White Fiat  500 driving through town

Top 10 used cars for first-time drivers

Buying your first car is a very special moment, but with so many options out there how do you choose? Here’s our guide to 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. Once you’ve finished your lessons, passed your theory test and aced the practical exam, you’ll finally get to the good part – getting your first set of wheels.

Choosing your first car can feel like a challenge, however. You have so many things to think about, including how much it’ll cost, how you plan to use the car and whether this one or that one will best meet your needs. With all of that in mind, here’s our guide to the 10 best first cars you can buy.

1. Ford Fiesta

It’s no wonder why the Ford Fiesta has been Britain’s best-selling car for years. It looks great, is available with smart tech, such as voice control and a heated windscreen (perfect for those frosty mornings), and is as fun to drive as some sports cars. Really. It’s ideal for first-time drivers because it feels responsive and solid on the road, inspiring confidence when you’re behind the wheel even if you’ve only just passed your test. 

You can choose from a wide range of models, including many with a small engine that gives you enough oomph to pull out of a junction safely but which won’t cost a fortune for a new driver to insure. For the best balance of performance and cost, we’d recommend the popular 100-horsepower version of the 1.0-litre petrol 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 is a tremendous choice for your first car.

Read our Ford Fiesta review

2. 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 more premium image, check out the Volkswagen Polo. You might pay a bit more for it but the Polo still gives you good value for money, with a high-quality interior and low running costs thanks to some very efficient engines.

It’s 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 advanced safety features such as automatic braking that could help you avoid a collision.

Read our Volkswagen Polo review

3. Nissan Micra

The latest version of the Nissan Micra came out in 2017, and it’s still at the cutting edge of modern cars, with loads of features and tech to help make your journeys easier. All models will let you stream music via Bluetooth and have USB sockets so you can charge your devices.

On top of all that, you can pick up a Micra with a 0.9-litre or 1.0-litre petrol engine that makes it very budget-friendly when it comes to insurance. Oh, and the safety organisation EuroNCAP gave it a maximum five-star rating – all Micras come with automatic emergency braking to help keep you and those around you that much safer.

Read our Nissan Micra Review

4. Vauxhall Corsa

For many first-time buyers, the Vauxhall Corsa has long been the default alternative to the Ford Fiesta. Now, even though you have much more choice now than those two familiar 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 (pictured) for even less.

Several versions are very cost-effective to insure, particularly the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre models, available in several different trims. The pre-2019 Corsa comes as a sporty three-door version, or there’s a five-door model that makes it easier for your friends or family to get in or out of the back seats.

Read our Vauxhall Corsa review

5. Skoda Fabia Estate

If you need as much luggage space as possible, check out the estate version of the Skoda Fabia. We like it because it’s the only car of this size available in estate form and it has a huge boot compared with the others on this list. If you need to carry lots of kit or even a large dog, that extra space and taller boot could make all the difference.

All Fabias have very low running costs. The small engines give excellent fuel economy and most models have a low insurance group rating. Opt for the S trim level with the 1.0-litre MPI engine for the lowest insurance premiums.

Read our Skoda Fabia review

6. Volkswagen Up

You may notice that the Volkswagen Up looks a lot like two other small city cars – the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo. That’s because they’re basically the same car – all made by the Volkswagen Group. Of these three, we think you’re best off with the VW because it has the most stylish looks and you’ll have a wide range of models to choose from. It costs a bit more than the Seat or the Skoda but the Up will still give you very low running costs, with remarkable fuel economy and very low insurance group ratings.

While the Up is smaller than cars such as the Ford Fiesta, the interior has space for you and three passengers plus a surprisingly practical boot. The Up’s compact dimensions make it easy to slot into the smallest of parking spaces yet it feels smooth at speed, making it a comfortable motorway cruiser too.

7. Seat Ibiza

If you want a bit of a sporty vibe but the Fiesta is too mainstream for you, take a look at the Seat Ibiza. The latest version of this Spanish hatchback was released in 2017, so it’s still fairly modern in terms of interior tech and design. 

If you opt for the 1.0-litre petrol engine you’ll pay very little for insurance, although all models are well priced and great value for money. The entry-level S model is the most affordable, but we’d recommend looking out for SE Technology models because of added features such as alloy wheels, sat nav and a touchscreen infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Read our Seat Ibiza review

8. Dacia Sandero

You might not think the Dacia Sandero is 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 comfortable and good to drive, whether you’re pootling around town or cruising on the motorway.

It’s not fancy or flashy, 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 consider.

9. Renault Zoe

If you want to get ahead of the curve, 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 more cost-effective than filling up with petrol or diesel, but make sure you’ve considered the logistics of finding a charging point and be aware that it will cost you more to insure it than it would for similar small petrol-powered cars.

If it fits your lifestyle the Zoe is a brilliant first car. It’s packed with safety features, feels good to drive and, like most electric cars, is quiet and surprisingly nippy. The interior looks smart and futuristic and offers good space for four people and their luggage.

Read our Renault Zoe review

10. Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 has one major thing going for it and that’s style. Launched way back in 2007, few cars still capture your heart like a 500, thanks to its fun retro design and, when new, the huge range of ways to personalise it. That means there are countless versions of 500s for sale, making it less likely that someone will have one that looks exactly like yours.

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

Read our Fiat 500 review

There are lots of new and used cars to choose from at Cazoo and you can now get the latest models with a Cazoo subscription. Simply use the search function to find one you love then buy, finance or subscribe to it online. You can choose to have it delivered to your door, or you can collect it from your nearest Cazoo Customer Centre.

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