Best Cars for New Drivers
The excitement is palpable – you're on the hunt for your first car, maybe you've even recently passed your driving test and are raring to hit the road. We feel you. But finding the right first car is important. Take your time, check the specifications and trims available to you, and understand your needs before starting your search. This list comprises a range of the best cars for new drivers in the UK, outlining everything from their safety and reliability to that smooth feeling behind the wheel. It's all you need to know to find the right ride.
1. Suzuki Swift
Thanks to its smart looks and punchy engine, the Suzuki Swift is beaming with style. With the class-leading fuel economy of Suzuki’s optional mild-hybrid engine, the Swift is just as suited to meandering through winding country roads as it is to navigating the urban jungle. Boot space is limited, but pop down those back seats and you’ll have plenty of room to help with the shopping – so no excuses. Given Suzuki’s reliable manufacturing history, buying a Swift from a used-car dealership is a good cost-effective plan.
2. Hyundai i10
Fuel economy is important, but so too is the tech. Hyundai’s i10 delivers advanced technology packed into a small city car – a real rarity in the current market. The i10’s eight-inch infotainment screen, with smartphone-mirroring capabilities, is sharp and user-friendly – the centre piece of the car’s surprisingly spacious interior. You can carpool with five adults quite comfortably and still retain that generous 252-litres of boot space. With such generous interior space, the impressive range of features and excellent efficiency, the i10 is one of the best cars for new drivers. No wonder it’s so popular – Hyundai has sold over one million i10s since their introduction in 2007, so finding recent models in the used market shouldn’t be difficult.
3. Ford Fiesta
Another great first car option for the tech lovers among you comes from Ford in the shape of the Fiesta – a long-term favourite in the UK market. An excellent engine delivers a surprising amount of power for a compact family hatchback, while its neat interior is designed with space and technology in mind. We don’t just mean the fancy infotainment system; its Euro NCAP five-star crash test rating and lane-keeping assist mean that Ford has implemented the latest range of safety measures too. Ford has recently overhauled the engine range on this British favourite, doing away with some of the combustion options and introducing the mild hybrid EcoBoost Fiestas.
4. Volkswagen Polo
Earning its place among the class leaders in the supermini market is the latest Volkswagen Polo. From its stylish design to excellent performance, Volkswagen continues to deliver reliable and safe vehicles across their range. No wonder they’ve been considered one of the best cars for new drivers on the market for decades. VW’s little sibling of the Golf, the Polo offers a similarly exciting performance and the latest technology but in a more cost-friendly package. Its dynamic range of performance trims mean you can spec your Polo as much as your purse strings will allow. It’s rare to hear mass recalls of a Polo, so entering the used car market should also be a reliable option.
5. Fiat 500
For a small car that’s practical and fun to drive, look no further than the Fiat 500. The latest main model is all electric, with the standard model rebranded as the 500 Hybrid. Arguably one of the most exciting cars on this list to drive, your childlike excitement will take over as you slip behind the wheel. Whichever iteration you go for, the quality ride and classic styling mean you won’t regret your choice. The previous model was called back for powertrain issues – so be sure to check with the dealership that these issues were checked and resolved before making a used purchase.
6. Citroen C1
First car choices are typically a trade-off between what’s stylish and what’s affordable. Thankfully, Citroen has combined both of these aspects into the C1, making it one of the best cars for new drivers you’ll find. The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine certainly isn’t sluggish, while the selection of optional extras including a 7.0-inch infotainment system will make personalising your C1 a joyful experience. One aspect that’s tricky for new car-owners is the running costs, but the C1 does an excellent job of remaining affordable on the road, with a superb fuel economy.
7. Kia Picanto
The choice is getting more difficult as we move down the list, and we’re not making it any easier for you to pick by introducing the Kia Picanto. What seems like a standard though thoughtfully designed car is actually a real diamond in the rough. While it may not have the same punchy engine as other nimble city cars, what it does have is Kia’s astonishing seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty. The reliable servicing and customer support means a used Picanto might well be as good as new. In terms of dependability and a solid feature set, the Kia Picanto is one of the best cars for new drivers.
8. Renault Clio
No list of cars for new drivers would be complete without this faithful companion. Even after thirty years on the market, the Renault Clio is still as charming and stylish as ever – a sport supermini that makes an excellent first car. Delivering performance beyond what you’d expect from its 1.0-litre engine, and a surprisingly spacious interior, the Clio is more of a compact family car than a strictly city car. Its 96% safety rating for adult drivers is a testament to Renault’s safety-first agenda, and with consistent five-star crash test ratings from Euro NCAP, it’s one of the best second-hand options on this list.
9. Peugeot 108
Technology, bright-beaming colours and a dependable performance – Peugeot’s 108 seems almost custom built for a first-time driver. While its engine won’t be burning much rubber (to many parents’ relief), the 108 is testament to superb engineering, so you shouldn’t be ending up stranded by the roadside. Offering a bold and colourful interior, with a series of custom themes to choose from, Peugeot allow you to make a first car truly your own. The 108’s 7.0-inch infotainment system containing Bluetooth and smartphone-pairing capabilities is, of course, the other crucial component.
10. Nissan Micra
This list wouldn’t be complete without everyone’s not-so-guilty pleasure, the Nissan Micra. Its eye-catching exterior has recently been given a substantial makeover and now, you may not even recognise the Micra when you see it. A six-speed manual gearbox means you’ll be able to pick up speed on the motorway without feeling the urge to return to the safety of the city streets. Nissan’s new lightweight design has done the Micra’s handling a huge favour, with vastly improved control on the road compared to previous models. This car has been a mainstay on the UK market for years, so finding a well-looked-after used model from a local dealership shouldn’t be too hard.
Now that the hunt is on, you’ll soon be behind the wheel of your first car. But as we said, take your time and research the details of the trims and specs available to you. With a little shopping around and some good research, it isn’t hard to find the best cars for new drivers on the market. You’ll find more detail on all of these models over in our hub, where the expert reviews will guide you through the ins and outs of the car that’s taken your fancy.