It’s a big moment, when you hold that Driving Test Pass Certificate in your hand and can think about buying your first car and the independence that’ll come with it; however, it’s also a big time for your budget, so, here we look at some things you may not have considered but which can help you into a car you may not have thought financially possible.

Learning Plate on the back of a car

5 things to think about when buying your first car:

  • Insurance - are there any finance packages available to get your insurance cheaper?
  • Engine size - insurers like first time drivers to have the smallest engine possible.
  • Driver assist features - newer cars with driver assist features can lower your insurance costs
  • Safety - EuroNCAP safety ratings and driver assist features can put parents mind's at rest
  • New vs used - don't discount a new car, insurance is often lower and can balance out your budget

When choosing what to buy for a first car the obvious and overwhelming factor is the cost to buy and run…and assuming you’re a newly qualified driver, who’s not been driving long enough to have built up a no-claims bonus, then a major element of that cost will be the insurance.

With first time drivers looking at initial premiums of £1,500 or more any way of bringing that under control should be embraced which is why the PSA Group’s special three-in-one packages are so popular and make ownership of a brand new car so much more affordable.

Best used cars for first time drivers

Even with these cost benefits not everyone has the budget for a new car and there are some used cars which stand well ahead of their rivals as suitable for first time buyers.

One of these is the Volkswagen Polo or the versions from sibling brands, the Audi A1, SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia all of which share the same basic chassis design. Taking the facelifted versions of the last generation model built between 2014 and 2017, before it was replaced by the current model, the Polo provides a roomy interior, nearly as big as a Golf, a lovely 1.0 litre petrol engines which are fine around town or 1.2 TSI options if you need more power and diesels if you want some amazing fuel economy.

A Ford Fiesta may be a more entertaining drive on a twisty road, but the Polo feels solid and substantial, has big car driver aids and cockpit features and is one of the cars seen as the gold standard, a car which others are measured by in the used car sector. A key advantage of this is it enjoys glacially slow depreciation which translates into a considerable chunk of that element being removed from the purchase and finance costs.

Front view of a blue Volkswagen Polo
City brake active system

Driver Assist features

Even if a particular manufacturer doesn’t have something like this, there are cars which are inherently cheaper to insure because the insurance industry rates them as being a lower risk and/or cheaper to repair than others.

One of these is the SEAT Mii, a characterful city car which shares a lot of its components with the VW Up! and Skoda Citigo. The Skoda is the cheapest of the trio to insure, but all have one crucial bit of safety technology, AEB, the automatic emergency braking system which slows the car down, without the driver’s intervention, if it senses the gap to the car in front is closing too fast for safety.

This driver assist feature dramatically reduces the chance of a silly car park bump or the very common accident where you set off from a roundabout, assuming the vehicle ahead in the queue has moved off, only to find it hasn’t and your front bumper gets familiar with its rear one. Insurers love AEB and reward cars fitted with it, hence the SEAT’s first-time-buyer-friendly premium costs.

Then there’s the Fiat 500. A perennial favourite on both the new and used market, this baby Fiat is the best of the retro-inspired city cars suitable for a first time buyer and in addition to its low cost you have all its charm and charisma. You can hear similar claims made for the MINI, but a newly qualified driver would be lucky indeed to have the budget for one of them.

The Fiat has been around for several years now and with plentiful supply lowering prices, a tidy one can be picked up from around £2,000. This in itself will catch the eye of our buyer but the 500 has another ace up its sleeve because it has the brilliant 875 cc TwinAir engine and the point here is that insurers love engines smaller than 1.0 litre and that will be reflected in the premium.

It's not quite as stylish, but the Fiat Panda is another among the cheapest cars to insure for a first timer.

The Nissan Micra, Hyundai i10, Toyota Aygo (similar to the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1) and Suzuki Swift are all often named as good first-time buys, but you can’t help but be drawn by the advantages and cost of the two schemes from Peugeot and Citroën which could have been tailor made for people looking to enjoy having the keys to their own brand-new first car.

Light mint green fiat 500 parked on a road



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