Congratulations on passing your driving test! Freedom is finally in sight. But before you get yourself behind the wheel, you need to consider what car you are going to buy.
Choosing your first car is a rite of passage for thousands of first-time drivers. It comes with such responsibility and independence, which is why car makers customise and adapt car features to get you interested in their vehicle.
As exciting as a built-in satnav and bluetooth phone connection can be, there are so many aspects to consider when you’re buying a car. The cost of fuel, insurance and tax are normally deal breakers when you’re looking to get a car, and sometimes these can add up to be even more than the purchase price of the vehicle itself.
But how do you find a car that does it all? Take a look at our list of cars that are best for different reasons - whether that’s the cost of fuel, the lowest road tax or cheapest insurance for new drivers.
When you’re looking for a car, you’ll want to consider how fuel-efficient the car you’re buying is. The less fuel your vehicle uses, the cheaper it’ll be to fill up with petrol or diesel, and the less frequently you’ll have to fill up too.
The cost of fuel is ever-changing, and it also depends where you’re buying it from. Fair warning - petrol stations on the motorway are not your friend. Be sure to fill up before you set out on a long journey, as you may be stung with a huge petrol bill on the motorway.
Considering how much fuel your car uses is an important factor, as the more you’re filling it up, the more money you’re going to be spending on getting from A to B. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy list of fuel-efficient vehicles, perfect for those who want to save some money (and the environment).
The Peugeot 208 is the most economical non-hybrid car on sale in the UK right now. Going head-to-head with top sellers like the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and VW Polo, the Peugeot 208 is a practical, efficient and stylish first car.
The 1.6 BlueHDI model is now the most economically produced car the French firm make, achieving over 94 mpg (miles-per-gallon)! This diesel car isn’t just economical, it’s also a good-looking, well made hatchback car, which is available in both three and five doors.
The car is plenty big enough for one, yet there is enough room for five; there is ample boot space and room for your friends and family if your looking to head on a road trip in the summer.
Peugeot grabs first and second spot when it comes to the most fuel-efficient cars, with the new 308 Hatchback being the second most economical car available in the UK. If you’re looking for a larger car, the 308 supasses the 208 on size, power and design.
Again with a range of models available, the average mpg of all 308 models is an impressive 91 mpg, and the car has a range of practical elements that make driving that much easier, such as a panoramic roof and a touchscreen dashboard.
The infotainment section of the car is well equipped, and includes five years worth of mapping updates; the system even includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity features, so you can connect your device in a matter of moments.
The car is sleek, yet compromises on space, with the boot being a strange shape; however, despite the compact nature of the car, there is a comforting feel to the car, so you can drive at ease. This is definitely a step-up from the Peugeot 208.
If you’re after that sporty feel, then the Ford Fiesta is the car for you. One of Britain's most popular cars, the Fiesta is fun yet comfortable, providing users with a sports car feel, bringing safety and comfort into the mix too. At a fuel-efficient 88 mpg, the Fiesta is small yet powerful, as it’s cheap to buy and fun on the road, and comes with plenty of kit you’d expect of any car.
As well as the standard infotainment maps and device connectivity, the Ford Fiesta TDCi also offers select features, such as a City Safety Stop system, which automatically brings the car to a halt within built-up areas if an accident has occurred. Plus, there is also a MyKey function, which allows parents to specify speed limits if the car is being borrowed (sorry, first time drivers!).
The car also scored five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, which definitely puts your mind at ease as a first time driver, and the interior space is compact yet spacious, with a large boot space for when you’re off on your travels.
Cheapest New Cars to Run
Another aspect of having a car is the amount it’s going to cost you to run - if your car is fuel-efficient, this means it’ll do more miles per gallon, but doesn’t mean its cheap to fill.
The larger the car - i.e. how many litres your car holds - the more petrol it’ll consume. In layman's terms, no matter how fuel-efficient your car is, if the car is a “guzzler”, it’s going to cost a lot to fill it with fuel to get you moving.
This is why you should also be considering how cheap your car is to run, when you’re purchasing a vehicle. Petrol and diesel prices are always fluctuating, so you’ll never know exactly how much your fuel is going to cost you, but you can take a good guess based on the capacity of the car.
Cars that are cheap to run needn’t skimp on design and practical - a point proven by the Mazda 2. With a well designed interior and plenty of in-car technology, the 2 is a great car for a new driver. But where it really stands out is with its low running costs due, in part, to its highly economical 1.5 petrol engine.
Depending upon the specific derivative, the cost per mile sits at 26.51p, which leads to monthly running costs at around the £220 figure. Its frugal engine means that it can often work out cheaper even though the purchase price may be slightly above some of its rivals, especially when you also account for its reliability (meaning less trips to get it repaired).
One of VW’s trio of small city cars - alongside the VW Up! and SEAT Mii - the Skoda Citigo just about beats the others when it comes to purchase price and running costs. Even with its 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, it still packs a punch, and is great for driving in the city (as you’d expect) but also surprisingly smooth on long journeys.
The entry-level 1.0-litre 59bhp engine returns an official 62.8mpg and emits 105g/km, meaning that it is cheap to refuel and has low CO2 emissions. It should also hold a fair amount of its value over a three-year period. So, with its quality interior and good looks, it’s an ideal first car for a new driver, especially if your budget is very tight.
Decent to drive and with a surprising amount of space for such a small car, the compact Citroen C1 also performs well in terms of running costs. With its small capacity petrol engine, the C1 performs well both on paper and in True MPG tests.
With the new 82bhp 1.2 PureTech engine and five-speed manual gearbox, the C1 manages to return 65mpg and emit 99g/km of CO2 - which also means its in the free road tax band, helping you to save a little bit more cash. Reliable and well-equipped from a safety point of view, the C1 is a great first car.
Low Road-Tax Cars
Every car on the market pays road tax. This is calculated based on how much CO2 is emitted from the vehicle. If you’re environmentally conscious, getting a car with low - or no - road tax will help you to ensure you’re not punishing the environment too much with your vehicle.
Cars with zero-emissions are either electric or hydrogen powered, so they are few and far between. However, you can get some cars that have really reasonable road tax, without you paying over the odds for just using your vehicle.
Whilst these cars may cost more to buy, you know you’ll be helping the environment and reducing your annual bills in one fell swoop.
Did someone say Back to the Future? The BMW i3 electric car shouts economical and radicality, with its funky design and compact dimensions - this is a BMW like no other. With a £0 road tax, this car is such a perfect investment for your first car. An entirely electric car, this car will cost you hardly anything to run, with a 190 mile journey on a fully charged battery.
With an infotainment centre and hands-free bluetooth connectivity, this sleek and stylish car offers everything you could need as a first time (or any time) driver. With plenty of space in both the seats and the boot, this car is anything far from perfect; no road tax, no petrol, and cheap to charge.
Another £0 road tax car, the Toyota Prius is a popular hybrid electric car that combines both style and sophistication. The Prius was voted 2016 Green Car of the Year, so you can rest assured that this car is reliable. The car has a futuristic design, which is both accessible and luxurious.
An infotainment screen is available, with wireless phone charging, bluetooth connectivity and a premium sound system. With plenty of storage and sitting space, the Prius is a quiet and comfortable drive. The car also comes with a five year warranty, so you can rest assured that if anything goes wrong you’re covered.
Volkwagen’s electric car - the e-Golf - has a battery range of 186 miles, which means that it will do the job for the daily commute. While this is likely to drop to 125 miles in the real-world, this still outperforms some of its competitors - you’d need to utilise the BMW i3’s additional small petrol generator to beat that, for example.
With agile handling and offering a great ride, the e-Golf also benefits from a high-quality interior with an ergonomic layout. Despite its electric powerchain, it also offers almost as much space as its regular VW Golf counterpart and is roomier than many of its electric rivals.
In terms of ongoing running costs, its charging costs are low (certainly much lower than refilling the engine of a petrol Golf) and - like other EVs - you’ll also be making a saving if you’re based in-and-around London due to the e-Golf being exempt from the congestion charge.
Cars With the Cheapest Insurance
For young and new drivers, insurance tends to be the most expensive running cost when it comes to your monthly bills. Black boxes generally lower the cost of your insurance, however most of them feature hour restrictions which can be very limiting. Generally speaking, the newer and more expensive your car, the more expensive your insurance will be.
Featuring in the group 1 insurance bracket, the Hyundai i10 is a super-affordable city car, offering the driver low costs yet genuine quality and practicality.
This i10 really does make the driver question whether or not you really need anything much bigger, with a larger than life feel inside. The spec brings stunning interior design, infotainment centre and air conditioning.
Connect your devices through USB connections, and use the handy satnav to get you from A to B, adding to the vehicles existing comfort, with plenty of space for passengers and the driver. The boot is also quite large for the size of the car.
If you’re looking for a 1L car that does the job, the Kia Picanto really does the job. Featuring in the group 1 insurance bracket like the aforementioned Hyundai i10, this little car is funky, and also offers a pretty good level of equipment.
Unlike its competitors, the Picanto offers drivers a sharp seven-inch touchscreen, featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 3D Sat-Nav. Everything is easily accessible, with calling and radio settings available at the touch of a button.
City cars are not often known for their space, but the Picanto does offer generous interior space for those looking for a small yet well laid out vehicle. There are adjustable seating configurations available for UK drivers, as well as the best-in-class boot space, beating all its rivals for the most carrying capacity. This little car is the perfect mix of comfort, space and style.