The best first cars for new drivers

Buying your first car is a very special moment, but with so many options out there which one do you choose? Here’s our guide to what we think are the top 10 cars for a new driver.

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By Cazoo editorial team

Learning to drive is a major milestone in life. But once you’ve spent more money than you’d hoped on lessons, passed your theory test and then finally aced the practical exam, you’ll need wheels.

Choosing the ideal first car is not without its challenges. There are plenty of things to think about, hidden costs to weigh up, and – as with all car-buying decisions – the question of exactly what you want the car for. With all that in mind, and in no particular order, here’s our guide to the best first cars you can buy.

1. Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta has been Britain’s best-selling car for years and it’s no wonder why. It looks great, comes with some smart tech and it’s as much fun to drive as some sports cars. Really. It’s ideal for first-time drivers because it inspires real confidence behind the wheel and is available with small engines that won’t cost a fortune for a new driver to insure. We’d recommend the popular 100-horsepower version of the 1.0-litre petrol engine.

There are plenty of used Fiestas, so take your time to work out which version is right for you. Make sure you check insurance costs because different trim levels often cost different amounts, even with the same engine.

Downsides? Well, it’s hard to stand out in the UK’s most popular car. And although running costs are very reasonable, there are more affordable cars to buy and insure. Overall though, the Fiesta sets a tremendous first car benchmark.

Read our Ford Fiesta review

2. Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 has one major thing going for it and that’s style. Even though it was launched way back in 2007, few cars capture the heart like a 500, thanks to its retro design and a huge choice of personalisation options from new. That means there are countless different 500s for sale, making it unlikely that someone will have the same one as you.

Is it the best car on this list? Objectively, no. There are plenty of other cars that are more practical, more comfortable and better to drive. But while this is a heart-over-head purchase, it should be cheap to insure, get good fuel economy and put a smile on your face every time you look at it.

Read our Fiat 500 review

3. Volkswagen Polo

Several of the cars on this list are at the affordable end of the market, and there’s a lot to be said for that. But if you want something with a bit more class and sophistication then the Volkswagen Polo is well worth checking out. It’s a bit more of a premium choice while still offering value for money, with a high-quality interior and low running costs thanks to some very efficient engines.

It’s also nice to drive, with a focus on comfort rather than outright fun that makes it very easygoing. The boot’s a good size and versions from 2017 onwards have a large touchscreen that you can connect with your smartphone for entertainment or navigation. On top of that, all models have plenty of safety features to help avoid an accident.

Read our Volkswagen Polo review

4. Nissan Micra

The latest version of the Nissan Micra came out in 2017, which means it’s still right at the cutting edge of modern cars. It’s not the most affordable car on this list, but it comes with loads of features and technology to help make motoring life easier. All models will let you stream music via Bluetooth and have USB sockets to charge your devices.

On top of all that, you can pick up a Micra with 0.9-litre or 1.0-litre petrol engines, which should be pretty affordable when it comes to insurance. Oh, and it’s got a maximum five-star rating from safety organisation EuroNCAP. All models come with automatic emergency braking to help keep you and those around you safe.

Read our Nissan Micra Review

5. Vauxhall Corsa

The Vauxhall Corsa has long been the default alternative to the Ford Fiesta, and even though there’s now much more choice than those two long-running hatchbacks, Vauxhall’s small car is still well worth a look. It’s a very affordable used buy and running costs are also very reasonable. Because an all-new version was released in 2019, you can now pick up a previous-generation model for even less.

Several versions are very affordable to insure, particularly the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre (75 horsepower) models, which you can get in several different trims. The Corsa comes as a sporty three-door version or, if you want more practicality, as a five-door model with better access to the rear seats.

Read our Vauxhall Corsa review

6. Skoda Fabia Estate

If you absolutely need as much luggage space as possible, then check out the estate version of the Skoda Fabia. We like it because not only is it a very decent little car, it’s the only car of this size available in estate form, which gives a huge boot compared to other cars on this list. If you need to carry lots of kit for your hobbies, or if you’re a dog owner, that extra space and taller boot really makes the difference.

All Fabias are also really good when it comes to running costs, because you’ll get good fuel economy from the smaller engines and it sits in impressively low insurance groups. Opt for the S trim level with the 1.0-litre MPI engine for the cheapest insurance premiums. And it looks pretty sharp too.

Read our Skoda Fabia review

7. Volkswagen Up

You may notice that the Volkswagen Up looks very similar to two other small city cars, namely the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo. That’s because it’s basically the same car, all from parent company the Volkswagen Group. But we think the VW version is the one to go for because there are a wider choice of cars to choose from and it looks a bit more stylish. It costs a bit more than Seat and Skoda but it’s still a very cost-effective option, with remarkable fuel economy and very low insurance group ratings.

While the Up is smaller than cars such as the Fiesta, it’s good to drive and feels perfectly at home on the motorway. It’s well packaged too, with an interior that has proper space for four and a surprisingly useful boot.

8. Seat Ibiza

If you want a bit of a sporty vibe, but the Fiesta is too mainstream for you, then take a look at the Seat Ibiza. The latest version of this Spanish hatchback was released in 2017, so is still very modern in terms of interior tech and design, and if you opt for the 1.0-litre MPI petrol engine in either 75 or 80-horsepower guise, you’ll pay relative peanuts for insurance.

All models are well priced and great value for money. The entry-level S model is the most affordable, but we’d recommend checking out SE Technology models to get more features, including alloy wheels, sat nav and a touchscreen infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full smartphone connectivity.

Read our Seat Ibiza review

9. Dacia Sandero

The Dacia Sandero might not be the coolest car on this list, but when you look at how much car you get for your money, nothing else comes close. In purchase price and insurance costs, the Sandero is an absolute bargain and it comes with huge amounts of space inside. It’s also not bad to drive and will happily cruise the motorway as well as pootle around town.

It’s not fancy or flash, but the Sandero is a very up-to-date car for the cost of something much older. If you want to make your hard-earned cash go as far as possible, this is definitely one to look out for.

10. Renault Zoe

If you want to get ahead of the curve, then the all-electric, zero-emission Renault Zoe could be the car for you. It’s one of the most affordable pure electric cars and its small size means it’s easy to manoeuvre around town. Charging it with electricity will be much cheaper than filling up with petrol or diesel, but make sure you’ve considered the logistics of where you can plug it in and be aware that it’s not as cheap to insure as many petrol-powered small cars.

If it fits your lifestyle the Zoe is a brilliant first car though. It’s packed with safety features, good to drive and, like most electric cars, quiet and surprisingly nippy. The interior looks smart and suitably cutting-edge, as well as offering good space for four people and their luggage.

Read our Renault Zoe review

Whether it's your first one or not, you’ll find a huge range of high-quality used cars for sale at Cazoo. Find the right one for you, then buy online and have it delivered to your door or choose to collect it from one of our Customer Centres.

We're constantly updating and adding to our stock. If you can't find the right one today, check back soon to see what's available or set up a stock alert to be the first to know when we have cars that match your needs.

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