Top 10 Best Cars For New Drivers & Best First Cars



You’ve successfully finished your theory and passed your test – now comes the fun part: choosing a good first car.

Getting a first car is one of those memories you’re always likely to cherish because it’s a first that’s linked to so many others. However, the process of choosing cars for new drivers can also be quite stressful and not as much fun if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Luckily, we’ve aimed to make this process a lot easier for you.

Below, we’ve found 10 of the best first cars to drive by compiling opinions from hundreds of drivers, dealerships, resellers and leasing companies. All these vehicles have been rated as being some of the best cars for young drivers because they’re cheap to run, effortless to drive and affordable to maintain and insure.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

What are the best cars for new drivers?

Let’s take a look at some of the best cars for young drivers that we’ve found:

  1. Toyota Aygo
  2. Hyundai i10
  3. Kia Picanto
  4. Volkswagen up!
  5. Vauxhall Corsa
  6. Volkswagen Polo
  7. Fiat 500
  8. SEAT Ibiza
  9. Ford Fiesta
  10. Peugeot 208

1. Toyota Aygo

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £126.75 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £8,914.00


The first car on our list is the Toyota Aygo, the versatile city hatchback.


  • Fluid city-handling and manoeuvring
  • Cheap to drive, maintain & insure
  • Great design & personalisation options


  • Small interior space because of size
  • Poor cabin acoustics at higher speeds

Coming in with the lowest lease and recommended retail price, the Aygo is also the proud victor of What Car’s 2018 ‘Best Used City Car’ title for its unbeatable low running costs, easy handling and funky design.

This little city-runner boasts a 1.0-litre engine that not only gives it great fuel economy but also puts the entry-level Aygo in group six for insurance, with the rest of the trims not sitting far off in about group seven.

The Aygo’s smaller engine and simple build contribute massively to its ultra-affordable maintenance and running costs – both a big plus for new and younger drivers. The entry-level 3-door cruises in with a top speed of just under 100 mph, able to achieve 69 miles to a gallon of fuel. Furthermore, Toyota’s most recent updates to the Aygo line include an updated engine that not only improves overall handling and performance but also reduces CO2 emissions by 5 g/km.

While some might assume the Aygo skimps on features and design, this simply isn’t the case.

The range of additional upgrades that comes with higher-spec trims includes a 7” digital display touchscreen, ABS, Bluetooth connectivity, quad-speaker setup and 15” alloy wheels. There’s even the option to get a slide-back semi-sunroof – also known as the ‘funroof’.

Check out our Toyota Aygo Lease Deals.

2. Hyundai i10

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £108 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £7,680.00


Billed as the most hi-tech city car ever, Hyundai’s i10 is a multi-award winner for good reason.


  • Cross category, multi-award winner
  • Excellent fuel & maintenance costs
  • Surprisingly spacious interior


  • Entry-level lacks desirable features
  • Simple car with basic design

It’s managed to take not only Honest John’s ‘Most Highly Rated Car of the Year’ and ‘Most Popular City Car’ in 2018 and previous years, but also CarGurus ‘Best City Car’ in 2019.

These accolades don’t come lightly, with the i10 being hailed by both seasoned supermini and first-time drivers as the ultimate city car. It boasts ultra-low running costs, marginal insurance premiums and great visibility and manoeuvrability.

The entry-level ‘S’ trim arrives in a 1.0-litre engine falling in a remarkably low insurance group of between one and two, with higher-spec trims falling into a very palatable group seven.

Straight off the bat, the i10 provides choice with a three-cylinder 1.0-litre and then a four-cylinder 1.2-litre engine. As it’s light on fuel, you’ll get about 60 miles to the gallon with the 1.0-litre and about 57.6 miles to the gallon with the 1.2-litre. There are also options for both manual and automatic transmissions, with both powertrains featuring Hyundai’s innovative Idle, Stop and Go (ISG) tech – reducing fuel consumption by up to 15%.

Much like the Picanto, the entry-level ‘S’ provides standard features like electric front windows, 60/40 split-folding seats and USB/AUX ports for its two speakers. Starting from the ‘SE’ upwards, you’ll find great add-ons like Bluetooth, a quad-speaker system, a DAB radio, cruise control, brake assist and more.

Check out our Hyundai i10 Lease Deals.

3. Kia Picanto

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £106.67 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £7,704.17


Kia’s Picanto is a modest, solid car that continues to impress time and time again.


  • Great top speed & fuel economy
  • Spacious: 5-doors with folding seats
  • Cheap insurance premiums


  • Small infotainment system
  • Stiff ride & handling at times

Named ‘Best Value Car’ by the Sunday Times Motor Awards and the ‘Best City Car’ by Auto Express in 2019, the Picanto is third on our list for its practicality, sound design and easy driving ability.

The entry-level trim – the ‘1’ – comes in with a 1.0-litre engine that puts it in an insurance group of four. And, if you’re one to appreciate the finer things in life, the all-decked out ‘GT-Line S’ comes with all the bells and whistles, sitting in group seven.

First-time owners have praised the Picanto for its enduring and pragmatic dependability, providing the everyday driver with a solid, zippy little car that’s light on fuel and has everything you need. It arrives with 1.0-litre petrol engine with the ‘1’ trim, getting about 67 miles to the gallon with an average top speed of 105mph. For the speed racers out there, you can also opt for a 1.25-litre engine from the ‘2’ trim upwards.

This generation of Picanto sees five doors as standard, pairing a roomier interior feel with a rounder, more recognisable design. The new appearance is distinct and recognisable, giving the Picanto an aesthetic that sits somewhere between the modern VW Polo and Ford Fiesta.

The base-level comes with everything you might expect, like electric front windows, a trip computer, 60/40 split-folding seats and USB/AUX ports for the dual speaker setup. However, to get the most bang for your buck, opt for the ‘2’, providing such add-ons like air conditioning, Bluetooth and electric rear windows.

As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll always have the peace of mind knowing that this little Picanto comes standard with Kia’s 7-year / 100,000 warranty – just in case you may need it.

Check out our Kia Picanto Lease Deals.

4. Volkswagen up!

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £155.40 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £9,320.00


The Volkswagen up! is a modern, minimalist city car saluted for its clean, indestructible nature.


  • Great speed & fuel efficiency
  • Spacious, adaptable interior
  • Relatively cheap to insure & maintain


  • Can feel boring & a bit cheap
  • The automatic gearbox is not the best

Practical with no frills, the up! has clinched victory three years in a row for Auto Express’ ‘City Car of the Year’ since 2017, as well as taking Top Gear’s ‘Small Car Of The Year’ in 2011.

With unparalleled handling and versatility, the up! is a get-what-you-get vehicle – and, a practical, solid and spacious little car that can handle a good IKEA run.

It’s performance to mileage specs are largely unbeaten, with the entry-level 1.0-litre ‘Take Up’ getting an impressive 68 miles to the gallon, with a top speed of around 100mph. On the upper-end, the highest-spec trim ‘High Up’ will see you getting around 106mph and 67.3 miles to the gallon with a turbo 1.0-litre engine boasting a 90PS output.

The up! weighs in at insurance group one to two, which increases to a heftier group 10 when you move further up the trim level.

For the first time on a VW citycar, the up! now offers a 5-door variant along with the typical 3-door setup. Starting with the entry-level ‘Take Up’, you’ll get options such as ABS, electric front windows and a 3.1” infotainment, dual speaker system. However, the higher-level ‘Move Up’ is where you’ll start to get more for your moola, with a DAB radio, 5” screen, Bluetooth connectivity and options for a 300W BeatsAudio sound system with better smartphone integration.

Lest forget, the up! can’t be beaten for interior space with a 251-litre boot that becomes 951-litres once the 60/40 rear-folding seats are put down.

Check out our Volkswagen up! Lease Deals.

5. Vauxhall Corsa

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £141.11 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £12,387.50


Always the underdog, Vauxhall’s Corsa reigns supreme as a highly underrated citycar.


  • Great top speed & economy
  • Easy smartphone integration
  • Great tech with upper trims


  • Can be shaky at high speeds
  • Lacks some space one might desire

Vauxhall’s Corsa has shed its past identity, with the newer fifth generation claiming ‘Best Buy Car Of Europe 2020’ by AutoBest for its zippier engine, upgraded technology and an overall comfier feel.

The new Corsa comes in four different trims, as the entry-level ‘SE’ weighs in with a 1.2-litre petrol engine that reaches an impressive top speed of 101mph while still getting 68.9 miles to the gallon. This puts it in insurance group two and as you move up the trim levels, you can expect to find the higher end ‘Ultimate’ sitting comfortably in group 11.

New and first-time drivers will love the new Corsa for its smooth handling, energetic design and a range of diverse, modern features that truly put it in a class above the rest. An upgraded engine with greater speed and enhanced fuel economy certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

Starting at the entry-level ‘SE’, drivers are already in store for ABS, auto-city emergency braking, ESP* and hill hold assist. This is paired with a 7” infotainment system, a six-speaker setup, a 3.5” digital instrument cluster, a DAB radio and a front camera. With higher-level trims, one can get a 10” infotainment system, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, SatNav and a panoramic rear-view camera.

There is the option for either a 3-door or 5-door variant, both available with 60/40 rear-folding seats to open the cabin interior for any bigger loads that need carrying.

Check out our Vauxhall Corsa Lease Deals.

6. Volkswagen Polo

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £183.27 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £15,425.00


Another heavyweight, the VW Polo is renowned for its reliability, simplicity and solid build.


  • Impressive upgrades & engine size
  • Popular, reliable and safe
  • Refined build for its class


  • Insurance & upper-level trims are pricey
  • Not the greatest fuel efficiency

The 2019 Polo is no different, having walked away with the titles of ‘Small Car of the Year’ by What Car? in 2019 and ‘2018 World Urban Car’ at the World Car Awards in New York of that year.

Coming in five different trims, the Polo enters with the ‘S’ which is available in a 1.0-litre engine and sits comfortably in insurance group three. As such, first-time drivers will greatly appreciate lower annual premiums for a car of this choice. Higher-level trims like the ‘R-Line’ come with a much faster, 2.0-litre engine that will sit slightly higher in about insurance group 16.

First-time and new drivers are drawn to the Polo for its household name status, which carries it with a mark of dependability, a minimalist presence and timeless performance. The ‘S’ comes in with a 5-speed gearbox that helps it reach a top speed of 116mph while still getting around 57.6 miles to the gallon.

This new sixth-generation Polo truly shines with a newer design and host of additional features.

A slightly longer wheelbase boasts a grander yet still streamlined appearance that won’t be lost on long-time Volkswagen loyalists. The ‘S’ comes in with such specs like ABS*, ESP*, front disc brakes and hill hold assist, featuring a 6.5” infotainment screen with Volkswagen Connect and Apple or Android capability. As one moves further up the trims, this screen can be upgraded to 8”, while also adding Car-Net App-Connect to the list of tech-related features.

Other unexpected yet great features include battery regeneration during braking and 60/40 rear-folding seats.

Check out our Volkswagen Polo Lease Deals.

7. Fiat 500

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £105.83 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £11,009.12


The Fiat 500, Fiat’s modern solution to the classic ‘Cinquecento’, is an iconic little car.


  • Retro-look & quaint feel
  • Comfortable, easy-to-drive design
  • Impressive features with higher-spec trims


  • Limited boot and seating space
  • Lower comparable safety rating to other cars

It has scooped multiple awards, including the European Car of the Year and BusinessCar’s ‘Best City Car’ for its easy-handling and drivability.

It’s a crowd favourite for its easily recognisable retro aesthetic, which immediately transports would-be drivers to bustling Italian city streets – this vehicle’s original racing grounds.

The 500 comes in at an entry-level 1.2-litre engine that sits comfortably in an insurance group of seven, with higher-spec trims boasting more features – like the ‘Sport’, ‘Street’ and ‘Pop’ – sitting in insurance groups that can rise to about 15.

The 500 delivers an impressive top speed of about 105mph, with equally nifty fuel consumption of about 55 miles to the gallon – a point of favour for younger and first-time drivers. When not on the open road, a handy ‘city’ driving mode increases the sensitivity of the power steering – which makes tight turns and manoeuvring into parking space a breeze.

Additional extras and features of the Fiat 500 include ABS*, traction and cruise control and a stop/start system for increased fuel economy and added convenience. On the inside, drivers can choose between Apple Car Play or Android Auto in higher-spec trims, which comes with quad-speaker setups and an enhanced infotainment system.

If the interior is feeling a bit tight for you, these higher-level trims also come with 50/50 split-folding rear seats, letting you easily throw in those suitcases for any weekend road trips.

Check out our Fiat 500 Lease Deals.

8. SEAT Ibiza

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £187.08 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £15,440.00


Bringing a certain Spanish flair is the SEAT Ibiza, a coveted supermini in its own right.


  • Great, stylish car to drive
  • Cheaper insurance than other cars
  • Relatively better safety features


  • Inside quality could be improved
  • Entry-level can feel basic at times

The Ibiza not only won silver for Car of the Year 2018, but it has also claimed ‘Best Supermini’ at the 2018 UK COTY Awards and ‘Best Small Car’ from What Car? Car of the Year Award.

This favoured hatchback comes in a tuned 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrol engine, and a 1.6-litre diesel engine that won’t substitute fuel economy for performance. The entry-level SE starts in insurance group eight, which should give one more peace of mind with lower insurance premiums.

As part of the Volkswagen group, the Ibiza shares its MQB platform with the VW Polo and Audi A1. Therefore, you can rest assured it contains the same winning DNA as other industry leaders. The entry-level 5-door SE delivers a top speed of around 106mph, capable of getting around 57 miles to the gallon.

Apart from the vehicle’s impressive driving ability, what features can we expect from it?

Straight from the get-go, the Ibiza packs a punch with ABS, ESP, front assist and hill-hold control. Integrated connectivity boasts handsfree Bluetooth connectivity, full smartphone integration with MirrorLink, Apple Car Play and Android Auto. This is easily controllable using a 6.5” touchscreen that connects to a DAB radio with a six-speaker sound system.

As additional nice-to-haves, you get 60/40 folding seats to open up the cabin’s interior space, all-round airbags and 5-spoke, 15” alloy wheels for a smart finish.

Check out our SEAT Ibiza Lease Deals.

9. Ford Fiesta

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £187.08 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £15,420.00



Originally introduced as far back as 1976, Ford’s Fiesta is a household name with good reason.


  • Supreme handling & reliability
  • Personalize with a range of specs
  • EcoBoost engines give great performance


  • Other contenders are more practical
  • Gearbox can be loud & stiff at times

The Fiesta is currently in its seventh generation, recently having taken Auto Express’ ‘Supermini of the Year’ in 2019 due to its affordability, punchy engine and numerous personalisation options.

This compact city-car is ushered in with six different trim levels, with most drivers opting for the entry-level 1.0-litre EcoBoost Zetec which starts in insurance group five. This can increase up to insurance group 14 as one moves up the higher specs with models like the ‘Titanium’.

The Fiesta’s popularity can be attributed to a sporty, angular look that sits and handles well on the road with equal reliability. Younger drivers will love its trendy aesthetic, precise steering and weightless suspension. The base-level Zetec trim introduces a 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, capable of reaching a top speed of 112mph, with a fuel economy of 59mpg.

When looking at the interior, Ford has made considerable effort to pack in as much as possible.

With the base levels, you’ll find ABS, EBA* and electronic stability control. There’s Bluetooth connectivity, a DAB* digital radio and steering wheel controls to adjust while driving. Moving to upper-level trims, you can expect to find a Bang & Olufsen audio system with an 8” touchscreen, 10 speakers and a Ford SYNC 3 navigation system. All trims come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Check out our Ford Fiesta Lease Deals.

10. Peugeot 208 Hatchback

Approx. Monthly Lease: Starting at £188.36 per month*

Approx. RRP: Starting at £15,365.00


Peugeot’s 208 is a fiery supermini with an adaptable design and a zippy character.


  • Plenty of entry-level features
  • Innovative technology & connectivity
  • Option for full electrification


  • Not the greatest fuel economy
  • Interior less spacious than desired

So much so, it scored carwow’s ‘Little Legend’ award at the 2019 carwow New Car of the Year Awards for its stylish appearance, premium finish and unique driving ability.

This little city slicker comes standard with a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine capable of putting out 75, 100 and 130hp. This places the entry-level ‘Access’ trim in insurance group 5, which can be expected to increase as one moves up the trim ladder to an insurance group of about 10.

The 208 ‘Access’ 75bhp proves itself in the driving department, starting off with a top speed of around 94mph while averaging about 53.6 miles to the gallon. In comparison, the 130bhp variant hits a top speed of 129mph while getting about 52 miles to the gallon. The 208 also comes in an all-electric version – the e208 – which Peugeot claims can do 211 miles on a single charge.

Where the 208 continues to show off is in the design and build of this second-generation car.

It’s lower and wider than before, giving it a unique low-to-the-ground feel that could easily be compared to the go-kart-like driving feel distinct to the MINI Hatch. Even entry-level trims get a wealth of features like ABS, EBD and Emergency Braking Assistance (EBA). The proprietary i-Cockpit provides a 3.5” instrument panel display and a 7” capacitive touchscreen with integrated Bluetooth connectivity. With the higher-spec models, a smart mobile docking station will charge your phone either inductively or via two charging points.

Check out our Peugeot 208 Lease Deals.

So, what are the best cars for young drivers or good first time cars?

Ideally, you’ll want to choose a car that is safe, affordable and light on fuel – with just enough technology that you feel connected, but not overwhelmed behind the wheel. 

Choosing which car to drive can sometimes be a long – and, occasionally stressful  – process, but with a little bit of guidance it can be also be a fun and rewarding process for you. We congratulate all the new drivers looking for their first car, and hope this article has managed to provide a little bit of guidance in the process.

And remember, if you ever wanted to discuss any of the above vehicles, just give us a quick call on 0344 387 2727 and we’d be more than happy to talk them over with you.

Happy driving!

* All lease rates shown are correct at the time of publication and are subject to change. All prices are exclusive of VAT.


This entry was posted in Top Car Choices on by Kevin Blackmore

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