Looking for a first car? Here are some great choices to suit a range of budgets
Whether you’re just taking the first steps to get your driving licence, or have recently passed your test, buying a first car is an exciting next step on your motoring journey.
It allows freedom and independence and can be a hugely exciting time. But what are the best first cars you should be looking at? We look at the best options for a range of budgets.
£1,000 – Vauxhall Corsa
Over the years, the Vauxhall Corsa has served as one of the most popular first cars around. Renowned for its small, efficient engines, a 1.0- or 1.2-litre petrol Corsa should also be one of the cheaper cars to insure.
We’d choose a Corsa D, sold between 2006 and 2014, which is good and easy to drive, surprisingly roomy and has a decent reliability reputation. A £1,000 budget will limit you to a higher-mileage example, with a few battle scars, but as long as it’s solid, showing no signs of rust and mechanically sound, it’s a great choice.
£2,500 – Fiat 500
If you want a stylish first car that doesn’t cost the earth to buy or run, it’s hard to look past the Fiat 500. This stylish city car was reborn in 2008 and remains a popular choice to this day, and because its design hasn’t changed all that much over the years, you won’t be penalised for buying an older car.
A £2,500 budget is the bottom end of the Fiat 500, but a relatively tidy example with around 90,000 miles on the clock can be bought for this. A Pop trim level will be the most popular this price, but if your budget can stretch, the Lounge grade adds a smart glass roof and alloy wheels.
£5,000 – Peugeot 108
The Peugeot 108 is a terrific first car with its compact size making it impressively easy to drive and park, while its small 1.0-litre petrol engine can easily return around 60mpg, while also placing the model into a low insurance group.
The 108 is also a stylish choice, while it’s more modern than the cars we’ve seen so far, with daytime running lights included across the range, and most versions featuring Bluetooth and an easy-to-use touchscreen. A £5,000 budget will buy a clean 2014 car with around 50,000 miles on the clock.
£7,500 – SEAT Ibiza
SEAT is a popular brand for first-time drivers, with its cars’ stylish looks and affordable prices going down well with a younger audience. A £7,500 budget will comfortably get you behind the wheel of a 2015 version of this smart supermini.
Available with three or five doors, the Ibiza is well-equipped and good to drive too. There’s the option of an 84bhp 1.4-litre petrol or a 103bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol, with both of these two engines being a great choice with the Ibiza.
£10,000 – Audi A1
If you want a more upmarket badge on your first car, you shouldn’t look much further than the Audi A1. This compact hatchback is Audi’s junior model, but with its refined driving experience and high-quality interior, you’d never know it from behind the wheel.
That premium billing means A1 prices are remaining high thanks to its limited depreciation, but a £10,000 budget can get you behind the wheel of an upgraded 2015 model. The turbocharged 1.0- or 1.2-litre petrol engines are the best choices for new drivers.
£15,000 – Volkswagen Up! (new)
If you have more money to spend, a £15,000 budget (or the equivalent in monthly payments) means you could get behind the wheel of a brand-new model – such as the Volkswagen Up!. This compact city car is a terrific model for new drivers thanks to its low running costs and compact size.
It’s easy and good fun to drive too, while this budget will get you a well-equipped Up! - one that comes with alloy wheels, a colour screen, DAB radio and air conditioning to name just a few features.
Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases, potentially one of the most expensive too, that you are going to make in your entire life, and for that reason, you may wish to look into other car finance options, rather than just buying a car outright.