. It’s the most popular car in Britain, and that’s no accident; it’s comfortable, well equipped, good value, and it’s actually a hoot to drive. Much better than most other superminis - especially with the fizzy little 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine.

£150-£200 per month will get you into a 2017 version too. It’s worth seeking out as these as they have a raft of improvement over older cars - like better ride and economy. Keep an eye out for the 1.0 EcoBoost engine as this is better than the older 1.1-litre. Spec wise, get whatever you can afford. Zetec is preferable, and gets you equipment like alloy wheels and a heated windscreen, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


5. Mini Hatchback

Best car for students who want something premium 

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Minis are cool. End of story, frankly. Even modern Minis have a look that oozes British charm. Besides, they’re great fun to drive too. Quick steering and eager engines make them the drivers’ choice for premium hatchbacks.

For the money, there are a few different options, as you’d expect from a car that’s so customisable. The One trim is the most basic, but still affords you DAB radio, Bluetooth, and air-conditioning.

Engines are good - the 1.2 is the slowest but will still get from 0-62mph in 10 seconds. There's a range of 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre engines to choose from, as well as slick BMW-derived automatic gearboxes if you prefer not to drive a manual Mini.


6. Fiat 500

Best car for students who want something #throwbackthursday

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Like the Mini above, the Fiat 500 apes the design of a much older and classier model. To some extent, its styling takes precedence over practicality. Inside, there’s just enough space in the front for a pair of average-sized adults to get comfortable but the back’s suitable only for children.

Go for the more lively 0.9-litre engine badged TwinAir. Fuel economy in the real world isn’t brilliant (expect between 40 and 45mpg) but its raspy engine note suits the chirpy nature of the 500.

For full Instagram points, pick a pastel colour.


*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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